Saturday, February 23, 2019

Just a Student Nurse

On Tuesday of this week my Fundamentals of Nursing class covered legal and ethical concepts of nursing.

There's a lot to think about in those areas, hot topics that cover our newsfeed.

We were talking about student nurses and their role in patient care and I heard myself say something that has resonated with me, "You may be just a student nurse today..."

I went on to remind them that they are the future of our profession, and that they are held to the same ethical standards as anyone involved in patient care.

Those four words have ran through my mind, though... "Just a student nurse..."

You may be just...

but you are so much more.

I see you, single Mama, juggling school work and family time and holding it all together with tattered strings.

I see you, hardworking senior who is striving to learn all you can in your practicum because before you know it, you'll be the sole responsible one.

I see you, college kid who is living on your own for the first time, tasting the independence that means that you don't have to get up for your 8 AM class but knowing that the major you  have chosen means life or death for those you will be caring for, so you turn the snooze button off, throw your hair into a ponytail, and drag yourself onto the bus.

I see you, working those extra shifts as a server or a clerk or a patient tech because your scholarship doesn't quite cover all of your cost of living.

I see you, reading those chapters that seem like they are 500 pages long...

I see you, blurry eyed as you struggle to take one more note, answer one more question, jot down one more flashcard.

I see you as you submit that care plan.. words on a page that in no way fully represent the thinking, and dare I say it, blood, sweat and tears that went into developing it? (Maybe not blood or sweat, but definitely some tears.)

I see you as you enter your patient's room the first day of clinical, scared to speak but so very excited, uniform pressed and stethoscope ready.

I see you holding your patient's hand and taking time to listen because compassion is what draws you in to this profession.

I see you, lips moving silently as you read through the options for that select all that applies question, racking your brain and trying to fight the urge to not listen to your gut because every answer can have a rationale and the right answer isn't always the best answer.

I see you...

so much more than just a student nurse.

Even if I don't always share it, I'm cheering you on.

There will be struggles. There will be failures- maybe of whole courses. There will be days when you question your commitment...

and I'd like to tell you that it gets easier, but really it doesn't, because that doubt, that failure, that sense of being overwhelmed will follow you as you scurry up and down hallways, going door to door making your hourly rounds on your patients.

You'll look back on those days, sometimes, and wish that you could be "just a student nurse"... but then you'll straighten your namebadge, plaster a smile on your face, and answer that call light...

because you were born for this. And someday you may hear the phrase expanded, "I'm just a nurse"... as opposed to something more full of grandeur...

But you're a lifeline to your patient. A smile when there is none. Sunshine in the dark days of gloomy diagnosis. Comfort when the patient is overwhelmed. An anchor in a story sea.

"Nursing is an art,  and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit?..." Florence Nightingale

Just a student nurse... learning what will have eternal impact.

How blessed am I to have just a small part of it?

Writing this today based on a prompt from Five Minute Fridays (even though I am not writing on Friday and also even though it took me longer to write than 5 minutes). This week's prompt? JUST....
four words that can be seen as condescending but in no way tell the full story.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Get in the Word

Today I saw a post on Facebook that made me think.

It was a photo that showed the amount of time it would take a person to read through the Bible in certain lengths of time. In order to read through in a year, it estimated reading 12 minutes a day.

It usually takes me a little longer to read the portions of Scripture aligned in my reading plan, but I'll admit I sometimes get distracted and I also pause to take notes sometimes. I'll admit that sometimes it becomes another thing on my "to do" list... and I don't want it to be that for me. I want it to mean something... because I know that His Word is living and active.

As I read, I ask that God open my heart, my eyes, and my ears to what He wants to show me. With some books of the Bible, that's easy. I understand about being foolish when I read the Proverbs. I get David's cries of solitude when I read the Psalms. I soak in as I read about Jesus and His miracles...

but the Old Testament is tough, y'all.

I don't get a lot of it.

But I'm reminded that when we are in His Word, it gets in us... and things happen. Things become clear. And the Scripture you read today will show up somewhere else tomorrow.

It may take you longer than a year to read your Bible through. That's ok. There are lots of different reading plans out there.

The key is to open it, read it, and internalize it... even if it is just one verse at a time.

Thank You, God, for Your Word to me. Thank You for Your Word, Jesus, who became flesh. Thank You for Your revelation. I may not always get it... but I know that You are faithful and You are doing a work even when I don't understand.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Surviving

So one of my goals this month was to write every day.

It's a short month, so surely that won't be too hard, right?

Except that sometimes by the time I get home, I'm mentally exhausted. I can't string two words together some nights.

As I was walking on the treadmill tonight, I found myself thinking I am 99.9% done with this week... but it's only Tuesday.

Fitting that as I thought about what to write about, and couldn't find any inspiration, I turned to the 5 minute writing prompts developed for this challenge.

Today's prompt?

Survive...

Which is what I do most days.

Just barely.

Except I can't help but think that it's supposed to be more than that.

As I thought about being 99.9% done with this week, I thought of having a glass half full mindset...

which so often I don't have. I tend to look on the negative side, even though I'd love to be a Pollyanna (and let's be realistic. I'm not even sure why Pollyanna is known for her positivity. I've never read the book nor watched the movie...)

So I kept putting one foot in front of the other on the treadmill...

and realized that tomorrow is another day (just like Scarlett says. I have read that book, and am reading it again...)

So here's to doing more than just surviving tomorrow...

and I'll go fumble my way through Leviticus in my Bible reading tonight... but I'll survive =)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Grace for Granted

Several years ago I chose the word "grace" to guide my year. I wanted to embrace the grace that God gave me... as if that is something we can ever fully do.

Instead, it was a year of transition for my family, and I found that the real reason God had led me to choose the word was a reminder for me to give grace...

As one of our P31 OBS values says, "We give grace because we so desperately need it."

Today I was reading The Holiness of God by RC Sproul. This quote hit me hard, because I don't tink I had ever really thought about it.

"Grace no longer amazes us. We have grown used to it: we take it for granted."


In a watered down society, we are told that God is love and that His mercy endures forever.

Biblical, yes... but also hard to reconcile with a God of judgment. Sproul talked about the seemingly inconsistencies between the Old Testament God and the New Testament God.

How can a God that hurls fire and brimstone be a loving God?

Surely we should focus on the God of love and forgiveness... so much that we get caught in an endless cycle of doing the same thing over and over. We praise Him with our lips on Sunday morning, yet curse our brothers and sisters by the time we are headed home.

Grace is to be given to us... but we aren't so good at giving it. Surprisingly, we aren't great at accepting it, either... because if we truly accepted God's grace, we would be in awe of His goodness. We wouldn't treat it so casually.

May I never grow used to Your grace, God. May I embrace it so that it changes me. May I embrace it so it changes others. I don't deserve it, but Your mercy gives me so much that I don't deserve. Thank You is not enough...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Haiku

If you know anything about me at all, you know I love to read.

I read many books at a time. I switch back and forth between different ones. I've rarely picked up a book that I couldn't find something good to say about...

because reading is an extension of who I am.

