Remembering to Look

We worship an ever-present God.


I recently had a really rough day. I had to go to the drugstore on the way home from work to pick up a prescription for a physical ailment. But, I was emotionally distraught too. I went home and collapsed on my bed for a little while in the fetal position.

There was simply no part of me that felt good at the moment. I eventually drug myself out of bed, put on my pajamas, (it was only 5:00 by the way), and went downstairs to find my hubby preparing dinner. I felt a little nudge reminding me that he was a blessing and something to feel good about. Another little nudge reminded me that we had plenty to eat and that too, was a blessing to feel good about.

He had a meeting that night and left shortly after dinner. My two teens and I plopped ourselves in our family room, planning to watch television. We all had our phones, looking for different things, but we talked while we surfed and we laughed.

My son loves to pick at my daughter and she was giving it right back to him, but it was all good natured. They kept at it for over an hour and I don’t know when I have been so entertained.

When my hubby finally returned and we turned the television on, my heart was definitely lighter. My stomach was still hurting, but my soul felt better.

As I went to bed that night, I thanked God for the gift of my children. They have brought so much joy into my life and that night in particular, much laughter.

As I thought about it the next day, I was reminded of the many daily blessings that we are given that we so often miss because we aren’t looking for them. It’s all too easy to stay distracted by life’s busyiness and stresses.

But, as Christians, we worship an active and busy God who is involved in our daily lives. From that unexpected phone call from a friend when we most need it, to a chance meeting with someone who becomes a significant presence in our lives, to that job offer that turns our to be the perfect fit for us, to the blessing of family.

The Holy Spirit is present, helping us and reminding us that we are loved and that God is not the God of chaos. He has a plan. He is in control. Always.

If we actively look, we will find Him. An evening with a couple of teenagers reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Building Christian Character, Trusting God, Watching for God | Leave a comment

Surviving the Winds

Inviting Jesus into the boat can change everything.

I was recently reading the account of Jesus walking on water, found in Mark, Chapter 6:45-52. Jesus had just fed the five thousand. He sent the disciples off in a boat and He went up on a mountainside to pray.

I always find it interesting that Jesus saw the importance of quiet time alone to pray. The disciples were His dear friends and He clearly loved spending time with them and teaching them. He enjoyed community.

Yet, we find over and over in the Gospels, that He intentionally found quiet time not only away from the stress of the crowds, but also away from the companionship of His friends. I feel like there’s an important lesson in there for today’s busy, overscheduled, stressed, believers.

The passage says that when evening came, He was still on the land, but, “He saw that the disciples were straining at the oars because the wind was against them.” If you have ever been in any type of watercraft without a motor, then you are well aware of the importance of the wind and the fact, that you are at its mercy for the most part.

Who hasn’t felt at the mercy of the winds of life? There are times when we feel like the cold, heavy winds will never stop blowing on us. We wonder if we will ever get where we are going as we seem to strain at our own oars, just to keep from getting capsized.

So what did Jesus do when He saw them struggling? He walked on water out towards them.

The passage says that when the disciples saw Him, they were afraid that He was a ghost and they cried out. Turns out that it didn’t matter why they cried out, only that they did. When they openly admitted their fear, He told them, “Don’t be afraid,” which is often the message we get from Him when we are anxious and worried. Maybe we should take note.

Right after He told them not to fear, He climbed in the boat with them and then, and only then, did the wind die down. The text tells us that the disciples were amazed. They had just seen Him feed five thousand people and they were still amazed at His capabilities.

I wonder if we are doing any better today. We read the Bible. We know the stories, but do we truly believe? The Creator of the universe has limitless power. He is not bound by the laws of nature or anything else for that matter. He can still walk on water.

A familiar Bible story reminded me that whatever winds we may be facing, they are no match for Jesus, but we have to be willing to invite Him into the boat with us. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character | 1 Comment

Growing Strong Wherever We Are

This little guy can grow up to be fierce.

I was looking out the window a couple of weeks ago, watching my son cut the grass in the backyard. I noticed that he stopped and was staring intently a the ground. I went outside to ask him what was going on. He told me that there was a tiny turtle in the grass. I asked him what kind it was. He told me it was brown. You gotta love teenage boys and their descriptions!

I told him to come to the deck and get some gloves. I assumed it was a harmless box turtle, but you never know. He came and got the gloves and brought me back the tiniest turtle I had ever seen. I mean seriously, it couldn’t have been hatched for too terribly long.

But, it also happened to be what we call in Georgia, a snapping turtle. It was amazing to look at it up close. It had tiny nails and a tiny mouth. It appeared to be defenseless. But, I knew very well what it could one day be capable of.

