Monday, December 22, 2014

How Quickly Everything Changes

I walked into work this morning and found out we’re preparing for a funeral tomorrow. I work in a church, so this isn’t unusual, but what stunned me was whose funeral it is. He was not elderly and he had not been fighting a long battle with disease. And although I didn’t know him personally, there is a feeling of loss I can’t quite explain—maybe it’s shock.

Because I’m reminded of how quickly everything can change. With or without notice, life turns an unexpected corner.

Around that corner lies grief and sorrow—like a punch in the stomach—that leaves us gasping for air.

But we are not alone. What shocks us does not shock God. He knows. He stays. And while we may feel like we’re surrounded by darkness, there is always the Light.

The Light, who shines in the darkest hour, on the most difficult path…even when we struggle to see. It shines.

Life changes suddenly and we find ourselves unprepared. Maybe it’s financially or emotionally. But for some, it’s spiritually.

It’s not that they struggle to see the Light, it’s that they don’t know the Light is there. And they don’t know He came for them.

I get antsy and frustrated trying to understand God’s timing. Why does God’s will seem to take so long?

Because He wants everyone to know His Son. And in His grace, He gives us time to proclaim His name and time for His children to know Him.
Remember that while our Lord is waiting patiently to return, people are being saved. 2 Peter 3:15a NIRV
He doesn’t want anyone to be unprepared when life changes without warning.

It’s too easy to stay focused on the wrong thing—what I want, done my way, and miss all that God wants to show me.

I think that’s what He has been telling me this year. To notice where He’s put me, to pay attention to those who around me, and to focus on the work He’s given me.

So often I don’t understand, but I trust Him. And when I trust Him, I’m able to let go of the angst of wanting to understand.

But still, I need to be reminded of how quickly everything can change—for the good and for the bad. And to know God is there through both. Always.

In Christ,

Friday, December 5, 2014

When One More Thing Might Push You Over the Edge

I haven't been online much lately. Last month I found myself worn out, weary, and very tired. I kept trying to push forward, but that only added to the exhaustion. So, I did something I don’t usually do…I took a step back, I asked for help, and I let some things go. 

As we’re in one of the busiest times of the year—between Thanksgiving and Christmas—I wonder if you might be in the same place…tired, weary, worn out, and still trying to push forward. If you are, I understand.

It often feels as though the load rests solely on our shoulders, and in truth, sometimes it does. We look around at everything going on and it all has to be done, right? We keep adding one more thing, until that one more thing becomes the One. More. Thing. that just might push us over the edge.

Please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith where I'm talking about those One. More. Things. And the rest Jesus invites us to. 

In Christ,

Monday, October 20, 2014

When You Can’t See What Change Will Look Like

Change has been going on around me lately, and it’s been hard to see what it will look like when the dust settles. It’s not change of my making, so there is uncertainty of how it will affect me, as well as others.

Maybe you’re there too…waiting to see what the upcoming days will look like…standing by until everything settles down and a new normal begins…fighting the feeling of not being able to control anything.

…a new boss.

…a job transfer away from family and friends.

…layoffs and unemployment.

…the diagnosis and future check-ups.

…separation and divorce.

Change, whether personal or work-related, is unsettling. It creates questions that can’t be answered right away. It puts us in wait-and-see mode.

I don’t particularly like wait-and-see because it gives me time to imagine different scenarios, which cause me to worry and grow negative. It gives me time to get stressed out before anything has actually happened.

That’s how I started waiting. It was easy to grumble because others were grumbling with me. And when I was alone, I stewed. I complained under my breath, and to God.

And then I realized a couple of things. One, I didn’t like what it was doing to me. Frankly, I have enough to deal with this year without adding something else that hasn’t even happened yet.

Second, and more importantly, I realized that if this change is something which God has brought about, who am I to question it?  

I knew I needed a change of heart and attitude—and it wasn’t something I could just convince myself of. 

I needed God to change my heart and my attitude.

