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Monday, April 21, 2014

When Life Doesn't Feel Picture Worthy


Along with every other parent or couple or person who celebrates with festivities on Easter Sunday, I found good reason to take pictures of three things...(people) I deem worthy of my time and effort to take said pictures. These three. 
If you have multiple kids, you know what an effort this can be on any normal day, much less when you are trying so very hard to keep them looking "perfect." Trying to get all three to look at the camera, smile for the camera, look presentable at the very least for the camera all at one time. 
It's nearly an impossible task that we take on with rewards of candy or presents or dollar bills if they do a good job. Personally, I give my kids opportunity to "act crazy" for the pictures, so it's a win/win. They get their crazy shots in. I hopefully get my "normal" shots (whatever those are) in.
"Smile for Mommy, look, look, look at Mommy, Leila, at Mommy, look at me, not at the cat. Wesley, put your hand down. Jada stop squinting... Ok, look at Mommy...Smile...Ok, make a crazy face! Stick your tongues out! Thumbs up everyone!" 
Because everyone needs a chance to chill out for a minute and go a little crazy, whatever crazy is to you, so life can resume again "as normal."


Life for me has been in crazy mode. 

I feel overwhelmed with preparations for our new soon coming arrival. I feel extremely exhausted. I wake up each day with swollen hands and feet and the very thought of walking to the basement to change the laundry over or going to the grocery store is uncomfortable to me and I'm on the verge of tears everyday, almost every moment. But life hasn't changed for my kids, so I have to stay in that moment, in their moment all the time, which feels impossible to do. They are still needy. They are still noisy. They still crave my time. They still need food. They still need stories read to them and games played with them and I try so hard with what little energy I have to not get uptight with them, for simply needing their mom.
I will be honest with you. It's been a challenge. I'm definitely not on top of my game. I don't have a lot to say that feels blog worthy or picture worthy these days. As I sit here to try to catch up on my blog, I have one kid coming to me screaming about the other one slapping her in the face. Meanwhile he follows her in and is calling her a "baby and an idiot." And the third one is right behind them both, saying something like"Jada gots a taxi." 
I'm not sure what that means, so I leave it at "I don't know honey." 
Because that's all I can even muster up the energy to say.


What do you say when you have nothing to say? Or when you have too much to say?
What do you say when life doesn't feel picture worthy or blog post worthy, but part of your livelyhood is based on writing and sharing your heart?
What do you say when your heart feels slightly confused or sad or whiney or too emotional...
or some days even too full (if that is possible) and it almost feels like too much is going on in your head to even try to relay it in a mere blog post?
Some days peoples motives confuse me. Some days other bloggers confuse me. Some days life confuses me.
Some days I just don't get it. I don't get what I am supposed to say to everyone. I don't get what I am supposed to do with all these thoughts and ideas, except be still with them.
And some days I feel like I should grab the bull by the horns, hop on and run with them.
But for today, I'm kind of doing neither. 
I'm taking it one day at a time with no real agenda to run with thoughts or ideas, nor to sit still.
I just need a minute to breathe. To let the crazies in my life and in my head do whatever it wants to do. 
Some days I don't bask in the presence of God like I know I need to to get through these kind of seasons. Some days I sit at watch movies on netflix instead.

Saturday night before Easter... you know what I did at about 3am? I watched Dirty Dancing. 
Then I googled Patrick Swayze. Then I googled Jennifer Grey on Dancing with the Stars. And I bawled my eyes out as I read about her tears as she remembered Patrick Swayze.
Yes, friends, that is what I mean. 
I will cry at anything and my mind is everywhere lately.
I can jump from extreme gratitude of the Lord working in my life to crying over Patrick Swayze in just minutes...
And I accept it is what it is right now. It's not picture perfect. It's not blog worthy. It's not inspirational or pretty. But it's real.
And real is where I live right now.
Expectant is where I live.
Exhausted is where I live

Yawn...
And now it's time to get my kids down for bed. I have no idea where my husband is, at church doing something I believe...
And by the way, I did find out what "Jada gots a taxi" meant. Jada poked a hole in the top of her water bottle with a tac and was sipping the water through the hole, so Leila wanted to do the same thing....

