Tag Archives: hope

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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The Joy of Obedience

30 Aug

I like the word joy.  It brings a smile to my face just saying it…go ahead and try …”JOY”…aahhh, sweetness.  Wouldn’t you know it though, obedience doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so smoothly.  I don’t feel like partying when I hear that one!  Who wants more joy in their life?  We all raise our hands.  Who’s interested in becoming more obedient?  Cue the crickets.

When I say obedience, it conjures up the same feelings I tend to get when I hear words like, selflessness, humility, sacrifice or surrender.  No smile appears on my face, rather I often feel a sense of dread, like I need to brace myself, or even fear, wondering what’s this going to cost me?  My self centeredness is showing again.  Anyone out there know what I’m saying?

As a child I had a healthy fear of Dad and I can remember, especially during the summer, he would leave us kids with a fairly lengthy list of chores that needed to be done by the time he got home from work.  Even then, knowing there would be consequences if it wasn’t done, I would delay that obedience until the last hour, when my brother, sister and I would scramble around in a frenzy to do what we had been told and hopefully get it done enough that we avoided punishment.  We got it done, maybe our feet were dragging & it wasn’t our best work but it was just enough to avoid the wrath of dad.  I guess that’s called half-hearted obedience.

Looking back, I can clearly see that although I may have been checking the list by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin, my attitude was missing the mark by a mile.  My heart was in the wrong place, I wanted to do what I wanted to do and only begrudgingly obeyed to avoid discipline.  This may have worked for Dad some days but half-hearted obedience doesn’t work with our Heavenly Father because He cares more about the heart motive than getting the check list complete.

In chronological years, I’ve been an adult for quite a while now and would like to say I have this obedience thing down but truth be told, adult me, still struggles with self centeredness that keeps me from being obedient with the right motivation.

Last weekend, I had a wonderful time at a women’s retreat in beautiful Lake Tahoe, my new sister friend Becky who was attending decided she wanted to follow the Lord in obedience and get baptized.  So awesome!!

For her, this was a brave step and a bit scary, ok, a lot scary!  She didn’t want to be the center of attention, didn’t want people gawking at her, she felt insecure and to be straight up honest, was feeling so anxious that she almost didn’t see her obedience through.

Some prayer and an encouraging friend helped and we waded in to the water. Becky went under the water and I tell you what, she came up out of the water with a mega watt smile brighter than the sun itself.  The joy in her was so evident I thought a heavenly dove was going to descend.  Just looking at her made my heart swell with joy!

There was a whole crowd of ladies on the shore cheering her on and celebrating her public proclamation of faith and we all broke into song and had a great time together praising God.  It was truly a beautiful God moment.  A moment that would not have happened, had Becky let her fear and insecurity speak louder than her desire to please her Heavenly Father by simply obeying.

This is what I am learning but have certainly not mastered.  Obey scared, obey anxious, obey with questions, obey without any assurance of the outcome, but obey.  Obey, because you love Him so.  There may be some pain and discomfort in the obeying, but Becky and I agree there is unspeakable joy on the other side!!

“If you love me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15

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He Gets It

9 Apr

Do you ever feel like no one understands what you are going through?  I do!  Like your friends or even your family just don’t get it?  Me, again!

The other morning heading to work I was feeling a little weary, a little hurt, a little angry a little a lot of things, I guess.  I was thinking about someone who I am frustrated with.  I guess I felt let down by this individual and I felt justified in my feelings.  The fact that this individual had not met what I feel are reasonable expectations left me feeling, hurt and a bit rejected during an already difficult period.  I was struggling in that moment to let it go, to forgive, especially absent an apology or acknowledgment of any wrong doing, which I wasn’t holding my breath for.

When I am feeling this way, whatever the circumstances may be, it is my desire to be understood, for my feelings to be heard, for someone to get it!  You know, acknowledge the issue and the fact that my feelings are understandable?!  However, as with many things in life, I often don’t get my way.  Sometimes, the situation isn’t appropriate to share with another so that I can feel validated.  Sometimes, the other person because of their own issues isn’t willing or capable to have the conversation that needs to be had. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want.

In that moment, driving down I-5, feeling un-understood, my mind focused on someone who does understand me and I was reminded of this truth, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”  – Hebrews 4:15.

