He Fills My Cup

Sometimes, it’s a cup of coffee in a cozy local coffee shop amidst the chaos of life and a winter that lingers on forever that fills your soul like a fresh breath of life.

I’ve been quiet on here. Days have felt long, exhausting.

Sometimes, it’s okay to be quiet.

Then, when you least expect it, God fills your empty soul very, very full. He places special people in your life. He allows your soul to be filled at a worship concert with thousands of people.

Sometimes, you just need reminded you are not alone in this world. Your struggles are not unique. He provides those special people who listen, who get your struggles, who just know how to give you the courage to get up and try another day.

This day wasn’t easy. Actually, it was hard. So hard that someone made the comment to me…”You really have had a crappy day.”

“Yeh, I have.”

It didn’t end on that note, though. Another special person poured into my soul.

I step back, see the tapestry of my life. People. They are from all different seasons of my life. Our paths have crossed. Connections.

He fills your cup, your soul. Allows you to connect with those precious safe people who love you for who you are.

May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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Not All is Lost

Sometimes, we lose things.

This past weekend has been challenging for me. I dropped my phone for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately, I cracked my internal screen, and the black screen of death stared back at me. I lost pictures, notes, and other odds and ends stored on that phone.

My wedding ring broke. The band came apart. This is likely from excessive hand sanitizer use in my daily job. I have lost the familiarity of having my ring on my finger until it is fixed.

We lost our freedom temporarily the other day when our Jeep stranded us miles from home. We were at the mercy of others to come rescue us.

Over the past several years, I have lost the ability to eat whatever I choose due to chronic stomach issues and an autoimmune disease.

Yet, sometimes, the things we lose aren’t tangible things we can touch.

What do we do when the things we lose are intangible? When we can’t touch them or easily replace them?

Things like patience, hope, peace…

I have been reading the book of Joshua. In chapter 7, Joshua and his people are defeated. Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the ground. He cries out to the Lord…why have You brought us here to destroy us?

God had called them out of their comfort, but He had also just brought them victory over the battle of Jericho. Oh, how easily we forget God’s miracles and blessings in our life when things seem hopeless.

How did God respond to Joshua?

Joshua chapter 7:10… So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie on your face?”

The chapter goes on to talk about holding people accountable…they have a second chance at the battle…they win and all praise is to God.

How many times have we felt defeated? Hopeless? Exhausted?

The story doesn’t have to end there.

In loss, there is much to gain. Jesus gave up His life so that we may live and live more abundantly.

God is the God of all our days…the good ones, the bad ones, and the really hard ones.

Sometimes, the greatest blessings are found in the times of loss. Sometimes, we have to die to self-our pride, fears, self reliance- in order to discover the blessings of all He has in store for us. Not all is lost.

May He be the God of all your days.

Mysterious Ways

God works in mysterious ways. We hear people say this expression a lot, but sometimes you just have this moment in time when you know without a shadow of a doubt that God’s hand has touched your life.

This little guy is the center stage of one of those moments.

In 2007, our house was fairly quiet with a predictable routine. Our lives were calm with just my husband, daughter, and myself. We were anxiously awaiting the news of an adoption referral. In October of that year, this little white dog wandered into our yard as my husband was mowing. He made the mistake of telling me the pup had no tags, so I opened my front door. The little pup walked in through the door and into my heart. Over the next week, no one claimed him despite our efforts to find his home. My friend suggested the name Franklin since that was the street he was found on. The name fit. 

This little pup affectionately called Franklin turned our house upside down. Franklin’s crazy antics prepared us for our son. He flipped the predictable to the unpredictable. He helped me to be more spontaneous. He reminded me to not take everything so seriously. He prepared me to be a better mom to my son.

Yes, I believe God sent this pup into our lives as a gift to prepare us for the greater gift of our son who joined our family in March 2009.

Through the years, Franklin did crazy thing after crazy thing. He ate non-food items and stole more things off the kitchen counter and table than I can remember. I held that pup like a baby…he was my baby. We nursed him a year ago from a stage 2 wound back to health. Shortly after that, he developed diabetes and we began administering insulin shots twice daily. 

Two days ago, his health took a turn for the worse. We did everything we could for him to make him comfortable and help his situation, but he slipped away the next morning. He is no longer suffering.

