the redemptive pancake

This morning I woke up at 3:21am. The classic middle of the night pee and the frustration that follows upon not being able to fall back asleep. I didn’t fall back asleep until about 6:20-6:30ish. I was wrestling with God on wanting to get a good night’s sleep because I was beating myself up about not being able to get comfortable in my body. Poor Guy, He didn’t do anything wrong but I am angry so I vent it to Him, aware that I wasn’t kind in the attitude of my mind towards Himself and me. (Even in being just mean to myself, I am being mean to Him, because my life was His idea, not mine. I didn’t think or will myself into existence.)

When I woke up again at 9:05, after tossing and turning for a few hours in worry that I was over sleeping, I snoozed until 9:30. I prayed. I asked God to help me with my mind and with my battles of beating myself up.

I told myself, no matter what happens today, I will trust Him.

I read Luke 12:32“do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Father’s great pleasure to give you The Kingdom.” (basically my favorite verse ever…) and that boosted me out of bed. This verse follows the slew of verses that tell us not to worry about our lives and to trust God with everything.… Hm. interesting..

and of course, Luke 12:6-7, just a few verses before (some more favorites) about us being worth more than the sparrows and that “the very number of hairs on your head are numbered.” 

That blows my mind.

He counts the number of hairs on my head? 

He counts them with much more affection and kindness than the amount of rows and cars I counted today in attempting to find a parking spot.

I leave the house about 10:45 or so to arrive at my community college to absolutely NO parking. Even the overflow parking was off limits unless you were donating to Goodwill. I was getting so irritated! I started to give up and was huffing and puffing when a student just dropped stuff off in their car instead of leaving in that car so I could have their spot… someone playing some nasty rap song far too long right next to me… (that was gross..) and someone else driving WAY TOO FAST. That scared me. Someone spots a student who is leaving and they snatch their spot… “I have probably been here longer than you, that’s not fair…” 

I was not doing well. 

Then a sweet girl let me follow her to her car and I got her spot. Sweet victory came over me. This was awesome.

I needed to get to school to finish an assignment due tonight for my night class. I needed to leave at 12:45 to take my mom to an appt. I get into my computer lab at 11:45..I think about 35-40 minutes of driving up and down those rows. I told the faculty member when he asked me how I was that “I am good, but parking was a nightmare. He told me that was because there was an event in the performing arts center today… that explains it.

I turn on the computer and check my email before starting the assignment for the class

that was cancelled tonight.

He sends the email at 11:09 (while I am driving up and down and up and down and up and down.)

This day has NOT gone as planned. At all. 

Now my mom is having my brother take her to give me more time at school. My tummy is already growling and I don’t have food because my mom and I were going to lunch before her appt… 

Ay ay ay. It can be so hard not to complain sometimes. 

But you know what?

I am flipping the pancake called my attitude. I am putting the gooey side down on this hot metal before the other side turns black in burning. Even though I cooked the first side a little too much in the heat of a sour, far too worked-up of an attitude… I still have another chance on the other side.

I am taking my other side seriously and will pay careful attention to it.

I think these pancakes are going to turn out amazing.

Who knew that pancakes could be so redemptive? 

I have my fork and I am ready to feast on His mercies that are new every morning.

And today I am believing, they are new every moment…

Rest in an unexpected way

So, I had really rough night. 

Family conflict past 11pm and woke at 4:21am for the usual middle-of-the-night pee. Doing my classic half-awake stumble instead of swagger walk back to bed, I pray, “please, God, let me go back to sleep. I am so tired. Please let me find rest.” I prayed this for I often have a very hard time going back to sleep after having to relieve myself in the middle of the night. Especially when my beautiful husband’s alarm starts going off at 4:30. (I love that man.) <3

He throws his arm over me upon my return, he always knows the moves I make when I am restless, and he always holds me super tight, almost begging me not to go, when I have to go potty in the middle of the night. He is fully asleep as he reaches for me and pulls me in close and my heart turns to mush. I tell him the stories and he doesn’t even know he does it. He couldn’t be more precious..

So there I was this morning praying for rest and my husband cuddles. He holds my tired, weary body from the night and day before (okay, who am I kidding…. the weary body that has been running on almost-empty for months, heck, years.

I say almost empty because God never allows me to become fully empty.

