Praises or Curses

“And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 21:8-11

Can you see Him?
He entered the city riding upon a donkey. The people lined the streets, shouting, “Hallelujah,” praising His Name. They hailed Him as King. 

 

 Can you see them?

One week later, they would curse Him and crucify Him. Hate Him for the very thing for which they praised Him just days before: He proclaimed to be King. 

How often do we do this same thing?

When things are going good, we praise Him, we worship Him, we proclaim His goodness. We smile. We laugh. We rejoice and tell of His great love to those around us. 

Yet, when tragedy strikes, when hard times comes, when things happen that we just can’t understand, we question. We doubt. We grow angry. We even curse Him, at times, believing we should never suffer, because we serve Him. 

Can you see yourself?

Fighting, clawing your way through life. Angry and broken over the things that haven’t gone right. Hurt and confused because of the broken dreams and shattered promises of this world. Lost and alone without Him. 

Now, can you see Him?

He looks upon you with eyes of love and not anger. He comes to you with His arms open wide. He wants to forgive us, and He longs to redeem us. He died for us while we were yet sinners, and He is faithful to us even when we are so less than faithful! He loves us and desires to be with us, and He patiently awaits our surrender. 

This week, as we head toward Easter, let’s stop and really evaluate our responses to Him. Let’s not allow our praises to become curses simply because things don’t turn out as planned. 

Bring your brokenness to Him, and let Him heal your hearts. Let Him soothe those fears and doubts. Let Him comfort you and help you. He loves you, and He has good plans for you. 

Can we praise Him today? 

Praise Him for all He’s done. Praise Him for His love for us and freely receive that love. It’s there just for you, just for me. Let our praises become a ritual and not a one time offering. Let our praises become a lifestyle of love to Him. 

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Blessed Heart and Home

I read this article the other day, and it really hit home…

18 Things That Are Hard to Explain to Third World Country Friends

Please, know I’m not bragging at all, but I have to say, I consider myself an incredibly blessed person. God has blessed our family so much that, many times, I am simply overwhelmed to tears because of the favor and blessings we have. Please understand, I’m not going to be one of those “prosperity preachers” who claim you will always have favor, you will always be blessed if you just do (blank) and (blank). No, you don’t give to get.

That’s not how God works, but He does honor obedience. He does give wisdom, and when you walk in it, you find blessings. He does honor prayers when you diligently seek Him, and, sometimes, He simply blesses; so you can, in turn, bless another. I can’t tell you all the reasons our family is blessed; I’m sure I could write another post on that later, and I won’t tell you that I’ve never gone through sufferings and pain. That, too, can be saved for another post…and another, and another… but all I am saying is I count myself a very blessed woman.

With that being noted, I really try to keep a grateful heart at all times, and I guess I do pretty good most of the times, but there are moments in life when I forget to be thankful. I forget to remember there are greater struggles in this life than the ones I am facing. There are people in this world who do not know from where their next meal will come, or even, if it will come. There are those who don’t even have a roof over their head, much, much less, an abundance of stuff that they’re needing to throw out!

I read this article the other day, and what the author described reminded me, again, of how very blessed I am…

Each of our family members sleep in their own beds every night.

When I’m hungry, I simply walk over to our refrigerator and decide what I’d like to eat.

When I’m cold, I put on a jacket, cover up with a blanket, or turn the heat up.

When I’m hot, I pour a glass of ice water, go outside and feel the cool breeze, or in the summertime, go stick my feet in a creek or waterfall.

Both of our boys have all the clothes they need, food they can eat, and even too much of material things they want.

When I want to go to the store, I simply jump in my car and drive over to the nearest store.

If we want to travel, we drive the car, fly in a plane, rent a boat, or ride in a train.

I take all the pictures my heart desires on my little smartphone and download them onto a “cloud” program to be retrieved at a later time.

When I want to share with the world what’s going on in mine, I simply sit here at my desk and begin to type, clicking the little blue button when I am finished.

When compared to our daily lives in America, these things I’ve listed seem like little, meaningless things, things that we each take for granted. Yet when compared to the daily lives of those from a third world country who don’t even live at the level of poverty, these simple things seem monumental. We all have something for which to be grateful. We all have someone for whom we can be thankful.

Can we take a few moments today to remember what and who those might be?

Appreciate the things you have. They are just things, and we should never be obsessive nor materialistic; yet, we can acknowledge the ease those things bring to our lives. We can enjoy them and not take them for granted.

