Empowered to Choose

Choose Elijah

I shared last week about how I had given my kids 3 words. Words that might encourage them to see how God created them. Words that would inspire them to be a blessing to others. I saw it working right away…it is pretty amazing actually and I only wish I had figured this out years ago.

I guess it has been born of my own recent self discovery.

I have been stuck for so long in a place where I felt defined by my failures, where I wanted to be defined by my accomplishments, seeking man’s approval and not considering how I was created in the image of God.

I have walked through life making choices, having responses, laying blame and not taking responsibility for who I was because I wasn’t able to see who I was in Christ. Yes I committed my life to Him and believed I was saved, but I always saw myself as the messy sinner that I was.

I thought I had an understanding of grace, but never really for myself.

But I am realizing that living in this way, full of lies and weighed down by past sins isn’t the life giving freedom that God wants us to walk in, through Him. It is exactly why He sacrificed His son…so we didn’t have to live this way.

I see my own kids responding to life in many of the ways that I have, and I wanted it to change. Yes they would continue to make mistakes, we all do, but what if they could fill their minds and hearts with truth instead? Would it make a difference?

It has and it does.

Elijah has been the most impacted. He held the door again after school for his classmates. He apparently volunteered in the classroom when his teacher was out for the day and his substitute sent a note home and said he was her hero.

Do you know what it does to a young child to be called a hero?!

This morning we were talking on the way to school and he said he wanted to add a 4th word to his list! He called himself helpful. Then he proceeded to name some strengths he saw in me.

He is looking for the good in others and then telling them. He is six. Imagine what a lifetime of hearing and affirming the truth about who God created him to be will do?!

In choosing 3 simple words for my son he is now empowered to choose more truths for himself and others.

He is choosing to see that God created him for good. At six he has a purpose, he believes these truths about himself. He won’t always get it right, but he is embracing the positive instead of believing the negative lies.

Oh how I want everyone to be transformed in the way my son has. We need to start claiming the truths of who God created us to be. Stop believing the lies that you are too dirty, too broken, too sin-filled to be used by God.

Name 3 truths about who God created you to be and start walking in them today. {<====Click to Tweet}

I have maybe shared this song with you already, but it is such a powerful song that I wanted to share it today. It is called Clean by Natalie Grant and the words so speak to who I have seen myself to be, and the the reality of who I am in Christ.

God is restoring my heart and my life piece by piece. I can see it in even the smallest of ways and I am just humbled by His grace in my life.

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Kind, Compassionate and Brave

Elijah kind compassionate and brave

Last week I shared a little about a parenting failure I had. And I shared that I had decided to start encouraging my kids with 3 words that would describe some of the gifts God had created them with.

So every morning when I take Elijah to school I have been reminding him that he is kind, compassionate and brave and that God made him special that way and he should keep his eyes open for opportunities to use those gifts to be a blessing to others.

As parents we hope that the wisdom we are trying to impart to our kids sticks. Sometimes it feels like it goes in one ear and out the other…but in this case the simple things I was telling Elijah were making a difference.

In addition to these truths, I want to make sure that they know that regardless of how they behave they are loved no matter what. It is a message they need to hear, over and over again.

Yesterday Elijah was being a little naughty. He was supposed to write 100 words for his homework and the 100th day of school coming up here in a few days. He had been playing for the majority of the day so I thought a short break to write 10 more words would be a good idea.

He wasn’t thrilled.

He started squirming in his seat. He wrote with poor handwriting and pretended not to know how to spell a few words I knew he had down. So I took it away from him and sent him upstairs. I was angry yes, but clearly we weren’t getting anywhere.

A little while later he came down to apologize to me. He said “I know you are angry at me…” I grabbed his hand and reminded him that he was kind, compassionate and brave. I told him that I know how good he does at school and I felt like he wasn’t trying very hard on his homework. Yes it made me angry but it doesn’t change how much I loved him. I asked him to forgive me for being angry and then he went to finish his words.

We finished the last 40 words in no time. And I could tell he was proud of the work he did. This scenario could have played out so much differently, my response can make all the difference and I am seeing just how true that is recently.