He is always keeps the light in my candle when I feel my wick will burn out…

He always keeps me going. 

Even if it is one breath at a time.

Stephen kisses me this morning when he gets up for work. I am still tossing and turning. He kisses me again when he is about to leave, I was hugging pillows and shifting positions like no tomorrow trying to find that comfort and rest I was so craving. 

For over two hours, I have been tossing and turning… wanting to cry in pain but having dry eyes. My neck, jaws, shoulders, back, and restless legs are giving me nothing but grief. If I don’t lay on my neck or back just right…. these things start to hurt to the point where I am kept wide awake. The jaws from the TMJ and grinding of my teeth…. sure signs of great stress…. and yet, I continue to pray “Please God, let me find rest.” He is the faithful one so I don’t give up praying.

Stephen is gone at work now, will be arriving in less than five minutes. And I give up on trying to sleep…. I grab my phone to  text him of the pain I experienced last night while he was waiting in bed for me. He was asleep by the time I made it to him. So I educated him on my pain this morning and for the first half hour+ of his work day, we were talking about my pains.

We shared our hearts and I felt his strong arms of defense around me even though he was sitting in a cubicle 20+ minutes away from me. 

Our hearts are being woven more and more each day with God’s as some sort of stain resistant, flammable, perfect cloth… our banner of love flying high in the wind. As a flag… As a symbol of strength and victory.

Where He is calling His kids to go, (us! whoo!) what to be, what to do with our lives…. we are still learning.

But where we go with Him is where we want to be.

On a pilgrimage…. in a love story that does not end.

Pilgrimage means: a journey to a sacred place…

Great thing that sacred place is God who is omnipresent… Always there, All around us, All the time.

He doesn’t make it that hard since He promised us He will always be there.

(Though with sin and flesh, as my sweetheart always says, it is simple, but not easy)

Regardless of what He is doing, put our faces on the next Thanksgiving educational book for elementary school kids…. you know, those ones about the pilgrims, indians, and the beloved turkeys?

Well, here is what I gather from our modern day journey:

We will eat the turkeys God gives us to eat (for He always meets our needs and satisfies our hunger… our daily bread), we will befriend the most unlikely and find favor in the least expected ways (the Indians who are foreign to us can give us something greater than gold… or their golden corn… the joy of serving and loving others and hopefully being loved in return), and us, the pilgrims, soak it all in with thanksgiving.

As my dear sister, Ann Voskamp, whose blog has become an important/special part of my days, has been talking about lately, to have joy is to have thanksgiving and to be thankful, we must shift our perspective.

I have been praying for that very thing…. and I think God is up to something spectacular in all of Stephen’s and my pain.

Because He always is.

I read from Holley Gerth yesterday (another beautiful sister whose blog means a great deal to me) that “God won’t allow pain unless it’s giving birth to something new.” 

Doesn’t He promise us trial in the world (labor pains) but real, amazing joy and hope and faith of the life to come and knowing Christ here? (you will see me again… I am preparing a place for you… I have given you the Holy Spirit who will guide you in all things… God the Father loves you… I love you… you are worth more than many sparrows…. I know the number of hairs on your head…. I have loved you with an everlasting love… my plans are for your good… fear not… I am always with you, until the very end of the age….) 

I don’t want to miss it. Neither of us do.

Lord, if you are willing, let us give birth to something miraculous and beautiful that we may profess Your name and know You and love You with such confidence and joy… please give us real life. Show us Your Names…. I AM. and LOVE. = I AM LOVE. Yahweh…. and all the amazing names Your people have cried out to You through the ages… You changed my name when I married your son, Stephen, can we please know your Names in new ways?

Help us in every trial. Let this cord of three never be broken. 

Amen.

 

I found rest this morning.

Not in the way I was initially praying for (being able to go back to sleep after -5 hrs of sleep) but in the fact that my God is the awesome Superhero who has not let go of me or forgotten me in all my stumbling. AND, He is still doing amazing things with Stephen and I in our marriage…. that Stephen’s heart is representative of His very own…. and the incredible romance of it all. I feel so refreshed. What a nice rest this is….. And that God of ours, whom I prayed to with such persistence and confidence about finding rest this morning…. gave me that rest…. but in the way I was not expecting it….

He always does that to me.

I love it.

:)

We are in for a good day…. let us rejoice, for our God has made it.

