Category Archives: Uncategorized

GrOwInG uP tO bE a ChIlD

Celebration

Have you ever noticed how excited children get celebrating a birthday? Balloons, sweet icing all over faces, laughter, and bring on pin the tail on the donkey or any other silly game that will make us laugh!

Look into the eyes of a child, let that joy make you wistful. Let it make you want to splash in a rainy-day puddle, hold a balloon by a string, fly a kite, sing like a wild bird high up in a tree, or let a puppy lick your face with its soft pink tongue. Go ahead; get caught up in the wonder of living, without worrying. Celebrate, shout, and sing.

Tears

               When did we learn to hide our feelings? Why do we try? Oh, I know it’s no fun living life on your shirt-sleeve, but living life all bottled up just doesn’t work. Why do we, live life like a pop bottle, and try to keep the lid on when life shakes us up?

Yes, It takes courage to shed tears, it takes knowing we matter. Here on earth, we long for a tearless heaven, but maybe tears are a blessing wearing camouflage—a way we communicate beyond words. Pain and joy; these are uncontainable—why do we try?

Maybe children’s hearts are so tender because they haven’t learned how to keep all the fizz of life bottled up inside.

Honesty

Nor do children keep their feelings to themselves. When it hurts or doesn’t seem fair, they say so. When did we learn that it was not okay to feel deeply and know that is important? No, not all feelings are “saved and sanctified”… but our feelings tell us areas of our heart which need attention. And maybe that will mean our salvation and our eventual sanctification.

As I’ve prayer-journaled through some of my hardest moments as a wife, I have sensed God validating me, like a dear friend, helping me sift through feelings for the golden nuggets like—motivations, needing to forgive, needing to let go—instead of clenching so tightly to people and things I love. After all, a life of constantly holding our breath isn’t very fun, we need to exhale.

Play

When was the last time you listened to your inner child and obeyed that urge to color a picture, go running, read that favorite book, finish a page in your scrapbook, make a dress on your sewing machine, or just sit for a moment, and watch a bird? Who are we trying to impress being so serious?

In Ecclesiastes, it says that there is a time for everything—I guess that means, there is a time for play. Why not figure out what is fun again? (I’m saying this to myself too).

I remember as a little girl, growing up in the Michigan woods. Sometimes I took the canoe down the front hill and launched it into the wetland area that bordered our drive. I sat watching as frogs jumped and pollywogs wiggled. I picked flowers and chased butterflies. I dreamed of being an Indian princess or a frontier woman as my sisters and I designed homes from fallen branches.

And there was that special tree, with the horizontal branch just above my head. I would reach up and grasp it with my hands and work my way up the branch so I was higher off the ground, hold on tight and jump… like a bungee cord, it bounced me and I laughed and giggled. There was such joy in simplicity. I wonder where did that child-like heart go from us?

I think they’re still there, but we have to let go of the to-do list-lifestyle to find it. We have to let go of resentments, of frustrations, of tomorrows that might not come, and of people pleasing, and simply live today. Why not play with the puppy, sing out loud, listen to our favorite music and dance like you dream you could. And while we’re at it, why don’t we dance with our spouse more?

Love

Maybe my expectations for life haven’t all come true, but maybe the greatest dream is reality itself—a roof over head, a soft bed to lay in as I sleep, meaningful work, food to eat, and a family.

I marvel at the precious husband I have to share my life with, and the way he watches my eyes to interpret what I’m feeling or thinking.

As I grow older, I find myself wondering, when did we adults get so complicated? Why is what everyone else thinks so important? Why do we have to have a better home or garden? Nothing wrong with having fun and improving, but why do we compare our houses with magazine pages? If we hold our breath and never feel like we’re really living until we can get subway tiles in the kitchen, new carpet or wall to wall wood floors, we may wake up one day and realize we’ve held our breath too long and … what for?  Why not, like a child, just concern ourselves with loving and allowing ourselves to be loved by our Father-God?

Encouragment to Keep Going

Are you traveling a long road today? What is that particular trial you have found no answer for? Name it.

Does it feel hopeless? Need a little encouragement?

Sometimes we cannot see how God uses troubles in our lives until we take a step back.Do that right now. Stop for a moment. Catch your breath. Now look around you.

Look back down that long path you have been walking. Ask yourself what you have learned? How has God strengthened you because you refuse to give up?

God uses these long stretches to make us stronger. It’s called endurance or perseverance.

By the sheer act of continuing on that path God has laid out before you, God strengthens you.

It’s not so much the distance that matters, but the strength God has grown in you as a result of obeying, and keeping on keeping on.

