A Few of My Favorite Things…

toes

I just spent the day at the river and had the best chile relleno ever for dinner. Today was a great day filled with so many of my favorite things that I thought I’d finish it off with one……

These are a few of my favorite things:

  • sunshine
  • thunderstorms
  • clouds
  • bedtime
  • my morning quiet time
  • a good devotional
  • chile rellenos
  • freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
  • vanilla lattes
  • cuddles on the couch
  • my toes in the sand
  • this blog
  • a man who worships
  • a man who prays
  • honest conversation
  • a pedicure
  • belly laughs
  • empathy
  • children laughing
  • praise music

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply need to remember these things. And, these days. ❤

 

What are My Chains?

chains

If we haven’t battled the demons of drug, alcohol, or sex addictions, we may not be aware of our own personal chains. We all compensate our pain one way or another. All of these compulsions start as an escape. Escape from neglect, pain, or sheer boredom. Escape to feel better in the moment. Then the next time, the next, the next, and eventually we feel dropped into the pit of despair with no idea how to function without them. Affecting children, marriages, friends, careers, a downward spiral. We’ve all heard the stories if we haven’t lived them. These testimonies are powerful, they get our attention, they warn us, and they open our eyes to what a powerful work Jesus truly can do in a life. Praise God for each and every one! But, if we don’t fall into these categories, it can leave us to wonder….what about me? What are my chains?

What are you dependent on? For comfort? For “normalcy”? What or who do you go to? What makes you feel better? If it is destructive, these are chains. We all have quirks, preferences, and interests, but at what point do they become destructive? This is a chain. We all need to eat, but food can be a chain. Overeating and anorexia. We all need to clean, but then there’s obsessive cleaning. We should all exercise, but there is also exercise addiction. We all need rest, but laziness can also turn into a chain. Relationships, friends, spouses, parents, and children are all wonderful, but if we turn these gifts into idols, they can become chains.

We all want to be loved, but people pleasing is a chain. That was/is mine. The more I seek Jesus, the more He shines the light on this chain. The chain of speaking up. The chain that my opinion doesn’t matter or is always wrong, just because it’s mine. The hardest concept for me to wrap my mind around is that it is possible to love others without pleasing them. My fear has always been that if I disagree, they will feel unloved by me or stop loving me altogether. So I freeze. I keep my opinions to myself. I feel like a don’t have a voice. After all, my thoughts on the subject must be wrong, so why voice them anyway?

Then, He reminds me that I am His daughter. Then, He reminds me that He died for me. Then, He reminds me that His love is greater than anyone else’s that I’m afraid of losing or hurting. And, it breaks. And, I’m free. Free to be me. Free to speak. Free to make choices. Free to admit how hard this is for me. Free. And, you know what I’ve also noticed? The ones who’s opinions I care the most about don’t even read my stuff or ask me my opinion. You see the chain?

This may not be a testimony that includes drug rehab, loss of custody, or Alcoholics Anonymous…but, to me, it’s powerful. Jesus is personal. There are some things only you and Jesus know that you struggle with. He will shine a light on your chains if you ask Him to. This is life changing, because once you begin to see His progress, you will be amazed as to how tied down you were. Now, every time I speak my personal opinion or verbally disagree with someone else’s, I’m actually surprised. I still get scared of their reaction and don’t want to hurt feelings, but I realize more and more that my feelings and opinions are just as valid. This a chain that once broken, doesn’t stay that way. This is a heavy chain. My weakness. My struggle. My thorn. Oh, how I wish it would go away completely.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (ESV)

Paul pleaded for his thorn to be removed, but He said the Lord didn’t remove it in order to keep him from being conceited (verse 7). To keep him humbled. To keep him dependent. To keep him face down in awe of His Savior. If our thorns keep us at the feet of Jesus, then praise God for them. And, Paul did just that.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)

Making us aware of our thorns (crutches, tendencies), the damage they cause, and the relief available through Him alone is breaking our chains. It’s interesting to me that broken people know the weight of these chains. Once broken, we look to Him in our weakness. We go to Him with our problems. We appreciate others who do. We recognize His power. We request prayer. We want Him first. Once broken, He becomes the light and love of our lives. Once our chains are broken, we want to help others feel the release of theirs. Only Jesus.

