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A Shiny New Life

 

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:8 {NKJV}

   When I read God’s Word, I normally reach for my two favorite Bibles at home, my tiffany blue colored Bible that my sweet husband gave me and my ginormous (is that a word?) study Bible. This week, I was prompted to change up my routine and search for another Bible in the house to use. I knew that God was calling me to locate my pink one, my very first Bible from almost 15 years ago. Embarrassingly, I found it collecting dust in my closet. I didn’t know why I needed to grab that specific one since I had two other perfectly good Bibles at reach on my nightstand, but it all made sense to me once I had that book back in my hands.

   Holding that pink Bible again was like holding a pink newborn baby in my arms. I instantly began to feel all the good feels from that time when I was young and passionately in love with the new life in front of me! I was never going to be the same, in a good way, after experiencing Christ’s love for me.

   After those reminiscing thoughts, a verse from my pink Bible caught my attention as I opened it.  How appropriate this verse was at that moment.  

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  2 Corinthians 4:6

   Yes, life was shiny and new for me when I first became a Christian.   My quiet time with God was turning out to be a special reminder of his love for me!  Before I began to think that morning was all about me, the Holy Spirit led me to a sobering thought that there are other hearts in the world that God wants to be shiny and new, too.   Instantly, certain people came to mind for me to pray for at that moment.  With 2 Corinthians 4:6 on my mind, I prayed Jesus light over their hearts.  Only the light of Jesus has the power to save hearts!

   The Book of Acts has one of the most remarkable heart conversion stories. Saul (popularly known as Paul in the New Testament) was an enemy of the Lord when he was stopped on his journey to Damascus.

“As he (Saul) neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” Acts 9:3 {NKJV}

   The Bible goes on to add that Saul was blinded for three days upon experiencing this light, which was identified as Christ through the conversation shared between Saul and this light. Once Jesus had Saul’s sight restored, Saul’s heart and life changed forever. Saul was no longer persecuting Christians, but leading them in the movement to preach the Gospel to the nations.

   Saul’s story is just one of a million stories of heart restorations that happened over time. Every human heart needs Jesus today as it did over 2000 years ago.  I want to share the following song that I think sweetly encapsulates today's message.  Yes, it is widely known as a children's song, but it really speaks to every heart of a believer, including mine.  Would you sing this with me today?

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

Father, thank you for sending your light to this world, your Son, Jesus.  Our hearts were once dark, but now they are shiny and new!  Thank you for your rescue!  May Christ shine bright through us so that others, who do not know you, will take notice and desire you, too.  Save those hearts that do.  We love you, Father.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

  • Has the light of Christ rescued your heart?  If so, meditate on that memory of when and how that happened.  If not, you can invite Jesus to become Lord and Savior over your heart right now!
  • Who needs Jesus' light over their heart right now?  If anyone comes to mind, this is the time to stop and pray for that person(s).  
  • If a believer, does life still feel shiny for you?  If not, invite Jesus to operate on any hurt that your heart has received lately.  

 "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."   Genesis 1:3, NIV

 “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”   John 8:12, The Message Bible 

On Growing Teeth, Blowing Bubbles & Trusting the Process

My five-month-old daughter sprouted her first set of teeth this week. And I'm proud to say she's taking the process of growing them very well – um, well, as well as any tiny human would. There have been days of uncomfortable pain and tears and countless nights of struggle trying to make it through the wee hours. I found myself continually replacing her little fingers with a rotation of teething products in fear she wouldn’t have any more fingers left after this teething season. But through the many changes her body was enduring, she managed to find joy giggling, blowing bubbles, and playing with her toes. 

Just like the process of growing teeth, creating a solid foundation for our dreams to take root requires us to practice patience and find joy during the days of struggle. And that is a process, a painful one at that. 

In the first stage, the process of growth is tender and sore and after a few days it'll begin to throb. It's unpleasant and hard and honestly just darn irritating. How can you be cheerful and festive in moments when you just want to retreat, curl up in a ball and binge watch Grey's Anatomy for the fifth time? 

Growing (something) is hard. Little humans know that process the best. Between discovering this new world, teething and hitting all their milestones, they deserve a diamond crown and a gold throne. But my Haven Belle settles for extra cuddles and many, many kisses. I wipe away her tears and give her another kiss, she makes a little huff and continues playing with her toys and blowing bubbles knowing all well that tomorrow her teeth will still be making its way through her gums before their glorious appearance. Because it’s a process.

Allow God to walk with you through the process of change and growth. Let him be the shoulder you cry on and the place where you gather your strength for the next day. Keep feeding on Jesus and his word. Do the work, trust the process, don't fight it, and most importantly don't rush it. 

