Things To REJOICE In Today #1

**So I have this annoying tendency to get totally caught up in my head, letting my emotions race. Like an anxiety/depression funk sort of thing. I allow the darkness to exaggerate & magnify “all that’s going wrong in my world”. I’m learning that when these symptoms arise that I gotta STOP & FLIP THE SCRIPT.

Take for example this line of thinking: the kids are driving me crazy– I’ve been yelling a lot.

Stop & Flip the Script: the kids are only revealing the yuck that’s still inside me– they bring my sin to the surface– they sift me– I can now confess & repent of this sin– I need to ask God for sanctification & purity– this isn’t something to get upset about– it’s actually something to give thanks for– it’s good– it’s revealing sin areas that still need to be dealt withI can allow this to change me & make me more Christ-like.

With this new script there’s now new perspective.
It turns the negative into a positive & gets the brain thinking Biblically.

**Today I had the joy of having a (3) hour break from ALL of the kids so I could get my schtuff together at home & paperwork-wise. Y’all… having retired parents is a weird & fantastically awesome thing. I’ve got support & help like I’ve never had before. It’s freakin’ amazing! #incrediblyblessed

**I LOVE my front porch area. It’s simple. It’s clean. It’s beach-y. It’s my happy little respite place where I love to do my devotions, write/blog, have my quiet time, do yoga, and enjoy a drink while people watching. And seriously, how cute is that flamingo wind chime?

**Today’s yoga routine was Yoga With Adriene’s “Joyful”, Day 23 from her “Dedicate” program. Check it out here on YouTube:

**Ran across this fantastic video on Choosing Positivity biblically. Had to share:

**Here’s a couple of houses I’ve recently come across that are super-duper cute. They just make me happy every time I see them:

**I LOVE this song!!!:

#liveawakened #livefullalive #rejoice

Managing Life’s Transitions

This is the first time I’ve ever really stopped to notice this, but:
summer is THE time for transitions and life changes.

I suppose it’s just a good time in general for people because most everyone is on school break, they are available, & are taking vacas, etc. Plus, if there are big moves and changes, it’s nice to take care of it all while the weather’s nice & before school starts back up and cold weather comes.

This summer in particular has been a very crazy wild season of transition for my family and I. Things such as:

*both my father & mother-in-law retiring– with that comes parental presence & availability & help that I’ve never before had (PTL!).
*my oldest daughter has her first boyfriend– new territory for everyone.
*my oldest is now learning to drive– anxiety x10.
*very good friends of ours moved to a lovely new home– BUT it’s on the other side of town/no longer just a couple blocks away/within biking & walking distance.
*a fantastic neighbor of mine & her son (which is one of my son’s best friend’s) is moving out of town– that brings loss & grief & sadness.
*a “difficult” neighbor, who’d abandoned their house for over a year, surprised us with moving back in– that brings frustration.
*our church, which was newly planted in Jan. ’18, got adopted into another church– that brings with it a weird mix of loss and curiosity + change.
*both my husband & I transitioned into “middle age” when we turned 40 in June– said goodbye to our 20’s & 30’s.
*I just noticed our sugar maple has started to change its leaves’ colors. That means Fall is just around the corner and my beloved Summer is coming to an end soon:

I watch other people and they they seem to accept change and transition without much of a hitch. But for me, dude… change is HARD. I really have to work through it, feel through it, journal through it, pray through it. Change is oftentimes overwhelming and frustrating, esp if it’s something completely out of my hands (like friends moving or my church merging). It often brings with it ugly tears & long bouts of being alone to process. Even GOOD change can be difficult for me to wade through. It’s just me, just the way I’m made, it just takes time.

But God… though my world changes and swirls around me… He doesn’t change. These Scriptures have been my anchor this summer:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.
~Hebrews 13:8

For I, the Lord, do not change…
~Malachi 3:6

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.
~James 1:17

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
~Isaiah 40:8

Of old Thou didst found the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.
~Psalm 102:25-27

Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness continues throughout all generations…
~Psalm 119:89-90a

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
~Psalm 33:11

God & His word will never change. We can bank on that, we can rest in that, we can give thanks for that. We can relax and trust that He’s got good plans because He’s a good God and a good Father.