Take the following verse to heart:

“…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:3-5, NIV

Needing a hug

I was recently talking with the LORD in everyday conversation. “God I know it sounds silly or immature, but I need hugs…lots of hugs”.

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If you’re like me, you just sometimes need God to reassure you that he is there and he is able to take care of you better than anyone.

Maybe you think you can’t bear this place where you are right now. You want to cry. You want to scream. You want your life to come back, and you want the “want to” to come back to you. You want to feel love, the way you once felt it.

In those moments…when it feels too hard to cry. Let me encourage you to let down your guard. Go to a secret place…in your heart of hearts
and…Ask (Matthew 7:7).

Just tell God how you feel as though talking to a friend. As though he is right in the room. Ask God to help you know what it is you need. He has a way of helping us sort our feelings and figure out what’s at the root of the heartache.

I know it’s hard to let the guard down. But just tell him what you need and let the Holy Spirit interpret for you…

In that place where hope and fear collide, is a sacred place of faith. And when we reach out in faith, in honesty, God is there.

And God has promised that he will supply all yours and my needs through Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Have you let Jesus be your enough? Have you let him fill your heart to overflowing?

Draw near to God. Let him come near to you. Let him hear every hurt you feel. Let him see your tears. Give him the space and time to cherish you, to reassure you that every tear that falls down your face is seen by him. He is close to your crushed spirit, your broken heart.

Let yourself be loved… by a God who kept nothing back from you. Ask him to help you. Ask him for what you think you need. Ask him for what you want. Let him sift through your requests. Don’t try to edit your prayers, just speak to him. He knows you for he created you so he could love you as his own.

Here’s my prayer for you this Valentine Season:

“I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in…the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” From Ephesians 3 (MSG)

Thank you God for hard times…

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It’s Thanksgiving time God, so I want to offer this short prayer. My life hasn’t been exactly what I dreamed it would look like. But thank you God,
thank you for pain.

I have learned the greater the pain, the more it broadens and deepens my life to contain that much more joy, more laughter, more peace.

Thank you God for moments of sickness, because they have made me pray for those whose sickness does not stop.

Thank you God for every moment where I have sensed a need or want, for through these needs, you have revealed how only you satisfy my soul with yourself.

I am thankful for loneliness so intense I thought my soul would break. For in loneliness I felt your heart for those you know deeply and love, but who do not even know you exist.

I thank you, God, for moments of hearing hard words, for they have opened my heart to understanding other people’s pain and needs more thoroughly.

Thank you God for “unanswered prayers”, because sometimes the things I think I want, you either deem not your best for me, or are not your right timing.

Thank you for your patience with me when I have been impatient. Your kindness when I have felt unworthy.
Thank you for loving me clear down deep to my spirit, even when my life felt so shallow, unimportant and undignified.

Thank you for challenging me with situations where I could see no light at the end of the tunnel. They made me stop and realize you are the light of the world. I need to stop looking down a tunnel of my own understanding, into yours.

Thank you for silence. In those moments when I longed for a song, you taught me how to write my own music.

Thank you God for the moments of deep sadness, for rainy days. You have taught me how to dance with you and to you and for you, and the sun will come shining through.

Thank you for helping me cry every tear, for tears soften the soil of my heart.

“Thank you”… these two words don’t seem enough to thank you for how you take the hard times in my life and redeem them… but none the less, thank you!

My Jesus, My Enough

“Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” ~Cavett Robert

“This is an important test of faith. This is where you persevere even when you don’t feel like you can go another step, because Jesus is your enough. He knows. He made you. Remember when you feel the urge to give up, look his way. Remember Calvary. Remember… heaven watches… you don’t always know it but you’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1)… breathless, awaiting your next move… your right response. Each word, each thought, each right intention carried out is a step of victory. You choose. Will you choose to let go of your baggage so you can hold on to God’s plan for your life? Can you trust it will be worth it? Can you let go of your dreams so God can give you something better than you can even imagine? Can you love God enough to lay back in his arms, in infantile trust and let him hold you?

In heaven you will receive your reward. Don’t sell yourself short. Keep in the race! Keep storing up treasures in heaven. Feel the beads of sweat on your soul? Feel the tears on your face? God sees everything that touches you. God sees every weary step of faith and the rhythm of your pounding heart.

Can you hear the applause of heaven yet? You are running your race. Don’t look at those around you and compare. Focus. Even though your feet slip and your body feels exhausted, hold out for your second wind… the wind of God’s Holy Spirit.

