Monday, December 31, 2012

MS, Meet My Red High Heels

Hey MS, I want you to meet some folks. Meet my Red High Heels. You see them? They are going on my feet. They are going on my feet while I WALK out the door. They will stay on my feet as I WALK up and down stairs. Oh, and they will be doing that for a very long time. Just thought I would give you a heads up about that - in case you were getting any ideas about trying to get me into flats any time soon. Yeah....not happening. You see, these bad boys are my inspiration. These guys are a reminder to me that we are winning and you are not. Or rather, that HE is winning....

You see MS - I have another awesome friend, besides my Heels. They are just my posse. This guy, HE is incredible. HE is powerful. HE is mighty. HE is awesome. His name is Jesus, and He is using you to grow and stretch me. But you know what MS, He is healing me from you. That's right, you heard me, you... are... leaving.

Why are you leaving you ask? Well, first of all, we (Jesus and me) have too much to do, and you are just getting in the way. Or rather, you have served your purpose. Don't get me wrong, I have learned a lot from you. I have grown a lot because of you. But for right now, we don't need you. Personally, I don't want to see you come back. No offense. Second, Jesus is so incredibly awesome and talented and smart! You see, even though He allowed you to make an entrance into my life, He has also been showing me how to show you out the door - graciously.

MS - I know that this is difficult for you to take right now, so, I am going to go eat a huge salad while I wait for you to process this.....

Speaking of salad....yeah, salad has also joined my posse. And green juice. And avocado. And quinoa! Jesus has given me food for physical healing, worship and counsel for spiritual/emotional healing, and red heels for... Well, for fun and absolute joy;)

So MS - don't be too broke up about this. Because I am not upset at all. Me, I'm just stoked about this life with Jesus. I am on cloud nine that I get to live for Him. I am thrilled that I have been symptom free for 10 months. I am humbled, blessed and rejoicing over this gift of life that I have been given. This life that I get to truck on through in my red high heels!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I am in the middle of reading an awesome book called, “Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try Hard Life” by Emily Freeman. Because it resonates so strongly with me, I have to read it in stages. Today's chapter ended with this statement, “Jesus didn't value what people thought, He valued people.” Upon reading this phrase, I had to stop. And think about it. It really is true.... You never read about Jesus second guessing what He was called to do. Ever... Wow, to have such faith and belief in a true calling. 

Lately, I have posted a lot about people's opinions determining my decisions. I think I might be redundant to the point of annoyance... Nonetheless, I figure that I am not the only person to struggle with this, so I might as well share how Jesus and I are changing this habit. This is something that controlled most of my growing up, and if my being transparent can help someone else heal, we'll then, I will be redundant... For healing is powerful and restorative.

Growing up, I started to care what people thought of me as early as 7. I cared if they liked my hair, my clothes, my laugh, my stories, my personality, etc... I cared if I was apart if the “in” crowd (Which by the way, consisted of maybe 3 people). Then I started to care what people thought about my academic abilities. Then my musical talents. Then my spiritual accomplishments. And finally, my ranking as “one of the finest young ladies....” 

Now I would NEVER have defined myself as a prideful person. Mostly because I tried so hard to be humble. Humility is apparently the best quality to be acknowledged for possessing (How's that for an oxymoron?). But when I look back at all the ways through which I tried to gain acceptance, I realized it was ALL about works and tangible accomplishments. It was all about me...... but, I told myself that it was about Jesus. 

Since I know myself fairly well, I can say that some of it was about Jesus. I love HIM a lot! I wanted to please Him. However, I wasn't asking Jesus if I was pleasing Him. I was looking at other people who were “godly”, or “closer to God” than I thought myself to be. If I had their approval than I knew I was on the right track. Even when it felt weird. Even when it felt wrong. Even when I couldn't explain it for the life of me, I still followed in that vein of thinking.

Why? Well....there are a lot of reasons. Three reasons why I did it, and three reasons why I don't anymore. Oh, and they all start with “p”.... (I actually hate alliteration. It limits my creative flow, haha.But, for the sake of this post, I use my least favorite writing tool. For, I believe it makes a point. And it drives home a way of thinking I'm trying to change)

Why I Did:

  I became a people pleaser at a young age. Whatever kept the peace. Whatever made people happy and whatever made people like me. Or at least to is what I told myself. For example, if someone said that reading the Bible two hours everyday was a way to prove your dedication to God, then I would have tried it. Now, I would have failed, miserably. Why? Because I am human and Nancy Drew and playing outside are more appealing when you are eight. But here is where it was so unhealthy. If someone shared a presences like that and I could achieve it (which happened often by the way), I would spend days and weeks feeling guilty and less than acceptable because I couldn't reach someone else's guidelines for spiritual success.

  I especially followed preferences when they were argued upon with “principles”, Biblical principles. Because if someone could justify it, then I had a hard time arguing with it. Even when it seemed wrong and unhealthy, or just flat out didn't make sense. Because remember, I'm a people pleaser. And I please people with principles and preferences.

  And if preferences and principles were promoted by PEOPLE, well then I was headed on a downward spiral. Mainly because I wanted to fit in and be accepted so badly. I wanted to be wanted, and I had found an avenue through which I could do that and excel. At least that is what I told myself. I could follow rules, sort of. you see, I can ease myself into a mold for a short period of time. Then common sense and Jesus start to kick in and I start coloring outside of the lines, haha. I told myself that if I gained the approval and good will of certain people, then I could place myself on this personal scale of success. I could gage my growth and maturity. I could now ,for a fact, how well I was doing - especially spiritually. For with the acceptance and approval of man comes godliness, maturity and growth - right?

