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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mommy Moments~

Psalm 94:19  When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.  NLT

Do you ever have days when you are just hanging by a thread?  Nothing has gone right.  You drop everything you pick up.  The cat threw up in the recliner.  Your kid refuses to eat anything but cold Spaghetti-o’s, which you happen to be out of, so you hop in your car to go to the store, and….it won’t crank...because your husband drove it last.  All you see on the dashboard is a bright light flashing “E”.  Great.  Just great.  You get out of the car, wham your head on the door when you reach over to pull your screaming child out because she wants Spaghetti-O’s and head back into the house.  The damn door is locked.  You grabbed your car keys, but not the house keys.  You begin to wonder just what else can happen, when you feel your whole side get warm.  Your little girl, who was just screaming, smiles up at your so sweetly, and says, “I pee-pee, Mommy.”

I think every Mom alive has had days like this.  I’ve even had weeks like this.  How in the world my children survived childhood puts a whole new level to the Bible verse, “Except by the Grace of God.”  

God, thank You for giving Mommy’s a little extra dose of hope and cheer.  There are days when we doubt the job we are doing.  Being a Mommy is tough.  You keep us strong.  Thank You for our Mommy-moments.  And thank You for letting our children survive them.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Plan ~

John 19:26  “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, here is your son,"  and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Easter has always held a special meaning for me.  As a mother of a son, my heart just aches for Mary.  I see her standing at the foot of the cross.  I see her weeping.  I see her broken and helpless as she watches her son beaten and spit on.  I see her pain as she watches Jesus suffer and die.  I see her looking up onto that cross, where her child hangs, wishing she could take his pain from him.   I hear Him call her “Woman”, instead of “Mother”, so that he didn’t identify her to the crowd and to make sure His mother was cared for after His death.  I see the disciple hold Mary, as she watches her Son give up his spirit.  I cannot imagine seeing my son die such a horrible death.  And yet, Mary, as broken as she was, followed ‘the plan’.

God, today, I am overwhelmed by “the plan”.  My heart is broken.  So many times, I just take my salvation for granted.   There is so much more than “Jesus was born to a virgin, He lived, He died so that we can have eternal life.”  Many sacrifices were made.  There was much heartbreak. And yet, You did all of that for us. Mother’s should be willing to do anything for their children.  But, Mary, just wow…..I’m so thankful that she was obedient and followed “the plan”.  Thank You, God, for “the plan”.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Grace and 7 Year Olds~

James 4:6  But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. NIV

Humility.  If ever a person needs to be humbled, just let them talk with a child for about 15 minutes, little no-filtered darlings that they are.  

In addition to writing blog posts, I have been trying my hand at writing a children’s book.  I have been sending chapters to a friend of mine so that she could bounce it off her little boy, who is my “target” age for the book.
They are giving me great feedback.  I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  
My blog has almost 600 followers, and my little book is almost finished.  I’m thinking I’m pretty important.

So, Sunday came around and I get to be introduced to my little editor.  His little eyes light up when he realizes who I am.  He says, “I love your book, but I thought you were young.”  Oh my gosh.  His mom almost died right there.  The dad, trying to help, said, “She is young, she’s just trapped in that old body.”  Well, I got tickled.  I may have snorted I laughed so hard.  
This is exactly what I needed to keep me grounded.  If ever I needed grace, it was right then!!

God, I needed to be humbled.  I was feeling mighty proud of myself.  I need to remember that everything good that I do on this earth comes from You.  Thank You for your favor in this season of my life.  Grace and humility….got it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Season of "Mommy"

Proverbs 31:27  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. NIV

Yesterday, I had a photography session with a young mom. We were to meet at a local rec field because her 3 year old is in his first year of t-ball.  Sunday, after church.  The field should be quiet, right?  Wrong.  There were probably 1,000  moms and dads watching their children play ball.  When did this happen?  

Back in “the day”, Sunday’s were a day of rest.  Now know, that I’m not talking about playing ball on Sunday.  I’m talking about this:  Moms, you already have full time jobs.  You have children, school, dance, homework, laundry, dinner to make, dishes, baseball, softball, and the list goes on and on.  I can remember sitting sideways on a bleacher, because my son played t-ball on one field and my daughter played softball on the other.  We’d finish the game, go through a drive-thru for a burger, hurry home for baths, and then homework, then fall into bed, exhausted.   Then I’d think….I guess I’ll do the laundry tomorrow.  

