Category Archives: Faith

Where’s Your Mission Field?

I used to think that I needed to be called overseas to be on mission for God. I used to think that I needed to publish a book to prove that I was writing for Him. When those things didn’t happen, it was easy for me to believe that maybe God hadn’t called me to anything special.

But I was wrong.

This morning my daughter came to me with her backpack. The liner in it had ripped at the top and she didn’t want to use it anymore. I told her that I thought I could fix it, at least enough to use it. So I got out some thread and a needle and with just minutes to spare before leaving for school, I repaired her bag. Sometimes my mission field looks like a bad sewing job on a broken backpack. My girl was so grateful for the fix and it took me less than 5 minutes to serve her well.

Yesterday I spent 3 hours in a hospital room holding a very sick baby boy. His mama (with strong encouragement that she wasn’t being a bad mother) went to support her husband at his grandmother’s funeral. She struggled with leaving, but as a mom who has spent days in a hospital with a baby that almost died from rsv…well she knew I understood what to do. For 3 hours yesterday, this boy was my mission field. I took pictures and sent them to his mom to reassure her that he was just fine. I got to rock him and sing to him and even fed him his first bottle! What a gift that was to be of service in that way.

Every day my husband and I go to his office. We work hard to help people plan their estates so that their family doesn’t have to worry or fight once they are gone. Sometimes the days get long and we are at the office into the early evening. Sometimes we have projects or plans that are mentally taxing and it feels overwhelming. But we have the honor of helping people. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Even though we aren’t a church or don’t serve people in a foreign country, we still have a mission field right here. 

I have always been someone that struggles with comparison. I see my friend who is leaving on a mission trip and I wonder if she is doing it better for God than I am. I watch as more and more of my author friends are releasing yet another book, or signing their first book deal…while I struggle to get posts out on a consistent basis. I wonder if God knows He can use them more than He can use me. I see those involved in the church and leading in ways I am not and believe the lie that my past failures make me unqualified.

It would be very easy for me to see myself as not valuable and unworthy. But that is crazy! God whispered to my heart this morning and reassured me that I was on a mission for Him.  My mission field is found in the ways I serve my family in love, in my prayers for others, when I find ways to be an encouragement to someone who is struggling, when we go to work each day and strive to do the best job we can for our clients.

Friends, we each have a mission field. Find ways to be of service to those around you. And do so with a happy and grateful heart. When we love others well, we are sharing the love of God. And what a mission that is!

Pieces Woven Together

Our pastor has been teaching on the life of David and we have been walking through a good portion of 1 Samuel for many weeks now. I love this type of Bible teaching because we, for the most part, are going through this book verse by verse.

We did this in Romans and Acts too. It helps me get a feel for what was really happening. He gives us background about the time in history etc., and I can put myself into the story and see it from all angles.

David has an incredible story doesn’t he?! A shepherd boy, the unmentioned of many brothers who is chosen and anointed by God to be the king. A boy who then waits YEARS from the time of that anointing to the time he is actually appointed king.

Talk about waiting to walk into your calling!

And we see that David struggles. He makes mistakes, he runs from God, he sins and falls short. God knows David’s heart though and he uses him anyways. What hope stories like this give me. I too can be the chief of sinners and yet God has found ways to use my story for good. How we should fall on our knees grateful that He loves us that much to redeem our story and allow us the opportunity to share His grace with others!

Today our Pastor was talking about dark times. The bulletin referenced 1 Samuel 2 (or I thought it did)…we were actually in 1 Samuel 28. But I happened to turn to 1 Samuel 2 and started reading. I have to admit, I don’t have a full grasp of the entire Bible, and how things are woven together. But today I discovered a connection I hadn’t made before and it so encouraged me.

Back in 2013 I shared a post about a woman named Hannah. I was so moved by this woman’s faith. Childless for years, tormented by the other wife, she begs God to give her a child. In exchange she vows to devote that child to the Lord’s service.

God hears and grants her a son. And then she follows through and actually gives her son over to the priest at the church. I said it before, but can you imagine the pain of having to follow through on that promise? I’ve found myself bargaining with God, making promises I probably didn’t intend to keep. But Hannah followed through.

