Sunday, April 29, 2018

Filling The Void

Hello there, friends!

I’m sitting here on this Saturday afternoon waiting for my Lemon Bundt cake to bake. I have never made a Lemon Bundt cake before. And I feel rather confident this first attempt won’t turn out so well. First of all, I have not previously zested a lemon and I believe I used too much flour. I probably could have added more buttermilk before I poured the batter into the Bundt pan. Anyways… we will wait and see what happens.

It has been a quiet few days here in my home. I tend to be intentional with filling up my calendar but scheduled plans this past week cancelled so I have had a free calendar since dinner with a dear friend on Tuesday night.

Let me just say the quietness has been hard. It makes me miss my husband a gazillion times more and missing him more often does not seem possible. But apparently it is.

I have plans tonight though. Woot! Woot! This is why I am making the Lemon Bundt cake. Two friends from my younger years (one I have known since Junior High and the other since High School) are coming over tonight. We are making dinner together…Chicken and Dumplings.

Do you recall me telling you I do not cook or bake?

I am not sure if there is a purpose to this post. I sat down to write as my eyes began to water…again. Ya’ll, I’m missing my husband something fierce. I do this and that to fill up my time but evening always comes and the only thing I want is to curl up on our sofa next to him. Instead I curl up with a blanket, a small glass of wine, and partake in whatever Netflix series I am in the midst of.

I have watched in its entirety Jane the Virgin and Rectify so far. Jane was entertaining and Rectify was incredibly moving and well done. I do not know what to watch next. Do you have any suggestions? It must be relatively clean, please.

Before the TV watching happens I attempt to be productive. I choose to engage my mind with good things – helpful things. Can I share a few of those “things” with you?

I am addicted to Emily Freeman. I adore her!! Like very much so!! She speaks to my soul through either her podcast “The Next Right Thing” or her book “Simply Tuesday.” Episode 10 of her podcast, Be Where You Are, has reminded me to slow down.

“God comes to me where I live and loves me where I am. If I am not where I am, God cannot meet me there.”

She reminds us to be where you are instead of rushing ahead to where you think you need to be. That is hard, friends, because I would give anything to rush ahead to my husband’s return home. But I am learning to trust that God is doing something very much needed in and through me right here and now.

****These silly tears… if only I could write why they come. This writing thing…it’s so darn hard. Oh how I wish you could gather with me at my table. I’ve got a Bundt cake!!****

I have been reading and listening much on how to listen well. Because as someone said on some podcast (I honestly can’t remember who or where), “Without intention, listening well will not happen.”

Heather Holleman has inspired me to give living with flair a try.

Could I find a way to make every day joyful and meaningful? Just as a sentence turns into something beautiful with the right verb and punctuation, can I learn to revise my day and punctuate it with flair? Could I record something memorable--some evidence of God at work--every single day?”

Finding evidence of God – oh yes, there is evidence of God to be found, All. The. Time! Writing it down – I’m trying.

Francie Winslow is teaching me needed wisdom on bringing heaven into our home and how “it begins right here in our homes. In our bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens.” She’s all about helping us build our marriage connection. I cannot believe I am going there here, but her words of encouragement on how sex is a holy gift from God that connects two to become one… oh friends, I pray for me to see this rightly and to do this better when my husband returns home. There is so much room for growth here.

Francie and her Facebook group, Heaven In Your Home, introduced me to Java with Julie (aka, Julie Slattery of Authentic Intimacy). Two of her recent podcasts, “Navigating Different Views on Sexuality” and “Listening So People Will Talk” are so worth your listening time. In the second podcast she addresses parents of adult children becoming better listeners -- to give less advice and listen more -- to ask better questions so they will talk more. I tuned in rather intently to that portion.

And for quick inspiration, Lisa Whittle speaks right to my heart with her daily 5 Word Prayers podcast. She has a series that speaks to friendships and covers topics such as jealousy and comparison. I have a big struggle on these two topics with a coworker (I am the one with the jealousy and comparison problem) and I really need to as Lisa says, SQUASH IT!

Lisa ends one of those podcasts by saying, "Jesus is Everything. May He be your everything today." Sounds like a lovely way to end our time together.

May He be our everything!
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Monday, April 16, 2018

God's Providential Hand

This past Friday, April 13th, my husband messaged me saying, “Today is 8 years complete.”  On April 13, 2010 he enlisted in the Army Reserves.

My response… It has been a crazy 8 years.

Our military life journey began before the April 13th date. Maybe it began with me thinking I could forbid my husband to speak about our son potentially enlisting in the military. I actually stormed out on a dinner date with my younger sister and her husband because my husband had the audacity to bring up the topic yet again.

My standard response to the idea… No!! I will not have it.

I imagine our God has a sense of humor and I think every time I made this declaration He smiled with a hint of laughter for the story He had already written for us. “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 (Jeremiah 19:11).”