God, today, I ask you to bless the overwhelmed Mommies of today’s world.  They already have so much on their overloaded plate.  There will be days when they just can’t get everything done. Please, watch over them as they watch over their household.  Help them lean on You as they try to find balance in this season of their lives.  Thank you for your unending Grace.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I Love Jesus, but....

Proverbs 28:13  Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

You should see the look on people’s face when I tell them the name of this blog.  It happens a lot.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “Oh, isn’t that cute.”  And, once again I find myself explaining that we all have a “but” in our lives. We all fall short of a perfect life no matter how much we love Jesus.

A friend and I were texting back and forth today about how to handle negative reactions to my blog.  Belinda always has the right words to encourage.  I lean on her a lot.  But, then we got silly.  We started naming the “buts” in our lives.

I Love Jesus, but Sometimes I Fish on Sunday.  I Love Jesus, but My Husband Can Be a Man.  I Love Jesus, but My Kids are Brats.  I Love Jesus, but Did You See What She Was Wearing? Or even I Love Jesus, but I Don’t Always (gasp) Read the KJV…..

What are the “buts” in your life?

God we are such a work in progress.  Everyone of us are.  Thank You so much for showing us mercy when we confess our “but”.  Thank You for sending my friend at just the right time.  Thank you for humor and silliness.  Loving Jesus is the best thing I’ve done in my life, but, as hard as I try, I will never be perfect.  Thank you for sending Your Son to take care of the “buts” in my life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Walls and Windows~

Walls and Windows~

Proverbs 4:23  Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. NIV

I met with a friend yesterday to walk and talk.  It was an absolutely glorious day.  My friend and I are so much alike that we can go months and months without seeing each other, and yet we fall right into friendship as soon as we get back together.  I trust her.

Trust is not one of my strong points.  I throw up walls and avoid close friendships before they have a chance to even develop.  With that being said, I “know” a lot of people.  With my job, I meet thousands of people a year.  I like people.  I enjoy meeting people and hearing the story of their lives, how they met, where they live and such, but then I draw a line in the dirt.  That’s as close as I let them get.

Is it selfishness on my part?  Am I too busy? Am I prejudging them?  What is it that is in my character that is flawed?  Or is it a defense mechanism?  Trust.  I’m going to make sure that I guard my heart.  Before a person can hurt me or disappoint me, I’m going to build a wall or shut a door to create a boundary that I can control.  So, here’s the deal.  I am realizing that by shutting myself off, I am missing so many opportunities to share my testimony with new friends.  That was pretty eye-opening when I thought about it.  

I don’t think that I will be one of these, “God is so good and wonderful that my life is all sunshine and roses and …...blah, blah.”  I’m too transparent for that.  In reality, everyone has struggles, but God is so good that He helps us up when we fall.  God is so wonderful that He forgives us for being a sinner, a literal thinker, a realist.  My life is filled with trials and troubles and sunshine and roses, but it’s those trials and troubles that build my testimony and make it believable. God always has my back.  

God, I’d love to be all that You’ve created me to be.  As You are tearing my life apart this year, I am going to need You to help me be a little more open to times when my walls need to be torn apart, too.  Help me with this trust thing.  Your word tells me to guard my heart.  I’ve been taking that in a literal sense.  I’m sorry.  The rest of the verse says that, “everything you do flows from it.”  I don’t want “guarded, realistic, distrustful, protected, walled-off” to flow from my heart.  Thank You for showing me that “mercy, understanding, and grace” can flow from my heart, too.  Once again, thank You for helping me find my balance.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Accountability for My Mouth~

2 Corinthians 6:3  We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.  NIV

Yesterday, I met with friends who are also clients of mine.  We cut up and played and enjoyed our photo session  I laughed and truly enjoyed myself.  One of the members of the group had not met me before.  I can be bold, direct, and blunt.  The mom said to the guy, “See, I told you she was funny.”  He said, “But what does her shirt say?”

Here’s the kicker.  I was wearing my blog t-shirt;  A hot pink t-shirt that says in large letters: “I LOVE JESUS” and in small letters under it, “but I cuss a little.”  

I think I had said “ass” or something.  I don’t even remember the cuss word I used.  But, I failed…..I met a new person and instead of seeing Christ in me, he read my shirt, heard my words, and called me out.  Talk about convicted!!!  I wanted to say that I have come so far, or that he should have seen be last year, or make some other excuse.  The truth is, God used a new person in my life to hold me accountable.

