Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Cards: To Do or Not To Do?

So I absolutely love getting Christmas cards, some years I've even packed them up when we put away the Christmas decor so that the following year we would be surprised to see the smiling faces of our loved ones and see how much they've changed in the past year.

So why haven't I ever done them? Well I guess there's a couple reasons excuses I've used:

1. It's too late. (I always procrastinate and by the time I remember, it seems silly to do it.)
2. We don't have the money. (All that money for printing and postage? Really?)
3. We don't have 'good enough' pictures. (I'm a perfectionist and think I'd have to hire a professional photographer. Of course with the perfect matching outfits and beautiful scenery.)
4. Who makes the cut? (I can't imagine going through the "Christmas list" and deciding on who to cut? Otherwise we'd have 200+)
5. I can't compete. (I've always thought it was a "keeping up with the Joneses" type thing to do. I guess that shows the ugly root of my competitive and comparing flesh. Yuck.) 

So I always resolved that it was just too much for me. I can't do it.

But tonight, while putting my feet up after a very long day (aren't most days in December extra long?) I was scanning my news feed and was pleasantly surprised by this refreshing perspective on sending Christmas cards... from a woman I have endless respect for (I mean she was voted Mother of the Year!)

Her words really say it all. What a great way of remembering all of the people in our lives that have left their deposit in us, touched our lives. The people we've been so blessed to know, the people who've made us better. It's a great time to think of them and thank God for them. Just writing this so many people come to mind when I think of who has shaped me as a woman, us as a family. I think of Tony Jones, one of my husband's childhood mentors, who helped shape him into the man he is today. The husband he is to me, the father he is to Caleb & Connor... he deserves an update and a thank you for investing in our lives. I think of my friend, Kara. She was relentless in inviting me to youth group when that was the last place you'd ever find a girl like me. She was my first "accountability partner" and really led me to knowing God. Even though we live across the country from each other, I'd love to send her a little love each year and thank God for her.

I need to let go of the reins of control, or the "illusion of control" I think I have. I need to stop thinking my cards would need to have a perfect picture, we are far from perfect people. Just be real and take time out to thank God for the people who've shaped our lives and those we get to share our lives with- our closest friends and family.

What's better than having the faces and words of those we love most filling the walls of our home during the Christmas season? Looking at the nativity scene and reflecting on the relationship we now have with our Father because He chose to send His Son for us. Then looking to the relationships that lead us to knowing Him more and that enrich our lives daily.

This is our kitchen wall that displays cards year round.

It only seems fitting to replace my five excuses with five good reasons to do Christmas cards in the future!

1. To take pictures to capture the moments of each stage of life.
2. To count your blessings and recap another year of love & life.
3. To remember and thank all of the people from your past (who've left a mark on your life!)
4. To share the season with those who you currently live life with.
5. To commemorate all the years for your family (keep one from each year and make an album.)

What's funny is I made this "card" for our house but it didn't meet my "expectations."

I'm resolving to care less about everything being perfect, to think less about how things "appear"... maybe I should take pictures in our messy love-filled home one year?

Thankful for a perspective change.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hope is Beautiful

About three and a half years ago I was flying on a plane. I had just experienced a loss I could have never prepared for. I didn't know what to think, how to feel. I was confused, sad, hopeless, tired, in pain, trying to keep it together, looking at everyone I came in contact with like there is no possible way they could understand what I was going through. I was trying to keep my mind distracted and had picked up some magazines in the airport, when I came across this ad... 

It was one of those moments I will never forget. It's funny how something so small, simple and really intended for something altogether different... spoke to me, right where I was at. This image has been ingrained in my mind ever since, I just found it again for the first time. In a moment it was like hope was implanted into my heart. I was inspired, I was refreshed, a light came on! I love how God intervenes, He can whisper to our heart and everything changes. 

Hope had saved me once. Now on this airplane surrounded by strangers, no one knowing what was going on in my heart... hope collided with my heart once again. Hope saved me twice. 

I had to post it, praying it would find someone else at that perfect moment. The moment that God could use this simple picture, this simple phrase to ignite hope in their hearts.  
Hope is beautiful.