Today started like it has the past week, we talked about Gabriel’s 3 words on the way to the middle school and then I gave my encouragement speech to Elijah as he left the car. What a wonderful way to send then off to their teachers, head held high with 3 truths of who they are in God.

When I went to pick him up from school he was a little late coming out. He asked me if I knew why he took so long…no buddy, what happened?

I expected something negative, but then he said this.

“I held the door for all of the 1st and 2nd grade classes mom, you know why? Because I am kind, compassionate and brave.”

Yes you are son, yes you are.

He was using those truths, that in less than a week he has embedded into his heart, to be a blessing to someone else.

God is moving in that boy and I am blessed to have a first hand view of it.

What 3 words might make a mighty difference in the lives of your kids? Look I am NO expert at parenting. I could write a book on all the mistakes you want to avoid with your kids because I have pretty much made them all. But this 3 words idea has already made an amazing impact on my kids and on me. So maybe it is worth a try?!

It’s Time to Break Busy

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It is the most common answer when someone asks how we are doing…

We are Busy.

Always busy.

Sometimes I think that I wear busy like a badge of honor. Being busy must indicate that my days are filled with important things and that must make me valuable right?!

When I am focused on preforming, on being someone that matters in this world, I loose my focus on what’s really important.

Alli Worthington talks about this busy cycle in her new book Breaking Busy. (Available tomorrow January 26th!!) She says “Crazy busy is a life without peace. It’s marked by decisions made for the approval of the world, not the approval of God. It’s filled with what we think we “should” do, what we think will make others happy, and we think being a good person (or good girl) looks like. All this busyness, in the end, keeps us out of reach of the life we were created to live.”

How is it that this has become my life?

I recognize the need for peace in my life but yet I can’t stop my need to seek perfection. As if it is ever even available!

Alli shares some signs to help you determine if you are too busy. Things like an inability to control your emotions, or lack of self care. Check and check.

So here’s the raw and ugly truth.

When I spend every waking moment filling my life with way too much, seeking the approval of man over the love of God…I find myself bitter, overwhelmed and quite frankly out of control.

How can we see God’s purpose in our lives, and recognize the gifts He gave us?

Alli says “I have learned that God plants gifts in us and provides opportunities throughout our lives to fulfill our life’s purpose. But we have to break the cycle of busy in our lives if we are going to have enough room to discover God’s plan – our destiny.”

So what’s an overachiever, can’t say no, trying to measure up kind of girl like myself supposed to do?

First, and I am learning this painfully slow…I have to start saying no. Not to everything, but I am trying to be prayerful about the things I say yes to. The places I spend my time, and those commitments that take me away from my family.

It isn’t easy at times, and I struggle even more in our business trying to find that balance between keeping our clients happy and having a manageable schedule. But if we want to enjoy life even a little, finding that balance is necessary for all of us!

Second, I am seeking God for direction in all things. I don’t do this well all the time either but I am trying. I stepped down from the worship team at church in October. I miss it more than I thought I would and part of me really wants to go back. But I have been praying about it and asking God to make it clear if or when that should happen. I haven’t felt His leading and so I am staying where I am.

I want my participation in leading worship to be all for His glory and not to bolster my self esteem. Right now I think it would be more about me than Him…so some continued heart work will need to happen until I am in the best place to honor God with my voice.

And finally I am investing in things that will be best for my emotional/spiritual/mental health. I typically have not been good about taking responsibility for my actions and behaviors. When my emotions get out of control I hurt people. I didn’t want to admit that I needed some help, but I did.

So recently I have been meeting with a counselor. A Christian counselor who is helping me to see what makes me, me and why I think/act the way I do. I am discovering more about who I am, the lies that I have believed for way too long, and what my identity in Christ really is.

It isn’t necessarily convenient to meet with him each week and takes several hours out of my morning because it is over an hour drive to see him. But the time is well spent when my emotional, spiritual and mental health are improving.

Sometimes it is necessary in our busy lives to carve time out to take care of ourselves isn’t it?!

