What are your FAVORITE THINGS?

These are a few of my favorite things:

Smooches on Leila’s smacker, laughing with Quinn, my husband’s jokes, truth from my mom, time with my brothers.

Time for sleeping, home cooked meals, mani/pedi, haircut with color, wax, new shoes or purse.

My friend Nat who asks if I am okay.

Remembering the births of my children.  Remembering the day of my salvation.  Remembering my wedding day.

Forgetting my sin.  Burying my mistakes.  Grace over and over.

Brisk mornings, rainbows, sun on my face.

Promises like you reap what you sow.  Planting gardens that the bugs don’t eat.

God’s truth.  His murals in my mind.  His wisdom on my heart.  His dreams that stay with me for my lifetime.

Time that I have to spend until it runs out.  Every minute of every hour that I can breathe in and breathe out.

His sufficiency and economy and sacrifice on the Cross.

These are a few of my favorite things . . . of which I am very thankful.

The Remedy is Thankfulness

By AbbyA

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. 

Dear Lord,

There is such a thing as a time line of our lives.  There are markers of births and deaths, triumphs and failures, soaring high and crawling low.  Adventures and journeys that make us who we are.  You knew the depth of the joy and of the pain each of us would experience in this life and you still call us to be thankful in everything.

As my dear friend Mike said today, you just can’t stop in the middle of the journey.  No matter how hard or painful the walk.  You are not perfected until you reach the finish line.  Mike shares with me that he doesn’t stop because he wants to be strengthened through his pain and suffering.  He doesn’t stop because he desires to be complete in every way Jesus would have him be complete.  He surrenders his thoughts of giving up to his savior and walks for another day.  Mike is thankful.  I can tell by both the light and tears that flow from his eyes when I talk with my friend.

My dear friend Megan and I, over a year ago, sat on a bench.  Her tears fell as she reached deep to understand where God had her and why.  She took a certain amount of responsibility for the valley and pressed on.  Megan said to me just the other day, AbbyA, isn’t true that our darkest moments are really our blessings?  We agreed that it is in the blinded darkness that you know the true love of your God.  And because of that knowledge, Megan is thankful.  I can tell by both the light and tears that flow from her eyes when I talk with my friend.

My daddy, who I will miss until the day I jump into his arms in heaven, ran the race in pain and suffering for more than six years.  While he must have had many questions for his God, he wrapped his inner hope around a promise that God would never leave or forsake him.  And as I watched him walk home to heaven, I believe that his strong faith grew in leaps and bounds as he saw and tasted that His promises were true. I know my dad was thankful in his life because I could see the spiritual peace that flowed from his inner being.

Lord, I want to thank you because you knew the depth of the joy and of the pain each of us would experience in this life.  You knew that there was only one remedy for both the valleys and mountain tops.  The remedy is thankfulness.  Your remedy is not without substance.  The substance of thankfulness is your love.  Love that never ends; always grows deeper; and always gives hope.

With love,

AbbyA, Bindu and JMathis

Love Never Fails

By AbbyA

Think back to a time when you were really struggling with a particular issue.  Was it trying to lay off the hot and heavy when you were a single twenty-something?  Gosh, maybe you were getting off the partying band wagon and trying to move on to something better.  Maybe you had to leave a relationship or grow up an immature part of yourself.  Just think back to that.   Do you remember thinking to yourself and God, “Lord, when I get through this, what are we going to have to talk about?”  I do.

In reading Bindu’s post, the words Love is not rude stuck out for me.  I was thinking about how I treat my husband sometimes.  In a snappy way, telling him the truth about how I feel without any love packed around it.  Of course, I can make some excuses such as it really only happens when I am tired or sick or whatever.  But Love is not rude.  When I read Bindu’s reminder of what God is made of, I felt quieted by His spirit that reveals truth.  I can be so self-righteous about my feelings.  So snappy, so rude.

Having lost my dad about two years ago, I had the very uncomfortable opportunity to relive in my mind my entire relationship with dad.  There is this one instance when I was frustrated sort of sandwiched between the foyer closet and the front door.  My dad tried to come in the front door holding stuff and I whaled out something very rude that I am too embarrassed to write down.  Do you know how long after my dad died that I pondered in regret over that fat, ugly comment?