This way of living was exhausting. Emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. Now, the three “P”s are not of themselves bad, but if you are looking to anyone but Jesus for your ultimate guidance in these areas, then you are in for a life of confusion and disillusionment. I know this because I have experienced it. So, I will turn these three “P”s around to show you what Jesus has been showing me and teaching me about prioritizing. Or rather, re-prioritizing.

Why I Don't Anymore:

  I am to serve God rather than man - therefore, if I am looking to man’s preferences rather than God’s commandments, then I am not loving and serving my Jesus. Oh, and lets not forget that man looks on the outside while God looks on the heart. I am far from perfect and there is none righteous. So, with that being said, my preferences are the last ones that people need to be using as life guidelines. If I use other people to tell me if I am succeeding, what do I do when they change? Or when they are gone? Or when they have wrong motives? See the downside to this way of thinking?
  If you look up the word principle in the dictionary, you will find multiple definitions. The two that stood out to me are as follows:

A) “a rule or code of conduct”

B) ”a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption”

The first definition is the one I spent a majority of my life living by. Now, as I write this, I want to state that I am pointing no fingers. I am not blaming anyone for “making” me live this way. I am just relating the works and going on of my own spirit and mind. Jesus pointed out to me that I spent more time wondering what “Fill In Name” would think than I did actually being alone with Him, seeking what He wanted me to do. Which leads to the second definition. “Fundamental law and doctrine” is a key . For me, it no longer references man’s laws. A least not initially.  It is referencing Jesus’s law and doctrine. It references Who I need to be most concerned about being close to.

  Jesus’s main goal and purpose was PEOPLE. More often than not, we focus on the preferences and principles more than we do the people. Why is that? Well, I know that for me, it seemed far easier to follow tangible rules (because rules are concrete; concrete is safe;), rather than open myself up to the vulnerability of relationships and relating to people. This was skewed thinking. There is nothing more freeing than opening yourself up to the grace and liberty that is Jesus. I didn't say it wasn't scary, I just said it was freeing. It is freeing to realize that with Jesus by your side you don't need to worry. I didn't say it would be smooth sailing, I just said you don't need to worry about it. God’s got your back. Oh, and get this, He has your back and loves you even when it isn't reciprocated... You hear that? His love isn't conditional and He is NOT a respecter of persons!

Do I still have preferences? Sure, we all do. I hate wearing socks to bed and chewing with your mouth open is gross. But,just because I can justify my preferences, does NOT mean that it is “law” or that people “have” to follow them. Nor should they feel like they have to follow them in order to receive good will and love from me.

Do I live by principles? Yes, to a point... Laws and guidelines are great. They are even helpful and safe. But, when followed blindly or set up improperly, they can also enable you to be very rigid, locked and judgmental. And when you follow people instead of the Person, you open yourself up to a world of mess. because, you can’t please everyone all of the time. Personally, I’d rather be open to the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit. He's been around the block a few time, and I trust Him more than I trust human beings with motives.

Do I love people? Oh man, yes I do! People are frustrating, entertaining, difficult, wonderful and amazing creations of God! People make me smile, and people are a motivating factor for how I live my life. People are fun and bring joy to my life. But, people shouldn't flat out determine my life, no should I determine theirs. I am better than no one, and no one is better than I am. I am not judge and jury, nor am I responsible for everyone's actions. People don't determine my destiny, control my feelings or handle my outcomes. Unless I let them.... People just need love. People just need Jesus. People (speaking to myself here) need to know that Jesus and love are synonymous. And personally, I want people to see the love of Jesus shine through me every single day. 

I have yet to meet someone that felt the unconditional, sacrificial love of Jesus through a rigid set of principles and preferences set forth by people. But when we let Him flow freely through us.... That is where we see the greatest gain and the most incredible miracles. Because folks, it's not about us... And in my experience, all stringent rule setting does is give you a guideline to show others how awesome you are. How well you can conform. How dedicated you are. Historical religious leaders led strict lives of dedication to those rules, and Jesus told them they were focusing on the wrong things! When I get to Heaven, no one is going to care about how well I fit myself into a mold. No one. No is going to ask how well I pleased everyone else with my righteous living. I am just going to look into the face of my Jesus, and nothing else will matter. Even if I don't receive crowns or blessings - you hear that? - even if I don't receive a single crown, Jesus still wants me in Heaven with Him. Because He wants me more than anything. It's why He died. His unconditionally, all inclusive love enables Him to look past my failings and see something that He wants....

Liberty in Christ...... Safety in the knowledge than I can fully depend on Him.... Peace in knowing that He is the Way, the Truth Andy the Life... Joy in knowing that I am NEVER alone....

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Lately, it seems like I've done a lot of writing about being real. And at the risk of sounding redundant, I feel like I should preface this by saying "why" I am writing about this again.

So often, I find that when the Lord continuously teaches me the same lesson, it is for one of two reasons.

1) I am not learning what He wants me to or
2) It is really important that this lesson sticks.

Being real - being transparent - being vulnerable - being honest.

All of these things are both frightening and liberating. All of these things are both challenging and necessary.