I read all kinds of genres- fiction, nonfiction, history, biography, Christian, classics...

but a couple of  genre I've always struggled with- poetry and drama.

I loved Emily Dickinson growing up, and still do enjoy reading some of her poems, especially I"m Nobody, Who are You... because can anything speak quite so perfectly to how we feel sometimes??

I have recently discovered in my exploration of all things Kentucky Wendell Berry- who writes fiction and nonfiction and also poetry, and I'm learning to like his poems.

I can't remember from high school all the different types of poetry, and odd literature terms stick in my head (like iambic pentameter and onomotopeia... although I'm not sure I can tell you if the spelling of them or what their exact meaning is...)

So, since I'm learning to like poetry, I thought I'd try my hand at writing a poem or two in this space...

 Rain drips down slowly.
Drip, drip, drop on my window
Will it ever end? No....

There you have it... my haiku, which according to a website is three lines, 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second, 5 in the last.

And very reflective of my mood...

Sunshine where are you
I need you to come out, please
I don't like winter rain.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

One 24 Hours

This morning we woke up to a blanket of white, the kind of snow that makes the world turn into a winter wonderland.

Even though I don't like winter, I do like those types of snow, especially before the cars hit the road and it turns into muddy slush. 

By noon, the sun was shining full force and the sky was blue and the snow was melting.

I should have gone for a brisk walk outside. After all, I am the one that complains when it rains 500 days in a row about how the lack of sunshine affects my mood...

but I opted for a nap, which I am sure will end up being a bad idea as my sleep schedule is already off and I have to get up at 5 AM to go to work.

I woke up grumpy, as I often do from naps.

I was reminded again about how I am responsible for my own attitude. I had let something bother me and it festered like a splinter under my skin.

Have you ever been there? Something somebody says just keeps popping up over and over, and just as you forget about it, it's there in the back of your mind, until you start to focus more on their opinion than what you know to be fact.

In our world of offense and bullying, I am convinced that there is no greater bully than an adult. Often the people who spout about other people bullying are the ones with the plank in their own eye.

As I'm typing this, I'm reminding myself that I can't let things get to me..only I am responsible for my reaction. I can't change the actions of others. I can't really change the opinions of others.... and quite frankly, they don't matter anyhow.

I CAN change my reaction. You can, too. And remember, we only get this 24 hours one time. We may have another 24 hours tomorrow, but it won't be the same.

Don't waste it allowing someone else to have power over your attitude.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Confident of This...

I am often unsure of things in life.

Unsure of my abilities.

Unsure of my next move.

Unsure of what God's purpose is in my life.

Unsure of myself.

It's especially true when I focus on my own abilities, because I can do so little by myself.

I wonder if those in the Bible ever felt unsure...

I mean, we know Moses didn't feel adequate enough to lead the Israelites. He was full of excuses about being slow to speak.

and Gideon argued with the angel that he was from the least tribe, and that he was the least of his father's house.

And surely the disciples felt unsure of themselves, as they fell asleep in the garden when they were supposed to be praying.

But what about the giants of faith- Joseph and David and Peter and Paul?

Did they struggle with self-doubt?

Paul admits he was the chief sinner.

Let that sink in... even as he preached the good news, he knew where he had come from.

We aren't caught in our past, nor do we have to dwell on it... but we can't forget where we come from.

We do know that even as Paul recognized how far he had come, he knew who empowered him. "I can do all things through Christ"... "Christ in me, the hope of glory..."

And this, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

We may not be confident today... but we can be sure that even in our mess, He's perfecting His masterpiece.

Writing today using the prompt from Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes unedited on one word. Today's prompt? Confident.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love in Any Language

Love is a funny word.

On today, Valentine's day, it is usually said romantically...

but I also say, "I love books. I love reading. I love the sunshine. I love chocolate."

The human language in itself is funny... because a word can have so many meanings, and when you translate it from English to another language, nuances can get lost.

For example, if you hear someone say "Amore" in a true Italian accent, it brings to mind passion... just because of the sound of the word.

We used to sing a song... not sure if it was in church or in chorus...

"Je t'aime, Te amo, Ya ti-bya lyu blyu,  Ani o hev ot cha,  I love you"

All love.

All different languages.

All with the same meaning, only slightly different.

In the Bible, there are different types of love: agape love, philos love, and eros love. Godly. Friendship. Passion.

We are called to love as God does... it's the greatest commandment- Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

That, my friends, is impossible without God.

I can't love God with everything in me without His Spirit empowering me, because too often I start thinking of my own desires.

I certainly can't love others... my neighbors and my enemies... as myself...

Let's face it. Some days I don't even love myself.

The love we are talking about here is an action.

It's not a feeling. It's a decision to keep showing up, even in the hard times.

It's a decision to turn the other cheek. To forgive. To be patient and kind and not hold records of wrongs...

while inside we are screaming to hold a grudge.

Love isn't something we feel...

and it has to be something we celebrate more than once a year.

It's a minute by minute action.

And Biblical love, modeled by Jesus Christ, means putting our life on the line for others.

For those we love with eros love- full of passion.
For those we love with philos love- full of friendship.
Even for those who seem so different from us, those we would never want to love... maybe that's the ones we are called to love the most.

No matter how you say it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Free to Be Me

Today as I was watching the news the weatherman was giving rain totals for this year- almost 8 inches.

Almost double of what we had had by this time last year- and 2018 was a record year for rain.

I feel like a duck, except that I wasn't made for this weather.

Today, though, was a beautiful sunshiny day- until you stepped out the door and the wind cut you in two.

So many things aren't what they seem...

including people.

I think so often we believe we have to put on a brave face... a mask to hide our feelings because we're taught to "suck it up" and "keep pushing on".

I read a quote from The Scarlet Letter that struck me today. The Reverend is hiding the dirty secret that he is actually the father of Pearl, a child born out of wedlock. Her mother has been publicly humiliated for adultery and forced to bear the shame of her sin by a scarlett "A" embroidered on her chest. He has lived with the secret for years, until he can no longer. “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

So often we live with the mask that we forget what the truth is.

I've been there- and self-deceit is the worst kind.

As I've been focusing on the word "seek" this year, I've been seeking God- but also seeking myself.

That may seem contradictory, but really it's not, because by seeking God I'm learning who I am... really am... in Him. I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not.

Because in Him, I am all I need to be. As Francesca Battestelli sang several years ago, "I'm free to be me."

Dents in the fender... wholly trying to be Holy through Him but often not getting it right.
Trying to hold the pieces together but realizing that there is no duct tape for life.

Perfectly imperfect because He who created me is perfection enough.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Winter

Wind blowing cold through the trees howls in my ear.

A voice, barely audible, whispers, and I strain to hear it.

Wind blows cold and snow is coming now...

small, white, flakes...

floating

flitting

flying through the air.

Winter has it's own music

but I find it like the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

Rain, rain, go away, but don't turn into snow and ice.

Wind howling, biting as it cuts like a knife against my cheeks.

I lose my breath, huddled against the pain of the days without sunshine.

Spring will come.

My heart knows it full well, even as I question it in the seemingly never-ending chill.

And the wind howls, and the snow flies...