So whether you're in the middle of it or know someone who is, share this. 
Here are some of my favorite verses about the hope we have: 

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him." (Psalm 62:5 NLT) 
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) 
"You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word." (Psalm 119:114 AMP) 
"Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!" (Psalm 31:24 AMP) 
"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Romans 8:24-25 NIV) 
Sometimes we have to preach to ourselves: 
"Why, my soul, are you so downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 43:5 NIV) 
This is my prayer for you: 
"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NLT) 


Monday, December 3, 2012

Do you really BELIEVE in God?

Goodbye to “BELIEVE” as we know it...

“I believe in God.” Most people think this means, “I'm sure that God exists”. Then you hear people say, “even the devil or demons believe in God”… which is true… they KNOW and have full confidence in God’s existence I’m sure… but BELIEVE in the Bible means so much more than we think...


Do you ADHERE (stay attached to, cling to, be devoted to, be consistent to) God?
Do you TRUST [expect confidently, hope, rely on His (integrity, strength, ability)] in God?
Do you RELY (depend) on God?!

So the question should not be “Do you believe God exists?” Rather, “Do you cling to God? Are you a consistent follower of His? Do you trust His ability? His integrity? Do you depend on Him?”
With this in mind, now read….

"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life." (John 3:16 AMP)

 Believing is more than acknowledging the existence of! When God is asking us to "believe" in Him... He's asking for so much more than we think... trust in, be devoted to, hope in, stay close to HIM!


"For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation--he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.] (John 3:17-18 AMP)

Read v. 19-21 for more!!!
Disclaimer: (I actually wrote this (above) in 2011, but was reminded of it with my other recent post. So now I add...) 

I want to be a woman who stays attached to Him, that has a consistent relationship (not just highs and lows), I want to expect confidently in Him and put myself in position to depend on Him. I want to live in His strength, not my own.

I want to be like the father in the story found in Mark 9:14-29:

"'But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.'  'If you can?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.' Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'" (Mark 9:22-24 NIV)
In the Amplified version it words it like this, 'Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith!" (Mark 9:24 AMP) Lord knows I am in need of constant help!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Solution to All My Problems

Ever feel overwhelmed by life's troubles? Your own? Your friends? Strangers? I know I do. I can let the circumstances get the best of my emotions and feel hopeless. I always know what's best though. I know Who is best. I can choose the more narrow path. The path which changes my perspective completely. This is because Who I believe in, changes everything about me, my life, and my world.

Let's stop there for a minute. Who I believe in. Believe not in the sense of the typical response of, "oh yea, I believe in God, but..." No, my believe changes things. Does yours?
"Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me..." (John 11:25 AMP)
The 'believe' that Jesus is talking about is not merely saying I believe in God as a higher power, or even in Jesus as a historical figure who lived on earth. Believing in Him means adhering to Him, trusting in Him, relying on Him. Wow. This is enough to chew on... but I have to keep going with what brought me to writing tonight.

I feel bombarded right now with life's troubles, not just mine-- but of those I love. How much trouble can one handle? When I see the load my loved ones are carrying, sometimes I feel lost for words. From financial instability, to miscarriage, to marital separation, to abandonment by your baby's father, to homelessness, to insecurity, to sick children, to loss of a loved one, to pregnancy complications, to neglect from a father, and the list of troubles goes on. Comparing our troubles with another is never the answer, we all have only so much we can handle in different seasons of our lives. And I do hold onto the promise of Romans 5:3-5:
"But we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."  (Romans 5:3-5) NIV
We all have troubles-- the daily kind and the seasonal overwhelming kind. As we just read though, we have had God's love poured into our hearts and have been given the Holy Spirit. I know I can't even begin to fathom all that truly means.