I used to make my decisions regarding transparency based on the fearfulness and the challenge, not realizing the liberty and necessity of my being real and honest.

If something was fearful it must be bad, and if something was challenging, then I was being tested or tempted. I couldn't make a wise decision on my own, or so I thought. I was always running to other people for "counsel". At least, that is what I thought I was doing. But really, I was trying to figure out what decision would please everybody else... I am not saying that everyone does it like this. I can only speak for myself. This is how I was doing it and why….. Not proud of it, but like I said, I’m just keeping it real.

2 Timothy 1:7 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Think about these truths for a moment, and ask yourself how they relate to each when it comes to being real? Then, after being universal (something we all do by the way), ask yourself how they tie in with YOU being real and honest….. Now, bear with me, because we are getting down in the muck for the rest of this

Being real, being transparent - reoccurring themes in my life. Why do they keep coming up? What am I not learning? Is it really about being real to everyone else.......? Or is the real lesson to be learned about being transparent with myself....

Phew..... That's a good question....

So, being the good question that it was, I asked it to myself. And the answer I got, I wasn't necessarily fond of it.

This might surprise some people, it might not surprise others, but, I never felt truly comfortable in my own skin until about 11 months ago. Not comfortable in my own skin? Feeling unsure of who I am? Not knowing where I fit in? Yeah.... I had all of those questions. More questions came up, and I had to answer every single one of them. I had to answer them because; I had spent much of my upbringing pushing them out of my head. I had been pushing them out of my head because I had other questions that were speaking much LOUDER. And unfortunately, those questions had more to do with my reputation and what people were going to think of me, than what Jesus was trying to teach me...

Such vain and selfish thoughts. Now, it was never my intent to be selfish, but I was. My motivation wasn’t driven solely by vanity, but it was still vain, and I definitely had vain moments.

I wasn’t going to be quite this transparent, but in order to elaborate, I will. Selfishness is caring more about you – AT the expense of others. That means, that when I sat back and mocked and judged people who didn’t fit the mold or who didn’t follow all the rules, I was being selfish and vain. How you ask? I was selfish because fitting in with everyone else at that moment was more important to me than sticking up for them. I was vain because (I almost can’t say it), I thought I was better than they were because I followed the rules and they didn’t…. Of this I am most ashamed. Most ashamed, because, I treated people that way. I was the judge and juror when I had no idea what was going on at home. Judge and juror when I didn’t have the slightest clue about the hurt in their heart…

Moments like this shame me – but in a healthy, healing way. I never want to do that again. I have no room to judge, because Someone already occupies that seat. And He is far more just and benevolent than I am…

The Lord broke me of the selfishness and vanity, but the “looking to other people for acceptance” was still there. I was no longer judging (or at least trying not to), but I was terrified of being judged. Terrified, because, I had been judgmental, and I knew how harsh people could be, and how lonely that felt…

Then I had to finally be…. Honest

I was caring more about what other people thought than what HE thought. I was focused more on if other people thought I was godly, then whether He felt loved and adored by me. I was allowing other people to dictate to me what was right, instead of seeking it out for me and listening to the Holy Spirit. And this, my friends, is why I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. This is why I looked in the mirror and I had to look away because of the insincerity and pain that I saw there. This is why I looked in the mirror and saw strain and anxiety, instead of peace and joy.

2 Timothy 1:7 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

To loop back to both of those beautiful Scriptures, I will end with this. God gave us counselors, because in second opinions there is safety. However, God also gave you freedom, liberty, courage and a sound mind to make decisions. If we are following Christ, then we are never truly making decisions completely on our own. The Holy Spirit should be the loudest voice we hear, as it is He who lives in us.

About a week ago I started writing a new song (For those of you who don't know, I'll let you in on a little secret, I LOVE singing from my heart and I LOVE writing music with my hands....). It isn't finished yet, but when it is, I hope to share it with you. The main theme of the song is about what we see when we truly look at ourselves. Do we see pain, hurt, and rejection? Do we see vanity, pride and arrogance? Or, do we see Jesus? Not because we are so holy and righteous, for we are not, but because He flows so freely and strongly through us, that He is all we can see. That is what I want; I want to see Jesus - today, tomorrow and always...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Sweetheart

Hey girls….want to hear a secret? Of course you do, we LOVE secrets! Well, here it is…. I have found the absolute PERFECT guy! Oh I know you think yours is the best, and I hate to break the news to you this way, but…. I found him!
To appease your ever growing curiosity, let me tell you about him, because he is pretty much amazing!
This man is the epitome of a gentleman. Always asking how he can help other people. Always gracious – asking what he can do to make things easier for other people. He is protective and caring. He checks up on me and asks how I am doing and feeling. When times are tough, he is quick to reassure me of his love for me. Did I mention he is absolutely adorable? Oh, and he prays for me, every night. His sense of humor – unbelievable! His taste in music – impeccable! His principles and character – from another time and unmatchable….
Who is my knight in shining armor? Well girls….he’s my grandpa – the sweetest man I have ever known…

How could you NOT fall in love with this face???

