Category Archives: Me. Faith

Looking for Him this Season

shepherd-on-the-search

We have had an unseasonably warm fall here in Minnesota, something that has been such a gift this year. So it has been hard for me to get in the “Holiday” mindset. Maybe it is the impending blizzard watch we are under for later in the week or the fact that every store is decorated for Christmas, but thoughts of Christmas were on my mind this morning.

I was remembering the times we spent at my grandparent’s home and how before we opened any gifts on Christmas Eve my grandpa would pause and read us the Christmas story. As a child, I was filled with the excitement and anticipation of what was in the packages under the tree …not of the miracle of Christ’s birth.

But my grandpa recognized something that I now understand more deeply myself…the season should be a celebration of the amazing gift God sent for all of humanity. 

I try and put myself in the place of those we read about in Luke 2. How must Mary have felt, carrying the Son of God inside her? What was the journey like that the wise men took to travel incredible distances to bring gifts to Jesus?

Or the shepherds, have you ever thought about the shepherds?

Typically the shepherd was kind of the low man on the totem poll. They spent their days and nights out in the field with sheep. And yet God sent His angels to the shepherds so that He could announce the coming Christ child.

Luke 2 paints a beautiful picture for us:

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

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

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

As a parent, I would love for my kids to see the wonder of Christmas in the birth of Christ and not just in the gifts laying under the tree.

With wish lists and toy guides and elf-on-the-shelf, often Christmas loses its focus on Christ pretty quickly.  So we have to be intentional during the Advent season to bring things back into a right focus.

One of the ways we will be doing that this season is with Dayspring’s Shepherd on the Search kit. In the kit is a book, a small shepherd doll and a box that creates a manger scene. The book tells the kids the journey the shepherd will be on throughout the month of December.

Inviting the kids to go on a journey of their own, each morning the kids will search for where the shepherd might be. His final destination is the stable on Christmas Eve. One of the things that I loved about this kit was that Dayspring has a website specifically dedicated to sharing ideas on how you can incorporate this kit in your day to day life.

This is a fun, yet focused way that you can incorporate the anticipation and celebration of Christ’s birth every day during the Advent season.

Dayspring also has a Christmas CD that features kids singing some of our favorite Christmas Carols! What a wonderful way to create a worshipful environment all season long!

The excitement of presents and new toys will always be something our kids will have, but my hope is that with a daily focus on the miracle of Jesus, we will help establish them a love for the true meaning of the Season.

What are some of the ways you keep Christ present in the Christmas season for your kids? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

I was provided the Shepherd on the Search kit for free from Dayspring in exchange for my honest review. All stories and opinions are my own.

Walking in Forgiveness

Path to forgivenessOh friends how I miss this space at times.

I miss writing here, miss sharing my heart…my summer has been filled with fun and not-so-fun moments, and with preparations to send our oldest to college in 15 days, seriously where has the time gone?!

I am not sure that my heart is ready for the change.

And isn’t that the way with so many things? Life, reality, comes at us and we have to deal with it regardless if we are prepared or not.

And as a girl who doesn’t like change, or things out of her control…well this can be a bit of a tough road to go down!

I don’t know why God felt that 2015 needed to be the year of all the lessons. I mean really, one good one would have been plenty for this girl…but it has been chock full of learning and growing.

Most days I probably grumble more than I should.

Many days I focus on the pain of the stretching and not the beauty of new growth.

But every once and awhile I get it…it is a light bulb moment and change happens, and that is what I want to share with you today.

I have vaguely shared that for many years Dominic and I struggled in our marriage. I haven’t shared lots of details, but married life didn’t start out easy.

We jumped right in as young adults into a big world of expectations and we both got burned in the process.

On our wedding day, as my dad gave me away, he told us both to never, never, never give up.

It made me cry and I thought that it was beautiful.

And then I got angry at Dominic for something and wanted to run.