Life doesn't have formulas that give us the answer or the easy way out. And I obviously have a deep craving for this, because I've seemed to kind of make one.... but I think it works because it's based on the words of Jesus Himself.
troubles --> take heart + overcome
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peaceIn this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) 
The moment of the onset of trouble... I try to remember this truth. I've realized that when I encounter troubles in life, I've stopped allowing them to take control. I try my hardest to not let them make me lose it! Because when I encounter trouble I remind myself that Jesus (my best friend, the light of the world, the prince of peace) told me that I would have trouble... (He warned me!) But he said "take heart for I have overcome the world." And that Overcomer... yep, He lives inside of me. Which means I have that same overcoming power in me. So somehow I have to figure out how to take that trouble and apply the overcoming power of God over it.  So maybe this is simpler:
trouble + overcoming power = peace
How can you apply that overcoming power to the troubles you are facing? How can you remember to take a deep breath and "take heart" the moment trouble knocks on your door?! Don't allow the trouble to have the victory... because He has already overcome the world. He already has the victory. Amen!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turn It Up Tuesdays

Happy Tuesday! It's hard for me to know where to start. Because to say I'm passionate about debunking the lies in this life and replacing them with truth is an understatement. I have fought and won so many of these "truth vs. lie" battles personally in my life, I've tasted the victory and it is sweet. I've watched so many young people over the years find freedom once they realized they were living in a lie and embraced Truth. Truth with a capital "T", because Jesus Himself said:
"I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6)
The reality that we so often forget or don't even fully understand is that there is an enemy who is a liar. Jesus actually says: 
"He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!" (John 8:44-45)
The more we are bombarded with lies, the deeper we're engulfed in them-- they seem to become more and more like the truth, they become our reality. It's just like Jesus said, "when I tell the truth, you just naturally don't believe me!" It's so hard to believe the truth when we've subscribed to the lie for so long. We're fully bought in. 

I really think half the battle is recognizing the lie. Realizing that it's possible that some of your greatest hurts, bad habit or recurring hang-ups are all rooted in a lie you've believed so long, that it's become your truth-- your reality. 

There are lies that come from our environment-- from the media telling us we need to look a certain way, have certain things, believe or not believe in something. Then there's the lies that have been instilled in us through painful words of someone else (whether intentional or not). There are the lies that whisper in our minds because of past failures or mistakes.  Regardless of the source of the lie-- we need to remember that if we hold to the Word of Truth: 
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

Join me on this journey as we de-throne the liar in our lives and fully embrace the Truth... I want to put Him on the throne of my heart. Daily. With truth comes freedom.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Wifeys: Are You a Leaky Faucet?

I LOVE reading a Proverb every day. It's the simplest way I know to make sure that I'm putting truth in front of me. No matter what my excuse of "busyness" for the day, who doesn't have time to read a proverb? So whether it's on my phone, in my actual Bible, or on the computer... I always aim to get to it. And the best part is it's fool-proof. There are 31 proverbs and normally 31 days in a month... so easy!

Today's proverb is FULL of truth to chew on! It's almost too much! I wanted to pick one to highlight today for me to chew on... so hard because they're all soooooo good! But the one that is not my favorite right now, basically because it's the most challenging to me is:
"...a quarrelsome wife is as annoying as a constant dripping." Proverbs 19:13 (NLT)
I like how The Message version puts it too:
"...a nagging spouse is a leaky faucet." Proverbs 19:13 (MSG) 
Dang! And it's not even a whole verse, it's just the second half and it's definitely enough to keep me challenged to becoming better. It's not that I ever want to "nag" or be "quarrelsome" and a lot of time I try to let myself off the hook saying, "well that's not what I meant" or "well if he would just remember then I wouldn't have to remind him, it's not my fault!" Oh my dear, yes it is. (Please excuse me while I check myself.)

I've learned that it's all about the approach. Even though I mean well by it, if it comes out of my mouth in a way that seems like an obligation, a frustration, a mommy (my husband already has one of those and I've got plenty of boys to mother), or just a plain 'ol jerk... I need to pause and think before I speak. I (almost) always mean what I'm saying in love... so why not start with love?

Imagine how differently our first moments together after being apart would be if it was welcomed with a kiss, a hug, an embrace. Instead of words of to-do's, schedules, unpaid bills, things he forgot, or needs we have. All of that would be received so much differently if he was reminded with a kiss that this is the woman he is madly in love, sharing this life with and raising these amazing kids with!

There is romance after kids. There is love for each other after kids-- and if anything I'm pretty sure it should multiply. The thing is we HAVE to be intentional as wives to put thought, effort and a little bit of spice into keeping it alive. And I definitely want to be a blessing to my amazing husband and not that leaky faucet he gets to come home to after a long day. I want to be refreshing. Which reminds me of another one of my favorite promises that's found in proverbs (I added the feminine touch)  :
"...she who refreshes others will herself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)                 

Bride for life, not becoming a nagging wife! 

