Monday, February 28, 2011

Sudden Impact

This past weekend, I went on a women's retreat with 50 other women from our church.  It was my first one, and we traveled to Lake Arrowhead which is up in the mountains of California. The picture I've included is one I took on my way out.  It was beautiful, but do you know I didn't appreciate the beauty of it until I was back home and driving our son to school this morning?  I topped a nearby hill and looked up at the snow covered mountains where I stayed over the weekend.  My breath almost completely taken away by the sight of it all, I pointed in excitement to our son.  "Look, Ashton - that's where mommy stayed this weekend!"  It was truly a beautiful sight, and as if hit in the head by a snowball from God above, I was suddenly impacted by an overwhelming appreciation for a beauty I didn't see before. It was only one of the many "sudden impact" moments I've had since last Friday when I left.   

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Be Free

 After what has been a spiritually frustrating day, I decided to release some of the heaviness into a blog entry.  I couldn't.  The words weren't there.  I stared hopelessly at the screen waiting for something to come.  It never did.  Reflecting back over my own set of frustrations throughout the day, I felt tears begin to wet my face.  Finally, I asked God to bring out in me what He wanted to say, and within minutes I started to write.  This wasn't the first time I found myself staring blankly at the monitor while I waited for something from God to rise within my spirit.  It has happened before, but until today I hadn't made the connection of why -As it turns out, I can't write unless I'm free and I'm not free unless I'm not wrapped up in me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Day of Small Beginnings

Have you ever noticed that you're the least successful person in the room at an event or gathering?  Let's say you walk in to your ten or twenty year reunion and you're surrounded by doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs; yet there you stand - still wandering through the "undecided" realm of life.  You're kind of in-between jobs right now and as for future plans, you're just not having any luck with making things happen.  As Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion floats through your mind, you actually contemplate duplicating Romy and Michelle's plot to hatch a story about a success that doesn't exist.  On the other hand, maybe at that same gathering you're the most successful.  You reside in the upper east section of town with your spouse, two perfect children, and small mansion while enjoying a seven figure income from your employment with one of Forbes' top ranked companies. Your picture may even be splashed across newspapers and magazines.  Have you also ever stopped to notice that regardless of which group you fall into, we all came from the same small beginning?

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Little Good News Today

On a day that we've finalized our decision to shut off the cable, I appropriately came across Anne Murray's song A Little Good News (for lyrics, see link below) and remembered not only how much I love her voice, but also why I'm okay with closing this particular window into the world. There is so much hate and heartache in the media!  Well, we've been casually tossing the idea to cut the cable for weeks now, but hadn't taken any action until this afternoon when we finally made the call.  They shut if off tomorrow morning between eight and ten.  Though a part of me would like to be out in the living room filling my last cable filled night with whatever non-junk show (believe it or not, they do exist) I can find, I opted to write about the logic behind our decision instead.  In the words of Anne Murray, I decided to write a little good news today. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Casting My Cares

Have you ever been in a place where you know you need to cast your cares, but the minute you say "I cast my cares on you Lord," those said cares come back and bite you on the hand that cast them?  For me, it has been one of those weeks.  Actually, it has been one of those months thus far.  Throughout the last few months, I've been on an almost spiritual high with God.  Filled with a joyous euphoria, I was intimately in tune with God's presence in my life.  I didn't know exactly where I was going, but I knew it was with God so I trusted completely, knowing it was somewhere good.  Well, January ended and February began.  With this month came the accompaniment of an unwelcome strife in my spirit - not all the time, just enough to be noticeable and disheartening from time to time.  During the preceding months, I had been able to get alone with God without too much noise from the outside world, but as the holidays ended, normal routine resumed and outside noise picked up like the collection of honking cars on a Los Angeles freeway.  God started asking me to put into practice what He taught me while we were alone those last few quiet months.  In doing so, I've won some and lost some, but through both victory and defeat, I'm learning just how much more of Him I need  - and that casting our cares isn't just about saying the words. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bloody and Bruised - Someone to Blame

A couple of weeks ago I listened to Anne Beiler (she is the Anne from Auntie Anne's Pretzels) and her husband Jonas tell a painful story of how they lost their two year old daughter in a tragic accident many years ago.  How did she die?  At the wheel of a large farm tractor driven by Anne's own sister.  With tears in my eyes, I listened in amazement while Anne told their story of pain, love, and forgiveness.  She never once blamed her sister for what happened to her child.  I had listended to this very story once before maybe six months ago, but when I saw it on again a couple of weeks ago, something made me watch, though after that day I didn't think of it again until tonight when I saw my own son bloody and bruised as my husband led him towards me. 