Easier said then done! I was an anxious mess constantly peaking in Haven’s mouth hoping to see the fruits of her labor finally coming through. Two weeks went by, then one month, then two more weeks – I was ready to see at least a bit of relief on her face, but she continued to giggle and drool. Wait, Mama. Have patience. They're coming. 

If you're in the process of growing – in your work, in your dream, in your new venture, in your new project, in your development – just hang on. You're 2016 may be off to a slow start and that's okay. Strong and stable cannot be rushed. And if you worry and fear that this process isn’t working or the work is too hard, take a step back, breathe, maybe blow some bubbles, and trust your God that what you’re going through right now will produce a rich harvest. Doubt only hinders our ability to live a joyful, confident life.

Don't miss out on the giggles. The pain is not for nothing. You’ll see. So, stay the course. Do the work. Log the hours. Growth takes time. 

What's Your Worth? God's Top Priority

My favorite new place in the world is snuggling with my 3-month old as she takes a nap.  Every time we snuggle, I kiss her on her forehead and cheek whispering the words “I love you” over and over even though she has no idea what that means.  She is such a gift!  She has no idea how much she means to us, how much we wanted her, or how much we thank God for her every day promising to take care of this precious gift He has given us.  She has no clue of her worth yet.

As a single girl, I didn’t always know my worth either.  I had no idea how much God loved me, how much He had for me, or how much He actually thought of me throughout the day.  After all, I was single and my purpose would begin after I got married, right?  Because I believed that for a bit, I found myself feeling anxious believing I would be the last one married, the last one to have kids, the last one to reach my career goals, the last one to……the list goes on.  It wasn’t until I finally rested in God and allowed Him to snuggle with me, kiss me on my forehead and cheek while whispering how much He loved me, did I realize how much I was worth.  I was worth a whole lot come to find out!   Because my daughter knows we have food just for her, she instinctively opens her mouth when it's time to eat never doubting that we’ll have enough.  Just like her, all I needed to do was be open for all the good things God had just for me.

Once I knew my worth, I no longer settled for less.  I didn’t settle for a date with just anyone, drama filled relationships, unhealthy friendships and so much more.  I didn’t settle for who I was either.  I was worth the effort to be molded.  As I embraced my value, I was constantly amazed how much He entrusted me with.  He had plans for me; things I had better be doing even while I was single.

As my daughter grows up, I can only  pray I show her daily just how much she is worth.   I pray that while she is single, she understands God has a plan & purpose designed especially for her by His own hands.  This is exactly how God feels about you!  He wants you to know how much you are worth to Him; how valuable you really are!  All you have to do is open your mouth just like my little girl and receive what God has for you, now, while you are single.

Embrace and enjoy Snuggling with your Heavenly Father as He gives you little kisses on your forehead and cheek while whispering, “I love you” over and over again!

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

{Originally published 2011}

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Please Can I Have It?

     Do you have prayers that have been unanswered; requests you’re certain, God has ignored? Perhaps the answer is in your immediate surroundings and you just don’t see it. The Jews of Nazareth were waiting for the Messiah and yet, when He walked in their midst they couldn’t see Him because their eyes were “wide shut.” Hence, their prayers went unanswered and their needs unmet.

            The same woman that desperately prays for a friend complains to God that her marriage isn’t satisfying. Could her ‘BFF’ be her husband? Is it possible the friendship is waiting to be cultivated?

The single woman who’s stressed because her salary doesn’t cover her monthly bills might be the same woman who crafts one of kind purses for her friends. The purses don’t bring her any income because she’s too timid to try to sell them.

 We can stop the pacing and the mindless eating that results from worry. God knows about our problems and He is already at tomorrow with the solution, waiting for us to catch up to Him. Our task is to move from eyes “wide shut” to “wide open” and see where He is.

 

Prayer: Lord, sometimes I let my worries look bigger than my God. I want to open my heart and mind and see you as you are; greater than any challenge I could face.

Life’s speed bumps and collisions form who we are. We can be left with tire tracks on our back, run over by life or let God leave a distinct Fingerprint on our heart. Yielding prepares us to love and empathize with others.

The Shark Tank

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”   - Warren Buffet Last week as I stood in line at Target I chatted with a woman who was shopping with a daughter the same age as mine.  After a few minutes she asked where I worked and without thinking I answered, “A Shark Tank.”  We laughed and continued our conversation about snacks, short shorts and the long lines that seem to plague all California retailers.

I’ve only been in my new job for 6 months and while I’m enjoying the change of scenery, the change of pace and the new challenges my job has presented; this office has already left a bad taste in my mouth.  One of my first observations when I got here was that everyone was smart and ambitious, just like me.  However, there is a trait missing amongst some of my colleagues – integrity.