When I wrote about it a few years ago I was amazed at her faith…but I didn’t fully understand the rest of the story. I didn’t read on through the rest of 1 Samuel to see what happens. Today it came together for me in a new way.

You see the Bible tells us that Samuel grows as a man and in his understanding of the Lord. So much in fact that he becomes a trusted advisor and a prophet. Samuel eventually anoints Saul as king. Saul the very king that we later hear is to be replaced by David. Samuel becomes David’s trusted advisor as well. He has become a man of great influence.

Our pastor said today, “Samuel had been a spiritual anchor for the people for 50+ years.” Isn’t that incredible?! And my thoughts immediately went to Hannah once again. A women who desperately wanted a son. A woman that was true to her promise and let her son go.

Do you think she had any idea the man her son would become so many years later? That he would be a spiritual anchor? We don’t know for sure, but I honestly don’t think so. It may have been easier to give up her son had she known the outcome…but so often we don’t know what will happen.

But like Hannah we take those bold steps of faith and do the hard thing anyways. And when we do the results are often more than we could ever imagine they would be. This connecting of stories gave me hope today. It was a reminder that the trials I have gone through and the lessons that I continue to learn may not only impact me and my kids…but generations to come!

So we keep walking forward, taking those hard steps and allowing God to use us, knowing that we may not see an answer to our prayers in this lifetime, but that they may continue to bear fruit for years and years to come.

Isn’t it amazing how God works?

Photo Credit: ame h

Broken Pieces


We decided to go down to the beach for one last walk to look for shells.

It was much colder that morning and the wind was blowing the dry sand across the beach. The waves rolled and crashed and after a few minutes we threatened to go in.

I love hunting for treasures. When we vacation in the summer with our kids it is one of my favorite things to do. It maybe be quartz or agates or shells….but the thrill of finding that one perfect treasure keeps me going. So that morning I kept walking.

The reality was that most of what we found was broken. Hurricane Matthew had done some major damage on those beaches in Georgia just months before and so what was washing ashore was broken pieces of once beautiful shells.

But as I walked I reflected on some of the broken pieces of my own life. Times where I too had found myself shattered. Times where I had done the damage to someone I loved. At the time I could only see the shards of what was remaining….it didn’t seem like beauty could come from the brokenness.

But over and over again God has restored those broken places. Not because I deserved it, or even because I had changed, but simply because He is sovereign and merciful and He loves me.

As I picked up the pieces of the broken shells I could imagine what they looked like whole. I could see their beauty despite their brokenness.

I spent some time that morning walking and praying. I thanked God for all the ways in which He has changed me. I thanked Him for His love and mercy. God has been faithful to restore and redeem me even when I have fought Him and actively gone against His will before coming to that place of surrender.

He has always been constant in my life. A good, good Father. We sang that song in church a few weeks ago and it is so beautiful. A praise to the One who makes all things new.

Even when we can’t see it, when we are in the midst of the struggle, God sees us whole. Because of the saving sacrifice of His Son, God sees me as the perfect shell. He doesn’t see the chips and cracks, the shards left from the brokenness I have caused…no He sees the whole me. A vision of myself I may not comprehend this side of heaven.

Friends, I don’t know what might be the cause of your broken pieces, but I am sure you have them just like I do. It is easy to get stuck in the pit, focused on all of the negatives and unable to see the beauty.

But the beauty is there. Sometimes it takes a perspective shift to see it…but it is there. It is a new year. A time for fresh starts. Take a moment today and look for the beauty around you. Acknowledge where God has moved in your life and thank Him for that. Hold tight to the truth that He sees you whole and that those broken pieces in your story may just be the thing that gives another hope.

Walking The Path We Are Given

I don’t remember when I first heard the story of Rory and Joey Feek, but once I found their blog This Life I Live, I knew these were people with an incredible story to tell.

If you read anything that Rory has posted you will know without a doubt that he loved his wife. Theirs seemed like that timeless love we all hope for. And yet they found themselves walking a path they didn’t see coming.