Oblivious to my desires.



Monday, February 11, 2019

Head. Heart. Hands.

I love it when God brings up the same message over and over again.

Not as good as the flashing light I'm often wishing for, but definitely a reminder of "Hey, I'm here. I see you and I know you."

As I wrote this weekend, I attended a woman's conference and was reminded (once again... I'm a slow learner, y'all...) that I can't change myself. No matter how many miles I walk and books I read and Bible verses I skim through, I can't change my heart.

Only God can do that.

And in order for me to grow closer to Him, I have to allow my heart to be transformed. It's not about behavior modification...

Tonight, in Bible study we were going through the video session for 1 Peter. Jen Wilkin was dissecting the the passage verse by verse, and she made a statement that was another "A-ha" moment... although not really, because it was the same A-ha moment I had on Saturday.

She said, "Head. Heart. Hands."

As in, what we do is the last thing that will reflect our walk with God... the last thing we should emphasize.

That's not saying we don't need to change our behaviors. Jesus told the woman I talked about yesterday to "Go and sin no more." Paul talks about how if we know something isn't right and we continue to do it we have sinned, just as if we know that something is right and we don't act we sin.

As Julius says in Remember the Titans, "Action reflects leadership, Captain..." although my action doesn't really reflect God's leadership, because He's going to be in charge no matter what and we know He's good... but if I'm the only Jesus somebody sees, is that going to make a good impression?

Wilkin started with verse 13 and talked about preparing your mind first. We have to know in our mind our battle plan, because we have an enemy that throws out all the tricks. We have to "gird up" as if we are going to battle... because we are. A battle for our lives, with eternal implications. We have to set our hope fully on the promise of the grace of Jesus Christ. Without Him, we have no hope!

Next, we have to put away the passions of our ignorance... passions representing the heart. Ignorance because the heart is deceitful. Our feelings can't always be trusted, y'all! Case in point- on this dreary Monday, I wanted to do nothing but climb in the bed when I got home. I didn't feel like walking on the treadmill... but I sure felt better once I did.  We have to be holy as He is holy... a tall order if it was just us, but we are Spirit infused and with Him all things are possible!

We are to live in awe of the wonders of God... because He is wonderful. He is awe-inspiring. When you stop and consider Who He is and Who we are... and that He still loved us... wow. Just wow.

Lastly, we have a final commandment... love the brothers. (and sisters). Love...

just as Jesus told us.

Not changing our behaviors... but changing our minds. Changing our hearts to reflect the changes in our mind. Then, allowing Him to change our behaviors, because only He can make us holy and set apart. And when those changes are made, allow them to change our actions by loving others in purity.

My prayer tonight, Father, is that You will do Your perfecting work. Change me. Use me. Guide me.
May I love You more than anything, and may my love for You spill out to others. Thank You for Your goodness, Lord. Thank You for Your Son. Thank You for Your Spirit that enables me to live and move and have my being, such as it is. Thank You for Your Word. You are awesome, and I will praise You.





Sunday, February 10, 2019

God's Handwriting

When I was a young girl I took piano lessons. I wasn't very good, and I dreaded practicing.

So much that I was somewhat happy when my Mom caught my fingers in the sliding door of the van and they were too sore to play for a couple of weeks.

And also when my Mamaw Na accidentally sliced the tip of my thumb with the scissors.

No piano! No tee-ball!

Just a ridge on the end of my thumb that reminds me of my Mamaw everytime I feel it, and a thumb that can't be used for a fingerprint on the Pyxis machine at the hospital.

We're told our fingerprints are unique to each one of us.

God has a fingerprint, too, I'd like to think. After all, we are told we are made in His image. Just as you can see when a toddler has been perched next to a window by the sticky fingerprints on the glass, God leaves His fingerprints in the world around us.

We see Him in nature, in the "coincidences" that happen.

My Pastor talked a little about the fingers of God today, when He pointed out three instances in Scripture when God actually wrote something Himself, in His own handwriting.

(I'm pretty sure that my handwriting is NOT made in the image of God's handwriting, because nobody can read it!)

The first example when God wrote something was the 10 Commandments in Exodus. Brother Kemper pointed out that in this situation, He was writing the law, because sin had abounded after the Fall and He was separated from His people. He knew they would never be able to keep the law, but they had to have a guideline in place. He had a plan for atonement, and this was shared with them... but it was temporary.

The second example was in Daniel, when King Belshezzar was partying hard using the sanctified Temple vessels. When the law is violated, there must be punishment, and that is what God wrote in this instance. The King was found wanting, and he died that very night. How frightening it must have been to sit in that banquet room and see a hand appear, letters form on the wall, and then to be told that you weren't what you needed to be.

The last example was in John 8. Again, a woman was found breaking the law... but her accusers were pious and self-righteous. Jesus stooped down and wrote something... we don't know what.

Brother Kemper said He wrote grace.

Maybe not the word exactly (although, perhaps He did!), but what was written provided grace.

It also reminded her accusers that no one is perfect. "He that is without sin, let Him cast the first stone."

Three samples of God's handwriting. Three samples of His heart. A heart that is just. A heart that is righteous. A heart full of mercy.

Lord, write Your words on my heart so that I will reflect You. Help me meditate on Your law, Your Word, Your precepts. You are good, and You are the best storyteller. Write mine so that it is worth reading.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Heart Transformation

"Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God."- 2 Corinthians 4:1-2

At the beginning of the year, I said I wasn't making any resolutions.

Instead, I set goals; habits I wanted to develop; traits I wanted to focus on to make me a "better" person.

My guiding word became "seek", leading me to ponder on seeking God and seeking myself and seeking adventure and seeking all that God has for me.

This weekend, I sat for two days at Southland Christian Church in Lexington and allowed God to pour His Word into me.

I came to a new understanding of resolutions... it's not something I can do.

Being resolved is being intentional, yes, but without God we can't be resolved.

I wish I could sum up those four sessions for you.

If you've been reading this blog at all, you know that 2018 was a rough year for my family for a number of reasons. That's one of the reasons why I chose the word seek, because I felt like I needed God more than anything.

I say it with my mouth but don't always carry it out.

It's so easy for me to get overwhelmed.

I lose heart.

I cover things with secret shame... I deceive others, but most importantly I deceive myself.

At the beginning of 2018 I tried to fix myself. I was bound and determined I was going to be intentional. I was going to chase happiness. I was going to "better" myself...

and only found myself in a desperate place by the summertime.

As Mo Isom so eloquently put it this weekend, "It can't be about behavior modification. It has to be about heart transformation."

That's hard work, though... even though the hard work has already been done by Jesus.

Heart transformation hurts.

I can check something off my to do list... and fake it till I make it with the best of it...

but a life living like that will mean I never make it.

And I don't want that. Mo said she prayed a prayer that said, "Wreck my life."

I feel like in many ways my life has been wrecked this past year. I don't say that in a way to tempt God, because He can change things in an instant, but the struggles we have went through... and just like Lysa TerKeurst talked about, my life 9 months ago was not what I had imagined...

but God.

But God in His mercy reached down to me.

God in His all-knowing sovereignty was doing the hard work.

