8/25/15

{accepted}


Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, holding your pillow in the dark asking God, "why me"?

Our why me questions are as individual as our fingerprints ...

Why didn't I get that promotion?

Why don't my children love me?

Why did you take my loved one?

Why am I battling this illness?

Why doesn't my spouse love me?

Why did that deal on our house fall through?

Why am I battling this addiction?

Why am I not good enough?

Why did my friend betray me?

Why do I have to feel all alone?

Why, why, why?

We can all fill in the blank of our own why, and we all have them at some point or another in our lives.

We live in a fallen world where Satan prowls like a roaring lion {1 Peter 5:8} seeking to devour us. And as we face these why questions, clinging to our pillow in the dark of the night, it certainly can feel like we are going to be devoured.

If you are feeling the weight of "why" today, I encourage you to remember that in God's eyes, you are accepted. You are loved. You are precious. He has loved YOU with an everlasting love. As he died on that cross, YOU were on his mind. He bore that shame and that pain for you. He even knew you would be asking why "You know what I am going to say, even before I say it, Lord" {Psalm 139:4}

In this fallen world you will experience difficulties {John 16:33 The Message}, we will live with difficult people. Loved ones will die. Children will stray. Jobs will fail. Friends will disappoint. We will question our worth. We may feel all alone.

But, God!

God promises us in His Word {the Bible} that "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" {Proverbs 18:24}.

When those hard times come and you are holding on to that pillow as the tears fall in the dark of night, hold on to Him. He is your ultimate source of comfort. He is there with you. "I will never leave you nor forsake you" {Hebrews 13:5}

He is your friend who sticks closer than a brother and He has loved you with an everlasting love. You can't run from it. You can't hide from it. You can't get away from it. Even when you forget it and you feel that you are all alone, He is there with you. He is holding you. He is loving you. He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you to turn to Him, to run to Him and to hide in Him.

He loves you.

He cares.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done.

Your sins are forgiven, they were buried with him.

No matter what this world is shouting at you or what others do to you or what you think of yourself, He loves you. He cares and you are accepted.

Won't you accept that love today?


8/22/15

{gracious words}


Ouch!

Most of the time, I can use gracious words, but did you know this goes deeper that the words we {say} it's also the {way} we say them?

How often do we slip into the trap of snide remarks, sarcasm, eye rolling or even feeling superior to someone when speaking with them? 

Where is the graciousness at that point?  On {good} days, it's easy for our speech to be gracious, not only in the spoken word, but in the delivery of the spoken word. 

But what about on those days when things aren't going so well?

What about when you feel like:

You can never do anything right

Nobody cares about your feelings

Everyone forgot about you

You worked around the house all day, and nobody notices
{how clean the house is, all the laundry that got done, the grass that got mowed, the food that got prepared, the pets that got fed ....}

Nobody loves you {even God}

The list could go on and on. We all have {those days}, I know, I had one this week!  And on {those days} I so quickly forget what I know to be true:

I have {with God's help} done much right

God cares about my feelings {and really, my family does too!}

God never forgets about me, I was on His mind as he died on that cross!

God ALWAYS loves me, no matter what {and many others do too, though sometimes I might be loved, but I'm not very likeable!}

God notices the {mundane} jobs that I do, and I should be doing them to glorify Him and serve my family, not for vain recognition!

But then, how do I respond to the first list above?  How do you respond?  

I had a day earlier in the week where there weren't many gracious words {spoken or unspoken} adding to my reputation. My spoken words were snippy and sassy and full of the pity party I was throwing for myself.  And my thought life, well, it was worse than the words that I spewed. My words were indeed sarcastic, snide and delivered with eye rolls and not so nice thoughts {you hurt me, I want you to hurt too}.  

It was really quite an {ugly} day!  It was a day that I wouldn't have wanted cameras rolling, or Facebook posts updating my thoughts, words and actions as they proceeded from my lips and ran through my mind.

Ouch!

But God ....

Oh, how I love those 2 little words!

But God .... in those {ugly} moments still loved me {though those receiving the brunt of my tantrum found it harder to love me, I'm sure}!  But God .... in those {ugly} moments heard my pitiful cries for help!  But God .... didn't instantly deliver me from the {so called} trial {created by myself} that I {thought} I was facing.  But God .... was with me and didn't forsake me! But God .... allowed me to seek His face, to cling to Him, to search my soul and realize just how selfish I really am. But God .... reached down to me, and in His mercy gave me little blessings throughout the day to remind me of how little I am and how big He is! But God .... gave me a husband and children who love and forgive my un-graciousness. But God .... God Himself loves me and forgives me. But God .... reminds me that it was for these exact things He died on the cross. But God .... asks me to put away these behaviors and instead put on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control {Galatians 5:22 & 23}

Just because things didn't go exactly as I had planned, and exactly as I expected they should, life still went on. Morning turned to afternoon and afternoon turned to evening. Just because I was a crab, the world didn't stop. 

Everyone else went on with their day.

Rick went to work.