God and His word are our anchor through life’s changes!

Live awakened. Live fully alive. REJOICE.

Rejoice

So I did a thing this summer…

I got a tattoo…

It’s actually my second tatt. My first is on my lower back, right side. It is a cross ✝️ with two roses 🌹🌹 wrapped around it in the shape of a heart ♥️. Got it done during my junior year of college. I’m actually looking into getting it touched up sometime soon, only creatively adding the initials “D” & “F” to the roses to signify the two babies we lost. (Baby “D” was an early miscarriage in July of ’07. The “F” is for Francesca Rose, who was stillborn at 37 weeks on April 9, 2010.)

I’ve been wanting a tatt for years. Just couldn’t decide upon what exactly I wanted. It needed to be important, special, significant. It needed to be something I could see regularly. It needed to represent all things “me” in graphic form. It needed to be something that thrilled my soul/gave me goosebumps when I saw it because of what all it represented.

So to celebrate my 40th birthday 🎂, I got my long-awaited tatt.
And I freakin’ love it!!!
Here it is!

So why is a palm tree 🌴 & the word “rejoice” so dang-ed important to me? Well I’m glad you asked.

*Back when I was in college, I sang in a ladies quartet 🎶🎤 for two years called “Rejoice!”. It was a very interesting & challenging & trying but *fun* time in my life. I learned a lot. I experienced a lot of firsts. I was pushed to do things way outside my comfort zone. I grew. I traveled (a lot) 🚐. I saw some really cool stuff. I met a lot of really cool people. I got to do some really cool things. But one of the most significant aspects was that I learned to “let go” and completely trust God. 👐 See, the internet was not readily available back then (we’re talking ’98-’00)– and it was nowhere near what it is now. We couldn’t just look up churches or camps ahead of time to stalk & scope things out. 🖥️ We were only given a church/camp name, a phone number, and an address. The rest was completely unknown to us. Everything was up in the air. Total flexibility was demanded on our parts. You can sort of plan for stuff– but then again, there was SO MUCH you couldn’t plan for. We couldn’t see what the churches & camps looked like ahead of time. You couldn’t know where things were, who you’d be working with or serving, the layout of the things. You didn’t know the schedules or rules or activities. You didn’t know what you’d be eating. ♨️ You just had to map your way there (with real paper maps! 🗺️), see what’s what when you arrived, make on-the-spot decisions, be flexible, set-up as you could, etc. This “going with the flow”/”we’ll just figure it out when we get there” was some of the HARDEST and yet FUNNEST times of my life. It was my first real taste of “living by faith”. Never before had I needed to trust God like that. It was crazy but it was such a blast. It was maddening and yet freeing all in one breath. Because of my experience with “Rejoice!” I learned how to approach life open-handed and to allow God to orchestrate the events of life. I learned to live and love the adventure that God’s got in store– that is, His plans to prosper me and not to harm me; plans to give me a hope and a future. I discovered that if I chose to live close-minded, white-knuckled, needing to know all the details, needing to be in control of everything… then I would miss out on so much that the Lord has in store. I don’t know about the rest of ya’ll but **I** don’t want to miss a thing! **I** want to live this life fully, this adventure, every aspect of it. **I** want to live a great length of days. **I** want to get to end of the road someday way in the future, look back, and be like “what.a.ride– that.was.awesome! Thank You, Jesus! Let’s now together start the next chapter of this life/life abundant/eternal life that You have in store!” To me, life = adventure. And it all started with that little college quartet called “Rejoice!”.