Just when you feel you may give in, this is the moment you let go of what hinders… this is the moment… you find you have wings for “those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). Now go ahead (figuratively)… take that leap… the wind of the Holy Spirit will support you if you lean hard into it. Wings of faith fan your faith. Spread your wings open wide across this desert sky.” ~Tammy Bovee

Whatever faces you today… you have a choice… to redirect your focus heavenward… to persevere… to strengthen your character! Are you willing? Will you trust Jesus to prove himself faithful to be your enough.

May God encourage you today… as you press on, you will find God stretching you and reaching you into new depths of your life you never thought possible. In the process… you are becoming that person you always hoped you could “…mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4b).

Time to Get Away

If you’re like me, vacations seem to get stacked in a corner, and banished into the maybe someday pile, or stashed on my idea shelf. So, when my husband Jeff and I decided to get out of town for our 18th wedding anniversary, it felt like moving out of our comfort zone. I knew we had to get intentional about resting when I felt that stifled feeling similar to writer’s block, yet applied to all of life. I felt like my creative juices had dried up. And, Jeff a very routine-driven individual, had a sense of just getting by with not much joie de vi•vre.
A week before, I did a Google look up on my computer for the area we would be visiting for ideas of fun activities. I also researched the weather to see what days would be best for these activities and made a tentative plan.
When the day we were to leave finally arrived, Jeff wasn’t feeling the best, so we decided to leave the next day. When we finally arrived at our destination and drove into the woods, at the camp in Port Huron, dusk was just starting to settle in.

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The green trees, with their lacy canopy swayed in the breeze as if beckoning us to come and rest awhile. We had leftover pizza we grilled. We settled in to the cottage and then drove to the Break water or pier at Lexington Harbor to watch the sunset.

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Sunday morning dawned fresh and beautiful. We had a leisurely breakfast from the grill, went to church, and returned to the cottage for steaks, potatoes, and corn on the cob (you can find some inexpensive steak at the store if you look for it). That evening we decided we would venture to Sarnia, Ontario for fish and chips.

Going over the Blue Water Bridge stirred excitement, as I watched the gorgeous aqua water below and looked out over the point to the Ft. Gratiot Lighthouse.

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We checked out some expensive sit down restaurants, and then decided we would go back to a fish and chips wagon by the St. Clair River Warf, right below the Blue Water Bridge. We got our food, a double portion of what we expected, and sat in the car at our river side restaurant table for two.

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A wind surfer entertained all us cars lined up on the wharf as we sat watching fierce storm clouds gather over the Great Lake Huron.

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Wind whipped across the water from the lake, the surfer rose sometimes 10 to 15 feet above the water. Finally, when the storm came close lightning and thunder forced the young man to shore. Jeff and I ate half of our meals and decided we needed to go back to the cottage…even though the storm was raging… we had to cross that 233 high bridge to get back to the cottage. The wait on the bridge took over half an hour. Wind howled. Rains pelted the wind shield; lightning slashed streaks through the sky. We sat suspended over angry rapids of the St. Clair river channel.

Over the radio we heard songs about God seeing us through the storm. Hale beat against the car as we crossed through customs and back into Michigan. Arriving safely called for celebration. We decided to stop at the Double Tree Inn restaurant called Steamers. Since it was the hotel we stayed in on the first night of our honeymoon, it felt extra special, to sit in the restaurant and split a humongous desert and reminisce a little. Did I mention we had a window seat and could see the St. Clair River and watch the traffic on the Blue Water Bridge and watch for any river freighters?

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We lingered in the restaurant for some time, celebrating our safe passage over the stormy bridge while we enjoyed our peanut butter and jelly tiramisu.

Arriving back at the cabin, we discovered we had no electricity. We spent the rest of the evening driving to a store for ice and packing the food into the freezer. The next day we had hoped to spend on the beach. Some of the beaches were closed. We looked at one of the park beach entrances and huge trees had been uprooted, as if a tornado had passed through. We also realized we had left Jeff’s swim shorts at home. Plus, it was cloudy and rainy. We decided to eat our picnic lunch we had hoped to eat on the beach, by the Lexington Pier. Biting flies and rain hurried us along. Later we looked through the charming shops in Lexington hoping to find a deal on a swimsuit for Jeff, but after we had enjoyed ourselves shopping with no swimsuit deal, we went to Meijer’s and found Jeff new swim shorts (on sale). Since we hadn’t showered that day, we stopped at a nearby beach and swam. As the sun set over the horizon, we washed our hair in the lake (using biodegradable camp soap).