I laid it before Him and I prayed. Then, because I tend to take things back, I gave it to Him again and kept praying.

And I felt something start to change. I started to relax.

Nothing in the situation had changed yet. The unsettled dust was still thick and impossible to see through, and I was still in wait-and-see mode with others.

But God was there. I had invited Him in and He was at work—starting with me.

I stopped worrying and started wondering if the what-ifs would be positive instead negative.

I kept Romans 8:28 in front of me…
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT
And I reminded myself of the times I’ve seen God bring something good from a situation that seemed bad—especially things that have happened this year and how they worked together. I couldn’t see it at the time, but in hindsight, the pieces fit together perfectly…as only God’s plans can.

I felt God changing my attitude. I was seeing things from a positive perspective…both in the situation, and in my growth with Him.

And I felt God changing my heart. I know that not all change is what I would like to see happen, but I know I can trust Him. If the change that comes about is not in my favor, then God has something different planned for me. Something He hasn’t shown me yet.

And where that normally brings fear, I felt peace and comfort.

Have you gone through a time when you knew change was coming, but you couldn’t see what it would look like? How did you walk through it, and did you feel God walking along side of you?

In Christ,

Photo credit: K. Rath, Oct. 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Library Lion and Other Go-to Books for Kids (and Kids at Heart)

This post feels a little strange to write considering my daughter is a teenager. However, as this year has been a bit of a struggle for us, we’ve realized something…

No matter how old you are, sometimes you still need someone to read to you. Out loud. Because there’s nothing like hearing your favorite book when you’re feeling low.

We own our two all-time favorites—Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes—so they’re easy to find when we need them. But, as we reminisced about other favorites we used to read when she was younger, we decided it was time to make a trip to the library…to the children’s section.

We went on a weekend when it wasn’t busy and we could take our time going down memory lane. I think she was slightly embarrassed when I asked the librarian for help remembering titles and authors, but she smiled when we found them and brought them home.  

Follow me over to Next Level Mama where I'm sharing five of our favorite go-to books…

In Christ,

Saturday, October 4, 2014

When the Waiting Gets to Be Too Hard

I remember as a child waiting in anticipation for my birthday or for Christmas to arrive. Time moved slowly and the waiting dragged on forever.

As an adult, that time moves much more quickly. It seems like Christmas is around the corner again before last year’s gifts are put away. And birthdays…well, each one is not quite as exciting anymore. The anticipated wait doesn’t drag anymore. Now it flies by.

Waiting for the calendar page to turn—that’s not so hard. Unless time ends, one month will flow into the next, guaranteed.

But waiting on God? It. Is. Hard. Some days waiting on God feels impossible. And other days it takes me right to my knees in tears and frustration.

Please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith to continue reading...

In Christ,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

When You Don’t Want to Admit You’re a Little Jealous

It happened again. I read about something new. Something really cool. Something that would’ve been fun to participate in. But I wasn’t asked.

It wasn’t a slight against me—there is absolutely no reason I should have been asked. And to be honest, being a part wasn’t even my first thought. It was just something I was perusing…and then I saw her picture.

Ouch. I don’t like to admit that, even to myself, but the feeling was there. Thankfully, so was logic. I asked myself why I felt like that—I don’t have time for another commitment. My focus has been pulled elsewhere this year, and I’ve accepted that because I know that’s where God has moved me.

But that feeling…that niggling bit of why-not-me that gets into my heart and then my stomach. I know it has to be stopped before it grows into the monster jealously becomes.

So, I took it to God.

God, I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but…why not me?

That’s not what I planned for you.

(Deep breath.)

You have planned other things for me…places where I’m needed right now, things to do today, and something for later which I don’t even know about yet.

That’s right.

(Another deep breath.)

Okay, thanks. I think I’m good now.

Admit it.

Um, I just did—to You. So…can You take away the icky feeling now?

Yes, but you need to admit it again so you can let it go.

(Sigh.) I know.

There really is something about shedding light to the dark little parts I’d rather not tell you about.