God, You’re working on me.  Again.  I do love You.  And I do cuss a little.  I won’t even make the excuse that I have changed or that I’m working on it or whatever.  I’m just going to say that I am thankful for Your forgiveness.  If I’m going to step out for You, then I’m going to have to step up for You. I’ll never be perfect in this earthly body, but I’m going to give it my best shot.  Thank You, again, for your Grace.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sending in the Troops~

Psalm 62:5-6  My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

I have a super busy day today.  You know what I have decided?  To be joyful in what I do.  I have a task that is given to me.  People are depending on me.  It is my duty as a child of God to be the best at my assigned task that I can be.

I’ve been off a little lately.  It’s hard to find balance in life.  My choices are to become bitter, or to become better.  I am sure that there are days that I will be bitter, but I can choose to pump my brakes on that attitude.

Today, God, I am choosing to wait on you.  Wait in silence.  Not complaining, but being joyful in hope.  Thank you for the words that You had others send to me yesterday.  Perspective sometimes has to be seen through eyes other than my own.  Mine is sometimes shaken, but Yours, God, Your perspective is mighty.  We all need a network of support.  Thank You so much for sending in the troops!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Blessed or Burned Out?

James 1:2-6  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Spring is my “time of trials” in my business.  As a photographer, I work very little in the winter months.  Usually, this time of year, I also begin to doubt if I want to “stay” in the profession of photography.  I think that people who have never worked as a photographer have no idea that you don’t just pick up a camera and mash the little round button on the front of the camera and “poof”, there is a beautiful image.  Yeah.  Not so much.  In summer, I usually work a minimum of 80 hours a week.  I leave my home at 11, get home around 10:30-11 every night, then edit photos the next morning until it’s time to leave again.  And, bless my heart…the older I get, the harder it is on my body!   

I spent an hour with my grandchildren yesterday.  I found myself struggling to even make conversation with them.  Why?  Because they are growing up without me.  I work when they are at home.  I’m home when they are in school. I don’t know them.  And that breaks my heart.  I love those little people so much.  Do I want to make a living or do I want to make a life?

I feel very guilty for being ungrateful.  There are those who’d give their right arm to have the business that I have.  But don’t we always think the grass is greener?  Don’t we always tend to look at what we don’t have instead of what we are blessed with?

Hey God, I’m suffering from burn out.  You have blessed me with 15 years of an incredible business.  I have the “spring” worries again.  I’m working on that perseverance You promised is happening.  As I struggle, I pray that You will show me where it is that You’d like for me to be in my life.  The big prayer, though God, is that You will help me to listen for Your answer and be obedient.  Thank You for showing up to help me through this time of trial. I love Your unending grace.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What Just Came Out of Your Mouth?

Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  ESV

“Oh look, the douche is here.”  Yes, the mom actually said this to her little boy when, I’m assuming, the boy’s daddy pulled up.  I wish that people would think before they say things like this to a child.  My heart hurt so badly for the little boy.  If he hears this, I wonder just what else his little brain has to process.  

I’m sure that I have said stupid things to my children, especially when I was feeling insecure and threatened.  I wish that I hadn’t.  But, that’s the thing about words.  You can never, ever, ever unsay them.  Words are so powerful.  

God, there are so many hurting people in this world. Today, I pray especially for protection on the little people who are caught in the crossfire.  I hope that tonight, You show this blog post to someone who may not realize how their words are hurting their children.  A parent’s job is to protect, love, and build up their children.  Give them the grace to remember, God.  Forgive me for being on a judgmental soapbox, too.  I think I saw me, and I didn’t like it very much.  Thank You for Your saving grace, God.  I’m not where I want to be, but thanks to You, I’m not where I was, either.  Thank You~

Monday, March 7, 2016

He Chose Me~

Galatians 1:15  But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace. Then it pleased Him.  NLT

Out of all of the people in the world, God chose me.   He knew where I’d be in my life before I did.  He knows where I will be tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  He has a plan for me.  With this year of finding balance, I’m not sure what that plan is.  So much has changed in my life.  I find myself not knowing what to do as I work my way towards my future.  But, one thing I am sure about.  God chose me.  He has something mighty for me to do.  When it’s time, He will show me, and it will please Him.

God, help us to remember that You never leave us.  Even when we are unsure of Your plans for our future, help us to trust that You already have it figured out.  When this “now” season of our lives seem so overwhelming, help us to remember that “now” is not forever.  Help us to remember that You called us by Your marvelous grace.  Help us to trust You with Your plan.  This “now” is scary, God.  But, I will stay the course. I will see it through with Your help.  I will please You.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sharing Your Faith ~

2 Corinthians 9:13  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Last year, I watched a friend of mine go through one of the hardest years of her life.   Within a 6 month period, her husband was deployed, her mother died suddenly, and she suffered through the death of another person very dear to her.  She suffered so much grief at the hands of people who, by blood, are family, but weren’t acting like family at all.  Her world, literally, fell to pieces around her and her young children.

