A Road Less Traveled

A bridge construction project blocked off a major road forcing me to choose an alternative route along a path seldom traveled. As I drove, rows of purple and yellow flowers classified as weeds by many lined the road. As the sun shone and illuminated their colors, and they swayed in the gentle wind, I reflected on the beauty in perspective. 

Often times those things in life which are difficult create beautiful growth in our lives. It’s all a matter of perspective. 

I had coffee with someone this morning who I had met while working in a difficult job situation. God allowed our paths to cross and continues to use our connection for His good. This country drive with the rural flowers was on my way to a funeral visitation. While there, God reminded me that He is using me to touch lives.

My stomach issues…the reason I started this blog…have been used to connect me to others in my life.

Even my anxiety has been used for His good as I continue to grow and work through things in my life.

Sometimes, life doesn’t always take us the way we intended, but a road less traveled may have blessings along the way.

God, grow me…

I should have anticipated this might be a hard week. I should have expected it would not be easy. As I struggled and wrestled through some difficult issues last weekend, I found myself at the one place I know can make all the difference…on my knees.

I prayed through these situations last Saturday in the quiet of my home. I felt uncertainty. I felt like a failure. The tears flowed freely as I prayed, “God grow me.”

I kept praying through the weekend and as the week started. I prayed. I’m​ not going to sugar coat this…it wasn’t easy. The anxiety was at an all time high. I woke up in the middle of the night with anxiety. I have learned, though, what to do when the anxiety strikes. I pray through Philippians 4:6-7. It helps the breathing to calm so I can I sleep and so the dark clouds of doubt do not overshadow peace.

As I worked through the issues, God was there. In the midst of my anxiety, He was there. Anxiety tries to tell you the worse thing possible. It tries to blind you from all the positive things around you. I know. I have lived in the land of anxiety.

This time, I decided I would not stay in that land. I would pray through the anxiety. I would take ownership. I would share my reflections, my ah-ha moment with someone. I did. God extended His grace. God answered my prayers​ and continues to answer my prayers…God, grow me.

What does it mean to be a better person? People say this a lot…but what does it mean? To be a Godly leader, a good mom and wife, and a loyal friend…so much truth is found in Proverbs. 
For me, this concept of being a “better person” is grounded in “God, grow me.” It is being open to His teaching, His loving discipline, and His revelation of areas in my life where I need developed and refined.

I told my amazing leader that growth is painful. She provided a much different perspective for me in her response…”Growth is exciting.”

She’s right, so right. 

Tonight, something I saw something on Facebook related to my issues from this past week triggered an anxiety attack. I wasn’t staying there. I prayed. My friend prayed for me. I went for a walk. I filled my soul with life breathing words of truth through the music flowing from my headphones to my ears to my heart.

Yes, God’s grace is so sweet. Dear friend, don’t give up. Stay the course. Stay very, very close to Him. And don’t be afraid of growth…it is so exciting. It may seem slow. It may be subtle. If God is in the midst of it, it is worth celebrating!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5 NLT
You see, when God gives a grace gift and issues a call to a people, He does not change His mind and take it back. Romans 11:29

Learning to Relax

You would think that relaxing would be something easy to do, right? Not so much for me. I am learning to relax. I can relate so much to Martha in the Bible. In Luke 10:38-42, Martha was busy with all the work as her sister sat attentive and focused at the Lord’s feet.

Martha missed what was truly important at that moment.

I am so much more like Martha than Mary.  My son wants to watch TV with me, but I feel the need to be doing something while watching. Dinner cooking? Why not load the dishwasher? It is so hard for me to be present. 

I work in senior care, and one thing I have learned from older adults living with dementia…you learn to live in the moment. They have been great teachers to me.

I tend to wake up early even after a short night of sleep. I can relax best in the morning quiet. I love the ocean, the mountains, the lake…they all help me relax. I know I need to learn to relax where I am. Resting is important for my well-being.

I also want to be attentive with my friends. I want to be present for my family. I want to learn to relax. I don’t want to miss moments at the Lord’s feet. These moments are present every single day. 

God is with us. Rest and relaxation are okay. In fact, they are needed to replenish our tired souls.

The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

How do you relax? Am I the only one who struggles with being able to relax?

Walking Thoughts

Sometimes, a walk answers the questions. Sometimes all it seems to take is a few moments in nature to still your mind and heart.

When I am a mess of emotions and need to process everything I am feeling, I usually do one of two things…Walk/run or write.
February weather has been amazing in my corner of the world, so I have been walking a lot. It is so great to see neighbors who have been cooped up inside out and about, too.