Those turtles can grow very large and they are formidable predators in any body of fresh water. They also tend to be quite aggressive. It was almost impossible to believe what the tiny creature before me could one day become.

I wasn’t sure how it got in my yard, but I instructed my son to carefully take it to the nearby creek, where I was sure it had somehow come from.

I thought about that turtle over the next few days. I thought about how tiny and vulnerable it looked. I thought about how we too, often find ourselves in a similar position.

There are times in our lives when we are called to do something new and different than has been our normal. We may be newly weds, or new parents, or empty nesters. We may be called to start a new career or a new ministry of some kind. We may be mourning a loss.

Whatever the change may be, we sometimes find ourselves feeling tiny and vulnerable in our new role. Like the turtle, we may find ourselves feeling defenseless. We may even want to draw into our shell and hide like turtles often do.

But, we have to remember that when we are walking with Jesus, we are never alone or defenseless. The Bible tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

And when we stay on the path with Jesus, like that turtle, we too, will grow to be a strong formidable force wherever we have been placed on whatever path we find ourselves.

A tiny snapping turtle reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

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The Call to Share Your Story

We all have a story worth sharing.

Our pastor reminded us on Sunday that we are called to tell others the story of how Jesus has worked in our lives. We are called to proclaim the good news from our personal perspective.

This is not a surprising message. I think all Christians have heard this and know it, but then he gave a few examples.

Apparently the man who became known as St. Augustine, was sitting on a bench one day when he heard a child’s voice saying, “pick it up,” and so he picked up the Bible lying on the bench beside him and at that moment, it changed his life.

The man who we know as St. Francis had been a soldier and a prisoner of war and was so traumatized by the torture he witnessed, that he questioned if there even was a God. But, he had a moment when he understood that there was. He became known as one of the gentlest advocates for God who ever lived.

A woman named Agnes Bojaxhiu, was thirty-eight years old and traveling on a train. She was a nun and had been teaching girls in a convent for twenty years. She clearly heard a voice that told her to go and help the poorest of the poor and to live among them. She said it was the hardest thing she ever did.

She became known as Mother Teresa.

Every Christian has a story. Most of us believe that our story is mundane and insignificant. I mean, very few of us will be a St. Augustine, St. Francis or a Mother Teresa.

But, we forget that the story of Christ at work in us is not about us, but about the power of Jesus. The One who fed the multitudes with a few fish and a little bread, doesn’t require greatness from us, just willingness.

Each of our stories of the work Jesus has done in us and through us has the capability of bringing in someone new to the Kingdom and that alone, is what matters.

We are called to actively look for God at work in our lives and acknowledge it to a world that desperately needs to hear the truth.

A sermon reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

 

 

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Overcoming the Weariness

We need to remember that things often get the hardest when we are close to victory.

As I write this, my daughter has exactly twenty days left of high school. As her mama, I know that those days will fly by. She’s so very close to graduation.

At the tender age of seventeen, she doesn’t think she will make it. She’s over it. She’s tired of high school, tired of her classes, tired of many of her classmates. She knows what she wants to do next. She’s made plans. She has a college and a major that excites her. She’s tired of the small town she has grown up in and she’s ready for adventure.

She truly believes she just won’t make it.

I feel for her. I remember conversations with my own mama just like they were yesterday, about how I just didn’t think I could make it another day. We called it senioritis back then. I’m pretty sure they still do.

But, as I think about her struggle, I am reminded that the hardest part of any task that we are undertaking, is the last part.

Most marathon runners will tell you that the last leg of the race is the hardest. That’s the part when they are sore and completely exhausted. They often wonder if they can make one more step even though they know the finish line is right around the corner.

A mama in labor often finds herself the most worn out and ready to give up just when it’s time for the baby to crown.

My daughter’s senioritis reminds me of the weariness that we all face when we are on a particular long, hard-fought, journey. It reminds me that we tend to be ready and willing to give up when all that we have worked for is just around the bend. It reminds me that the last leg is often when we start listening to our self-doubts or to other voices who want to see us fail.

It also reminds me to lean on faith that says we are exactly where we need to be at this moment. It reminds me that God has a plan and He’s got this.

I am completely confident that she will make it another twenty days, just as you should be confident that you too, will make it to the finish line of whatever race you find yourself running today.

Say a prayer. Lean into Jesus and keep going, remembering that all things are possible with God.

A case of senioritis reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

 

 

Categories: Building Christian Character, Choosing to See the Bright Side | Leave a comment

Living Easter Everyday

May we live everyday with the peace and joy of Easter Sunday.

As I sit writing this, on the Monday after Easter, I find myself drawn back to Saturday. I think that often, as Christians who live on the Easter Sunday side of the cross, we often forget about the weight of that Saturday.

