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MARVELous

I have entered into a new phase of motherhood.

My girls have crossed the bridge from kids to tweens, and now we are smack dab in the middle of the teen years- when the unexpected is always to be expected.

These days, I am doing everything I can to be the strong mother my teen girls need, while also trying to cultivate a relationship with them- one that will stand the test of time.

So, my oldest had one request of me last week- to watch every single Marvel movie that has been made- so that I could then go with her to see Endgame (this will be her second time, and my first). I have to admit to you that watching movies is NOT my idea of fun. I have a short attention span, and don’t like the idea of sitting on a couch with my eyes glued to a TV for hours at a time… but I love my daughters and knew that this invitation was a huge blessing- a blessing that my oldest actually WANTS to sit with me on a couch for hours and hours, and also that by watching these movies- I am getting to connect with the girls in an entirely new way. Oh- and I can’t say no to a challenge!

And in these 15 hrs or so we have spent watching Marvel movies, I have grown to love the charisma and charm of Iron Man, I have admired the bravery of Captain America, and I now love to hate Loki.

But even more special is the shared experience of doing something the girls love WITH them.

I am so thankful for my daughters. They are independent thinkers, intelligent, funny, thoughtful… and how cool is it that they are actually people that I enjoy being with? They are MARVELous! And how amazing it is that they actually WANT to spend time with me?!

I am blessed.

Hope all the “moms” out there have a MARVELous Mother’s Day!!

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something to look forward to

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What do you have to look forward to?

For some people, it’s a big vacation coming up- or maybe a party.  Someone’s graduation?  A big work event?  The birth of a new baby?

I have this thing where I need something to look forward to something to be excited about!  If I don’t have that “thing”, then it feels like something is missing.

Lately I have been feeling like I don’t have anything to look forward to.  It’s not true, by ANY means!  My life is good- really good. The girls are doing great in school and they have wonderful friends. David and I are happily married, and as the days go by- I feel as if we are growing closer and closer together… which is, in itself, something to celebrate and look forward to.   I lost weight and found health- and still overjoyed at the freedom I have in this new way of eating… I have so much to be thankful for!  And yet, today I have found myself longing to look forward to something. 

And wouldn’t you know it… God showed me something.

I ran to the store to pick up a few groceries, and as I wheeled my cart towards the check out line, there was this shopping cart filled with mark downs.  I sifted through it and there were Starbucks K-cups on clearance! Woohoo!!

And then as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the magnolia tree that we planted earlier this summer is getting ready to bloom…

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The fact that this tree has not died yet is a miracle- because I can’t keep any plants alive on my own accord.  So to see it is not only alive, but thriving and getting ready to bloom makes me the happiest girl in the world today.  And there was not just one bud- but 3 white buds getting ready to blossom!

That is how I know there is a God.

He knows me better than I know myself.  He knows exactly what I need-every single day. And His timing is always perfect.

My magnolia tree is alive.

I am alive.

He is alive.

And walking with Him is always an adventure to look forward to!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in you.”  

Psalm 39:7

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trust me

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It was an unusual evening.

I happened to be all alone, and usually I relish those quiet times, but on this particular day, I needed to get out of the house.  I was in a dog fight, wrestling with my own thoughts…

So I decided to make it a “date”- me and God.

I got into my car, and it just happened to be twilight- my favorite time of day!  I drove aimlessly around in search of God’s beauty.  Funny enough, my husband texted me earlier that day with this message- “Wow! Spring has sprung this morning!”, so I made a point to look for the visible changes as I drove around.  I finally settled on a spot and parked the car.

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I prayed a lot.  I asked Him lots of questions… why questions, what if questions… and I very much felt like a little girl asking my parents lots of worrisome things that don’t  need answering.

I remember how I used to try to get out of practicing piano as a kid.  I hated playing those boring songs over and over and over.  Why do I have to keep doing this? It seemed so pointless.  And yet, every time I wanted to quit- my parents said no.  Honestly, I didn’t want to quit- I just wanted to pass over all the practice to get to the good part… I wanted to play something real, something that moved me!