In the morning, O LORD, your hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my prayers before you, and wait in expectation.

Psalm 5:3

laying down his life

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

Okay, so I know the context of this verse is speaking of “laying down his life” in the sense of dying for someone…

But I was just thinking, and please forgive me if I am wrong, but what about laying down our lives in the sense of LIVING for someone?

Like, how we die to ourselves to live in Christ, which lets us find REAL life… isn’t that laying our lives down for Him?

How when Jesus came… and wasn’t His LIFE, not just His excruciating death and glorious ressurection, a laying down? He left the Kingdom of God to come to Earth to save us. He put His Father’s will above His own. When did He serve Himself? Didn’t He come to serve and save us all?

I am watching my amazing husband right now… he is working his cute little booty off for his first part to the CPA exam. It is basically the BAR exam that lawyers take, but the one for accountants. It is big, mean, and ugly. But, this humble, caring, hardworking man is over there, about 8 feet away from me with his bloodshot eyes staring at the computer screen.

He is working two jobs right now. Full time in an office that pays him, and most of the night (with the exception of a dinner break and an hour after getting off work) studying, studying, studying. 200 questions here… another 100 there… read this… research that… memorzie this….

He is doing it all with a smile though. Even though he is exhausted. He doesn’t grumble or complain. He doesn’t whine or wish he wasn’t doing this…

He is trucking right along with all the love in his heart…

I want to better provide for us baby. I want to be able to take care of my wife better..

I love you so much. You are so beautiful. I want to work hard…

He is laying it all down for me right now.

He isn’t seeing his friends or watching the hockey games… He isn’t playing his guitar or writing songs…. He is working hard around the clock for us.

For me..

He is laying his life down for me…

When he could be resting, he is working.

When he could be watching a game, he is working his brain.

When he could be talking with his friends, he is thinking aloud…

I have never seen anyone so beautiful.

He is teaching me so much about selfless love, REAL LOVE, right now.

Being married to him is the most amazing gift…. (second to Jesus saving me and giving me a home with Him in Heaven).

I call him my silver miracle, Jesus will always be my Golden one.

I found an index card from my sweetheart recently, it was on his on old desk in his former house.

I found it and it is now taped to the wall in our kitchen… it reads

love has nothing to do with self – our love is limited the instant we begin thinking of ourselves.

This 4 part, 1 year’s worth, seems like a hundred thousand hours of studying for this exam is brutal… but he is so beautiful.

He endures it all for me, thinking of how he can better support us financially. Doing his best to give us financial security.

He does it all with thinking of me…

And even in his busyness, he is still making time to spend together with me,

Letting me know it is all for us, he loves me, and we’re in this together.

Encouraging me as I am missing him, showering me in affection as I try to help him, and holding me close every moment he can.

He isn’t so wrapped up in his work that he forgets who he is doing it for…

I am so blessed… he humbles me so much.

What if we lived that way for Jesus?

No matter what work we are doing, just pausing, even for 5-10 minutes to hug Him, let Him know it is all for Him, and we love Him.

Still showering Him with praise and affection.

And you know what, I think this is how Jesus lived for us.

He layed it ALL down.

He lived for His Father, He lived to love, heal, bless, protect, and nurture us, and He died the most painful death to rescue, redeem, and reconcile us.. and you know what, He came back to live again. To keep living in love for His Father and for us….

He worked for us harder than anyone else ever could, can, or will ever do.

I couldn’t be more thankful for my husband and for my Lord Jesus.

He teaches me so much about love.. Jesus gives us our love.

Not only in words,

but in action.

This is my verse for my hubby… it speaks of my sweet Stephen perfectly.

“I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine concern for your wellfare.”

Philippians 2:20

I love you sweetheart.

Thank you Jesus. You rock.

beloved_bride

the silver umbrella

I was just sitting on our bed. In deep prayer. With a moaning heart.

I have felt sick with myself since I woke up this morning.. well, longer before that, really.

Frustrated and bitter, fearful and trembling over God and my salvation.

How has my heart gone so far astray? Why I have become so caught up in this world?

When He gave me my husband.. even when he was just my boyfriend.. the single thing I wanted most on this earth, how did I then turn my back on Him? Why wasn’t I content with how good His plans were? Why did I try to correct Him as if I knew better? Why didn’t I humble myself to trust Him?