In the new documentary movie, To Joey, With Love, we are given a glimpse into their real-life, day to day as they journey into parenthood and then an unexpected cancer diagnosis.

Not realizing the significance of his decision, Rory decided to start capturing their life on film as they waited for the arrival of their daughter. Soon after her birth they discover that their daughter has Down Syndrome. Unexpected yes, but they knew this was the path they were walking on and they trusted God through all of it.

Being a new mom can be difficult enough, but at her 12-week check-up, Joey receives some devastating news.  Cancer.

I can’t imagine the fear she must have felt, and yet Rory and Joey walked this path with hope and trust in God’s plan. The new media caught wind of what they were dealing with and soon their story had spread like a wildfire.

People all over the world were praying for Joey and reading Rory’s blogs. We all hoped for a miracle. But sometimes those miracles don’t come in the way we would hope or expect.

As was true with this story.

While the outcome wasn’t as so many prayed for….it doesn’t mean that God wasn’t there. The love Rory and Joey had for one another inspired others. The faith they had encouraged the weak. Their choice to celebrate the joys in the journey remind us all that even when it is dark, blessings abound.

To Joey, With Love was a beautiful, intimate film and I was a bawling, hot mess once I finished it. It is available for purchase on December 20th but I have a free copy to give away to one of my readers!! Just leave a comment below and you will be entered to win!

For more information about this new movie, watch the trailer below (Email subscribers click here to view)

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Thank you to the Icon Media Group for the opportunity to view and review this movie in advance of its release.

All pictures and media found on the To Joey With Love website.

Love You More

3-crosses-love-you-more

Music has long been a point of heartfelt worship. I don’t get much time alone, but when I do and am in the car, I will crank up the music and belt out worship songs to my God.

Tonight was no exception. It had been a long day already because of the short night the before. Watching, like many of you, the election results come in and wondering at what was next. I finally gave in at about 11pm and went to bed for a few hours. Dominic came to bed a little after 2am with the news.

I knew that no matter what the results there would be people that I love affected. People that strongly supported her and were now dealing with fear, others that thought he was the only choice at a change and saw this as a victory.

I couldn’t sleep and spent the next hour in prayer. Prayer for both the candidates and their families. Prayers for our nation and for unity. I remember seeing something on Facebook awhile back that challenged those who shared negative posts about either side and asked how often we first stopped and prayed before we shared something negative.

I know that I am guilty. Guilty of making assumptions and not doing my own research. Guilty of seeing and believing the worst and not recognizing that person is a child of God just like I am. I no longer want to be part of the problem…but instead I committed to praying for unity and peace, acceptance and kindness, fairness and equality.

I had heard the song “Love You More” by Nicole Nordman many times before. A song about loving God more…sure we all want that don’t we? But tonight I was challenged by the words. How do I do that? How do I love God more?

You see, it isn’t just about me feeling love towards God for all He has done for me. I have LOTS of reasons to be grateful for who He is in my life, and of course I love Him for it. Tonight though I thought maybe, just maybe, it is being love to others that is the best way I can love God more.

Loving those friends that I don’t always agree with.

Taking time to really talk to the people I come in contact with in my community.

Being a light in what seems like a very dark world.

Finding ways to unite with others, to educate myself, and understand another’s point of view.

I love God more when I love well on His people.

I love God more when I pray for our leaders.

I love God more when I let go of judgements and disagreements and seek to find unity with my fellow man.

I don’t have any idea what will happen when the presidency changes hands. I don’t know what shape our country will be in 4 years from today when we are facing yet another election season. But I do know that I can make a difference, in the name of God, by being His representative here.

I want to share the words of Love You More here because I want you to see them. I love how she takes broken, sinful people from the Bible and marries that with God’s incredible love for us. God really has been loving us forever. Chance after second chance. Even when we have run away, blamed Him, cursed Him, crucified Him.

I know I won’t ever love with the unconditional love that God has for me. I am incapable of it. But with God’s grace and guidance I can be His love to others. I am committed to that tonight…won’t you join me?

