Posted in Experiences, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Prayers, Questions to Ponder, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Seasons…Part of Living

today, tomorrow & every day  – THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.        Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Here are my continued thoughts on this amazing book I received as a gift.

“Things really changed,” she said, “when I started to be more generous to myself.”

“I began to try to live like a tree,” she said…

“Who understand that life is filled with seasons and each one has its worth.                                                                        I stopped fearing the leaves falling away, the bare branches.                                                                                                         I understood that spring would come, that summer would come, that it was all a part of my living.”

Seasons.  I love the four seasons where I live! When the seasons change, so does life around us. We do things differently.  Some seasons are more enjoyable than others.  For me, winter is my least favorite.  The sun does not shine as much and it’s cold. It takes more work to be outside.  Occasionally I’m fearful of driving in winter weather.  The lack of sunshine can cause some seasonal affective issues.  We muddle through it and wait for spring.

Seasons of life are much the same.  We experience things that change as time goes on.

Some seasons are wonderful! When relationships are thriving…life is good.  When our job is going well… .life is good.  When our health is strong… life is good.

At times we go through seasons that are not so wonderful.  Troubled relationships… job stress or unemployment… health issues.

When in a season of struggle, I used to pray for it to be over or not happen at all.  Over time I’ve learned to lean into the struggle and ride the wave…waiting for the Lord to show His presence.  He never told us life would be easy, but He did tell us that He would be alongside us or holding us tight.  It took some really difficult seasons for me to learn this.  I’ve learned to praise Him in the storm.

Be still and know that I am God… my favorite Psalm.  It’s being still in winter and finding the joy of the season I like the least. When things are tough, I’ve experienced great peace while life is crumbling around me.  Pressing in to the Lord helps get us through the difficult time and ushers us into the next season.

I’ll be honest.  I’ve never had a difficult season that has lasted for great lengths of time.  I’ve known people that permanently live in struggle… at least in my perception.  They’ve learned to stop fearing the struggle and find the joys. In a sense, they move in and out of joy and struggles in one day.

Seasons come and seasons go… that is all part of our lives.  I want to be like that tree that stands tall and still as the seasons move around me. I want to be strong, even when I feel weak. I want to be full of life, even when I might be empty. I want to be more generous with myself… even when it’s difficult.

Posted in Circle of Life, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Prayer, Questions to Ponder, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

today, tomorrow & every day…

I recently received a very beautiful book from a friend.

today, tomorrow & every day                                                                                                                      THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.                                                 Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Aside from the powerful content of the writing, the book itself is beautiful, filled with illustrations and photographs.  It is put together in the most amazing way visually.  I read the words on the pages and was brought to tears.  This book is speaking to the very place I am in my life and the direction I am heading.

I decided to share it with you… a little bit at a time accompanied by my personal reflections.  You will get to experience the words, but will have to envision the pictures as your heart and mind see them.

It starts like this…

One day she stepped back and took a look at her life.                                                                                        A long, close look. As though it were a city she loved and she was flying high above it,                         so high that she could see the whole thing. 

And she realized something:                                                                                                                                   She liked what she saw.                                                                                                                                           She liked where she had been.                                                                                                                                     She liked where she was going. 

When I read these first two pages, I paused and didn’t really want to turn the page.  These words were rich and powerful. I closed my eyes and imagined looking at my life.  I was overwhelmed. My mind went to more negative thoughts at first, but I was able to change my perspective. I “flew higher” and looked at the whole big picture. I was not completely sold on “liking” what I saw… thus the negative perspective. I realized that I have some work to do! I want to like what I see.  I want to like where I’ve been. And I really want to like where I’m going.

And so the journey began!  I didn’t realize until I opened the pages of this book that I am right here on this journey… at age 53, longing to live a brave and real and gorgeous life… today, tomorrow and every day.  I don’t want to wish away days until something better comes along or changes. I want to be real and courageous today!  I want to live out this life well.

As I unravel years and look closely at my life, I hope by the end I WILL like what I see, where I’ve been and where I’m going. This journey won’t be possible without Jesus, my family and amazing friends.  I have all of those and I’m blessed.

Come along on this journey with me and begin today by stepping back and taking a look at your life.  What do you see?  Do you like it?

