Category Archives: Gratitude

The Sounds of Praise

Lake walk

The black-and-white butterflies danced in front of our feet as we walked down the rocky path towards the shoreline of lake in front of us.

A bird circled overhead and cawed, reminding us that this was his territory.

The wind was strong that day and the trees sang and danced as the gusts caused their limbs to sway to and fro.

We were taking some time away with family, free of meetings and client calls. A time to breathe, something my husband and I both desperately needed.

There were sounds and movement all around us but I was filled with peace.

That kind of peace where you know all is well. Being able to unplug and just drink in this world that was created just for us.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude at the multitude of ways nature sings praises to the One who created all of it.

The trees making a song with their branches and the birds soar high on the currents of the air, rhythmically moving with the wind. The waves join in on the lake as they build and crash across the surface of the water. The plants and flowers provide beauty. All of it is a reminder to me that God is ever present.

There has always been something about nature that has drawn me closer to God.

It is as though in these moments where I step away and just pause to see, that I am overwhelmed at all He is and has done for me.

I need to be more intentional about taking the time to seek Him in the world around me.

Stepping away from the clatter of the busyness of life and into the sounds of celebration and praise that nature provides.

Is there a place that you connect most with God? Take some time this week and unplug so that you can connect with God!

Chasing Sunsets and Looking for Lovely

Sunrise

I love me a good sunrise or sunset.

My ONLY regret about the house we bought here in MN is that we can’t see the sunrises or sunsets very well. Homes and trees block the majority of our view, so while I get glimpses, I never get the full picture sitting inside my home.

But there is the rare occasion that I am bringing kids to school or heading home from church on Wednesday nights that I get to take in the beauty of a sunrise/sunset in its full glory.

I connect with God through His creation. There is something special about seeing the colors change across the sky, so brief and fleeting, but realizing the promise that they always return with each new day.

There are moments when I wish I could take time and just chase sunsets, every day, seek out that beauty and pause to take it all in. Because often times I struggle to see any light at all…

I have battled with depression for probably longer than I’d like to admit.

I do a pretty good job of disguising it for those I come in contact with. I can fix myself up and pretend that I have got it all together. But the banter that happens in my head is anything but put together and lovely.

It is often negative and oppressive, filled with comparison and littered with envy and jealousy. I want what I think you have and have to fight to see the many (obvious) blessings in my own life. I know that I have so many things to be grateful for but sometimes the knowing isn’t enough, it seems.

Recently I got a book in the mail that has helped me feel less alone in this struggle, and also has set a path in motion to my seeking out the lovely in my day…even if it is small or seemingly insignificant.

In her book Looking for Lovely Annie writes this: “I had an addiction. For over twenty years I had taken all the pain and hurt and pushed it straight down my throat. For as much as I read the Bible, sat in Sunday school, and made church my second home, I wish I’d understood, “His ears are open for their cries for help” (Psalm 34:15) Instead of feeling any of the suffering, instead of pressing through the pain and taking it to God, trusting that He heard me, I escaped to anywhere that would feed me, and I stuffed my emotions down by covering them in layers of food.” (p.37)

In my book I have those lines underlined and where she has food, I crossed it out and wrote in anger. I could also have written shopping or any thing that I set out to do that fills me up and makes me “feel” more valuable…host a party so I get praise, work on the “perfect” blog post so I can encourage others and bolster my self esteem…the list could go on and on.

Instead of dealing with the heart of what’s at the center of the darkness I feel inside, I run to fill the emptiness with things that never fully satisfy.

In her journey to be “rebuilt”, Annie knew that “she needed the strength of heart to hold on until God could complete the work He had begun.” (p.47)

This rebuilding is hard, laborious work isn’t it? If you have walked through a time of self discovery yourself, you know that it is often painful and slow. There are days that I feel like I have taken several steps forward only to find myself right back in the muck of my old ways, full of mistakes.

In these times I need to take just a little time to focus on the lovely around me. A beautiful sky, the sound of the rain falling, a clean closet or some one on one time with one of my kids.