I spent several hours yesterday and again today sitting with him in the hospital. And both times that I left, I cried on my way home. Cried, because selfishly, I’m not ready to let him go yet. I’m not ready to stop holding his hand or kissing his cheek. I’m not ready to stop seeing his face light up when I come see him. Or when he sees me and says, “Oh, Elizabeth!” There is nothing like those words from that voice…
Allow me to brag and gush for a few (or ten) paragraphs – because that’s what girls do about their sweethearts, lol
This gem of a man was soo gentle and kind and gracious yesterday with all of his nurses. When they needed to take his blood pressure, his response was, “Do you need me to lift my arm up to help you get it better?” Seriously, could he be any cuter??
When you are admitted to the hospital for anything, they ask you if you want to be kept alive in case of an emergency. So, as he was telling me about that (always trying to protect and prepare us), immediately after he told me about the (do not resuscitate) paperwork, he very quickly said, “But if anything happens to me, you know that I love you, right?” And yes, for once in my life, I am thankful his eyesight isn’t fabulous, otherwise he would have seen the HUGE alligator tears welling up in my eyes.
He tried so hard to stay awake visiting with me, but finally I told him I wasn’t going anywhere and he could just rest – so he did. And he snored, and I thought it was
This morning, he was in fine form – as his sense of humor came out in droves! Let me share the dialogue that took place over my latte.
Grandpa: “They wouldn’t give me any coffee this morning, only water. (insert grumpy face) You don’t drink coffee do you Elizabeth?”
Me: Yes sir I do, every morning
Grandpa:  “Oh! Good for you! That’s the Norwegian in you then.” (insert chuckle)
Haha! What a champ! But, you should have seen the look on his face when I told him that I pay almost $4 for a latte…. He was dismayed, not that I pay that, but that anyone would charge that much for coffee! It was "just terrible!" LolJ
Here is another conversation that had me in stitches. Mostly because of his facial expressions (they are priceless). In order to get the full affect, you would really have to know him, but, I will do my best to relay it how it happened.
Uncle Kelvin: “You know Dad, the doctor is really impressed that you are 95”
Grandpa: “Oh really? Why’s that?”
Uncle Kelvin: “Because most men from your generation didn’t live past 45 years old”
Grandpa(with a look of disdain): “Ah, pfft, I don’t believe in that stuff”
Uncle Geof: (as we are all cracking up) “And that Dad, is why you are 95”
Grandpa: “hahaha, I suppose you’re right!”

The sweet tender moments I have shared with this man over the years are precious and so dear to my heart. When he holds my hand as I lay my head on his shoulder, it is comforting and I feel at home. We can sit there in comfortable silence, just enjoying each other’s company. The nice thing is, it’s always been that way. Today, one of those sweet moments happened, and I want to engrave it on my heart so that it never ever goes away.
Me: (lays my head on Grandpa’s shoulder)
Grandpa: (leans over and whispers) “You know I love you don’t you Elizabeth?”
Me: “Oh Grandpa, of course I do…”
Grandpa: “Good, because I do love you. I’ve loved you since the day you were born. And I pray for you every night.”
Me: (kisses that beautiful weathered cheek) “I love you too Grandpa…”
I have always told my grandpa that when I find a guy as sweet as him, I will snatch him up and marry him, lol. But until then, eat your hearts out ladies, because I have the finest catch in town – and there’s nothing you can do about it! He’s all mine – forever and always – my hero, my inspiration, my sweetheart!

Grandpa, you stole my heart the day you taught me how to dance. And I don’t ever want it back, because it is always yours….

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I’m Me, and That’s Ok - Finally...

