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That’s Saturday

31 Mar

Yesterday as those who follow Jesus we reflected on His great sacrifice for us on the cross.  We thought about what He endured willingly so that you and I could be free.  Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, we will celebrate His resurrection and victory over death and the grave!  The enemy is defeated and the victory is won!

But, today is Saturday and no one talks a whole lot about it, yet I think a lot of our time as humans on this earth is spent in Saturday.  We live in that in-between space.

We have a dream but taking the steps to see it realized, that’s Saturday.  We have a great loss and it takes however long it takes to be able to breathe again, that’s Saturday.  We are struggling and trying to hold on so we can get some victory in life, your labor, well, that’s Saturday.  You see, you and I, we know about Saturday.  When it seems like God is quiet and no one understands where we are at and what we are going through.  That’s Saturday.

I want to encourage you who find yourself right in the middle of Saturday.  God sees you, God hears you, He may be quiet but He is always working on your behalf!  Hold on my friend, Sunday is coming!!!

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:25

 

 

Waking Up From A Dream

4 Mar

Dreams can be funny things and by funny, I guess I mean not so funny.  Last night I dreamed about someone, someone I used to know. I wasn’t thinking of this person as I drifted off to la la land and I don’t spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about this individual on a regular basis, but for whatever reason they made what felt like a very real appearance in my dreams last night.

I found myself waking up in the wee small hours of the morning, with tears on my pillow and an ache in my heart that felt almost unbearable.   In the dream, I was saying good-bye again and as I woke my body was physically feeling the heartache.  I got up to use the restroom and hoped as I laid back down that I would dream a new dream.

The dream and the feelings it left me with have lingered with me today.  A bit of a blanket of sadness and reflection and I am reminded that dreams in our awake life can kinda feel like this as well.

When a dream ends, sometimes, you need to feel the pain.  It’s ok to acknowledge the loss.  To learn that the heartache can hit you like a tidal wave but when it washes over you, to discover you are still standing.  That you can feel the heartbreak and keep breathing.  To realize, you can move forward after loss.   To understand you can mourn what was and what may never be but also look forward to the unending potential of new glorious dreams.

Maybe my dream last night was just to help give me permission to mourn that which feels like a loss but also to remember that there are other dreams to know.  To recognize that I can feel the pain that comes with the loss and still have hope for all that is to come.  Maybe you could use that same reminder today?

Be encouraged my friend!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

11 Feb

I can hear Tina Turner in my head now, “What’s love got to do, got to do with it, what’s love but a second-hand emotion, what’s love got to do, got to do with it, who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”  Good question and she’s got a point!

I have thought often over the years that people are the best and worst part of life!  I know that may sound harsh, but let me explain.  Family and friendship can be so beautiful and sweet.  It is truly one of life’s greatest gifts to have someone who knows you in all your imperfectness and loves you still.  There is also the fact that if we love, we will get hurt and that part isn’t my favorite!  Relationships of all kinds at their best take time, work, attention, compromise and you will walk through times that are just plain hard.  I have just recently walked through this where I felt like I had poured into someone, let them in, only to have them betray me.  It was shocking, it was unexpected, it hurt deeply, it still stings and my immediate reaction is to want to shut down, put walls around my heart and not let anyone else in.

How do you react when someone mishandles the love you have shown?  What do you do when someone throws away the time and memories and you can’t make sense of it?  What do you do with the hurt when there is no “I’m sorry” and no explanation?  You may ask yourself as Ms. Turner did, “who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”  I know that thought has crossed my mind lately.  These feelings are normal and completely understandable but they are not the final word.

1 Corinthians 13 known as the LOVE chapter says this:

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

You see my friend, love has EVERYTHING to do with it!  Love is why He came, Love is why He went to the cross, Love is why He is faithful, Love is why He is persistent, Love is why He is so kind, Love is why He keeps on forgiving, Love is why He stays.

And so I have my answer, Love is why I will forgive, Love is why I will keep showing up, Love is why I will humble myself, Love is why I will open my heart again, Love is why and it has EVERYTHING to do with it!