Kids. Life. Goodnight.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness." So I will boast the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me."


Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Are You Holding Against Her/Him?



Sometimes, I find it interesting the ruler we hold other people against. The ruler of perfection.
We stand on our pedestal, expecting the forgiveness of God to erase all of our past,
yet we fail to forgive others.
We call them fake, hypocritie, prideful...a fraud.
Because of some standard in our mind we think they should adhere to.
It's our standard, not God's.
God standard tells us to come as we are.
God's standard says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And we proclaim the love and forgiveness and grace of God in our own lives.
We speak of how he has forgiven our past,
how he is so kind and decent and doesn't hold things against us.
Yes, He is indeed a merciful God.

After the thousands and thousands of times we have hurt him.
The thousands of times we have hurt others, when he specifically tells us to do two things.
1) Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul & mind
2) Love your neighbor as yourself
Yet, we have all clearly fallen short of these over and over and over in our lives.
And over and over and over he has forgiven us. Yes?

Yet, when we see something we don't like in someone else.
A mistake they made.
Something they have done to hurt us or someone else.
Something they didn't even know they did to offend us.
And it suddenly becomes okay to hold that against them.

Is it though?
What is it today that you are holding against someone?


Is it something they have done to hurt you over and over?
Is it something they said to you just one time?
Is it something you are simply assuming or over analyzing what they must be doing or saying about you?
Is it something they didn't do that you think they should have?
Is it a behavior you have seen that you frankly dislike?
Maybe it's not even something they knowingly did...
yet you are holding them accountable for that action YOU deem unworthy of your forgiveness.
You just disapprove. It's that simple.

Look at your life and all that you have been forgiven of. Look at all the times God could have turned his back on you, held grudges against you or even called you a hypocrite.

Yet, while you were in sin, he died for you. He didn't wait until you apologized for your actions.
Sometimes, in our attitudes or remarks and fits of anger or bouts of gossip, we don't even realized we have sinned. We just do it. We don't premeditate it. It just happens out of pure human emotion and before we know it, the words have come out of our mouth.
Yet it's still sin...
and it's sin that Jesus died for willingly.
He made the first move to redeem you from the hurt you caused him and others.
And then put the ball in your court.
If someone has hurt you, offended your or simply annoyed you in some day,
ask God to help you forgive them, or not judge them
in the same way he has forgiven you.



Look at these verses and see what God has to say about forgiveness and let it soak into your heart on a daily basis...
and notice all the reminders of 
"if, as, with the same measure, just as."

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:2

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:37

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
Matthew 11:25











Tuesday, April 8, 2014

No One Is Beneath You (Showing Respect As A Blogger)


This post/quote appeared on my facebook feed the other day and it blew my mind.

I've been more careful lately.....
I've kept my eyes peeled and my heart open to what I really am looking for when I look deeper into someone's story online.
Some people I have made friends with or at least have become friendly with over the time that I've been a blogger. And we have gained one another's unspoken trust to keep it that way. We support one another with encouraging comments, likes, favorites. We may not know or even remember why we are following each other, but we are there, not to abandon.
But others simply, and deeply inspire me in one way or another. So I pursue their story, whichever way they tell it, in pictures or words. Sometimes I follow more quietly. It may be more of a silent admiration because there is something about they way they do things... the way they write, edit, take photographs, encourage that I respect and honor.
And I want to learn from them. I decide "There is something I like about you" and in hopes to absorb what I deem as beautiful in that person.
After all, no idea is a new idea.

