There is nothing-no circumstance, no trouble, no-testing that can ever touch me until, first of all it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a GREAT PURPOSE, which I may not understand at the moment. As I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will ever cause me to fret-for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is- that is the rest of VICTORY!!!!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Standing on the edge.....

With my toes dangling slightly over the edge of the cliff a fear of the unknown below starts to creep in. Although the details of the next step are unknown the solid place in which I have been planted on for quiet some time now is coming to a close and it's time to move on. The path in which I have already traveled has had its fair shares of ups and downs but it's become a place of safety and contentment. Although part of me longs to stay in this very place for a little longer there is a hunger deep within and drive for something new, bold and adventurous. In 13 hours that giant leap towards the unknown will become a reality. We will no longer be able to stay in the safety of 2012 but instead be forced to step into the unknown of 2013. As the world counts down 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 we will bid another year goodbye and say hello to new possibilities.

Today I was thinking about how right now we are on the verge of possibly the greatest year of our lives or the worst year of our lives, either way it's a mystery yet to be unlocked and unraveled. There is this sense of excitment for the unknown, we have the ability to choose to make 2013 the best year ever or the worst based on our attitude of praise. Maybe this year was the greatest year you have ever had and you find yourself struggling with letting go, or maybe its been the worst year of your life and you are desperate for a new beginning.

Although a sense of excitement dwells within me every year as we approach the new year I am reminded tonight that it's only a number. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future." As humans there is this innate desire to start over and grab the bull by its horns towards new possibilities but because the blood of Jesus was spilled out for us we can start over anytime. "By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this (life), but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 

The difficulties of yesterday are gone, wiped clean, and the path is cleared ahead for Christ to lead us towards greatness. This year as we move from 2012 to 2013 I'm laying down the things from the past. I'm choosing to let go of the pain and struggles of 2012 so that my hands are empty and ready to receive the blessings and beauty of 2013. There is a special K commercial on right now and the concept of it is "what will you gain when you lose." I love that quote and the thought of how when we truly let go of the past God has so much planned for us to gain because our hands are open to receive them. 1 Corinthians  2:9 "No eye has seen, no ear has heard no mind can imagine the plans that God has for those who love Him."

"I myself go before you and will be with you. So do not be afraid; not not be discouraged. I, your loving Savior, am also infinite God! I am omnipresent: present everywhere at once. This makes it possible for Me to go ahead of you-opening up the way-without ever leaving your side. The promise of My presence is for all time. No matter where you go or what circumstances you encounter, I will be with you. This is the basis of your courage and confidence" Sarah Young.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Falling short.......

With fresh snow blanketing the Earth and our family dressed from head to toe in hats, gloves, scarves and winter coats we grabbed the plastic red sled from the garage and hit the local sledding hill. As I watched the snow fall yesterday from my cozy living room I thought to myself how beautiful it looked. Watching it fall from inside though is one thing and getting out playing in the wet, coldness is another. However I am the type of person that likes to experience as much as possible in life and have learned in our difficult circumstances to embrace each moment and see it as an adventure. With this in mind there have been a few new little adventures in our house over the past few weeks. One of these adventures was baking. I don't care for baking and it doesn't care for me. No matter what I do I seem to always mess it up and so I just try to avoid it. I can cook pretty well and since our family mostly lives on regular food and not sweets we manage to survive without me having to bake, besides that's why Keebler is in business so people like me can buy packaged cookies and not make them. Anyways along with the baking, which I  might add was chaotic but turned out fairly well, we decided to make a gingerbread house. Macie has made them in school before but this was my first time ever making one. If I had to sum up our gingerbread house building in one word it would definitely be "ugh."

See I'm a perfectionist and if there is one thing I learned it's that building gingerbread houses is a perfectionists worst nightmare. When the idea first popped into my head at the store it sounded great, I bought one of those little kits and the picture on the front looked beautiful and I thought to myself "I can totally do that, how hard can it be.? Well let me tell you its not as easy as it looks. The entire time it was a disaster. The walls kept falling in, the icing kept drying up before we could get the candy on. The whole time I kept glancing at the beautiful example on the front of the box and trying desperately to make mine similar, to just try and measure up even a little. That perfectionist attitude I mentioned before kept rearing its ugly head and I got so frustrated. It sounds ridiculous I mean "who cares" it's a little gingerbread house meant to give us something to do as a family right? But for me I felt like a failure, I felt like I wasn't good enough, why didn't mine look like the box? I felt like everyone else makes beautiful gingerbread houses and bakes varieties of Christmas goodies but I can't. I felt like I never measure up and will never been good enough, skinny enough, smart enough or "together enough."