Jealously is meant to be kept in the dark because there it grows—fast and without being noticed. It’s harder to stop after it’s grown vines around your heart and clouded your thinking. It overshadows common sense and distorts perception.

Jealously changes who we are—who God made us to be. (<== Click to tweet.)

It makes us think less of what God has purposed us for because we’re focused on what someone else has.

Jealously causes us to lose what God has placed in front of us—we miss out on His plan for us.

And the thing is, if it’s what God Himself designed, then it’s better than what we see somewhere else—because His plans for you were not meant for me, and His plans for me were not for you.

That’s the perfectness of God’s plans—they are specific for each of us. God’s plans are personal—creatively thought out and set up individually—for you and for me.

In Christ,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When Our Best Efforts Are Not Good Enough

As a wife and mother, I really don’t like the times I have to admit that my best isn’t good enough. In fact, I wonder how often I really do admit it because as I think about it, it seems like I keep trying an awful lot. That’s our reality though, isn’t it? Don’t quit. Keep trying. Work harder.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not for giving up after one half-hearted attempt. I believe that we can’t succeed if we don’t bother to try. And we definitely learn a lot from the mistakes we make.

But sometimes…our best efforts are simply not good enough.

We can live in guilt and regret over this fact, or we can accept it. I accept it for others without smothering them with a guilt trip. I suspect you do to. We extend grace.

But grace for ourselves seems to be so much harder. So, we keep trying. We work harder. We keep beating ourselves up.

And yet, our best efforts still will not be good enough.

It sounds depressing, but it’s not—it’s freeing.

Because God extends to us His grace—His free and unearned favor proffered to us.

Where we are not enough, He is more than enough. Always. (<==Click to tweet.)

Our determination, strength, energy, and hard work will never be enough to restore our relationship with God—and we don’t have to—because God already has.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT
God offered the sacrifice we could never offer. He did the work we cannot possibly do.

He gives us grace.

And through God’s grace, we are able to extend grace to others—and ourselves.

Grace is freedom.

Freedom to no longer live in guilt and shame.

Freedom to accept that while our efforts are not enough, God’s grace is more than enough.

Freedom to stop trying to do—and live in what’s already been done.

Freedom to breathe a sigh of thankful relief and live in His grace.

In Christ,

[This post also be read in its entirety at Gloria Dei / Photo credit: Stock photo: Alone by lake]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Wild Fire of Negativity

One day last week, I woke up in a lousy mood. I did not want to get up, but had to. I was tired, not feeling well, and cranky. As I felt myself getting annoyed over the smallest things, I knew I needed to keep to myself until I could snap out of it.

Because negativity spreads like wild fire. 

It quickly takes on a life of its own, targeting everyone in its path—grumbling and complaining, expecting the worst, and projecting a bad mood on to others.

Everyone has bad days and sour moods can be temporary. But left unchecked, they go on for too long, becoming less occasional and more the norm.

I’ve been on the receiving end, trying not to let someone else drag me down, even removing myself from that person’s company.

But that day, I knew it was my mood that had the potential to invade someone else’s day, and I didn’t want that to happen. So, I kept to myself for the beginning of the day while my head cleared and I felt more awake. I stayed out of any conversations that might encourage my negativity and distracted myself until my mood changed.

Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to stop the wild fire of negativity from taking over, and then ruining someone else’s day, as well.

It’s the effort to spend some time alone and shift focus…the effort to not send that email until later when it can be reread from a different frame of mind…the effort to stop grimacing and start smiling. The effort to get. it. under. control.

The black cloud finally lifted that morning. My mood improved and my attitude started to turn around…and then I ventured out of my seclusion.
A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad [or angry, cranky, unhappy] heart makes it hard to get through the day. Proverbs 15:13 The Message
How about you—how do you identify when negativity is moving in, and what do you do about it?

In Christ,

Photo credit: Stock photo: Danger

Friday, September 5, 2014

Setbacks and Relapses


One step forward, two steps back.