Love You More – Nicole Nordman

You said, “go and sin no more …”
Though my eyes could not meet Yours
I started running the third time the rooster crowed

You threw a party just for me
Though I squandered everything
I was blinded in the middle of the road

Climbed up in a tree to see You
Swallowed by the sea to flee You
Sold You for a little silver and a kiss

Killed a man to love his woman
Burned a bridge back to Your garden
Hung beside You while you took Your final breath

You’ve been loving me since time began
You’re behind my every second chance

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more

I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

I keep thinking there’s a limit
Sure I must be getting near it
When I’ve used up every pardon and regret

But You promise there is freedom
Gathered up the broken pieces
Scattered them as far as East is from the West

You’ve been loving me since time began
You’re behind my every second chance

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more
I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

With all the sand that fills the hourglass
With every breath between my first and last

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more
I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

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The Unmaking

the-unmaking

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Nicole Nordman perform. She has a very powerful testimony and she shared about  how walking through some of the darkest moments of her life helped her to find God in a new way.

Then she sang this song called The Unmaking. It was incredibly powerful and as I have listened to it over and over again I have realized that this is where I am finding myself once again.

It is coming to that place where we are broken because we can’t manage life on our own. It’s the giving up of the lies we have believed, the things that have shaped us and kept us stuck. It is the letting go of the need to control and finally being ready to trust God with our lives.

The chorus of her song says it beautifully:

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking

I have walked some difficult roads over the past several years. Ones that were hard by my own doing. Through a lot of hard heart work I have come to that place where I am letting go of shame, embracing who God has made me to be. I am finding joy and contentment in where I am (especially with my writing here) and am letting go of the burden of jealousy and envy. Something that has tripped me up for far too long.

Just like the song says, I had to come to that place where I was completely unmade and yet because of my faith, I could trust that God had a plan for it all.

Freedom came from that refining. I wrote an entire 31 Days series that came as a result of that time in my life. I am so grateful that God met me there and I really thought that maybe I was done with my “trying” times for awhile.

But today I had a realization that I once again was going through a refining time.

I am inching closer to 42. When people told me that things would change once I turned 40, I didn’t really think it would happen to me. But (of course) it did happen and over the past almost 2 years I have gotten more physically weak, more tired and deal with back pain every day.

Something had to change. I was tired of making excuses and so I joined an accountability group that’s led by an amazing coach and started on my first round of the 21-day fix exercise program. Guys, it’s HARD. And this morning I shared the following in my accountability group….

“My husband and I were talking to our oldest son a year or so ago and joked that when you turn 40 all bets are off. It gets harder to keep off the weight, to exercise etc. We made up this acronym to describe ourselves. WOLFS. You would think it might mean something strong but no, it stood for Weak, Old, Lazy, Fat and Soft. That’s how I have viewed myself for the past year or more.

Back in 2012 he and I were doing the 30-day shred videos. I was stronger and more fit than I had ever been. I felt great about myself. Then my husband fell off a 15ft extension ladder and shattered his heel bone into 3 pieces. It was a major injury, changed his life. He lives with constant pain and will never run again. He has 10 screws and a plate holding his foot together. It was a miracle he didn’t break his back, leg etc.

Once that happened I felt guilty when I would go exercise because he physically couldn’t. For 4 months he couldn’t even walk on his leg. And so I quit. Once I stopped it was easy not to get back into it, to make excuses.

Today as I did the pilates fix I struggled. At one point I cried. I am so not flexible. I can’t even fully straighten my legs. I always have to follow Kat (the modified exercises) and I am so tired of being a WOLFS.

This is not only a physical battle for me but an emotional and spiritual one. I believe lies much faster than I do truths. I get discouraged and quit when it gets hard. This time I want something different. So while I am discouraged at how poorly I do on the exercises, I am determined to keep going. I am only 4 days into the actual program. But I have done at least 20 minutes of hard exercise 9 out of 11 days. That’s huge for me.

I can do this. Tomorrow I will get up and do the next cardio workout in the program. I will probably have to stop and my body will hurt, but I am getting stronger. And I will see results. I am holding on to that this morning.”