When you don’t get the apology you deserve.  When you need help and no one is around. When you feel alone.  When there is conflict.  When people have more important priorities.  When no one wants to listen.  When people say false things about you.  When people hurt you.  When a friend turns their back on you.  When you struggle.  When life is hard.  When you are in pain.  When you are overwhelmed.  When you have been let down.  When you don’t seem to fit in.  When you are tempted.  When you are tired. When no one else gets it.  God gets it!  He knows how it feels, He felt it.

He gets it and you know what His response was and is?  To love anyway. To humble himself anyway.  To forgive anyway.  To lay down His life anyway.

His example challenges me.  I am so far most days from responding the way He does.  It is my desire to grow in the grace He lavishes on me.  I want grace, but how freely am I giving it away to others?

His example convicts me.  How can I withhold from others, what I so desperately need from Him?

His example comforts me.  It is certainly a wonderful feeling to be understood by our friends and family and I am thankful when that is a reality.  But when it’s not, I serve a God who understands me.  He understands my ways, my feelings and He loves me as I am.

So thankful for a God, who gets it!  He gets you too!

 

 

First Responder OR Nuclear Reactor?

11 Feb

Several weeks ago now, I was running late getting out the door for work. It was extra cold that morning and the zipper on my coat was stuck, so I had been wrestling with it for about 10 minutes with my frustration level growing as the clock ticked. I finally gave up and decided, I’d have to just slip the coat over my head and try to wrestle with it some more later. I then went to finish getting ready and my 350 degree flat iron started to fall off the counter. I reacted quickly and grabbed for it! Only problem is, I missed the handle and grabbed the actual iron! Owww!!  The pain caused me to drop it and it fell to the floor where I was then able to pick it up by the handle.

In the following moments while digging through the closet to find some burn cream, God dropped a pretty clear thought into my heart and mind. I don’t know that I appreciated it all that much in the moment, but it would be futile to argue with the truth or God for that matter!

The internal dialogue went something like this…”you seem to be reacting instead of responding to circumstances and situations in your life. It is so much better to respond than to react. You can cause damage and hurt when you react but response can bring correction, growth, healing and even reconciliation.”

Like I said, it wasn’t fun hearing it, the truth stung like the burn I was dealing with, but I knew in that moment, God was asking me to work on being more responsive and less reactive.

It hasn’t taken me too much effort in the days following to see how right God was in His summation of my reactive reflex. It may look something like this in my life or your life:

I’m at work being pulled in what feels like a hundred different directions, there’s more to get done than can ever be done and a staff person walks in my office and says, “do you have a minute?” My reaction may include a rolling of my eyes, a heavy sigh or maybe I don’t even look up and talk while I’m staring at the computer trying to finish the thought I was in the middle of.

I reacted.

Have you read any social media posts lately that have annoyed you? Dare I say, even angered you? If I was going to react, I might make a whole judgmental story in my head about the person who made the post, or I might immediately begin to type back a missive in order to set them straight!! Perhaps engage in some written warfare, whatever it takes to show them the error of their ways.

That would be a reaction.

Parents and others who play a role in shaping the lives of little ones have lots of opportunity to either react or respond. Your child spills their drink at the dinner table and before you realize it, your tone is stern, your voice is raised, “You spilled your juice again! You need to start paying attention to what you are doing! I’m tired of cleaning up after you all the time!” A simple “oops, let’s get a rag and get this cleaned up” would’ve sufficed and left you and them feeling a whole lot better about life.

Sometimes we react.

 
You see even if it’s as little a thing as a stuck coat zipper and a falling flat iron. My reactions are revealing the condition of my heart. It’s a character issue.

If I am reacting based on my emotion, it’s all about me. When I respond I’m taking long enough to consider another’s perspective and choosing actions and words that address the person or situation in a way that builds up. Reaction is instant but responding takes effort.

I am certain that becoming more of a responder and less of a reactor will be a life long journey. It has to be if I want to be a person who leaves people, places and situations better. If I desire to be a life giver.

I want to be a first responder not a nuclear reactor. If you feel the same, below is a prayer from my heart to His, feel free to pray it along with me.

“Lord, people and situations can be so frustrating and so daily! I find myself reacting in ways that are less than ideal, less than what I know you desire. Less than how I see you model and demonstrate in Your Word. Please forgive me for the many times I have reacted in ways that make others feel less than, for the times I have made a situation worse because of my unwillingness to seek you before reacting. I need your help, I need your wisdom so that I can be someone who interacts with people and situations in a way that brings life and ultimately gives You glory. Thank you for caring enough to correct me, thank you for being gracious and loving to me even when the discipline stings. I want to reflect Your heart to others and respond to tough circumstances with the same love and grace you consistently show me. Change my heart and help me to be a responder not a reactor. In Jesus Name, Amen!”