That’s the way it seems to go sometimes, doesn’t it? I've just recently been there, and it is so frustrating. The encouraging buildup to change becomes short lived. Progress is fleeting, and patience is in short supply.

So, what do we do when our slow movement forward quickly slides backwards?

I'm at 5 Minutes for Faith today sharing four things that helped me remember...setbacks are normal, but we can still move forward with hope for the future. Please join me there to continue reading.

In Christ,

Photo credit: Stock photo: all alone

Linking up with Everyday Jesus, Faith Filled Friday, The Weekend Brew

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The God-sized Dream of Living Life for Him

It’s been over a year since I had the privilege of being on Holley Gerth’s God-sized Dream Team, where I met a group of wonderful dreamers. Many became friends and their big dreams inspire me to dream.

But, I have to confess…sometimes I still struggle with what my dreams are. I should know, right? But, I don’t.

What I thought were big dreams, God told me to lay down. So, I have…or at least I think I have. Sometimes I just feel lazy for not giving them much thought anymore.

But lately there’s a thought taking hold inside of me…a seed of understanding that’s beginning to take root…

Perhaps living my life in a God-pleasing way is, in and of itself, a God-sized dream.  (<==Tweet this.)

Maybe that sounds too ordinary, and not like a big dream at all. But think about it…Everyday life. Is. Hard. And some most days, I don’t do such a great job of living the way I know God wants me too.

Last year, I described a God-sized dream as a dream God plants in our hearts…one that seems impossible—and would be…if it were left up to us to fulfill.

Over the years as my faith has grown, so has my desire to live a life that pleases Him. But, let’s face it. That is a daunting challenge.

I'm so pleased to be guest posting at God-sized Dreams today! Please join me there to continue reading.

In Christ,

Thursday, August 21, 2014

When Your Efforts Go Unnoticed

There are days when it feels like my efforts go completely unnoticed.

It doesn’t matter where we’ve gone, what I’ve tried, or how many errands were run. Someone’s mood is less than desirable. The one thing not accomplished or that was missed on the shopping list is the one thing being talked about. And it seems to get bigger…overtaking everything else.

We tend to focus on the negative, don’t we?

The one thing that didn’t work out instead of all the things that did.

The item we would like to have, ignoring all that we do have.

The unfinished work versus the completed tasks.

On those days, I feel like my efforts don’t matter. Why don’t others see how I’ve tried to make something work out the way they hoped?

My feeling of accomplishment dissipates and I find myself frustrated and aggravated. I’m less encouraged to try so hard again…or at all.

But, despite how it looks, my efforts are noticed—by the One who sees it all.

To continue reading, please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith...

In Christ,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Because Some Lessons Have to Be Relearned

And then a few days ago, I ignored my own words.

It started with an e-mail I received. It asked me to choose a date for a specific opportunity I was already involved in. There were only so many dates available, on a first-come, first-served basis, and from the e-mail chain in front of me, I was apparently the last to speak up.

I knew better than to get worked up over it…but I did anyway.

From what I could tell, all of the dates were spoken for. I had chosen not to spend my day online, and for that, I had missed out. And I fumed.

I knew God had it under control, but I couldn’t seem to get myself under control. Actually, I don’t think I even tried.

I was sure I’d been left out of something I’d been involved in for years, and I let my emotions fuel my nasty thoughts.

I told myself that it might be part of God’s plan for me. Maybe it was time to move on to whatever was next. The problem was, I had no idea what that might be, so I started feeling sorry for myself.

I kept checking my e-mail waiting for a reply, knowing that it would confirm what I thought I knew. And while I continued to stew about it, I grew snippy with my family.

I’m sure they were less than thrilled to be around me because I didn’t even want to be around myself.

And then, I received the reply I was waiting for. But it wasn’t what I was expecting. It didn’t say what I’d already chosen to believe. Instead, it confirmed that I already had a place.

I ignored common sense and my belief that peace comes through trusting God, choosing to walk the path of negativity instead of possibilities.

