Monday, March 26, 2012

Keep Going!

“What was that?”  My boy commented on the loud-jet engine noise coming from some space in the air.  It sounded as if there was a large aircraft overhead but nothing could be seen and my boys looked dumbfounded—it didn’t make sense to them.

Especially my little toddler who is learning to point out the airplanes overhead; the look on his face was priceless.  (Wish I would have captured it for you; but my phone was buried at the bottom of the diaper bag at the time).

Content brothers.
My boy's look resonated with something in my heart as I noticed him resolve to let go of the question and sat content on the blanket with his brother on the field…this moment, I was able to capture. 

In recent years, I’ve asked God on quite a few occasions, “What was that?” 

Can you relate?  Have you felt God recently lead you down a path with an open door in sight;  yes-in sight…you can just feel the YES and smell the victory.  Only to be left baffled at the end of the journey with a shut door.

I don’t understand it completely still…but I am thankful for God’s Word and little nudges from Him continually that point me to how loved I am (especially when rejection floods my thoughts when standing at a shut door).   In my pursuit of God continually, I find much hope believing in God and believing who I am in Christ…someway-somehow—I find the gumption to not only stand but walk on. 

I feel like these last few years have been full of both open doors and shut doors.  And I ‘m learning that I don’t always understand; but there is a purpose and a plan for even the shut doors.

I read in Jeremiah 35 this week and God showed me how Jeremiah heard from the Lord and was asked to invite over a family—the Recabites. The Lord then said, “give them wine to drink.”  (verse 2).  Jeremiah got the tables all set up with the wine and invited them over; only to have them turn down the wine.   

Oh, I don’t want to claim to understand all that God’s Word is teaching us here; but I found myself relating to Jeremiah.   I have felt on several occasions that I heard from the Lord similarly some sort of action, only to find those around me turn down my offer. 

My heart was comforted realizing that like me; Jeremiah was asked to do something that led to a shut door; and ‘the word came to Jeremiah from the LORD.”

Are you like me and think that if things didn’t turn out; we must not have heard right, or from God at all? 

I wish I could read Jeremiah’s journal entry for that night.  Do you think he doubted that the initial word came from the Lord?  Don’t we easily get trapped into thinking that if we heard from God it must work out smoothly and our paths must be full of YESES AND OPEN DOORS?

I’ve even heard some good Bible teachers speak about learning whether it is a ‘good idea’ or a ‘God idea.’ 

In my limited thinking I can get stuck believing that if it doesn’t work out—it must not have been a ‘God idea;’ and I sense God nudging me to do away with this thinking!  

What if God’s idea was all along for us to walk and see them turn down the offer just as Jeremiah was to offer what God already knew they would  turn down?

Oh, my heart finds so much freedom in this.   I’m instantly flooded with recent memories of being just stumped—feeling that God nudged me down various paths only to find my heart and head confused with the resulting backdrop.

It doesn’t matter how the NO came into my life—or how hard the door slammed; or how disappointing the diagnosis—God never left me and with every NO, door slam and diagnosis I can look back and still see Him. 

I even see Him amidst the NOs and doors and diagnoses; revealing YESES, opening doors and other relationships.   And most importantly, I have felt His nudges to embrace the truth that I am loved and to keep going!

God encouraged me even more as I also read, 2 Tim 4:5…may it encourage you and empower you to keep going as it did me and let's choose to trust and be like those content brothers. 

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.
Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord.
Work at bringing others to Christ.
Complete the ministry God has given you.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hmmmm....And A Smile! can finish that right?

What a week it has been...and I am tired.  I wish this week would have panned out differently...and I had TONS of inspiration for writing flowing through my veins.  I love days like that!

This week, sickness swept our house and there has been just enough time for me to   rest, disinfect and get done the work I needed to do.  

I feel like I missed out on a lot this week...
*girl time with some new neighborhood friends
*the last night of my women's Bible Study
*a date night with my hubby
*a night with our small group

The feeling reminds me of another time when to my utter surprise...things just were not going as I had planned...or as I had hoped.