Sharing that truth felt like a weight lifted.

But laying on the floor this morning I realized that I was in that place of brokenness once again. I could stay there and feel sorry for myself, or I could commit to getting back up and working for my best health.

I don’t know where you are today, what needs rebuilding in your life, but I am guessing you are stronger than you realize. God has equipped you and will strengthen you and even in the rubble you can see the beauty…the hope that’s available.

If you are holding onto lies, I am praying you would ask God to reveal the truth. And remember that when we are at our “bottom”, the only place we can look is up. I encourage you to listen to the entire song The Unmaking…I hope it blesses you like it has me!

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Photo credit: changeable focus

For the Times You Don’t Feel Equipped

Being Equipped

It has been mostly silent here in my little corner of the www.

Except for the occasional book review/giveaway, I haven’t really had the words. It is frustrating for someone like me who has learned to process through writing. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to write either.

In April Dominic and I attended a marriage conference that was really impactful. I knew I wanted to write about it, but I just couldn’t find the words to do so. In June we celebrated our 20 year anniversary and with it came a tough lesson I had to learn about my stubbornness and pride, and how the enemy targets those very character defects in me. Some  day I will share that with you as well if God leads.

I know that the “experts” would tell me that I should get up and write regardless if I have the words…but when I don’t feel God leading me there, it feels forced and in-genuine. Some day soon I hope to be back to a regular writing schedule though…God-willing.

This morning as I was getting ready I was thinking about those times when I have felt ill-equipped to do what God has called me to.

Do you ever find yourself there? In a situation where you know God has brought you to but yet you feel like the least qualified to be there?

A few months ago we were getting close to wrapping up the bible study we were on in our women’s group at church. We started talking about what we would like to do next and someone mentioned the book Fervent.

I had read it 3 times through and really loved it so I was all on board for that. I didn’t think that it was something I would lead, I just wanted to read it again. Each time I have been through it I find things that I missed, or nuggets of information that mean even more to me with each new read.

The morning after the discussion I woke up unusually early and started writing. Within a short amount of time I had 5 bible study lessons written that would be the start to a guide for the book.

If you have read it you know that there isn’t a specific bible study for the book. I sent what I had written to the ladies that lead our group and said that I thought I could write out the rest of the guide for the remaining chapters. It really was a God-led thing and honestly the book made it easy.

And so a few weeks ago we started our study of Fervent, using my guide, which is still a bit of a surreal experience for me. This feels largely out of my skill set. And in addition to writing the guide I am now leading the study. Another thing that feels outside of my talents.

I was praying on the way to church on Tuesday that God would just give me the words. I worry about filling those uncomfortable gaps of silence, of creating a safe place for everyone to share and be honest. There is the time factor, what if I can’t fill the specified time…what if times gets away from me!

It all seems so much more than I can handle. And I start to doubt that I am the right person to be leading this group of women that have so much more wisdom than I ever have had.

But it is where I am finding myself.

This week as I left bible study I was just overwhelmed by how God shows up. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have it all figured out. The women that are attending each have their own wisdom to share, and collectively as a group we grow from our shared experiences.

And I wondered if maybe that’s why God called me to this.

It wasn’t that I had so much to give, but rather that it was an opportunity for me to witness how incredible my God is. {Click to Tweet}

To find myself in awe of how He would use me, grateful for the new women that are there this time and how much I have learned from them. Filled with a passion to continue to have a place where we can be transparent with one another and grow in our understanding of prayer.

It is a humbling experience and such an honor to be a part of this amazing group of women.

So if you are being called to something that feels outside of your comfort zone, don’t worry. Trust that God will give you just what you need. And wait with hopeful expectancy that He will give you more than you expect out of the process!

What If?

What If

Last week I had a humbling experience. And while I would like to keep it to myself and not admit my weakness, I feel like we can learn from each other’s mistakes…so why not start with making an example of myself.

This online world can be a tough one to navigate, especially as women.

Take a moment and scroll through Facebook or Instagram and you will likely find someone who seems to have it more put together than you. Perfect kids, happy family, no worries, making money from blogging….it’s all there in some way, shape or form.