God had it under control, but I decided to fume rather than to trust. And because I failed to trust, I was far from experiencing His peace.

I had apologies to give and forgiveness to ask for—from God and my family. And a post to write—because lessons are easily forgotten (or ignored) and have to be relearned. Over and over.

And over again.

In Christ,

Friday, August 8, 2014

Trust Brings Peace

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 NLT

There is an unexplainable peace that comes from trusting God.

The Bible tells us about it. I can imagine the peace Abraham felt after God reminded him that He would make Abraham the father of all nations, despite the lack of physical evidence that it could ever happen. (Genesis 15:1-6)

Abraham believed God…and believing that God keeps His word brings peace.

It’s overwhelming to experience it personally. When you feel God’s peace, you just know it’s from Him because there is no way to rationalize it.

And to watch God’s peace settle over someone else—it’s awe-inspiring.

My young, teenage daughter has had a rough year with ongoing illness. Between new and worsening symptoms and missed school, she’s had plenty of cause for worry. Overall, she’s really handled it well.

Until a few weeks ago, when there was one thing eating at her...

Please join me at Next Level Mama to continue reading the story of how my daughter found peace in the midst of worry.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. 
Matthew 6:34 The Message

In Christ,

Monday, July 28, 2014

When You Feel Alone

Sometimes I feel completely alone.

I’m not talking about times I’m by myself; sometimes I need that. I mean that even with my husband, daughter, family, friends, and co-workers, there are times I still feel alone and lonely.

Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

When it feels like there’s no one to talk to.

No one who understands or has time for you.

No one who cares what you have to say, or is interested your dreams and goals.

I’m not trying to throw a pity party here, but let’s face it—sometimes the course of life leaves us feeling alone in this world.

Friends turn.

Children stray.

Loved ones pass.

Marriages crumble.

Loneliness is a part of life—a part we don’t understand. In fact, sometimes I wonder why it seems like God wants me alone.

Perhaps it’s to draw me closer to Him so He can be the center of my life.

Not unlike He’s done before…

Joseph must have known loneliness as he sat in prison for something he didn’t do, wondering if he’d see his father and brothers again. But God never left him.
But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Genesis 39:21 NLT
Moses was surrounded by the Israelites as he led them from place to place in the desert. And yet, his wife and sons were not with him; they were living safely with her father, Jethro. And now the very nation he led to freedom was turning on him. But Moses knew God was still there.

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!” Exodus 17:4 NLT
David was alone and on the run from Saul, having had to leave behind his family and best friend Jonathan. But he knew God was there to answer and guide him.
“…will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.”
And the Lord said, “He will come.”
Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?”
And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.” 1 Samuel 23:11-12 NLT
Certainly, Jesus knew what it felt like to be alone and to have others turn on Him, even those He considered friends. But He knew His Father was with Him.
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. John 16:32 NLT
We may feel alone and lonely at times, but just as God was with Joseph, Moses, David, and Jesus, He’s here with us too.
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5b NIV
God wants to draw us close and promises to never leave us, no matter how alone we may feel. 

Maybe the question is whether we’re leaning into His embrace, or struggling against Him.

Has there been a time in your life when you felt alone, despite who was around you?

In Christ,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Little Bird Named Albert

“There’s a baby bird in the egress window,” my husband said Saturday morning, “and I don’t think it can fly out.”

My daughter and I ran to the basement window to see this for ourselves. Sure enough, the cute little guy sat in the cushion of leaves in the window well. My daughter immediately wanted to save it. Deciding it was a “him,” she named him Albert.

We watched Albert through the window, before doing anything, to see if his mom would come back. And she did.

She didn’t sit in the window with him, but she was never far away. She brought him food and she stood on guard.

She sat on the fence outside my kitchen window while I baked chocolate chip cookies. And she chirped. Over and over. Chirp (pause)…chirp (pause)…chirp.

Albert kept the same chirping rhythm. Chirp (pause)…chirp (pause)…chirp.