*Also concerning the word “rejoice”… it has become my life word. No matter what happens (good or bad & everything in-between), no matter the feeling or circumstance, no matter what things look like with our natural human eyes… there is always something in which to rejoice about. Rejoicing is a muscle that needs to be worked each day. We either use it or we lose it. We often hear the phrase: as you age you either get better or bitter. Well, I choose to get “better”. And for me the key to getting “better with age” means I need to be rejoicing always. I’m telling you from experience “bad things” happen even to good people. We live in a fallen world. People die. Accidents happen. Evil people do evil things. Illnesses & disease can just happen. No one is immune. I truly believe that we can pray for supernatural protection so less “bad things” will happen to us. But I also know that in all “bad things” God can and WILL use them for GOOD to those that love Him. So when I look back on all my “bad times”, even in the most bleakest of bleak situations, I can still rejoice because at least I know that this circumstance will be used for good somehow. BUT I can also rejoice that I’m not alone– God is with me always. I can rejoice because God collects my tears and writes all my hurts in His book– He knows. I can rejoice because Jesus was tempted in all ways just like me– He knows exactly what I’m feeling because He was human– He’s been there, done that. I can rejoice because I am a believer, a child of God, a co-heir with Christ– don’t even get me started on all the perks of that one! I can rejoice because one day all my suffering will end and I will be FOREVER rejoicing in heaven with Jesus. And I could go on and on and on with all the things we can rejoice over– and that’s just in talking about all the “bad stuff”. There’s a TON of “good stuff” in life that we can rejoice over, too. Look for it– I promise you there is ALWAYS something to rejoice in!!!

*Moving on to palm trees. 🌴 I freakin’ love palm trees!!! To me they symbolize all things summer, which is my absolute favorite season of all time. I was made for sun ☀️. I was made for water 🌊. I feel so alive and fresh and energized and healthy in summer. Everything is bright and alive. Everyone is outdoors working and playing. There’s movement and activity. Flip-flops and popsicles. Pools and beaches. Bright colors and cold drinks. Vacations and sun tans. Swimsuits and shorts. Like seriously, just thinking about summer makes me smile from ear to ear. I-LOVE-SUMMER.

*Some day I’m a’gonna leave these here Midwest cornfields 🌽 and move down south to where that I can see said sun & palm trees & summer weather all.year.long. Maybe in the States. Maybe some Caribbean island. Maybe Midwest-living during the summer and southern-living during the winter. I care not about the logistics– I’m flexible. But summer living all year long is a definite for my future– I *will* one day live among the palm trees.

*While I’m waiting for my “summer year long” plan to come to fruition, I’m in the meantime creating my own little tropical oasis version of my own. Who needs porch flowers when you can have porch palm trees?! Makes me so happy:

*And why is the tatt ink blue and not the tradition black? Well… I plum just don’t like the color black. It looks fab on some people. But with my color skin, black makes me look so washed out and dead. This summer blue 💙 though looks absolutely fab with my skin tone and freckles. Plus–> blue is the color of the ocean & water!!


Live awakened. Live fully alive. REJOICE.

I Turned 40

On Saturday, June 15th, a significant transition of life occurred:
I said good-bye to my 20’s/30’s (my “young” adulthood)…
And said hello to my 40’s/50’s (my “middle” years of adulthood).

Middle-aged…

Hmmmm, that’s a very strange and kinda awkward title to now have to wear.

But can I be honest here?… I’m actually very happy and quite at peace.

When I think back to how I felt in my early adulthood years, it can all be summed up into one hard word: insecurity.

Perhaps others have “found themselves” during those two long decades (kudos if that describes you!). But I wasn’t so lucky. It took me *20 years* of soul-searching, praying, questioning, trying and failing (then trying and failing again), and finally getting into counseling before I began to feel comfortable in my own skin.

Anxiety. Depression. Stress. Overwhelm. Struggle. Questioning: am I good enough? smart enough? mature enough? capable enough? Self-doubt. FEAR. Frustration. And to boot, I picked up some pretty poor/immature coping mechanisms to deal with all of these big feelings.

What do I want? What did I need? What are my boundaries? Who were “my people”? What thrills me? What is for me (and what is NOT for me)? Where do I fit in? What should I be doing with my life? What do I do? Where do I go? How do I live? WHO AM I?