I remember sitting at her kitchen table with her, trying to find words to comfort her.  I could see in her heart that she was broken and empty and lost.  You know what she said to me?  “I am so angry.  This is so unfair.”   But what impacted my life forever was what she said next.  My friend looked at me with the saddest eyes, swimming with tears and said, “But, I know God has a plan.  I know that He will see me through this.  I refuse to let this get me down.”  In her grief, her sorrow, her brokenness, my friend had comforted me.

God, all day long I’ve been thinking of this strong woman.  Sometimes I struggle with a topic that I feel that You’d like for me to share with others.  Today, there was no doubt.  I know You put people in our lives to impact us in a way that leaves us changed.  Today, I thank You for this lady.  I pray you give her beauty for those ashes.  She isn’t ashamed of You, God, no matter what life has dealt her.  I pray You use her mightily in Your Kingdom.  I pray that I learn from her example, too.  Help us to know that no matter what we go through in our lives, You will be with us.  Your grace is amazing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Who Are You?

Galatians 3:26  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.  NIV

Who are you?  
Are you a teenager, trying to keep your faith in God, while the pressures of the world try to change you?
Are you a new mommy, exhausted from the demands of a crying baby, yet totally in love?
Are you a mom who is hanging by a thread while trying to understand why your teenager has suddenly lost her mind?
Are you a wife who spends most evenings alone, while her husband is living his own life?
Are you retired from the job you’ve had all of your adult life, and now you find yourself lost?
Are you a woman who has found her life upended when you find yourself going through a divorce?
Are you a single mom who is struggling to make ends meet so her children have what they need?
Are you a daughter who is now the caregiver for her aging parents?
Are you the empty nest mom who tries to figure out her new role in a home without children?

God, I could go on and on with these questions.  Every one of us are walking through a valley, trying to figure out who we are in this “now” season of our lives.  I ask You to remind us of this:  WHERE we are in our lives is not WHO we are in our lives.  Help us to remember that we are Your children.  You will carry us through this season, just like You always have.  It won’t always be like this.  Thank You for this promise.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Greatest of These ~

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13
Love is patient, (especially when we both have the flu)
love is kind. (does only thinking I want him to stop whining count?)
It does not envy, (he’s sleeping like a baby, I’m coughing my head off)
it does not boast (yes, I know nobody has EVER been as sick as he is)
it is not proud. (You drank all of your water….good boy)  
It does not dishonor others (I wasn’t talking about you to my mom!!!) ,
it is not self-seeking, (Please, Jesus, let him see that I’m sick, too) ,
it is not easily angered (oh yay!!  I get to change the sheets again because you’re sweating now) ,
it keeps no record of wrongs…(see above)
Love does not delight in evil (your head hurts, I got it)
but rejoices with the truth (thank you for letting me know you feel bad for the 36th time this hour).
It always protects (bless his heart, he’d die if I didn’t),
always trusts (he knows I will baby him),
always hopes (ha!!),
always perseveres (because I’m the wife and I have to).
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  (Honestly, it is).
Hey God, thank You for letting us survive this sickness with our humor somewhat intact.  Thank You for making wives tough enough to survive sick husbands, especially when we are sick, too.  I’m truly thankful for my husband, even now.  I’m sure there are lots of women who’d trade places with me in a minute.  Thank You for choosing me to be his wife.  Love is the greatest.

He Never Leaves Me

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. NIV

Last week, my daughter had a small surgery scheduled. I went to Louisiana to help her with the baby while she recovered. I spent 4 days with them then drove home, had a wedding to photograph, and got sick with the flu.  Before I knew it, a week had gone by without me spending any time at all with God, other than lying in bed, praying to live.  

How easy it is to let life get in the way of our time with God!  My days go so much better when I take the time to begin the day with Him.  Let’s see.  I can sit down, have my coffee, open Facebook or open my Bible.  That’s not a big decision.

Hey God, help me to start my day with You.  I know that there will be times in my life with I will be so busy that I will be tempted to put you on the back burner and get to You soon.  I know that’s not ok, God.  I’m so thankful that You don’t treat us like that.  You never leave us. For that, I am so grateful.  Again, thank You for your unending grace.