I am not sure where that all comes from really…I need some good therapy to figure it all out. But when things get hard and uncomfortable – I want out!

Very early on I established a pattern in our marriage. It was a damaging and awful path to be on and I walked in it for years. Divorce was a swear word and I used it with a vengeance.

Make me angry, I threaten you with everything that should be secure….family, home, our relationship. It didn’t matter if I really meant it or not. I got mad and opened my mouth and out spewed unmatched ugliness.

Can I just pause and say here that this is NOT where I thought I was headed with this post when I started writing it…that being said I am going to keep walking this out as I feel God is maybe giving me the words for someone who needs to hear them.

In my Hello Mornings study we have been reading through James and yikes can I say that it is a tough one to read when there are so many things that I can personally relate to.

So to lay it all out there…me mad = many people hurt by my actions/words.

I used my words as a weapon time and time again. And Dominic received the worst of it.

And I always felt justified. The conversation in my head always went something like this…

“Well if he wouldn’t have done/said xyz…then I wouldn’t have gotten angry.”

So in my mind it was never my fault. (I see the error in my thinking now, but this has been a struggle for YEARS and it caused so much hurt.)

I became an expert at the silent treatment. Even when forgiveness was asked, and I “granted” it (even though I should have been doing the asking) I would drag out my punishment for days being silent and cold.

Sounds like a wonderful, inviting home doesn’t it?!

We went around and around in this cycle for way too long.

Yes several years ago there was some significant restoration and healing…but bad behaviors are hard to break, especially for someone like me. And walking in true forgiveness wasn’t something that I had mastered.

I forgave with conditions.

I never let go, never took full responsibility for my part….I have been walking in chains and so desperately want freedom.

A few weeks ago Dominic and I had a really great conversation. It was one of those unplanned, deep talks that led to a frank discussion about forgiveness.

Dominic used himself as an example saying things like “at times I do this and say I forgive you, but I don’t really and I hold a grudge….” Everything that he said was something that I should and could say as well. We both do it and it isn’t healthy.

And then he said “We have got to say we forgive one another and then walk forward like we actually do.”

No more I forgive you but….

I forgive you but I am going to remain guarded and distant.

I forgive you but I am going to remember this for next time.

I forgive you but only after I have punished you for a time first.

We have walked that path for longer than we ever should have.

And so that night we committed to walking a new path.

A path of true forgiveness.

It has been a little silly around our house as a result.

Arguing and hurt feelings happen. We are flawed human beings…so now we say “I forgive you” immediately.

Forgiveness is flying around like crazy. I will admit it has become a bit of a joke (sometimes he forgives me for forgiving him), but we are practicing it every day. 🙂

There will be a time where one of us hurts the other. It is inevitable. And as a woman with all.the.feelings., well Dominic just has to look at me sideways on the wrong day and I could get all twisted up.

But if it happens, I will choose to walk in forgiveness.

I will say it and then act like I mean it.

I will not hold a grudge.

I will not threaten our marriage.

I will not give the silent treatment.

He deserves better than that and so do I!

We have a choice to walk in freedom on the path of forgiveness. (<====Click to Tweet)

There is a lightness in my step as a result.

I still have LOTS of issues that I need to deal with, my anger first and foremost at the front…but I have confidence that there will be freedom there as well.

As my dear friend Marlene told me “God has given me the key to freedom…I just need to choose to walk in that freedom.”

So I am marching ahead. Want to join me?!

Joining the beautiful writers over at Jennifer’s place #TellHisStory

Photo Credit: agnivohneb

Where Grace and Suffering Meet

Karlena 2Today is a special day as it would be Karlena’s 40th birthday. And I am pretty sure that her 40 and fabulous party in heaven isn’t anything like we would be having here.

But I miss her. And I wish that I was celebrating with her in person.

Today at church I am leading a song for worship team. (Please pray as you read this because it still TERRIFIES me.) Anyhoo….It is called At the Foot of the Cross.