It won't be perfect... but it will be perfecting.

It will be messy... but the best messages are.

Tonight, my prayer is for heart transformation. May God find me ever seeking Him... and may He change me because of it.

I don't want to be the same me I was this time last year... ever again.

And may my battle cry, even in the difficulties, be like King Jehosophat's, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever."


Friday, February 8, 2019

Build It One Board at a Time

The cursor on this page just keeps blinking.

Blinking across the white page... taunting.

Some days I have some great ideas.

Others, not so much.

Some weeks I read a prompt and my mind starts racing... and then others I have no idea where I'll end up... or even where to start... so I just start typing.

Letting words spill on to the page, clearing my mind.

I don't identify myself as  'writer", but writers write, so before I can become one I have to start.

One word at a time.

Each one building on the other.

Just like a building doesn't pop up overnight,some stories don't unfold by themselves.

They have to be crafted, one letter at a time.

Build it... they will come.

Write it... they will read.

And if they don't, well, at least it's out of my head.

Focusing in February on getting words on the page... some days, like today, they don't mean anything but it's the habit.

Once the habit gets in place, the meaning will come.

Today writing on what comes to mind with the one word prompt "build" provided by Five Minute Fridays. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sustained Even in Denial

This evening as I came out of work it felt like a typical spring day... only it's February!

It was sprinkling just a bit and a slight breeze was blowing and blue skies were peeping out from behind the rain clouds.

As I drove closer to home, I noticed the clouds moving out. To the right of me, on a ridge top overlooking a valley, the sun was shining through the clouds and as I've thought so many times, I thought of how Jesus will come in all of His glory and it will be so much more than our eyes can ever imagine.

Thoughts like that come and go for me. I'd like to say I'm focused on Jesus all the time, but I'd be lying. Too often I get distracted by my to do list and all of my worries and I sometimes find that a whole day has gone by and I've not spoken to Him. More importantly... I've not listened to Him. Listening to Him (or not) can truly make or back my whole day.

If I open my eyes and ears and heart He's there, though. I can see him in the smiles of other people. I see Him in the green pine needles and the blue skies and the clouds and the rain. I hear Him when the wind blows through the windchimes and I can feel Him when Melody wraps her arms around my neck.

I've often wondered how anyone can look around and deny the presence of God. How can someone believe that all of this just happened... that some cataclysmic event occurred and BOOM here we all are? I understand that science is a belief in facts and that faith isn't always based on objective facts...

and we're also told that the foolish things will confound the wise.

Tonight I was reading A Peculiar Glory by John Piper and a statement made really struck me. Piper was talking about how two people can be around the very same thing or read the same statement and get two entirely different interpretations about it. He was discussing how both Peter and Judas had been with Jesus for around 3 years, but Judas never really saw Him.

I don't want that to be me.

Piper wrote, "They are sustained by the God they deny."

See, even if you don't believe in God, it doesn't make His reality any different. Every good gift is from above...from God. As Piper writes, "God is the source of all life." All things were created by Him, for Him. We are told in Acts "In Him we live, and move, and have our being."

Tonight, my prayer is that God will open our hearts and minds and ears and eyes so that we will see Him, hear Him, but above all, know Him... because He is worthy. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Where Would I Want to Be?

So tonight, on the 6th night of the #Write28Day Challenge, I'm fresh out of inspiration.

But thankfully the internet has an answer for everything... it's called google... so I googled "Inspiring writing prompts" and found one with 30 prompts.

One of them was if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

If you had asked me this a couple of weeks ago, when temps were down in the teens, I would have said a beach. I can close my eyes and almost feel the sun beating down on my cheeks, the ocean lapping against my feet as I slouch in a beach chair with an open book in my lap.

The smell of coconut is strong from the sunblock I applied, and the grit of sand sticks to my leg from the surf.

Oh, the beach! How marvelous you are....

but then there's the mountains, too...

towering green around me, with blue skies above and the sunshine beating down.

Wherever I want to be, I want it to be sunny.

(Even though I realize we need rain...)

There are so many places I want to go. So many locations on my bucket list. A play on Broadway. Paris, France. Hawaii. Mt. Rushmore.

I guess, though, right now at this moment, at just after 11 PM at night on a day full of work...

there's no place I'd rather be than right here... in the bed, getting ready to turn out the lights.

We'll dream about those places and I'll write about them when I actually see them with my own two eyes...

except the beach and the mountains. I carry them in my soul.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Look Up

For a reader like me, there are some books that are like old friends. I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I see them on the shelf or pass by them at a bookstore.

Same thing goes for books of the Bible. I've read the Bible through a couple of times now, but there are books that always make me struggle. Leviticus and Numbers and the Chronicles (I & II) are just some examples. My head can't wrap around some parts of Daniel or Revelation. Song of Solomon, though beautifully written, kind of makes me uncomfortable.

This year my Bible reading plan is based on a devotional called The One Year Praying Through the Bible for your Kids. It has you read a few pages in the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and then the New Testament every day, followed by a short devotion and a prayer. I'm really enjoying it...

until tonight. I'm in Exodus, and it's the part just after the Ten Commandments where God is laying the law down to Moses (literally).

As I read it, I thought, "I'm not sure how this applies to me. I don't plan on stealing or killing any cows or donkeys."

As I read, one of the things I've been trying to do is jot down thoughts/ important notes from at least one of the passages. After I read the passage in Exodus, I wasn't really sure what to do with it, so I just wrote, "This is hard. I don't understand what I'm supposed to be taking from this but I know Your Word is living and active and I'm asking You to help me know what to get from it."

No flashing billboards went off in Heaven, so I went on and read in Psalms, Proverbs, and then in Matthew. The passage from Matthew was from chapter 24. The disciples ask for a sign of the times and the end of the world.

Now no man knows the hour (we're told that!), but as I read I literally almost lost my breath. I've read this passage time and again, but as I jotted it down I thought of my depressing newsfeed and all that has been going on in our world today.

Read it for yourself... this is from the HCSB translation, which is a little easier to read than the KJV.


"Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.   For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many.   You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.   All these events are the beginning of birth pains."Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another, and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold."- Matthew 24:4-12

Reads like our headlines, right? Wars and rumors of wars. Nation against nation. Kingdom against kingdom. Famine. The KJV has "pestilences' in there... many different types of diseases. It also reads "earthquakes in diverse places"... all over the world.

Christians being perseucted and hated because of Jesus's name.

But here's what got me... what really hit me in the gut, because over these past few months, even years, with the advent of social media, I have seen such vile discourse between "civilized human beings."

Many will take offense.

Everyone takes offense these days... offended just because. 

And the love of many will grow cold... we've just stopped caring for one another.

His Word tells it like it is, even if we don't understand it and even if it hits us below the belt.

It also offers hope.

Hope in three letters...

BUT.

You'll find it in verse 13.

"But he that endures to the end will be delivered."

Not maybe. Not might.

Will be.

Look up, y'all. Our deliverance is near...