So I have a question? Am I the only one who not only goes to bed with a million thoughts in her brain, but also wakes up with them? Sometimes my brain feels like an overcrowded pinball machine – ideas and thoughts being ricocheted all over the place, but never going anywhere….
But every once in awhile, one of the ideas goes into the goal, and I score a point. Not a numerical point, but, a life point. A gold star. A reminder that no matter the obstacles that stand in my way, (be it emotional/physical/spiritual/mental), breakthrough IS possible.
By nature, I am an avid learner. I crave understanding and knowledge. Maybe it’s slightly an OCD thing, or maybe it is just who I am. I read everything that comes through my hands – wrappers included.
Why? Um, I don’t know…. But after years of overanalyzing myself about it, I have come to the conclusion that it is just the way I am, and I’m ok with that. Doesn’t mean I expect everyone else to be, it just means that I am. I am ok with, and even embrace this part of myself.
Because it is important for me to understand and know why, I tend to do A LOT of self reflecting. In my mind, if I understand what happened, I can repeat it if it was a positive experience, or I can do it differently if it was not a positive experience. Couple this part of my personality with the “I refuse to give up because I hate losing” side of myself, and you better watch out – it could get very deep, psychological and competitive, lol.
What could I possibly be reflecting on these days? Well, to be honest, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on….me…
Now, before you try to figure out where I am going with this, hang tight. I will do my very best to explain, clearly and openly. When I say I have been reflecting on myself, that in and of itself is nothing new. In fact, I think we all reflect on ourselves on a daily basis. The difference for me was in HOW I was reflecting, and in HOW I was thinking about and even talking to myself.
So, here goes nothing….
“Just love yourself…”
I have heard this phrase a lot – and to be honest, it has received a lot of flack in our Christian circles. Understandably so – at least to a certain degree – because, it seems to be in direct contradiction with the command that we need to “die to self” in order for Christ to be able to “work in us and through us.”
However, although I have heard multiple times that I shouldn’t “love” myself; I have yet to hear how I am supposed to feel about myself. The opposite of love is hate, and I am fairly certain the Lord doesn’t want me to hate myself. So where is the balance? What is the fine line? Is there one?
I haven’t found a scripture yet where God tells me not to love myself… (If there is one, please tell me…) What I have found is God’s telling us how we are to feel about ourselves. He tells us over and over again in His word. I am His workmanship – a workmanship that He said was good. I am wonderful – because He says I am. I am beloved – because He says I am. I am worth it – because He says I am. I don’t love/like myself because I am so awesome or amazing, but because I love what God has created, and I love the plan that He had for me when He allowed me to be born. And since I am part of that creation, I shouldn’t hate or loath what He creates – even when that creation is me.  
I love music because He gave me a song. I love people because He loves them through me. I have more words in my head at one time than any human being should probably have in their entire lifetime, but….He designed that – to be used for His purpose. So why am I not embracing who He created me to be?
Circumstances surrounding my childhood heightened a lot of anxiety producing, self protective qualities in me. I was awkward, because I was scared. I toed the line, because it was safe. I did what I was told, and I did what was expected – because it gave me structure and I knew what to expect from it. The thing is – I needed that structure and consistency, or at least I told myself I did. I had to have that AND the Lord in order to make it.
But, as I grew in my relationship with Christ, those self protective tendencies started to stone wall the growth the Lord was working through me. You see, the more liberty and freedom you have in Christ, the less you need to fortress yourself in a castle built of protectiveness and angst. The more you release your fears to Him, the less you need to worry about structure keeping you safe. I got so caught up “fitting the mold”, that I lost sight of being moldable clay in the Potter’s hands. I thought if I held on tight enough, planned everything enough, marked off that checklist of do’s and don’ts, then I would be prepared for tragedy and pain – or at least be better equipped for it…
“Hitting rock bottom”
This is a term typically used to describe when people have messed up their lives so much, they have nowhere else to go but back up. For me, I had to hit rock bottom emotionally. Honestly, I don’t know if anyone would have been able to tell unless they were really close to me. But inside, the Holy Spirit was churning and stirring up everything I had tried so hard to compartmentalize for years. You see, I thought I had developed into the person I was supposed to be, and that person/image was safe/appropriate/predictable/right…. Yet, who’s definition was I using? On what scale was I grading myself? Oh right….mine
“Letting Go – Being Free”
So, I let go. Not without fear, not without tears and not without pain. Because, as I let go of who I thought I was supposed to be, I was left to wonder who I really and truly was…
Now here is where it gets awesome… when I let go of who I “thought” I was supposed to be, an incredible thing happened. I slowly and freely started to become who HE created me to be. It was a gradual process, one that is still taking place, and one that will always be taking place. It will always be taking place, because He is NEVER finished with me!
You know what though? I am totally ready for that, and my sense of adventure is raring to go!
I woke up this morning, completely content and comfortable with who I am as a person. Two years ago… I couldn’t say that about myself. Shoot, 6 months ago it might even have been difficult. What changed you ask? Well, I realized, I am not enslaved anymore. I am not enslaved by the perceptions and expectations of man. I am free. I have hope and peace and joy! I have all of this because of what ONE person did for me! Is everything going to go perfect? Of course it isn’t, you know that… but I am NOT alone. I am never forsaken. I am never left behind. And my destiny is in the hands of Christ – a destiny that I am totally and completely stoked about living!
So, do I love myself? Yeah, I do… But like I said, I love what God loves, and HE loves me. So on those days when Debbie Downer whispers crap in my ear, HE is the one reminding me that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” HE is the one reminding me that all of my quirks and oddities are there for a purpose. And, if I am willing, HE wants to show me that purpose. And you know what? HE does show me – He shows me every single day. And it is awesome!
What don’t you like about yourself? Why don’t you like it? Is it because other people judge it, or is it something over which the Spirit convicts you? My self-adjustments aren’t made for other people anymore. Believe me, I self adjust, ALL the time, lol. I have to do this because I am not a perfect person, and no matter how comfortable I am with myself, I am still going to make mistakes. But I don’t make changes anymore because I have been made to feel guilty or ashamed. I don’t make changes because I fear being rejected if I don’t comply.  It is because the Holy Spirit gently shows me why I need to change or why I need to grow. It is because I love HIM. It is because I want to be in one accord with my BEST FRIEND. HE is my final authority, and the ONLY one before whom I will stand. When I am ok with HIM, I am ok – period. No one else should be the determining factor. Think about it? HE wants to do EPIC things with your life --- let Him!