Growing up I have always struggled with this fear of rejection and failure. When I was 9 my mom divorced my father. Although hard for my little mind to grasp at the time he was an alcoholic man who would get angry and violent towards my mother when he had too much to drink and he chose the alcohol over us and walked away from 3 little girls. Since then he has walked in and out of our lives. We have given him chance after chance and although I miss having my dad in my life it's more the concept of a dad and not the reality of the man my dad is. As a mother now though I struggle with trying to understand how a father could just walk away from his girls, "weren't we enough, why wasn't he proud of us." As I see my husband love our daughter Macie with this unconditional smitten love I find myself even more puzzled.

Even though I know nothing I did caused my dad to walk away it's placed this unrealistic expectation and need to be perfect on my life. Sometimes I think about how I'm terrified that I will never measure up as a wife, mother, and friend. The expectations for perfection that I place on myself are beyond anything I could ever obtain in this life but yet I continually work towards it. The expectations I place on myself are bogus and unrealistic and although I try to meet them I would never expect someone else to meet them or be disappointed when they unsurprisingly failed but I would beat myself up for sure. I don't do things just to get them done I either do every task with my whole heart beyond 100%, or I don't do them. In my head I fail too often but realistically could never obtain half the goals I set because I'm human not superhuman.

As my mind starts to wander down this destructive path an alarm goes off overhead warning me of the enemies schemes and then I hear the loving voice of Christ whisper "you are more than enough; you are my beloved, beautiful, chosen, talented, daughter and although in this world you are  far from perfect your imperfections are exactly what allows you to depend on my omnipotence." You see the picture on the front of the gingerbread house kit is done by professionals, people trained and dedicated to the art of building and perfecting that structure to be flawless and beautiful. Its meant to draw you in and inspire you but not to defeat you. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? I know I look around at other wives, mothers, women at church and think "if only I could be like......."

I see myself as less than, never quite meeting the status quot. This perfectionist attitude that can sometimes be a strength and help drive me to want greatness for my life can also be my biggest weakness and make me feel like such a failure. What I'm realizing though is that not one single task, talent, success or strength in this life determines my worth in the eyes of Christ. Although my earthly father has failed me my heavenly father treasures and adores me. Because God loves us more than we could ever imagine He sent His only Son to be mocked, beaten and killed so that we could spend eternity in His presence. To Christ we are breathtaking, desirable, precious and enough. There is nothing in this life that can ever separate us from His love. "Relax in My presence, knowing that nothing can separate you from My Love. The worst-case scenario in your life-that I might stop loving you-is not even in the realm of possibility. So rejoice that you don't have to perform well enough to earn My Love, or to keep it. This Love is a pure gift, flowing out of My own own perfect righteousness. It secures your connection to Me-your Savior-for all eternity" Sarah Young.

Deuteronomy 14:2 "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession."

Ephesians 3:17-19 "So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Peace, love, joy........

The peace that blanketed the room was overwhelming. As I sat in the sparkling glow of lights and took in the scent of Pine from a freshly cut Christmas Tree my heart leaped with calmness.  Below in Winnie the Pooh, Dog and Teddy Bear sleeping bags peacefully slept my daughter, nieces and nephew. With Christmas Music playing softly in the background I sunk down into the rocking chair at the corner of the room, closed my eyes and breathed in the peace and stillness of that moment. Through the chaos lately its been often hard to just sit and be thankful in the beauty of what Christmas means but last night in the few moments of unexpected down time I was taken captive by the strong and loving arms of Jesus and  reminded of the blessings and joy of Christmas. If I could have stopped the clocks I would have and wanted nothing more than to inhale the fragrance of each memories sweet aroma and put it in a bottle  to fuel any weariness, doubt or fear that will ever come ahead.

"In Me you live and move and have your being. Every step you take, every word you speak, every breath you breathe-all is done in My watchful embarrassing Presence. You are totally immersed in My invisible yet ever-so-real Being! The more aware of Me you are, the more alive and complete you will feel. Your union with Me makes every moment of your life meaningful." 

We celebrate you today, tomorrow and forever Jesus. We say Happy Birthday and most of all THANK YOU.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Safe in the arms of Christ.....

My heart breaks over the tragedy that the world has witnessed in CT. I don't know the answers to why it happened or how to stop it from happening again. I don't know if we should change gun laws or dig deeper into the epidemic of mental illness. I don't know the answers to the questions people want and need to make sense of such a horrific event, but what I do know is from the depths of a mother's heart I am deeply sorry and burdened by the unanswered.

