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? – he 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 😉

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 🙂

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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made new

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making old things

new 

let the vintage

shine through 

cleaned up to

perfection 

for the 

clarity of my 

reflection 

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This past week, my hubby went with me to pick up a few of my granny’s things- a couple of dressers and her china set.  It’s hard to believe my granny passed away over three years ago… so many memories- especially Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings- revolve around her home.

My granny and pawpaw bought these dressers new and used them for many years.  By the time I remembered seeing them, they were used in the guest room- where my sister and I would stay overnight when we were young.  I remember thinking they were so beautiful and fancy.  I have always loved old things- especially things that remind me of joyful times- like staying at granny’s house.

I remember always wanting to look inside the dressers to see what was in there.  I didn’t ever snoop- but when I was little, I imagined these dressers held fancy dresses and all sorts of treasures!  More than likely- it was extra blankets and boring things like that, lol… but it was fun as a kid to imagine and pretend 🙂

After my husband and I got the dressers safely home, I searched the internet and found a vintage ad for the exact same bedroom set!  It was in a Life magazine in 1959…

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How cool is that?! I remember sleeping in the same bed, but they must have gotten rid of it at some point.  Amazingly, the dressers are in excellent shape for being 60 years old! All I need is to find a couple of new drawer pulls for the tall dresser.

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The china was a perfect fit in my china cabinet.  I am looking forward to using it and making NEW memories around our own dining room table.

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Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are NEW every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”- Lamentations 3:22-24

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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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that is all

Simply trusting every day;
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all. 

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by,
Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly doth His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Singing if my way be clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for Him call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth is past,
Till His gracious advent call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.  

– Edgar Page Stites (1836- 1921)

I am learning to trust Jesus more every day.  I am learning to trust Him in big things and in the small things too.  And every time I have handed over a worry or a concern to Him- I can look back and see how He has always, ALWAYS worked things out!

Yesterday, as I was preparing to lead worship for the service, I set my binder with the worship order and the chord charts for the music on the piano.  As I began singing, I realized that the folder was NOT the same folder I had used earlier in the week… in fact, by the time I got to the third song, I realized that the song was not in this particular folder.

It was a song that had lots of words to it, and I had even decided at our practice to change the key to another one- one that I had never played or sang the song in before.

I had a very brief moment of panic set in… and then I remembered all the times I had led worship before- and how He had always provided what I needed- ESPECIALLY the times I felt the weakest.

So I began to play and prayed He would give me words…. and the words just flowed right out of my mouth.  It was like my fingers were dancing across the piano keys.  I was so grateful for all the days I have sat at my piano and worshipped just because.  I play and sing every day- not because I’m “practicing”- but because I want to be close to Jesus.

The more I worship, the closer I feel to Him.

The closer I feel to Him- the easier it is for me to hear His gentle whispers, and the more I can trust and obey Him-in ALL things!

“While He leads, I cannot fall; trusting Jesus, that is all.”

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.  Psalm 28:7

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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

Morning Praise

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O God, inspire our morning hymn
Of love and gratitude;
Oh, bless the sacrifice we bring,
Thou Source of every good.

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Thy miracle of love so sweet
Preserved us all secure;
While helpless in unconscious sleep,
Thy presence kept us pure.

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’Tis blest to rise, O Lord, and join
With nature’s minstrelsy;
To hymn Thy praise at early morn,
And offer thanks to Thee.

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Sweet morning is the time to pray;
How lovely and how meet,
To send our early thoughts away
Up to the mercy seat.

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The glorious sun has driven far
The mystic shades of night;
So in our souls the morning star
Hath shed His wondrous light.

A Hymn of Morning Praise by Daniel S. Warner

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Livin’ the dream

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That expression makes me crack up.  

Because when I usually hear it- it is said sarcastically… you know- like when you are cleaning up after your baby’s diaper “blow-out”…. or when your kiddos forget their school projects at home and you’ve gotta change around your morning to come to their rescue.  

But I can honestly say that this weekend I was living the dream! 

Since I was in high school chorus, I have wanted to be a high school choral director. I still get to do lots of wonderful things in the music world, and for that I am thankful!  But this past weekend I chaperoned my daughters’ marching band competition and I had such a great time.  

Haven’t you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall and watch your kids at school?  See how they interact with their friends?  

My oldest daughter asked for me to sit with her on the 2 hour bus ride to the competition.  It felt like I was re-living my old high school chorus competition days.  Kids were laughing, cutting-up, doing each other’s make-up… I even had a little “highlighter” applied to my cheeks 🙂 

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And we eventually got to the first competition. Let me tell you- marching band competitions are NO JOKE!!   So much walking, standing, running to get all the pit equipment in place in time… and then the tear down.  I am amazed that these teens (and some of the parents, too) do this every single week!! 

The marching band played really well- but not enough to move on to the final competition. The finals were held at Liberty University and that was our last destination- to watch all of the top marching band’s final performance.

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It was getting pretty chilly- so everyone was wrapped in blankets and I even saw a few teens from other schools wearing their bath robes!  It that even a thing now!? Anyway, I watched my youngest daughter from afar laughing and enjoying being with her friends, and my oldest asked me to sit with her and her friends again.  

It was the best night.  

I got to see and experience all the things my girls love about high school-

including the 2am arrival back home!  

Unlike my husband and girls- I am NOT a night owl! In fact, most nights I am asleep by 10pm.  

But it was totally worth it 🙂

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You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Ecclesiastes 11:9 

twenty five

take a step 

one at a time 

as your fingers

lace through mine 

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you go first 

I’m right behind 

other times 

I lead the line 

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give and take 

we step together 

twenty-five years 

closer than ever 

My hubby and I often talk about life and how blessed we have been.

“If you could see what your life would be like now when we were first married, would you even believe it?!” 

“We are so blessed.” 

That about sums up our conversations lately.

Thankful.

Grateful.

This past Monday we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our first date.  In some ways, that date is more special to me than when we actually said “I do.”   I remember everything about that evening.  He wore a bugs bunny baseball t-shirt and khakis.  I wore checked shorts and a t-shirt.  We went to the movies, and then we got ice cream and sat in McDonalds and talked for several hours- about life, our future kids… what we wanted to be when we “grew up”…

I was barely 17 years old, but by the time he dropped me off at my house that night, I knew he was the one!

And he still is.

So I met him at his office at the end of the day the past Monday, and we walked to a local restaurant.  We ate a fabulous meal, and then drove around and watched the sunset and took in the beautiful mountain views.

And we talked and dreamed of our future…

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—   1 Corinthians 2:9 

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