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Through My Soul Clearly

Purge, cleanse, funnel – till, irrigate, fertilize – share, spread, give – tend, love, hold, cherish
There is no “pinnacle of success.” There is no “finally making it.” There is no “coming out on top.” There just isn’t. We can always think of something else that we want. Some other mountain that we want to climb. Some other goal that we want to accomplish. It is a never ending and vicious cycle.
Wow, am I depressing or what? If I ended on that note, then yes, I would be depressing. I would be self condemning and self sabotaging. However, the purpose of those direct statements ties in with my story. Those statements do not necessarily represent how I view the world around me, or how I go about making my. Then what do they represent? Stick around --- and I’ll tell you. That is, if you want to hear…
First off, I am not here to rain on anybody’s parade. Nor am I here to tell people how they should or shouldn’t be. I am just here to share my story. My story that is continually being written. My song that I want forever to be sung.
Now, in order for the words in the beginning to make sense, a little background is in order.  We all have baggage. We all have dirty laundry. But we ALL can unpack, put away, wash, dry and iron every once in awhile. However, my blog is not a vent fest, but an expression. An expression of how much I love Jesus and how much I love what He is continually showing me!
Purge --- Cleanse --- Funnel
Far too often we take in what everyone else says, does, dictates and demands. But, we don’t stop to hear what He has to say first. And even if we stop and try to listen to Him, our heads and hearts are still too full of all the other things we have heard. Advice is great. Feedback is wonderful. I have many godly people in my life who are sounding boards for me when I need it. That is biblical. (Proverbs 11:14) What became a problem and what was a hindrance for me, was that I was using other people’s opinions of me to gage whether or not I was “doing a good job.” Yeah, that had to stop… Because what if they mess up? Or forget messing up, what if they die or move away or we have a falling out? The bedrock of my decision making will crumble beneath my feet, and I will be in the stones and rubble of my shattered fortress. So let’s purge – out with people’s opinions being the “determining” factor. Notice I did not say “out with people’s opinion’s”. I said “determining” factor. The Lord sends people to us to give us wisdom and understanding and feedback. But to follow blindly? To not be able to give answer for why you do what you do? Damaging. Not only to you, but also to your relationship with Jesus. Damaging, because it completely cuts Him out.  I had to clean out my way of thinking, funnel the negative out, while keeping the good. Because there was good.
Till --- Irrigate ---Fertilize
When weeds have been pulled, or the season has ended, you must till the soil. Turn it over and help regenerate healthy soil in order to give new life next year. That’s what I had to do. I needed to be refreshed. I needed to be revived, and I needed a new song in my heart. Worship is one of the most healing things the Lord has revealed to me. To sit and worship – to sing to Him, for Him, for all that He has given me. It is the most precious time I have with Him. This part is hard for me to write, because for me, song is so personal, and I am a little selfish of this time with him. But the truth is,  Jesus wants it… desperately. And He wants it from all of us. Now maybe song isn’t your expression of worship. That’s ok, but He still wants worship… and He wants it from you.
And I want to give that to Him. “Lord, I want to sing to You always – with joy and abandon – with spirit and soul – with fervency and faith. Thank you for giving me something to sing about each and every day.”
Share --- Spread --- Give
So, I have purged old ways. Or, I am still working on purging old ways. Out with the old and in with the new song. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with cleansing and life giving ones. Now what? Well, here is where all of those “Debbie Downer” comments come into play. Part of the purging process was changing and renewing my perspective. For clarifying why I make the decisions I do, and also how I am going to make them in the future. I am all for goals, but I am more for God – at least I want to be. Success is not sin – but my Saviour should always get the glory. I kind of told myself that once I get to Heaven, I will have arrived. Honestly, I cringe even typing that… It hurts me to write it… because if that is what I think it’s all about then I am way off base. I don’t think that anymore, I had a revelation. When we get to Heaven, we will be perfect – yes. But, I don’t think that we are even going to think about that fact. We are just going to be with Jesus and it is going to be awesome. The baggage from this world isn’t going with us! It is staying behind and we will be with Him! Wow…. I cannot even comprehend how amazing it is going to be, but I believe it. That is what I want to share. I don’t want it to be about how well I “fit” the expected model. I don’t want it to be about how we are turning out products that are all the same. (Psalms 139:14) I want to share this awesomeness which is being saved. I want people to see the JOY of Christ in me, not fear and condemnation.
Tend --- Love --- Hold --- Cherish
And we are coming to the end. Thanks for sticking with me. I know, sometimes accept, and always acknowledge that I am incredibly wordy. It is who I am. I try to balance it, but don’t always succeed. I went to a church retreat last weekend, and the question was posed to all of us, “Why is it important to make decisions based on love rather than fear?” This ties in so perfectly with how I began this journey of seeing myself and my life in Christ more clearly. During my devotions that morning, I wrote the answer to this question in my journal.
“A lot of my choices were made by fear. Not really fear of God though, but fear of what other people thought and what I heard God was going to “do” to me. And then when people asked why I did things and why I made decisions, I couldn’t give them an answer. But, when I started making choices driven and motivated by love, the answers came with joy and ease. I read the Word because I love Him. I worship because I love Him. People catch and live LOVE better and more productively that people who walk and live in fear.”
So, where I once looked through a darkened window, I now see through my own soul clearly. Not because I have reached a point of enlightenment, or because I have finally “seen the light”, but because He is in me. He is molding me. He is cherishing and tending the soil of my heart and the garden that is my life. He is shining brightly, and if people see light, it is Him. Submitting to His will, plan and purpose for me has completely changed my life. I am motivated by love. I am challenged by it, and am in awe of it. And that is why, I choose life. I choose growth. I choose not giving up until you find the truth.  I choose this life. This life in Christ. Because, that’s what it is really all about --- Jesus.
Deuteronomy 30:19
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

Friday, July 20, 2012

High Five for Friday

So for the past couple of months, I have been following a fun, quirky, educational (yes, shoes are educationalJ) blog. And every Friday, people link up and share five things about their week. It’s called “High Five for Friday” and it is promoted by Lauren at FromMyGreyDesk And, I have finally decided to give it a try. Not that my life is all that exciting, but I thought of a couple things this week I felt like sharingJ
Deep breath….. Okay, here goes nothing….lol

I am glad that Mondays only come once a week – and I am glad that coffee makes them more bearable

Salted caramel ice cream is the true love of my life, next to Jesus, of courseJ
“Why Worry?” by NewSong is an awesome song when you are feeling a wee bit down:)

Organization makes me a happy person – I know, I’m a tad strange (explanation: I got super organized at work (which makes me happy), and other people are appreciating it (which equals more happiness, haha)

My brother – I am pretty proud of him this week – enough saidJ

So there is my High Five for Friday! I honestly could have listed more than five things, but those could come in a later post. Most important thing I was reminded of this week, is how wonderful and amazing it is to have Jesus…. Always and forever

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.”