 

 

My Sweet Jesus

jesus

I love to ponder the human aspect of Jesus. Yesterday, I was thinking about how cool it would be to have lunch with him. I imagined him eating a fish taco (I think He would like them) with me on my lunch break, listening, talking, caring. Like He had nowhere else to be. Just us. Me and my sweet Jesus.

The fact that He even ate astounds me. His body was human, His mind was human, He had taste buds, He would get tired, He felt hunger and thirst. Focusing on the human aspect of Jesus comforts me and makes my heart swell for Him. He knows what it’s like. Because He was human, He sympathizes with us. Not only with our physical pains and discomforts, but with our emotions.

Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved grace, and we will find help. Hebrews‬ ‭4:15-16‬ ‭(CEV)

I’m sure He felt the desire for revenge. I know He felt anger and frustration. I can only assume He felt physical desires and temptations that a normal growing boy and man would. He took on all our stuff and all our tendencies. Without sinning. Without caving. Yet, He felt and fought like we do. He knows the struggle. Jesus literally took it all and died because He KNEW we couldn’t withstand. My sweet Jesus.

Jesus lived to please His Father in heaven. He loved and honored his earthly parents, but He didn’t live to please them. He loved His disciples as beloved friends, yet corrected and patiently taught them when their minds couldn’t comprehend His teachings. He loved Mary Magdalene and the woman at the well. He showered them with compassion and dignity when they expected the opposite. He healed the woman who reached to touch His robe and brought peace to the demon possessed man in the cemetery. The way He loved them proved that He lived to please His Father. Rather than condemning, He pointed out that all have sinned. He covered them all in His grace and they were forever changed because of it. He LOVED them all just as they were. And, that changed everything. He does the same for us. My sweet Jesus.

He lived a human life fully surrendered to the will of His Father. Now, since He withstood our struggles and paid the penalty for our sins, we can come boldly to our Father God unashamed. Oh, how He loves.

This brings me great joy! This means He desires a relationship with us. And, once we feel that closeness, we’ll realize how much we have desired it all along. My sweet Jesus.❤️

Born to Pursue…

rubies

I’d like to share some information that I’ve learned through the trial and error, excitement and disappointment, joy and pain of dating….things I wish I’d known the first time around. Better late than never.

A man will pursue what he wants most. Career, marriage, sex, power, God, hobbies, family, money. It’s a God given trait. You can tell what is most important to a man by what he prioritizes.

When he’s looking for a woman, he will pursue. When he’s looking for a wife, he will pursue. And, these can be two very different things. Same goes for us. What we may want in a man and what we need in a husband are two different things. Be aware, guard your heart, and date accordingly.

When a man catches your scent and starts to pursue, what is he picking up? Sex appeal? You may have a plethora of pursuers. But, be aware that sex may be all he’s hunting. The only way to know is to take it out of the equation. Money? A different type of pursuit. There are plenty of men who will spend and live off your money too. He needs to work. Looks? They will fade. We all age, even him. A good time? We all have bad days, sick days, sad days, hard days…..Will he help (love) you through them or bail?

How about spiritual fruit? A man drawn to the sweet smell of the fruits of the Spirit will be looking for yours. That’s a beautiful pursuit.

Work on your insides while you take care of your outsides. Outer beauty may attract initially, but inner beauty will become more attractive over time. To us too. Most of what we desire in a husband, they also desire in us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. Ask God for a character that grows more beautiful by the year.

If you have the desire to marry, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for talking about it or looking for it. Not everyone has this desire, but for those of us who do, it is not wrong nor does it make you any less spiritual when you feel or express physical loneliness. That’s a healthy, God-given desire.

A huge part of what makes a husband a great husband is his awareness of how special his wife is. His treatment of her reflects that. These are my favorite marriages to witness. You’ll want a man who continues to pursue you, even married. One who gives, serves, plans, and thanks God for you. One who truly loves you for you. If you are the one chasing him and wearing him down to spend time with you or commit while dating, this is the precedent you are setting. Wait for the man who pursues you. Treasures you. Who views being committed to you as the privilege that it is.