*Afterthought- If reading the Bible is intimidating, I get it.  It is hard to understand... but He will interpret it for you. If you read with an open mind and an open heart, He speaks to you. I promise! It's not an audible voice, but you'll find yourself thinking about a phrase you read over and over and it will just start to click.

Read a couple of verses a day and think about them. Chew on them. Journal about them.

Start in the gospels (John is a great one because it really lets you "meet" Jesus).

Make it a habit and I promise you will be blessed.





Monday, February 4, 2019

Simmer

To say I am not a cook would be putting things lightly. I have always been a picky eater so my culinary tastes run pretty simple.

Lots of junk food.

Chicken tenders.

Occasionally lasagna (yay for Italian night at the Jackson Woman's Club meeting tomorrow!)

Because of my lack of variety, I have never been one to be enthusiastic about cooking. Caleb laughs because I about burnt the house down boiling water to make jello.

In my defense, I did not about burn the house down... I just singed the stove when the water bubbled over.

And I'm sure I had my nose in a book somewhere... or maybe I was dealing with a precocious child.

And besides, isn't that why they make Snack packs?

Boiling water doesn't boil immediately. It has to get warm enough. As the heat moves through the water, it begins to bubble.

Good cooks know just the right temperature to get the water to where it isn't exactly boiling, but is hot enough to prepare whatever is soaking in the water (shows how much I know about cooking. I don't even know the right terminology!)

As I'm thinking about Italian food, I'm imagining the smell of homemade Ragu tomato sauce wafting through the air as it simmers on the stove.

Simmers... just below the boiling point.

Kind of like I get sometimes when I get overwhelmed. I hover right there, just under the boiling point, until the water spills over the edge of the pan and "about burns the house down" by singeing the oven.

Anger can turn to bitterness and bitterness turns our heart hard. As we feel ourselves begin to simmer, let's remember that a good cook adjusts the temperature and maybe even moves the pot off the burner.

Don't boil over. Deal with whatever is pushing you to that point.

And while you're at it, cool that anger down with a nice bowl of store-bought ice cream... no cooking necessary =)

Writing in February all 28 days, using prompts developed by Anita Ojeda for her Write 28 Days Challenge. I'm not using her prompts every day, but on this long Monday I was feeling uninspired, so it was nice to have a word to focus on. Check out other blogs participating in the previous link.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

I Went to the Woods

Today I spent three hours in the woods.

The sun glistened through the bare tree branches. The sky was blue and the moss on the rocks on either side of the trail was a bright green, contrasting with the dull brown of the dead leaves under my foot.

We climbed over felled trees, massive roots exposed and tangled in clumps of dark brown dirt.

The air was fresh and as I inhaled I could almost feel my lungs expand a little more; surely the air outside was opening up my alveoli more than my heat-stifled air inside my house?

The trail we hiked was one we had not tread before. By the appearance, it was not one many others had tread recently, either.

The recent rain and snow left some areas muddy. I balanced precariously as I waded through the muddy areas, not wanting my shoes to get too wet but knowing that it was unavoidable. Besides, have you really hiked if you leave without your shoes being muddy?

I breathed in deep and tried to look up, knowing that the view would be so much better than what was at my feet, yet afraid that I would end up face first.

As I walked, I found my mind wandering as my feet could not.

The sunshine was warm and I felt myself become warm, as if it had penetrated my soul.

I thought of sanctuaries and cathedrals and how even the largest and most elaborate cathedral could not rival God's creation in nature.

I then found myself thinking of how awesome those trees were, to grow in that one spot toward the sky, limbs reaching heavenward as their roots stretched out sight unknown.

How easy it would be to get lost in it all...

but as awe-inspiring as the creation is, I must not lose focus on the Creator.

It crossed my mind, "Don't worship the creation. Worship the Creator."

So often we do worship the creation. We look to our pastor, the song leaders, the groups we hear on K-love, the Bible teachers.

We adore our families, our children, our friends.

We live for our houses, our cars, our clothes... my books... working day in and day out to obtain more and more...

while the tree only continues to grow in the woods, being watered by God and nourished by sunlight and the rich dirt below...

reaching Heavenward, toward the Creator.

Today, my three hours in the woods was good for my soul. There were some dicey areas, as I maneuvered around ice and got dizzy looking over the precarious ledge above a swiftly flowing creek partially covered with ice. The icicles dangled from the cliff side and I feared one breaking off. We may have wandered off trail, and were fearful of the time (seems to be a theme in the Gorge- chasing the sunlight, fighting against darkness...)

But mostly, as I put one foot in front of the other and tried not to complain as my legs groaned through another mile and up another hill, I thanked God.

For sunlight.

For movement.

For fresh air.

For those trees, stretching Heavenward
and growing even when they appear dead in  winter time.

May I be like those trees... and may I never fail to look to You, who created me and had a plan for me from before the foundations of the world.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

What I Read in January

When I am writing regularly, this is always one of my favorite posts to write because I LOVE books and I LOVE reading.
This year I set a goal of 150 books a year, meaning I'd need to average 12.5 books a month.
I printed off several reading challenges, and I'll be posting my progress on those periodically.... I know that I won't read all the books on all of the challenges, but following the suggestions will make sure that the 150 books I read will be of a wider variety than what I normally read.
I am reading about 40 books right now.. crazy,  I know! I read in one for a while, then put it down... unless it's one that I have to just keep reading. Part of this is due to me reading series books... as soon as I stop one I'll start the next one.

In January, I finished up several books I carried over from the previous year.

1. 40 Days of Christmas: Celebrating the Glory of Our Savior was a devotional book that started with Advent and went through Epiphany. The devotions were enjoyable and were short enough that I could read them in only a few minutes. Highly recommend to anyone looking for a devotional book around Christmas time!
2. Farming, A Hnad Book by Wendell Berry- I usually don't like poetry, but Berry writes in a way that draws me in. It may also help that he writes about Kentucky, a place I know and love. His Kentucky is different, but still the same. (He's another reason why I'm reading so many books... as I finish one of his, I start another. And he has written a bunch!!!)
3. Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich- I've read everyone in this series. Honestly, they are predictable at times, but they make me laugh out loud sometimes and they are good, light reads if you just want to mindlessly follow a story. (Note- this series does contain some vivid language and violence).
4. The Way of Abundance by Ann Voskamp- I love anything by Ann Voskamp. She writes lyrically, composing beautiful words on the page. This was a series of short devotions that included questions at the end of each.
5. It Could Only Be Jesus- I bought this Bible study from Hello Mornings, a study group I've participated in several times over the year. I fell behind, as it was a Bible study where you had to read Scripture, write Scripture, and answer questions... but it's never too late for Christmas.
6. An Acceptable Time by Madeline L'Engle- This was the closing book of the Wrinkle in Time series and it was great. I enjoyed the whole series, even though it involved fantasy and time travel and other elements I usually don't enjoy that type of literature.
7. Wait for Me by Jo Huddleston- This is a book available on Kindle Unlimited ($10 a month through Amazon- with numerous free reads. I read all of the Harry Potter books free through Kindle Unlimited). This was a sweet love story about a girl from the right side of the tracks and her coal miner love interest, and I thought I would really enjoy it because it was set in West Virginia. It had a nice story line, but at times drug on and the grammar wasn't great. I did start the second book in the series and it seems some better.
8. Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs- LOVED this book. It was placed on my reading list in February of last year, but I didn't really start it until about October. Higgs profiled 10 women in the Bible who were "less than". She placed them in modern terms, then walked through their stories in the Bible, and ended with what we can learn from them. There are discussion questions for each chapter as well. Great way to learn about characters in the Bible (in more ways than one!)
9. Dopesick by Beth Macy- If you live in Eastern Kentucky, you need to read this book. It chronicles the opioid epidemic, mainly focusing in Virginia... but y'all. It's eye-opening.
10. Mary Poppins- I'm not sure how I've lived almost 40 years without reading this series, but I finished book 1 and started book 2. It's delightful.
11. The Accidental Beauty Queen- This was a book I got from net galley and it was great. It's the tale of two twins... one a beauty queen, one who's...well, not. It's funny. It's sweet. It has believable and likeable characters. And the main character is a book nerd. Loved it!!
12. Anne of Green Gables book 1- Again, I'm not sure how I lived this long without reading this book, but it has become one of my favorites. Anne is truly one of my favorite people in a book, and she has some of the most awesome quotes!
0.5- the other 40 books I'm reading...