We decided they were communicating…
Mom?...I’m right here…Mom?...I’m right here…Mom?
…Albert scared and crying out, while his mom let him know she was there and hadn’t left.

My daughter said it reminded her of when she had an MRI and I stood next to her throughout it, with my hand on her leg. She couldn’t talk or move, but the couple of times I moved my hand, her leg twitched, as if to make sure I was still there. And I rubbed her leg to assure her I hadn’t left.

Throughout the day, we watched Albert as he attempted to fly out…without success.

We wanted to scoop him out, but like his mom, knew that he would eventually fly out on his own. So, we cheered him on.

Again, we realized how the mom-child relationship isn’t all that different. Sometimes, as moms, we can’t rescue our kids, but we can stay close and comfort them.

They will get themselves into predicaments that they have to figure out how to get out of, and all we can do is support them…and love them. So, Albert’s mom stayed.

First thing Sunday morning, we checked through the window. Albert was still there and looked like he’d gotten used to his new surroundings.

I went on to do other things, but received timely updates from my daughter. She was sure he was looking at her through the window. Maybe he was feeling supported and encouraged by her too.

And then…
“Mom, mom! I got to witness it!” she yelled as she ran to find me. “Albert got out!”

And he did. After the night’s rest, he was strengthened and refreshed…and he flew to the edge of the barrier to the window well. We couldn’t help but be proud of the little guy.

We snuck outside and watched as he sat on the edge chirping. Then, we spotted Albert’s mom, with breakfast in her beak, but still able to answer his cries.
Mom?...I’m right here… Mom! Look, I did it!...See? I knew you could do it!
We thought we were being sneaky, watching from a distance, but moms have a good sense about things, and we figured she was on to us. Albert wasn’t going to eat breakfast until we left.

Albert was gone when we checked back later, probably off somewhere with his mom. We were happy for them...but at the same time, we kind of missed the little guy.

Linking up with Unforced Rhythms, Soli Deo Gloria, Winsome Wednesday, #TellHisStory, Coffee For Your Heart, #EverydayJesus, Thought Provoking Thursday

Saturday, July 19, 2014

When Facebook Starts to Depress You

Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook news feed and wondered why you felt kind of down?

Maybe you got on to quickly check in with a friend or to post a note and picture about what you’re up to. But, you find yourself scrolling…a quick “like” here…a brief comment there…and you notice something has changed.
Your thinking has changed from That’s a great picture of my friends, to That looks fun. I wish I could do that.
What beautiful scenery! turns to I’ll never get to go there.
I’m glad she finally got to visit there. becomes Must be nice!
You get the picture. (no pun intended)

Social media has its place. Keeping up with friends and family and sharing pictures can be great. It’s fun to see what others are doing, right?

But sometimes, social media can be too much. In fact, maybe it should come with a warning label...

Continue reading...

What's been your experience—do you find yourself needing to scale back on social media? Please join me at 5 Minutes for Faith, where I'm sharing a few tips I'm practicing.
In Christ,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

We All Have a Place

I like hearing about fellow writers’ accomplishments—really, I do. But sometimes, I have to fight the Why do I even try? feeling. Not all the time, but more than I like to admit.

Do you know that feeling? It doesn’t have to be writing, but in general, someone else’s success where you hope to be successful.

We know better, don’t we? But emotions get in the way. Discouragement sets in and thoughts run wild.

Unless…we stop them first. Rein them in and get control.

And change our thinking—because we all have a place in the work of God’s Kingdom.

My work may not be the same as yours and your work may be different from mine. God calls us to different ways of speaking His truth and proclaiming His name and saving grace.

He blesses us with different strengths. He equips us with different skills and talents. He leads us to different places at different times—all according to His plan. A plan we may not see, but know, through faith, is there.

Someone else’s achievement is not about me or what I haven’t done. It’s about Him and what He has called her to do.

My cheering her on is success for God’s Kingdom. My slinking back and quitting enables the Enemy. And I know I don’t want to work to his advantage. Do you?

