The Gift of Life; Happy Birthday Dad!

Dear Dad,

We celebrated your birthday today.

It wasn’t the party we might have previously envisioned, and the circumstances were nothing we would have desired.

We weren’t at a restaurant of your choice. We weren’t shaking our heads as you pretended to scan the menu as if you’d actually try something different for a change.

We weren’t having a family game night, talking trash to one another as the cards fell across the table. We weren’t teasing lovingly commending your persistence even though you have a knack for coming in last place.

We weren’t even at your house because you’re not there. You’re not there and I know that’s the birthday wish that supersedes them all.

But you are here with us, which is a blessing in itself.

You’re here after that alarming text I received on the afternoon of April 4th.

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The Safety of the Lord

I want to take a moment to thank the Lord for His grace, mercy and protection! 

Early this morning my husband and I heard some unfamiliar sounds coming from outside.  One thump.  Did something fall over?  A second thud, louder and distinct.  Is that a car door slamming?  No it can’t be…I called for him to come from the other room (he was giving our baby a bottle), and he said the noise was coming from below us.  Looking out the window yielded no views, so he went out on our porch and saw an individual attempting to break into our neighbor’s car.  He yelled for them to stop and the culprit fled. 

If you’ve had the misfortune of experiencing this type of situation, you’re all too familiar with the feelings of uneasiness and discomfort that follow.  A slew of negative “what if” questions attempt to flood your mind, and you’re unsettled because it happened too close to home.  I felt these emotions just moments ago, but I thank God that His Word reigns supreme in my heart!  As my husband alerted the neighbors and talked to the police, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for keeping us out of harms way.  Yes, a window was damaged, but no one was hurt, and for that I give all the glory, honor and praise to my Abba Father.  We are in His safety!!  Hallelujah!!!

Psalm 121:7 (NLT) The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.

Psalm 32:7 (KJV) You are my hiding place; you shall preserve me from trouble; you shall surround
me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psalm 5:12 (NKJV) For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Psalm 91 (NKJV) He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowlerAnd from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. 8 Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

Leaving My Worries Behind

How many of you remember the show Unsolved Mysteries? Growing up I remember my mom watching it on a regular basis, but I wanted no part. I was scared and would flee from the room as soon as I heard the eerie opening music. I had no interest in seeing what new psychopath was still on the loose, nor what he would do if he found me. The thought of who might be lurking in the shadows sent chills down my spine.

It wasn’t just this show that had me spooked. I didn’t like being left alone and I never watched the news because of the abundance of negative reports. Having to present a current event in my history class was like a death threat, because I was forced to read about the often melancholy happenings of the world. Even throughout my teenage years I harbored this fear. The reason being that I was terrified one of these tragic events would happen to my family or I. Worry and anxiety secretly consumed me, and before I even knew the Lord I would pray to someone for the protection of those I loved.

After accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior I realized I’d been living in a type of bondage. These outlandish thoughts were out of control, and it was time for me to put them under submission. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV, the Bible instructs us to ”…cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” That’s exactly what I began to do! It didn’t come easy at first, but in time I trusted that God truly hadn’t given me a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) and my sound mind would now be filled with positivity. I learned how to reject the poison the Enemy tried to feed me, because I realized that God valued the safety and security of my loved ones as much as I did! His love for us knows no bounds, and as any father would, He protects His own.

As a new mother I found that old habits die hard. Although I knew Alexandra was growing healthy and strong in my womb, I had to fight to keep my mind from going to that place where bad things happen. Thank goodness for Holy Spirit! He reminded me that worry is a sin. Worry means that we don’t have confidence or faith in The Almighty to do what He said He’d do, and I had no intention of letting my own sinful doubt reign supreme! I knew God would take care of my daughter just as he’s always taken care of me, and anything that says otherwise is a bold-faced lie.

His desire is to do the same for you! I urge you to join me in releasing the burden of worry (anxiety too) and operate in faith. Do not let your mind become your own worse enemy, and please let me know how it feels to have the weight off your shoulders!

