I Got a Robe

I got a robe for Christmas.

If you watch SNL, you will laugh at that. They did a parody video a few years back about how everyone else in the family gets all these awesome gifts, and the mom gets a robe. Why? Because most of the time moms are the one that do the majority of the shopping and cooking and planning for the holidays!

But the funny thing was that I actually DID ask for a robe. My husband bought me a robe for Christmas the first year we were dating. It was a super plush, red, terrycloth robe from Victorias Secret. That thing was indestructible! Can you believe that I have worn this robe for… drum roll….. 27 years?! That is just insane. Mainly because I can’t possibly be that old.

But anyway, I figured after 27 years, it was time to retire the robe for a new one.

But really, the best gift was not under the tree. (and I know, I know… the best gift is Jesus)

But the OTHER best gift (besides Jesus) was spending time with my family. We got to see *almost* our entire family this year and it was great! And then after Christmas, my hubby and the girls and I always go out to have brunch and then the girls and I go shopping. I never knew how much joy it would bring me to spend time having fun with my girls as they have gotten older. As they have gotten older, we are able to enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, shop together, and our shopping excursions would not be complete without a Starbucks coffee run!

The greatest gift for me isn’t the presents. It’s ALL about being in the presence of the people I love.

I am thankful.

In your presence there is fullness of joy- Psalm 16:11

Joy Comes

We planted a baby magnolia tree in our yard several years ago. My husband was gifted it by someone at his work, and we had been thinking of planting something in the center of our circular driveway for some time – so it was the perfect addition to our yard.

Well, knowing my lack of gardening skills, I followed the instructional pamphlet to the t. I watered it with exactly the amount it said, and as often as was instructed -and I couldn’t wait to watch it grow and bloom. After all, magnolia blooms have the most wonderful fragrance.

And it took forEVER to see a flower. At first, there was just one or two. Then the next year there were a few more. And again, at the beginning of the summer it didn’t look like we were going to have any blooms. But after all the rain we have had these past couple of weeks, I looked out and saw not one or two, but a bunch of little flower buds!

It’s amazing how God created all these beautiful trees and plants, and they grow and bloom and reproduce without anyone or anything telling it what to do! It really is a miracle when you think about it!

And as I was out there this morning enjoying the blooms, God reminded me of all the days I saw nothing. All the while that tree was growing and faithful to do what it needed to do to produce the “fruit”.

Be faithful

Keep waiting to see the blooms.

Joy comes in the morning.

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning- Psalm 30:5

Available

One morning I woke up and I knew that the Lord was asking me to do something. When this happens, I am on a mission… obsessed with completing whatever the “thing” is the Lord wants me to do.

This “thing” was getting the Covid vaccine. I will admit to you that I was on the fence for a while about it. I am healthy, not high risk at all, but I knew that if the Lord wanted me to do it that I would know. And one morning my hubby called me while I was working and asked me about getting it. As soon as we finished our conversation, I knew that the Lord wanted me to do it.

So I checked numerous websites, and finally ended up waiting in an online list. I knew it might be a while, because it kept saying “wait time over one hour”. Now, this was just the site to sign up for a time for the vaccine. And so I kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting…

And nearly 5 HOURS LATER, I was sent to the home screen to sign up for a time. I entered my zip code, and it said no appointments available.

I really really wanted to throw the laptop across the room.

I had waited 5 hours…5 HOURS… only to end up right back at square one.

I knew if the Lord really did want me to do it, that He would make a way for it to happen, so I resigned myself to not thinking about it anymore this week.

And then something really cool happened.

I was supposed to teach some make-up music lessons this week, and then ended up not needing to do it. Guess how many hours these lessons equalled? Yep- 5 hours! Those hours I spent waiting for a non-existent appointment were given back to me in the form of rest.

And then another really cool thing happened.

My husband received an email this morning from a coworker asking if he wanted to receive a vaccine today, and that one of the clinics had vaccine appointments available and spouses were also welcome to receive one, too. I told him that was totally a God thing- and that we should definitely do it. We went, received our vaccines, and it could not have been easier.

I used to be fearful of stepping out of the “boat” to do the things I felt God telling me to do.

Not anymore.

These days, I fear NOT doing the thing the Lord asks me to do- because He is ALWAYS faithful. His ways and thoughts are so much higher and wiser than mine, so when I hear that still, small voice- I answer “yes” every time!

I want to always be available for Him. When I do whatever the “thing” is that God asks me to do, I am immediately filled with peace.

So my 5 hours didn’t end up in an appointment- but God made another way.

After all, He is the WAYMAKER ūüôā

The Greatest present

My first baby turned 18 this past Monday.

