Category Archives: Faith

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.

31 Days of Seeking Him – Almost

31 Days of Seeking Him

It was October, so many years ago. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at the bank I worked for and I was done.

For 10 years we had struggled. It hadn’t ever been easy really. Financially, emotionally…so many roadblocks and so many mistakes.

I was unsure of what the future would hold but I was also terrified of remaining in the state we had found ourselves. Contemptuous, angry, bitter…

I knew something had to change and I was so self absorbed and stubborn that I didn’t think I needed to do any of the changing. It is always easier to blame someone else isn’t it?

At that moment though I knew that I couldn’t live that way any longer. That day I almost walked away.

But God.

I know I have shared parts of our story here before, but this one bears repeating. God took our broken, our weary and worn out hearts and restored them.

It wasn’t easy and I struggled with change and forgiveness, but I had a small glimmer of hope that something may be different. And it was.

Painfully we worked through our greatest struggles, we started to fight FOR our marriage instead of against it. Laughter returned and the tears came less and less.

Today nearly 10 more years later I praise God that He stepped in and saved us. The fact that we have the opportunity to work together every day and enjoy it isn’t lost on me.

Yes I almost walked away. I was convinced there was no hope. Today though I fight for it, I share the ugly parts of our story so if there is someone else who is at their “almost”….they too can find hope.

It’s there friends. We have to be willing to seek God and trust Him with all of ourselves. We have to be willing to be honest, make amends, take responsibility for what is ours….When we do we will see change and that is a beautiful thing!

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today because this is the LAST DAY to enter!! 🙂

31 Days of Seeking Him – Begin

31 Days of Seeking Him

So if you are a part of the #FiveMinuteFriday group you know that the actual word for this last Friday in October was bacon…but with everything in me I just had nothing to write…and so I decided to break the mold once again and choose a different word. 🙂 I’m a rebel like that!

But it seemed fitting considering my week. Because the past few days I have been grateful for the opportunity to begin again.

It has been interesting to me that through the course of this series I have found that my own words have ministered to me just at the right time. Words that I know God gave me over a month ago. Words that spilled out furiously over the course of a weekend away….words I could not have imagined would speak to me.

But they have.

In a moment this week when I just wanted to give up, I found my post on hope and was reminded that even in this midst of a storm we can begin again.

I can choose how I want to respond, even if it is hard. So often I want to run away, especially when the problems I encounter are my own doing. But God is faithful, I really have seen it time and time again.

I remembered a saying that an old friend once told me, that we could begin our day over again at any time. We don’t have to let our circumstances define our entire day. We can choose joy, we can seek hope. We can start over.

This week has been a week of new starts, of recommitment to seeking God and allowing him to heal those parts of me that are still so broken.

There is so much work to still be done in this heart of mine, but I am willing and ready to allow God to do a new work in me. It begins with me, with me being open to His guidance. It begins with me recognizing that I can’t manage my own life. I need God, every moment of every day.

Beyond these words, and this series I am seeing how much I need to constantly seek God. Asking to see life through His eyes, to love people as He would and to trust Him with each moment of my day.

It isn’t a new idea, that’s for sure…but it is pretty exciting to be at this place of new beginnings.

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today!! 🙂

31 Days of Seeking Him – Sea

31 Days of Seeking Him

It roars and beckons. It is always in motion, constantly pushing and pulling…even in the distance where the waves are not forming it is moving.

As I sit at the water’s edge, the sea calls to me.

There is something incredibly peaceful about watching the waves crash into the shore line. Hearing the song that they make over and over again.

Oceans” has been a favorite song of mine since I heard it a few years ago for the first time at Allume. “You call me out unto the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail..”

Standing on the sand, watching the water roll in around me, I can feel the shifting beneath my toes. As the water pulls back out my footing becomes unsure…my feet may fail.

“And there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand.” The sea is a mystery, its never ending movement, the fact that the water seems to know where to stop.

As I sit and watch it I am overcome by the presence of a God that not only controls the waters and the tides, but also formed me in His image and loves me.

What a mystery Lord….

“I will call upon your name, and keep my eyes above the waves….I am yours and you are mine.”

I call out to Him, I have sought him and He has made His presence known. Always with me, always surrounding me…He is mine and I am His.

The sea reminds me of God’s mighty power and beautiful creation but also is a reflection of my faith. God calls us out to unsure seas and asks if we trust Him.