When the dating crickets chirp, take comfort in the fact that you are released from the temporaries and more prepared for your permanent. It may feel lonely. You may think something is wrong with you. But, God is working in you and your future mate. Pray for them and know that you are already loved, already beautiful, and already being actively pursued. Jesus woos us. He waits for us. He is the perfect gentleman. That being said, Jesus doesn’t take the place of a living breathing physical partner. I know this. But, He does love you more than any living breathing partner will. Cry out in your physical loneliness and know that He loves you.

Love is sacrifice. Love is patient, love is kind……(1 Corinthians 13). Learn what real love is so that you can recognize healthy and unhealthy love when it shows up. Learn so that you can give and receive it. Grow in your relationship with God so that your fruits will flourish. This will not only help with future romantic relationships, but also with your kids, family, and friends.

The man who is pursuing a wife will pursue you differently. He knows what he wants too…and he knows it’s hard to find.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. Proverbs 31:10-11 (NIV)

There are no guarantees in marriage. Uniting two imperfect people in holy matrimony is always a risk. I have learned the hard way and experienced much pain in the process. If I can help anyone avoid pain, that would be a huge blessing. I pray for wisdom this time. I pray for fruit this time. I pray for the courage to take the risk….again. Because I believe love is worth the risk. I plan to keep learning from and leaning on the One guarantee I am certain of and that is Jesus, my Rock.

 

 

Create in Me….

pure heart

A pure heart is a surrendered heart. A heart that is willing to be honest about its own shortcomings and give praise for its victories. A pure heart relates with the pain of others and shares in their joys. It views others as a fellow child of God. It respects other cultures, races, sexes, humans just as they are. Humans who were born with an inherent need for love and nurturing.

If I could have and keep one thing in this world, it would be a pure heart. A pure heart for God and for others. This is a rich heart. This is a priceless heart. This is a heart that leaves a positive impression and a lasting legacy. Pure heart.

A pure heart is like a child’s heart. A heart that sees the best in people. A heart that is naïve to the competition, jealousy, deception, and hatred of others. A pure heart trusts. A pure heart feels conviction when it’s wrong and sadness when someone is hurting. A pure heart thinks of the other’s heart even in the midst of a disagreement. A pure heart relates. A pure heart cares. A pure heart mourns. A pure heart comforts.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

A pure heart is beautifully open and transparent. A pure heart is priceless. A brain full of knowledge is not nearly as attractive to me as a heart full of care. A bank account full of money is not nearly as attractive as a heart full of patience and kindness.

Jesus had the purest heart. Pure for His Father. Pure for others. Did He have pain because of it? Yes. His tender heart broke from the separation from His Father and the ridicule and betrayal of those He dearly loved. Although, He suffered tremendous physical pain, the drops of blood he sweat in the garden were from emotional pain. He relates.

The enemy starts early trying to steal and harden our hearts. He wants them dark, dingy, heavy, hard, and cold. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Through circumstances out of our control and by people already hardened, he hopes to change our hearts towards God and others. This is why a pure heart in an adult is such a rare find these days. Because, our circumstances change us. They scare us. They hurt us. They shock us. A pure heart is not a perfect heart, only fully surrendered to and reliant on the Perfect One.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NIV)

When we see Him face to face we will be changed. Our minds, bodies, and hearts will be made perfect. Then and only then. But, here on earth, our hearts and minds can be renewed. Our emotions and mentalities can be rewired. Our lives can be reshaped and made fresh and clean. Jesus purifies our hearts.

He still loves us with a pure heart. I want a heart like His….

 

 

Passion, Calling, Gift, Career…

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My passion is learning and teaching healthy love, which flows from the love Jesus has for us. I believe wholeheartedly that this is my passion because I didn’t know healthy love before. I married unhealthy love because I was unhealthy. I didn’t know any better. Under nourished falls for over bearing and controlling. Makes sense now. This is my passion.

Now that I know better, because I know Jesus’s love better, my passion is to share with others. Others who may not know. Others who turn to unhealthy relationships, marriages, or vices to satisfy their God-given cravings. Others who don’t know their worth in His eyes, how to be treated respectfully, speak up when they need to, give God their pain, ask Him for help, or look to Jesus first. Because I didn’t. I know the loneliness and desperation this can lead to. So, I share. This is my calling.