I loved what Annie had to say about it: “It’s not about pretending everything is beautiful and nothing is ugly and you have no questions or doubts and picking out the beautiful in your everyday is going to protect you from anything hurting ever. It’s about feeling the pain, letting the suffering be a part of your life…because there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending that everything is okay.” (p.76)

Ultimately I want to be able to be okay not being okay.

There is a freedom in being able to be transparent and honest, and I want that in my life. I want to recognize where I am still stuck, take responsibility for the things that are mine and find contentment and joy even if my life isn’t picture perfect.

Annie found that in many deep and meaningful ways. Her book is filled with both struggle and progress. As raw and honest as they come, she has walked this hard path and offers hope for those of us on a similar journey.

“It’s not that my life is all that different; it’s just that I see it differently. So it feels like a brand-new life.” (p.172)

So I am going to keep chasing sunsets, I will paint my fingernails a fun color and enjoy the little things that bring me joy. And I will also continue to allow God to refine me and my character. Allowing myself to be humbled because it brings healing. I don’t have to run from the hard, or stuff it away, or fill it with things of this world. Instead I will seek the lovely through it all and trust that even if my circumstances haven’t changed, that one day I too will begin to see differently as well.

I received an advance copy of Annie’s book as a part of her launch team. I LOVED this book and so I have a copy to share here with one of my readers. I think every woman needs to read this book – so leave a comment to be entered and I will pick the winner on Friday April 8th!

A Time Away

Beach Trip

As I sit to type out this post, this is my view. I set my alarm (I know who does that on vacation?!?!) but I wanted to see if I could catch the sunrise. We have a beautiful view of the ocean, but the actual sunset was just a bit behind the building…still it was amazing and if I had to live here and enjoy this every day…I think I might!! 😉

This is the first time I have ever planned a true “girls weekend away” like this. I used to go see Karlena in Denver when she was alive and I did get that surprise trip to Houston for my birthday…but this was something we planned about 6 months ago and finally the weekend had come.

It is always hard to leave my family. I honestly struggle with guilt at being away, spending money and time just on me, but can I just say that my soul needed this so much! I haven’t written more than a few times this month and last…I write when the words are there and for the most part they haven’t been there.

But as I boarded the plane in Minneapolis, the words started to come. It was as though my spirit knew I could relax and I worked furiously during that 2 hr flight. I participated in the 31 Day challenge in October last year to write every day in that month. Last year I used the Five Minute Friday word prompts, but never wrote but a day in advance.

This year, because of this trip, I have written almost ALL of the 31 posts, less the ones we won’t know the prompts for until Thursday night! I couldn’t believe it…there is something to be said about a writer getting away for some inspiration!

But it wasn’t all about writing either!

On Saturday Gindi and I went down to the beach in the morning. (We are staying in Fort Walton Beach, FL) It was overcast but warm. We sat by the waters edge and marveled at the waves crashing and the few dolphin sightings that we had, but had trouble capturing on our phones!

Beach Trip

It was so wonderful to just to have our toes in the soft, white sand, see the birds that came to dive bomb us on our porch and enjoy the constant sound of the waves.

We decided to drive down to Sandestin and do a little sightseeing. There was this adorable little beach community with food trucks and shopping and gelato!! We walked around and took pictures, fell in love with over priced jewelry and laughed.

Oh this trip was so needed if just for the laughter! Sometimes I get so stressed and overwhelmed that I forget how soul-filling laughter can be!

Beach Trip Collage 2

Then we decided to head back to Destin where we had seen a large outlet mall to do a little shopping! On the way we passed the Snappy Turtle, just the name alone warranted a stop and a cheesy photo op. Inside they had all the cheap, beach souvenirs and while I didn’t buy them, I found these jars with shells that had both Dominic and my name on them! I NEVER have seen anything with either of our names on them! It was so exciting we had to take a picture! 🙂

Beach Trip

We found a nice restaurant where we could have a dinner to celebrate Gindi’s birthday a few days late. I was too scared to try a sushi roll, but did order local grouper instead of the chicken I thought that I might have. I have eaten fish twice here and tried fried green tomatoes (which I LOVED) and crab (which I haven’t had since I was 10 and hated it!) Oh it has all been so so good!