So, let’s not quit the work God calls us to.

Let’s not miss the opportunity to step out in faith with Him.

Let’s not allow discouragement to set in when we hear of another’s accomplishments—but instead, let’s encourage each other wherever we are, whatever we’re doing.

It’s not my work vs. your work because we’re on the same team—the winning team—God’s team.

So, what do you say? I’ll cheer for you and you cheer for me. We’ll encourage and root for each other…for the good of God’s Kingdom.

Go team!

In Christ,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rest Is Not Nothing

I'm sitting on the deck this morning, staring out over open the country, visiting family. It's not too hot yet and it's peaceful.

Really peaceful.

So much so that I'm reluctant to go in and get ready for the day, because later it will be sticky again. The sauna-like weather that keeps you inside or takes you to the pool.

I'm not much of a pool person. So, when the others head out, I'll find something else to write or read the book I started. Maybe I'll take a nap, or spend some time with God.

I'm not used to not having to be somewhere, do something, or research and study our new way of life. This would usually make me antsy and uncomfortable.

And it might in a few days, but not yet.

Right now I'm content to sit and write this post...about nothing.

But maybe it's not about nothing—because needing to rest is not nothing.

Jesus rested. And He didn't feel guilty about it.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 NLT (bold mine)
God made us with the need to rest. Jesus knew that. He taught it. He practiced it.

But we tend to forget or ignore it...or think it wasn't meant for us.

But it is meant for us—this need to rest.

For you and for me.

And when you put off rest too long, you find yourself like me, in a chair looking out over open land...not wanting to start the day.

Even if others are waiting on you.

In Christ,

Friday, July 4, 2014

And So It Begins…

We’d been told not to make any dietary changes until we knew for sure, so I’m not sure why I thought I was ready.

I thought it would go like this…
“Mr. and Mrs. Rath, it looks like your daughter has celiac disease. We’ll have the lab results in a few days. You should start thinking about going gluten free.”

So, while we ate one of her favorite gluten filled meals for dinner that night, we happily talked about what that meant.

Yeah, that’s not what happened. (You knew that, right?)

It went more like this…
“Your daughter has celiac disease. There is visible evidence and we’ll have the lab results to confirm in a few days. You need to go gluten free today.”

Today. As in immediately.

I scrounged together something she could eat for lunch, and then it became very real.

We went grocery shopping.

For two hours.

Yes, two hours—because the aisles we perused with interest a week ago now looked intimidating and overwhelming. The shelves towered over me making me feel very small and unequipped. We went armed with an abbreviated list of ingredients to stay away from, but I soon learned just how short and abbreviated that list was.

We strolled.

We examined.

We read labels.

And then we read more labels.

At some point, I bought a Pepsi to get her (and me) through the second hour. Don’t judge. The nurse had given her some earlier, so it was the one label I didn’t need to scrutinize. And she was a happy camper because I let her have pop in the middle of the day, and it wasn’t a special occasion.

Well, unless you celebrate the first day of the rest of your gluten free life, then it’s special.

We weren’t celebrating.

But…we weren’t in despair either.

I don’t remember everything we bought in that maiden gluten free shopping trip, but I know she ate dinner that night…and every night since then.

We also learned a lesson in that first shopping experience—everything has to be checked, regardless if it’s in the gluten free section.

And even if it says Gluten Free.

We learned this with a small container of chocolate ice cream…from the gluten free freezer section…with the words Gluten Free on the front.

But a day later, we read this on the back: This product has been processed on equipment that also processes nuts, wheat, eggs, soy and milk.

Meaning…possible cross-contamination.

By then, I’d learned that most Breyer’s ice cream flavors are gluten free. And for that I celebrated because my favorite ice cream was safe to have in the house…oh, and she likes it too.

So, we dumped the chocolate (which no one in my family would classify as ice cream anyway) and counted it as our first lesson learned.

(To read more about the beginning of our gluten free journey, read: Letting Go of Normal)

In Christ,