Cherish those whom you have in your life. You never know which moment may be the last. Never let the sun go down on your wrath, and never let a moment to be cherished be one forgotten. Live. Love. Laugh, and remember what and who is most important. ❤

We Will Not Forget

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I don’t consider myself an incredible poet, but I wanted to have something to pay honor today to those who have given their lives for our freedom. Thank you to every service man and woman who gave your all so that I and my family might live in the freedom for which you fought so hard to obtain, and thank you to your families who have had to say the hard goodbyes. We are forever grateful, and we will never forget…

  

Young men with hopes and dreams

Old men with wives and little sunbeams

All head to war. To serve their land. 

To fight for their freedom. To save their fellow man. 

  

They fought hard. They fought brave. 

Some were wounded, captured, never saved. 

We will not forget them. We will not close the door. 

They gave us our freedom. We owe them so much more. 
  

  

Their graves are marked with flags so bright. 

Their memories held tight within our sight. 

They gave the ultimate sacrifice. They paid the highest price. 

Gave they their life that I might live. Reminds me of my God, my Christ. 

  

Let us not be so busy that we pack their memories away. 

Let us not be so focused on now that we miss their pathway. 

This is Memorial Day. The day we honor, we remember, and we say, Thank you. 

We will remember the heroes, for our lives are here because of what they went through. 

  

We promise to never forget what you gave up. 

What we have to offer can never really be enough. 

We will forever say Thank You to our heroes. 

We will fight to remember, hoping our debt and gratitude eternally shows. 
  

They fought hard. They fought brave. 

Some were wounded, captured, never saved. 

We will not forget them. We will not close the door. 

They gave us our freedom. We owe them so much more. 


Penned – MG – 5/23/15

Virtual Blog Tour Award Nomination

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Hello there!

I was nominated last week for this award, and I am just simply honored and humbled to receive it. Thanks to Wanderlust for thinking of me and nominating my blog. This is not a normal nomination post, for it asks questions which are about the writer and not so much the blogger – you’ll see as you keep reading. The other difference in this nomination than the others in which I’ve participated is I must nominate only up to 4 other blogs…this may be a most difficult decision, especially since decision making isn’t always my fortitude! LOL. I follow so many wonderful blogs; so, I will weigh my nominations on those bloggers who have also shown great support since the beginning of my blog just 4 1/2 short months ago. I may also nominate those who are a little more “in the background,” and maybe as new as I am to this blogging life, and about whom I would love to learn more. 🙂

Here are the rules:

1. Pass the tour on to up to four other bloggers. Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post.

2. Answer four questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.

  • What am I working on at the moment?
  • How does my work differ to others in my genre?
  • Why do I write/create what I do?
  • How does my writings/creative process work?

3. Compose a one-time post which is posted on a specific Monday (date given from your nominator).

Four bloggers whom I nominate:  

If you accept this nomination, please respond by posting your own on Monday, December 15th!

1.  Family, peace, travel & fiction

2.  joyofnine9

3.  From My Plan To His

4.  sappyasatree

 

Q & A Moment:

1. What am I working on at the moment?

This question almost strikes me as comical, because “working on it,” so many times, feels like the “motto” of my LIFE. My brain’s first response to this question is, “What am I not working on?” I’m always working on something…Presently, I am working on being a better mom-a little more patient and kind, a loving wife-a little more giving and forgiving, a caring pastor’s wife-a little more prayerful and aware, a devoted friend-a little more thoughtful and gracious, and a faithful seeker of Truth-a little more grateful and focused. I am an incredible perfectionist and, often, I am too critical of myself; so, I constantly feel I fall so short of who I need to be or whom I believe I should be. I am learning more and more how to accurately assess my strengths and weaknesses; so, I guess you could say, I’m working on that, too! (another smiley insert here)

I’m sure the originator of this question probably meant this as a blogging question; so, to fulfill that interest, I’d have to say that my “projects” consist of poetry, thoughts of the day, and notes of inspiration, meaning, I have several things going, and it really just depends on which area I am drawn to on that particular day that will determine what I write about. I just try to “keep it real,” and let the events, thoughts, challenges or the adventures of life which I am facing, guide where my blog ends up on a given day. Being relatively new to the blogging world, my main focus right now is to blog consistently and to stick to the goals I set here, and then, in mid January, to reassess and set some new goals to “work on.” 😉

2. How does my work differ to others in my genre?

My genre…I was a little stumped by this question, I suppose. After looking up types of blogs and finding this, I’m not sure mine is a particular genre, or maybe, it’s too general to be specified into a one, or maybe, I’m just too new to this that I don’t know how to properly evaluate. I suppose I can answer this more accurately by stating, first, what it is not…