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Forever Yours

Today let’s be real. Let’s be genuine. Let’s not give coached responses or expected answers. Let’s just talk about Jesus. It’s something that we don’t do enough of in all honesty.
Today I am not going to be funny. I am not going to be witty with a clever poem. I am not even going to try to be inspiring. I am just going to be real.
For a long time I tried to fit into this box that I thought other people wanted me to fit into. I told myself that I should be able to fit into that box and that if I couldn’t or struggled with it, something was wrong with my spirit.
But one day, Jesus reminded me that when I get saved, I’m not supposed to fit into anything.
Now, before some people tune out right here, please, please let me finish.
I am not supposed to fit into any box, because when I get saved, the Holy Spirit fills ME! There is no box. There is the temple of the Holy Spirit known as my body, and that is the only thing that should be filled. And when that is filled and I am yielded to Him, everything changes!
So here I was, trying to force myself into something, when in reality, the Holy Spirit was trying to remind me I was already filled. I am filled by Him. I am led by Him. I am guided and taught by Him.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Below is my love story…
It is perfect…. It is forever…. And it is still be written…
Thank you Jesus…. For always being mine…. I love You

Forever Yours
You know, we’ve been together a long time.
I got to thinking about it the other day, and we have been together for almost 14 years now.
It will be 14 exactly on September 21st.
I still vividly remember the day that You made me Yours.
My tears were flowing so freely that day.
They were happy tears though. Tears of relief because of the weight that was taken off of my shoulders.
I knew that I wouldn’t have to be alone ever again.
When people ask where we exchanged our vows, I always chuckle when I tell them, “By the bathroom!”
But it’s like You tell me all the time, “It doesn’t matter where, it just matters the commitment”
Most have some sort of honeymoon stage where everything is on fire because it is so new.
But it really wasn’t that way with me.
I mean, I was seeing things differently, but it took longer for me to warm up to You, I think.
I mean, you know I was a very dutiful companion to You, but that’s just it… I was dutiful. Not necessarily devoted.
But when I needed You most, You were right there.
I have to admit that at the time I was pretty upset with You for not fixing it.
You let me be upset though, and then when I was ready to listen, You very gently explained to me that You knew best. And you even let me see how it all came together.
I know You don’t usually do that, but thanks for doing it for me.
I think it was then I knew how deeply I loved You.
I always knew that You were everything to me, but for the first time, I was truly able to call You my best friend.
And not because You weren’t that before, but because I was finally able to “see” it.
From then on, it has been a continually love fest!
I love how we talk in the car when it’s just us.
Or how I run my day by You and You never get annoyed that I ramble or rabbit trail.
You know I’ll always get to the point.
I love how when I do need to be set straight, you do it with a hug and not a hammer…
That helps me the most I think. Because, You know me, and You know that I am very tenderhearted and responsive when it comes to You.
It is because of Your patience and devotion, I want to show You every single day how much I love You.
I know that some days I am far from perfect, but what I love more than anything is how available You are to me. To help me, and to love me.
When You committed Yourself to me, You did it completely. Just as I strive to do with You.
Now I know that sometimes people go back on their promises. And I in no way think that I am above anyone else, or that I am even the exception to the rule.
But the thing is I want to be the exception. I want to be the one who never leaves Your side, who never turns against You, and who runs to You and You alone when I have nowhere else to turn.
You are my everything. In You I have found eternal love, unbelievable mercy, and never ending joy.
You gave abundantly, so that I could have everything.
You are my comforter, protector, guardian and friend.
You are my Jesus, and I am completely and eternally,
Forever yours….

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ten Years and a Little Black Dress