check back at the end of this month for a list of what I finished. I did complete one this morning so I'm off to a good start =)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Where May Not be the Question

At the beginning of 2019 I chose one word to focus on throughout the year. I've done this for several years... some years I follow through. Some, like last year, I get distracted by my life and lose focus.

For a myriad of reasons, I chose the word "SEEK" to guide me this year.

As I look back on the first month of the year, I'm amazed at how that word appeared in sermons and in passages I've read.

I'm reminded of one verse that I'm paraphrasing, "Seek Him while He still may be found." As I've said before, I don't think God likes hide and seek, but I do know we are told there will come a time when His Spirit will not be found by man. With all of the changes and decisions being made in our society, I can't help but think that will be sooner rather than later.

Seeking someone or something means paying attention. Being observant. It's an action... if I lose my remote, I won't find it if  I just sit on the couch.
If we want to FIND something, we have to actually look... and too often that hasn't been the case for me.

I think that it's never a matter of seeking God as we do someone in hide and seek, because it's not a matter of WHERE He's at.

It's more a matter of where I am in relation to Him.

In His Word, we are told that He is our shield. He covers us with His wings and His angels are camped round about us. He goes before us and is behind us. He basically has us hedged in...and He is always on His throne, sitting next to the one who is advocating for us, our High Priest who, like us, was tempted... but never sinned.

We know where He is...

but I'm not always sure where I am.

So this year I've resolved to keep moving. Not to be stagnant. To open my eyes and my heart (and pray for Him to do so)... because I'm told that if I seek Him, He WILL be found...

wherever I am.

Writing this first post of the #write28day challenge with the prompt provided by Five Minute Fridays, where we write for 5 minutes on one word, unedited.

Going over my 5 minutes to briefly recap my "progress" this year. I set 19 "habits" I wanted to work on in 2019... not resolutions, just stepping stones...

I'll not recap all of them, but in January I walked over 10,000 steps EVERY DAY and walked on the treadmill at least 2 miles MOST days (habit: exercise).
I read my Bible EVERY DAY and worked on a couple of Bible studies (Reading His Word).
I listed over 100 things I was thankful for (1,000 gifts gratitude journal).
I read 12.5 books (keeping on target for my 150 books in 2019 goal)
I hiked to two different places and visited one new Ky county (my bucket list item of visiting all 120 counties in Breathitt county).

February goals are going to be writing more (every day!) and drinking more water (Thanks to my beautiful cups from my cousin at Lady's Lounge  Custom Corner- check her work out !



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Self-help

This afternoon as I was finishing up my walk/run I was thinking of the new year.

Here we are 13 days into it and I'm sure many of those new resolutions have fallen by the wayside.

We are gung-ho initially but then daily life hits us right in the face.

I was thinking of all of the ads on Facebook and emails that were in my personal email with plans to help you change and grow as a person...

exercise plans and reading the Bible plans and plans on making goals and plans on follow-through. Lots of self-help.

Make your marriage better!

Be a better Mom!

And here's what I thought... it's kind of like Smoky the Bear. "Only you can prevent forest fires."

Only you...

know what's best for you. For your marriage. For your kids. For your situation.

You can read every self-help book out there and it still may not work...

because your challenges are your challenges. Your life is your life, and it's unique, with a God-given purpose.

Now I'm not saying all those plans and books and blogs are bad... because I do love me a good plan and a good self-help book. I love books on studying the Bible and books on organization and books on leadership...

but I'm just saying that we need to give ourselves some grace.

Learn to look deep at your own problems, and make the decisions that are best for you to improve.

One step at a time.

And above all, know that God's plan is the best plan... and He's better than any self-help out there.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Better... Five Minute Friday

This year I didn't make a resolution.

I did set some goals, but I'm giving myself grace.

I chose one word-seek- and am using (or trying to use) Matthew 6:33 as my guide.

Seek first the kingdom of God, and all those other things will be added to you (My paraphrase).

I'm using that as a filter for my priorities.

Does this seek Him first right now?

I mean, I know that there are things I have to do. Five days a week, I have to work. These first few weeks of the semester, I know I'll also have to put in some hours on the weekend...

but I can't let the tyranny of the urgent- all the rush of the beginning of the semester- dictate my days.

I can't let it take the place of God, or my family, or my personal health.

It's easy to do that, to get distracted...

so SEEK I am.

And I'm finding that it's working, at least thus far.

I've read my Bible every day... not always in the morning, but if I haven't opened it before I leave the house I do it as soon as I get home. I've also been using my app on my phone to read while Caleb drives to school. I know, I'm the adult and I'm supposed to be paying attention... but it sure does help my anxiety!

I've taken at least 10,000 steps everyday, and have exercised most days.

I've jotted down things that I've ben thankful for.

And I've been more pleasant. I've not had that crazy lady feel much...

Because grace truly is the better way...

And I'm better for it.

Today I'm joining (a day late!) Five Minute Friday for their linkup using the prompt "better". Happy to be back in 2019!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

If I Were A Care Bear

Today as I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I got some inspiration.

One of my friends had shared a post that said, "If I were a Care Bear, I'd have a glass of wine on my belly."

Because I loved me some Care Bears growing up, I started thinking of that post.

For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the Care Bears, they were stuffed animals that were sold in the 80s (and are still sold today). They had a cartoon series and some movies and they also had books that we got free from some company when I was little.

I loved the Care Bears... their colors, their emblems, and the the fact that they came from Care-a-Lot... a place we need more of in this world.

I can't remember all of their names and emblems. I know there was one with a sunshine and one with a storm cloud and one with a four leaf clover.

What would my emblem be?

The first thing I thought of seems pretty obvious... a book... because y'all know I love to read. Maybe a stethoscope, because of nursing... or the state of Kentucky because I'm a proud Kentucky girl.