I have listened to the song over a hundred times in the last 4 days and the words have sunk in deep, covering my soul with the reality that is the dance between suffering and grace.

The video I am attaching below is one where they show clips from the Passion movie. The scene where Jesus is being raised up on the cross and his beloved friends are at the foot of the cross watching.

I understand the pain they must have felt at that moment. Their friend and companion, their teacher and example was dying and they would never be the same again.

I imagine they must have wondered how any beauty could ever come from something so painful.

But it is at the foot of the cross, the very tool used for extreme suffering, that we find just that.

Beauty from ashes.

Hope in the midst of suffering.

Light in the darkness.

The cross is the very reason that the loss we all experience is not the end.

We have been given new life when we accept Jesus as our Savior. And that new life offers the promise that death is not the end. And while I would rather celebrate this special birthday with Karlena in person, I rejoice in the fact that one day we will be reunited.

And oh the party that will be.

I don’t know what burden you are carrying this morning.

Maybe it is the loss of a job, or a struggle in your marriage. Maybe your arms long for a baby of your own. Maybe you are carrying the weight of a sickness or the struggle with anxiety or depression.

Whatever it is, I encourage you to lay it down. If you have to physically do the act of setting it down, do that. Set it down at the foot of the cross.

We weren’t meant to carry it on our own. Jesus came to do the heavy lifting. But for some of us it means we have to first let go.

There is freedom found in trusting God with everything. We might not always understand the trials we face, but we can walk confidently knowing that He will make beauty out of all of it.

Happy Birthday Karlena. You are loved and missed but I rejoice today in your complete and total healing. Until the day we celebrate together…I love you friend!

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Why I Blog

Why I Blog

Recently, as a part of some God-sized Dream team building, we were asked by one in the group to share our “why I blog” story. It has been awhile since I have written about that so I thought it would be fun to revisit it today!

I started blogging in 2008. Honestly as I type that I can’t believe that it has been that long. We lived in SD and had dial-up internet. Writing a post took forever, uploading a single picture was 30 minutes at least! It is a wonder that I stuck with it for several years with those conditions! 😉

I have always loved sharing stories and writing.

When I was young I had a journal, the Type A personality in me also had a clothing log. In my great efforts to become popular (it didn’t work btw) I would record in spiral notebooks my outfit of the day. Had there been blogging in the late 80’s early 90’s…OOTD may have been cool. But this was my sad attempt at making sure that I didn’t wear the same thing in a 2 week period. Yes even then I had problems!

For a time I had a prayer journal and would write out all things I wanted to do or change in my life. And then for many years the writing stopped completely.

Life got HARD. I was unable and unwilling to see any good in my life and so I shut down. If I had a blog then I would have called it “Let Me Count the Ways My Life Stinks”…catchy huh?! At that point I didn’t believe God could really make a change in my life. I had prayed for it, begged even and He hadn’t answered my prayers…(or maybe I wasn’t listening…)

In 2006 God grabbed a hold of my heart in a BIG way. I could see clearly my desperate need for a Savior. I couldn’t keep living the way I had and became willing to do whatever I needed to find peace.

It was 2008 when I first heard the word blog. I had tickets to attend a concert with Point of Grace and Selah. Selah had to cancel our concert because the lead singer, Todd Smith’s wife, was pregnant with a baby who was “incompatible with life” and she was due to deliver any day. The radio station that hosted the concert asked for prayers and directed us to Angie’s blog where she had been documenting her journey.

My heart was instantly grieved for this woman I hadn’t ever met. In February, just a few short months earlier, I had lost a pregnancy as well. One that I was so excited about, one we had prayed about…a pregnancy that had felt like a “reward” for finally being on the right track with God.

So when I had a miscarriage I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen. Weren’t we doing everything right? My heart hardened towards God and the relationship that I had been building over the past 2 years began to crumble.

But every morning I would go and read Angie’s words.