You see, the enemy wants nothing more than to keep us stuck on the merry-go-round of busy. In that place where we are doing too much, we don’t have time for God and really don’t have time to seek out His plans for our lives!

Alli writes this, “Keeping us busy trying to prove our worth is the easiest way to keep us from the life that God created us to live because it makes us think that our worth is based on what we do, instead of who God is.”

Isn’t that some powerful truth?!

This book came at the perfect time for me. I needed the truths that Ali shares in her book. I needed to be challenged and encouraged and this book does just that. I received a copy of her book as a part of her launch team but even more fun is that I have a copy to give away to one of you!!

So if you want to win, please leave a comment telling me one area of your life you would like to be less busy. Additional entries can be received by sharing this post on social media. Leave a comment for each share! I will choose a winner on Friday January 29th!

The Hard Truth

parenting fail

This parenting business is no joke.

I become more aware of my failures as a parent each and every day. And let me just say that before I share my most recent “lesson” with you…there is grace here. Grace for me and grace for anyone reading this that might relate to my struggles. No condemnation – just an opportunity for awareness and grace.

I saw this cute quiz on a friend’s Facebook page. She had asked her young children some questions about her and asked them to answer. Their responses were so loving and adorable…so my first mistake was thinking that my sweet darlings would respond in the same manner about me.

I was wrong. Clearly.

First question – “What is something that I say all the time to you?”

My friend’s kids answer  – “I love you!”

Mine – “Stop doing that.”

I am not even kidding here. I should have known that this wasn’t going to get any better…

Second question – “What makes me happy?”

My friend’s kids answer  – “Playing games with me!”

Mine – “When I am good.”

Third question – “What makes you sad?”

My friend’s kids answer  – “When you have to give me discipline”

Mine – “When I am naughty.”

I stopped the quiz and decided that my heart couldn’t take any more. It is something that has been unfolding before me in the recent few weeks and this quiz had solidified in me the need for a change.

I have talked about it before here that I have struggled my entire life feeling like I didn’t measure up. To what exactly, I’m not sure…but it was a feeling I have lived with forever.

It didn’t matter how hard I tried to “be good”…I was a sinful, selfish human being and eventually all my trying led me right back to a place of failure. A blow up, an unkind word, a threat…the list could go on and on.

I read this book called “Tired of Trying to Measure Up” and while some of the things didn’t necessarily fit with me, so many things did. And it all leads back to one main underlying emotion.

Shame.

When we spend our time trying to measure up to this standard of perfection that we set for ourselves, and then we fail, the natural response is to feel ashamed.

There were things in this book that I knew as a parent I had been doing. Not intentionally no, but a way of communicating with my kids that has allowed them to believe that by “being good” mommy is happy and when they are “bad” mommy is not.

Now yes, I feel happy when my kids are behaving, that is true. But am I communicating to them that I love them NO MATTER WHAT? That even on the days that they make mistakes, there is nothing that would make me love them more or less?

Am I modeling that unconditional love that Christ has for me?

The reality is – no.

As much as I would like to tell you differently, I am learning that this is something in my character that need refining.

I want my kids to understand the difference between good and bad choices. They need to have consequences when they make wrong decisions and can be praised when they are a blessing to others.

But here is what struck me so deeply last night.

It is NOT my kids responsibility to make or keep me happy. They are NOT responsible for my emotions and if I am communicating with them in a way that makes them believe they need to somehow “manage” my feelings…well then things have to change.

This morning I talked with Elijah a little and told him that it was not his job to make sure I was happy. I told him that there were a lot of things that make me happy and I listed off a few things. His smile being one of the biggest.

I also told him that no matter what, I would always love him. Even on the days that he makes wrong choices. I told him that sometimes those choices might make me sad but I would ALWAYS love him, just like God does.

Shame can be a good emotion when we can learn from a mistake and move forward.

But when the pressure to measure up and strive towards an unachieveable perfection causes a lifetime of feeling ashamed of who we are, it is not healthy.

I am working now on retraining my thought processes. It is my natural response to see only the negative in myself (and oftentimes others) and it has kept my in chains for too long.

I am starting by seeking out the truths of who I am in Christ.