Oh, if I had known then what He would be using all those hours of practice for- well it might have scared me out of playing at all!   The fact that He chooses to use me to lead worship every week is very humbling.  It’s nothing short of a miracle, actually.  I am forgetful, clumsy, not a technically great piano player…. but I am willing… and I praise the Lord EVERY DAY for all He has done in my life!

Sometimes waiting is hard.  Waiting for an answer, for a door to open, for a door to close… to win the lottery (just kidding!!!!)… but in the waiting is where He is fine-tuning our skills, and that’s where our faith in Him grows stronger. 

As I sat in the van that night, an overwhelming peace came over me. I pictured myself sitting in His giant lap with His arms wrapped around me tight.

And suddenly all those thoughts I had wrestled with instantly melted into His one big, beautiful answer-

just trust me! 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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a psalm

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I love you Lord, for You are everything to me. 

You are my Protector, my Provider, my Life-giver

my Song Singer, my Joy, and my Redeemer!  

When my head hangs low, you lift it up

when I gaze behind, You shine light 

in front of me 

You mark my path

You pick up each foot, placing one in front of the other. 

It is not my strength, but Yours, Lord 

that keeps me going in the direction of Your path.  

When I see failure, You show me Your victory

When I see darkness, Your light leads me on 

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In our small group we have been going through the book of Psalms.  Being a music lover, the Psalms speak to my heart.  So many of these verses are found in old hymns, and even in the newer contemporary Christian songs.

After reading Psalm 18 one morning,  the Lord prompted me to write a psalm of my own- to praise Him for who He is to me, what He’s done, and what He continues to do in my life.

 Nearly half of the 150 Psalms are attributed to King David.  King David is one of my all-time favorites leaders in the Bible.  He is greatly flawed, yet he is described as a man after God’s own heart.  An imperfect man, yet perfectly in love with the Lord.

His story reminds me to-

constantly seek God’s will

to worship Him with all my heart

to trust Him at ALL times 

to remember what He has done in my life

and to praise Him at ALL times!   

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  

Psalm 86:12
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a heart like you

Burn bright in my life
Burn away the things I hold tight
Give me eyes to see
Your kingdom the way You want it to be
What can be worth more than You?
What do I have I wouldn’t lose
If it means You and I look more alike?
That’s what I choose

I’d give up the world to find my soul
Pour out my life, give You control
I just want to be what You want me to be
I just want a heart that’s true
A heart like You (a heart like You)
I just want a heart like You (a heart like You)

As Your ways take shape
All my guilt and shame start to fade
And Your love takes their place
I become a well of Your grace, Your grace

I’d give up the world to find my soul
Pour out my life, give You control
I just want to be what You want me to be
I just want a heart that’s true
A heart like You (a heart like You)
I just want a heart like You (a heart like You)

I don’t mind the price it costs
I will count all I have as loss
When this fades away, what’s true remains
What can be worth more than You?
What do I have I wouldn’t lose?

by Love and the Outcome

 This song has become one of my favorites!  Click here  to see my cover of “A Heart Like You”.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ-  Philippians 3:8

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace –  Acts 20:24

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship –Romans 12:1

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no servant is greater than his master

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I had a profound experience last year during Holy Week.

After a day filled with many obstacles, I decided to wash my cares away in the nail salon.  Honestly, I was ‘not fit for human consumption” at that point.  That’s my fancy way of saying I had a bad attitude! When I walked into the salon and saw a young girl begin to fill the foot bath with hot water, I immediately had negative thoughts.

She probably doesn’t even know what she’s doing! I’m going to be wasting my time and money today. And then she’s going to do such a bad job, I’ll probably have to paint my toenails all over again when I get home!