Why did I get so caught up in pleasing my parents? Why did I put them before anything else?

Why did I care so much about what people thought of me?

I grew selfish.

SO selfish.

and cold.

Insecure.

Uninviting and unwilling.

I didn’t want to let go…

I didn’t want God to be God and me be His daughter and servant.

I wanted to be the one who knows best, and He be the one who seals the deal, as my servant.

I got full of myself when I recognized Him. Like I was something super special when I realized He was working good things for me.

And all the opposites of the fruits of the Spirit came throwing their rotten fruit through my windows. I ate it all with disgust. But I still ate it. My stomach grew sour and I wanted to throw up more than just this rotten fruit… I dreaded looking out the windows to the world… in fear more rotten fruit would make it’s way in.

But then I looked out the window today and something changed.

A woman was talking her mid-morning walk around our cul-de-sac.

The white window sheers were draped across the window. I looked out the window and saw our kind gardener.

I prayed “I would rather be a humble gardener than as a princess on this earth…

because those who are humble have real joy.”

As I prayed this very thing with my eyes on the gardener cutting the edges of the lawn between our house and our next door neighbor’s… my eyes caught a sliver of silver.

A beacon of light.

It was a woman walking through the middle of the street in the cul-de-sac and venturing her way back to the sidewalk on the other side. Her umbrella looked metallic.

It looked like the smoothest covering of aluminum foil I had ever seen.

It was so shiny.

It reflected the sun brightly.

Like a mirror does in the sunlight.

Something dawned on me.

That is repentance.

I have been struggling with the full definition of repentance. What is it really to repent?

I was teasing my husband while he was getting dressed for work this morning. He was impersonating me and being all cute and silly with me. I decided to play the fake-frustration card on him… “ohhh Stephen Bradley! You’re done for! I’ve got a fork in my hand and I’m coming for you!” (I can’t do this whole thing without a massive smile on my face. He just makes me laugh and so happy.) Startled he starts pulling out.. “baby I didn’t mean it, it’s only funny cuz it would never be true..” and with a smile on my face, I point my finger in the air and say “Repent and you shall be forgiven!”

He then turns his back to me.

Then he turns around and faces me again.

And says “I turned away from it!”

G A S P.

So… THAT is what it means to repent!!!!

FREEDOM.

Okay. Deep breath.

So to repent and believe and you shall be forgiven….

is to turn away from the sin and self
and believe in the forgiveness and grace of God.

to humble myself, and realize He is the good guy who has it all figured out.

It is to walk through this life with a silver umbrella.

“I put those sins behind my back, I will never gaze at them again.
For now they live somewhere where the light doesn’t touch.
Somewhere far, even further behind my Father’s back.
Everything before me, and the One who guards my steps,
is nothing but light guided path.
So to you, my sinful past, gaze at my silver umbrella.
The reflection of the light who guards my back and protects my eyes,
will in turn blind you.
I am kept in the comfort of the sun, with eyes not squinting, and head not burning.
But the fury of the burning of the light from the sun is still there,
reflecting off my silver umbrella.
Fury and passion remain, but comfort and peace I am in forever
as the silver umbrella takes the heat,
and I take a walk with my Lord beside a peaceful river.”

Amen.

ISAIAH 30

1 “Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the Lord,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin;
2 who go down to Egypt
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame,
Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace.
4 Though they have officials in Zoan
and their envoys have arrived in Hanes,
5 everyone will be put to shame
because of a people useless to them,
who bring neither help nor advantage,
but only shame and disgrace.”
6 A prophecy concerning the animals of the Negev:

Through a land of hardship and distress,
of lions and lionesses,
of adders and darting snakes,
the envoys carry their riches on donkeys’ backs,
their treasures on the humps of camels,
to that unprofitable nation,
7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless.
Therefore I call her
Rahab the Do-Nothing.
8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them,
inscribe it on a scroll,
that for the days to come
it may be an everlasting witness.
9 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.
10 They say to the seers,
“See no more visions!”
and to the prophets,
“Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
prophesy illusions.
11 Leave this way,
get off this path,
and stop confronting us
with the Holy One of Israel!”
12 Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says:

“Because you have rejected this message,
relied on oppression
and depended on deceit,
13 this sin will become for you
like a high wall, cracked and bulging,
that collapses suddenly, in an instant.
14 It will break in pieces like pottery,
shattered so mercilessly
that among its pieces not a fragment will be found
for taking coals from a hearth
or scooping water out of a cistern.”