Filled with heartache and pain, but yet hope, she shared about her God. A God that was the same yesterday as He was today…regardless of the circumstances happening around her. Her transparency was remarkable. Of course she was heartbroken, she wanted a different outcome for her daughter, but she never stopped trusting God with all of it.

Her words, her story, gave me hope. (<====Click to Tweet)

I began to ask myself if her faith can stand firm in that situation…then why not me as well? How could I sit with my hardened heart, cursing God for not saving my pregnancy and Angie was praising God even in the storm? How do you get to that place of complete surrender and full faith?

I wanted what she had, a faith like that. A hope in Christ in ALL things.

And so I started a blog of my own. A place where I could work out this shaky-knees faith. A home that I could share my hurts and my pain and hopefully one day share the hope I had in Jesus.

It didn’t come easily at first. I can say that in the beginning the words may have just been that, words. I wrote what I wanted to feel but didn’t truly believe them for my own life.

But God has a funny way of working on our heart and over time I started to see the blessings.

In late 2012 I started this blog. I probably should have called it KristinSmith.com, because according to people who tell you how to blog best…that is the way to go. But the reality for me really was this, it isn’t about me. This space, my ability to write and share stories, is all God. (<====Click to Tweet)

God gives me the words. And by trusting in God and working through some difficult life experiences, I have a chance to be a light here. To share with someone who is hurting the hope that is found in Him. My life isn’t without problems today. But because of Christ I am lavished in love, riches that are beyond my understanding.

Oh it is my honest prayer that maybe just one person might rest here for a moment and find hope.  And that is why I blog!

Do you have a blog? I’d love to read your “why” story…would you share a link below?!

Photo Credit: JeanbaptisteM

The Song {And a Giveaway!} #awakenlove

The Song 2

I have shared before that Dominic and I spent way too many years struggling in our marriage. We just weren’t equipped to handle marriage well and we were far from God…it was not a good mix.

Unfortunately we built up a lot of bad habits during that time and learned how to fight well and love poorly. Today I am so grateful for the grace that has been poured out on our marriage and the restoration that we have seen take place.

It isn’t easy and it takes work and a lot of prayer – but God is faithful!

Today we work together and spend most of our days and nights together. There have been “interesting” moments for sure, but for the most part we both feel blessed that we have this opportunity now.

But the one thing we are the worst at is finding time for just the two of us.

Date night? What is that?! 🙂

In fact a few weekends ago we had some clients to visit in the afternoon and decided to get dinner out together afterwards and Dominic felt guilty that we were having a nice dinner and the kids were a home eating leftovers. (They survived if you can believe it!) 😉

Time together just the two of us, not doing work, is so important though. 

It is easy to get busy, make excuses and not participate in things because there is always something else that needs our attention.

Recently we started hosting a small group from church at our home every Sunday night. It has been so good to fellowship with other couples, even if all our kids are upstairs.

But even more than that I want us to learn more about each other, so when I was asked if I wanted a copy of THE SONG: Awaken Love Couple’s Devotional  to review, I was excited. I love having resources available that help encourage strengthening a marriage.

The Song 3

This devotional is based on the Song of Solomon in the Bible. It is a 6 week devotional with short lessons for 5 days of each week.

Short stories and some discussion questions to get the couple talking, this is an easy way to increase communication and look at how God’s Word views marriage.

The Awaken Love devotional is a great resource for any couple to have!

I would encourage you to check out this website. It has links to materials you can purchase as well as links to other free resources. These were my favorites. Rekindle your Marriage Resource and 10 Ways to Pray Protection over Your Marriage.

As a part of this post FlyBy is offering the devotional for free to one of my readers. So if you would like to win a copy please leave a comment below and I will pick a winner on Friday November 21st!

#seethesong

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

When Anger is My First Response

Harbor

There are times when there are posts and ideas in my mind that I’m really excited to write about. And then there are times like today that I feel God is calling me to write and I don’t want to share the words.