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the GREATEST of these is love ❤

YOU Are Valued

10 Dec

I was driving out-of-town this past week a couple of hours from home and pulled up to a stop light when I saw a sign posted that read, “You Are Valued”.  How awesome is that?!  Cause sometimes we need a reminder, don’t we?  I know I’ve been needing a little reminding lately and I was immediately thankful for whoever pounded that sign in the ground to remind me in the midst of a cold, foggy, quiet commute.

I want to remind you today.  In case you are doubting it or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve heard it and even longer since you’ve felt it.  YOU are valued!

You are valued NOT because of what you did or didn’t do, NOT because of your status or your label, NOT because of how many likes you got on that Facebook post or followers you have on Instagram.  NOT because of how accomplished and driven you are.  NOT even because of all the good you do.

You my friend are valued because you are YOU!  You with all your imperfections, You with your mess-ups.  You with your weakness.  You when you got it wrong.  You when you could’ve done better.  Your value isn’t in your doing or saying, it’s in your just being.

YOU are simply valued because you are unique, there is no one else just like you.  YOU are of great worth because the One that made you finds you priceless.  YOU are dear and there has never been a day when you were not fully known and completely loved.

Next time you start to doubt the truth hopefully you’ll run across a beautiful sign like I did OR else you can ask me and I’ll remind you of this never-changing truth. YOU are seen.  YOU are loved.  You are valued.

Be Encouraged!

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All I Ever Have To Be

21 Oct

On what should have been an hour and a half drive on a weekday afternoon, there was an accident on I-5 that made drive time turn into a 5 hour forced bonding time between myself and a work peer.  To pass the time while sitting there, we talked and after a couple of hours, started trying to entertain one another by playing various games we recalled from childhood family road trips.  My co-worker decided to play a game of “What’s your favorite?”, which led to her knowing much more about me than I would normally divulge to a colleague.  What’s your favorite color?  What’s your favorite movie?  What’s your favorite food?  What’s your favorite song?  I can’t answer that one!  I mean, there are so many, and it depends on what type of music, what mood I’m in, what memory its associated with, how do you pick one child over the other?!  The question actually stressed me out!

So, I say this with great hesitation, but if I had to pick a favorite song (which I’m still not going to commit to), the song “All I Ever Have To Be”, sung by Amy Grant and written by Gary Chapman would have to be on my short list.  This song was released in 1980, when I was still a young girl, however, I can clearly remember listening to the lyrics closely and the beautiful simple melody.  Even at the age of 8, this song resonated with me deeply.  Hard to explain it and I certainly did not realize the degree to which I would need to continue to be reminded of the words of this simple beauty throughout my life.

“All I Ever Have To Be”

When the weight of all my dreams
Is resting heavy on my head
And the thoughtful words of help and hope
Have all been nicely said
But I’m still hurting, wondering if I’ll ever be the one
I think I am – I think I amThen you gently re-remind me
That You’ve made me from the first
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst
And I realize the good in me is only there because of who You are
Who You are…And all I ever have to be is what You’ve made me
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan
As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find
And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be is what You’ve made me

 

So dear one, if like me, you struggle with meeting the expectations of others or even more difficult, your own,  If you are tired of striving, If you feel more loved for what you do than who you are, then let me remind you as I remind myself.

  1. God made you, uniquely you on purpose, don’t try to be someone else.
  2. Give yourself some grace, we’re all unfinished.
  3. Never doubt for a minute, that even with your imperfections you are mind-blowingly loved.
  4. We don’t have to pull it off alone.  All the good is because of Him and He wants to handle our tough stuff too.
  5. Stop striving.  A good dose of rest in His love and grace, allows us to be who we were made to be.

Ahhhh, I feel better, how about you?

Be encouraged my friend!

 

 

 

 

Fiery & Faithful

7 Oct

As I sit down to write this post, I am struck with the fact that you won’t be reading or commenting on this one.  I could always count on you to take a couple of minutes to read whatever I was sharing, you only gave a compliment when you meant it, so when I got one, it meant a lot because I knew it was completely sincere.  This is just one of the many things I loved and appreciated about you and there is so much more.

You had strong opinions, not a whole lot of gray area with you.  Spunk and internal fortitude were very natural for you and you had a deep sense of right and wrong.

You would stand up for and defend to the death those you believed in and held dear.  You would speak up, pray on their behalf and even tell us if we needed to shape up.

You were fiercely loyal.  People could count on you.  Your word was always rock solid.