15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,

but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”

23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.

27 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar,
with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke;
his lips are full of wrath,
and his tongue is a consuming fire.
28 His breath is like a rushing torrent,
rising up to the neck.
He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction;
he places in the jaws of the peoples
a bit that leads them astray.
29

And you will sing
as on the night you celebrate a holy festival;
your hearts will rejoice
as when people playing pipes go up
to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Rock of Israel.

30 The Lord will cause people to hear his majestic voice
and will make them see his arm coming down
with raging anger and consuming fire,
with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail.
31 The voice of the Lord will shatter Assyria;
with his rod he will strike them down.
32 Every stroke the Lord lays on them
with his punishing club
will be to the music of timbrels and harps,
as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm.
33 Topheth has long been prepared;
it has been made ready for the king.
Its fire pit has been made deep and wide,
with an abundance of fire and wood;
the breath of the Lord,
like a stream of burning sulfur,
sets it ablaze.

my I never be shaded by any other umbrella, than that of my Lord’s Spirit… the Silver Umbrella…

No cover of a Pharaoh, a parent, a friend, a pastor, a husband… can cover me like His umbrella.
None can shade me from His wrath. No other can cover me in His peaceful protection.
What an eternal promise of hope this prophesy brings.


Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.
Psalm 63:18


beloved_bride

He’s not finished with me yet…

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs
through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
John 2:11

My amazing friend & sister Sarah just sent me this verse over a text message today.

She didn’t know I have been super down in the dumps and feeling overwhelmed and stressed about my life the past few days. (Hence why I haven’t written…) I got sick with a cold and discomfort in my ears yesterday (which really isn’t the end of the world, but I tend to get really disappointed when I get sick).

I was sick most of the past year and a half with migraines. In and out of hospitals, a slew of different doctors weighing possible diagnoses, scary and painful medical testing, blood tests, IVs, trips to the ER, a week long dose of morphine on a hospital bed, pill after pill…. I couldn’t go out in the sunlight or watch TV even on the lowest lighting for a given number of weeks. All I could do was sleep. I was terrified I had a brain tumor. I was depressed. I was probably the most sick fear. I was afraid of getting them each day and afraid to get my hopes up on doing things… how to even just live in a day. I had to drop out of school because of my pain. I needed to heal. I have been at home since helping my mother who is battling cancer and helping my family (both my new family with Stephen and my parents/brother), which of course, is good for the family. I like to help and be here.

But when it comes to me, when it comes to Courtney, I have no idea where I want to go with my life.

I have no idea what I want to do, what I should do, what to do.

And it scares me.

Career? School? Children? Ministry?
What? Where? How? Why?

HELP!!!!

JESUS!!!

HELP!!!!

has been my prayer.

I have often cried and cried until my tear ducts feel dry. My strength has felt like that of a chihuahua against a pitbull. I have been so weary and tired, unsure and unstable about my next move… I know God will help me and guide me, but what step do I take and when? How do I do it? And where? It has been a chaotic mess in my mind.

Stephen can testify how often I feel like I am falling apart at the seams. I have been living halfway sewn the past couple years.

The easiest decision of my life was choosing Jesus Christ.
The second easiest was choosing to marry Stephen.
I stayed and am staying so sure in those decisions.
Easiest and best decisions of my life.

Though along the way, not much has been easy.

Dying to the self for Christ feels like a killer more often than not.
Recognizing Him all the time is really, really hard.
Stephen’s and my engagement was a brutally hard time.
Having faith to follow God’s calling for us wasn’t always peaches and cream.
But still, best decisions of my life.

Jesus and my husband have been my everything in terms of prayer and longings.
Now I have them both, and I have no idea what to do next.
Why is it so terrifying?

Maybe I need to do more of this dying to the self.

Maybe any step should always start with a falling to the knees…

Remembering that I am His and He loves me.
And maybe it is just growing pains.
Maybe this is all part of growing up.
I am, afterall, His daughter.. His child.. His baby girl.

So today, when Sarah sent me that verse in John 2, it reminded me…

He isn’t done working His miracles yet.