I'd like to think I'd have a sunshine, but we all know I'm not known for my sunny disposition. Chances are, I'd be more likely to have that storm cloud, because I can be gloom and doom and downright grumpy.

Here's the thing. We don't have an emblem that lets the world know who or what we are... but we can do that by our words and deeds. We are told by His Word "By their fruits you shall know them."

I sure don't want to be a rotten apple...

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Dreams

Every morning I hit the snooze button...

usually more than once.

This morning, I hit it twice... only to turn the alarm off and almost over sleep.

I was dreaming of travel the first time... members of my high school class and I and our families had traveled somewhere (I can't remember where). We had flown, though, and we went up an escalator to get to the boarding gate. The airport had a Kelsey's, and even a sidewalk set up like Jackson... crazy, y'all. I'm not sure why I dreamed about the class of '97, except that I've been seeing a lot of them post on facebook... some with accomplishments, some with family illness, others just everyday life. I just know there were a bunch of us in that airport, and it was good to reconnect.

The second time, I was dreaming of travel again. (or maybe I had those dreams earlier in the night. I don't know. I don't usually remember my dreams). My family was at Walt Disney World. Kami and I were in the gift shop picking out Beauty and the Beast memorabilia for our own Belle, Melody, when I turned to Kami and said, "We have to go ride It's a Small World... NOW."

I do love me some It's a Small World, even if it's been almost ten years since I've been to Disney World.

Dreams are funny things. Sometimes they can seem so real, and you wake up and it almost hurts. Other times they can make you angry, or sad.

Dreaming while you're awake can be that way, too... we are often afraid, or doubt ourselves, or don't want to put into words what we dream about.

Not every dream will come true... obviously, all of my 1997 classmates and I aren't going to be in an airport together, and I don't think Kelsey's will become an airport franchise (although those Blondies would sure taste awfully good while you're sitting on a layover).

But the right dreams will.

If we purpose our lives for what God wants, setting our thoughts on high and allowing Him to guide us, He will give us the desires of our heart... our dreams.

There has to be a little work there, too.

At the beginning of the year, it's a good time to reflect on your dreams. What do you want out of life? What do you envision yourself doing? How can you do that?

Now go... stop hitting the snooze button on life and get out and make that dream a reality... after all... dreams don't work unless you do.

Now I'm off to bed to see where I'll be traveling tonight.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Game Show Contestant

One of my goals for the new year was to write as much as I can. I am a feelings hoarder... I hoard up my feelings until they overwhelm me... and journaling is one way to get rid of some of the chaos that is my mind.

There are lots of things that I like to write about. Caleb is one of my favorite subjects, although I've found myself not sharing as much about him now that he is older.

I love to write about my interests- books and reading, hiking and outdoor adventures, and the great state of Kentucky (y'all! I'm going to write a travel book. Really, I am. It just may take me a few years... but you heard it here first!)

I love to write about Bible studies and time in His Word and what He's saying to me... if I listen.

Tonight, though, on this first Monday of 2019, I just wasn't inspired...

but I was determined. And that's what really makes a writer... writers write.

Even if they don't always have something to say.

So I googled "writing prompts" and liked this one: If you could be on any game show, what would it be? Describe what happens when you're on the show.

Now I love game shows... I always have. Whammy. Price is Right. $20,000 Pyramid. Win, Lose, or Draw. Family Fued.

But I have two all time favorites... and I come by these honestly.

About once a week (give or take), I spend the night with Mamaw Bert. She has a routine downpat. I'd say it's the same routine she's had since she retired.

At 7 PM every weekday, Wheel of Fortune is playing on that TV, followed by Jeopardy.

My Papaw Paul especially liked Jeopardy...and he's the only person I know who caught a mistake in an answer. It was something about a mule, I think. (What is it about my grandparents and mules?)

Anyway, I love those two shows. Grandma will always say, "Watch what you want." but I wouldn't change it for the world.

For that hour, I don't read on my Kindle or play on my computer.

I pretend like I'm a contestant.

If I could go on any show, it'd be Wheel of Fortune. I'd get every puzzle right and not go bankrupt once (even though the wheel seems rigged). I'd go to the final round and my letters would be MCB A.

And I'd win a new car! Not because my old one is bad, but as a young girl those new cars always fascinated me.

(Not as much as the showcase showdown on Price is Right when there was a theme and the girls dressed up as detectives... or did I make that up?)

I'd love to go on Jeopardy... but I'm no good at quick recall, and let's face it. I'm not a genius.

Although I do love me some literature categories.

Good night, Pat and Vanna. Maybe I'll see you someday.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Hide and Seek

My niece Melody loves a good game of hide and seek. She'll tell you to go hide, then watch where you go. She's got the counting down, but isn't great at hiding. She's a little like her Mama, whose giggles would often give her away.

It's one of the first games we learn as a child...

you'd almost say it's human nature.

And hiding is. It's one of the first things we see in the garden, after the fall of man.

Adam, ashamed of his nakedness, hides in the bushes... from an omnipotent God, who knows all things. Who knew before he took the bite of the fruit that he was going to.

Instead of calling Adam out (like Jesus did Zaccheus), God gives Adam a chance to come clean.

"Where are you?"- He asked.

And Adam, ashamed, came out and told God, in a few other words, "I was naked and ashamed so I hid myself."

How often do we take the childish game to a higher level and do just as Adam did?

I'm ashamed... so I'll hide.
I'm not worthy... so I'll hide.
I'm scared... so I'll hide.

You fill in the blank. Even when we seem to be living out loud, we're hiding behind a mask that says "I'm fine". We hide our true selves and present another version to the world, often because of shame.

There's another instance in the Bible that tells of a man ashamed. Isaiah, a prophet of God, comes face to face with His Lord. "Woe is me!"- he says, "for I am a man of unclean lips."

He knows his situation. He knows the situation of his people, too... how they had fallen away from God. He feels shame... complete and utter devastation. Woe.... sorrow.

But God redeems, Him, too. Just as He covered Adam's shame with animal skins, He sends His angel with a hot coal to purify the uncleanliness of Isaiah's lips. And then He says, "Who shall I send?"

Not "where are you", because He knows where Isaiah is... but it's not really about where we are. It's about where we'll go.

"Who shall I send?" because somebody needs to go. Somebody needs to serve, and love, and preach.

"Who shall I send?"

"Here am I, send me" Isaiah bravely answers.

"Here am I!"

Lord, here am I, willing. I've been hiding... and always you've been seeking. Pursuing. Never giving up.

So it's my turn. I'll not bother hiding my eyes, because I want to see you.
I'll not bothering counting to ten, because I want to find you.

Here am I, Lord, seeking You.

"And you will seek me and find me if you seek with your whole heart."

Friday, January 4, 2019

I Am...

I AM POEM (fill in the blacks with the directions.  Be as unusual as you dare!)

I am     quiet and unsure. 
I wonder     what is going on in Heaven right now.
I hear     the TV blaring.
I see    the cursor blinking on my computer screen.
I want     to be content.
I am     quiet and unsure.
  
I pretend     that I am confident.
I feel     as though I can conquer mountains.
I touch     someone else's life.
I worry     that I'll never get "it" right, or that I won't even figure out what "it" is.
I cry     when I think of others hurting.
I am     quiet and unsure.
  