I don't want to read too much into these moments but I recognize that things like this just force me to pause and go hmmmm....

My boy uttered a constant hmmmmmmmm....this week often while in the bath tub splashing about and in those moments when he did not feel well he still cracked a smile and you would have wondered how terrible he felt inside.

It reminded me that when life brings swells of disappointment in our sea of life, with waves crashing to and fro...we have the power to pause because we are loved!

We can take a deep breath and say, "hmmmmmmm...."

This week God reminded me while watching my boy in the bath tub, that when life brings a pause or a surprise (good or bad) we have a choice; we can embrace one of two attitudes..."I am unloved-forgotten-unwanted"(you fill in the blank) and sink in the the sorrow of our seas or we can ride the waves and find our  "splashing' smile' from within because we are "LOVED!"  God's love gives us strength.

What do you bring into your life--your heart to give you strength?

One of the things that encourages me each week is listening to Girlfriendit Radio for they continually point me to truth and inspire me to seek how to live out my faith!

The show this week is titled, "Rock Your Smile" and they chat about recognizing what makes us smile from the inside out...AND...How are you sharing that?

I took away a great nugget of truth from the show this week...

Mary Rice Hopkins shared one of her life truths that resonated with my heart:

She spoke of how Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free.  Because of Christ's sacrifice, we are given a garment of praise in place of the spirit of heaviness that so often comes our way.

Is your heart heavy this week?

Do you believe Jesus wants to replace that heaviness with a garment of praise?

Are you wearing it?

Someone might just need to see you wearing it this week and God might just be nudging you to smile from the inside out.

Hmmmmmm.....makes you smile, doesn't it?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Listening Feet

I sat making my list this morning, like I do often every morning as the sun is rising and the house is quiet.  I sensed God nudging me differently this morning; almost as if he had a hold of my pen. 

I think now, looking back that He was just reminding me that He was near and that He knew all that I needed.  He didn’t want to take a hold of my pen or write for me; but I sensed He wanted to allow me to list what was on my heart, with an awareness of His presence.

The truth that is echoing in my head after spending some time with Him this morning is that…streams of living water flow from me because I believe and walk with Him.  (John 7:38)  This verse seemed to spout off the page with emphasis, like the sprinkler I had just seen yesterday spouting off extra water; both demonstrating their need of attention. Isn't it cool how God nudged me to take the picture yesterday to highlight in my mind as I write?

I feel the need of a refreshing spring of water for my heart as I feel the need of a pedicure before I break out these feet to walk in the spring weather.  There are so many cares on my heart that I am tempted to carry alone and God was reminding me to rest in Him and give Him my cares, my worries—even ask Him to help me with each task for today. 

The pressures of life can just seem so daunting sometimes, can’t they?  Sometimes I feel like I have 10 plates spinning constantly; a plate for my husband, a plate for each one of my boys, a plate for my own health, a plate for my loved ones dealing with life threatening illnesses, a plate for my ministry and work, a plate for every relationship, care and concern.

As I think about the day and write out my list, I recognize that each breath gets deeper and deeper.  Then, as I felt His peace, I faced the temptation to label myself ADD as my mind jumped to what I heard on Girlfriendit Radio last week.  Did you listen?  Oh, it was good—encouraging stuff about preparing our feet to leave footprints in our world. You can download free from iTunes here to catch the skinny on what I am talking about and join others here on the Girlfriendit Facebook Page.

Thankful for something to look forward to for my own feet as I anticipated some girl time and a pedicure, I continued to make my list and pray—pampering and taking care of myself is part of living as a princess after all!

Me and my girlfriend's happy feet.
When my heart is full of Him and my feet are happy—I am able to walk with and in His love and others are also able to experience His love and light—that’s the idea, right? 

Well, as I was writing out my list and thinking about my feet, God reminded me of the stories in the gospel about feet…He washed His disciples feet, a sinful woman washed His feet and a woman who chose what was better…at His feet.