Trust and integrity take years to build; projects completed on time, fair prices and billing, promotions for those that work for you.  All it takes is one lie, one bad choice to destroy it all.  Having an “end justifies the means” mentality may get you the result you need in the moment but it could also be beginning of the end.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9 (English Standard Version)

I see some of these people rewarded and I know who they have stepped on and over to get their results.  As much as I would love my share of the limelight I know that it’s a path I cannot choose.  When I first decided to take this job I’ll admit I was enticed by possibilities of promotions, new titles and more money.  I will always strive for more, to be better, to grow – it’s who I am, but it’s the path we choose that sets us apart.

“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”  Proverbs 28:6 (English Standard Version)

It may take me longer to get where I want to be, but I have faith that things will happen as they should; and I can’t put a price tag on the example I set for my daughter.  At the young age of five, she sees, hears and absorbs everything.  When she is an adult I hope she can be proud of the decisions I’ve made and understand why I made them.

“The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”  Proverbs 20.7 (English Standard Version)

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, Thank you for making me who I am and giving me direction and correction.  Help me to be a woman of integrity, a woman who lives her life in private the way she lives in public.

Live, Laugh, Love...

I woke up one morning in July of 2012 and decided I was no longer happy with my job.  While I loved the people that I was working with, the tasks I was completing each day filled me with no joy.  There was no excitement; my professional life was stagnant.  It was then I realized I was much too young to be having these feelings.  In my head I had 3 choices; stick it out and be miserable, find a new job in a new company, or relocate to our company headquarters in California.

Live

"So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life.  That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun."  Ecclesiastes 8:15 (New Living Translation)

Laugh

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while."  1 Peter 1:6  (New Living Translation)

Love

"Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love.  The greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:13  (New Living Translation)

After much prayer and discussion, my husband & I have decided to LIVE.  I was offered and accepted a job at my corporate office in California.  I've moved ahead of them which isn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be.  A small price to pay; we'll all be together again soon and I can't wait.  Until then, I'm entertained nightly by my family via Facetime, they are a LAUGH a minute!  All of these things are made possible for me because I believe in a God who grants the desires of our hearts and because I have a husband who LOVES me enough to follow me to another new city, and be both Mother & Father to our daughter while I pursue new opportunities for my career.

STOPLIGHT PRAYER:  Father in Heaven, thank you giving me life and for guiding me through it.  Thank you for making your will for my life the desire of my heart and for guiding me through life.  Help me to listen for your voice amidst the static that tries to throw me off course.

My Family This is my beautiful family.  I love them for supporting me in everything I do and can't wait to start this new adventure with them.

Stay In Your Lane

  Several weeks ago I was playing with Wii bowling with my daughter.  The best part of electronic bowling is that it’s impossible to be really bad.  You might get a few gutter balls from time to time, but at least you’ll always stay in your lane.  We were neck in neck as she proudly announced, “I’m a great bowler.  Right Mommy?”  I happily agreed.

After our game was over, she opened her box of Bob books and began reading to me.  “Mommy, I’m a really great reader.  Right?”  Again, I happily agreed.

Twenty minutes later we moved onto singing and dancing to Ava's jams.  She climbed onto the coffee table, microphone in hand, and began singing “All Star” by Smash Mouth at the top of her lungs.  “I’m a great singer.  Right Mom?”  This time I froze.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10 (New Living Translation)

It’s a natural response to tell your children that they are great at everything they do and that they can be anything they want to be, but there comes a point when you realize that might not always be the best choice.

God gave each of us special gifts and talents that he intended for us to use.  When I was younger I wanted nothing more than to be an actress.  As I grew older, I still wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t interested in being a starving artist in Hollywood.

I found way to use my gifts working for a non-profit organization.  For a time I traveled the state of Texas doing drug and alcohol prevention school assemblies, it was then that I met a cute teacher who would later become my husband.

While it is good to stretch yourself and grow in the areas you’re not so great at, I encourage you to incorporate your gifts.  Stay in your lane; you never know what kind of surprises He has in store for you when you operate within your gifts.

As for Ava, I told that she was great at a lot of things and that as much and Mommy and Daddy loved to hear her sing there were other things she was so much better at like drawing and making up great stories.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in heaven, thank you blessing me and making me special and unique.  Please open to door for me to share my gifts with those around me.

When I Was Young

  When I was a little girl my Dad would pick me up from ballet and take me to Baskin Robbins every week.  He sat in a big swivel chair and I sat right next to him in a kid size chair eating my daiquiri ice sorbet with a tasting spoon.  It was sour, not alcoholic and boy was it tasty.  I remember him brushing my hair, putting it up into pigtails and braiding them.  My hair, always adorned with the hand painted hair ribbons he made for me.  My favorite memory is singing show tunes with him in the kitchen, me singing the part of Annie and my Dad singing the lines of Daddy Warbucks.  “I don’t need anything but you,” we would sing together.