But now as I step into 40, that insecurity of my youth is gone and has finally been weathered away. I KNOW who I am. I know what I want (and what I DON’T want). I know what I’ll tolerate (and what I WON’T). I stand up for myself and my beliefs and needs. I KNOW what to embrace (and what to run from).

I finally discovered that I am an empath and an HSP (which put together a LOT of missing pieces). Knowing this made it incredibly easy to change up my inner and outer worlds so as to create a lifestyle that beautifully accommodates my needs.

The fear of man’s approval is finally dying. I’m doing what I need to do. All the should’s and ought to’s are being put to rest. I’m figuring out who God made me to be and do here on this earth. I’m not being tossed around by the waves of people anymore.

For once, inside and out, I can finally breathe and dance and REJOICE.
I’m finally enjoying life.

It’s actually with great relief I say good-bye to the insecure days of my young adulthood. And I’m gladly, joyfully welcoming my 40’s and beyond. I’m absolutely thrilled to see what God has in store for me and my beautiful family. I’m ready for an adventure!

So I officially entitle this next decade of life: Fun & Free Forties!

Live awakened. Live fully alive. REJOICE.

ABIDE

I am the Vine and you are the branches. He that ABIDES (remains) in Me, and I in him will produce (bear/bring forth) much fruit; for apart from (without) Me you can do nothing.
~John 15:5

Are you “connected to Source”? It’s a little New Age-y catch phrase thrown around quite a bit these day. To followers of that movement, it could mean God/god, the Universe, a Higher Power, the Divine, etc. Basically what they mean is that there’s something outside of ourselves that’s bigger than we are that we can connect with– and this force will give us guidance, intuition, information, and inspiration. I also saw this type of terminology quite a bit when I was working within the drug and alcohol counseling community and the 12-Step programming. They would use the blanket term “Higher Power” because not everyone was open to the God of the Bible. But there’s no doubt about it, having faith in something outside ourselves definitely aids in people’s healing and their conquering of mental health issues. Just take a brief survey on Google and you’ll see all over the place that faith brings healing.

I’m not into New Age ideology. And I do believe in the God of the Bible (Jesus/Holy Spirit). But I really got to thinking this morning about being “connected to source” in regard to being connected with God. What does that mean? What does that look like? What benefits would come from such a practice?

John 15:5 immediately crossed my mind.

To be “connected with source” (the God of the Bible) looks like ABIDING, or another word for that would be “remaining”.

God paints for us a beautiful visualization about Him being a Vine and we Christians being the branches. Just quiet yourself for a moment, get away from distractions, take a deep breath, and go there with me for just a few moments to really get a mental picture of this.

Imagine a vine… actually see the branches growing out from this vine… see the ends of these branches weighted down with grapes… really take a moment and see this image in your mind… go through your senses and make this mental image real… what does the vine and fruit feel like, look like, smell like?… what do the grapes taste like? what’s going on in the vineyard? are there any sounds like birds or wind or farmers working in the background?… The more you can bring your five senses into this visualization, the more it becomes meaningful…

So long as these branches ABIDE and remain connected to the main vine, they can bear fruit. All the nutrients and life energies to maintain life and growth and fruitfulness flow through this main vine. But as soon as a branch is cut off, what happens to it?… It withers, dries up, shrivels, and eventually dies and decomposes. It has been cut off from its life source. It can’t produce and create life on its own. A cut off branch can quite literally accomplish nothing.

Another Scripture that comes to mind is Psalm 1, esp verses 1-3:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers.

There are two main parts to these verses:
1- don’t get cozy with sin/sinners
2- delight in/meditate on the Word of the Lord

Why?

*to be like a tree planted by streams of water
*to yield fruit in season
*so that your leaves do not wither
*so that whatever you do prospers

This is what ABIDING is: remaining “connected to source” (God), allowing His life blood to flow to/through us and grow within us fruit, to flourish, prosper, to never shrivel or wither or die off, to produce and create, to yield, to mature, to be alive/radiating life, always supplied with everything we need for life and godliness.

