the missed list

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I miss seeing the random smiles 

of strangers 

striking up conversations of 

commonalities and enjoying a 

moment of connection 

I miss the warm embrace of 

a friendly hug- the one that makes me 

instantly feel like you’re a part of

my  family 

I miss the naiveté of going about 

our daily lives without

thinking that we may infect someone 

by simply breathing 

I miss coffee shops

thrift stores

restaurants

lunch dates with friends 

having the house to myself 

but most of all- 

I miss worshipping together on Sundays

and being with my church family-

the fellowship, greeting one another, 

the buzz of joyful energy and

conversations in the cafe

singing, praying, 

and praising the Lord 

in one accord 

…but JOY comes in the morning- Psalm 30:5 

I “Press” On

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Over a year ago, I decided to share a blog post I had written on my Facebook page.  It was a story about me and my daughters that happened several years ago- one that was especially dear to me.  Within about 5 minutes, I had a notification from Facebook that my article had been reported because it violated their “community standards”.  My website had been blocked.  Not only was my website blocked, but every single post that I had ever written and shared on my personal page was also removed, and I got a notification for each one.

It didn’t make any sense.

What I had written contained nothing offensive, other than it was a heart-warming story about a mom and daughter.  I did everything I could to appeal it.  I spent hours googling and looking for anyone to talk to about it.  And if you’ve ever tried- you know that it is absolutely impossible to find anyone from Facebook to call, email, message, or talk to about getting your site “unblocked”.

So about 6 months later, I paid to “upgrade” my WordPress site- hoping that I would then be able to share my posts to Facebook again.  Unfortunately,  it didn’t work- my site was (and still is) blocked.

To be honest- that is a big reason I haven’t written on this blog as frequently.

What bothers me even more is how I used to be so apprehensive about sharing things on Facebook… and then once I let go and started not caring- well, it was too late.  

But who am I writing for?

The Audience of One.

I have allowed the Facebook blockage to also lead to writer’s block.  Do you know that I wrote a blog post every single week (sometimes more than one) for almost 6 years straight?  That is an amazing accomplishment for me!

It has been good to take a break.

But it’s good to be back 😉

I “press” on- Philippians 3:14 

less is more

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Less is more.

Even when it comes to the words we say.

My husband says I’m the queen of the 3 minute sermon.  Having led worship at our church nearly every Sunday for the past 10 years, I’ve pretty much gotten the mini sermonette down to an art.

Less is more.

When I speak, what point am I trying to make?  How will my words point people to Jesus?  Will my words distract from or impact people for Jesus?

And if I’m honest with. myself- shouldn’t I use this criteria to measure ALL of my words? Whether I’m leading worship, speaking to my husband or children, or out and about running errands… ALL of my words should honor Jesus.

Less is more.

Less complaining.  Less judging. Less criticism.  Less unsolicited opinions.

Less mindless chatter.

Sometimes when there’s an awkward silence, I want to fill it up with words.

But those silent moments are when I hear Him most clearly.

When words are many, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19 

GO!

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I think I think a lot about 

nostalgic memories 

how thing were, the way they are, 

and what might come to be 

too much time I spend in thought 

so I thought that you should know   

I think my motto for the year is simply just to-

“GO” 

My mind can be my own worst enemy.  So many thoughts and ideas all at once, and it’s hard to slow my brain down at times.  And I can overthink the simplest things- like fretting over stopping by the grocery store.  Because more than likely I am already running late, and what if I see someone I know?  Then it might make me even LATER because I have to stop and speak to them!  And by the time I have thought this through, I have already added 5 extra minutes to my lateness!  I’ve got to stop overthinking stupid stuff and just GO to the store when I need to GO!

I’ve gotten better over this past year… making lists and checking them twice- umm I mean checking them off… obeying whatever the Lord tells me to do with less hesitation…letting go of all sorts of stuff that holds me back.  But I’ve got more work to do!

So, here’s to less thinking/analyzing, and more GO!

Onward, Christian soldiers, 
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
GOing on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner GO!

Therefore, GO and make disciples of all nations…

Matthew 28:19 

I realized today…

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I realized today that I am completely addicted to my smart phone- and I don’t like it.

Not one little bit.

When my girls were little, I intentionally only used it when I needed to.  Same with the laptop.  I didn’t want them to have to compete with electronics for my attention.

Fast forward 13 years or so…now both daughters have them.  At first, they only used their phone when necessary.  And then little by little, whenever one of us was watching something on tv that the other did not like-  it was super easy for the other person to whip out their cell phone and surf the internet.  When a commercial came on- same deal.  The cell phones would come out.

Must. Be. Entertained.

