Wednesday, December 31, 2014

God with us

I have drafted a post similar to the one you see many other bloggers publishing this time of year. It’s the post where I take a look back at 2014. The post does not share my top viewed posts because I have no desire to look at numbers. If I were to look at numbers, I think it might be more fun to share the least viewed posts. Maybe those posts were simply over looked.

Instead of the top viewed posts of the year, or least viewed posts, my intention was to highlight the most profound moments from 2014. Calling them moments doesn't sound accurate as they are not singular moments. Maybe they are more like themes?

The year came with many challenges. It was a different kind of year. Yet, still a good year.

As I look over the various themes I have captured from the year I see one primary theme which encompasses all the themes.

God is with me.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalm 139:7-10

That’s a pretty wonderful theme. Do I need bother sharing the others? This one . . . it’s what matters most.

It was a year of trials but God is faithful.
There was still much joy because of God. 
He is the source of our JOY.

His Spirit dwells within me.
He’s always present.
Immanuel, God with us.

My cup runneth over.
It is well with my soul.

At the same time, I find myself somewhat melancholy as the New Year approaches.

I find myself stuck between two new normals: the new normal I found without my husband and the new normal I teeter-totter on with him now home.

The season of waiting continues on. I am waiting for God to reveal His plans. He might be waiting for me to move.

My mind is a jumbled mess. It feels a bit like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle scattered about and I have never been good with puzzles. I cannot stay focused long enough to make the first move.

I need to give God more credit for the way He moves.
He's revealing where change is needed.
Some things will stay the same.
But mostly God’s in the business of transformation. 

And He does not work on my time schedule.
He has His own and it’s far better than mine.

My previous new normal included lots of time and space for writing and connecting. I grew as a writer. I believe our friendship grew too. I hope you see me as someone who sees you and someone who shows up. I hope you know you can count on me.

I desire less and less time on social media these days though.

I want God.
I want time with my husband.
I want time with my family.
I want time with friends . . . more tangible connections.
I want time just to be.

But I miss connecting with you too.
I am trying to find a balance.

And I still want to create. Oh, how I want to create.

The waiting happens here because I sense the creating will be different.

Donald Miller tells us in his new series, Start Life Over, that we are designed to change. He writes, “Every healthy thing God created changes.”

I realize I’m not so much between two new normal; I am still navigating to a new normal. I am changing.

This is okay.

God is changing me.
And I’m glad.

Not really the post I intended to write to wrap up 2014 but God’s ways are always greater. How great is our God!

Happy New Year, friends.

“Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19 MSG)

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Christmas Wish

The Advent season is a time to prepare our hearts for the coming of His son; the birth of His son Jesus Christ. We celebrate the promise of the Savior, both His birth and His return. 

What does His coming promise?

The Gospel of Luke tells us in 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” And in John 3:16, “God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.

This Advent season I also reflect on the greatest picture we have of what Jesus did for us.  The ultimate sacrifice He made for us. 

He came to earth as man knowing He would go to the cross for our sins.
He knew His destiny.

For the past four years, on the second Saturday of December, I have joined an organization called Wreaths Across America to remember our fallen heroes and honor those who have served and continue to serve.

Throughout the country, this organization works toward placing a wreath on the grave sites of all the men and women who stood ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for us.

They raised their hand.
They stepped forward.
They came before us and said, “I am willing to die, for you.”

And many did die for us. They made the ultimate sacrifice.

They died for the hatred in this world because we choose not to love. Yet they choose a sacrificial love. They choose God’s kind of love.

Last weekend my husband and I placed wreaths together. We placed two wreaths. Before we placed the wreath we stood before the grave marker and said a prayer. We prayed for the family of the fallen hero. We prayed for them to know the sacrifices their loved one made have not been forgotten. They will always be remembered.

And we wept as we prayed.

My husband went first. With tears rolling down his cheeks he asked, “Why am I crying? I do not even know this man.” He continued to weep as he knelt down to place the wreath. He wept for the sacrifice this man was willing to make . . . for him.

This particular man – this hero – lived a life beyond his service but again, he stepped forward willingly. He was willing to die . . . for us.

Then it was my turn. I prayed. I wept. I knelt down and placed the wreath. We will never forget.

My wish for us all is, to remember. As you reflect on His coming, reflect also on the picture these heroes give of what Jesus ultimately did for us.