I am one of His miracles (since being alive is a miracle in and of itself).
So therefore, He isn’t done with me yet.

And it filled me with
hope.

If my husband always makes sure to finish his milk…
how much more will the greatest Husband of all make sure to finish what He started?

How much more faithful will He be to His people?
How many more miracles will He pursue and complete?

One thing is for sure…
He will never forsake or leave us.
He isn’t finished with the miracle He started in me.

He isn’t finished with the miracle He started with you either.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post from Max Lucado’s “Facing Your Giants” book:

“see God’s failures as His projects.”

Maybe I should look at myself that way too.
Maybe I am not a failure.
Maybe I really am okay.

And you know what,
maybe you are too.

“What Jesus did in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.”
John 2:11

I believe in You too, my precious Lord Jesus.

beloved_bride

“being confident in this…
that He who began a good work in you [me]
will be faithful to carry it to completion
until the day of our Lord Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6

For further encouragement, check out this song by Brandon Heath.
He nails it.

“there is hope for me yet
because God, won’t forget
all the plans He’s made for me
I have to wait and see…
He’s not finished with me yet.”

I choose option B: freakishly large face-consuming smile.

Image

I don’t know how to write this guy’s expression out in words..

upset? disappointed? unhappy?

Maybe he wanted a sausage croissant without the sausage from the Jack in the Box but they put it on there anyways (because of course, Jack in the Box doesn’t have just a good ol “an egg and cheese croissant”)

(and no, that was not an original statement just for this “I am not somewhere over the rainbow” not-smiling man…. that is MY usual strange inquiry when I get to the “can I take your order?” box)

Maybe he wanted the kid’s menu sized pancake and egg combo because he wasn’t that hungry but IHOP wouldn’t let him. The same exact menu item was also in the Senior section of the menu… but neither child or senior could apply to him.

(makes me laugh out loud because this is exactly what happened to my sweet husband one day… hee hee, poor guy.)

Maybe this dude is just someone who is hard to please in general.

Maybe he is just a grouchy dude most of the time.

I don’t know.

But I do know this!

I choose

Image

I choose this rather large freakishly face-consuming smile!

I think we all know people who tend to be a little cranky no matter the weather or time of the week.

The grocery store check-out woman, the man on the other end of the phone line, the person who honks, honks at you for not going the SECOND the left-hand turn lane arrow turns green. I think we all know what I mean.

But as Michael & Roz (Stephen’s & my closest friends) have told us a thousand times…

choose not to let it get on you.

They’ve taught us that:

even if someone throws a baseball to you, you can CHOOSE to catch it or not. You don’t HAVE to catch the ball if you don’t want it.

Nothing has to get on me, I don’t have to catch anything,

IF I DON’T WANT IT!

I don’t HAVE to catch it!

Talk about freedom!

And of course, our great Lord Jesus makes sure to also give us a warning on catching it..

Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good character.

1 Corinthians 15:33

 We can’t let someone else rob us of the joy in our day.

We can, of course, be as miserable as we want to be.

As we, ourselves, choose to be.

“Everyone is as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Abraham Lincoln

Do you want to live like that today?

I know I don’t.

So next time we are hanging out with the Scrooge who will be featured in the sequel, the real Grumpy who, this time, doesn’t even melt at Snow White’s kiss, or the person who just doesn’t use the kindest of words no matter what you have done or haven’t done,

Let’s not catch it as if it were the flu.

Let’s forgive them.

& Let’s smile.

I’ve heard a thousand times that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

I believe that to be true.

I choose this great big smile to define my day today no matter where I go, what I do, or who I come across!

Will you?

in love,

beloved_bride

ImageAnd who knows….

maybe we can get mister grumpy-gills to laugh like this.

And even if we don’t,

we can!

:)

“live. laugh. LOVE.

today.

credit to Max Lucado, Glory to God.

Image

This is the book I mentioned in my post: http://belovedbride2.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/letting-my-hair-fly-free-even-with-a-helmet-on/.

I am about a third of the way in and I find myself having a hard time putting it down.

I ran across this in my reading today… and it is changing my day.

I want it to change my life starting today.

Lucado says:

instead of seeing people “as God’s failures,

see them as God’s projects.”

 

WOW.

beloved_bride

letting my hair fly free, even with a helmet on.

Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;

He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.

