more than a feeling

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focusing on feelings 

leaves my heart reeling 

and my goal becomes 

a far distant dream 

but when I instead

plan each step ahead  

the destination’s 

not as far 

as it seems 

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I had an “aha” moment this morning.  Yeah, that happens occasionally- but not as often as I’d like 🙂

I really wanted to start working out again- for no other reason than it’s good for your body to move.  I needed to do something that was easy and didn’t require a lot of thought, so I decided to download one of those “couch to 5k” apps.  I love those because it takes the guesswork out of your workouts.  3 days a week, all I have to do is start the app and get on the treadmill and it tells me when to run and when to walk.  Easy enough!

Until this past week.

I have been doing this for 4 weeks now, and instead of getting easier- it is definitely getting more challenging.  I haven’t missed a single workout, and I have run/walked every minute the app has told me to.

But this morning I got up and dreaded it.  I knew I’d be running for even longer bursts today… and I was already tired before I even got out of bed! But I had already laid out what I needed to “get my workout on” the night before

“Stop thinking about how you feel, ” I kept saying to myself over and over.  “Just do it!” 

I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and slipped on the headband.  I went through all the steps… and then my oldest daughter saw me in the kitchen.

“What in the world are you doing?” she asked me when she saw my crazy head gear and my outfit.

“I’m trying to get in the mood to do the treadmill this morning.”

And as I had this conversation with her this morning, I was struck with the idea that my girls are always watching me.  Not just what I say to them- but what I do.

I want to be a person of my word- someone who follows through. Someone who sets goals and accomplishes them.  I always talk to the girls about how important it is to not to be led by their “feelings”… and here I was, ready to take the morning off from working out- simply because I didn’t “feel” like doing it.

But the simple action of doing what I had planned on doing the night before kept me on track.

My shoes were by my bed when I woke up.  Headband was put on my night stand.  And I slept in my workout clothes (yes- they were clean!)

So I went downstairs and as soon as I took the first step on the treadmill, it was like He was carrying me.  He gave me every ounce of energy I needed to complete my goal.

I finished, and came upstairs to both girls sitting on the couch.

They asked how my run was.

It was hard, but good.  It wasn’t easy- but nothing worth doing ever is!

And the best part?

My daughter said she’s going to get on the treadmill when she gets home today, too.

“Failing to plan… is planning to fail.” 

Set your mind on things above- Colossians 3:2 

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good things come…

Isn’t it funny how some days don’t seem to start off on the right foot…and then by the end of the day, you look back and see how it was one of the very best days?

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The gorgeous moon at the end of my day! 

I woke up one day with a feeling of dread.  There were several things I had to do, and some days “adulting” is hard work, lol!  But there is an undeniable feeling like I’ve conquered the world when those tasks are accomplished!  I set aside my “feelings” and got right to getting my business done.

Around lunchtime that day, I stopped in to see someone who was in the hospital.  After the visit, I meandered through the lobby and heard the sounds of Christmas Carols being played on the grand piano.  I decided to sit for a few minutes to take in the music.  So often I am the one playing the piano- and it was so nice to be on the other end and to be able to appreciate this lady’s musical gift.  After a few songs,  the Lord prompted me to go into the cafe to get a cup of coffee.  It was a little strange for me to do- since I had JUST had a cup, but I got up and got into the line.  An older gentleman was ahead of me in the line, and he turned around to me and said this-

“I’ve been here a looooong time… and I want to warn you- this lady isn’t very fast.”  He smiled as he said it- so I could tell he wasn’t in a big hurry.

I said to him- “What’s that saying- good things come to those who wait?  Hopefully whatever we’re getting will be worth the wait!”

He asked me if I worked at the hospital, and I told him no- that I was visiting someone.  I told him I was a pastor and shared with him the various things I do at my church.  He then said he was here with his wife, who had lots of health issues. They used to go to church but recently stopped attending.  We had the nicest conversation and like that- the line had dwindled and he made his purchase.

I paid for my cup of coffee and saw the gentleman sitting with his wife just outside of the coffee shop.  I walked over to them and I introduced myself to his beautiful wife.  You would have never known she was sick.  She was stunning- I would even say she was glowing that day.