Sometimes we step out onto the water and walk towards Him. And at times I fumble and fear overwhelms and I start to sink…but He is there, holding out His hand for me.

Seek Me and you will find Me.

I am yours Lord, I am yours.

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today!! 🙂

31 Days of Seeking Him – Hope

31 Days of Seeking Him

Hebrews 6: 19 “I have this hope, an anchor for my soul, firm and secure….”

I spent a lot of years just holding on. Hope wasn’t a word that I dare utter because I just believed there wasn’t any. It didn’t exist for a girl like me.

Married young and full of mistakes and regret…I couldn’t hope to change, I just believed that we were stuck in the cycle we found ourselves in.

We spent many years trapped in the mire of our mistakes. Too stubborn and selfish to see past ourselves, we just got comfortable being uncomfortable.

And then one day God changed all of that. It wasn’t a fireworks/angels singing type of moment. Just a realization that our way of living wasn’t living…it was leading towards a slow death.

Certain we couldn’t do it on our own we reached out and were just a little bit willing to try something new…and hope was born in us.

Change doesn’t happen over night and I have said before that we struggled to make our way and stumbled many times…but God redeemed and restored. I hadn’t believed it was possible, but it was and I always remember those times as a time of hope.

We continue to have our fair share of bumps in the road. Life isn’t perfect or easy around our parts, but my perspective of it has changed. I know that I need to hold tight to my faith in God through the difficult times.

I can’t imagine going through life trying to manage it all on my own. I am completely and utterly incapable of doing it! But God is the anchor for my soul. My faith in Him keeps me grounded, firm and secure.

I don’t know what trouble you might be facing today friend, but it is my prayer that you would seek the One, the only One who is a sure and firm foundation…an anchor to weather any storm that may come. May knowing that fill you with hope and peace.

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today!! 🙂

31 Days of Seeking Him – Perhaps

31 Days of Seeking Him

It was a “perhaps” moment that changed the course of my life.

In 2008 I was suffocating from the loss of a pregnancy that we had tried so long and hard to have. I felt we deserved to be pregnant and when we lost the baby, I wondered why God would allow something so terrible to happen to me.

I didn’t know how to move past the feelings of anger and bitterness I was feeling. I finally admitted that I needed to see someone to talk through my feelings.

“Perhaps you should write a letter to your child.” she said.

At first thought it seemed a little crazy really, why would I write a letter to a baby I wouldn’t ever see this side of heaven? But I trusted her and wanted so badly to be well again…

Blogging was new to me at that time, but I had read a few that had a profound impact on my life and an old love of writing was stirred inside of me.

“Perhaps I will start a blog.”

And so I did. That letter to my child was one of the first posts that I wrote. I cried the ugly cry through the entire post and cry every time I go back and read it. So many hopes and so much love wrapped up in that post.

I hadn’t journaled or written anything in years. Life had gotten the best of me and having a creative outlet seemed impossible, but beginning that blog brought me back to life.

“Perhaps I will apply for this book launch team for one of my favorite authors.” 

Another pivotal moment. A yes and a welcome that again changed my life. Opening a door to not only life long friends, but a realization that we do all have a story and they need to be shared.

I was able to walk through some of my darkest times because you shared your stories and gave me hope. It is my honor to try and do the same here.

If there is something in your life that God has given you a passion for perhaps you should be brave and step out in faith and do it.

I know God in a completely different way than I did back in 2008. I have been seeking Him this entire time and it has been a journey, but one that has been life changing. Thank you so much for being a part of my story friends.

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today!! 🙂

31 Days of Seeking Him – Whisper

31 Days of Seeking Him

It comes in a whisper most days.

The lies that the enemy speaks to remind me that I am not good enough, I have sinned too often, I have fallen too far away from where the Lord can rescue me.

Now I don’t hear the audible sounds of the enemy speaking…but it is found in doubts and fears, comparisons and jealousy. All things I struggle with. All things that the enemy knows can become a stronghold for me.

I have to fight against these whispers. Do you hear them too?

I recently read the book Fevernt by Pricilla Schirer and can I just say that is the first book I have read cover to cover in a LONG time. The pages are underlined and dog eared and circled and starred.

So many truths that I didn’t want to forget that I am going to have to read it again and again.

She starts each chapter by saying “If I were the enemy I would….” and then writes about the different areas that we see attacks. In our marriages, our children, our schedules.