We caught the tail end of the sunset before we set on back to our condo. I could watch a sunset like that every night. If someone forced me I wouldn’t complain at all! 😉

Beach Trip

Sunday we decided to enjoy the bountiful sunshine that the day promised and spent some more time on the beach. We walked in the water, collected small shells to take back to our kids, saw what I was certain was baby sharks…it was so peaceful and fun!

Beach Trip

Then it was back to Destin for a glass bottom boat dolphin ride. It was $29 for a 2 hour tour! It was a wonderful experience to actually be out on the water and they did a great job bringing us to where the dolphins were. It was so amazing to see them in the wild, so close!

Beach Trip

Unfortunately the trip can’t last forever…although I miss my family like crazy! This was a life breathing vacation and I hope I can convince Dominic to do something like this some day with me!! 😉

Where is your favorite place to get away and refresh? I’d love to hear because I am always thinking about where we might go next!!

Tetelestai

Tetelestai

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

I heard the word for the first time from one of our worship team leaders. She was sharing a song with that name. The greek word Tetelestaai means it is finished.

The last word that Jesus spoke on earth before He paid the price for my sins.

The weight of that word is on my heart this week. As we approach Resurrection Sunday and the celebration that is, I can’t forget about what happened just 3 days before.

I have been participating in the She Reads Truth study for the last 41 days. Looking at my own sin, coming once again to that place of repentance and recognizing the immense sacrifice that was made on my behalf.

There are days that I feel pretty good about myself. You know I get up and read my Bible, I am patient and loving to my kids, I work hard at the office and might even have a good meal for my family for dinner.  I pat myself on the back for a job well done and might even polish my halo a little.

I’ve got this….look at all I can do.

It doesn’t take long for reality, my sin reality, to smack me in the face once again.

The moment I think I have it all together, is the moment I disregard the gift that was given to me on the cross.

I can’t ever do enough, be enough, strive enough, to deserve the grace of God. (<===Click to Tweet)

That is what makes His grace, His unconditional love so scandalous. 

Our pastor has been teaching out of Romans for the past several weeks and has been bringing a Word to our congregation. Oh it has been just what my soul needs to hear. The first few weeks were tough…I mean Paul’s letter to the Romans talks over and over again about how we ALL have sinned.

Romans 3: 11-18

“None is righteous, no, not one;
     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

None is righteous, No not one.

So what are we left with then?

As our pastor told us…stick with him, because the hope comes in Romans 4. Using the faith of Abraham as an example, Paul tells us that God’s righteousness is not just for Abraham, but for us also.

Romans 4: 20-25

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,  fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”  But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,  but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, if we have faith in God, righteousness will be counted to us as well.

He called that kind of grace scandalous. And it is.

There isn’t anything that I can do to “earn” that kind of favor.

Jesus gave His life for MY sins.

For the fight I had with my husband and the ways I acted in disrespect. Tetelestai.

The day I argued with my kids and said things that hurt feelings. Tetelestai. 

For every time I gossiped and spoke unkind words, and fueled the fire of negativity in another. Tetelestai. 

For my lack of faith, my lashing out at God, my utter defiance to His will in my life. Tetelestai. 

No one is righteous, no not even me.

And yet, my Jesus was accused, falsely charged, beaten to near death, forced to walk carrying His own torture device, pierced and nailed to a cross, and hung to die for me.

For every moment that I am not proud of, every single one…Jesus paid the price.

It is finished. Tetelestai. 

Over the next few days  I encourage you to be aware of how big this gift is that we have been given. We don’t have to end up in a pit of despair, we all have sinned, we all have fallen short. That is what makes His gift so amazing.

He paid the price.

Because of the shedding of blood we can stop striving to earn God’s favor. (<====Click to Tweet)

We already have it, it is finished.

Tetelestai.

Photo Credit: Its His Gift

The Most Unbelievable Birthday Gift

Birthday BanditsI can hardly believe it, but I am sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting to board a flight that will first take me to Chicago and then shortly thereafter, Houston, Texas.