I’ve always loved to write. I’m able to articulate my thoughts and feelings better this way than verbally. The words flow and come relatively quickly when a topic comes to mind. I thank God for that. Writing relieves me. When I write, I can actually feel sadness, confusion, and stress leave my body like a pressure valve inside me. I feel better. I feel lighter. Like I did what I needed to do. It energizes me and calms me. If it helps anyone else, bonus. I’ve been told that it has. This must be my gift.

I earn my living looking at hearts. I’ve done cardiovascular ultrasound for 16 years. Yes, sometimes it gets monotonous. But, I know it’s important. I know it helps others and serves a need. I don’t like missing field trips or summer breaks with my girls. It pangs me that I can’t pick them up from school or take them to dance class. I hate rushing them out the door on the mornings they don’t have to be at school. But, I provide for my girls and God knew that I’d need to. He led me to this career path. I have a job that needs filled. I have a job that helps others. And, I am thankful. I am thankful that I can provide for us and save for retirement in an air conditioned office with an ultrasound probe. This is my career.

While I get paid to look at hearts all day, my passion is ministering to them. I recognize how one supports me financially and the other supports me emotionally and spiritually. I had my career before I had my passion. Oh, how I would love for them to come together one day…

Nonetheless, I feel more fulfilled than ever knowing my passion, accepting my calling, and sharing my gift. If God opens the door for my passion to support me financially, I will enthusiastically jump aboard. But, in the meantime, I will continue to lean, learn, grow, and work. I will thank God for what He’s taught me, the courage He’s supplied to share, the format in which to do so, the hearts I’ve been able to touch, and the hearts I’ve been able to see.

Truth is, we may or may not be able to make our livings pursuing our passions. But, we can always take them with us. And, we should. Do you think plumbers, welders, septic tank workers, grave diggers, or proctologists were born with a passion to do what they do for a career? Possibly, but not likely. Thank God they do it. We need them! Make a living to support your family. Bring the joy of your passion with you. God will honor that. He will use you to bless others and touch hearts right where you are.

One day the door may open to earn your living with your passion, but if it doesn’t, remember that God placed you where you are and He put that passion within you for a purpose. Earn your living and share however you can. There are many jobs that need to be filled. Take your passion with you. We need you.

This Mama’s Prayer…

baptism

6/4/16

To my Abby,

You have no idea how much this day means to me. I know you’re young. I also know that your decision to be baptized is as clear as it can possibly be at the ripe age of 10 years old.

You’ve told me that today means washing away your sins. That’s true. You’ve also told me that today means that you and Jesus will get closer and closer. That is also true. But, like we’ve also discussed, we need to do our part to continue to foster that relationship.

Just like you, I was baptized while attending the same school you do, in this same church. In this very same baptistery. I also believe I made the decision as clearly as I possibly could at the time. Then, life happened.

I need you to know that you are the reason I got rebaptized. When I held you in my arms and stared at you in your crib, I knew I needed God more than ever in my life. How on earth would I be able to raise you to love, lean on, and honor God if I wasn’t? I knew, in that moment, that I had allowed our relationship to wither. It was you that made me a mom and it was you that brought my heart back to Jesus. For you, I am forever grateful.

I know God never left me, but I went about my life not checking in with Him, not growing with Him, not seeking Him. You, Abby, changed all that for me. The love I have for you opened my heart to God’s unfathomable love for me and put me back on the path of relentless pursuit with my Jesus.

I pray there are many big events I’ll get to witness in your life. Graduations, first cars, jobs, moves, boyfriends, possibly a wedding, and maybe even children of your own. I’m sure I’ll cry at each one. But, one thing I can say about today is that this relationship that you are allowing in your heart and declaring as your own can, will, and should affect them all. This is my prayer as your mom.

I pray that your relationship with God trumps all others. He wants to lead you. My prayer is that you let Him. I pray that each decision you make in your life reflects the one you’re making today. I know how hard that is. And, if one blessed day we do this again, I will be right here crying tears of joy like I am today that you are choosing and walking with the Lord. As a parent now, I realize that there truly is no greater joy…..

This is huge baby girl. For you, for me, and for Jesus. He is here, He loves you, and He will never leave you. I am praising God for this day!

My life changer. My Abby.