All she wanted was to go to IKEA to get a desk (and a few other ‚Äúmust haves‚ÄĚ). ¬† She asked me a few weeks ago if I would take her. I said “Hmm…. let me think about it…”,

but I already knew the answer ūüôā

That was an easy “yes” for me. The fact that my 18 year old WANTED to spend the day with me was the GREATEST present I could have asked for ‚̧ԳŹ

Here’s the funny thing- I have always said I hated going to IKEA. Honestly, I can’t even remember when I went- I was probably just a kid. But I could distinctly remember NOT enjoying the experience! So much so, that I have avoided going as an adult at all cost- until this week!

And let’s just say that I now have fallen in love with IKEA, and I have my own “wish list” for my next visit ūüôā

The desk my daughter got for her birthday. She built it as soon as we got home!
My beautiful birthday girl ‚̧ԳŹ

Presents

the greatest gift

is your

presence

Last week was my husband’s birthday. I admit that I am not a good “gift giver”. It’s not that I don’t enjoy giving gifts, or purchasing things for others- it’s the pressure of looking for that perfect thing- the one that will make someone feel like the king (or queen) of the world, as Leonardo DiCaprio says in the movie Titanic. And let’s face it- as adults, most of us have what we need– and if we don’t, then we just buy it!

The girls and I got him a few things that we knew he would like, but we knew the best present to give him was the gift of being with friends. He is an extroverted “people person” and loves being social- and he also enjoys playing games. So the girls and I planned a small murder mystery game party with a few of our closest friends (who are like our family).

And I think I was the one who received the greatest gift that night…

As an introvert, I love watching people and taking in the scene. I watched the joy and excitement on my hubby’s face that evening and it was such a blessing to me. It was a blessing to be with our close friends, and to see the girls’ and my “gift” played out (pun intended ūüôā all evening long!

The greatest gift YOU can ever give is yourself

your time, your talents, your attention…

your PRESENCE.

In YOUR presence there is fullness of JOY- Psalm 16:11

this much

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How much does God love you?

One of my fondest childhood memories is of my dad asking me and my sister if we knew how much he loved us.

This much? Рhe would say as he open his arms a little bit.

Thiiis much?  He would open his arms a little bit wider.

Thiiiiiiiiiis  much!  And then he would stretch his arms out as wide as they could reach.

It is hard to quantify love and our capacity to love in tangible ways, but yesterday I saw a glimpse of how much God loves me.

I tweaked my back yesterday morning- simply bending over to give my dogs a treat of all things.  The pain was so severe- I felt sick to my stomach all day from it.

And since both my oldest daughter and my hubby are working all day, ¬†my youngest daughter and I were supposed to spend the day together doing whatever she wanted to do. ¬†Shopping- of course ūüėČ

If you have a teen, you know that shopping days aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. ¬†Shopping with her brings back a flood of emotions from my own childhood. ¬†Nothing ever fit me- and anything that I liked, or that actually fit- was waaaay out of my price range. ¬†Shopping always sounded like a better idea than it actually was.

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So after trying on lots of clothes and not finding anything, my daughter picked out a pair of earrings.  Earrings ALWAYS fit-  and she really needed another pair.

We went to another store and after trying several things on, we left empty handed.  Again.  

As we sat in the car, I began to tear up remembering what it felt like to go clothes shopping at her age.  The earrings she was wearing were hurting her ears, so she took out the new pair to put them on.  As soon as she got the first one out of the box, it slipped out of her hand and lodged itself in between the car seat and the middle console.

 Now we were both crying!

My back was hurting so bad, but not as badly as I wanted to find that earring for her!

I hobbled around to the back seat and could see the earring laying on the floorboard- but it was on the crease of two pieces of carpet.  As soon as I reached for it, it slipped between the crease and then it was out of reach.  I tried everything I could to get it and then out of the blue a man and his daughter came over to the car.

Is everything ok?  He asked me.

Yeah- my daughter just lost her new earring….

Let me see if I can get it.  

And like that- he was on his knees, pulling the carpet back, pushing the car seat to and fro. At one point, he was trying so hard to reach it, he cut his hand on something under the seat.

It’s ok- we will look for it later-¬†I said, knowing this earring was probably not going to be found.

Let me keep trying- I might be able to get it! 

He looked for at least 15 minutes for that earring. ¬†He could feel it, but was unable to grab it. ¬†It meant so much that this stranger and his daughter cared enough to try to help us. ¬†Even though he wasn’t able to get the earring for us- it was like he felt my momma heart breaking.

He asked me how much the earrings cost.

I said several times that they were cheap, it wasn’t a big deal. ¬†And then without a second thought, he pulled out his wallet and handed me money.

I can’t take this, I told him. ¬†The earrings didn’t even cost that much. ¬†Really- it’s ok! I’m just thankful you tried to help us!¬†

And then he said something I won’t forget-

“I love making people happy. ¬†I don’t want your daughter to be sad. ¬†It makes me happy to make others happy. ¬†I want her to be happy today.”

