What Do You See?

Recently, I had lunch at the Swan Coach House in Buckhead, Georgia. If you want to see the Old  Southern Belle style of Old Atlanta, this is your place! It is rich in history and character. 

Behind this restaurant is the original Swan House (mansion) steeped  in even more history and character.  It was amazing to see the richness of decor, even to the detailed carvings above the door frames entering the library study. It seems this family spared no expense, lavishing the halls with beautiful furnishings of the time and even building out the master closet wth marble and huge vanities and closets. The gardens, lush and magnificent, capturing the attention of Hollywood with the filming of The Mocking Jay and various weddings of the area. It was simply breathtaking. 


Yet, as we traveled up the four flights of stairs to the very top floor of the house, we entered two rooms which were very plain and practical with no decorations or fanfare. It became apparent this was the former slave quarter and the ironing/folding/cleaning room. The slave’s room was said to be very close to what the actual room had been like. There was a bed with a simple quilt, a dresser with a few essentials, including a handwritten note on “How to prepare a perfect evening (bed) turndown,”  a little side table with a fan, and a rocking chair by the window. 


In comparison to the rest of the mansion, this room was so unattractive, it shouldn’t have made much, if any, impact. However, as I walked over to the gigantic, porthole-like window, I was struck in awe of the beautiful view. It looked out over the magnificent gardens below, and I began to imagine what it might be like to live as the slave within this home. 


The work would probably be unimaginably difficult, taking care of all the household chores, caring for the children (the children’s room was just down the hall), taking those four flights of stairs everyday to go to and from the various duties throughout the home. Oh, but that view kept drawing me in. It was simply breathtaking. 

I could imagine sitting by the window at night, gazing up at the full moon that might shine through. I thought of the early rising sun, chasing away the dark of night, the dew glistening in the gardens below. The work of the day ahead shadowed just a bit by the beauty which greets you in the morning light. 

In this life, we will have trials. We will have tough times, hard work and difficult obstacles which will threaten to overwhelm us. Yet, we must push through to survive. We must set our sights on the important things, and our perspective must be in the right place to not only survive but to thrive

What do you see before you? Do you see pain? Do you see difficulties and turmoil? Do you see brokenness and despair?

Or do you see an opening to life, a porthole of hope, a window of beauty that will sustain you through the storm?

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With or Without Hope

I’ve read several posts lately from those who are grieving and who are lonely. I’ve been there, in that lonely place, struggling to survive the pain…

These posts make my heart sad, not because the bloggers are heartbroken or grief-stricken, but because so many  grieve with no hope. For without hope, we have no purpose in the pain. We have no future beyond the pain. Without hope, it is all just meaningless and worthless. Without hope, life doesn’t seem worth living.

Yet, where there is hope, there is life beyond the pain. There is a purpose through the pain, and there is some semblance of meaning that we can try to grasp. There is something more that is worth holding onto.

It doesn’t mean we will never experience the pain, only that, deep down, we have a knowing that we will live BEYOND the pain, because there is something MORE for which to live.

Hope is a powerful thing. Without it, life is just a survival game.

Hope causes our spirit to fight. Hope causes our mind not to give up. Hope causes our body to push forward behind normal limits.  Hope causes us to thrive.

…Thriving is so much more fun than simply surviving.


“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Old Before Your Time

Life is hard sometimes. People get sick. Family members pass away. We have bills to pay. Debts to reduce. Money that must be earned from long days of hard work.  

We have children who won’t listen, spouses who don’t hear. Bosses who place demands and leaders who set higher goals than we think we can ever achieve. Yes, life can be difficult. It can be a challenge. Life can be downright tiring!! 

It’s no wonder too many of us grow old before our time. It’s no surprise that we walk around frazzled and bedraggled. It’s not a shock that we’re, too often, tempted to give up the fight, to let the friction in our life take over and win. Life can just simply wear a good man out, and a mom with little ones, well, let’s not even get started!! 

Yet, Christ said we must become like little children. More Specifically, He said, “If you do not become like one of these little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.” So, how do we do this? How do we live up to that kind of expectation when life just drains the life right out of us?? 

I think we can start to answer that when we stop looking at the trouble and problems of our lives and begin to look at a little child. Too often, the older our children grow, the quicker we forget the joys and wonders of childhood. Sometimes, I wonder if that’s why God allows us to have grandkids later in life…as a simple reminder of wonder.  

What are the cares of a little boy when he walks in his room full of toys? …where’s my train, my truck, my bouncy ball? What does the little girl think about as she sees her stuffed animals at the table? …why a tea party, of course, and whom she’s going to invite!    

These children aren’t consumed with the cares of this world. Most of the time, they don’t even know the cares of this world! They can get lost in a world full of imagination, wonder, fantasy and fairytale. All they long to do is play, sing songs and find the next fun adventure to take!  