And I have fallen into the same trap.  I do not care for sports and my hubby is a huge sports lover.  So, I sit with him and hold my phone in one hand, mindlessly thumbing through Amazon, Pinterest, Facebook…and a whole host of shopping sites that I frequently visit.

I checked my phone usage a few weeks ago, and I thought well- that’s not so bad!  And then I realized the usage was per DAY not for the whole week!! No lie.

I use it ALL the time- it is my “watch” because I hate wearing one.  It is my computer in my pocket when I need to email, text, or look up something important.  It is how I keep in touch with my family, with my daughters and husband during the day.  I use it for ministry.

But I also use it to numb my mind and to distract myself.

I can literally feel my attention span shortening every time I pick it up.

I decided to put my phone down and then thought about what else I would do instead of browsing Pinterest.

Naturally, the one first thing I thought of  was to play piano!

Then I had this thought- if I’d had a cell phone as a teen, I wonder if I would have ever learned to play piano at all?

Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.  Proverbs 4:25

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I am making a vow today to cut back on my phone usage.  I’m going to turn it completely off in the evenings.

If the family is watching tv, I will sit with them and read a book.  I will make conversations with them during commercials.

I might even sit in silence and twiddle my thumbs for a minute.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll do some writing.

There are far too many productive things I could be doing to be wasting so much time holding a phone!

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness…. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.- Ephesians 5:16-17

 

Hope

I am not really one who likes to talk about politics. Not at all. I definitely have my own thoughts and opinions about things but I do my best to try to look at situations with an unbiased view. I happened to watch the news the other day, and I was heartbroken.  Heartbroken at how our country is so completely divided and how we refuse to even consider where people on the “other side” are coming from.  Instead, we immediately villainize others as the enemy.

I believe that most people (including me) generally have the desire to see justice served- to see wrongs made right.  I also believe that there are people in power who use other people’s sufferings to promote hidden agendas… which makes it nearly impossible for us to know the truth about anything!

As heartbroken as it makes me to turn on the news, I still believe that God is on the throne and He is a God of justice and mercy.  If we put our hope in people and politics, we will be let down every time.  God is faithful and He is Lord of all.

This is a song I wrote about putting aside our political opinion and fully trusting Him.  Are we honoring Him with the words we speak on these matters?   I am hopeful, and I am praying for a Holy Spirit revival to sweep across this country!

“Unwavering”

Caught in between 
A lie and a sympathy
What to believe?
The world is a mockery
When I can’t trust 
What I see 
I  still  believe 
You are God and 
You are king 
You have won the 
Victory 
You are God of 
Everything 
And my hope is 
Unwavering 
Everyone’s got a side
Fighting for their right 
But what if we’ve all been blinded by 
The filter of our pride 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful- Hebrews 10:23

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Hungry

If we're not hungry for Christ, we're probably too full of ourselves — via @MurrJohnson
You, Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
 You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.
Psalm 16:5-6 (CEV)

If you’re anything like me, when I start making good “diet” choices, those are the things that I begin to crave.  Like drinking water- that’s not really something I like to drink, but when I am intentional to get in my 6-8 glasses, I notice how much better I feel when I make those good choices.

It’s like that with seeking the Lord, too. When we get sidetracked with life, we can easily forget how desperately we need a steady diet of Him… but when we are intentional to read the Word, to pray, and to seek His presence- He faithfully fills our cup.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9

ice cream is a necessity

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Since I was a kid, I have had a love affair with ice cream.

A friend through thick and thin, ice cream was always there for me in my time of need.  Summer heat and need a treat? Ice cream to the rescue.  Boyfriend breakup and need a pick-me-up?  Ice cream always did the trick.   True story… when I was in college, I noticed that the roof of my mouth began to peel.  Thinking I had some sort of disease, I asked the dentist about my issue and sure enough- too much ice cream was the culprit!

Eventually, I realized that moderation was the key when it comes to enjoying my ice cream.  And it’s so awesome that we have tons of great options- even for those who are watching their carbs- like Halo Top ice cream!

 

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My personal favorite- Chocolate Covered Banana 🙂

I happened to be in the grocery store yesterday evening and like always, I bumped into someone I knew.  We chatted for a few minutes and caught up on life, and then I noticed a mom and her middle school aged son hovering around the ice cream.  Mom was looking for the staples- milk, eggs… while son’s eyes were glued to the hundreds of cartons of ice cream.

“Mom, WE NEED SOME ICE CREAM!”

I heard the desperation in his voice.

“Honey- we do not NEED ice cream.  Now come on.”

 “But mom.  We NEED ice cream!”  A brief second later, he looked in my direction and I could see it written all over his face.  He was losing hope.  He needed some help.