Because if I’m being honest, this isn’t something that I want you to know about.

It reveals a part of my soul and my character that are difficult. Areas in my life that God is working on me, refining me… you see I have a problem with anger.

Anger itself reveals my lack of self-control and the ability to find the good in situations. When my first response is one of anger, nobody wins.

And I can feel it. I can feel myself getting angry and once I am there it seems that my natural response is to yell.

I want to be a place of safe harbor. A place of comfort and trust. But a mama that explodes when she is frustrated is no safe harbor. (<====Click to Tweet) When my kids know that mom is mad they don’t come to me…they go the other way.

It is a harsh and painful reality.

The majority of this post was spoken when I was in the bathroom. Okay maybe that was too much information for y’all…so sorry! I was just getting ready one morning, and I just felt very strongly that these words needed to be written.

So I used my phone and my notes app and I spoke these words into being.

I want more for me. I want more for my children. I want my more for my husband and my friends.

I don’t want my legacy to be one of anger. (<====Click to Tweet)

I know it must have been God’s prompting to read Heather’s post that morning.  In this season of busy I haven’t been able to keep up on his many blogs as I would like to. But for some reason I clicked through and read her post.

Heather was brave and shared her own story of struggling with yelling at her kids. Of putting on that face, that mask if you will, for everyone outside of her home. But not having that same attitude towards those closest to her.

And unfortunately her post struck a nerve because I can relate so well to what she was saying.

So as I got ready that morning I could just feel God convicting my heart.

“I called you to be a light.”

“Yes that light is important when you share it with the outside world. But even more than that Kristin, you need to be showing that light to your family.”

So I come before you broken, stripped bare and humbly asking for your prayers.

I am going to be circling this in prayer. I can’t make this type of transformation on my own. God has to do a work in me and through me. I just need to be willing to do the hard things to see change.

I want to use this space as a place to remain accountable.

You have all blessed me with my own safe harbor. Your words of encouragement and not judgement help me to be more transparent. So it may get raw and real around here but I need to be able to take off the mask…even if just in this space first.

It is my prayer that as I walk this road, God will mold me into the woman, the mother and wife He created me to be. Thank you friends for walking with me!

In Him, Kristin

Photo Credit: Rasmus Zwickson

Saying Goodbye

Birch Tree 2

I have always said that I believe that God brought us to this house.

During the transition time that Dominic was living in MN and we were still back in SD, we made several trips to Marshall to look at homes. Our Realtor (and now neighbor) 🙂 was patient with us and showed us a bunch of homes.

We weren’t sure when we were going to be moving so it was hard. We would see and fall in love with a home and then it would be sold. This went on for 5 months. We finally came to a point that we knew we needed to take that leap of faith and put our SD home on the market and just see what would happen.

It sold in 4 days after 1 showing with a 45 day closing time.

Oh and I we had just had a new baby a few months before. It was a crazy time. And we needed to find a home fast.

I saw a house online that I loved and sent Dominic on a late night, last minute trip to see it. It already had an offer on it but there was a possibility to make a counter offer. While he was there Molly asked if she could show him 1 more house.

A home that had been on the market for a long time, and the sellers were motivated. So Dominic went to see it and I remember the call he made me that night on his way back to his rental. He just knew it was “the” one.

He was giddy and I was too, we made an appointment to go and see it as a family that following Saturday. My parents came along and we even looked at a couple other houses. But we knew that house was the house God put in our path.

I sometimes forget, but really we are all so grateful for the gift that house has been to our family. We don’t deserve it and yet we recognize the blessing it is for us.

One of the first things that I fell in love with when we drove down the drive was the beautiful birch tree in the front yard.

In the mornings when I would get up and have my quiet time I would sit in the front living room and the birch was my view. It has inspired a couple of different blog posts, most recently where I wrote about how God was peeling away some of those layers that had been holding me in bondage.