As I heard the news of devestation on Friday I was overcome with fear and sadness. With each story I see broadcast, and each sweet innocent little face whose picture is placed on the screen my heart aches. My husband Scott is a teacher and I have a First Grader, a beautiful 7 year old little girl named Macie with so much joy and excitment for life. As I watched her flash a smile from the stage at Church this morning during the Christmas program I thought of those sweet children who should be too standing at the front of their churches singing this morning or building gingerbread houses.

There have been so many emotions and thoughts run through my head this weekend. I have thought about how on Friday I too dropped my daughter off at school and kissed her goodbye with no hesitation because she would be safe at school. I have thought about what if that would have been my husband, my best friend and teammate. I have thought about the terror those children who survived must have witnessed and how scared they must have been. I have even found myself wondering what if that were my precious Macie and she was there scared and wanting her mommy and daddy. In those moments when my mind starts to wander and the fear creeps in I have to be reminded that those thoughts are not from Christ and are from the enemy. Although my humanness wants to allow fear and worry to take over, my hope is in Jesus and my trust in the safe and Almighty arms of Christ, the very same safe arms who is gently rocking each and every innocent child who lost their life on Friday.

As kids return to school tomorrow I believe we will all have thoughts of hesitation, I have to admit that I'm anxious too. When my mind starts to wander and my security feels threatened by the lies of the enemy I know my God is bigger. It doesn't make sense of whats happened or erase the obvious sorrow and fear we are all facing but it allows us to stand boldly and proclaims that the enemy will not have authority over our lives and we will trust Christ with the journey ahead. It takes those painful and dark thoughts that the enemy wants us to hold onto and allows us to replace it with thankfulness for keeping our families safe. Most of all though it allows us to take such devastation and remember all those beautiful little children dancing in the presence of a safe, gentle and loving God tonight. 

Be near me Lord Jesus
I ask thee to stay.
Close by me forever,
And love me I pray.

Bless all the dear children,
In thy tender care.
And take them to heaven,
To be with thee there.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mrs Grinch.....

"Your a mean one Mr. Grinch." Lately though I wonder if the words should be "your a mean one Mrs. Grinch." Yes the Mrs. grumpy pants award aka Mrs. Bah hum bug of the year medal goes to none other than........ME. I have been told at different times over the years I resemble a character from Who-ville, but this year I have switched roles in this Classical Christmas role to the Grinch. I don't really care for Christmas music much, I haven't ordered our Christmas Cards yet,  I bought one of those handy dandy wrapping paper cutters which was a fiasco oh and don't get me started on the fact that I went to the store 3 times before I could decide on which wrapping paper to actually buy because there are a million kinds and in the process they expect you to figure out some mysterious math puzzle to uncover which is the best deal per square foot.

Admitting my grumpiness at Christmas is embarrassing. I feel guilty that it's "the most wonderful time of the year" a time of joy and celebration  because Jesus was born and yet my heart is far from joyful. As I was sharing my frustrations today with my "Unglued" Women's Study group I realized I wasn't alone. Reading through a few of the posts from these women they too shared of their frustrations this Christmas season. Its actually kind of funny because the theme of the Women's study "Unglued" was how to control our reactions to life's frustrations and not explode and allow negativity to pour out during chaos. So reading the post from myself and other women about being on the edge is very ironic. Lately I have been on edge and "unglued" a lot it seems so I must have missed a chapter in the book or the previous 2 times I read it just weren't enough and I need to read it again.

December is always a difficult month for me but this year it just seems to be magnified. To avoid the difficulties I engross myself in way too many tasks and pety stressors. I avoid the pain of what December means for me and instead try to cover it up. Satan knows where I struggle and the parts of my story that hurt and make me vulnerable and is very good at trying to interject. My list of things to get done and things we are involved with keeps growing and in the process I'm sinking. As I was at the store last night I once again was on the verge of exploding. I felt exhausted, burdened, and consumed at some things I have really been struggling with lately and just desperate to be free from this battle.

As I walked up and down the aisles my mind raced and then suddenly in the middle of the aisle I came across a plastic cup with a Christmas tree on it and the word "Joy." Although is may seem so simple and silly that $1.96 cup made my heart smile. A reminder to me that although Satan may work hard against me and the world may try to bring me down God is my refuge and I WILL BE JOYFUL IN ALL THINGS.  Instead of holding on to the reminders of previous Decembers I have the opportunity to allow God to rewrite this part of my story and start a new beginning this December and many more to come. I have the chance to look at the cup as no longer half empty but half full and with the word "Joy" radiating through :) 

 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18