“Would you mind if I prayed for you?”  I asked the lady.

“I would love that.”

I knelt down and put my arms around them both and prayed.  I watched them reach for each others hands.  They were holding their hands so tightly together that I could see them shaking.

It was such a beautiful moment.

The carols being played on the piano across the room… people passing by… couples sitting in the cafe…

and you know who else was present?

Jesus.

Good things will always come when we walk with Jesus.

He Himself IS GOOD and He is always up to something good around us-

if we will keep our eyes open!

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.- Zephaniah 3:17 

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rainy days and Mondays always get me up!

I’m a little weird, I guess.

Because I absolutely LOVE rainy days… and Mondays, too!

Mondays are my favorites because I am usually at home alone- which means I can get so much done!  The rest of the week is go-go for all of us.  Between work, school, church, teaching music lessons, running the girls here and there, doing errands…the weeks sometimes feel like a rat race! And for me, the the weekends are spent preparing for Sunday’s church service.   I end up putting off a lot of things I need to do until Monday, because I know that will be a quiet day when I can get a TON done, because I’m usually home alone.  Monday is my “home base” day-  and, did I mention- I love Mondays?!

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And when it rains, too?  Well that’s just an extra blessing for me.  I have always loved rainy days!  I think it’s so strange how people dislike the rain.  There’s something so real about it- it’s not like we melt in the rain!  Sure- it might make your hair a little flat,  and it might make you change your plans to stay inside- but sometimes that’s a good thing!

When I feel the rain on my skin, it makes me feel alive!

It makes my car all shiny again! (who needs a carwash when you get a good rain shower?!)

The rain reminds me that I have showers of blessings to be thankful for.

Oh- and it reminds me that I really need to go water that poinsettia my husband brought home from work the other day 🙂

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
    let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
    let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
    I, the Lord, have created it.  Isaiah 45:8-10 

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expectations

in my head 

I plan ahead 

and hope that 

all works out 

until the dread 

when those best laid

plans just don’t

 pan out 

It’s no secret that I get excited easily- and it doesn’t take much!   But I am finding that being excited takes a great deal of energy.  And if whatever I’m excited about falls through, or doesn’t happen the way I expect- it is a huge emotional drain for me.

But I’m learning how to better manage this.

Because my expectations are actually limitations… because maybe the thing I was expecting is not what God is directing to happen! 

Like Thanksgiving…

I think holidays can be a huge let-down. We have this expectation of how we are supposed to celebrate- all our extended family gathered around a table.  Singing carols, sharing stories.  Happy and full of joy.  It doesn’t help that we have all of our acquaintances and friends on social media posting all of their camera worthy moments (me included!)- which just puts even more pressure on everyone to have the perfect day!

But my hubby woke up under the weather on Thanksgiving. We were supposed to travel to see both of our families, but he called his family and made the decision to stay home.  I knew it would be a huge let down for us all to stay home, so I drove with the girls to see his family and then to have dinner with my family.  It’s about a 3 hour drive each way.

After a fabulous dinner at my sister’s house, we started the drive home.  Those 3 hours took forever.

All day I felt like I was missing something, and I couldn’t wait to be home.

As the girls and I pulled into the driveway, I saw the happiest sight.  My hubby’s face was pressed against the window, waiting for us.

I was so happy to be home!  And even better was how happy my hubby was to see all of us!

If he hadn’t stayed home, I wouldn’t have had that sweet homecoming- and I wouldn’t have experienced the feeling of missing my hubby all day.

In the words of an old hair-spray band song by Cinderella-

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.”

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Home

the place where I can wear 

my hair 

up in a messy bun 

the place where doggies blissfully 

 “happy dance” under the sun 

the place where I can look around 

and see love in a frame

family pictures scattered ’round

showing just how far we came 

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I sort of feel like Dorthy in Oz- “there’s no place like home!”   I have a always been a “homebody” and enjoy having the house to myself.  I can play piano, sing at the top of my lungs… snuggle with my dogs (and pet my daughter’s bunny- but don’t tell her!).  But I’ll say this- being a “homemaker” is not something that comes natural to me.  I don’t really have an eye for decorating, I’ve never been fond of cooking (except for baking- I LOVE making desserts!), and anyone who knows me well will tell you my home is “lived in”.