One Moment in Time

I've recently been finding myself taking mental note of specific moments throughout the day, and several days ago, I found myself in a moment that I didn't want to end. The phrase "one moment in time" popped into my mind and I knew it would ultimately be a title to some random day's blog entry, but I didn't know when.  Today seems to be that day.  The moment I found myself in was a hug with my son.  His birthday is this week and though he's only turning six, I felt an overwhelming sense of both happiness and sadness and I didn't want to let him go.  I felt my eyes start to fill with water as I hugged him tightly and I realized then that I wasn't just in a day or month of some given year;  I was in a very special moment in time. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Take Me By the Hand

Once upon a time not so long ago, I was at a place in my life where I didn't know what to do - about anything.  I was caught in the middle of two conflicting methods of operation: my method and God's.  God wanted me to stop smoking.  I wanted to but not badly enough to do as He asked.  God wanted me to stop drinking.  I wanted to, but couldn't because I had it psychologically tied to my smoking.  God wanted me to stop taking anti-depressants and sleep aids and rely solely on Him.  I wanted to, but my fear of failure without it only made me take more.  I spent hours feeling guilty, condemned and worthless in the eyes of God, but He never left my side and not for one minute did He see me as worthless.  Instead, each time I found myself a sobbing mess on the floor, He continued to gently say "take Me by the hand."  I finally did.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm Sorry

Have you ever noticed that two of the most difficult words we're ever asked to say are "I'm sorry?"  I mean, think about it - when was the last time you told someone you were sorry for something you said or did?  Was it easy to say?  Or, did the words come from your mouth through gritted teeth?  Have you ever thought about why it's so challenging? For some people, "I'm sorry" comes entirely too easy and if you're someone who can look back over the last seven days and count having said those words more than seven times, then stay tuned for an upcoming post regarding your popular problem.  For now, the focus is on a problem of my own flesh -  saying I'm sorry. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Be Kind - Even When You Don't Feel Like It

At a time of the month when kindness tries to evade me, I find myself thinking of it often.  "How can I be so kind most weeks and then for nearly two weeks straight be a complete basket case full of sweat, tears, and rage?" I've often wondered.  I debated on whether or not it was appropriate to incorporate the premenstrual syndrome aspect of things into a Christian blog, but as you've read you see that I ultimately opted for honesty rather than your own personal comfort while you read.  I'm sorry if you're now squirming before your monitor, but please don't close out the window just yet.  If you've ever watched television, then you're no stranger to the commercials testifying about the genuine nature of premenstrual syndrome.  Moreover, if you're a man and have ever been in a relationship with a woman then you know firsthand how real it is.  Well, in my own case, it has been quite severe for as long as I can remember - so severe that in the past I even ended relationships once a month only to beg for forgiveness and resume them two weeks later.  I went through this little cycle of back and forth romance for years.  It went from "I don't like you and want to break up now" to "Please forgive me, I love you so much."  Can you believe that things don't work like this once you're married? 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Footprints Worth Following

The picture you see is one of a ribbon with the words "Make Footprints Worth Following" that I found randomly placed in my son's room a few days ago.  As soon as I read the words, I knew it was something God wanted me to see because they stirred something up in my spirit.  I knew then that I would be writing something about it later, but the words weren't formed in my mind just yet.  I only knew that I wondered at that very minute whether I was making footprints worth following...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Castle on the Hill

Well, I didn't intend on writing two blog entries today, but I've been inspired.  Look out.  I guess God is giving me double inspiration today since yesterday I had none. This particular entry begins on a day several weeks ago, but has only just now come full circle in my cluttered mind.  In recent weeks, I've been going out on bike rides with our son late afternoon/early evening.  I find that it's a beautiful time of day and with almost every corner I turn, I'm warmed by the rays of a setting sun.  The sun shining brightly on my face makes me so intently aware of God's presence in my life.  I cannot even begin to describe how much I love the very minute in time of turning a corner and emerging from shade into the warm, bright rays of sun.  It still hasn't stopped taking my breath away and I pray that it never does.  Well, as for this breathtaking bike ride, Ashton and I ride within the boundaries of our own neighborhood.  It's not that I wouldn't venture out, but where we live is abounding in hills.  I'm not completely out of shape, but until a few weeks ago when I bought this bike, I hadn't been on one in over 15 years at least. My first attempt up one of our hills was no doubt comical for those passing by.  In the words of Puss on Shrek Everafter, I looked "redonkulous."  I've since decided that I like riding on flat land, but the views within these hills are one of my favorite parts of our ride - especially the view of a castle on the hill....

Look Ahead

I've noticed lately how frequently I'm having to tell our son to keep his eyes on the road ahead of him while he rides his bike. Ironically, I have to look back over my own shoulder to give him these infallible instructions but irony isn't the point of today's entry.  The point is this - we need to stop looking back at where we were unless it's to measure how far we've come.  Other than that, our eyes should be fixed steadily on the path ahead.  If tomorrow you decide to take down your rear view mirrors in an effort to not look at what lies behind, please don't blame me if you have an accident.  I'm in no way saying that we should stop looking in all directions when we're driving, biking, or doing anything else.  Instead, I'm saying that we should live in the present and for what lies ahead rather than for what lies in our past - a common perspective on life actually.  Well, it was shortly after I instructed my son to stop looking behind him that I realized I needed to follow my own advice, but in a different way...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Flower for Mommy

After helping our son with his homework earlier and noting his subsequent frustration, I offered him a break in the form of a bike ride.  "Let's take Lucy Liu (our puppy) and go out for a quick ride," I suggested. Well, with this idea he was thrilled, and we set out to ride our usual course. After the pup had gotten her own share of exercise we put her back in the house and went on our own venture.  When we stopped to take a look at a beautiful sunset, an improper landing off of my bike led me into two very different emotional and physical states: agony and inspiration...