And if you are someone like me and struggle with feelings of self-worth and doubt, those “have it all people” can stir feelings of jealousy and envy.

I’d like to say that I didn’t get there but I did. And when we are filled with those negative feelings, we run the risk of pouring out the bad onto others. And that is what I did.

A blogger that I have followed since 2007 posted recently about taking a blogging break. I think that’s great and there have been times here that I have been quiet because I haven’t felt called to share anything.

This blogger started out a lot like me, wadding the waters of this online space in those early years, sharing her life and her family, making memories. But somewhere along the way she started getting opportunities to review products, to work with brands and make an income off of her time spent in the online space.

I have seen it all over, except in my little corner of the www. My numbers haven’t grown, I don’t make a dime off of blogging and really I am ok with that. But at the same time I was jealous of those that did. Hypocrite much?!

So when this blogger posted about her break I commented that I supported it. And then I followed up that support with a bunch of word-vomit that I was tired of sponsored posts and how I wanted to go back to the good-ol’ days of blogging where people just shared their faith and family and didn’t work so hard to promote themselves.

In my prideful mind I thought that maybe my comment would encourage her to come back and stop working with brands, stop making income. Because if I couldn’t, why should she. (Ouch I know!!)

I forgot about my comment until late that same night. I happened back over to her site and saw she had responded. She was gracious with her comment but when I read my own again I realized how hurtful it was. And I was ashamed.

We need to work at building one another up, not tearing each other down.

I was so convicted that I sent her an apology email. I confessed that my comment was spurred by jealousy, plain and simple. As difficult as it was to write and send that email, I knew that it was a character building opportunity and so I humbly apologized.

She responded a few days later, once again gracious. God allows us to be taught in these moments in life if we are just open enough to hear His voice and follow His leading. It isn’t always easy, but it is necessary work in this faith walk.

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And then last night we spent some time in our bible study talking about jealousy, shame and judgement.

We’ve all done it. Looked at someone and the way they are living their lives and judged something about it. I judged that blogger for how she was choosing to make a living for her family. Who am I to do that?!

It happens more often than we like to admit. One of the women shared how she felt judged about the choices one of her children made. We all assured her that it wasn’t a reflection of her – but the truth is when you are living in those moments it does feel like it is a reflection of you.

And as a church body (and I am talking all religions here…not a specific church) we have failed one another.

Jesus taught by example, He is the very measure of what grace should look like.  And if I am being honest, often times I am willing to give grace when and to whom I feel “deserve” it instead of giving grace freely.

Once again I was humbled by the discussion and challenged to do something different.

What if we started showing love to those around us, even if they are making choices we don’t agree with?

What if we came alongside a young, teenage mother and encouraged her, encouraged her family?

What if we had a baby shower for a unwed mother, choosing to celebrate the new life instead of condemning the choices she had made?

What if we became a safe place for women to grieve the loss of a baby or a pregnancy – not dictating a time table of when they should be “over it”?

What if we stopped being so afraid of finding the right words to say and just admitted we don’t know what to say but we are praying?

What if we started being real and honest with one another so that the walls of perceived perfection would crumble and we could use our difficulties to shine Christ’s redemption?

What if?

I get up every Sunday and I get ready for church. I doubt that I will ever feel comfortable going without makeup or fixing my hair. Vain, yes but it is my reality. But don’t let the nice outfit or “put together” appearance fool you.

I am a sinner saved by grace.

I likely yelled at my kids on the way to church or got frustrated with the dog before we left. I walk in the doors and want you to believe something about me that really isn’t true. I don’t have it all together and I never will.

And that’s ok.

What if instead of judging what we think we know about someone, we start getting brave and start working to really connect with those in our church, our community?

What if when people asked us how we were, we responded in truth instead of just “I’m fine”?

And what if we got over being uncomfortable with this new reality and embraced it as an opportunity to come alongside a fellow believer that is hurting?

I am tired of being “fine” and ready to be real. Because when I am “fine” I start believing that I have it all under control and God is the first thing to go when I’ve got the reins.