Setting my feet on the solid rock of God and remembering that regardless of my choices, God loves me no matter what.

I want my children to walk in that truth as well.

Today I told Elijah that there were 3 things I wanted him to remember about how God uniquely created him. Yes there are so many things I could add to this list, but 3 seemed like something he could remember easily.

I said “You are kind, you are compassionate and you are brave. God gave you those gifts, try and be a blessing to someone else today.”

Will he fail? You bet. We all do.

But my hope is that he will start to walk in the truths of who he is. He will believe those truths over the lies that the enemy will try and whisper to him and he will know that he is loved no matter what.

As parents it is all we can do, own it for ourselves and then pass on the truth to the littles we have been entrusted with.

Original Photo Credit: via modified

No Longer a Captive

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Sometimes life can be too much can’t it?

One wrong choice, a medical diagnosis that feels without hope, the loss of a loved one or a revelation from the past that seems unbearable.

I don’t know about you but when I find myself in those fear-filled moments of uncertainty it is often a crossroads moment. Am I going to trust God, seek His purpose despite the pain or run from it, try to control in my own way and let fear overwhelm?

I have found myself again and again running from the difficult. I recognize my weakness sure, but I also fear the refining of letting go and trusting God….so I avoid the hard work of change until I reach that breaking point.

I would love to tell you that I am one of those people that runs toward God the moment the hard comes. So often after a trial I find myself overwhelmed at how God’s hand got me through…but it is always in hindsight. I write about how faithful He is, how we should trust Him. But somewhere along the way I forget, I get comfortable with the routine of my patterns of behavior and I stop fighting to see His purpose in ALL things.

You see, my own thoughts hold me captive more than anything else in my life.

Lies that I am not good enough, that my sins can’t and shouldn’t be forgiven…that God couldn’t really love a girl like me, someone who can’t get off of the merry-go-round of mistake making.

If I were writing to you I would tell you that is crazy. Of course you are forgiven, your sins were nailed on that cross with Christ and you can walk today in freedom. No longer a captive, but  free.

I believe it fully for you, but if I am being honest…I haven’t really believed it for myself.

I haven’t walked in the freedom that I write about here. And I really don’t know how.

Typing those words make me feel like a fraud. Sharing messages about hope and redemption but living bound by chains…

I want to live authentically, to share the good and the bad…and then believe in God’s promises for myself. I read His Word in John 10:10  where it says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.We all want an abundant life don’t we? And the enemy wants nothing more than to keep us as captives.

But if I seek God and His purpose in ALL things. If I press into Him in the good times and the bad…I think I will find the freedom that I am so desperate for.

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Captive is a movie based on the true story of Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols. Two people that found themselves caught up in life. Believing that they could each control their own circumstances when life dealt them a raw deal, and yet finding themselves out of control.

When their lives intersect it seems as though there couldn’t possibly be purpose in the difficult….but some truths from a book, The Purpose Driven Life, bring clarity and hope even when all seemed lost.

Captive-Character

How would they each choose to respond when everything was on the line? In their own “crossroads moment” what would they do?

I’d love to tell you more but I don’t want to give it all away! You are going to have to watch it yourself to find out!

I was given a copy of the movie for free from #FlyBy promotions and asked to watch it and review it. It is a powerful movie and one that begs the question…does God have a purpose in everything?

I am excited because the wonderful people at #FlyBy have a copy of Captive to send to one of my readers! To enter leave a comment sharing the last movie that you watched! Share this post via social media for additional chances to win. Leave another comment for each share! I will choose a winner on Friday January 22nd.

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For more information check out their official website, their Facebook page and Twitter!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

#Choose

Choose One Word 2016

I wasn’t sure I wanted a One Word for this year. The past several years I have picked a word and then at the end of the year I found myself frustrated at my lack of growth in that area….I am one who can be easily discouraged so I thought that maybe I would skip out this year.

If you read my post about the word Depend for 2015, you will know that last year pushed me to limits I didn’t like and in many ways I felt initially like I had failed once again. But I couldn’t put the idea of not having a word for the year to rest so I have been thinking about it for the last few days.