Psalm 66:8-9

Two days ago I wrote about my struggles with accepting that I am not condemned and that I do not need to feel guilty for absolutely everything I do and don’t do in a day. I wrote about taking everything one day at a time and focusing on TODAY because “each day has enough trouble of its own” and I need to “let tomorrow worry about itself” (Matthew 6:34).

I am active in this practice of focusing on today and living in the freedom of Christ. I am focusing on not feeling guilty for absolutely everything (it is an honest struggle!!) I am taking one step forward at a time with active thoughts on what I can and can’t do in a day. If topic A gets done, but topic B doesn’t, will I really believe that I am no less of a beloved daughter of God, a precious wife, or a capable, beautiful person? I can honestly answer yes.

I was able to answer yes yesterday and I am able to today.

I will wrestle with tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

Now, of course, that does not mean that I have been sin-free either over these two days.

I have acted selfishly (offering my husband the blueberry instead of the last vanilla yogurt because I wanted it), let my emotions get the better end of me (not expressing patience or kindness when I asked my brother to empty the dryer with his clean clothes).. among other stuff I am sure.

CHA DUDE. I am still a sinful person. Surprise, surprise!

But here is the difference…

  • I recognize the mistake.
  • I face it.
  • Then I turn away from it.
  • And won’t look back at it.

The only time to look back at it EVER AGAIN is for the sake of growth. It is a quick look back to step forward, not to stop, stare, and sink. To dwell in the past is to sink into quicksand. Believe me, I know.

This act of the glance back (note, glance), is to be able to say, “you know, I’ve made a mistake similar to this one before, and I wasn’t pleased with the results… so I won’t be doing this again. I learned my lesson. And I am forgiven for that past time. I don’t need to dwell on it and I am choosing today to not do it again.”

And then, move on!

MOVE ON!

What a concept!

It is SO GREAT!!!!!!!!

It is so liberating and wonderful.

:)

Yesterday I got my toes wet on what I am learning. And, let me tell you, I had a fantastic day.

It wasn’t a flawless day, but it was a great one!

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Psalm 66:20

AMEN.

He is helping me keep that helmet on tight as I let my hair fly free in the wind.

This morning, I was talking to my husband as he was getting ready for work about it. I told him that I slept really well (which is not a very common thing to begin with…). But I, to my surprise, fell asleep quickly and peacefully and slept all the way until our morning alarms went off.

I was able to do so many things yesterday! Including going to the DMV for about 2 hours (name officially changed!!! Right on!!!! It’s official!!!!), started reading a new book (which I am going to recommend to you all.. wow!!! I would be a liar if I said it isn’t helping my growth right now!), scrubbed our shower, and did three loads of laundry. Sure, small stuff in the grand scale of life, nothing too awesome.

But it really was awesome.

Why?

I did it all with a whole different attitude.

Instead of beating myself up for scrubbing our shower instead of doing something else, I thought of my husband when he takes his morning shower and how much better that will feel for him. I thought of myself when I want to lay in a bathtub at the end of a long day to relax, and it made me smile to have a clean tub. I enjoyed the task I was doing and couldn’t find anything to beat myself up for, which so often before, it was a rare occurrence.

But, I decided that I don’t want it to be a rare occurrence, so it won’t be anymore.

I just have to keep truckin at this change one day, one step, one moment at a time.

And you know what, with the help of Jesus Christ, His great and powerful name that has the power to demolish strongholds.

I CAN & I WILL.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

2 Corinthians 10:4

What further is my weapon?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Ephesians 6:10-20

I want to expand on this great set of verses in Ephesians at a later time, but right now I am going to elaborate on what is nailing me in this journey of growth.

I love the part about STANDING FIRM.

It is like it is saying, “hey, if you are going to stand, great, but stand FIRM when you stand!”

In other words, DO NOT GIVE UP OR GIVE IN!!!!

I have to remember this as I am seeking growth and change.

I must stand firm, even when it feels like my knees are going to buckle down.

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand firm at all.”

Isaiah 7:9

(this verse has quite literally become my calling.)

And the other thing that is particularly nailing me in this set of verses from Ephesians is that part of the armor called  THE HELMET OF SALVATION.