Birch 4

That tree and I have a history in just 3 short years. It has been a powerful and beautiful representation of God’s work in my life.

We had a tough and very cold winter last year. We started noticing that a large part of that old birch wasn’t healthy. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. But a few days ago our neighbor had a tree service company over and we stopped to talk to him.

Brian and his wife attend our church and we knew if anyone would be helping us with our tree issues, it would be them.

Birch Tree 6

He was over again today and confirmed that our tree was at least 2/3 dead. He could take down 2 of the 3 main trunks, but the reality was it wasn’t going to get better and we would likely just have to call him back out again next year.

So at lunch today we made the decision to have that tree removed.

I cried a little on the inside.

I know, I know it is just a tree, but it has been a part of our family the entire time we have been here. It is hard to make changes some times isn’t it?

I ran outside and took a bunch of pictures. I am just a little sad that it was so grey and dreary for her last photos, but I knew the front landscape of our home would drastically change and I wanted to document it.

Birch Tree 1

And so we went back to work and when I got Gabriel from school we came home to this….

Birch Tree 5

Amazing difference isn’t it?

I do like how you can see the entire home now, but I am going to miss my early morning views…

Birch Tree 4

Now all that remains is this stump. We decided not to remove it at this point (I didn’t want to deal with the large landscaping issue we would have with a hole there right now) so for now this will be our reminder.

Our views will constantly be changing. I am coming to appreciate the changes even when I don’t like it. I am hoping that I am able to see the view in a new light…different but not bad, and a new opportunity to see in a way I haven’t before.

I am grateful that an old, dying birch tree can continue to teach me so much about life. May I always be seeking to recognize the beauty that is around me.

Why Your Words Matter

Journal 1

There are days lately where I wonder where this little ol’ blog of mine is going. I seem, at times, at a loss for words…or better maybe words that I feel mean something.

You see I struggle a bit with this little big monster called pride.

I have lots of ideas in my head, things I would like to write about but then if it doesn’t come out easy, or if life gets busy I don’t take time to put fingers to the keyboard. And so this space remains empty.

I feel like if I am not going to write something life changing and inspiring then maybe it isn’t worth it. Maybe my words don’t “matter” enough.

And then a few days ago I got an email from a friend and reader that gave me such a humbling perspective about why I continue to write my story. Yes she said some complimenting things, but even more than that she shared how some of my stories had made an impact on her.

Parts of my story that maybe I didn’t think were a “big deal”….but they were words that she needed at the moment when she read them. And I realized that is why I even started in this world of blogging in the first place.

Reading the words of another, finding strength when I didn’t have any. Being encouraged by the insights of a “stranger”, a stranger who felt like a comrade…someone who finally got how I was feeling.

And so isn’t that the very reason we should share our stories?!

Maybe there is one person out there needing to hear your story. Needing to find hope or peace or understanding from someone who has been there.

We should write for that one person.

Yep, I have a story. Some of it is ugly and frustrating and downright embarrassing. But other parts are lovely and humbling and redeeming. All because God worked in the dirty mess of my life to make it something beautiful.

We share our stories to give our Father the glory and offer hope. (<====Click to Tweet)

We write because our words CAN make a difference. And while they may not grace the pages of the Huffington Post online, or be shared by the thousands, they might just be the balm for a weary soul who finds rest in your space.

So if the words aren’t coming easy, if it feels like all this work is for naught, remember that your story is just that – Yours. And it is a story worth telling.

Only Because of Him,

Kristin

Choosing NOT to Choose Joy

Choose Joy

Wow it feels like I haven’t settled in this space in quite awhile. I wrote my vacation posts, but I haven’t shared a heart post in way too long.

I specifically didn’t write while on vacation so that I could be more present with my family and once we got back it was all I could so to document everything we had done so that I didn’t forget. While I have notes of ideas for several posts, I just haven’t taken the time to write…and to be honest when I am stressed, well I start to get a little crazy-like, and that is where I found myself at the end of this week.