A lot can happen in ten years, especially while wearing a little black dressJ I mean, let’s be honest, what girl doesn’t feel like she can take on the world in her LBD? It can make you feel confident, beautiful, ready to take on the world.
Still, I can’t say that was my little black dress experience. No, mine was entirely different, but I wouldn’t change it, because, this black number reminded me about love. And who would want to miss out on that?
Ten years ago, May 18, 2002, my life changed drastically. Never to be the same.
Ten years ago, I lost my hero. My rock. My best friend.
Ten years ago, my dad went home to be with Jesus – and my world was shaken. I went home from the hospital,  the night he died, completely lost, not knowing what in the world I was supposed to do next. Feeling more alone than I ever had in my life, not knowing if I would ever feel normal again.  
So, for the sake of being transparent and real, I will tell you what I did that night.
My grandma drove us home from the hospital, and I sat in the back seat while my brother bawled in the front. I wish I could have cried so freely, but I couldn’t. What I wanted to do was shut my brain off entirely, but that wasn’t happening. We got home, and my mom got there shortly after we did. I sat down on the couch, and, well, I turned on the television. Maybe I should be ashamed of that, or maybe I shouldn’t. Ten years later, I really don’t think that it matters either way. I turned on the tv, with a blanket, and curled up in the spot where my dad had sat just the night before.
Looking back, I think I just wanted to be close to him, and that was the best I could do at the time. Adding the television was just a way of keeping me from thinking too much. I stayed on the couch for awhile, watching some makeover show about this couple celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. How I remember this, I have no idea. I do remember getting really ticked off at this point, because I knew my parents would NEVER have that, so I got mad and turned it off.
The next morning we went to church as usual. And the love that we were shown that day… It was almost unbelievable. But at the same time it wasn’t. Growing up in the same church has its advantages, one of them being, length of tenure gives room to a lot of love from cultivated relationships. Although I only remember snippets of that day, I can never forget the love shown to us….never
Later on that week we had my dad’s service. It was….inspiring. Because my dad was a Seattle Police Officer, there were quite a few service men and women at his funeral. But here is the awesome part – most of them were there because they knew and respected my dad. That was such an honor to him and his reputation as a man and an officer. I couldn’t have been prouder. Six hundred people packed out the auditorium that day. Twenty five of them accepting Christ, and countless more encouraged by the testimonies given about my father. How I stood in front of that many people I will never know. I was 14 years old, and I stood in front of 600+ people like it was nothing. I didn’t even cry….
Some people might refer to it as having composure, but probably, I was still in shock and just going through the motions. I don’t remember most of what I said, but the one thing that I do remember is this. As I was trying to wrap up my tribute to my dad, I mentioned that I didn’t want people to forget him. That was and is still a fear of mine. That people will forget what an amazing man he was. That they will forget how he touched their lives. I could never forget, and I didn’t want other people to forget either. And you know what? Ten years later, people still tell me how much they loved my dad… Check it out Dad, you’re famousJ
Time continued as it does and will, and I grew up, or tried to at least. I tried to be strong, to fill his shoes, to step up to the plate. But, I never felt like I did it justice, I couldn’t ever seem to do it right. I now know that it wasn’t my role to fill. That I wasn’t him, nor should I have expected myself to try and be him. Yet, I somehow thought it was my responsibility to emotionally take care of my family. To fill in the gaps that he left behind.
Grief does crazy things to a person. For me, my grief put responsibilities on my shoulders that didn’t need to be there. Did I need to grow up? Sure I did. But I needed to grow up as a teenage girl, not grow up trying to fill the shoes of a grown man who had been a husband and father. However, I believe the Lord uses everything for good and to His glory. And my expectations of myself are no different. The Lord took this crazy drive inside me and used it for good.
In high school, I hit the ground running, and in all honestly, haven’t stopped since.
I was involved in everything: Nursery, bus route, teen choir, 4-5 yr old junior church, playing piano for church service/sunshine church/junior church. Did I mention that I also worked at the school, cleaned houses and babysat, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA? Yes world, I was Wonder Woman. Haha, just kidding….. I was straight up crazy is what I wasJ
But it was through all of these experiences that I have become the woman that I am today. It was through one of these particular experiences, I was reminded about love and thoughtfulness in a most unexpected way.
One of the sweetest elderly couples in our church had been running the children’s church hour for years, and when she broke her arm, her husband asked if I would step in and be the pianist. Of course I said yes! I hadn’t learned to say no yet, haha, and I am glad that in this instance, I said yes.
So began my junior church piano careerJ Should I really have been nervous in front of 10 year olds? Probably not, but sure enough, I was. Once I got the hang of it though, it was a lot of fun. One Sunday evening, after a long day of ministry, this man approached me and handed me $20. Puzzled, I looked at him, waiting for an explanation. He then said something I will never forget. He said, “There is a store in town where you can get a nice dress for around $20. Whenever my granddaughter is in town, I take her there, and I buy her a new dress. I want to give you this so you can go buy yourself a new dress too.”
I stood there, not really knowing what to say. I was moved beyond words. This was a thoughtful and generous gift. This was something unexpected and lovely. Tears came to my eyes as I thanked him. I went home, feeling very loved and very humbled. You see, the last person to buy me a new dress had been my dad. This man didn’t know that, but Jesus did. And just that was enough to keep my tears coming for awhile.
So here is where I tie it all together.
Today, I am going to wake up, walk into my closet and put on my little black dress. Yes, the little black dress that Mr. Pennington bought me, I am going to wear it. I am going to wear it and pray for him. I am going to wear it and think about my dad. I am going to wear it and go to work with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.
For the tenth year in a row, I am waking up without my dad. And one day, I am going to wake up knowing I’m not going to see my friend at church anymore. One day, I will take my beautiful dress to a thrift store because it no longer fits or is out of style or is worn.  But, even though people and things pass away, I will always have these precious memories. I will always have the memory of my dad –  teaching me about baseball, and life, and Dick’s Drive In. (Praise the Lord). I will always have the memory of his laugh, wishing all the time that I could just hear it once more. The memory of my time playing piano in junior church will always be there. The feeling of buying that brand new dress will never leave me. The smile on my friend’s face will always be imprinted in my mind and on my heart.
A lot can happen in ten years, especially in a little black dress. A lot can happen, a lot can change. But let me tell you folks, Jesus never changes. Jesus is always the same. Jesus will never leave me. Jesus will never forsake me. And He is always there, reminding me of how big and great HE is. Yet, in all that greatness, He still finds the time to remind me of how precious I am to Him.
And He reminds me of that fact every time someone talks about my dad, and every time I put on that little black dress.