The life flowing through that vine and the water rushing through that stream… they never stop flowing. They never dry up or tap out. They are *always* rushing and pumping and giving and sharing and pouring. It’s an abundant, never-ending supply.

And you, yes you, are completely welcome to drink from it. God would LOVE to richly bless you with life, abundance, prosperity, and multiplication. He desperately wants to see you flourish and flower and bloom and grow and produce and share with the world. And He is providing you with everything to make this happen.

So today I leave you with this intention: ABIDE in God

As you go to work, take care of your family, sit through baseball practice, clean your house, exercise, file paperwork, go to sleep tonight… focus on ABIDING in Him. Really take moments today to think about and visualize that branch (you) connected to the vine (God)… and the tree planted by a stream of water… about God’s never-ending supply of nourishment and life that He willingly and lovingly wants to pour into you. Accept that gift. Open your hands and heart to the life that He dearly wants to give to you. Connect to source. Let Him pour life into you. He is SO for you!

If you haven’t started a meditation practice, I would *highly* recommend it. It doesn’t have to be any sort of lengthy or fancy process. Five minutes would be plenty. Doesn’t matter what time of the day. Just get alone someplace where you won’t be interrupted. You can sit or lay down. No noise, no distraction, no cell phone, nobody needing you. Take a deep breath. Then take a couple of mindful breaths. Focus on the in-and-out feeling of your breathing. After you do that a few times, do a quick body scan. Are you holding onto stress anywhere? Clenching? Tightness? Try to relax those areas. Then for just a few moments, think about the Scriptures mentioned today about ABIDING. Really visualize what that looks like to you. Take a few moments to pray. Open your hands to receive God’s abundance and life. Thank Him for all that He has done (and will do) in and through you. Take another deep breath… and… you’re done!

Another awesome way to really integrate with these Scriptures is to do EFT/Tapping while slowly reading and meditating on them. Not familiar with this?? Here’s a great little info clip on it. There are acupressure points on your face, hands, and torso and when you tap on them while saying aloud Scriptures (and/or positive affirmations), it’s meaning more deeply gets into our hearts and minds. It brings awareness of deeper issues that need to be dealt with. It clears the mental/emotional clutter and blockages and replaces it with words of truth. It calms the nervous system. I personally thought it was terribly silly in the beginning– but I stuck with it. When I first started with EFT, it was to help deal with my anxiety, stress, and fear issues. It worked ok. But when I got the idea to incorporate Scripture and Bible-based affirmations instead– it got taken to a whole new level. Not only has my anxiety been healing more quickly, but I’m also way more easily able to memorize Scripture. It just seems to “stick” now! Tapping works. Give it a try. It takes practice. Let me know what you think! If you’re already incorporating EFT/tapping into your Bible Study routine, I’d love to hear your experiences with it!!!

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You SO much for giving us Your word. Thank You that we have truth to anchor our lives and hope into. Fill us with faith. Fill us with Your word. Help us to ABIDE in You and stay connected to You. We love You. And we are SO thankful for what Your Son, Jesus, did on the cross for us. Thank You for giving us things like prayer, meditation, visualizations, EFT/Tapping, etc. to calm our nervous systems, to better help us focus on You and Your word, and for your truths to deeply penetrate our hearts and minds. May Your words “stick” with us today. Pour into us Your abundance and may we flourish for You.
~Amen

It’s time for us to more than just survive–
We were made to thrive!!!

Read more: Casting Crowns – Thrive Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

ABIDE in Him

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #ABIDE #flourish #prosper

Get It Out

From as far back as I can remember… I have been a writer. A writer in the sense that I write practically every day (not necessarily that I’ve been published– though #goals). Journals. Word docs. Scraps of loose paper. Writing on the edges of my daily to-do lists. Even when I’m in meetings or seminars, not only do I doodle on my paperwork, but I write.