My genre is not fitness, diets nor health driven. It’s not photography, poetry or fiction specific, and it’s not particularly theology-, politically-, nor sociologically-driven; even though, you may find a post here or there alighting on any of these given subjects from time to time. It’s not about fashion or trends, travels or foods. It’s not even about the weather, history or the ever changing culture, although, I may mention one of these here and there. I suppose some could call my genre instructional, informational, self-profile, inspirational and even maybe a rant every now and then, but I guess, because I just share about my life, the thoughts are rather random at times; however, I do just share my heart…If I could make up my own name for it, I suppose, I might call my genre: “LIFE and all it entails;” you might call it self-help, or even self-assessing.

I suppose my work differs from some, in that, I have a solid foundation of hope, joy and love. Daily, I struggle to keep a stable thought life, speech, modes of action and perspectives, and believe me, that’s not always easy while being a perfectionist-type, yet also, a more laidback mother of two very lively boys, each with a strong personality and mind. (…Did I mention their daddy is a very strong personality/leader type, too? haha.) This foundation of mine doesn’t come from my circumstances, nor does it come from dogmatic arguments of relativism or culturalism. This foundation also doesn’t come from seeking out all the loudest and most popular voices of our times. This foundation comes from within, from the One who has been my Hope, my Joy and my Love and who has stood the test of time: Jesus. Without Him, I would be lost. I would have no hope. I would not know how to find joy, and I definitely would not be able to love beyond a shallow concept of those “sweet-bubbly-feel-good heart palpitations” that come when life is easy and every things is grand. No, this foundation carries me through the good times and the bad, the sunshine and the rain. So, I guess, you could say, my work differs from many others in my genre due to the Source from which it comes.

I don’t consider my work to be any better or any worse than those around me. I simply consider it to have some value, because I believe He gives me the inspiration for it, and I believe that there is a hope to be shared with those who venture across my little corner of the blogging world. I hope my simple words will, somehow, breathe the hope which I have found into the lives of the readers who stop by here and cause them to hunger for a little more.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I simply love to write, and I love to give encouragement or simply try to help someone along this journey called life. I keep a journal almost daily (well, honestly, a little less than daily now, since, I find myself blogging my journal entries these days), and I try to write at least 3-5 encouragement notes weekly, sending many of them out anonymously or at least from a given group name rather than my own.

I suppose you could say, writing is a release for me. I’ve kept journals, written poetry and been a letter writer since I was very young. I’ve always loved to read, write and edit things. One of my grandmothers was an English teacher for most of her life, and I tend to wonder if it might just be “in my genes.” I love to take snapshots of my life’s adventures and share them with those around me and post my musings and ponderings of the day. (yes, I am definitely a social media kind of girl! ha) I’ve never really considered myself a “writer,” per se, just simply someone who loves to write, but my husband calls me that all the time. I have dreams of writing a book one day, but I often question my ability and wonder if someone would actually want to read it…that would be another one of those “works in progress” in my life, and I will perfect it…someday. 🙂

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

Sometimes, my writing/creative process comes from the scenery around me. Sometimes, it will “bubble up” from a scenario or circumstance in which I find myself. Sometimes, it will come from something I’ve read, a note of brilliance or heartfelt confession coming from the mouths of my children or a simply new found discovery or thought.

I am always using my “notes” app in my phone to pen my thoughts, and I’ve even been known to send myself an email of my latest ponderings or inspirations. I just try to capture the thoughts when they come, for if I do not, they will often “fly away” never to be grasped again. Often, I blame that on my age and having kids, but I suppose the old vantage of A.E. Housman is still true: ““The thoughts of others were light and fleeting, of lovers’ meeting or luck or fame. Mine were of trouble, and mine were steady; so I was ready when trouble came.”

Well, there it is. That’s a little more about me, my creative side, and why I do what I do. I hope I gave enough on my answers (I know, maybe too much detail!), and I want to thank Hagen, again, for thinking enough of my blog to give me this Virtual Blog Tour Award. Sharing specifics about myself to so many, especially whom I don’t know personally, always stretches me a little more out of my comfort zone, and for that, I am grateful. It helps me to grow, learn and develop more skills daily. It helps me to live, breathe and be more than I am today. It helps me to live life to the fullest!

Thank you to all those who take time to drop by here and walk along this journey with me. It is an incredible, wonderful, comforting and exciting adventure! 🙂

 

*I could not find an image for the Virtual Blog Award; so, I just “borrowed” this one from google here. I do not own nor did I create this image.