Here we are 8 years later. I tried to forbid military life for our son and it became a way of life for us as a family. Even after my acceptance to this drastic life change (my husband was 41 at the time he enlisted) never could I have imagined what God had planned for us.

Our present reality is not the focus of this post though. The focus I desire is God’s sovereignty.

Because this I believe… that night when I stormed out of the restaurant and left my husband in the care of family to drive him home, God’s providential hand was at work. It had been at work in and through and over us all along writing our But God story with defining moments that would discipline us to get our attention. That night in the restaurant was one of those defining moments.

Another defining moment came when in a counseling session with our son and a counselor we used for several years for us individually and as a couple. Enlistment in the military came up in the discussion as an option for our son and my son’s response was, “My mom won’t let me.”

My son did not need my consent. He simply wanted my support.

He enlisted for the first time in the U.S. Navy on April 30, 2009 (there’s more to this story which involves a broken collar bone, a cancelled contract and another enlistment).

Another rather significant defining moment came when my husband approached me with his desire to enlist in the Army Reserves. I did not storm out of the restaurant we were in that evening when, dare I say, he bravely told me of this desire. Quite the opposite happened – I looked at him with overflowing admiration.

On September 18, 2010 we celebrated my husband’s departure for Basic Training and our son’s departure to soon follow in January 2011.

Seriously, we were not capable of dreaming up such a story. But God is able to write such a story.

I had every intention of winning in forbidding military life for our family. But God in turn used military life to draw us to Him (read story here). I can now look back and see His providential hand in those defining moments, and all the moments between, bringing us to where we are now.

I see God in all things. I can go back to the day I first told my husband I wanted a divorce. An early morning in bed where I sat up, looked at him convinced a life apart was the best way, and told him, “I can’t do this anymore.”

I see all the ways God put obstacles and storms in our path to redirect us to His way for us. I see all the ways God chased after us… where he was leaving the 99 to go after two.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Reckless Love, Cory Asbury

As our Executive Pastor said in his sermon last Sunday on Jonah, Chapter 1 – “The Love of God chases us. He doesn’t give up on us.”

God was relentless in getting our attention to re-route us to Him with a soul purpose of life transformation – a new life with Him at the center.

The sovereign, providential hand of God did whatever was required to get us where we needed to be – in a relationship with Him - because of His overwhelming, never-ending reckless love for us. May our response to His discipline and love always be, “Lord, have your way with us.” I say this because I’m full aware there is much more work to be done.

But I am confident of this, “he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).”

I have far extended my word count limit, friends. I pray the post to follow this will tell you what I desire to say when someone questions the realness of our God. I pray for boldness to speak of His most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31). I pray I never tire of giving thanks for HIS providential hand in my (in our) life.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).”

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Friday, April 13, 2018

{More} Things I'm Discovering

These things I’m discovering appear to be the easier posts to write. The many other things I want to tell you about – like the wonder and miracles He performs that truly cannot be counted – remain a process of moving thoughts from my head to paper. What I want to express seems to get lost in translation.

Source: Scripture Pictures

If we were to spend any time together face-to-face, you would find me apologizing often for my inability to express myself clearly… convinced what comes out are merely jumbled up thoughts.

You might tell me I’m doing just fine. I would thank you for being kind, and patient.

There really is much I want to tell you. It will come.

Until such time, it’s apparently a season of discovery so why not continue to share the discoveries with you? Okay? I shall make the assumption you're responding with an okay back to me. ☺

When invited to someone’s home, bring the hostess chocolates (one suggestion) instead of cut flowers. If you have your hearts set on cut flowers, come with a vase and arrange the flowers for your sweet hostess upon your arrival. I support this suggestion knowing if you were to show up at my home with cut flowers it would immediately throw off my “best hostess ever” intentions. While I’m sure your cut flowers would be beautiful, instead of me focused on greeting you as my honored guest I am instead frantically looking for the vase I know I do not own or went into hiding. Point being, lets be mindful of unnecessarily unraveling our sweet hostesses. I totally get not wanting to show up empty handed which is why I appreciated this wisdom.

True humility also includes not thinking less of yourself. My discovery… I need to work on my humbleness. Lord, make me humble.

Jesus commands us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).” And in Romans 1:16 we learn from Paul that we should not be ashamed of the gospel, “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” This isn’t new knowledge, but an awakening in my heart to be obedient to all He commands and a prayer to be more bold and unashamed to share the best news EVER! Lord, please make this especially so with my children.

Speaking of prayer, I have come to realize I need to not only read about living more of a praying life, I need to get on with the business of praying. Like the on my hands and knees kind of praying. Not only is PRAYER my One Word for 2018, but as Priscilla Shirer writes in her book Fervant, “Prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth. It is kryptonite to the enemy and to all his ploys against you” and the people you love. Lord, make me a prayer warrior.

Speaking of obedience, this may need to be my new life verse – “love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life (Deuteronomy 30:20).” In summary: love, obey and commit for He is our life. Lord, may I walk in a manner that reflects your reign in my life.