My heart is sad. My house is quiet. But, my life has been enriched by the gift of a little white dog who wandered into our lives and into my heart.

God definitely knows what we need when we need it. 

Sometimes, Grace isn’t so easy…

Maybe it’s the rainy day. Or maybe it’s because I am tired and haven’t been sleeping well.

Or maybe sometimes, grace isn’t so easy.

I am writing, reflecting on grace, but here I am right now in this moment finding myself wondering…why is this so hard?

Why is it so hard for me to accept the gift of grace from others? And even more so, why is it so hard for me to extend grace to myself?

I am quiet tonight. Reflective. 

Unexpected grace extended to me when really I wasn’t expecting it. It would have been easier for me to hear…you messed up, you made a mistake, how could you not….you get the idea.

It is so much more difficult for me to receive grace from others than it is for me to extend it.

And extending it to myself? Even more difficult.

It is easy to slip back into the performance perfection based expectations I hold of myself.

This often seems to happen to me as I am in the midst of something bigger than myself.

This morning, I read this: “Here is the great irony about opportunities. They usually come disguised as insurmountable problems.” Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly the place to find grace. Even if it isn’t so easy.

Do you find it hard to accept grace?

We’re Not so Different…

Today, I am tired. It was one of those nights where you just lay there and try to will yourself to sleep.

I pushed through the day. Many of those surrounding me were doing the same thing. It didn’t help that the weather was somber and rainy skies.

Towards the end of the day, I had an interaction with someone which made me realize something. 

We’re not so different.

As I listened to her make a completely irrational statement and follow it with, “I guess that just comes from the anxiety,” I couldn’t help but think, I get it. I get it.

Max Lucado defines fear as something that sees a threat whereas anxiety imagines a threat.

It often takes only one thing to trigger the anxiety before it spirals into a volcano of what ifs.

It’s really not the easiest way to live. 

I know. I’ve been there. And to be honest, every day is a concentrated effort to decide that I will not live like that.

How have I traveled this far to a place where peace comes easier and sooner?

By the grace of God.

Last year, I was just beginning this journey to battle anxiety head on. Click here to learn more.

The past year has definitely been a journey. I have realized that men and women, young and old, rich and not so rich suffer from anxiety.

We’re really not so different.

God meets us where we are and loves us as we are. He is opening my eyes and heart to a willingness to be vulnerable with safe people. 
Anxiety is a journey, but He promises to be with us for the duration of the journey. 

That alone should bring some peace.

And my interaction from earlier? I simply reassured her, smiled at her, and let her know everything in that moment truly was okay. It’s so wonderful that I can now be a source of steady and calm encouragement for others who struggle with anxiety, too.

That is only by the grace of God.

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.

How big is your God?

Recently, I had a conversation with someone who told me that at her age, she was done growing. She did not see any need within herself to continue to grow.

It struck me as very sad and very prideful. I think that when we stop thinking we have opportunities to grow then we resign ourselves to a place of stagnant stuckness. We become stuck with the mindset we are enough. 

Having read Draw the Circle, the 40 Day Prayer Challenge, by Mark Batterson three back to back times, I decided I needed to start something new. My friend bought me another one of Batterson’s books…In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. 

This morning, I read something about growth that really captures the essence of growth…”the more we grow, the bigger God should get. And the bigger God gets, the smaller our lions will become.” Mark Batterson
God is bigger than my fears. God is bigger than the barriers that seem to stand in the way of my dreams. God is bigger than my problems. God is bigger than the people who oppose me. God is bigger than anything or anyone I face.

In the midst of trouble, conflict, or anxiety, do I allow God the Glory to be bigger than all the odds that seem stacked up against me or do I shrink back in fear?

We all face lions in our lives. 

For me, the lion last night was the anxiety that awoke me from my sleep. Taking the advice of a dear friend, I pulled out my Bible and began to read the Psalms. This morning, I praised God for His peace and my ability to fall back asleep last night.

In the book of Joshua in chapter 1, three times in verses 1-9, Joshua is instructed to be strong and courageous. The Lord your God goes wherever you go.

Life is not perfect. There are obstacles out there. Not everyone is kind. Hurricanes are real. Jobs are lost. No, life is not easy, but when you have trusted God with your life, He goes with you. When we trust God with the challenges we face, He presents amazing opportunities for us to grow. If we are open to growing, He will grow us.

How big do you allow God to be in your life?