We have an opportunity friends to be the church, be Jesus to a lost and hurting people. Some of those people are in your workplace, your community, your church body. Some of those people need to know that they don’t have to have it all together to be accepted by God. Maybe you, maybe I,  am just the person that can be the one to be real, and by doing so, will open the door to a relationship with God.

What if?

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

The First Song


VHS

Dominic discovered our wedding videos several months ago, the old VHS tapes that have been stored and saved and unwatched for years. He thought it might be fun to convert them to a DVD so that we could watch them again and found someone that could do that as a surprise for me.

A few nights ago we sat down together to watch it. It was something that we both really needed to see again. I can’t remember the last time we watched it…maybe 10 years ago? We are coming up on 20 years of marriage and it is sad how much about that day I have forgotten.

Seeing family and friends that we haven’t seen in years, some now gone from our lives…it was bittersweet hearing their voices and seeing their smiles.

It was interesting to see the events of the day through a different lens. Apparently there were 2 cameras set up, one at the back of the church and another at the front. Wear, time, maybe heat exposure had damaged the VHS of one of the views. It was distorted and blurry. Thankfully the view from the front was still in tact.

One thing that I remembered from the wedding was that my sister sang a song for us. We were married young (21) and my sister was just 16. She was always involved in show choir or music of some sort and had a powerful voice for a young girl. And the bravery it took to sing in front of that many people, at that age…is amazing.

We have talked about that song over the years because she had a hard time getting through it. I hadn’t remembered the specific details, but knew she cried during the song and she was so upset afterwards because she thought she had ruined my wedding. (She didn’t)

I never felt that way….I remember being touched that she was emotional about my wedding. I wasn’t the best sister…no strike that, I probably would have gotten an F for sister kindness. She was young enough that I didn’t really take the time to get to know her. We didn’t have this wonderful sister bond growing up…so knowing she was crying over me was really special.

As we watched the video I can see why it was hard for her. The song came right after we had lit the unity candle. We then walked down so that we could present roses to both of our parents. So as she started to sing, she also had to watch as we hugged our parents. It was an emotional moment, and completely understandable that she might have been crying watching that.

But here is what I had long forgotten about that day.

There was another song. A first one actually. A song that she sang at the very beginning of the wedding after we all walked into the church. It was strong and beautiful, and yet I had forgotten. How could I forget that bravery…why had we remembered the struggle and not the beauty?

As I was thinking about that this morning I realized that I do this in so many ways.

I have memories from certain situations or circumstances, and so often I only remember the negative parts…even when there is beauty interwoven throughout, I forget that.

Why do we do this? Why do I do this?

I look through life with a distorted lens.

I see the hurt or the embarrassment, the shame I felt, or the anger.  Those become my core memories and all the good, all the happy moments, become less and less. It isn’t that they aren’t there…but I am not allowing myself to see them.

I want to start to see my life through a new lens.

I want to look back at my life and see that yes, there were times of hurt or pain, but they were also filled with beauty and hope. And I need to spend more time focusing on the good than how I felt about the bad.

So many of my memories are wrapped around how I felt at that particular moment. If I didn’t feel good….then I allow that feeling to take over, to become the predominant memory I have.

Pretty soon I am unable to see the good, my vision is clouded and blurred…it is distorted.

Thankfully I know today that I can make a choice to try and see the whole picture, to remember everything and then choose to have a right focus. To see opportunities for growth, to see bravery that wasn’t acknowledged before, to seek out the positive and let that be my focus.

It’s always been there, but I haven’t been willing or able to see it.

Today I am choosing to see, to remember the first song and be grateful that. I am walking forward today with a new hope. I have seen how God has taken my broken pieces and made them whole again…yet I stumble through life with the baggage of my mistakes, unwilling and unable to let them go.

Yes, I am still a broken woman. There are still hurts that I need healing from, and pain I have caused that needs forgiveness…but I don’t have to define my life by my struggle. Instead I am bringing all of me to my God and asking Him to use each part, each moment for His glory.

And I am hopeful that the song that will come from the good and the bad, will be beautiful.

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