Posted in Gifts, Grace, Growth, Humor, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., My Journey, Prayers, Questions to Ponder, Random Saturday, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Entering the Throne Room…

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”    -Psalm 5:3

It’s so easy… yet so hard. I’m up early before leaving for work. I can’t just get up and go.  I need time to prepare for the day. I need coffee and quiet time. I’ve got all of the tools necessary. Quiet and comfortable location (several options), coffee, journal and favorite pen, bible (several) and time.

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GO!

Good morning, Lord…

Suddenly a million distractions come my way.

Oh wait! I need to find a good worship song (on my iPad!).

Now that scripture would be great to put on a photograph… and then I can put it on Instagram!

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Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has commented on the one I put on yesterday?  I’ll just check real quick…

Oh ya, my bible plan… back to business. 

Lord, thank you for this new day. Please give me strength to get through this day and…

Wait! What time is it?  Shoot, I need to be in the shower in 5 minutes! 

I wonder if anyone commented on the photo album I put on FB last night?  I’ll just do a quick check before jumping in the shower!

And that it how it plays out more mornings than I care to admit.  To quote a great movie, “Squirrel!” 

Some mornings are much better and my time is spent indulging in the sacredness of my Heavenly Papa.

While I’m confessing my innate ability to botch my morning quiet time with Jesus, some mornings don’t have any quiet time at all, although that is rare. I’ve tried to exercise first thing and that has been a disaster! I’ll save that for later in the day… if I get to it!  Oh my, that is another blog for another day!

The other evening I was reading Abba’s Child  by Brennan Manning. In the summer of 1992 he spent time alone in a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without TV, radio or any reading material. After reading about his experience I began to ponder what that would be like.  Time alone with God with nothing else. No distractions but our own demons that keep us from that sweet time with the Lord. How long would it take before I could truly “be still and know”? (Psalm 46:10)

I wonder what I’m missing by letting the things of the world get in my way? What sacred indulgence does God have for me that I’ve missed because I’m too busy getting my sanctuary ready to be with Him?

What am I afraid of? Why is it difficult to go to the throne room without my coffee and journal and bible (AKA my iPad full of distractions)…?

Lord,   Show me how to simply come before You and be in Your presence… uninterrupted so that I may partake of Your sacred indulgences awaiting me.   In Jesus’ name… let it be done, let it be so…

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Posted in 28 Days, exercise, Grace, Health, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Prayers, Questions to Ponder, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

It’s Not a Sprint…

As I continue down this path to better health, I’m learning more and more about myself each day.  Today I ventured out on another walk by myself.  I’m rather enjoying these solo treks as they give me time to breathe, process, let go, pray and just BE.  I decided to head to the high school and walk the track on this sunny day, knowing the entire track would be in the bright sunshine!  I have a routine. First I begin in lane one and each time I loop around I switch to another lane working my way to lane 8.  Walking alone gives me “think time.”

Today I had a huge revelation about myself and why I chose to go to the track and not walk the neighborhoods.  The track is predictable.  I know where I am, where I’m going and how to get home.  When I walk the neighborhoods, I am not always sure where I am.  I get caught up in looking at yards and houses, allowing my mind to get distracted by those things.  On the track, I don’t have to think about where I am or where I’m going.  Being that this whole exercise thing is something I’m learning to like, it felt good to have a little control of the situation.  I like things to be planned out and predictable.  I wish I were more spontaneous and daring.  I love the comfort of the track.

Today there were three high school girls there with a track coach.  They were warming up and then moved to the other side of the track and were working on starts for their sprints.  They were coming out of those starting blocks very quickly.  I tried to steer clear of their work while still keeping to my 1-8 lane progression!  As I watched them come up out of those blocks quickly, I realized something else about my journey.  This journey is not a sprint.  I can’t think that I can do everything fast and furious to get quick results.  I did not get fat overnight and I won’t change overnight.

Today is Day 15 and I was very discouraged over the weekend.  I don’t look different at all.  I feel better, but nothing has changed as far as my body.  Another mindset that I need to let go of.  Just because I have done good things for a few weeks does not mean I’m good to go and a changed woman!  Past failures can be linked to this very mindset flaw.  I’m in this for the long haul, not for a short sprint.  I am changing old habits and old belief systems.  First and foremost, my goal is better health so I can live my remaining days on this earth active and able to fulfill God’s calling on my life.  I want to feel good each day as I get out of bed and have energy to attack the day!  I want to be fit for the day when we have grandchildren!  It is not going to happen overnight.  It’s a daily decision I make to love myself enough to make good choices and afford myself the time to take care of ME.