Rather than be distracted by my list or the spinning plates I envision sometimes over my head, I want to choose to place my feet by His feet and stay there. 

Have you chosen to take your feet by His feet?

And it doesn’t matter whether we’ve had a pedicure or not, we can take our feet to the feet of the One who makes streams of living water flow from us.

Remember that spouting water…as I passed by the same patch of grass on my walk back, I also felt nudged to take a picture of these ducks waddling in the sprinklers.  God reminded me of this picture as I write and think about bringing my feet to His feet to be filled with His living water.  I couldn’t help but smile and my prayer is that you smile too…for my heart was delighted to see two ducks waddling around in the spring of water—basking in the coolness…the wetness…

Again it doesn’t matter the feet—just bring them to the Lord’s feet and listen. (Luke 10:39) 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Making The Switch!

YOWSA! I made the switch!

No, I’m not talking about the switch from ground beef to turkey (we did that a while ago)…nor am I talking about my brand of deodorant or

But, I bought a Mac. 

I can almost hear your mix of yays and nays in my head right now.  

I can’t help but crack a smile and I hate to admit there is a side of me that wants to just proclaim this good news.  I can’t deny it, I am EXCITED.

Just last night I had to do something on our PC at home and I went for the left hand side to close the window.  My husband proclaimed, “You are Macenized!”

My current work station.
I decided to make the switch, honestly, with the cost being pretty comparable and I frankly was getting tired of battling viruses with my system.

This past year, I have been writing, for my own enjoyment and calling on this Princess Path and also for the Girlfriendit Ministry and in addition to this writing for FUN, I began getting paid to work from home, writing and doing various other tasks for a marketing company.  Posting pictures, videos and visiting various sites daily…the virus-proof—efficient Mac was calling my name.

It’s interesting the responses that I have gotten since making the switch:

“Yay! Alright…you will love it!”
“Huh?  Why did you do that?”
~No words…just really don’t seem to care either way.

Interesting that making this switch reminds me of making the ‘spiritual switch,’ nearly 20 years ago…then too, I had people saying similarly:

“Yay! Alright…you will love it!”
“Huh?  Why did you do that?”
~No words…just really don’t seem to care.

And as I have ventured down into Mac world, figuring my way around, I have come to just esteem the Apple Store’s “Genius Bar.”  I’ve only been there once so far, but am planning another visit soon to get my questions answered. 

The “Genius Bar,” is interesting and humbling though, I recognize something inside of me being a bit intimidated.  I am one who likes to figure things out on my own, and questions—well I fear looking dumb when I ask questions sometimes. 

I have to say, I think I am going through a growth spurt and the genius who helped me—encouraged me with her own personality being welcome and inviting my questions.  I remember being nervous taking the plunge to switch both to my Mac and also with my faith and I'm thankful for the humble geniuses along the way on my journey.

Almost 20 years ago, I made the switch from walking alone to realizing that I don’t have it all together, I am imperfect and make mistakes and I need a Savior to rescue me and teach me and guide me through this life and SAVE me from my ultimate death in hell.  Hallelujah!  There were people around me that loved me and invited my questions.  I embraced this switch to lean on Christ, much like I am embracing this switch to my Mac.

Sometimes you just need to let go of what is entrenched and comfortable in our ways; and take a leap into a newfound faith—change is good sometimes. 

Have you made the switch recently?  Either towards God and accepting Christ as your Savior or to the Mac—? 
I know it’s weird to compare the two—but is it really? 
Just thinking…and writing….
What do you think?   What helped you make the switch?  Are you stirred to walk differently along someone else, remembering the scene of your own switch?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Goofy Girl!

“Ajkdlfjdkjdkljfdkjfeiejfkdjfkdjei!” I couldn’t tell you what I was saying to myself, but I knew the tone and attitude were not good.  I wasn’t even really aware that I was speaking so harshly to myself until I was interrupted by a LOUD screeching noise. *insert my boy's scream here*

I had 5 errands to run that day and in order to fit it all in I had to push my cart just a little faster through the supermarket that day.  There weren’t any casualties; just one run-in and a couple of other really close calls.     