On Thursday night around 8:30pm I got the surprise of a lifetime when I came downstairs after painting some more and sat down to send an email….I opened my computer and inside was the letter pictured above.

As I started to read it my eyes filled with tears, Gabriel had been in the room and he grabbed it from me and started reading it aloud. Dominic apparently at this point was taping me with his phone…. (The video is hilarious and I sound like a freak – if we are friends on FB you can see it there!)

On Saturday I was to report to the Minneapolis airport and would be flying to somewhere unknown for a special early birthday weekend.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that someone would do something like this for me and to pull off all the details….amazing.

My second thought after “are you serious, how can this be??”, was “yikes, I haven’t painted my toenails in weeks.” What can I say, vanity has been a struggle for me! 😉 Because I didn’t know for sure where I was going (although I had a strong suspicion) I wasn’t sure exactly what warmth of clothes I should pack.  But the reality is that most of the south right now is dealing with cold weather themselves, so anything I would wear during the fall/early winter should work.

So that night I packed what I could, tried to get Dominic to tell me ANYTHING, which he would not…and proceeded to walk around for the next day and 1/2 with a silly grin on my face.

This is too much.

On my route to MSP this morning I got a call from Gindi and she finally confirmed where I was headed. She said that back in December Delonna had started a secret vox chain with her, Gindi and Christine. They wanted to plan something super special for my upcoming 40th birthday.

These women are such an unbelievable gift to me. To think that just a few short years ago we were all strangers…oh God brought them into my life for such a time as this.

God knew…

Just 4 years ago in November I lost my best friend Karlena. A few months before she passed away I planned a secret trip to go and visit her. I worked with her husband and her MIL to arrange all the details and travelled to see her for the weekend. I was pregnant with our girl and Karlena had been so sick the few months prior that I just wanted to cheer her up.

It was a wonderful time, and the last time that I saw her  alive. I will always cherish that weekend.

Losing your best friend leaves a hole….and it was one that I didn’t expect would ever be filled again.

But God.

Oh those 2 words that seem to define so many of the remarkable moments in my life.

But God knew, and somehow a group of 99 women were chosen for a book launch, and then several of us broke off to encourage one another in a mastermind group, and finally a God-sized dream was birthed and a website was born.

And from that group, friendships were born.

From across the miles, voxer has kept us connected. Life has been shared, tears have been shed, cheering has ensued. These women are have filled my life to overflowing, and this…this birthday surprise?

It is the gravy.

Christine and Delonna weren’t able to to join us in person, schedules, work commitments etc., made it tough to find a way for all of us to be together. So instead, Gindi is hosting me for a weekend full of SO MUCH.

Seriously you should see the agenda, I am almost speechless.

But the fact that these three women worked so hard, schemed, planned and made arrangements with my husband, got ideas from my mom….it is just so much.

I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I am marveling in the lavish love that God has for me that he would place these women in my life so that in the month of my 40th birthday I would be treated to a surprise weekend. Something only the #birthdaybandits could do.

Ok, I probably should stop writing now because just thinking about it is bringing me to tears and the other people in the waiting area at the airport are going to start giving me the crazy eyes. 😉

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough…and I am sure that I will have more to share as the weekend unfolds, but for now, as I wait to board my flight I want to just say thank you. Gindi, Delonna, Christine, Dominic and my mom….for everything that you did to make this weekend possible, I am humbled by your gift.

Speechless (almost) and overwhelmed. I wasn’t really depressed about 40…but now, this? I am entering into this new season full of joy and hope. I love you all!

An Introduction and a Thank You – Meet Holley Gerth!

Holley and I!

It is my huge honor to share with you a woman that is largely responsible for this space here. Holley Gerth is a writer and best-selling author and founder/creator of the God Sized Dream team that I have had the privilege to be a part of.

When I was chosen to be a part of the God Sized Dream Team (exactly 1 year ago today!!) I felt called to start this space here devoted to writing and sharing about my faith.  I have been blessed in abundance as a result of this GSD team and just thank Holley for allowing me to be a part of her dream chasers team.