My initial goal was February.  I can do anything for 28 days.  After that I was not sure what I would do, because deep down I thought that in those 28 days my life would be transformed and I would be “normal.”   I’m still looking to the end of February to celebrate the initial goal I set, but I know that I like this and want to continue into the rest of my days!  I’ve now set another goal for my 52nd birthday and I honestly think I can get there!  Funny thing about it is that it’s going to take time and energy and work… all things that I have to do.  No one can do them for me.  I have to love myself enough to make it work!  My biggest supporter, God, has assured me that He will never let go of me or my dream.  Together… we’ve got this!

So, today I celebrate 14 days of healthy eating and close to 20 miles of walking!  It feels great!  I’m encouraged!  I hope you are encouraged if you need that today.  If I can do this… so can you!  If you are doubting that you can make changes in an area of your life, invite God to join you and love yourself enough to try it today!  One foot in front of the other!  

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Posted in Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Questions to Ponder, Struggles, The Journey

Beautiful…

What defines beauty?

What qualities deem one beautiful?

Recently on FB, there is a game (for lack of a better term) going around.  If you are tagged, you are asked to post five photo’s of yourself in which you feel beautiful.  I have only seen a few people take on the challenge.  Is that because it is new and not challenged many women yet?  Or is it because women don’t feel deserving of posting photo’s in which they feel beautiful?

What makes a person beautiful?  Money?  Status?  Fame?  Hair color?  Character?  Size?

I posed a question to my FB friends recently. What do you think of when you hear the word beautiful in regards to a person? What is your definition of beautiful? Be honest! Go!

I received many replies, and for that I am grateful.  I wish I could post them all.  Here are a few of what people shared…

Fruits of the Spirit, love, joy , peace, patience, gentleness, self-control, all wrapped in a package of thankfulness. A beautiful person is born from times of trial that forge and season their hearts.

It radiates from the inside out. Someone who is beautiful, smiles and makes you smile, just because you are inspired through them. You can feel their beauty, not just see it.

I believe a beautiful person has all these qualities, but doesn’t “know” it; humble and selfless, gives to others even when they don’t have anything to give but a smile and their love.

Balanced in care for others and self. Gentle in spirit.

Someone, who even in the midst of ugliness and pain, manages to shine!

Someone who has joy in their life. It shows from the inside out!

I noticed as I read each person’s reply, that no one really made it about physical appearance.  It was about character and heart and attitude.  Yet, our society has made it all about appearance.

Our poor teens don’t stand a chance.  I have two stunningly beautiful step daughters… absolutely gorgeous.  Both of them struggle with being pretty enough.  They embody physical beauty associated with appearance.  Our world has made it very difficult. Beauty is about size, shape, hair color, skin tone, clothing, money/status… must I go on?  This breaks my heart.  We have a generation growing up that has missed the part about  “beauty forged from times of trial.”  Or “balanced in care for others and self.”  This generation does not think of others.  They’ve been trained to look out for number one!  And being beautiful is on the top of the list.

I know in my head that beauty is not about physical appearance.  Yes, there are people out there that are truly “beautiful” in a physical sense.  Our eyes are drawn to them.  We often compare ourselves to them, whether we know it or not.

While I KNOW that beauty goes beyond physical, I don’t always believe it for myself.  For others, absolutely!  I can see beauty in each one of you!  I can convince you that you are THE MOST beautiful person out there!  But when I turn the tables and see myself in that mirror, all that I know about what truly makes one beautiful goes out the window!

Am I going to be chosen for a cover spot on a magazine?  NO!  Do I turn heads as I walk down the street!  Oh gracious no!  Will I make the list for the most beautiful people?  Mum, NO!  Thank goodness!

I KNOW that my beauty comes from deep within and it was given to me and is nurtured by my heavenly Father.  I am infinitely precious to Him.  How very much He loves me.  He is with me.  He has cried tears and rejoiced with me.  I am worth it to Him.  I am beautiful.

Now to get my head and my heart to agree on this issue!  I am going to find five photo’s that I feel beautiful in.  I don’t plan on sharing them, but it is a challenge I want to take on.  I’ve got layer upon layer of issues in my life that coupled with the word beautiful, cause great agony and heartache.  I’ve got a long way to go.