There are a number of things that “helped” get me to this place, some of which were a really pressured work week, VBS, where I got to help lead the actions and singing and it was the highlight of my days…but left me exhausted. (Seriously if I could JUST lead worship at VBS everyday for the rest of my life I would be a happy woman!) Tensions between Dominic and I. And our new puppy Sydney, who has been waking up at 4:30am the past 2 mornings so I have not been getting the sleep I need.

Did I mention we got a puppy? 🙂 She is the most loving, adorable puppy and I will have to do a post just to introduce her! The perfect addition to our family!!

Anyways, I woke with a pounding headache this morning and found myself in a “mood.”

It was not pretty and I wasn’t doing anything to fight against it.

I had missed  not made my Bible study a priority this week, sleeping in (when pup allowed) instead of doing my study of Acts. I was pretty light on my morning prayer time too so I wasn’t seeking or staying connected to God.

What a hypocrite that I would lead children in knowing more about God at night, and then not apply those same principals to my own life during the day. Sheesh!

I knew that I wasn’t in a good place but for some reason I decided to stew in that place today.

I voxed a couple of dear friends, heart sisters, that pray for me and can take snarky, sassy Kristin and still love me. I shared that I realized I was choosing NOT to choose joy.

My attitude was awful and I didn’t care. I have so many things to be thankful for and yet I refused to acknowledge them.

Whenever I get in these ruts I recognize it (well most of the time). Sometimes faster than others…and today I knew it pretty early on, and yet I let my irritations, anger and frustrations fester and boil.

How old am I?

I am pathetic I know, but haven’t we all been there? (Oh please tell me that I am not the only one!?!)

We find ourselves in that dark place, unable or unwilling to seek out the positive. To find those reasons to be grateful. To Choose Joy. 

And it IS a choice.

I do not have to stay in that place of negativity.

But at times I can’t see the positive on my own. I have to reach out to others for prayer and encouragement. I am so grateful that I have some women who are so faithful in praying with me and for me. Women that listen to my whining, speak truth to me and remind me not to remain in that place too long.

Yes I almost let the enemy have my day today. Almost, but not completely. Thank God for that!

So tonight, even though my circumstances haven’t changed much, I am going to choose joy. (<====Click to Tweet)

I am still tired, feeling a little frustrated, and anxious about my week ahead. But I can focus on all the negative or I can remember all of the things that I have to be grateful for. And the abundance of blessings that God has poured on to us is unreal.

How can I not choose joy?!

These aren’t easy lessons for me to learn. Quite frankly there are days that I wish it were easier…that God didn’t want to refine me because I stink at going through the fires. But somehow he takes my bad attitude and failures and makes something good from them.

Tonight I am holding out hope that this area of my life will be made beautiful as well.

And I am praying that for you as well. Stay strong friends, the enemy is out there seeking to destroy our happiness…fight to keep your joy, seeking God in all of it and giving Him the glory when the battle is won!

Kristin

Photo Credit: Virginia L 

Even in the Middle of a Long, Dark Night

Praise and Worship

It has been relatively silent around these parts for a week now. My family and Dominic’s extended family went on a vacation. 10 days away from work was wonderful and while I learned some good lessons, and experienced God’s beauty in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I haven’t had the time to process and write all that I would like to. Hopefully I will make some time soon!

But for now I need to share a story with you.

One of the things that I learned this past week was that God is always making time for me. There is opportunities to see His beauty, feel His presence all around me if I am open to seeing and receiving it. And while He was faithful to me, I admittedly, didn’t take much time for Him this past week.

I had big plans of setting an early alarm and going for a walk by myself for quiet time and listening to that mornings Bible verses for my group study of Acts right now.  The reality was I was exhausted and needed mornings with no alarm. I slept most days 2 hrs longer than I usually do. And while the catch up was wonderful, as the week went on I could see the reflection of my missed time with God in my attitude and behavior.