Love is not rude.  So, Lord, when we get past the big stuff, there is still more to talk about.  You are always making us holy.  Always showing us through your Word parts of ourself that you want to fill up with your holiness.  Lord, help me to not be rude.  Thank you for forgiving me for my rudeness in the past.  Thank you for accepting my I am sorries, and passing them onto my dad.   Thanks Lord for who you are and for who you believe I can be.  Thank you that Love Never Fails.

 

Moving On

By AbbyA

Stuff comes a knockin’  all day long.  I’d like to characterize much of it as static.  But that is not the case.  It is stuff that . . . Chips at the heart of who I am.  Who I work very hard to be.  The who in me that tries her best to be just like Him.

Someone said to me just the other day – – in the same sentence where she described her loss – – that she needed to move on.  That comment has stuck with me all week.  There is such a fine line between what has happened to us and where God wants us to go from there.  There is so much evidence of God dividing our past from His remembrance.  So much evidence of Him sending apart East and West.  So much burying at the bottom of His Sea.

At the same time, we are defined by the floods that floor us.  The quakes that shake us.  The roaring winds that bring us to our knees.  At least it feels that way.  We are defined by loss and suffering and death.  Our own mistakes.  Intentional sin.  We all, at times, have heavy tears and even Scarlett Letters.

My friend’s need to move on statement has stuck with me.  I recall saying something similar about myself some time ago.  I remember thinking, Lord, I just need to move on from holding accountable or even holding against my disappointments towards a particular person that I love.  I remember wanting to move on so badly.  Really grappling with why I could not just move on.  Wanting to be like Him – divide, send apart, bury.

But, really, what I learned more than a year later, is that He is the Divider and the Burier.  I can’t do the Majestic and Supernatural.  I can’t be crushed by a wave and then separate my own injuries and pain from who I am.  He is the Interceder.  He is the Time Keeper.  His depth surpasses even eternity.  He knows my injuries and pain.  He is the one who allows floods, and waves and quakes.

But He is also the one who piles up sand bags around my heart to stop the bleeding.  He is the one who does not stand afar.  He is the one who catches tears in jars.  Allows me to wipe my tears off His feet with my hair.  He is the one who marks spiritual time and measures how far I have come from my injuries.  He is the Healer who knows when it is time to divide the Red Sea and put Egypt behind me.

I don’t know about when to move on.  I just know that, without notice, it happens one day.  Without the knowledge that He has divided and buried.  Without the knowledge that the sand bags have been replaced by spiritual strength built into your foundation.  Without full knowledge of what He has done, you wake up to His Glory.  And, according to Him, that is new every morning.  Lamentations 3:22

I have become a wonder to many, But you are my strong refuge.  Let my mouth be filled with Your praise.  And with your glory all the day.  Psalm 71:7.

Expectations

By AbbyA

I have really been convicted this week.  Bindu challenged me to reflect on one thing that I am worried about.  I took her challenge and followed her instructions and started thanking God, acknowledging His control and letting it go.  In bringing my concerns to Him, He gave me direction for solving my problem.

I mentioned earlier in the week that I’d like to learn to drain my expectations through a spiritual colander.  I figure if I deconstruct before I react, my communication will sound more like music than a broken record.  Help me Lord to express myself with clarity, truth and love.

I have been sounding like a broken record lately.  No one likes that kind of music.  Not even me.  Listening to myself makes me feel like one of those crazy Walmart moms who has no control over anything but keeps yelling and making threats.

As soon as I began Bindu’s challenge, God quickly gave me some instructions for solving my problem and led me to deeper matters.  He shed light on my expectations.  I feel like a broken record and He knows why.  He challenged me to see that I don’t recognize the gifts and talents of a particular person that I love.  I keep expecting this person to deliver in tune with my expectations.  I am expecting in areas that s/he can’t even consistently deliver for him/herself.  God showed me that if I encourage this person in the area of God-given gifts and talents and provide support in the other areas, this person would grow past his/her own personal limits.  Now, God didn’t promise that this person would then meet my expectations, He just promised that this person would grow past his/her own personal limits.  That means that I would be working together with God to accomplish His will.  Thanks Bindu.