At Allume Holley spoke at one of the breakout sessions about finding “Brand You”. She did an amazing job despite the sound difficulties they were having! There were a couple of things she said that really stuck with me….

“God doesn’t want the next “anybody”….He wants the uniquely created you!”

And “Our brands are NEVER about us. First God, then those we serve, then us”.

Don’t you just love that?!

In a world where the focus seems to be “What’s in it for me”, Holley reminds us that we need to be seeking what God’s plan for us is and how we can use our unique gifts for His glory!

She has such a heart for women, of encouragement, and I really wanted to share more of who she is with my readers because I know you are going to love her as well! So I asked her if I could do a little interview of sorts and she said yes!!

So grab yourself a cup of coffee, or hot chocolate if you are like me, find a comfy place to rest and get to know my dear friend and mentor.

To start tell us a little about yourself, your family, your favorite flavor of coffee!

Thanks so much for inviting me to hang out on your place today, Kristin! I’m a God-sized dreams girl who loves encouraging the hearts of women through words. I’ve been married to my college sweetheart, Mark, for thirteen years. The closest thing we’ve got to a kid is a beagle-basset named Katie {aka “The Beast”}. I drink my coffee without any cream or sugar and just about any flavor will do! A cupcake on the side is always a bonus.

Encouragement seems to be your super power – has this always come naturally or is it something that has developed over time?

I think the answer is “both.” Even back in Junior High I remember writing little notes to my friends like, “10 Things I Like About You.” My grandparents had a Christian bookstore and I would always come home from visiting them with cards and other kind of encouragement to share with my friends. As the years have gone by, God has helped me grow that gift and I’m so glad I get to use it to write books, blog, and serve as a life coach.

What led you to dream chasing?

A few years ago my friend Stephanie Bryant and I started (in)courage, a web site we said was like God’s beach house for women. We were both at DaySpring at the time and long story short, we watched God do the impossible. After experiencing that kind of adventure, I wanted more. There’s no better place to be than going where God wants you.

How has your vision of a God Sized Dream changed?

My husband and I have a verse sitting in our office that says “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” (1 Thess. 4:11). I’ve realized that God-sized dreams are just as often found in the ordinary, unknown, and everyday as the moments when you may be in a position that’s more public. Ultimately all God-sized dreams are about this: loving Jesus, loving others, and loving yourself.

What is one piece of advice you would give to the dreamer that feels discouraged?

You don’t have to prove yourself. I spent years trying to gain approval and acceptance. No matter how much I did or what I accomplished, it never felt like enough. And God let it be that way for a purpose because he wanted me to come to a place of knowing I could never earn love—I could only receive it. Your dream is not about a destination. It’s about a relationship. And that’s just as real today as it will be on the day your dream comes true.

Tell me about becoming a life coach and what is one benefit that could be gained by working with a life coach?

I have a masters degree in counseling and worked briefly as a private practice counselor. While counseling is about the past and healing, life coaching is about the future and growth. I realized that was more of my sweet spot and became certified. Now I coach women all over the world. Life coaching is about moving forward and seeing tangible results in your life. But it also makes sure those results come from a place of encouragement, strength, and taking hold of who you really are and what God has for you.

Finally what’s next on the horizon for you and how can we be praying for you?!

What a sweet question! I have another book releasing next Spring called You’re Going to Be Okay. And I’m writing another one that will come out a year later. So I would appreciate prayers for the words I’m supposed to put on those pages. Also, no one has it all together and I struggle with days of discouragement, doubt, and feeling a bit drained just like everyone else. I’d love to have prayers that as I continue pouring out, God would also continue to fill me back up. And friends like you, Kristin, are a big part of that! Thank you!

XOXO

Holley Gerth

Isn’t she just awesome?? Holley has to be one of the most humble and caring people that I know. And today is an extra special day because it is her birthday!! So would you please stop on over at her place and give her some birthday love?! 🙂 Holley you are a blessing in so many ways – I am praying that God fills your cup to overflowing this year!

Holley-pic-4-01

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...