I understand     that Jesus is enough.
I say    that God is in control, and I am not.
I dream    of words on a page going into the world to make a difference... my words.
I try     to live in the moment.
I hope     because there is no other option.
I am     quiet and unsure.

This was written using a prompt from http://promptsforwriters.blogspot.com/2011/05/i-am-poetry-prompt.html.
I plan to use it more than one time this year... as I seek out who "I am."

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The View from the Top

Yesterday I shared a quote on facebook comparing life to a hike. It basically said that when you climb a mountain, chances are your feet will hurt. You can either choose to complain about your feet hurting or you can sing your way to the top.

Life really is like climbing a mountain. We hear it referred to a lot as "being in the valley" (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the sha. dow of death) and then climbing up (I'm climbing up, Lord... up the mountain...) and finally those mountain top experiences.

And it's true. Some days (weeks, months, years) it seems like we are stuck in the dark valley. The wind blows cold and the fog obscures our path.

And the climb... well, it's no fun, either.

But the view at the top... if we can make it.

Today I hiked to Bad Branch Falls in Letcher County. It's got a longer loop, but we didn't have all day, so we decided to just hike to the falls and back. The sign said it was 1.2 miles to the fall.

And it was pretty much all uphill.

The last quarter of a mile I felt like a billy goat climbing over the rocks...

but I didn't complain. Not once... because it was something that I wanted to see.

I had saw pictures of those falls on the internet and knew it would be awesome... so I climbed.

Granted, I stopped a couple of times to catch my breath...

but the sound of the falls in the distance spurred me on.

And awesome they were... sheer majesty as the water spilled over the rocks. I read somewhere it was a 60 foot cliff facing... I just know that standing in those woods, surrounded by evergreens and jaunty rocks, looking at the power of the water spilling in the creek below, I was reminded of how very small and inconsequential so much is.

I am nothing, really.

But God...

My word of this year is "Seek". The past couple of years I've gotten distracted, and focused more on all those inconsequential things. This year, I want to use "seek" as my lens for life... seeking God first. Seeking HIs Will. Seeking His plan as I "find" myself... in Him. Seeking adventure.

And today, as I ambled through those hills, head down to avoid tripping on the roots, I sought Him in nature. I sought Him in beauty.

The climb was rough... but any journey will be.

My legs are sore tonight, and will probably be more sore tomorrow...

but that's just a sign I was working my muscles.

And as I stood and soaked in the view, I felt more like singing than complaining.

"It is well.  With my soul. It is well, it is well, with my soul."

May it be well with yours, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happiness Is...

This evening I had the task of cleaning out my wallet, as the zipper had broken and it was time to retire it.

I often say my life is one hot mess...

that's evident in the number of Diet Coke bottles and McDonalds bags in the floor of my car.

And also the number of recipes sticking in my wallet.

I very rarely carry a purse, and never have cash, so I stick those receipts in the zippered portion since it has my credit card information on it...

which may be why the zipper broke. (I had also had it for almost five years. A fashionista (is that a word?) I am not. Who wants to spend money on purses and wallets when you could be buying books?
(Unless of course, you are one of those people who love you some purses and shoes. My cousin Sawyer Grace is going to be one of those people... at New Year's Eve she had her small purse... complete with three pacifiers. A girl has to be prepared.)

So, as I digress...

As I was cleaning out the wallet I found an old American Eagle rewards card from when Caleb was obsessed with American Eagle. I had my CPR Instructor card that had expired in 2014.

But... tucked away amidst my Food City and Rite Aid and IGA cards was a real gem.

A Barnes and Noble gift card from a couple of Christmases ago..

with $22.26 written on it.

A giddy feeling came upon me.

Surely if that wasn't the actual balance I would have had them throw it away at the register, right?

And, lo and behold, it worked!

It's the little things, folks.

Today, happiness is a Barnes and Noble gift card with a balance on it that you had forgotten about.

A bite of blueberry donut from Dunkin Donuts.

Melody laughing.

Mispronouncing the names in the Bible in 1 Chronicles because you're from Eastern Kentucky and only God really knows how to pronounce them... but knowing that even mispronounced words can't hinder the purpose of God's Word.

A hug from Caleb.

Finishing two miles even though you had to walk them because you're out of shape.

Planning hikes for prettier days.

What's happiness for you today? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Resolve not to Resolve

For the first year in a long while, today really didn't feel that special.

It may have been that I got up at 230 AM and stayed up until 630 AM, which meant I slept until 1030.

Every year on the 1st day of January I resolve to get up early... gonna get in the Word and get out of this funk.

(we all know that isn't going to happen)

Today, though, I rolled out of bed at 1005 and padded into the living room.

Same as yesterday...

I opened up my Kindle and pulled up a devotional to start anew... Praying through the Bible for Your Kids. It follows the One Year Bible reading plan, and goodness knows that I can't get behind.

I got out my brand new notebook and opened up to page one...

a blank page...

just like this year.

Except nothing is really that different.

I decided to stop ignoring the fact that I have a job to go back to next week and started to tackle paperwork that will be necessary when I go back.

A football game was on TV all day long... first the Cats, then Ohio State, then Georgia.

I managed to watch with one eye while I worked.

My to do list is still a foot long...

same as this time three weeks ago.

(The only thing new under the sun was that Kentucky won their New Year's Day bowl, so I guess I can't say it's all the same.)

I laced up my tennis shoes and bundled up and headed outside. The sky was overcast. The dead leaves blew under my feet and gravel crunched as I forced myself to pick up the pace... one minute run. Two minutes walk, Breathe in. Breathe out.

Same as six months ago.

Today really wasn't anything special...

but it's my life. And for the most part, it's a good one. I could get all caught up in the hype of "new opportunities" and "blank pages" and "day 1"...

but this year I'm resolving to be different.

Not resolving that this year will be different, although I desperately want it to be...

but that I will be different.

For so many years, I've been striving to improve...to be better... to be a success in whatever I choose is important.

And yes, I set goals, but they are just that... guiding points.

I don't need to be a better me.

I can't be.

Today was just like any other day...

except I relished in my walk.

I prayed as my feet hit the pavement.

I felt the breeze hit my skin.

I soaked in the words "In the beginning" and gave thanks that Jesus's genealogy has three women with less than perfect backgrounds and one woman who chose to believe that He is faithful.

I thought of who I am- how I really am still not even sure of what that means, much less of what I mean...

but reminded myself that He knows.

And in my resolve not to resolve to anything, I am confident that He is doing a new thing...

in me. And He'll do it in you, too.

The only thing I know for sure about this "new" year is that it truly does have limitless opportunities. Not because we choose to make them (although in many cases we can) but because He has a plan.

This year, I'm doing something different. Oh, I'll be concentrating on new habits and "improvement"... but I'm doing it looking to Him.

There will be struggles. I'll mess up. I'll falter. I'll probably want to throw in the proverbial towel...

but I'm choosing to seek Him, and I know that He's not fond of hide and seek...

He desires to be found.

I'm so looking forward to it...