Matthew 6:25-34 AMP

Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink;  or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by worrying  and  being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature  or to the span of his life?  

And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.  Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence (excellence, dignity, and grace) was not arrayed like one of these.         

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive  and  green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Therefore do not worry  and  be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear?  For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and  crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. 

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. 

So do not worry  or  be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries  and  anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

Need a little more?  Check out this amazing article and leave your worries behind TODAY!!:

http://simplyjuliana.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/i-am-worried-about-you-because-i-love-you/

Dare to Dream

What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

I thought about my writing today, and how this time last year my passion for the written word was ignited after an excruciatingly long period of dormancy.  I was eager to get re-acquainted with my creative side and share my musings with anyone who would listen.  After posting some sample pieces for my friends on Facebook, my new-found groove was cut short as I experienced extreme illness with my pregnancy.  Just like that writing was kicked to the curb, and my focus made a major shift.  I decided to start again as soon as I felt better, but with every attempt I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper in quicksand.  Writer’s block?  Fear?  Insecurity?  Lack of focus?  Lack of time? Whatever it was I was in my own downward spiral headed to my dream deferred.  I wanted so badly to express myself, but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to gain my footing again.  I allowed the busyness of life to keep me sidetracked, and it took me 9 months and an emotional breakdown to finally take that first step in the right direction.  I sat at the computer and let my fingers do the talking, and The Stranger in the Mirror was born. In that moment I vowed never to let this desire dwindle, and I enlisted my family and friends to keep me accountable.  I didn’t want to have any regrets as a result of not pursuing my own potential.  I wanted to do something that simply gave me joy.

I get so caught up in wanting to achieve some intangible level of output that I often forget to connect with myself.  I forget to check in with Me, and neglect those ideas and visions that were once burning a hole in my head.  I shrug off the passions that once ignited fresh excitement and the reveries take a back seat to my tasks and to-do lists.  It’s easy to let this happen, and before you know it weeks, months and maybe years pass before you stop and say “whatever happened to that plan I had?  I remember how much I used to love to do this…how did I ever let this slip away…”

Does any of this sounds familiar? If so, I don’t blame you.  We live in a society of movers and shakers, and it’s easy succumb to the pressure that dictates our success by how many goals we have and how quickly we accomplish them.  We lock into a routine and before we know it our Mondays blur to Wednesdays, Wednesdays blur to Sundays, and just like that we start the cycle all over again.  “Rush, rush, rush; hurry, hurry, hurry; go, go, go” is the new norm, but happiness is far too easily replaced by productivity.  Looking at the big picture, what have we really acheived if we can’t relax and let our imagination run free?  What discoveries would you make if you allowed yourself to dream

What can you do now to turn that dream into reality?

Need some ideas?  How about creating a Bucket List?  This one certainly inspired me:

Bucket List Publications

Diving into Home

Many children are fearless.  They explore the world around them with unabashed wonder and amusement, with the hope of a new adventure around every corner.  They have not experienced enough in this life to warn them to count the costs before every decision is made, and their carefree spirit reminds us of what it was like to be young once.  I, however, was not this child.  For whatever reason I always found myself to be much too aware of the circumstances and I proceeded with caution in almost all that I did.  All except for when I was on the field playing softball.  From the age of 7 – 17 (and one year in college) softball was my life.  As a catcher I was accustomed to getting dirty, taking risks, calling plays and I loved it!  As a baserunner my speed made me prime for stealing bases and nothing gave me greater joy than a dirty uniform that served as the evidence that I dove head first into 2nd base, 3rd, or even home.  What’s the significance of this you ask?  Well anyone familiar with the sport knows that diving head first into home is often considered unsafe and unwise as a collision with the catcher and all of her gear could mean disaster.  Playing this position I knew this better than anyone, but it didn’t stop me.  Sliding feet first was safe but felt awkward.  I wanted to take charge of where I was going and see everything that was coming my way.  I wasn’t afraid of the scrapes or bruises because I knew the end result was well worth the temporary pain.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.Read More