Yes, Christmas is a time to celebrate His birth. But He came for one reason. He came for a purpose. You were His purpose. We were His purpose.

Allow this truth to change you in a new way as you approach the New Year. Let it change how you love others. Strive for an agape love. Strive for His kind of love.

Many of us choose One Word for the year to focus on. I think my word for 2015 will be SELFLESS. Please, Lord, help me to place the needs of others above my own. Help me to love with Your kind of love. 

There are so many good words to choose.
Ultimately, He wants us to love one another.

Above whatever word you choose, may the real word on your heart be LOVE.

The Bible is all about love. It’s God’s love letter to us.

His greatest wish for us is this:

“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” John 13:34-35 (Voice)

Choose love. Choose love over and over again.

To those brave men and women, you will never be forgotten.
To their families, they will never be forgotten.

To my husband and son, who stand willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, my pride and love for you overflows.

To you, I wish you a Merry Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas. May His love for you change you from the inside and out. Only He can perform the heart transformation we really need.

Let Him in.
Let Hope in. Let that Hope in. 
Let it change you.

God bless.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peace in Waiting

I've come to this space multiple times the past week to share my heart with you but I do not know exactly what I want to say or how to say it. There has been contemplating and even drafting of a post to tell you of a decision to step away from blogging for a while.

Is stepping away really what I want? Is it what God wants? I know you would tell me it's okay not to know and to wait on Him.

I have told you of my desire to connect at a deeper level. How do we actually connect deeper though?

We could connect beyond our blogs through emails, phone calls, Skype or even Voxer. Are you on Voxer? It’s rather cool. Admittedly, I'm not great with responding to emails in a timely manner and it can take me a few days to Vox you back.

I know what my heart wants. I know what my heart needs. The how remains unclear. It could have something to do with how my heart dances with delight when you join me at a table, any table, and we connect face to face.

Oh, if only we could all gather around a table together. How can we create a deeper sense of community right here without a physical table to gather at? I would love your thoughts because I long for this deeper connection.

I recently spent three hours at a Starbucks with another Army wife whose husband deployed with mine. We decided to share a cup of coffee while we waited for our husbands to complete required training before the unit gathered together to celebrate Christmas. We did not lack reasons to celebrate with our loved ones now home.

For three hours we sit across a table from one another. We talked mostly about God, His grace, how He has changed us and how He continues to work in our lives. It was such a rich conversation. I walked away blessed. I need more of this.


There are moments when it feels like God has me doing a lot of waiting.

Waiting ten months for my husband to return home
Waiting for our son to return home
Waiting for the right words to come
Waiting for Him to reveal His plans for me
Waiting for Him to reveal His plans for us

In this season of Advent we all wait for the coming of His son.

The waiting though, it's okay. Even in the waiting God moves. What he is doing in and through me -- through us -- right now matters.

I feel His presence.

If all I know right now is His presence, without any answers for what comes next, that is enough. What’s better than knowing His presence dwells within me?

He reveals more than His presence to me.

He speaks to my heart. His biggest work is done in our hearts. A slower-paced life these days (the usual frenzy of the season has not caught up to me) allows for me to hear Him better. I am growing more accustomed to seeking Him first and seeking Him often. There are times when I question if it’s Him I hear. But I know. I really do.

I have an inner peace mixed with all kinds of emotions. His Holy Spirit moves within me in new, albeit exciting and also confusing at times, ways.

It can only be Him for I find myself coming undone over and over again. It can only be Him.

In the quiet moments when I stop to be still an unspeakable joy fills my heart. I find an undeniable trust for the One who holds all the details of what's to come in His hands.

I've grown fonder of waiting.

There are no regrets for the ten months I spent waiting for my husband to return home. If God required that period of waiting for Him to do what He now does between us I would do it all over again, if He asked us to do again.

He does not waste a thing.
He does not waste a moment.

This waiting . . . waiting for the coming of His son . . . waiting for what comes next . . . I can trust His purposefulness in this waiting.

I can have peace in waiting.

“I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

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P.s. I want to take a moment to recommend a blogging coach to you, friends. Today I spent thirty minutes on the phone with Linda and was thoroughly blessed by our time together. She is good, really good. She encourages. She has a gift for making sense out of ones ramblings. She got to the heart of my ramblings. She simply rocks. Check her out here. She's worth the investment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

His love and grace compels me

Every time my eldest son sends me an email he ends with three words: LOVE YOU MOM. He types them in capital letters while everything else remains as you would expect. He makes it stand out. Oh, how they do stand out. I love those three words. With him on the other end of the world in enemy territory they are even more meaningful to me.