I did what any ice cream lover would do…

I looked at the mom and smiled as I said, “I have to agree with your son.  Ice cream is definitely a NEED when it’s 100 degrees outside.”

The mom paused for just a second, and then gave the go ahead.  Junior got him a carton of heaven… umm…I mean ice cream.

I think often about how short life is, and how we have to enjoy the little things.

Ice cream is definitely one of them.

 

The Secret

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I remember years ago, when I first started taking piano lessons, how frustrated I would get.  I had been picking out chords and melodies by ear for several years before I actually began taking lessons.  It was so hard for me to train myself to follow all the new “rules” my piano teacher gave me.  The hardest one was keeping my eyes focused on the sheet music-

and not my hands!

When I taught myself how to play by ear,  I focused on watching my fingers. I didn’t care which finger did what- all that mattered was whether I hit the correct notes.  My piano teacher never missed an opportunity to correct me when I looked down.

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Eyes on the music,  he used to tell me.  But it’s too hard! I would whine in frustration each  and every time I was caught looking down.

And then little by little, slowly but surely- I began to have confidence in my playing. As I continued with lessons, I learned how to focus on making music– not just playing correct notes.

I have noticed that my walk with the Lord is a little bit like taking piano lessons.

Keep your eyes on Me.  Stop looking to the right and left. Stop looking behind you.  

Stop trying to follow rules and just follow Me.  

I am ashamed to admit how often I still get distracted, or discouraged.  Every so often, I catch myself falling into bad habits… especially during the summertime when the girls are home from school and there seems to be a huge shift in our routine.

I told my husband I had been feeling particularly “down” this past week.  I mentioned to him just this morning that my life verse is Philippians 4:12-  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Well, have you learned that secret?” my husband earnestly asked me today.

Absolutely.  With 100% certainty I know the secret.

That verse has been my prayer for years now- to be like the apostle Paul.  To be perfectly content, no matter WHAT is going on around me.

The secret?  It’s not a secret– it’s a “SEEK”-ret-

to be constantly SEEKING Him!

to be constant in my pursuit of  His will…His way…His desire…His heart…

and His presence.

fullsizeoutput_5Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.  

Proverbs 4:25-27

 

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when things need mending

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I have a favorite pair of shoes.

They are nothing special.  In fact, one of the reasons I love them is because they reminded me of a pair of shoes a friend of mine had in high school a few…umm 20 something years ago.  They are a simple pair of Mary Jane black flats, made out of fabric.  They have a little ankle strap which I love- no chance of slipping out of these suckers!  They feel like slippers and go with everything.

So imagine how sad I was when I realized that my fur baby, Jack, made a little snack out of one of the ankle straps! Ugghh… I HATE it when that happens!  Totally my fault though, because I didn’t put them away and instead left them out in the middle of the floor so that Jack could nibble on them.

I couldn’t bear to part with them, so I put them in my closet for a while.  And then a couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a quick fix- a safety pin!  I could reattach the ankle strap to the shoe with a safety pin and no one would ever know.  It was on the inside of the ankle- hardly noticeable!

I wore my beloved black flats to church one recent Sunday.  I was only a little concerned about the safety pin, and was grateful for the comfort as I played piano and led worship.   After church we went out to lunch with a whole group of friends from church.  Those are the days I love.  I think of it as the “after church”… it’s like an extension of the service because we are truly breaking bread together and sharing in one another’s lives.

So I was sitting there and all of a sudden my friend looks down and says “is that what I think it is?”  I looked at her a little strange, not knowing what she was talking about.

“Do you really have a safety pin holding that shoe together??”

I busted out laughing.  She knows I am a little quirky sometimes.  We both laughed at the absurdity and I told her how glad I was that it held up and didn’t bust open and poke me in the middle of church!

When I got home,  I pulled out my sewing needle and found some dark thread (because, naturally, I couldn’t find any black thread… so I used what I had) and within a few minutes I sewed it back on, good as new.  In fact, I don’t think anyone would even notice that it had ever been a  Jack “snack”.

As I mended my shoe, I thought about all the times I want to take short cuts and look for the quick fix instead of really doing things the “right way”.  My husband always laughs  whenever he finds a half- opened box of anything in the kitchen- because I have a funny habit of opening things  just enough for me to get out what I need.

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Guilty of opening one corner… to desperately grab a K-cup!!

I also thought about how very blessed I am to have the kind of friends who are willing to point out things that need fixing- big and little things!  Those are the kind of friends that hold us accountable and make us better people.  And those same friends that can be honest with me- those are the friends that I can trust to laugh and cry with me about silly things and important things, too.

I am grateful for ALL of my Jesus girlfriends!!

Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Proverbs 27:17