Ever since you were alerted to the fact that I didn’t so much care for amphibians, I think you may have dedicated a percentage of your spare time to tracking down frog memes just for my benefit.  I count it a privilege that you loved me enough to mess with me.

You were always there.  To bring a meal, lend a hand, listen, sit with us, pray for us, cry with us.  You were a loyal friend.

You were family, so many birthdays, Easters, 4th of July’s, Christmases and just because’s spent together.  We love Grandma Edna!

You were the best friend my mom could ever ask for.  You couldn’t be more different from one another and you were so good for each other.  Last year, when my mom was so sick, I called you and you came right away.  Even though my mom was incapacitated, you didn’t hesitate to walk right up to her bedside, hold her hand and start visiting with her and telling her what she needed to do to get better.  There could be no truer friend than you.  Thank you for loving my mom so well.

You meant so much to me,  my family and so many others, but yesterday, when I attempted to describe you to someone who didn’t know you in this life, I told her you were fiery and faithful.  I believe that those who know you well would agree and I desire to see in my own life so many of those fiery, faithful attributes I witnessed in watching your life up close over the last 15ish years.

Edna, I am sure you are blissfully busy meeting your savior face to face, catching up with loved ones and taking in all the wonders of heaven, but if you happen to read this, I want you to know that there are a lot of people left behind who will miss you in ways that words can’t express and I personally want you to know that I have a heart full of love, admiration and thankfulness for the most fiery, faithful lady I’ve ever known.  Looking forward to being home with you one day!

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Top 10 Golden Nuggets From My Pastor

24 Sep

Today marks my pastor and friend’s last day as lead pastor at our church after 18 years of faithful leadership.  I have been blessed in my life to have some wonderful, godly pastors, who have taught me so much by both word and example, who have encouraged and challenged me, who have invited me into their homes and hearts, but today I want to share with all of you the Top 10 (cause there’s a whole lot more) golden nuggets I think of when I reflect on the gift of Pastor Leif Holmes to the Church and to me personally.

1. The fruit of the spirit evident in my life is more important than the gifts demonstrated through me.  Am I loving, joyful, peaceful, patient (uh oh), kind, good, faithful, gentle & self-controlled?  God always cares about my character more than my performance.

2. He thought outside of his own demographic (the one I’m speaking of being, married and male) to ask me about what it was like being single and female in the church.  Then he listened and cared about what I said.  That genuine interest in my feelings and perspective on this issue was both new and immeasurable to me.

3. It’s ok to not be ok.  Like, how freeing is that?  Freedom to be real and not have to have it all together.  He reinforced what I know to be true but don’t always see in the church or myself.  Being right with God is much more important than looking right.

4. If you really care about someone, you hold them accountable when they’re off course.  Difficult conversations are not enjoyable but they are necessary.  A true leader is willing to have them because they care about their sheep more than their popularity.  I have seen him consistently and yes, with myself a time or two, willing to have a tough talk because he cares more about my well-being than whether or not he’s my favorite in the moment.

5. We are never done learning.  Pastor Leif has had me read more books over the years than any other supervisor, teacher or professor in my entire life.  He is a learner and wants others to learn and be equipped as well.  If you want to keep growing, you keep learning.

6. You have to know the word to use the word.  Picking up your sword to fight when under attack is much easier when the blade is sharp and you know what you’re fighting with.  You have to input it before you can have any output.

7. The true test of whether or not you love God is your obedience to Him.  He doesn’t ask you to figure it out, He asks you to be obedient.

8. God’s definition of what is good for me is usually not mine.  Ain’t that the truth!

9. God’s agenda is not for you to be happy and comfortable.  It’s for you to be godly.  Didn’t so much care for this one when it was said, but it’s the truth!

10. And when you told me, “Denise, God chooses to use you because of your weaknesses not in spite of them.”  Well, that has been a game changer my friend.

Pastor Leif, you are not to heaven yet, and I hope that day is a good many years off for both of us, but I do believe that God’s heart is in agreement with mine in saying “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Thanks for all the golden nuggets and for being an authentic, imperfect, slightly goofy, often entertaining, dedicated, encouraging, supportive, humble and faithful leader.  Here’s to the next adventure God has in store for each of us!!