Character

In Sunday school, our teacher shared that he had read there are three things that can tell you a lot about a person’s character…

1. What makes a person laugh?

2. What makes a person angry?

3. What makes a person cry?

Those are questions that have me thinking about myself. What about you?

One of my catch phrases that I   am known for telling my family when having to do something they don’t like is this…it builds character.

In Romans 5:3-4, it says…we glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character, hope.

Can we truly experience hope without having experienced suffering?

Think back on some of your most challenging times. These may just very well have also been some of your greatest moments of Hope and Blessings.

Hope even in the smallest dose is still hope.

The smallest step is still a step.

Character is built of the stuff in us that refuses to give up and keeps pushing forward.

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Breathing through the Clutter

Clutter. 

This past Sunday, I came home from church and looked around at the current situation of my downstairs. From the busyness of our lives, everything had become cluttered. Nothing was in its place.

My life had been feeling a bit cluttered, too. I was spiraling from feeling as though things were out of place.

With the “voluntold” help of my husband and son, we spent hours decluttering and organizing our downstairs that day. An unwanted chair that had become my son’s dumping station for school stuff was taken to Goodwill. An old couch was placed on a Facebook garage sale group and sold. We picked up, we pitched, we organized. 

The minimalist look of my front room, my reorganized laundry area, and my scaled down living room have left me with breathing space.

I needed to declutter.

I needed some whitespace.

Life gets like this. 

Sometimes, we need to declutter the distractions around us and quiet the noise. We need to evaluate all the things that compete for our time and decide what really matters to us.

Sometimes, we have to say no to something so that we can say yes to something else. Sometimes we need to strip down our lives to the essential things that matter most.

We have to fight through the noise of the clutter so we can catch our breath.

This morning, I sit in my living room. The hum of a light is my only noise. I savor these moments before I must begin the day. 

A life uncluttered, focused on those things most dear to my heart, Christ as the foundation…that is the life I seek.

What “clutter” in your life might you be able to declutter so that you can see more clearly and catch your breath?

Saying No is Uncomfortable but Necessary

I sit this morning in the coffee shop welcoming just a few more minutes of lingered time before I leave to conquer my day…. caffeinated. Today, I chose the largest size of coffee because well, it’s just that kind of day.

This morning began early with a phone call. This phone call presented me with the opportunity to be anxious or to trust. I am continuing to learn to trust.

Last night, I experienced the tug of war within myself. It is so easy to slip back into anxiety. There is something oddly comforting about anxiety because it has been a familiar companion much of my life. It is a battle within to  tell myself I am not doing anxiety, that I am surrendering it all to God to trust Him. 

When anxiety wants to strike, I remember all the times God has protected me and walked with me through this journey. I listen to music, I pray, and I breathe calmly. I cling to the belief that my God is greater than anxiety. 

Still, saying “no” to anxiety is uncomfortable. It should be freeing, but it is a struggle of retraining my mind to think and respond differently. I am making progress, but it is a journey. It is uncomfortable but necessary.

Growth is painful but exciting. One breath at a time.

Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. In one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs Oh My Soul… there’s a place where fear has to face the God you know.  I find that encouraging.

God is greater than anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety, what encourages you?

A Quieted Spirit

Aww…much needed time away. I am spending my birthday weekend with my husband on a little getaway from home. I am presently enjoying this view from my window seat in our hotel. 

As I listen to the water flowing, rather rapidly due to all the recent rainfall here, I am appreciating this time to quiet my soul. I have shared with you about my struggle with fear and anxiety. Last weekend, my friend made me this beautiful photo book filled with Scripture to calm my anxious thoughts. On the cover, was this verse Zephaniah 3:17….the Lord will quiet you with His love.

My mind is often not quiet. I attended a marriage retreat with my husband a few months ago where the speaker talked about a female’s mind running as though there are multiple apps going at the same time. Yup, that’s me. There is the work app, the fear app, the things I need to do for my kids app, the did a tornado hit this house while I was at work app, my dog needs more insulin from the vet app, did I really forget toilet paper from the grocery store app…you get the picture. My mind is seldom calm.

The past several months, my mind has been and continues to be opened to truths about myself. Things like worry, fear, and anxiety…I am beginning to understand where they come from and the depth of their control in my life. God is placing people in my life and situations to allow me to work through these. Thankfully, He is a patient and loving Father. 

I believe that once you open your heart to God and are willing to be vulnerable to Him, He will work in your life. Growth takes time and involves your willingness to be vulnerable, transparent, and open to what He is trying to say to you through situations and others.

As a co-worker apologized to me this week for something, she said this… truly being sorry requires a change in behavior. I am going to change my behavior.  Such truth rests in her words. A change in behavior also includes a change in thinking.

When I feel my mind begin to race with the “what ifs” and the “should haves,” then I need to quiet my mind.

One way I am trying to change my thinking is this….growth is not painful but rather exciting. Growth over time increases our faith and brings us one step closer to who we desire to be as disciples of Christ. Instead of me working so hard to change me, I am realizing I need to pray, listen, and trust God for His guidance in this…one step at a time, one thought at a time. I am learning to believe a quieted mind despite life’s craziness is possible. 

What Scriptures help quiet your mind?

Comfort in the Uncomfortable

What does it mean to be comfortable to you?

 Comfort is a warm fuzzy blanket, a book in my hand, a warm mug of coffee or tea, and a quiet house.


