Looking, but Not Seeing

11879229_788526707940102_807634219540000478_o (1).jpg

Housecleaning is NOT my superpower. Actually, it’s kinda my nemesis. I think my dirty dishes multiply when I’m not looking, and I have yet to solve the mystery behind the frequent disappearances of hubby’s socks.

So yeah…cleaning isn’t my forte.

That being said, I was vacuuming the other day, moving the table and chairs, using the various attachments to annihilate the collection of fuzz in the corners and crevices. I was actually in…cleaning mode. It was then, I started seeing things. Things like the faint syrupy trickle of juice on the fridge door, the small green clump of play-doh plastered to the side of the cabinet, and the brown smudge of who-knows-what dried in an amoeba-shape on one of the tiles. I’ve probably walked into the kitchen twenty times before my vacuuming mission. Maybe more. And I didn’t notice any of it. Really. It wasn’t until I endeavored to “see” that I was able to spot it and take care of it.

I was looking, but not seeing.

This got me thinking. What else am I missing out on by not truly seeing? Am I “glancing” my way through life, not spotting the needs around me?

Busyness consumes us, devouring our day. We’re here and there, doing this and that. Life makes its demands on us. But are we seeing the needs surrounding us? Are we too “in a hurry” that we miss an opportunity to give a word of encouragement to the downcast? Rushing through the moment that we neglect the one who might need prayer? Wonderful doors are opened for us to show God’s love, but sometimes they’re hard to spot. We need to take the time and see.

So friend, I encourage you today to pause. Stop long enough to be certain you aren’t just looking, but seeing. Be God’s ambassador today, meeting the needs of His precious creation.

Advertisements

When You’re Down in the Count

baseball-454562__340.jpg

Real talk time. This month . . . bushwhacked me. Plain and simple. Hands down. My past few posts have been about maintaining joy, not being discouraged, and I confess I wrote them mostly for myself. It’d been challenging. Fatiguing days and a few restless nights, but there’s hope.

I’ve always been a fighter. In high school and college, I was a softball pitcher. And statistics proved I achieved more strikeouts when I was behind in the count. It’d be three balls and zero strikes, but then something on the inside of me would take hold. One, I hated to walk an opponent—it’s literally giving away a free base. Two, if I performed horribly and our team was defeated, the following morning’s paper would have my name beside the word Loser! No, the locals weren’t picking on me; it’s just the way they wrote stats and such. But man, it kindled a fire in me. I did everything in my power to keep my name away from that hideous word. So when I was behind in the count, something in me would “kick-in” and I’d overcome.

Lately, I’ve been feeling down in the count. Life had the advantage over me. Then, hubby read a verse the other day that sparked my heart, charging the fight in me. Hebrews 12: 12 says:

So take a new grip with your tired hands…

So what am I to do? I’ve struggled in the sea of adverse circumstances, treading against the current of crippling emotions. Exhaustion coursed through me. I had a decision. Give up and get pulled under by bitterness and self-pity or . . . fight. Take a new grip with my tired hands. To dig deep, where grace masters weakness and faith replaces inadequacy. The psalmist said: When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to a rock that is higher than I.

Friends, we are not alone on this journey. There is One who is cheering us on, lifting our heads, supplying strength so we can tighten our grip, holding onto our dreams. Life may seem chaotic, out of control, slipping through our feeble fingers, but I encourage you to keep on keeping on. His power is greater. His love is stronger. And His victory is inside you.

Joy Thieves

girl-690327__340.jpg

It’s Monday afternoon. You’re standing by the stove, cooking grilled cheese sandwiches for your children, humming. At once, your son shouts, pulling your attention. He cries he accidentally spilt his entire glass of milk all over the couch. Next your daughter yells from upstairs. Her finger is pinched in the closet door. You rush to her and delicately dislodge her pinky. And yes, she’s still screaming. The cell vibrates in your pocket. The call you’ve waited on all day, now lighting up your smart phone. You scurry into the bathroom, shutting the door behind you. You fudge your way through the important call, hoping you’ve made at least one coherent point. Wait. What’s that smell? The grilled cheese! You bolt down the steps and cringe at the remains of the charred sandwich. Face palm.

On days like that it’s easy to lose your cool. In fact, infuriatingly simple. I’ve been there, and I’m sure you have, too. When I was a new mom, situations like that would rattle me for the entire day. I’d cry to my husband, calling him at his work. Maybe eat way too much chocolate and guzzle the ibuprofen bottle. But I’ve noticed something. During those moments, I’d lose my joy. And when I lost my joy, I spiraled down into an emotional mess, totally depleted of strength.