On Sunday morning I woke to an email from him. He stated they went a few days without Internet due their ship’s support of a particular mission.

Words I am not fond of are “in support of a mission.”

My son remains on his ship when these “missions” take place but his use of the word serves as a reality check of where he is and what and who he stands ready to protect and defend: America. You. Me.

The knowledge leaves me speechless. If I pause too long in these thoughts it brings me to tears. It’s different to experience a deployment as a mother verses as a wife. But the same promises God spoke to me during my husband’s deployment are the same ones God speaks to me now.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Fear diminishes with the knowledge that the same God here with me also watches over my son.

My son does not know Jesus. At least not the way Jesus wants him to know Him. The more I pursue Christ and allow Him to transform me, the more Christ will be seen in me. If I continue to seek Him and live a life which reflects Him, I believe my son will come to know Him through me.

This compels me.
No, wait. God’s love and grace compels me.

It compels me to seek Him first and to seek Him often.
It compels me to pray for both of our children without ceasing.
It compels me to never let go of hope.

If not through me, God will use another. God knows the desire of my heart (Psalm 37:4).

How can I be sure our children will come to know Him?

He wants us all to know Him.

So I can approach Him confidently knowing what I ask for pleases Him. And I know He hears my prayers. (1 John 5:14).

I believe.
I trust.
I hold on to hope.

I seek Him with all my heart. Before God can use me, He must first have my heart, my whole heart.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

As I grow in knowledge and wisdom of who He is and reflect on all He has done for me, it compels me to obey his commands. Not because I am under the law but because His grace compels me.

When His word tells me I am to have no other god’s before Him and I realize I still have this one god, this love idol, I am compelled to let go. I have held on to this love idol for far too long. My worth is not found in the number on a scale. God, the one and only God, wants so much more for me and for you too.

 “But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” Exodus 20:6

I choose Him and His unfailing love.

I will throw off anything that hinders my relationship with Him (Hebrews 12:1) and I will give Him my whole heart. I pray for Him to continue to change me so I may reflect His glory, just as He intends, to lead others – especially my children – to Him.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Scattering of Love :: Batch 4

Photo by Judd Johnson
What happened to my Scattering of Love series? Friday Randomness became Scattering of Love for a very short period of time and then . . .

Oh yea, hubs came home!

Speaking of hubs being home. I couldn't help myself. Mid-morning I went on YouTube and watched his homecoming video again. It makes me cry happy tears Every. Single. Time. A writing friend told me the video gave her a picture of what our greeting will be like when we enter heaven. Watch the video with that in mind. Goosebumps!

For the month of December I am attempting to spend less time on social media. Last year I celebrated the Christmas season without hubs. This year I am treating his presence for the gift that it is.

And I am high bent on doing a better job of loving others. I need to step away from my computer and be the hands and feet of Jesus more. So many people were that for us during the ten months hubs and I spent apart. Doing the same for others just seems like the right response.

I read two posts today which speak to where my heart's at currently. If I were hanging out on Facebook I would have shared them there. It's always luring me back. Then I remembered my lost upon hubs return Scattering of Love series . . .

Where have I been on the web today:

Choosing Connection Over Competition by Emily P. Freeman of Chatting at the Sky

"When I walk into a room filled with women, I recognize in myself a tendency to ignore what God thinks of them and obsess over what they are thinking of me. Oh, dear."

Oh, my. Me too. But I want to choose connection!

8 Ways to Find the Merry in your Christmas by Lori Harris

"The only way to get the merry back into your Christmas is to give it away."

I totally want to give Christmas away. Like I think I may be driving hubs a little batty with all my ideas to give it away. {smiling}

What I am reading:

If you are looking for an Advent devotional to read pick one of these:

The Greatest Gift by (like I need to tell you) Ann Voskamp
Comfort Ye My People by Kay Bruner

I am reading both (hubs and I are reading Ann's together) and love them so so much. They are doing all sorts of wonderful things to my heart during this time of waiting for His coming.

What am I doing:

God has been calling me outside of my comfort zone and I am doing the very thing He asks us to do. I am obeying. He keeps calling me to the very thing that scares me -- community. Each time I say yes it becomes a little less scary.