Somehow I know this will make Joan C. Webb smile.  I hope she is right now.

Answers to Questions

By AbbyA

Do you find yourself almost wishing your life away as you wait for those Fridays or just live for special days like Christmas? 

A wise man once told me that every day is worth living.  He challenged me to enjoy each day and not to wish it was Friday every other day of the week.  That comes from my wise old dad whose days off were Sunday and Monday; who worked nights many days a week; and who always took a nap at around 3pm.  Yes, dad, every day is worth living.

What can you appreciate right now about your life? 

I appreciate that I have a mind to think, wisdom to understand and a heart to love.

While there are some things you can’t control, what can you change to improve your life so you enjoy it more? 

I’d like to learn to drain my expectations through a spiritual colander.  I figure if I deconstruct before I react, my communication will sound more like music than a broken record.  Help me Lord to express myself with clarity, truth and love.

We’re all consumed by life and the hectic chaos, but challenge yourself this week to be present in the Present and focus on the blessings in your life. 

Having lost a lot the last few years and suffered terrible pain, I am in a season of thankfulness and joy for what He has brought me through.  I pray that as mountains and valleys continue in my life, I would retain a spirit of thankfulness for the great work He has done on the Cross.  And, I pray that the prayer warriors in my life – – who interceded for me in my pain and suffering – – would reap a harvest for their prayerful sacrifice.  Among others, thank you Mom.  You will always be all that I am and all that I hope to be.  (Borrowed from President Lincoln, but from my heart).

FemmeReaders: I encourage you to ask yourself hard questions.  Seek deep answers.  For as you tredge through the darkness, Christ’s light becomes ever so bright.  Blinding your past, leading the way to your future and warming your Present.

Ally O . . . I hardly know you, but I love you

Ally O, I hardly know you, but I love you.  And, yes, we all know, your mama loves you too.  She greets us every morning with a smile and the truth wrapped around her heart.  It is all mixed up with sweat, but that’s what we’re here for anyway.  Aren’t we?  It is the sweat of the flesh and the sweat of the spirit.  That’s what we are here for anyway.

Ally O, you know your mama better than me.  But I can’t help but tell you how she beams for her three.  And breaks for any one of you who is suffering.  Like a roller coaster ride, she cares for you from afar – – going through your ups and downs with you.  Her pure, pure heart watches you grow.  And on her knees she intercedes for you.  And, every now and then, she leaks patches of your walk to us.

I know, Ally O, that He stripped you of all the confidence you gained for the 18 years before you left for college.  He took away the many athletic and academic successes you collected over the years.  He looked you squarely in face and asked you to trust in Him.  Your mama grinned and bore your pain.

I know, Ally O, that, just a year later, He’s teaching you more.  Seems like He’s taking you apart again.  Looking you squarely in the face and asking you to trust Him.  We are promised certain things.  Sometimes we are sinking in the mire of a dungeon.  Some days we soar on wings like eagles.  Isaiah 40:31.  But, mostly, He invites us to experience His Sufficiency.  BinduAdai

You will find Him, not in the occasional cold looks of your team mates, but in the security He provides to you as His daughter.  You will find Him, not in your swooning, lovesick study buddy, but in the grace He gives you to manage your friend’s crush.  You will find Him because the only reason He put you where you are is to do just that.  To find Him in the deepest way you were made to find Him.

Ally O, you have a mother who would move mountains to rescue you from your pain.  But you also have a mother who rather coach you to climb your own mountains.  As you face your mountains, I leave you with the very wise words of my dear friend . . . And do not forget, Ally O, that I love you.

Let those difficult days be the days where God reveals His true power to you. Where you experience the “Peace that Passes All Understanding” despite your circumstances. Where you experience His Power over the most hardest of hearts. Where He opens up the impossible doors of your life like the Red Sea so you can walk through them. Those difficult, stormy days that you are hating and wishing would just pass may end up being the most defining days of your Christian walk. Because it is there, through the haze and fog of the storm, where you will see and experience the Presence of your Maker.