My heart’s desire is for deeper connection with woman but while this is my heart’s desire there can be circumstances when it’s so hard. I attended a party recently where there were brief signs of connection but I left knowing I gave Satan the upper hand (again) and let him steal my opportunity for joy. Lord, may I no longer let comparison be the thief of my joy. Like really, it needs to stop.

Speaking of connection, the lovely Shauna Niequist reminded me of the importance of having a friend who is brave enough to say something difficult to help bring you to the next level of growth. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:6).” We need to tell each other the truth so we can get better. It may hurt but may we have a friend who can be trusted. Lord, thank you for my dear friend, Susan. She speaks truth even when it hurts but she has proven to be a safe place--someone I can trust. And, Lord, make me a safe place for another. Help me point them to You.

For fun… Everyone must have a globe (or many globes) in their home! ❤ I’m discovering most people do. Do you? I’m on the hunt for an antique globe for my oldest son and his wife for their new home.

We will end on that fun note. Truthfully though… go get yourself a globe if you don’t have one. It’s more fun to antique shop for one versus heading out to Hobby Lobby (mind you, their globes are cute and I would totally get wanting to walk out with one).

Thank you for gathering here with me, friend.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Things I'm Discovering {The Harder Things}

In my last post (read here) I shared with you the lighter side of the things I am discovering. Shall we move on to the harder things? What if we kick off with three more lighter things and then share two harder things? Can you tell I'm stalling on sharing the harder things?

The Lighter Things

Hospitality love - I love to extend invitations to family and friends to join me at my table. The unfortunate side of this is my inability to cook for said people. While I am sure a meal isn't a must for hosting, there is a dose of happiness which comes in serving others a meal. I have discovered if I keep it simple, I can scrounge up a decent meal. To date, I have made Sloppy Joe's for neighbors (it was literally the first time I delivered food to someone), an extra-large portion of Sloppy Joe's for our small group, a Pork Roast for my parents, and Turkey Taco Bowls for a church friend. Oh wait, I served up a baked potato bar for our small group once too (that didn't go well... who messes up potatoes???) Progress.

The lost art of a handwritten note love  - I love sending them and I am oh so excited and blessed when I receive one. May this not be lost art anymore.

Turquoise love - It has become my most favorite color. It started with hubs giving me my wished for turquoise picnic table and has now become one of the accent colors in our newly renovated home. By the way, our turquoise table was in the news. You can read the article here. And read about the #FrontYardPeople movement here.

The Harder (darker) Things

Fear is a Liar - This truth is being made more clear to me. Even more so is the truth of who is behind the fear and the lies; Satan. He is the father of lies (John 8:44).

Since listening to Episode 2 of Emily Freeman’s podcast, I have been asking the question she says to ask before every hard decision (Is your decision being led by love or by fear?) even in the simpler day-to-day decisions because I know even in them I allow fear to take the lead.

In those simpler decisions, like pressing send on a text to invite a friend to coffee, I first lean toward devaluing who I am by highlighting my weaknesses and viewing myself as less-than. Armed with truth and a fresh perspective of who is behind the fear and the lies, I have come to see how frequent I allow Satan to lead in the simple and hard decisions versus God. How do I not let God (love) lead? His plans for me are for good and not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11); Satan’s plans not so much.

As Zach Williams sings in this song, “Fear, he is a liar. He will take your breath. Stop you in your steps. Fear is a liar. He will rob your rest and steal your happiness.”

But God: “By this I know that You delight in me: my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.” Psalm 41:11

That verse, friends... may we write this truth deep within our hearts. Christ has shouted victory over us.

Envy/Jealousy - On a not so long ago Sunday I had a full blown ugly cry episode with my husband via FaceTime.

A little background... One of the perks of him being stationed in Germany is the opportunity to travel Europe. On this particular Sunday he was in Poland. He had already been to Frankfurt, Germany and Amsterdam, Netherlands. With each trip my envy increased. I was the one who always wanted to travel outside of the US. I wanted what he had. I wanted to experience what he was experiencing with him. The underlying truth being I was jealous that the Army had him instead of me.

In this ugly cry episode with my husband, I was focused on my own selfish desires and with that saying, “I am not satisfied with your plan, God.” And this was causing strife in my marriage.

It just so happened that shortly after the ugly cry episode I landed on the verse Psalm 21:19: “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Ouch

But God: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

God brought me exactly where I needed to be, on my knees, in prayer, at His throne of Grace asking for mercy. And mercy is exactly what I received.

Envy and jealousy remains a struggle (not only in the matter with my husband) but I see God’s grace in bringing the sin to light so that He can set me free from it.

I had intentions of telling you what I’ve discovered about right thinking versus wrong thinking (Romans 12:3-8) but this post has reached my word count limit so we shall save the topic for another time.

As Emily Freeman ends most of her posts, "may grace surprise you kindly today."

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