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But today I am finding joy in making my house a “home”.  I am praising the Lord that I have this day to sweep up all the pine needles and the little bits of trash on our hardwood floors, and for a new steam mop that makes those floors shine!  I’m praising the Lord for a brand new dishwasher- one that’s quiet and cleans and dries all my dishes to perfection!

And I’m praising the Lord for my two doggies- who always follow me and lay at my feet- no matter where I am in the house!

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And I’m praising the Lord for my two daughters who will be home soon and will help me put up our Christmas tree today!

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”- Anne of Green Gables 

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As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord-  Joshua 24:15

what matters most

Time is an extremely valuable commodity.

With every passing day, I am more aware of how precious our time is and how important it is to spend it wisely.  Lately, I have found great joy in spending time with my husband and daughters.  As the girls are getting older, I thoroughly enjoy our shopping excursions, our deep discussions, and binge-watching tv shows with them.  And as the girls have matured, my hubby and I have been able to spend more time together- going to the movies, going out to dinner… it is a wonderful new season we are in!

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Last night, my hubby jokingly said that our house wasn’t the cleanest.

True.  Very true.

And my response?

“maybe not, but it’s full of LOVE!” 

“Yes it is!”

And that’s what matters most to me.

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I am so thankful to have a hubby who “gets” me.  Who tells me to order take out for dinner because he knows I’m tired- and honestly- I don’t enjoy cooking either.  Who knows that if I don’t spend quiet time at the piano every day, my mood suffers.  A hubby who encourages me to write and be creative and to do all the things that bring me joy.   And I’m thankful for girls who want the shared experience with me of watching our favorite shows together, who don’t expect 4-course home-cooked meals, and who make me friendship bracelets.

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How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  

James 4:14

Distractions

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I spend a lot of my time feeling distracted.

Being a creative person- there’s always some song I am compelled to play on the piano, or an amazing sunset I want to take a picture of… or I am inspired to read my Bible, or write.   All of these things require my undivided attention, but with two teenage daughters, a husband, two dogs, and a home to take care of- there is always something else that needs my attention when I’m at home.

And this has, at times, led me to being very frustrated.

But He is really opening my eyes to something…

In my quest to focus on my creative outlets, my ultimate desire in doing this is to have time with Him.  That is when I feel closest to Him- when I am quietly and focused, in my creative zone, with no other distractions around me.

But His presence never leaves me, and my fellowship with Him is continuous- no matter if I am alone or in a room full of people.  No matter if I am driving with my daughters to school, or cooking dinner with two dogs barking underfoot. He is helping me to live in the moment, and to recognize that He is using ALL things- even the things that distract me- to strengthen my walk with Him.  In fact, I will say that this is a huge “aha” moment for me- that I am able to see distractions as part of His will for each moment of my day.

One of my dogs will sit at my bedroom door in the morning, and he whines until I get up to let him out.  He is waking up earlier and earlier, and  I am not always a happy camper when I roll out of the bed at 5am to let him out.  But the other day, as I leashed my dogs up, I realized what a blessing it is to be up so early- and to have all that quiet time.

I sat down on the couch that morning,  and as I reveled in the peace and quiet-  I noticed an eerie glow coming through the dining room window and the kitchen.  Distracted from my “quiet time”, I got up and looked outside, and the clouds were absolutely stunning- it was like they were on fire.

It was such a beautiful moment for me, because I felt that little nudge from Him-

He is there in the quiet moments

and He’s right there in the distractions, too.

Fix your eyes on Jesus- Hebrews 12:2

What’s on your billboard?

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If you had the opportunity to put up a billboard to advertise anything– what would it be?

As I sat in the drive thru line at a McDonalds recently, a parked minivan grabbed my attention.  It was white, had a ladder on top of it, and I knew it had to be a work vehicle.  But there was something different about it- on both sides of the van there was a picture of the cross with the words ‘One Way” and then beside the picture it said- “Christ” The WAY to heaven- John 14:6.  The license plate was also a reference to the same scripture.