As a blogger, as an artist, as a writer we seek inspiration.
As a person, we seek motivation.
But at times, we seem to fall short. Our minds get cloudy. Our thoughts get dusty. Our energy sinks low. Our creative senses tend to dull. And we need a little help.
Secretly, we want someone to show us the way. To tell us how to get to the point they got to.
These days, we don't ask them how anymore. Instead we creep around on instagram feeds.
We stalk people's writing style on their blogs, their books, their twitter feeds.
We do a pinterest search. We watch them closely on facebook.


But let's talk about desire for a minute. That desire to have what someone else already has.
The desire to have great style or editing skills, the perfect blog post, the pinterest ready photo.
Or even the desire to have more followers than the next person.
Do we ever forfeit our integrity at times to gain status?

How do we leave a mark on someone's life without using cheap tricks to get us there?

I'm going to say this as discreetly as possible. My aim isn't to point fingers, but to get us to think about how we treat others if our online purpose is to inspire and encourage and show Christ to the people around us.

I've noticed christian organizations and/or bloggers that will comment and follow people, to me it seems for the sole purpose of getting a follow back...and then craftily go and unfollow soon after. One in particular that recently was following thousands on twitter, within days went down to following only 200, stood there for about a week, then jumped back up to following close to 700 suddenly.
The only reason I even noticed was because I was one of the people who they followed and then dropped a week after I followed them back. At first, I thought "Wow, this is cool. This organization is non-profit and is for a good cause and they followed me."They only followed 1000 people or so at that time, and I was one of them, so in support of them, I followed back. 
Suddenly I noticed they dropped about 800 people, so I then was only about one of 200 people they followed. And just days later, I was dropped, but they were suddenly following 400 new people.
I know twitter can be finicky and will randomly follow and unfollow people at it's own discretion, which is annoying. But it was hundreds of people, so it was deliberate...

It's not the follow/unfollow I care about personally, particularly from someone I don't really know.  But it's about being an honorable person, blogger or organization, while claiming the name of Jesus.  It lacks virtue and principle.

As a christian, I feel I have to walk in a certain amount of integrity. Unless someone is really getting under my skin, being hateful or obviously unsupportive, I don't really have a good excuse to gain their trust simply to let them down in the long run. I don't wish to hurt or misuse anyone simply to get my name on everyone's follow list.
We have all gone through the "decluttering" process in our social media feeds at one point or another, but to me, if you followed someone at some point and they are still currently following you back, there is a level of trust there. You are supportive of one another. I won't abandon you, just to declutter.
If you have been in general supportive, then I see no reason to hurt you that way. 
This goes even more so if we seem to have an understood mutual respect and friendliness towards one another over time.
And this certainly goes for people who follow, simply to gain your faith in them, then turn around and unfollow you almost immediately.

Let's have some integrity and ethics as people who are supposed to love people, who are supposed to be examples of the love of God.
Let's not gain the trust of those around us, just to build our ego or our list of worshippers. And let's not take away from someone their confidence when they have shown themselves friendly.  And my goodness, let's certainly not pretend to follow someone's story, just so you can sneak in a follow back from them before you disown them.
It's one of the tackiest things I've seen a christian organization or blogger do and it made me stop and think, how do I want to treat the people who have relied on me?
Do I want to show respect & honor to what they do and their story?
Or do I simply want them to live in mine?

If we disrespect people, use them and throw away their trust...how is God ever able to use us to reach into their lives or gain their trust again? 
It sounds silly. It's just a twitter follow, an instagram follow etc but this is the world we live in now and a deliberate unfollow to someone who trusts us can hurt the very people you are hoping to reach with the love of God. I don't want to be one of those people that follow along, just hoping to gain a new fan or else I abandon you. If I follow you, it's because I rely on you to inspire me. And if you follow me, I hope it's because I in some way inspire you.
How can I inspire & motivate & love those who I have abandoned? It's impossible.
Let's not let our big head or our pride cause our message of love to be tainted.