I keep thinking about all of the emotions that must have been flying around. According to the Gospels, everyone who watched Jesus die, also witnessed an eclipse and an earthquake. How could they be walking around on Saturday without pondering those things? The Gospels also tell us that the curtain in the temple was torn in two. How did the Jews in charge rationalize that to themselves?

But, I think I find the most empathy for Jesus’ closest followers, the ones who walked with Him, the ones who witnessed all of the miracles. These people had seen Him heal many. They had seen Him resurrect others from the dead. They had broken bread with Him and one had denied Him.

Did they now doubt that He was who He said He was? The Bible said they were afraid and in hiding, but I wonder where their faith was? Did they still believe He was the son of God?

I suppose that Saturday interests me so much because I think that as modern-day Christians, we too, often find ourselves living in the Saturday. We have walked with Jesus. We have seen the miracles. We have read the Scripture. We know that He is coming back. We know that we will be with Him someday in His Father’s house.

But, like that Saturday over two thousand years ago, we sometimes begin to doubt. We have earthly issues like sickness and debt. We have issues like divorces and wars. We can sometimes let those issues take front and center in our thoughts. We become anxious and filled with fear just like the first disciples did.

Did Jesus really say that we should be at peace? Did He really say not to worry because He had overcome the world? Did He really say He was preparing a room for us in His Father’s house?

That’s when we have to remember to focus on Sunday, because Easter gives us a resounding “Yes!” to all of those questions. Easter Sunday is our greatest reminder to live with the confidence that only Jesus can provide.

Yes, we are loved. Yes, we are forgiven. Yes, He is in control. Yes, He is coming back. In the end, that’s all we need to know.

May we learn to live like everyday is Easter Sunday, filled with the peace and joy of the good news.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

 

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character, Holidays | Leave a comment

Choices

What we focus on is a choice.

I am writing this at the end of a very long day, and for that matter, a very long week, and come to think of it, an incredibly long month. I am tired and I find myself wanting to climb into bed and just stay there for a day or two.

Have you ever found yourself in that place?

Of course, I’ve been here before. I think we all have at one time or another. But, these are the times when we have two choices. We can give in and give up or lean really hard into Jesus and the grace the He offers.

My pastor once said that, “People will say terrible things when they are in pain.” The words struck a nerve with me, so much so that I wrote them down.

I have found on my life journey that the world is full of people in all kinds of pain, whether physical or emotional, and I have found my pastor’s words to ring true. I find truth in them when talking to my teens about things people have said to them. I have found them to be true in my own life.

I have found that hurtful words spoken are very rarely even personally meant for the person who receives them. They are simply manifestations of some type of pain that the one who speaks them is bearing.

When I am rested, I remember. When I am focused on God and not my own need for control, I remember.

When I am weary, I sometimes forget. I also forget when I am focused on my own feelings. Β That’s when I allow myself to get frustrated. That’s when I allow my feelings to get hurt. That’s when I forget that I truly have a choice.

I can choose to believe that I am where I am for a reason. I can choose to believe that God has a plan. I can choose to understand that people in pain have sharp edges and that hurtful words are not really about me.

I can also choose to believe that God is not in control and that I’m on my own. I can choose to strike back and lash out. I can choose anger and frustration over grace and understanding. There’s an enemy of my soul who would love for me to make those choices. Honestly, those choices sometimes feels like the right ones.

But, they are not. They never are.

Jesus calls us to something different, to a higher purpose. He calls us to love one another and to extend mercy and forgiveness because we have been given mercy and forgiveness.

When we stay focused on Him and remember that, our hearts stay whole and our souls stay well. Sometimes I need reminding. Perhaps you do too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

PS My kids are on spring break next week, so I’m taking the week off to spend with them. I hope to see you back here in a week.

Categories: Building Christian Character, Trusting God | 2 Comments

Opportunities and Choices

We can choose to either be defeated by hardship or to use it to glorify God.

I recently saw a television commercial for “Dancing With The Stars.” I don’t think I’ve ever watched the show, but Mr. T is a contestant this season, so after it finished, I Googled his performance. I’ve loved Mr. T since the eighties. He’s truly a gentle giant and a strong Christian, who has used his celebrity to promote good in the world.

He’s also a cancer survivor. I read an article in People Magazine,Β where he talked about his battle with cancer. He said, “What gave him hope was faith in God.”

He also talked about scripture. He said, “In the book of Job, he was challenged but he kept on believing in God. That’s Β the message I try to tell other people. Just because you believe in God, serve God, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked…that doesn’t mean that bad things are not going to happen to you.”