So here's to being intentional about loving on the love of my life!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rest? What is that?!?

Rest. It's something we all need. It's something we all want. It's something we all feel like "we don't have time for". BUT It's something Jesus promises us.

What a huge promise. We all get a little weary just in the daily grind, whatever yours might look like. Then there's the weariness that comes from a crazy life storm-- like a bad break-up, cancer, loss of a job, feeling unappreciated, family issues, personal struggles that you cannot get a handle on. The New Living Translation says it like this:
"Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
Are you carrying heavy burdens? They may be yours, they may be others.... but none the less-- they are heavy and you need a break. So set them down, if just for a moment-- and go to Him. Jesus is the One and only who can offer that true rest, nothing a nap can even touch, eight hours of sleep can't satisfy like He can in one holy moment.

What's crazy is that He set up life for us to make sure we get rest. He made a point of it... I mean He gave us these ten things to make for a better life for us, and a day of rest is one of those special ten!

My son has this little "Ten Commandments" book... and it's funny how the simplest of things can speak to us. But one of those is to keep the Sabbath.  For the past couple weeks I've been thinking about the "sabbath", what does that really mean? Do I even do that?
sabbath (noun):

 Main Entry: day of rest
Definition: day for resting
Synonyms: Lord's day, Sabbath , Sabbath Day, Saturday, Sunday, day off, rest day
I'm always challenged by what I'm attempting to teach my children, making sure I'm a living example of it and not just saying it.  And I'm doing okay in the "do not steal" and "do not murder" areas, but when we get to "a day of rest, dedicated to the Lord" not doing too hot. And Lord knows (literally) that I could use some rest and He knows that I want to KNOW Him more, to be with Him. So I'm ready for the challenge, are you?

Sabbath Sundays. (Maybe for you it will have to be another day of the week because of your schedule, it's about the heart of it.) I will aim to rest more on Sundays and to spend time getting to KNOW my Father more. I know at the end of it, I'll be less weary and more rested.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Aware of My Presence

At Caleb's pre-school this morning we had a "Thanksgiving Feast." Something they have on the calendar for months and tell you with weeks in advance what they need you to bring. But of course, I drop him off in the rain at 8:30am and rush to the store to buy the ingredients to make it and be back by 10:30am. Welcome to the craziness of our life. So this morning was a blur trying to get all of us out of the house in one piece and be ready to enjoy this moment with our oldest. (Thanks to the amazing "Miss Patty" for watching Connor all day for us!! We even had a romantic date day afterwards.)

The moment I walked into his classroom with my cornbread muffins (complete will cute little fall cupcake toppers) he was so excited to see me. It even led to a sense of bragging to his friends "look what I got"... look what my mommy did for us. I had to make a couple trips in and each time he was glowing with pride. Then throughout the next 90 minutes as they prayed, sang songs, dressed up like turkeys, ate their meal, rode bikes, went down the slide-- he continuously acknowledged my presence. He wanted to share in all the seemingly small moments with me. He constantly looked around the room or playground for my approval, my excitement, my thoughts. At one point after speeding around on the bike in circles, he lost sight of me. While I didn't lose sight of him, I saw him ride up to his teacher and ask with concern, "Where's my Mommy?"

What a beautiful picture of how I want to be with my Father. I want to always be aware of His presence in my life. Not only in the "big" moments when I have no doubt that I need Him. But in the most mundane of moments, I want to relish in His presence. I want to look to see what He thinks, what He feels, what He would tell me to do. I know that if I walked more aware of His presence, I would walk with the same sense of pride I saw in my 2 1/2 year old son today. The pride of knowing that Someone loves me so much. Even when I lose sight of Him... He never loses sight of me.

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

How would your life be different if you lived more aware of His presence?  Receive the promises that: He goes before you. He will be with you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Be fearless, be encouraged.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

a bug's life

In feeling overwhelmed and stressed out... my busy-body self has a list of to-do's during naptime. But then I stop and think of what is most important, rather than what is most urgent. I can't get on my computer because Caleb is displaced to napping in my bedroom [his is under construction from mold]. So automatically- I have to slow down. What is most important-- what do I need? I need truth, I need to know the way I should go, I need some answers for life. MORE than I need clean floors, laundry or dishes.