THE HELMET OF SALVATION! this is what I am remembering as I get into that dark abyss in my mind about guilt, shame, confusion, the whole “I’m not good enough” spiel. (Insert Charlie Brown’s schoolteacher’s “wah wah… wah wah wah…” here)

With this helmet on, I choose to block out thoughts of those corrupting thoughts of sorrow, self-pity, worthlessness, pride, guilt, shame…. the whole ugly slew of attacks that seek to rob me of my sunshine.

I choose to dwell on thoughts of my salvation.

I choose these truths to reign in my mind:

  • He has my name written in the Lamb’s book of life, (Revelation 13:8 & Luke 10:20),
  • He will never stop loving me no matter WHAT I do (Romans 8:38),
  • He has a plan for me that is GOOD (Romans 8:28 & Jeremiah 29:11),
  • He truly cares about every aspect of me and my life, (1 Peter 5:7, Luke 12:7, Matthew 10:30, & Psalm 38:9)
  • and He is not giving up on me! (Philippians 1:6).

All these thoughts are TRUE.

And did you notice?

they all start with HIM.

The thoughts that point a finger in my face and laugh at me, the fears that kick me even as I am in midair tripping, the lies that make it nearly impossible to breathe….

These TRUE thoughts vanquish them.

Lies are what cannot stand firm, ever. But Truth always does.

  • Truth sends Lies crying home to a place where there is no loving mother to embrace them.
  • Truth sends Lies packing empty bags to a lonely, deserted island.
  • Truth makes Lies  illiterate fools in a foreign land.

THEY HAVE NO HOLD ON ME.

Jesus does.

They have no hold on my thoughts.

Jesus does.

& you know what,

I am finding joy.

I AM FINDING JOY.

Just the thing I wanted to find.

What a beautiful day it is today.

I am living.

TODAY.

I am changing.

TODAY.

I am growing and not giving up.

TODAY.

Let’s let our hair fly free together today!

with love,

beloved_bride

short but serious.

Tomorrowland may be a place in Disneyland, but it is not a real place in this world.

Tomorrowland may show up on Disneyland’s map, but you will never find it elsewhere.

Tomorrowland cannot define our attitude in life, because we will never get there if it is.

We must live today.

I don’t want to live in Tomorrowland anymore.

Join me?

in love,

beloved_bride

Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds, and those who watch every cloud will never reap a harvest.

Ecclesiastes 11:4

lift me up, buttercup, baby.

Anxiety weighs the heart down,
but a cheerful word lifts it up.
Proverbs 12.25.
Lately, I have been feeling like a total wreck. It seems like EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, is so quick to weigh me down. I feel like I am constantly letting someone down, failing my own standards, and disappointing God.
I beat myself up even for having a hiccup.
I am my own worst critic.
And as cliche as that phrase is, it is even more factual.
I need some encouragement.
There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION
for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1
I have memorized this verse. But my heart hasn’t. And it is a problem.
It wasn’t until yesterday when my precious husband quite literally forced me to sit down and stare at our amazing “NO CONDEMNATION” stone we have in our room. It was a wedding gift from two of our dearest, most special and beautiful friends. They gave it to us to remind us that we don’t have ANY condemnation with Christ and to live in the freedom He gives us.
But I have just passed it by so many times with my eyes shut and heart closed.
My sweetheart sat me down in front of it yesterday and told me I needed to look at it until it started to sink in. And he kissed my head, and before he left, told me “start with the question, “Do I WANT to get better?”” and he left.
I am still trying to figure out that answer.
I do WANT to be better, but putting in work seems like such a burden.
Come to me, all who are weary and burdened,
and I WILL GIVE YOU REST.
Matthew 11:28
This is a great promise that I need to cling on to.
I am sure I am not the only person struggling with these kind of things.
And I can’t reserve my blog entries for only the times when “I have it all figured out,” because that doesn’t make me a friend. That puts myself in some sort of rockstar position where you look UP to me, instead of AT me. And is not fair to you, to me, or to anyone.  How can I possibly help lift anyone up if I don’t talk about how much I need to be lifted up?
I can’t fake it with you.
So here is today’s entry:
Christ loves me.
He loves you too.
And we aren’t condemned.
Let’s try to take that to heart
TODAY.
Let’s just focus on TODAY.
Do not worry about tomorrow, let tomorrow worry about itself,
each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34
ONE DAY, ONE STEP, ONE MOMENT AT A TIME.
In love,
beloved_bride
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:15