Tuesday we bungeed the bikes to the car rack and drove over to Lexington for the start of a 10 mile bike ride (Thank you Schwartzs). The ride proved gorgeous as we peddled up a slowly rising incline.

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Scenery came slowly, so we could enjoy it all. We passed by apple trees, a golf course, farms, a vineyard, old stately homes, and lovely vistas full of wildflowers and flitting birds.

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When we finally arrived at our destination, The Swinging Bridge, we felt a real sense of accomplishment. We met a group of young men who had also seen a dream of theirs come true. They were playing for the first time on a Frisbee golf course for which they had petitioned the city. It was fun to see their excitement.

We rolled back into Lexington a little later than we had planned, but all was well and we had had a great bike ride.

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Wednesday we enjoyed a full day at the beach, jumping in the waves, and flying the kite Jeff and I bought on our honeymoon (we had flown it at the Marquette Beach at that time). People sat smiling at it, those bright colors, the long flowing tail… just as they had 18 years ago. It made me think about the way Christ centered marriage can be a testimony to the world. Our marriage has come through some rough times, but with God’s help, we have learned a lot, like the power of humility, the need to continue to depend on God every day, and… the need to share God’s grace and mercy with one another.

One last stop at the Blue Water Bridge before going home, we took our dog, Kia-Jane for a walk along the side of the river and got to talk to a lot of people. We saw two freighters come through the river. One was so huge, it looked like it was the shore…and I had to do a double take. It appeared seemingly out of nowhere due to a fog.

Even though taking a little time off meant we had to break ourselves away from the routine, it was worth it.

A Long Pathway

long pathwayAt first this article may not look like something belonging on my blog, but wait, what about when you feel called and you’re very fervent about it? Those feelings of frustration can have a huge effect on a marriage, especially when you have endured a long season of preparation and faced struggles you thought you would never overcome.
Patient Preparation
It feels like fire in your heart. It’s hard to contain that holy hunger of being called by God. Yet when God says be patient, there are things he wants us to learn. That is hard to accept. Yet if we got there too soon, we might not be prepared. God is preparing us through the very tug on our hearts that hurts so much. I don’t know how often I’ve fallen to my knees in prayerful tears, weeping for God to help me fulfill his purposes for my life, but learning dependence upon God seems a necessary part of preparation. Dependence upon God and Patience and faith go hand in hand. Faith helps ease the feeling of frustration when the ministry opportunities we long for are still further down the pathway, and our mission seems impossible.
Humble Honesty
How do you respond when you see someone already moving into their ministry when you are still developing yours? I have had to work at removing the thorn of jealousy from my heart. When I see someone who is already serving the LORD in the way I had hoped to, I still sometimes twinge a little at first. Then I admit what’s going on in the heart. A few years ago, I attended an out of state conference where people way younger than me, (who had incidentally been on the preparation road longer), received favor and rewards. I wanted that kind of encouragement and yearned for the ability to serve God like this. As I wrote in my prayer journal about it, God opened my eyes to see these young folks needed godly encouragement and maybe that’s one reason God placed me there. God didn’t place me there to torment me, but to learn more about my ministry and to learn how to rejoice in seeing someone else receiving their ministry. God is at work all over the place. As we praise him for the work he is doing in other people, it helps us keep our eyes where we need to be focusing.
Biblical Balance
Ephesians 2:10 says “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s such a relief to know it’s up to God. He has it all planned out. Psalm 138:8a continues to encourage my heart as I prepare for ministry. It says “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me”. What joy this verse brings to a heart in the midst of trying and training. Philippians 1:6 is another verse to lean on. It says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work…will carry it on to completion”. This verse reminds a passionate heart that God is faithful. We can look at God’s steadiness in the cycle of days and nights and seasons. He created the world completely. We are still discovering his creation in the universe. It helps me to look up into the starry heavens sometimes and realize how big God is. He is capable and competent and not in the practice of quitting before the project is done— ever. God says to be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10).
God doesn’t ask us to walk alone. God goes before us leading us. He will prepare each step for us, even if it is a long rocky uphill path, my job is to follow and believe that he can and will fill and use this earthen vessel for his glory. The truth of 2 Corinthians 4:7 keeps my heart balanced. It says, “… we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” On days when I’m feeling entirely inadequate I focus on the fact its God’s power which equips me. And some day, when God leads me into places I’ve always hoped for and dreamed of, I will remember, I’m an earthen vessel which God formed out of the dust of the earth. Yet, somehow, he gives us the awesome privilege of serving him.

*verses taken from the NIV