With the groceries in the back of my van, I drove away replaying the run-in and near misses of my shopping cart running into this person and that display; when my baby let out a screech of frustration that brought awareness to my own feelings of frustration.

At that moment I sensed God nudging my heart to look at my boy AND the volume of his scream could definitely not be ignored!  I looked back at him and couldn’t resist laughing…literally laughing out loud!

As I laughed, a series of memories from previous weeks played in my head. These past weeks my mind has been ever aware of laughter and its necessity in my life.  I even told God I wanted to make people laugh more in my own circle.  Especially in the midst of tough situations and emotions, God has shown me His gift of laughter.  I remembered:

*I attended a funeral and then was blessed by the funny stories told by a friend of the family.  My cheeks and belly hurt after having dinner with her.
*Our pastor shared a bit of her story about living with joy amidst pain.
*My boy made us laugh when he was sharing a tough situation going on for him at school.
*My husband made me laugh while enduring a long walk; when I needed to get home to get some things done.
*A Facebook friend’s post made me laugh and gave my heart a fresh perspective.
*Bible study girls made me laugh when talking and praying about some deep emotional struggles.
*Girlfriendit Radio shared about humor—go listen here.
*My girlfriend who is in the process of publishing her first book with a collaboration of hilarious stories of her journey growing up with a prosthetic leg-made me laugh as she shared some of her struggles this past week.  Check out her Facebook page here and look for her to share some of her writing here with us soon.    

And then like old family tapes playing, I saw flashes of girlfriend’s victories and stories making me smile:
*A girlfriend choosing to let go and be goofy after healing from some dark stuff, strikes a pose and claims she’s a ROCKSTAR! (I have called her a rockstar now for almost 3 years)
*A girlfriend choosing to keep the conversation focused on Christ brings her wittiness to the table time and time again.
*A girlfriend willing to be vulnerable and courageous enough to share her mishaps makes me smile and laugh often.
*A girlfriend reminded me that even though I cannot remember the punch line to a joke—that this action in itself is funny!
*A girlfriend makes me laugh when in an email she shared her story and reminded me to: Stand for something. If you are too open minded, all your brains will fall out! 

I want to be one willing to go there and talk about the hard stuff, but I want to bring comic relief too—don’t you?

Well, back to my boy screaming in the back seat!  He was sitting there trying to get his shirt off while strapped in his car seat.  This newfound interest of his has made me smile all week because of the oddity of it.  This week I have found him in his crib with his arms either wiggled out of his jammies or completely shirtless if the wardrobe was right.      

At that moment I sensed God smiling BIG!  “Do you see how you look at him and smile and laugh and think his silly behavior is both cute and funny—Julie, goofy girl, I think the same about you!  Keep going, just be yourself…you are my beloved goofy-girl!”

That’s it!  I am a goofy girl, and sometimes my husband lovingly tells me just that when I do something odd or silly or weird.  (Hmmm… the words we speak have later impact on another, realizing that God used my husband’s kind response to speak to me months-years later…)

God affectionately was telling me relax-chill out, talk nicer to yourself when you mess up!  And the thing is, I know God doesn’t just say this about me.  He says it about you too—yes, you are a goofy girl too!

I love chatting with other girlfriends and talking about how God has been stirring in their hearts and moving them to new places.  Just this weekend I chatted with girlfriends and heard about their busy week and what God was doing in and through them even though life was busy.  

I do believe, that by sharing our experiences,  we inspire others and we just might make someone else giggle with our stories.

This week when I mess up, rather than get into a funk of emotions, I am going to remember these affectionate words about me, “goofy girl,”and then move on! 

What about you?

Don’t you just want to wiggle yourself out of that bad attitude like my son wiggled himself out of his shirt—let’s make each other giggle, share our experiences and just talk nicer to ourselves! 

So, how can you relate, goofy girl?
Please share your thoughts below and connect with other goofy girls on my blog, Girlfriendit, and my FB page. BRING ON THE GIGGLES!