Last night as my feet hit the pavement during a run, I relished the freedom to be lost in my world. 
My life is sprinkled with uncertainty right now. I definitely have made strides in my anxiety journey. I am not stressing over all the what ifs, but rather just praying and hanging along for the ride. God has placed some amazing supportive people in my path. I am certainly not alone.

Sometimes, though, being alone surrounded by God’s creation is exactly what I need to remind me that I am not alone on my journey. For me, walking or running and writing are my moments of comfort and strength.

What brings you comfort and strength?

Pondering the Season

One week until Christmas. 

Is your shopping done? Cookies baked? Wrapping completed? Parties to attend yet?

In the hustle and bustle of the season, it can become so easy to get wrapped up in all the “stuff”that needs done. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed today, I saw a post that included photos of a friend’s children and every single gift they had opened for an early Christmas. These were extravagant presents, and I found something in myself feeling a little…Gee, my kids aren’t getting that much.

There is nothing with presents, cookies, parties, or decorations. The issue with Christmas is that it can become so easy to lose our focus on what matters.

My pastor preached about ordinary people this morning. He quoted Abraham Lincoln…”God must love the common man, He made so many of them.” It was a great reminder that all of us are struggling one way or another in life at some time or another. It reminds me that my kids aren’t going to remember the gifts they received years from now, but they will remember the traditions and time we spent together, the laughter we shared, and the memories we have made.

One of my favorite verses this time of year is…Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

To ponder is to think carefully, reflect, contemplate. To ponder is to intentionally pause and reflect. With everything going on in Mary’s young life surrounding the birth of Jesus, she certainly had a lot to ponder. I visualize her quietly reflecting and praying. 

That single verse is such a powerful reminder to me of the importance to be still and reflective this time of year. In the hustle and bustle of the season, stopping to ponder on God’s grace and peace helps me keep my eyes on the true meaning of the season.

Take a moment to pause and ponder the greatest gift of the season…The birth of a Savior.

Lessons from Children 

Thirteen. My youngest officially crossed the threshold into his teenage years yesterday. Wow. Where has time gone? It seems like just yesterday we were in the Filipino heat at his orphanage eagerly waiting to meet him for the first time.

The other day, one of my co-workers was talking about her children and wishing they were little again. Not me. It’s not that I don’t have moments that I don’t miss the excitement over zoo trips, a sweaty little hand in mine as we cross the street, or cuddling while watching Disney movies because believe me, I do. Yet, I find it so exciting and humbling witnessing my children growing into their own individual person.

Our son was a quiet child, unsure of himself and his place in the world just a few years ago. Now, he is thriving academically and socially. He loves his family. He made the decision to be baptized last summer.

At school conferences this past week, one of his teachers said that our son is teaching him to be a better teacher. It was humbling to hear about our son in the classroom – his interaction with others, his sharing about his adoption, his teachers’ beliefs in his potential. 

Children are such a gift. Whether they are biological or adopted, students, neighborhood children…they are a gift. They need adults who love them and believe in them. I am grateful for the teachers and close adult friends who are positively shaping the lives of my children.

 I am so grateful to a God who did not say no to my prayerful pleas for a baby years ago but rather Wait, I have something far better planned for your family.

My children keep me grounded and focused on what truly matters in this life. 

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.  Angela Schwindt

Sometimes, life is messy, but if we keep our eyes focused on God, He helps us keep our focus on what matters most. Even on the messy days.

31 Days of Gratitude: Promises 

Yesterday morning as I prayed during my hour long commute to work, my heart was heavy. God has been speaking to me about my Christian life walk not being about my performance. 

So much of my life I have been driven to”perform”… all As in school, in my job, in aspects of my life at home…

Yes, faith needs action connected to it, but we do not need to “perform” and prove anything. We are called to serve.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23 

Working for the Lord is serving. When the focus shifts from working for the Lord instead of people, it removes the pressure to people please through our performance.

As I prayed through these reflections yesterday morning, I sensed that it was not going to be an easy morning. 

I exited off the highway towards work and witnessed a moment of awe. I saw a sliver of a bright rainbow. 

God’s promise…the beauty of a rainbow.

It wasn’t raining. The sun was still rising. It was as though He was whispering… I am with you and will walk this journey with you. 

I pulled into the parking lot at work. Not only was a huge rainbow painted across the sky, but the glimmer of a double rainbow as well.

I snapped a picture and headed into work with the hope of His promise. 

It was a very difficult morning, but I sensed God’s presence in the heart of it all.

God never promises our life will be easy, but He does promise to walk the journey with us. 

I am very thankful that I do not have to walk alone. I am grateful for His promise to join me.