My beloved spoke and said to me, arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.        (Song of Solomon 2:10)

Posted in Gratitude Friday, Hope, life happens..., Prayers, Questions to Ponder, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Surprise!

Have you ever been heading down the road in one direction feeling fairly confident that you are on the right track, when suddenly your direction changes? Questions arise in your mind…

Why?

What now?

Really?

Life is funny that way. When I think I’ve got it all figured out and feel confident that I’m tuned in to God’s plan for me…that’s when the direction changes. I’ve seen it happen over and over in my life. Why does it surprise me every time?

Sometimes the road changes to a smoother road; easier to travel on.  Surprise!  Other times the road seems worn down and more difficult to travel.  The ruts seem deeper and I have to slow down. The operative word is ‘seem.’ My perception is that it’s more difficult and I will struggle more now than before.  Surprise!

After hitting a huge pot hole and being jarred a bit, the next stretch is smoother.  And the view… oh, how the view on this short stretch is breath taking.  Well, there’s a surprise!

The road is full of hills – some steep and scary while others are gentle and easy to climb. They make the journey difficult and exciting at the same time.  Then there are the straight stretches that seem to go on and on forever with nothing new or different.  It’s on those that I tend to fall asleep and lose sight of the journey I am on.

Then I round that corner and the road opens up to magnificent scenery all around me.  Eyes open wide, my senses are now more alive than ever.  I’m seeing life from a totally new vantage point.  Surprise!

Everyone is on a road leading to somewhere.  That somewhere we don’t really know.  I’d like to think my trip tic is all planned and I’m ready for whatever turn in the road God brings.  Nope. Not so much. Two weeks ago I wrote about all the amazing things that I felt God was opening up for me in the months to come.  Excited for the challenges He was putting in my path.  As I wrote, I had an idea of a few, but felt that stirring in my soul that there was more.  The road I was on was smooth (at that moment!) and the scenery was grand!

Hopeful!  I was feeling so hopeful! Almost giddy!  An emotion I had not felt in some time.  Little did I know that just around the bend was a road I’ve never traveled before.  A road full of ruts and hills and challenges.  A road with amazingly beautiful scenery and then stretches that are long and mundane.  A road that is forcing me to keep my eyes forward and not stray.

That giddy, hopeful road I was traveling was changed overnight. I thought I had the trip all planned out… excited for the adventures ahead. Now I’m on a different road… a potentially long road, that at times, feels like that long one with no scenery. The past two weeks have been full of hills and ruts, with some beautiful surprises along the way!

I can’t look back… for we all know that get’s us nowhere.  I can’t strain to look too far ahead, for this road does not allow for that!  For now, I’m staying in the moment.  Keeping my eye on the path in front of me. No matter the road that God has me on, He is traveling it with me. He encourages me along the way – slowing me down… speeding me up…gently steering me around dangerous potholes… surprising me along the way!

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Posted in Healing, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Miracles, Prayers, Questions to Ponder, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Everyday Miracles…

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” …

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). (John 20:1-16 NIV)

Miracle of all miracles.  Mary’s son beat death.  No one would have imagined it as they watched him die an agonizing death on the cross two days earlier.  The tomb was empty.  Lives forever changed.  He conquered death for us.

Many people believe that miracles only happened in the bible.  You only read about that stuff. Not today. Not now.

What miracles are happening around us each day that we don’t recognize because they are not grand and glorious like raising someone from the dead?  Are we blind to them?  Our minds and eyes perceive them as small, yet they are not.  No miracle is small.  When God does the miraculous, it’s huge.

Springtime blooming after a long, cold winter.  New life budding on the tree limbs more and more each day.  Opening up and ready to grow and flourish. A little girl coming home to her daddy. Turning from struggles and asking for help.  Wanting to change, grow and flourish… much like that spring bloom.

Miracles. I can see God’s handprint and I’m in awe. Overwhelmed. Waiting in great anticipation for what is next.

On this Resurrection Sunday my hands are open wide and my heart is yearning for more of God’s miracles.  Miracles in the ordinary things of our lives.  Turning the secular into the sacred.  Opening my heart and mind to see more of what is going on around me.  Searching for miracles. Expecting miracles.

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