Bonus Time

12 Aug

June 27th I was sitting in the hospital with my dad who had been admitted days before, while my sister was taking my mom to the emergency room as she was not feeling right.  What we assumed would be a quick trip turned into a wild & scary ride! Hold onto your seats.

I will never forget entering her room in the critical care unit for the first time and seeing her hooked up to all these wires and monitors with a tube down her throat.  I don’t do hospital’s well to begin with so seeing my mom like this was rough.  I observed from a few feet away at first, I had been told she could likely hear us and know we were there and I wanted to get myself together so I didn’t reveal to her how I was feeling inside at that moment.  It took me a bit to compose myself, I approached the bed, rubbed her hand and said, “Hi Mama”.  That was all I could do before my throat started to constrict and tears came.  In another 10 minutes, I tried again, “Hey Mama, it’s me Denise, I’m here” and I was done again.  A few more deep breaths and I made another approach, “Hey Mama, it’s Denise, you’re in the hospital and they’re taking really good care of you, all of your family has been here, Dad’s feeling better and we all sure love you.”  That was all I could do before my voice starting to give me away again.  I worked my way up to scooting a chair by her bedside, holding her hand and singing some of her favorites to her.  Cherished time with my mom.

The roller coaster ride continued day-to-day, hopes were dashed as the Doctor talked with my sis-n-love and I about the seriousness of mom’s condition and prognosis.  We cried, we prayed, others prayed and we continued to take turns sitting by mom’s side telling her how loved she was.  Mom would start to get a little restless as sedation would wear off and I was so concerned that she would become uncomfortable or frightened.  So, I was getting the nurse when mom opened her pretty blues and made direct eye contact with me.  I gave myself a split second pep talk so I’d appear calm, looked her in the eyes and said “I love you mama” and she mouthed back “I love you”.  It was the best I love you ever!

Getting my mom off the ventilator was not a smooth process, paddles were used on her chest 3x the day her tube was taken out to get her heart beating in rhythm.  How thrilling it was to walk into her hospital room after she was taken off the vent and see her alert and able to talk with us, even if her voice did have a new gravelly sound to it thanks to the whole ordeal.  Sadly, our celebration quickly turned to concern as she was not sustaining acceptable oxygen levels on her own.  Emotional rollercoaster.

The ride takes another twist later that day when the doctor talks with mom about the seriousness of her condition and that if she is not able to sustain proper oxygen levels on her own very soon, they may have to put her back on the ventilator.  If she goes back on the ventilator, there is less than 10% chance she’ll ever come off of it.  Tough news to process.

Doc came back on evening rounds and all 3 of us kiddos were there with mom so we could ask questions and have  a beyond difficult conversation.  The doctor was wonderful, informative, compassionate but it was hard, it stunk and none of us liked what we were being forced to deal with.  After the doc left the 3 of us stood around mom’s hospital bed and we asked mom about her life, if she was content and happy, if she had any questions for us, we reminded her how much we loved her and want her to stay with us and we made some tough decisions together, we tried to be strong and supportive but a few tears escaped anyway.  After all the talk, mom asks the 3 of us, “are you guys ok?”  There was a brief pause and then my brother took the lead with the honest answer and said, “No we’re not ok, this stinks, but we are ok with having you as our mom.”  Sweetness in the midst of pain.

The crazy ride continued, she was eventually released from critical care to another floor and just when we thought she was about to move into a nursing facility to gain some more strength, she was back in critical care with pneumonia.  Mom has been home now for almost three weeks and I’d say we’re still in the midst of a new adventure.  Thankful though for the opportunity.

My brother said in the hospital when things started looking up, “I think we got some bonus time with mom”.  I know many people wish they could have some bonus time with their loved one, so this blessing of more time together is something we want to cherish deeply, even when it’s hard and the ride feels a bit bumpy.

I reflect on the wild ride we’ve been on the past several weeks because today is my beautiful mom’s 65th birthday!  Only a month ago, as I was driving home from the hospital, I was literally crying out to God and begging Him to make a way that she could stay here with us longer.  Thankful that God answered that prayer and the prayers of family near and far, the prayers of church family and friends from all over.  So today, we’ve taken the day off work to celebrate a wonderful woman, whom we are blessed to call “mom” and soak up some of our “bonus time” with her.

Mom, on your birthday and every day, I want you to know and be confident in this, you are deeply LOVED and love NEVER fails!!!