And then this morning I sat down to read a book I was sent as part of another book launch team. Choose Joy – Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts was written by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. It is available for purchase on Tuesday January 5th and I guarantee this is a book that you want to read to start off the new year.

Choose Joy Cover

I read it in 3 hours, straight through, and have underlined so many sections so that I could read and re-read the truths within the pages.

It is so simple really and yet something that I struggle with in a deep way. How do we choose joy when life hurts?

And then I read these words from Sara….“I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn’t forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn’t joy; it’s CHOOSE. It’s looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it. I know, it’s that Pollyanna thing again, but living joyful beats being cynical any day of the week” – Choose Joy

I had been thinking up until then that maybe my One Word should be truth or freedom…things I really want for myself in this coming year. But at that moment I knew that #CHOOSE was the word I wanted to start my 2016.

It is something that I can apply to any area of my life really. And it is so simple, I just have to Choose.

Choose to seek joy even when I feel unhappy.

Choose to find truth, my truth, and live in a more honest and transparent way.

Choose to see others for all of the good things that they embody, instead of focusing on any negatives.

Choose to be grateful for the growth in my life even if it is painstakingly slow at times.

Choose to trust God with the big and the small.

Choose to make time for a relationship with God.

Choose to be more patient and kind to those closest to me.

Yes it seems so simple, but for this human girl with her need for control as well as pride and anger issues….if I am being honest, at times it seems like I don’t have a choice.

But that isn’t true.

Sometimes I have to fight for it….but I always have a choice at how I am going to respond to the life I am living. For a long time I have played the victim. Poor me and how I have been hurt by someone, or life didn’t turn out the way I thought it might…boo hoo. If only things would have gone this way, then my life would be perfect. I have had unrealistic expectations for myself and others and when they aren’t met (because they can’t be) I find myself unhappy and discontent.

And then these words again from Sara – “He used the circumstance of my life to help me grow. He used those circumstances to change my heart. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with Him. And more often than not, being changed hurts. I’ve come to understand that the only thing I can control is whether or not I open my heart. Open it to embrace circumstances. Open it to be who He needs me to be in the here and now rather than assume happiness can come from the “If only…” and “When I get…” Open it enough to let Him in to change me here so I can be with Him there.”

Talk about a a smack in the face moment…such truth there!

I know that when I place my feet firm in the ground on a truth like this I am bound to find myself in situations in the coming weeks and months that will challenge my desires to choose well.

Maybe that’s one reason why I didn’t want to pick a word…because I have seen it happen to myself and others and I am so weary from this past year I don’t know if I have the fight in me to walk forward well.

But I realized that in this too I had a choice. I can choose faith or I can choose fear.

So today I choose to trust that God will be walking with me in 2016, guiding me, refining me and helping me to shed some of my old baggage so that I can better be used by Him.

I can’t say it any better than Sara did herself…“But what I have is a mission. A purpose. I am here to live the best life I can with what I have been given. I am here to live out this human existence as a spiritual being – a servant to God and His people – before I head back home to Him. I’m not worried about starting over in a new year. I’m not worried about what this year might bring. I am simply keeping in mind that this life isn’t about me and my goals and my wants and my worries. I am here to fulfill His purpose for me, and my job is to keep my eyes open so I don’t miss it.”

Yes it is simple if we let it be. What will you choose for this new year friends? It is my prayer that we choose to seek God and try and be the best we can be for His glory.

Did you choose a One Word for 2016? I’d love to hear it!!

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Linking up with Bonnie and #OneWordCoffee

 

When Your “One Word” Challenges You

Depend

How is it possible that another year has passed? I can’t even remember where December went and am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it is New Year’s Eve tonight. I haven’t written a lot in the past few months but felt like I needed to pen my thoughts on my “one word” for 2015.

I wish I could wrap it up in a pretty red bow and tell you that I finally picked a word for the year and mastered it in my life.

Unfortunately, I find myself at that place once again where I feel like my hopes for what my word was going to be are instead a reflection of my failures of not following through.

I read back through my post last January and remember the challenge I was placing before me. Depend on God in everything. Look to Him as my source of comfort and hope. Could I place my dependence on Him in every aspect of my life?