If what we do online is all about being a creative outlet for us, that's one thing.
I'm not saying to go and follow everyone who follows you,there is no way we can do it all and be everything to everyone. But if you've already gained someone's assurance by following them, then don't abruptly disreguard them one day. Don't pretend to be their supporter or encourager and leave them high and dry.
If we claim to love God, to love people and we want to encourage people online, to be there for people...then we should show integrity in all areas of our online lives.  
Actually on and offline.


You can only have from someone what you respect and honor in their life...
If you respect the creativity of another, if you honor the wisdom of another...you can learn something wonderful. But if your motive is to gain fans or connections through that person, you are dishonoring them and in fact, dishonoring God and he can't use that.
Matthew 25:40 says ~"When you did it for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me."
Let's keep our hearts pure before one another and before God.
Let's show honor to those who honor us.

This is a challenge for myself and for you to continue to walk in moral integrity as Christian bloggers, motivators, writers. People are watching and people are hurting. And if you have any amount influence on others, and if your true desire is to love on people, then be that person who builds people up, rather than tears at their self confidence even if you think you are doing it quietly.

Choose the people you follow wisely from this point on, choose the people that you truly do honor and respect and gain inspiration from, so that you don't end up hurting someone in the long run because you feel the need to declutter or defriend.

No one is beneath you, and they don't deserve to feel that way...


Friday, April 4, 2014

Is Constant Devotion To God Even Possible?


One of the most captivating things about having faith in God is that we are assured that He is the only constant thing in our lives. He is the unchanging God. His faithfulness endures. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
It moves us to desire more, to crave the deeper things he has promised us, because we know that when the day comes that we are in desperate need, he will be the only constant thing we can cling to. When that defining moment arrives where our lives seem to lead to a variety of scattered events and emotions that can turn our worlds upside down, He will keep us standing.
It is our God that remains constant. We sing about it. We say it all the time. We write about it. His faithfulness to us remains uninterrupted. He is the hope that remains. He is invariable.
HE is constant.

But what about us? 
With mood changes, busy lives, families, emotions, unpredictable life events, church events, school events...where do we stand with our devotion to him?
Is it possible that we can remain constantly faithful to God and his word?
When we don't even have a quiet moment in our day from morning to evening, how is it possible to keep his sweet & gentle & sometimes harsh truths in our hearts?

I believe it is.

Joshua 1:8-9 says "Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it DAY and NIGHT so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper & succeed in all you do. This is my command~be strong & courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Study and meditation are two different things obviously. And obviously, we cant be sitting down, studying all the time. God has given us lives and families to care for. However the moments that we do sit down at the feet of Jesus and soak in each word he offers us that day, it has the ability to stick with us. We are able to keep it in our thoughts and in our mouths throughout our day, week or month. We are able to thank Him for his promises continually. We are able to ask him questions, seek his wisdom continually. And it's in that constant communion with Him, that his word is ever present in our hearts. We can be picking up kids from school, folding laundry, taking the animals to the vet or pacing through the aisles of the grocery store and still be communicating with the Lord...
and he in return continues speaking to us.
Are we listening at all times?

Don't let yourself feel defeated or guilty because you missed a couple days of devotional time. 
Of course, we want all that we can get from Him, but sometimes "study" time or "quiet" time just isn't possible. But that doesn't mean we have to give up on time with him all together that day or that week. 
We are always thinking about something. 
Let our thoughts be focused on what he spoke to us last week or last month. Or we can look around at the world, the creation, the people and let God use everything we see to speak to us or remind us of his truth.

Though are lives are surely filled with distractions, we can still adjust our thoughts.
We CAN BE constant in our meditation of Him and his word. 
It IS possible.

And if you look closely, you see this isn't simply a commandment because God is demanding of our every thought, but meditation on him is for our benefit and success in life. Every commandment God gives us is for our own good.
V.7 says "THEN you will be successful in everything you do..."

What an amazing God. He gives us the "how to's" of everything he has promised. And he teaches us, comforts us, warns us, instructs us, corrects us and gives us joy along the way.

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