What do I write about?: observations, reminders, deep thoughts, blog topics, Scriptures that come to mind, mantras, personal pep talks, prayers, day dreams, words of motivation and inspiration, quotes I hear, gift ideas, meal ideas, etc.

For me, it’s absolutely cleansing and clearing. The way my heart and mind work, there is *always* so much going on inside (even though I may appear cool as a cucumber on the outside). So much thinking. So much feeling. Big thoughts. Big feelings.

It’s like my senses are on hyper-alert at all times. I see, hear, observe, smell, experience, and feel things SO incredibly deeply.

Writing allows me time and a platform to process and work through all the things I experience throughout the day. It’s exhausting when your senses are always so aware of what’s going on around you. Writing helps get all that out so I can be chill on the inside, too.

If I don’t write, it all begins to swell up inside like a balloon that’s going to burst. Everything gets muddled and confusing and cloudy. I have all this big stuff bouncing around inside of me and I can’t seem to make heads or tails of anything. It’s overwhelming. It’s maddening.

I HAVE to get it out. Writing keeps me sane and centered and cleared and light.

The more I talk to people the more I see that many other’s have this same thing going on inside, too. There’s this “thing” they have to do, must do. It’s like there’s a freshwater spring of something going on inside of them that has to come out– and it never runs dry. They have to create. If they don’t, they feel like they’re going insane. Getting it out keeps them cleared and happy and free.

Working on computers and tech. Sewing. Performing in theater. Writing. Creating and/or performing music. Painting. Making beers and wines. Farming or gardening. Arts and crafts. Making movies. Interior design. Financial planning. Traveling. Language learning. Preaching. Teaching. Yoga. Sharing the gospel. Cooking.

Because we are all created in the image of God, I believe there’s a creative genius within all of us. There’s something, or multiple somethings, within each of us that is just dying to come out.

Your “thing” coming out may or may not even start with the goal of “helping people”. It may very well simply start with doing it to stay sane!!! But it’s when you take a chance and get your “thing” out there for others to see and experience that the “blessing others” becomes a part of the picture.

So what’s your “thing”? What makes you tick? What do you have to do to keep your energy and mind clear and light? What can you seemingly do or create day-in day-out that’s never exhausted or runs dry? What could you never get bored of doing?

I want to encourage you in the following ways:
1- if you don’t know what your “thing” is– explore, try new things, take a class, experiment. Ask love one’s what they see in you. Ask God for clarity.
2- if you already know what your “thing” is– are you doing it regularly? Are you investing yourself and time in it?
3- if you are regularly doing your “thing”– are you brave enough to put yourself out there, to stop hiding your light under a bushel?

It’s scary sharing your gifts and talents with the world. Many will like what you put out there– it will bless and enrich their lives. But you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea– and that’s ok. Keep tapping into that well of creativity within you and let it spill out into the world.

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #bebrave #shareyourgift #blesstheworld

Brave enough to share

I truly believe that each of us was created with some spark of creative genius that’s just dying to come out and bless the world. Some invention that will make life easier. Some disease to cure. Some song to rivet the world. Some literary work that will awe its readers. Food that captivates. Movies that take us through the whole gambit of emotion.

Some people love languages, culture, and travel. Show us worlds we may never see with our own eyes.

Some people love gardening, landscaping, and horticulture. Bless the eyes of mankind with the beauty you can create with your hands and soil.

Some of you have the gift of healing. Bless those of us that are sick with health and wellness.

Some people love photography. Share your eye for angles and light. Help us to see the perfection in the moment like you do.

Some people love their country. Serve and protect with all that you have.

Some people love sewing. Light up the eyes of that beautiful bride or that teen going to prom with a dress of absolute perfection.

Some people love computers. Help companies and businesses thrive and expand.

Some people love justice and fairness for all. Fight for weak one. Speak out for freedom.

It’s our job to figure out what that thing is that makes us tick, that thrills our soul– to hone our skills and craft– and to be brave enough to share it with the world.

Do you know what your gift is?

Are you brave enough to share it with the world?

It’s time…

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #bebrave #shareyourgift #blessothers