Apparently the longer I spend NOT in prayer with God, or learning about Him the more self righteous and indignant I get. Ugh.

An argument with my husband and hurt words said at the end of the week was not how I wanted things to end, and honestly, I wasn’t too happy with God about it either (I’d rather blame anyone else then take responsibility for myself! ahem)….All that to say it is good to be back home and in my routine (well everything except the early morning exercise…that will come next week, I hope!)

Yesterday I was back at it though and we read Acts 16. Or in my case I listened to it on my Biblegateway app which is AWESOME. Seriously listening to the Word being read aloud has opened my ears to things I think I would have skimmed over if I had been reading it!

A lot happens in Acts 16. Paul and Silas meet, they want to go 1 direction but clearly feel the Spirit of Jesus stopping them so they follow His leading and go another way. (How awesome is that by the way?!)

They meet Lydia, who we are told is a woman of God and because of her faith her whole household is baptized. So encouraging for any woman who may be in a situation where the husband is not the spiritual leader of the home (a whole different blog post!)

And then they do some demon casting out and get arrested, charged, beaten with rods and thrown in prison.

Um, hello God!! What is this?!

But you know what Paul and Silas do?

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 

Yep, that’s right. In the midst of a trial – a real one…not just a silly argument with a spouse, but a big, yucky, knock you down trial, they are praising God. Singing to Him and the prisoners hear.

And then there is an earthquake, they are freed, they lead the jailer to Christ, baptize him and then his entire household rejoiced with the jailer that he was saved.

Even in the midst of a long, dark night they praised the Lord! (<====Click to Tweet) And because of their faithfulness some amazing things happen!

__________________________________________________________________

I am on the worship team at church and one of the songs our leader chose for us this week is called Praise the Lord.

I love the song, because it is a reminder that we always need to be praising God because Jesus is Lord.

Tonight we were getting ready to start and our leader read us a devotional about Job. Another story of a man who lost everything. I mean EVERYTHING. His children, his servants, his livestock…all of it gone.

And what was Job’s response?

He stripped off his sack cloth, shaved his head and fell to his knees and praised the Lord.

I felt like once again this must be a lesson for me.

In ALL things, am I willing to praise the Lord? And if not – why?

As we got started the leaders phone rang, and she left the sanctuary for a few minutes. When she came back she was sobbing. She had just been given word that her grandma had passed away suddenly.

Here stood a woman, a friend, in a moment of amazing grief. She wanted to go on and practice but she wasn’t sure she could. I made some poor joke about getting naked and shaving our heads and praising God, which made her laugh a little and she said she wanted to go on and try and practice.

What I experienced next was so profound to me.

There she stood, praising God, the middle of her long, dark night. In the midst of her sadness, she sang.

It takes your breath away when you witness someone display such faith. I don’t know that she realized it but in those moments I saw Paul…I saw Job.

As she stood on that stage and sang, I imagined her grandma, now at the feet of Jesus in complete worship to the same God we were singing for as well.

When Karlena died a friend told me that she loved the idea that her last breath on earth was followed by her first sight of God….standing at His feet. I like that…the same God I praise when I sing will be the One I see on my return home.

It doesn’t make the grief and the pain of our losses any less, but it is comforting to know that the story never has to end here if we are one with Christ.

And while we are here, we have an opportunity to be an example. To praise God despite our circumstances, and how we feel. God is still God and we should Praise Him.

When it comes out easy, Praise the Lord….

Because in EVERY moment, Jesus Christ is Lord.

When it seems to hard, Praise the Lord…

Because in EVERY moment, Jesus Christ is Lord.

Her example tonight will stick with me. I want to be that example for others myself. To stand and worship, even when I don’t feel I have the strength. Because there is grace for today, so praise the Lord.

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Photo Credit: mort’n

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