The answer, quite frankly, is no.

Could I….yes.

Did I? No.

The reality is that I am a Type A person to the core. I like things my way, I want to manage my circumstances and the outcome. I don’t like the unknown. And I certainly don’t like making mistakes or being wrong.

So while I found myself at the beginning of 2015 in a place where I was eager to give up that control and depend on God instead, somewhere along the way…and I am guessing rather quickly, I decided that I could speed things up and manage my life (and others) well enough on my own.

Can’t you just see my head growing with ego and pride!?

And don’t you sometimes wonder what God must be thinking when we put ourselves in places like this? I imagine He laughs a little and then steps back, like we do with our own kids when they are trying to exert some independence and thinks…go ahead, give it a try and I will be right here when you are ready for my guidance again…

He was always there with me, but for the majority of 2015 I worked pretty hard at trying to keep my life all under control on my own. The difference this year from years past is that when things went wrong I didn’t blame God. It has never been that He wasn’t there to guide me…I just stopped asking for His help.

So while I find myself at a place I hoped I wouldn’t be, I am trying to see this as a challenge instead of a failure.

You see, I am a work in progress.

And in many areas of my life I can be a slow learner. Thankfully I have a God that is patient and long suffering. I am not perfect (while I so desperately wish I were) and I am very slowly seeing the benefits of letting go of the things I can’t control and trusting God through it all.

I don’t have full dependence on God mastered at the end of 2015 and I am beginning to believe that this will be something I will continue to work on for the rest of my life.

Today I am ok with that.

Friends as we watch the final hours of this year tick away can we try and focus on the small steps forward instead of the seemingly big failures? Let’s start the new year grateful for the challenges of the past and hold onto hope in our continued growth in the future.

It has been a blessing to walk this past year with you – Happy New Year!

Do Not Be Afraid – An (in)Courage Guest Post

Incourage Mary post

It was the final day of our time in Florida and for some reason I woke up extra early with one thought in my mind…that I needed to check and see when the next opening was to submit a guest post over at one of my favorite sites – incourage.

Upon checking I discovered that the deadline was that very day. I started reflecting on the early days of Mary, her discovery that she was pregnant and her response. And that morning in the dark of my room I wrote words that surprisingly have encouraged me today.

I struggle with fear, I want things to be perfect and problems or changes in the plan cause me panic. I think there are many of us that can relate to that fear…

And Mary? What about her?

As I read the text in Luke again I saw a response that gave me great hope.

I would love if you would head on over here at incourage to read more about Mary and why we shouldn’t be afraid.

In moments of uncertainty, let’s shed the chains of fear and walk forward with a song of praise. (<====Click to Tweet)

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If you are just hearing about incourage for the first time you should really spend some time seeing all they have to offer to encourage women! And so you don’t miss a single post you should sign up here to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox!

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and it is my prayer that we can enter into 2016 filled with excitement and anticipation at all God will do through us and with us!

Flocked in His Grace

Flocked tree

We had our first big snow recently. Heavy, wet snow fell over the course of 2 days. 2 days that Dominic was out of town and my oldest away at college. Yes I cried and whined having to shovel twice in 2 days and still hurt from the after effects. (Old age stinks) 😉

In an effort to embrace this expected season change and colder weather I tried to focus on the positives….most of which included how beautiful the trees look after a heavy snow. The entire block was white and the once brown, dead looking trees, looked vibrant again.

Yesterday I was driving out of town and while some of the snow has melted, most of the trees were still covered. They glistened in the sun and it was a beautiful sight.

And for some reason I had a flash back to a memory long forgotten.

For years as a child, my parents would take us to get a real Christmas tree at a local nursery. Long before trees were available at every Sam’s Club, Home Depot and Costco, there was one special place we would go each year to get our tree.

The smell inside the nursery was heavenly. The front shop was filled with handmade wreaths and trees decorated with ornaments you could purchase…and then there was a special place in the back corner.

If we were lucky there would be a tree in the contained area that had just been flocked that we could see.