Yesterday (Thursday) I hosted a table for a Ladies Tea at my church. I wrote a bit about it here. Isn't our table pretty? I co-hosted the table with a small group friend and we had a delightful time preparing for the evening. The evening with 150+ lovely ladies was fabulous too.

I am also wearing a dress Every. Single. Day. of December. There are only about five for me to choose from throughout the month and most (if not all) of them are summer dresses. This is bigger than the dress though.

The Dressember Mission: A collaborative movement leveraging fashion and creativity to restore dignity to all women.

Dressember is a month of wearing dresses, but it is so much more. At its core, Dressember is an embracing of the inherent freedom and feminity of all women.

So yes, I am bringing awareness to human trafficking by wearing a dress every day in December and I am doing lots of praying for those held in captivity.

I have a fundraising page if you feel led to support. Mostly, I'd love for you to join me by praying too.

And I am linking arms with Outside the City Gate on an exciting dream of theirs that is coming to fruition. Guess what? We want to collaborate with you. Click on link to find out more.

Gotta run, friends. I have a date with hubs tonight! Be on the watch for a sexy picture of him to be posted (somewhere) tomorrow in his dress blue uniform. Be still my beating heart.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There is always more

What if God has a different plan for me? What if writing is a stepping stone to something else? These are questions I cannot help but to ponder. Are the doubts from the enemy or is God leading me somewhere new?

When we say yes to Christ, He takes us on a journey. I love how our yes is only the beginning. No matter where we are in our walk with Christ there’s always more ahead of us.

He always has more to reveal; more about Him and more to the story He is weaving in our life.

On my desk at work sits a perpetual calendar.  It features inspiring quotes from the writers of the website (in)courage. Today is December 3rd and Bonnie Gray is featured with the words: “We may be uncertain about our next steps, but we can be certain of God.”

I don’t know what the next step is as the year draws to an end and a new one begins. But I know I can be certain of God.

A quote from the Storyline Conference I attended has stayed with me. I am not sure who said it or of the exact words but it went something along the lines of, “The thing you fear most is usually what God calls you to.”

God often calls us out of our comfort zone, doesn't He? Let's not forget we have a responsibility to obey the One we are submitting our life to.

I think God has a way of letting us know when we have done the very thing He wants us to do. It’s seen in our response because a deep longing he placed in our heart finally came to fruition.

Tomorrow night (Thursday) I will host a table for a Ladies Tea at my church. The past three years I have attended this same event and have always sat where it felt most comfortable . . . with one of my closest friends.

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” ― Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

It’s true. All it took was twenty seconds of courage to walk up to the display board for the Ladies Tea to write my name on one of the tables as a host. I am pretty sure after writing my name down on that board I walked away with embarrassing happy dance moves and lots of giggles.

If He places the desire in your heart, He will bring it to pass. 

God does something to my heart every time I am more others-focused. He does something to my heart when I make the choice to embrace community . . . the very thing I fear most.

After googling words of encouragement for when you feel low, because I am feeling somewhat melancholy, I came upon a quote by Max Lucado. I shared the quote on my blog Facebook page shortly after almost making the decision to abandon the page. Facebook does not make it easy to manage a page unless you pay to promote what you share. If nobody sees me, what’s the point?  

"You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are." ~ Max Lucado

Did you need to read those words too?

Maybe I am bouncing around a bit here. As I type I am writing to encourage my own heart just as much as I write for yours.

Over the course of the morning I returned to the familiar place of not-enoughville. But I am high-tailing myself out of that place and running back to God.

A smile is returning to my face. I have a Ladies Tea to prepare for. I will have the privilege of celebrating the coming of Christ with a group of ladies tomorrow. And some of the ladies invited to join me at my table do not know Christ in the way He wants them to know Him. Will you pray for them, and for me?

I think God intends for writing to remain a part of my journey; at least for now. But I have this pleasant tingling sensation that He has much more in store for me in 2015. I think it may have a little something to do with that word which scares me ― Community. Present over perfect.

There is always more.

“God responds and reveals Himself to those who seek Him and there is always more for Him to reveal.” – Bible Study Fellowship


I have wanted to do something to wrap up the 30 Days of Storyline Conference Inspirational Quotes that I shared with you on Facebook. If you missed the series, you can view the photo album here.

Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a fabulous book and will give you a flavor of what he shares at his Storyline Conference.

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