It struck me how profound this was.

In a day where people want to advertise EVERYTHING-

their businesses,

their political affiliations,

etc…

here was someone using their “billboard” to point people to Jesus!

Over the front tires on either side in very small print was the name of their business and a phone number.  I just happened to see that the business was called “Schock Electric”.

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What an encouragement to see this today- and a great reminder to think about this – what are you advertising?

 

Jesus IS the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.

 

the best is yet to come

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Time keeps ticking away, and some days I wanna hit the “pause” button.

In a few short weeks, we will have been in our home for 15 years.  I can’t even wrap my mind around that!  When we first moved here, my oldest was a baby, and we didn’t have my youngest until the next summer.  I had my life all planned out- I’d teach lessons for a few years and then we would move back to our hometown…

and then that didn’t happen.

I always felt like I was waiting for the next move, or the next big thing.  Little did I know- that big thing for me was God calling me into ministry- right here! And what a blessing it has been to follow Him and serve Him- even when “following Him” means staying put.

But I keep thinking about how quickly these 15 years have gone… and how quickly my girls will be grown.  This mom can’t bear the thought of all the changes that will happen in the next few years!

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I have found myself CONSTANTLY saying “I can’t believe how fast these years are going by…”  I recently joked with my husband that this is how I begin all of my conversations with him.

And then the other day- I leashed the dogs up to take them outside, and as I stepped off of each stair of our front porch- I heard the creaking of weathered wood and saw the rusty nails.  Again, I began to think of all the years I carried my babies up those stairs- and how even the front porch has aged!

And in a split second, I felt the Lord nudge me and He whispered-

Stop looking behind you- there’s SO MUCH for you to look forward to.  

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It was a brief moment, but one that has shifted this nostalgic mindset of mine!

He is always doing something NEW…

and if this momma is so busy lamenting and thinking about the past-

I might miss it 🙂

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,  Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 

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He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. — Psalm 40:3

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21 x 2

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Navigating “mom life” with two teenage daughters ain’t easy.

Lately I feel the tug of give and take– of holding on and letting go-  at the same time.  Giving the girls room to be who they are while also giving them necessary guard rails for protection.

Like what happened two summers ago…

The girls had just begun to listen to different kinds of music.  For most of their childhood, I only allowed them to listen to Christian music or music that was “clean”.  I always had control of the radio in the car, and it was always on the Christian radio station.

But two summers ago, the girls started asking me to change the radio station to listen to other kinds of music.  At first I resisted. What if they heard something in these lyrics that changed them, or caused them to *gasp” not be a Christian any more?!  I slowly realized the irrational fear I had, and that I needed to let them be kids and enjoy the music they liked.  After all, I did grow up listening to hair metal bands and grunge music… and I think I turned out ok 🙂

So, little by little, I let them occasionally choose to listen to their choice of music in the car.  One of those groups happened to be 21 Pilots.  As I listened to the girls sing every word to the Blurry Face CD, I realized that their music was actually really good.  That summer we drove to Universal Studios in Florida, and we listened to nothing but 21 Pilots, One Direction, and various other favorites of my girls for the 10+ hour car ride there and back.

It was a coming of age time for them, and a time when I realized that my girls were growing up- that they were enjoying new things and searching for their identities.  And it made me realize that we have raised them right and pointed them to Jesus… and that it’s ok to give them a little room to explore.  In fact, I have grown to love some of their favorite songs!

So for my birthday this past Sunday, my awesome hubby got tickets for the girls and I to go to the 21 Pilots concert.  They just happened to be here on my birthday- and the show was absolutely amazing!  The girls and I sang every word of every song and I loved every second of it.  Most of all, I loved being with them- not just because I’m their mom, but because I love the people they are becoming!

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At the concert, I leaned over to both girls and said this- “Isn’t it neat that we’re here at a 21 Pilots concert on my birthday… celebrating with thousands of other people… and isn’t it cool that I am 21×2 today (42)?  And I get to celebrate with my 2 favorite girls!”

Isn’t it something to know that while our kids are growing up-

we’re still growing up, too! 

“There are two things we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.”- author unknown