So I force myself to sit, read, listen. The simplest way I know. Read today's proverb. August 6th-- so Proverbs 6. Of course, it's spot on to what I need to hear today, in this moment. It's answering the exact thoughts I was pondering during my (way overdue) shower just minutes ago.

"...if you've locked yourself into a deal with a stranger, if you've impulsively promised the shirt off your back and now find yourself shivering out in the cold, friend, don't waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess. You're in that man's clutches! Go, put on a long face, act desperate. Don't procrastinate-- there's no time to lose." Proverbs 6:1-5 

Cait- don't waste another minute. Get out of this mess however you know how. There's no time to lose. Do what you gotta do. 

"You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer is stores up good; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy-- do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life. Poverty your permanent houseguest." Proverbs 6:6-11

Funny that we just watched "A Bug's Life" this morning! Coincidence? I think not.

Learn from the ant Caitlin! Surely it's not wiser than you! 

Lord, I'm believing for a miracle for our finances. I'm having faith that this love offering will cover our tax debt and more. But we will learn from this. Trust. Learn to pray and ask You for guidance. I believe every step of ours was ordered by You! You promise that and we're grateful! Thank you for protecting our family. You are so much bigger than money and debt. But we will put ourselves to work- like the ant- to store up and stockpile. We will not procrastinate in getting out of this mess. We couldn't do it without you, thanks Dad! <3 


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keeping up with the Kardashians

In a society where we’ve become all about “keeping up with the Kardashians” and the “American dream” we’ve lost touch with what matters most. Our daily lives are run by the urgent, rather than the important. And we so often waste our time trying to attain things that aren’t meant to be ours. We want to have what “they” have.  We begin to miss out on all that we’ve been given, everything we are truly blessed with.
Our opportunity to truly enjoy life as Jesus spoke of, has been stolen from us. I love the way the Amplified version words what He said:
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10 AMP
Who is this thief? Comparison. (The thief is the enemy, this is simply one of his many mechanisms.) When I heard this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, something inside of me clicked: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So many of us fall victim to this. I know I for one, definitely do. I always look to what others have, whether it be my closest friends, a TV reality show, or an advertisement that looks so appealing. The grass isn’t always greener. We should not compare our lives to others, because we truly have no idea what their journey is all about.

Comparison kills. It can creep into our every thought, more often than not—it is very subtle. We don’t realize what we are succumbing to.
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12 AMP

"For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceived and deludes and cheats himself. But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor." Galatians 6:3-4 AMP

As it is written in these two passages, it is not wise and it is not something we should resort to. There is only One who we should compare our trials with. That comparison should always lead to encouragement. 
“Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.” Hebrew 12:3 AMP
 So if this comparison game is robbing us, what is it that will restore this joy that has been stolen? I believe “thanksgiving” will.  Not the turkey, potatoes, parade, and football kind of Thanksgiving, but the daily act of giving thanks for what we have and truly appreciating our lives. The path of gratitude will lead us to the overflowing kind of abundance that Jesus is talking about. My life truly is full, it is overflowing… but I fail to realize this because my mind is stuck on what we don’t have, what we need money for, or worrying about tomorrow. I don’t want this abundance to be stolen from me. I want to truly enjoy my life.
For some, this practice of gratitude comes more natural than for others. I fall on the side of needing some help. The guilt I feel because of that fact alone could lead me to stop dead in my tracks, or I can stop for a moment, address the need to change, and take the initiative to do it. It takes effort. I’ve heard it said, “If you change nothing, nothing will change.” I had to literally post a note in my bathroom that says, “Find something to be grateful for today.”  Since embarking on this journey of giving thanks, I’m finding a whole new meaning to the age-old phrase, “Count your blessings.” They undeniably will outnumber your troubles.
So I encourage you to start this journey with your loved ones. Take the opportunity to truly give thanks for everyone and everything you have in your life. Be creative. Start a new tradition. Make a “thankful tree” with your kids, take time around the dinner table to express thanks, or start to post your blessings around the house. Start the practice of gratitude now.
Gratitude turns what we have into enough. And there is always, always, always something to be thankful for.