We can take a lesson from them. You might want to argue that we, as adults, must put aside those foolish things of childhood in order to succeed in life, to accomplish the many tasks and expectations that are placed upon us.  

Oh, but I have to disagree. It’s not that we should remain in immaturity and never take the responsibilities of adulthood, but that we should never lose our wonder. We should never shut out our intrigue for imagination and adventure. We should never put aside our joy simply because we’ve grown a few years older. For this is where dreams live. This is where we go beyond simply surviving through life, and we begin to thrive!    

The Word tells us, “The JOY of the Lord if our strength!” It even says, “For the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross.” 
Even in our moments of sorrow, our moments of heartache, the child within us can still learn and grow. Even in our deepest time of fear and doubt, that child can push beyond that fear toward faith and a new tomorrow. It is the choice in how we think, how we see, and how we live out our lives that determines if we are thriving or simply surviving. It is a choice we can make, even today, to continue to grow old or to stir up the child within and allow him or her to breathe and to dream again. 

A great place to start is with thoughts of heaven and all the laughter and joy we will find there. Can you hear them? Can you hear the children laughing and playing? When a child laughs, it’s like liquid gold, for it brings a lightness to the air. Laughter washes away sorrow. Laughter drowns out fear. The laughter of a child can mend a heart and revive a soul. Can you hear them? Wouldn’t it be fun to join them once again?   

Friction to Thrive

There will be no sharpening of iron without friction. – rev. James Robison   

It’s a scary place to be…on the edge of a knife. Wondering what to do, where to go, knowing one step can determine our destiny. In that moment, all can be gained or all can be lost. The choice is ours to make. It is never happenstance. 

Friction shakes things up. Friction causes change, and friction causes a sharpening which cannot be found in the mundane moments of life. Yes, friction is needed in our lives to transform us from who we once were and propel us to who we are to become. 

Often, many will choose to avoid this moment of tension, this moment of inner conflict, this opportunity for change. Some avoid it out of fear. Some avoid it out of pain. Some even avoid it out of sheer laziness. Whatever your reason, I can assure you of this truth: no matter your situation, and no matter your reasoning, every time you avoid that moment of friction, you become dull. You lose your edge. You may even miss the mark for a lifetime. 

Sometimes, you can return. You might regain that sharpness. Sometimes, you can resume your cutting edge; yet, you are never guaranteed its return. You are never promised that repeated opportunity. There are some options which only come once in a lifetime, and all too often, those options come with friction. 

The decision must be made before the conflict arises. The choice must be made today, not tomorrow. We must have a made up mind before the opportunity comes knocking. Don’t let life overwhelm you. Never let circumstances dictate your destiny. You are not a victim. Your life is not simple happenstance. 

Choose you this day. Make up your mind, and chase your dreams. Make life happen all around you, and when you feel that friction, embrace it. Push against it. Stand tall in the midst of it. You will find it’s like a mighty sailboat, caught in the perfect winds on the sea. When the sails, the rutter, and the winds are all caught in perfect tension, that huge vessel will sail with great speed and with ease. 

So, find that place of perfect friction. Embrace those conflicts which come with tenacity and vigor. Thrive in that moment of tension, and sail on, my friend. Sail on. 


Joy in the Sorrow

We only experience true joy when we’ve experienced deep pain. 

We only experience true strength when we’ve experienced great weakness. 

We appreciate the sunshine when we’ve been surrounded by rain. 

We are truly grateful for home when we’ve been away for a long time. 

We all know the feeling when the day has been unending, and we’re so thankful for our own bed. We are more appreciative, because we’ve recognized the loss of it.  

A parent values their child most when that child has been lost to him for a time. 

A wife truly cherishes her covenant when she sees him marry the other woman. 

A husband really esteems his wife after she has escaped death.  

A child treasures a friend when he thought all was forgotten. 

We get comfortable in routine. 

We grow complacent in the mundane.

We grow ungrateful in the familiar. 

Sometimes, hard times come to shake us from the average. 

Sometimes, trials come to move us beyond the commonplace. 

Often times, the trouble will pull us out of the habitual and into a brighter tomorrow. 

So, when the storms of life come,

Don’t fight. 

Don’t resist. 

Just walk out in the rain.

Just learn to grow. 

Learn to love. 

Learn the value. 

Just turn your face to the waterfall. 

Just let it wash over you. 

 Just dance. 


PENNED – MG – 4/13/15

Why Break Their Hearts

IMG_9834Ya know, sometimes, this world makes me angry at how easily people can walk away from a life commitment. I want to remind them that they made a vow before and to each other, before their family and friends, before GOD. Vows shouldn’t be made flippantly nor should they be taken lightly. Your word should stand for more than just a simple piece of paper that can be shred and burned in less than a minute. Your word should be solid, one that can be passed on from generation to generation.