I began to cry tears of joy.

My daughter and I both hugged this man and his daughter. ¬†I told him he was an angel and that he had really blessed me today. ¬†Not only did he go through all that to try to get the earring- but then he actually gave her money to replace it?! ¬†It didn’t make sense! I tried to give the money back to him but he wouldn’t take it.

He and his daughter disappeared into the store and as I got into the car with my daughter, I was overwhelmed by God’s love. ¬†That random act of kindness came at the exact moment we needed it.

Do you know how much God loves you?

Thiiissss much- 

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Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 63:7

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 ūüôā

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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take a walk

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take a walk with me 

see the landscape through my eyes 

become like children 

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clouds illuminate 

and direct my attention 

to our Creator

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glittering sunbeams 

highlight the snow’s afterglow¬†

and dance in the sky 

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the sun awakens 

ice crunching beneath my feet 

the only sound heard 

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take a walk with me 

see the snowscape through my eyes 

become like children 

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There’s a patch of old snow in a corner
     That I should have guessed
Was a blow-away paper the rain
     Had brought to rest.

It is speckled with grime as if
     Small print overspread it,
The news of a day I‚Äôve forgotten‚ÄĒ
     If I ever read it.

Robert Frost 

 

Help Us Accept Each Other (a hymn remake)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,  but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails-  1 Corinthians 13

If I have faith, but not love- I am nothing.

If I give to the poor, but do not do it out of love- I gain nothing

God is love.

I am nothing without God.

I am nothing without His love.

If I do anything that is not out of love‚Äď it is meaningless.

How many times have you done the right thing because you knew that was what you were supposed to do? I have done it for years! ¬†But if I really love Him, I have to do everything out of love. Without love in our hearts, ‚Äúdoing the right thing‚ÄĚ still doesn‚Äôt cut it!

For many years, I have ‚Äúdone the right thing‚ÄĚ when it comes to certain situations. ¬†But we aren‚Äôt supposed to just do the right thing- we are called to LOVE. ¬†When we LOVE, when we love with God‚Äôs love‚Äď His love compels us to do the right thing- each and every time- without fail!

And without reciprocity.

No strings attached kind of love. Because that’s what His love is like.

We don’t deserve it.

We can’t earn it.

But when we accept His love, He compels us to give it- freely.   And His love changes people.  I know, because it sure has changed me!

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8 

A dear friend showed me this hymn a while back.  These words have resonated with me for quite some time.  I set it to new music and also added a chorus to it.  May He give us a passion to love those who hunger for the kind of love only He can give!

 

“Help Us Accept Each Other”

Help us accept each other

as Christ accepted us

teach us as sister, brother

each person to embrace

be present, Lord, among us

and bring us to believe

that we are ourselves accepted

and meant

to love and live

to love as You have loved

to give as You have given

to die to our own desires

so we may do Your will

and love as You have loved us 

Let Your acceptance change us

 

so that we may be moved 

in living situations 

to do the truth in love 

to practice your acceptance

until we know by heart

the table of forgiveness 

and laughter’s healing heart¬†

Lord, for today’s encounters

for all who are in need

who hunger for acceptance

for righteousness and bread

we need new eyes for seeing

new hands for holding on

renew us with Your Spirit, Lord,

free us, make us one

*original text by Fred Kaan 

no turning back

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I have always loved hymns, and in particular, learning the stories behind how they were written. ¬†The story behind I Have Decided to Follow Jesus is one that I found particularly moving…

‚ÄúI Have Decided to Follow Jesus‚ÄĚ is a Christian hymn¬†originating from India.

The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in north-east India, who along with his family, was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary.

Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, ‚ÄúI have decided to follow Jesus.‚ÄĚ In response to threats to his family, he continued, ‚ÄúThough no one joins me, still I will follow.‚ÄĚ His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, ‚ÄúThe cross before me, the world behind me.‚ÄĚ This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled ‚ÄúAssam‚ÄĚ after the region where the text originated.The fierce opposition is possible as various tribes in that area were formerly renowned for head-hunting. ¬†

An American hymn editor, William Jensen Reynolds, composed an arrangement which was included in the 1959 Assembly Songbook.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus

Often when we sing these words, we think of leaving behind frivolous things- like selfishness, a life of partying, or other things like gossiping or gambling.  When I think of this missionary and the courage he had to sing these words as he watched his own family be taken from him- and then knowing that his own life would be taken, too- it takes on a whole new meaning.  Are you willing to give up everything for the sake of following Christ?  

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:33

“No Turning Back”

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

The world behind me, the cross before me

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

Though none go with me, still I will follow

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!