I can’t say that my Father is a man of many words.  Perhaps it comes from growing up with 3 sisters, or perhaps it’s 35 years of living with my Mom and 2 daughters.  That being said, when he does share nuggets or stories I listen.

A stubborn fool despises his father's discipline, but whoever appreciates a warning shows good sense.  Proverbs 15:5  (GOD'S WORD® Translation)

Despite the relationship you have with your father it’s important to understand that his life experiences are things you can learn from.  Sometimes you learn what you should be doing and sometimes you learn to walk in the opposite direction.

Each June we have the opportunity to celebrate and honor our fathers.  Take the time to truly honor both your earthly and heavenly fathers.  This is one seed you want to plant.  I believe I’m reaping my harvest now, I see it every week when my husband takes our daughter out on a daddy /daughter date to Starbucks and Toys R Us.

One of the greatest things my father said to me, while broken hearted in my early twenties, was, “Honey, if he doesn’t like you then he must be gay.”  You see, not all nuggets of wisdom have to be so serious!  I’m tucking that one away for my own daughter… when she’s 25!

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in heaven thank you for my Father & Husband.  Help me to find ways to continue to honor them even when they are difficult and make me want to scream.  Please continue to guide & protect them and they continue to do the same for us.

A Tug-a-War...Exercise vs. Mom

Summer is around the corner and as a mom, you may have this thought running through your head,  “I liked to tone up for the summer, but I do not have time for exercise and be a mom.” Trying to find time for yourself and have time with your children can sometimes feel like a tug-a-war. I remember the days before children; I worked out 1.5 hours 6 days a week.  That kind of schedule is not going to happen now with two small kids.  Not only do I not have the time, I choose not to take it.  What I have learned is that my workouts depend on my children’s stage of life.

For example

As a baby

Once cleared from my doctor to exercise after the birth of my daughter, I struggled to figure out what I should do. It was too hot to go outside in the afternoon and her naps could be unpredictable.  My focus was not to get in a long run or take the time to go to the gym.  My favorite workout was simple….a pair of weights, an exercise band and a resist-a-ball right in the middle of my living room floor. I would work as hard and intense as I could for 20 minutes, which was all I had on most days.

As a Toddler

A walking/running stroller is a must at the toddler age.

There was nothing I loved more than a long walk or run while talking to my little one and exploring the world.  My goal was to utilize my time for exercise as an opportunity to spend time with them and be a good example of health and fitness.

As a child

A long talk, family time and a lot of calorie burning has been accomplished while they ride their bikes next me as I walk or run.

It is not always at the intensity or duration that I may desire, but it gets the job done. They have also hit the stage to play in the backyard while mommy gets in a 20 minute strength training work out.

Finding time for kids and exercise will change with the season of your family.  Do not be discouraged. Throw out what you may have done in the past and create a new plan for exercise with your kids and don’t let the tug-a-war pull you down. Not only will you “tone up” but you will be a great example and before you know they will be working out right next to you.

Sleep On It

When I think of sleep, I usually envision recharging my battery or even escaping my troubles. But when Jesus slept, He was doing neither of the two.

"Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat.

But Jesus was sleeping." - Matthew 8:24

Jesus and His disciples were on a boat in the midst of a huge storm and as the disciples flipped out, they looked over and found Jesus asleep.

The storm they see doesn't match the peace they see Him resting in. They wake Him up and ask Him to do something. They look for a solution in the form of action. He surprised them all when He rose from His sleep and spoke to the storm. All the elements responded. The raging waters and fierce winds ceased and the storm was over.

Life in the Now

My favorite Bill Johnson quote is "You have no authority in a storm you cannot sleep in.”

Recently, my mom and dad were given horrible news that my sister had cancer and would need emergency surgery. They comforted her and each other, then they each went off to pray. They found a quiet place to intercede for their daughter and, with conviction, reminded God of His promise of healing. After a time, peace came over them and sleep followed. Soon after came news that the doctor could not explain. The cancer they'd seen was no longer there. "We are not sure what is going on," but the family knew. The peace that came brought rest, then healing. God first gave them rest and then the storm blew over.

Think About It

Is there a storm in your life that keeps you awake? Are you looking for a solution that is action oriented?

Talk About It

Dad, You're the source of all peace. No matter how bad the storm, You still provide all the answers, whether I see them or not. Take me to a resting place in Your presence where I can be certain that You are in control. Amen.

More of the Truth

Psalm 23, Romans 8:6