I think that’s a powerful message that many of us don’t like to think about. Christianity doesn’t make us immune from pain and hardship. We don’t serve God to earn His favor. We serve God because we love God. We love God because He loved us first.

We live in a broken world where bad things are going to happen, but we are not permanent residents here. We are travelers. Like Mr. T, we all have the ability to use our stories, the good and bad chapters, to encourage others who might be going through the same struggles.

Mr. T is 64 years old and is no ballerina, but he’s doing the show in honor of children who are fighting cancer. If he wins, he has vowed to shave off his famous mohawk to show solidarity with them. So far, the public has supported him with their votes.

If a 64- year- old body builder who has never been a dancer, is willing in his words, “to try,” to win a dancing show against opponents half his age, in honor of children with cancer, what are some things we might be called to do to share God’s love with others?

Mr. T reminds me that we are never too tough or too old to share our faith. He reminds me that we all have a story to share and that we all have the opportunity and the choice of whether to let our hardships defeat us, or to allow them to glorify God.

May we all choose wisely.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

Here’s a Mr. T dance in case you missed it.

Categories: Building Christian Character, Trusting God | 4 Comments

Learning to Be Still

Learning to be still is a powerful lesson.

My family and some of my kids’ friends, spent part of last weekend at my parents’ house. On Saturday afternoon, we did one of my very favorite activities. We sat on the porch, enjoyed the spring time weather and rocked. I flipped through magazines and had a cup of tea and chatted with my mama and my hubby. The kids played on the golf cart.

One of my daughter’s friends once asked her how long we usually stay when visit my parents. My daughter replied that sometimes a couple of weeks and one time, for a month. She was kind of surprised because she couldn’t imagine what there was to “do,” for all of that time, but therein lies the beauty of our time there.

We really don’t have to, “do,” anything. We love being there because we love each other. We love spending time there because we don’t have to prepare for work or school the next day. We don’t have to get dressed up. During the summer, we spend most of our time at the pool, so we don’t care about makeup or what we are wearing.

We often eat sandwiches on paper plates because we prefer to spend time with each other rather than in the kitchen slaving over the stove.

Our time spent with the grandparents has taught my children and their mama, that we don’t have to always, “do,” that it’s perfectly fine to just, “be.”

That’s a concept that’s often lost in our busy world. We are always on the move striving and working for more. Happiness is always just around the next bend or over the next hill.

We forget that God calls us to be still.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

But, being still comes hard for us these days. We are over scheduled and overworked. We are exhausted and our kids are just as tired as we are, yet they sleep less, and go and strive more.

Perhaps, one of the greatest gifts we can give them and ourselves, is teaching them the peace that comes from sitting on a porch in a rocking chair with nothing to “do,” but enjoy the day and “be,” with the ones we love.

When we learn to be still, we can feel the God nudges that we often miss in our whirlwind of activity.

A Saturday afternoon spent on a porch reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

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A Life Well Spent

It’s about the faith, love, and beauty you leave behind.

One evening after work this week, I took a drive to my hometown to pay my final respects to my beloved cousin, Joan. She had been ravaged with Alzheimer’s for the past few years, but my heart was filled with the many good times I was blessed enough to share with her and her family.

Her mother and my grandmother were each one of ten siblings and so I was gifted with many cousins and great aunts and uncles. As I walked into the funeral home with a heavy heart, I was greeted by many familiar faces that I haven’t seen in a decade or more.

There were lots of smiles and happy greetings and lots of stories of Joan. She was truly one of the kindest, gentlest people I have ever known. She was one of those people my mama would say, “would give you the shirt off of her back.”

As I thought about the family visitation the following day, I thought about the peace that I felt there. There was a true peace that I felt from her children as well as from the other, many family members who were there. When I think of that part of my family, it’s always closely tied with my faith. They were always church goers. Faith was just a part of their lives. When I spoke to my 90-year-old great aunt, I thought of the times I went to church with her.

When I spoke to one of Joan’s daughters, also a strong woman of faith, peace seemed to radiate from her. I was strongly reminded that death for Christians marks the final step for our earthly journey, but it’s the first step into Eternity, where we will never be sick or old, where we will always be filled with peace and joy and where we will walk with Jesus everyday.

Joan was also an artist and I have had one of her paintings above my fireplace for as long as I have had a fireplace. It’s colorful like she was and it always makes me smile. As I sit and gaze at it, I am reminded to spread as much faith, love, and beauty wherever I can, because in the end, that’s what we are remembered for.

We all have some type of gift to share with the world. Joan did a wonderful job of sharing hers. We are all called to do the same. A life well spent and a painting, reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

 

Categories: Building Christian Character | 2 Comments