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. 

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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?


Running on Empty

“Oops.” 

I looked down to see the gas gauge of my Jeep much lower than I realized. 

I took my son to school and then decided how much to press my luck before stopping for gas. I prayed that I would not run out of gas, but I also realized that it was within my power to stop before that happened. I exited the turnpike an exit earlier than normal and began to pray. 

Thankfully, I made it. My morning adventure of almost running out of gas parallels too much to my life at the moment.

You know it is a rough day when five people through the course of the day ask you if you are okay. That was the day before. Tired. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Life feeling a bit overcommitted.

Simply stated, I had let myself run too close to empty. Like the warning light in my Jeep, the warning signs were there. I needed a time out. I needed sleep. I needed some whitespace in my life.

God always provides. He poured into me through people He has placed  in my life who care about me.

Running low on fuel often catches us off guard. We go, go, go, and wonder why we feel like collapsing.

Situations like these are great opportunities to take a time out and step back to re-evaluate what we need to surrender to God. If we are honest with ourselves, there are probably areas we are trying to control which we can’t which sets us up for running out of fuel. 

This morning, as I read from Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson….We tend to view the goal as the goal; but in God’s economy, the process is the goal. It’s not about what we’re doing at all. It’s about who we’re becoming in the process. Page 207

That means sometimes it takes a reality check of running low on fuel to step back, catch our breath, regroup, and consider the process. In our moments of weakness, He is our strength. 

Where are you running low on fuel? God is the greatest source of energy.

Never Alone…

Yesterday morning as I sipped much needed coffee and waited for the rest of my group to arrive, I did one of my favorite things-people watching. 

People in for their morning jolt of caffeinated energy. Men in business suits. One man who I overheard sharing with his friend that his wife was mad at him. A nurse grabbing food before her long day. 

All this hustle and bustle in and out, so few able to take time to leisurely sit down and enjoy their morning. 

Me, taking the luxury to enjoy the few minutes before the rest of my group arrived.

My mind wandered to many thoughts, one being the culprit cause of my recent sleeping challenges.

Anxiety.

What is the root behind anxiety? 

Fear.

Fears of failure, messing up, losing something or someone…and so on. When those fears take root, they grow. They begin to feel so very real. The heavy breathing, the racing heart, waking up in the middle of the night, or not even being able to sleep at all.

Been there, done that.

Why do so many of us allow fear to consume us?

We live in a world filled with so much uncertainty. The one thing that remains the constant is Christ. He is our Provider, and our Protector. He loves us so much.

I attended Day 1 of the Global Leadership Summit yesterday. As I listened to these great leaders, I was reminded of so many important things. Failure is not always a bad thing. The willingness to be vulnerable can be a catalyst for success. Change hows into wows.

What was reinforced for me is the importance of connection, transparency, and openness. Great leaders are humble and learn from mistakes. They nurture and bulid up others.

They don’t rest in anxious thoughts.

What fears do you have? I hear so many people share that they struggle with anxiety. Understanding our fears and the reasons behind them is powerful. It helps open our hearts to true change.

I want to be a leader whose eyes are open to my growth opportunities.

The most reassuring thing of all? Life is far from perfect, but we are never alone. When anxiety sets in, He is right there to meet us where we are and carry us through.

I am looking forward to Day 2 of the Global Leadership Summit. To learn more, check out…Global Leadership Summit