I understand, there are legit reasons, cases of infidelity, abuse and illegal activities. I got it. They’ve got their reasons, but sometimes, I just want to scream at those who give up for stupid reasons, especially when there’s kiddos involved. Statements like, “Well, I just don’t love you anymore….I’m tired of trying.” These nonchalant attitudes, thoughts of reckless abandonment, these kinds of things should be scoffed at in today’s society, not “understood” and consoled, even congratulated. These are the words that shatter young dreams. These are the actions that implode self esteem and fragmentize tender hearts, and I’m not talking about those who make the decision but, rather, the lives surrounding that decision. Everyone is effected. No one is immune.

Moments fade. Lives change. Hearts are never to be the same. The decision makers think, “All will mend in time. It will eventually be okay.” What they don’t see is the permanent limp they’ve caused, not only to their own life, but to all those involved. Yes, limps can be managed, compensated for, and sometimes, even hidden for a while, but eventually, truth always unveils what is left in the shadows. Water always finds its level, and that is when surviving begins, and thriving is left in the dreamland.

Yes, I know, thriving can come. Healing can come. I am a testimony to this kind of pain and to this kind of healing. It is possible. There is hope thereafter; however, I still experience the pains and the healing…and I’m in my 40’s…and the deed was done just shy of that many years! It’s just not an easy road to travel for those following behind. 

Be careful what you say in anger. It may come back to bite. Be cautious what you do when lonely. It may come back to haunt you. Live your life for the eternal moments more than the momentary pleasures of relief. Live out your days with determination to keep those commitment which matter to those coming behind. Live in such a way that generations to come will be eager to follow.

Right Where You Are

BIG PICTURE LIVING
while DEALING WITH
the HERE AND NOW…

Sometimes, life isn’t what we dreamt it to be. Do you remember? Those dreams you had as a little child…fairytale lands, sweet candy trees, visions of the prince coming to save you…thoughts of a knight in shining armor riding up, slaying the dragons and whisking you away to the city made of gold, the land where it never rains, and evil is far, far away.

Or maybe you were that little kid whose cape whipped in the wind. You became as tall as a house, had muscles made of steel, and eyes full of fire. No villain or evil thing could come against your universe. You could squash them all in a millisecond! Do you remember those wonderful visions of grandeur?

Time moved on, you grew up, and holding those grand dreams tight within your chest, you faced the world. You were determined to have that extra-human strength to conquer anything, or anyone, who might try to stand in your way. Then, the storms rolled in, the lightening flashed and the winds screamed in your face. The fight became real, and the dreams began to wash away with the rain. The struggle grew harder, and, as you struggled just to breathe, you were thankful just to simply survive. Those dreams were shut away in the archives of childhood, and the giant called LIFE demanded your surrender and your obedience. You succumbed to responsibilities, others’ expectations and failure.

Who told you those boyhood dreams couldn’t be realized? Who told you that little girl could no longer dance on the wind and be rescued by the handsome prince? Those voices you’ve been listening to have LIED to you! If you are reading this, if you are still able to move, and if there is still yet breath in your being, you’re not finished! Your potential here on this earth is not through!

Get back to dreaming! Recall those thoughts of the past! Sure, life is hard. Sure, times change and people change, but that doesn’t mean your dreams have to. It may take hard work. It may take failing a few times. It may even take altering the complete expectations of those dreams a little (yeah, so maybe you don’t wear the cape and tights to work everyday), but you can still be a hero to your wife and kids! You can still be swept off your feet by the man you love simply by opening your eyes to actually see him.

See the bigger picture. If you’re not where you long to be, just start right where you are. Start with the here and now. Your big picture can never be realized if you bust up the frame before the details are done. You’ve got to begin right now, right here.

If you dream of someday owning your own business, start researching now how to accomplish it. If you dream of one day writing a book, start journaling and keeping notes today. If you long to go back to college, but don’t see a way, since you’re now working two jobs and have four kids, talk it over with your spouse, make plans, fill out the applications, and apply for financial aid. Was that a teacher, preacher, doctor or contractor dream you had? Then take the steps today to begin realizing those dreams, even if they do seem tiny in the grand scheme of things! You can never begin on the journey if you don’t pack your bag and chart your course. You can do this!

You’ll never get to the big picture, if you can’t start putting the puzzle of life together right now, one piece at a time. If things are just awful, the bucket has holes, and the water is pouring out faster than you can stop it, just start with the one hole. Pick up your hammer and nails, or your spatula and putty, and patch it up. Don’t freak out over all the holes at once. Focus on one or two; then, once those are repaired, start on the next set.

When you successfully jump that first hurdle, and then the next, you’ll be amazed at the energy it will give you to set your eyes ahead to face the next one! That’s called momentum. Get you some! You’ll begin to not only survive, you’ll begin to thrive. When you thrive, nothing can hinder you from accomplishing that big dream, reaching that big goal, and seeing that big picture. Do it! Start today…right here and right now! 🙂