Be Grateful Always

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All over social media this month, you can find daily posts of things for which to be thankful, what people are being thankful for, and, of course, the daily “thankful status” updates. I have noted these over the past several years, and even taken part in quite a few from time to time; however, this year, I thought maybe I’d take a little different approach by writing my “Grateful List” here on this blog (a 31-numbered list to represent every day of the month, plus a bonus), many of them including what I will call an “emphasis question,” to further prove the point, and maybe also share why I have a philosophy to be “grateful always”…

Even as you read, if you and I simply disagree on our likes and dislikes, I do encourage you to at least skip to the end and read a little more…you might find we don’t disagree as sharply as you might have first assumed. 😉

(*Look out:  this is a little lengthy, but on social media, this would be a “once a day, every day for 30 days” status update…)

30 Reasons To Be Grateful (please note, after #15, these are in very random order! 🙂 )
#1 – I am thankful to love a God who loves me beyond measure, forgives me beyond reason, and redeems me beyond understanding…How could I ever ask for more?

#2 – I am thankful for a husband who seems to love me almost unconditionally. (That’s actually not humanly possibly, but I bet he comes pretty close! …you can’t tell I’m a little “love-blind,” can you? ) He is my best friend, my love, my confidante, my coach, my “cheerleader,” and my secret admirer…Why would I ever look anywhere else?

#3 – I am thankful for our two boys who bring so much life, joy and excitement into our lives! I love watching them grow, mature and become the men God has called them to be…How could life get any better than this?

#4 – I am thankful for the life I have with my little family…great God, great family, great church, great job, great town, great state, great nation (I definitely agree, it has it’s issues and problems, but hey, I’m not in prison, this land is still free, and we are still able to vote, speak, and do so many more things that are protected by our Constitution!). Sorry, that was surely too many “greats” in one sentence, but I suppose I really couldn’t help myself…Why would I want someone else’s life?

#5 – I am thankful for a terrific extended family who love mine, and me, and are willing to support “up close and personal” or “from afar,” allowing us to set the boundaries needed in the seasons of need and plenty. They are a blessing!…Why would I ever try to be demanding or have ridiculous expectations?

#6 – I am thankful for a church family who loves mine, and me, and is supportive and encouraging…not all church families are the same…Why should I ever expect perfection when we’re all just human?

#7 – I am thankful for the breath I breathe, the ability to walk, to talk, to move, to run, to rest, to do so many things in life…Why would I complain about a little ailment or pain?

#8 – I am thankful for two sons who are growing into two “fine, upstanding young men” who love God with all their hearts and have deep convictions for their faith that I know could have only come from Him above…Why would I ever try to hinder their faith or temper their passion?

#9 – I am thankful for two children who are so very different, and yet, both came from my womb. They have different personalities, different likes and dislikes, sleep and eat differently, and even share their faith with others differently; however, they both bring so much joy and feelings of pride and love to my heart…Why would I ever let differences or similarities cause me to favor one over the other?

#10 – I am thankful for the little things in life: the laughter of our boys, the breeze that blows, the wink of approval from my husband, an encouraging note sent from a friend, the simple, “Have a great day” from the Walmart check-out cashier…Why would I want to be grouchy simply because things don’t always go my way?

#11 – I am thankful for good friends…friends who are friends for life, friends who are friends for a season, and even friends who are friends only for an ‘event.’ I learn so much from these; each one leaves something for me to grow from, learn from and ponder upon…Why would I ever take for granted what we have had?

#12 – I am thankful for enemies with whom I have had an encounter, for they each sharpen my resolve, strengthen my faith, and develop my character…Why would I not want to rise up to this challenge and fight for those things I love and cherish?

#13 – I am thankful for the smiles of my children…Why would I want to cause them agony or strife?

#14 – I am thankful for the good country in which I live. As stated above, we’ve got our problems, and we’ve got our issues, of this, I am fully aware. However, this nation was founded for freedom; we still have our freedom, and for this, we can be forever thankful!…Why would I want to live elsewhere…and why would I ever want to be so focused on what’s wrong that I miss out on the stuff that’s really great?

# 15 –  I am thankful for hard times and the hardships along the way, for I learn from the perseverance. I gain assurance from the trials, and I grow in character through the challenges…Why would I ever shy away from the tough seasons when it is there that I find my wisdom and grace?

#16 – I am thankful for beautiful waterfalls to hike to and upon which to gaze. There is strength in that sound…Why would I want to miss out on this beauty?