One comment hit home particularly hard when she said that the enemy doesn’t just use bad things to ensnare us but he uses the good as well. The state of “busy” that I often find myself in…often it is all good things.

A business we work hard to manage, a family that has activities, writing for this space and others. All good things. But if my days are filled so full with these “good things” that I don’t have any time for God….then I am right where the enemy wants me.

The more I do and feel I accomplish on my own, the less I am thanking the God that made it all possible. I HAVE to give Him all the credit. My pride and selfish pulls bring me to an ugly place when I think I have it all under control.

So I try and pull away for a time each day to thank Him. To seek to know Him and recognize that all I get to do each day is because of Him and for Him…to God be the glory in all of it.

Don’t allow the enemy whisper lies to you. If you start to hear them, fight back with words from God truth. Fill your heart and your mind with more of Him so that when the whispers come you are ready. You are filled instead with the whispers of the Holy Spirit of Truth.

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today!! 🙂

31 Days of Seeking Him – Crash

31 Days of Seeking Him

He is 18 and my first born. I have a fierce desire to protect him with everything that is in me…but he is also an adult now and making decisions on his own.

One of those decisions came when he got his motorcycle permit. We don’t own a motorcycle, but he has a good friend who’s family does and so he wanted to get his permit so one day they could ride together.

I can say I wasn’t really thrilled about this…so many bad things can happen and I worried for his safety.

But Isaac is a levelheaded young man and soon after getting his permit he signed up for the motorcycle safety course. He spent several hours over a weekend riding, practicing new skills and defense mechanisms to keep him safe on the road.

His friend invited him out to ride one night and I said a quick prayer that God would protect him.

I didn’t know what had happened until later that evening. They had been riding and heading around a slight bend in the road. Isaac was the 2nd in line and his tire hit a small patch of gravel and he started to lose control.

He did all the things he had been trained to do and drove it into the ditch and laid the bike down in the grass. It could have been so much worse. He didn’t crash the bike, but it was an accident.

A learning experience our friend’s father said.

Apparently most riders have a story…a crash or an accident that has happened. An experience that they have learned from. Isaac just got his on his first ride out!

As a mother, part of me wants to forbid that he ride again. But the reality is that he learned from this experience. They went back to the place it happened the next day to see how he may have approached that curve differently.

If we are willing we can learn from the crashes in our lives.

Yes they will happen, inevitably, so are we willing to go back and see what we could have done differently and then be brave enough to move forward?

I have been a fear-filled woman for too long.

I crash and then I don’t want to try again. But God has protected me, and I am seeing through the example of my brave son, that I too can learn and grow and move forward.

If we seek God we can learn from our mistakes and be strengthened to get back up and try it a new way the next time. Thank God for His provision and protection and that we can start again.

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today!! 🙂

31 Days of Seeking Him – Silence

31 Days of Seeking Him

Psalm 62: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” (v. 1-2)

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” (v 8)

I think that one of the most difficult parts of my faith life are the times when there is perceived silence from God. Now let me clarify that I do not and have not ever heard the audible voice of God.

Although there have been times that I have asked! “Speak to me Lord…tell me what to do and I will do it…” these requests are followed by silence.

But there have been times that I feel God has spoken to me through other people, or an open or closed door, a hitch in my spirit about a decision that needs to be made. So while it isn’t an audible answer…there are times I feel clearly led by God.

As a perfectionist and people pleaser I want to follow God’s plan for my life…and sometimes I just don’t know what that is and I am so afraid of making a mistake.

What if I take a wrong turn, will I ruin my chances at my best life?! Will I mess it all up?!

But the verses in Psalm 62 bring me comfort.

For God alone my soul waits in silence because from Him comes salvation.

I don’t need to seek out anyone or anything else…God is my refuge and my strength and I can pour out my heart to him.

There will be times in my life that I don’t know what to do. Times when I ask for direction and may not get a strong leading one way or another. During those times I can wait. I can calm my spirit and ask God to lead me when He is ready.

While I’d love my life to be on my time table I have learned that it often isn’t! So I will continue to seek Him, to ask for guidance and lean on Him when I need help. He is my refuge, my guide….

Silence doesn’t have to be a bad thing, maybe it is just an opportunity to still ourselves and wait.

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Because I am a part of this fun #Write31Days community I have something extra fun to share with you for the rest of this month! DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the amazing Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the giveaway widget instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! I’d love to see one of my readers win this so enter today!! 🙂

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