So here’s my message to you. HOLD ON TO YOUR JOY. And yes, I was shouting 🙂 Friends, it’s so important. Yes, we have moments, but don’t let the situation sink its hooks into you that you can’t function for the rest of the day. It’s not worth it. Those circumstances come to steal from us. Joy thieves.

The Bible says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” God delights in me, even if I burn the grilled cheese, or drop the chocolate pudding pie all over the floor, or leave a pen in my jean’s pocket then wash it, turning the entire load blue. (Yes, I’ve done all these things) During those moments, I need Him. I need His strength. I need His joy. To cling to His promises instead of clutching the hopelessness in the situation.

So what about you? Have you been tempted to lose your joy lately? How do you deal with it?

How Parenting Helped Me See God Clearer

13654288_273702466327539_525836469224856130_n.jpg

I shoved my wallet back into my purse for what felt like the gazillionth time.

“Do you want the receipt in the bag or with you?” The teenaged girl waved a long paper with a chipper smile.

“In the bag’s fine.” Didn’t matter. I’m bound to lose it anyway.

My husband scooped up the bag and we shuffled our bags as well as our two children out the over-populated store.

 

Okay take the above scene, read it six more times, and that’d be our past Saturday.

Like most parents, school shopping consumed our weekend and a slice of our moola, but I discovered something during those exhausting hours that illuminated my image of God.

I was walking with my child bags in hand. He was preoccupied with what he wanted to get in the next store. Meanwhile the circulation to my fingers was dwindling from the heavy bags…not really but you get the point 🙂 So I waited. And waited.

 

Finally, I asked my son. “Are you happy about what you just got?”

“Uh huh.”

“Are you appreciative?”

Realization dawned on him. “Oh yeah. Thank you.”

 

Later on, we had almost an identical conversation. Him looking forward to the next store, forgetting the one we’d just left. Again, I waited and then had to prompt him.

I encouraged my son to be thankful, but not for my own gain. I wasn’t on some “ego-trip” requiring the appreciation of a young child. In fact, it wasn’t about me. At all. I desired him to be thankful for his own heart, his own character. Then realization struck me like a million shots of espresso. That’s how God is. Praising Him doesn’t change Him, it changes me. I’m the one who benefits when I give thanks. Being appreciative cultivates my heart, weeding out the complaining and sowing in the seeds of peace and contentment.

How often are we as Christians unthankful? In essence, we’re not trying to be unappreciative, but mostly looking ahead, preoccupied with what’s next in our day. Yes, life gets busy! But even in the hectic moments, I encourage you to whisper some gratitude to Him who whispered breath into your lungs. Your heart will thank you for it 🙂

What Surgery Taught Me

surgical-instruments-81489_1280

Confession time. Before this summer, I haven’t worn shorts/skirts in eight years. Sadly, it’s a fact. I’ve refrained from leg-reveling apparel since my mid-twenties. Even in the sweltering Oklahoma heat I wouldn’t give in. I just…couldn’t.

After I had my babies my legs morphed into these hideous rope-like tree trunks, swollen with dead blood. Gross, but true. Not only were they unsightly, but they burned, throbbed and caused fatigue.

I shrank from surgery after hearing a few sordid stories about the procedure. (little did I know these horror tales stemmed from the way doctors performed the surgery in the past—not present day.) I didn’t even consider an operation. I just managed the pain the best I could and threw the shorts in the winter clothes box.

Anyways, through much prayer and encouragement from hubby, I went to a specialist. He explained what was going on via sonogram. It appeared the valves in my veins weren’t closing properly and caused blood to pool when it should be traveling toward my heart. He discussed surgery. I cringed, all the stories from various medias spinning in my head. Then, I found out…it wasn’t that big of a deal. Yeah, nothing dangerous. Nothing excruciatingly painful. Annnnnd my insurance covered it. All those years I had this monster of a surgery built up in my head. It was fear. I was misinformed. And I lost out all those years.

So this past May, I had my first surgery and I didn’t die!!!! Nope, God’s grace was overwhelming and pulled me through with ease! Not only that…I wore shorts this summer!! (I literally had to purchase some, because I didn’t have any. Well I had one pair hubby bought to get me in the mindset of hope 🙂 ) But that was it.

I tear up thinking about how fear held me back all those years. Misinformation closed me to the truth. I missed out on skirts, shorts, and not being embarrassed at the pool. Friends, that’s not God’s best. He doesn’t want His children leaving in fear. And He desires us to seek him for His Truth!!

So I told this story to say this. The bad blood and the defected veins are gone. Yes, I’m scarred, but now I’m whole. This resembles my spiritual life so much. Yes, I’ve gone through circumstances that have tried to overtake me. Over the years, life has left its mark on me, but I trusted God to remove the dead things, the defected parts that weighed me down and kept me from freedom. I can look and see the scars, but those are only reminders that now I am whole!

Has fear ever held you back?