For those that don’t know what flocking is, they use a substance that is white and spray it all over the tree, it makes it look like it was snowed upon. Flocked trees were probably double the price of a regular tree.

I knew they weren’t in our budget, but I always thought they were interesting. It felt like those trees were reserved for the elite, the “special” and just knowing that made them desirable to me.

As I was driving yesterday I realized that the trees outside looked like they had been flocked. Covered full in white, so beautiful….and it was a reminder for me.

I have been walking through the past few months feeling like the brown, dead tree.

I know that I am a sinner, we all are I get it…but there are times that the weight of the person that I am is too much. I get stuck in old habits and patterns of behavior that have long been unacceptable, but I tidy up just enough so that I don’t have to deal with the underlying issue.

I place so much emphasis on how things look on the outside that I have ignored the inside, heart issues, for way too long.

Becoming aware, even slightly of the work that now needs to be done, feels overwhelming and I (as is my nature) want to give up.

Sometimes redemption seems impossible, and grace – real, life changing grace, feels out of reach.

And then I get a simple reminder in the picture of some flocked trees that I too am covered by God’s grace.

Isaiah 1:18 says Come now, let us reason together, says the Lordthough your sins are like scarlet,  they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Jesus paid for my sins. How quickly I forget that. I get wrapped up in my own emotions and feelings about my present state and forget that the Son of God bore the weight of MY sins when he hung on that cross.

He did it for me.

And as a result, in the eyes of God, I am white as snow.

Now this doesn’t give me free reign to go and continue to allow sin to wage a war inside of me. There are things I can and need to do with God to work towards freedom.

One of the first things is changing my perspective.

I have believed that I was like that dead tree and couldn’t ever see myself as the beautiful flocked tree.

I could only see the sinner, forgetting what grace looks like. I get stuck in the hopeless and don’t know how to move forward.

My eyes need to be fixated on that vision of grace. I need to embrace it for my own life and then be as generous with it for others as God has been with me.

It is a start, and for me at the end of this year….I guess it is the place that I need to be.

Maybe you have been struggling with something too, feeling like that ugly, dead tree for so long that you have forgotten grace is available for you. Friend I am grasping at these truths with all that I have and want you to know that you aren’t alone.

You are beautiful and loved and flocked by His grace.

Photo Credit: JusDaFax

Another Way to Remember

KK Winter Collection 3

This Christmas will be the first Christmas without my grandpa present. He passed away suddenly and so I am sure that this Holiday season will be tougher than most, especially for my grandma and my mom and her siblings.

While it has been years since we have spent Christmas Eve with my grandpa, I still remember those times in vivid detail.

A beautiful table was set with all of my grandma’s meticulously cooked creations. A cookie plate was loaded with multiple baked goodies and it was difficult to choose just one, or two!

Once we had eaten we had to wait the HOURS it took to clear the table and hand wash the special dishes grandma used. Torture to us young kids who just wanted to open a present already! 😉

Finally we would find our place in the big circle around the living room and before we would start with the gift opening my grandpa would take some time to read us the Christmas Story from Luke.

Luke 2 – In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b]who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

I wish I had a recording of him reading that story….I wish I had thought to record it when we had a chance.

Last week I was contacted by my friend Kashoan about a new Winter Collection that was being introduced in their shop. She shared a few of the newest pieces and I was instantly drawn to the Luke 2:11 necklace.

KK Winter Collection 1

Immediately I thought it was the perfect way to remember my grandpa this Christmas season. His words won’t be in our ears any longer, but they can be close to my heart.

I love gifts like this, tangible ways to remember those we love, those that have gone before us. While he is gone from us here on earth he is always remembered and never forgotten.

Today Krafty Kash is revealing their entire Winter Collection and it is all so fun! And even better is the news that starting at noon on Thursday there is an amazing sale happening…one you won’t want to miss! So sign up today for their newsletter by email here at the bottom of the page. And stay informed about the details!

See the entire Krafty Kash Winter Colllection here. What is your favorite piece?!

{Affiliate link used. Any purchase made won’t cost you anything extra, but I will get a small % of the sale that is then used to help maintain the God-sized Dreams website each year!}
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