She sat at my feet and had the most beautiful smile. She was pleasant, and despite my silence, she continued to make small talk.  I was convicted the moment she opened her mouth.  I had already sized her up and had not been acting very Christ-like…even though I hadn’t said a word.  You know- He hears what we say, but He hears what we are thinking, too!

So I began to think about this girl instead of my own problems, and started to chat with her. I asked her where she was from, how long she had been doing nails… all the usual small talk.

And then she asked me what I did for a living.

*gulp*

I told her I was a minister and shared with her the various things I did at church.

And then I knew why God had me there that day.

She opened up about her faith and shared with me some of her struggles and trials. I could see the conviction on her face as she told me that she didn’t go to church much.  You don’t have to go to church to follow Jesus, I said to her.

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we are ALL on a journey!

I’ve been where you are, I said to her.

I asked her if she had any questions and she did.  Lots of them. I simply shared with her my testimony- how I felt empty and void of any joy in my life.  I prayed earnestly one day and pleaded with God- If You are who You say You are- I need to see You!  And shortly after that prayer, He led me to start reading the Bible and praying daily.  I just went through the motions at first, but didn’t give up.  The more I did these things, the more real He became. She listened to every word.

As we shared this beautiful moment, I was humbly reminded of Jesus and how He washed His disciples’ feet-

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.-  John 13:12-17

God humbled me that day.

No servant is greater than his master.  

I thank God for His grace, for how He  continues to humble me, and for how He teaches me these huge life lessons in the most extraordinary ways.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:8

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A recent sunset…reminding me of the cross 

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when you feel like hiding

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sometimes I want to stay inside 

and hide behind closed doors 

pull the covers up over my head 

and not deal with the world anymore 

IMG_1018on certain days,  I cannot think 

and words have no rhyme or reason

I can’t seem to remember anything 

and no- I’m not even teasing!! 

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but it’s when we’re  feeling most useless 

that His light comes shining through

when we share the moments of  brokenness 

is  when we hear “me, too!”

When I am a little grumpy, I joke that I am “not fit for human consumption”.  There are some days when I just don’t feel like myself.  I can’t put a finger on why, and no matter what I do-  sometimes I can’t shake that “off” feeling.

I was around a bunch of people this past week, and you know how others will ask you how you are doing?  Sometimes  we’ll say something generic-  like “I’m doing good!”… when we’re really not?  I had a few days like that this past week. Usually when I am feeling this way, I do everything I can to stay away from people.  I don’t even like to be around myself when I feel this way.  So why would anyone else want to be around me?!

But every time we are with others is another opportunity for Him to work through us and to use others to speak to us.

I opened up and told someone that I was having an “off” day, and I found instant connection.  They, too, were experiencing something similar. It helps when we can be transparent about our struggles, no matter how big or small they may be- and to know that there is nothing we have gone through that someone else has not experienced!

Sometimes we have to just keep running the race.  Even when we don’t feel up to the task.  When we feel less than qualified, it’s an even greater opportunity to lean on the Lord and draw upon His grace and His strength to do what we have to do.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.  Psalm 147

He doesn’t delight in our strength, but in our desire to fully rely on Him!

Here’s a video that was shared around Facebook recently… watch it and be encouraged that we have a Savior who knows our struggles and we are not alone in our journey!

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For I know the plans…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  

Jeremiah 29:11

Recently, I received a message from someone that simply said this-

“your words matter.”

A great encouragement to me… and a reminder that our words carry meaning and that we should choose them wisely- and that sometimes our silence can speak volumes.

Whenever I am seeking God and find myself without words, I sit and play the piano.  The video I am sharing here today is of a song I wrote some time ago… at a time when I was desperate to know what His plan was for me.  It is a comforting thought to know that Jesus is interceding for us and knows exactly what we need – even when we can’t put it into words for ourselves.

Today,  I sat at the piano and my hands began to play this song again.  For so long, I prayed to know what His plan was for me… but the longer I walk with Him, the more I recognize that His plan-  and His desire- is for me to simply know Him more intimately.

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  

Ephesians 3:16-19

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