#17 – I am thankful for trees…large, small, fat, skinny, it does not matter to me; however, I do have a bias toward big, Live Oaks and large, wispy Hemlocks. There is refuge and solace among them…Why do I not climb up in those now that I’m grown?

#18 – I am thankful for the mountains…rolling hills, high and lofty, sharp and rugged. I’m not sure I have a particular preference. There is breathtaking rest on top and and incredible peace below them…Why would I want to stay on the asphalt, suffocating from the fumes every day?

#19 – I am thankful for dishes, laundry and beds to make…not because I really “like” these things, but rather, I am thankful for these items, because they are an indicator of the people who “dirty them up.” If I didn’t have these to clean, it would indicate these people, whom I deeply love, were no longer here. (*note: I don’t always act so thankful for these “messes” …just another ‘work in progress.”)

#20 – I am thankful for all the people who have made, now make, and will one day continue to make up the tapestry of my life…the past, the present and the future. For these are the people who, “like iron sharpens iron,” chisel and fine tune me to be a better “me.” …Why would I want to isolate myself from this pruning and growth?

#21 – I am thankful for a car that runs smoothly and transports me and my family to wherever we must go. There are so many, all over this world, who have to walk miles and miles to arrive at their destinations…why should I get so annoyed at those who cut me off, ride my bumper or drive too slow when I’m in such a hurry?

#22 – I am thankful for the times my 13 year old son comes up to give me a hug for “no apparent reason.” These precious moments are slipping by like sand through my fingers…Why would I want to be too busy to stop and take notice?

#23 – I am thankful for clean clothes to wear, a roof over my head and food on my table. There are so many by whom this would be considered “high-cotton living.” …Why would I want to complain about what I don’t have when I have so much?

#24 – I am thankful for the moments at bedtime when my 9 year old son asks for “just one more snuggle.” This heart rendering request won’t always be spoken…Why would I want to be so consumed with motherhood responsibilities that I don’t take the extra time to show love?

#25 – I am thankful for the ability to pour my heart out with pen and paper, and, while I am living, maybe some of those words will never be read by anyone but me ; yet, maybe one day, those very words might just bring comfort, strength and refreshment to a weary soul…Why would I stifle a gift I’ve been given?

#26 –  I am thankful for pure water to drink. There are many countries who don’t live with this luxury…Why would I want to be wasteful of something so life-giving?

#27 – I am thankful for the journey of this life and for the destination for which my hope awaits. The best is yet to come…Why should I be fearful of the future, the unknown?

#28 – I am thankful for sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, ocean tides, mountaintops, and all the moments in between. The memories made can never be forgotten…Why would I become so worldly focused that I miss out on these beauties of my Creator?

#29 – I am thankful for this blog and for those who read it. It is a great outlet for my pondering and a wonderful avenue for gaining knowledge, confidence and appreciation for those with my same likes and for those with more differences than mine.

#30 – I am thankful for a month where people become thankful, simply, because they are reminded there are things for which to be thankful!

#31 – I am thankful for a designated day upon which we can join together with other people, especially family and friends, and remember so many things for which we are thankful. Happy early Thanksgiving!

Well, if you read all the way to here, I am honored you stayed with me. That was quite a long list! I was thinking the same thing long about the 18th reason, and I realized I was barely over halfway done! haha. However, I am thankful (there it is again!) to have kept the tenacity to finish the list. These are things for which I am always grateful, and I’m glad that now, I have a reference point to which I can return often, especially, when my mind begins to forget a few things, and I’d rather complain than be thankful.

Perspective:
I did not write this blog, or post this list, to brag or to somehow imply I have a perfect life. I did not pen these words to try to prove everything is without trouble, sadness or pain. I simply jotted down these notes, because this is the way I live my life. I strive to see the little things and appreciate them. I strive to keep my mind on good things rather than dwelling on the bad moments of life. I seek to keep my perspective tuned into higher things, happier seasons, better memories instead of allowing my focus to become distracted by the realities of evil, fear and violence to which our times are plagued.

It’s not that I don’t have hard times, sicknesses, pain and sorrow which I encounter and see all around me. It’s not that I am blind to the suffering and turmoil of this world. I would probably have to shut myself away in a hidden cave to avoid all of this; however, it is a daily choice I make in the way that I live. It is a matter of perspective. It is a matter of choice. I will make a conscientious effort everyday to seek out truth, to search for love, to look for joy and to reach for peace.

I will choose to keep a positive outlook.

I will choose to not only be thankful one month or day out of the year.

I will choose to be grateful always.

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:11-13