Of course, those cherished moments are just that, cherished moments. To be comfortable​ in the day to day existence…What does that look like?
I told a friend once that I don’t think God wants us to be comfortable for too long. During that particular time in my life, I had just left a long-time job to try something new. This “new” was different and very uncomfortable.

I believe it is during these challenging periods of life that we experience the most growth. I realized that even when my job was hard, I could find something to be grateful for. Believe me, I’m definitely not trying to sugar coat anything or be “Pollyanna” about this…Some days finding something good in a difficult day was, well, hard.

Some days may be like a typical dinner conversation with our son…

Me: “Jay-R, how was school? What was the best thing that happened today?”

My son, with a smile on his face as he gets ready to take a bite of food, “It ended.”

 Maybe some days​, you are grateful to have just made it through yet another day. 


My prayer into work has become a prayer of “God I have no idea what I might face today, but I say yes to whatever comes my way because I know You will be right there with me.”
Greater trust. Overcoming anxiety one moment at a time. Glimpses into what really matters to me in my life. All lessons in the uncomfortable.

Yesterday morning I read this in my In Touch devotional by Charles Stanley…“We must accept that God’s priority for us is transformation into Christ’s image and not necessarily comfortable circumstances.”

Paul shares in Philippines 4:11…

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 

Times of plenty, times of less. Times of sickness, times of health. Times of comfortable, times of uncomfortable.

Finding comfort in the uncomfortable….Perhaps this is on my mind so much as I reflect on the message of Easter. Christ endured the greatest “uncomfortable” for me, for you, for us. He was ostracized, ridiculed, beaten, mocked, and hung to die a pain staking death. Why? So that we can live a life full of His grace, His love, His mercy, His peace, and His hope.

Is comfort possible in the uncomfortable?

I think it is when our hearts are open to what He is wanting to whisper into our souls. 

My friend, all things are possible through Him.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

How about you…Where has God spoken​ to you in the uncomfortable?

Bridges

I like crossing bridges. Usually. I have this one memory of crossing a very narrow wire bridge at a mountain area with my husband shaking the bridge. The height combined with the shaking…not my favorite moment. He realized quickly how much I hate heights and feeling unsteady!!

For the most part, though, I love bridges. When we hike, we know if we cross a bridge, something awaits us on the other side. Sometimes, it is a beautiful waterfall. Other times, it is simply crossing to the other side to continue our journey into the woods. Usually driving over bridges involves passing over a body of water.

Bridges also have symbolic meaning to me. Right now, I feel like I am experiencing a bridge in my life. I am growing spiritually, professionally, and personally. I am reflecting and evaluating what I desire from life.
Bridges are ….

  • The only way to reach the other side. Literally, if you are crossing a bridge over the ocean to an island, you must drive your car over the bridge. Figuratively, if you have a goal or dream, you must be willing to take steps of faith to cross the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Bridges are transitions in life. I am not the same person I was a year ago. Where I am right now in life is opening my eyes and heart to where I want to journey and that looks very different than what it did a year ago. 
  • Bridges are hopeful places. I am learning a lot about myself. I am stronger than I thought I was. I am learning to trust God deeper. If I can get over this bridge, no matter how long it is, I can persevere to my dreams. The crossing over the uncertain waters can be scary, but if I keep my eyes on God, I feel hopeful.

If you aren’t exactly where you had hoped to be at this point in life, maybe where you are is the bridge to where you desire to be. You may need time to stop and reflect, but don’t get stuck in disappointment. Keep moving forward.

I encourage you to read Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. It is a 40 day prayer challenge. This book is helping me to see prayer in a renewed, powerful sense and giving me courage to pray myself forward on this bridge trusting God to lead me.
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4 NKJV

Slow Down

It was Saturday night, and I had the rare occasion of an officially declared date night with my husband. We were both determined to do something more than just grocery shopping. Lol…The married life. 

I am happy to say that we took advantage of the nice weather and went for a walk in one of the city metroparks. Some of the trails were closed due to high water, so we ended up on multiple trails to piece together our walk. My husband told me at one point…You don’t have to walk so fast….

Walking fast…. That’s just what I do. I have the reputation at work of walking fast and with purpose. What do you think I saw just a few short minutes later into our walk after he told me that??

Slow. 
And that is definitely a message God wants me to embrace. Slow down….And breathe, and wait, and embrace, and pause, and the list goes on. Just slow down.

Prayer is about communication with God and trusting He is listening. With this comes trusting in His timing. So often, I want an answer soon….Like yesterday. I know that I am not alone in wishing for quicker response to prayer especially in the middle of hard things.

God’s way might feel like the slow way, but He is working things out for our good, moving mountains, orchestrating the pieces, and speaking truths we need to hear along the way if we will listen.

Slow also applies to simply slowing down and not flying through life. Sure, we are all busy, but the older I get, I find myself wanting life to slow down. I don’t want to miss moments. There are opportunities to laugh, to reflect, to share coffee with a friend, to linger over a bridge during a walk, and to notice the flowers beginning to bloom.

My point is….Slow Down and enjoy life. Nichole Nordeman has a song titled Slow Down. While the song is about children growing up too fast and was the accompanying song to my many tears during the time of my daughter’s graduation, it captures the essence of living life a little slower and more intentional.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31 NIV
 If the Bible mentions the need to get away from the busyness for quiet and rest, then I think that slowing down is something God wants for us, too.

Reflect on your week…Can you think of a simple way you took time to slow down or a way you can in the week to come or even today? For me…Lingering over the bridge at the metropark enjoying the sound of moving water even if it was brown in color offered a moment of intentionally slowing down.

Have a great week!!