The girls spent the day enjoying each other, their big brother and family, and a boat ride with Uncle Tim and Aunt Rochet {thank you again, for loving those girls almost as much as I do Tim and Rochet!}

And I? I made a choice to pout .... Because I didn't make my expectations clear to others around me. Because I didn't graciously let my words express my expectations for the day. Because I didn't listen to Rick {as he graciously tried to soothe my rough edges, reminding me of what I know to be true}. Because I chose not to speak with love, I spent the day not enjoying the day. I didn't see the beauty all around me. I didn't appreciate the fact that I had been given another day, to live and laugh and love and BREATHE! I wasted a day that God had graciously gifted me with!

But God .... He continued that day and for the rest of the week to put devotions, and quotes, and Bible verses, and people and songs in front of me reminding me how fleeting life is. How forgiveness {and forgetting} is so important. How I've only been given one life, and He desires that I live it well .... in service to Him .... no matter what each day brings!


Now that the {ugly} day is past, I can see how foolish I was. How selfish I was. How sinful and un-Godly I was. How, if I were to have died the next day, it sure wouldn't have been worth wasting the day being angry!

" Lord I pray to guard my lips so that I remember it's not just {what} I say but also {how} I say it as well as my thought life, and my actions that {speak louder than words}. These are the things that add to {or subtract from} my reputation. Let my words be sweet and my tone be gentle to all I speak to today. Let my actions and my thoughts glorify you and encourage those around me! May I speak only words of life and love! Amen."







8/18/15

one of "those" days ...

So ... today is one of "those days"!

And by "those days" I mean one where I'm counting the hours until I can go back to bed!

I don't feel that way because it's Rickey's Birthday.



 I feel that way because it's a day where there's an elephant in the room.

I feel that way because even though I love the texts and messages, it really is "just another day".

I feel that way because I don't know what I'm supposed to do or say or how I'm supposed to "act" ... do I ignore the significance of the day, do I wear sackcloth and ashes so I'm grieving properly, do I tiptoe around the fact that it's Rickey's Birthday, just in case I might offend someone?

I feel that way because I don't know what to write today, because it might not be the "right" thing in somebody's eyes.



I feel this way because on a day like today, I feel the weight of expectations. How do people expect me to act? How do they expect me to "respond" to the day.  Will they judge me if I respond wrongly to the day, not the way they expected? Will I hurt someone by my response to the day? 

aauuggghhhh!


"Special" days are never easy in the aftermath of losing someone ... even when we are 4 years out from losing Rickey.  

Everyone has their own memories.  Everyone copes with their memories in their own way.  Everyone has expectations of how others should cope with their memories ... and that's where the "hard" part of the day happens!  

So rather than "tip-toe" through the rest of the day ... here's where I am at today, on this celebration of the day that Rickey Roger Rye was born ...

Today, I will choose to celebrate the man that he was ...

He was a man who loved God first and most!

He was a man who loved his family!

He was a man who loved ALL THINGS hunting!

He was a man who loved his GREEN BAY PACKERS {and Brett Favre}!

I will also celebrate memories ...

I will remember with pride the moment he held each of his newborn children {and grandchildren} in his arms!

I will remember the smile on his face when he posed for a picture with the deer or bear he just shot!

I will remember him cheering for his Green  Bay Packers - win or lose, he still loved them!

I will remember the peace on his face when he spoke of his salvation and his assurance that whenever and however the LORD took him home, he was ready!

I will remember how he loved me, his parents, his siblings and his children/grandchildren!

I will remember how he treated everyone he met with kindness and love!

I will remember birthdays gone by ....

I will remember the year I decided to make a German chocolate cake, from scratch, in 90+ degree weather, in a house with no air conditioning ... and after 3 attempts I finally got a cake out of the oven that didn't "fall" from the humidity!

I will remember pulling off a surprise 50th Birthday party!

I will remember celebrating him turning the speed limit {55}!

I will remember that we had no idea that he would forever be 55 in our minds, for in just 2.5 short months after that Birthday, God called him home.

I will also remember that any grief that is felt today is for those left behind for even if Rickey COULD come back to celebrate his Birthday with us, he wouldn't want to!

I will remember that he is celebrating his Birthday {they probably don't really celebrate in Heaven, I know!} with his Heavenly Father and his earthly father, and it is a more joyous celebration than you or I can ever imagine!

I will remember today with fondness and with thankfulness the almost 20 years that I was given with him here on this earth.

I will be thankful for the kind and loving husband and Daddy that he was and I'll be thankful that he pointed me and his children to Jesus!

I will pray that I learned something from his kind, gentle spirit and that I can carry that legacy with me, and treat others with the love and respect that he did!

I will remember that each of us was created in the image of Jesus and before we ever took our first breath on earth, our days were written by the King of the Universe and in His sovereignty HE and he alone knows the number of those days!

I will CHOOSE today to live the day to the fullest, CHOOSING to honor the memory of Rickey while enjoying the blessings that I have today!

Won't you do the same ...

Remember Rickey with fond memories today!

Recall the love that you felt when you were in his presence!

Share a fun story you remember about him!

Laugh, smile, be happy for the fact that you were blessed to know him!

Trust that God does not make mistakes and that He was there the day Rickey was called to his Heavenly home, and that it was in God's timing {even though it seems too soon for our earthly finite minds}!

And then, won't you give Rickey the BEST gift you could ever give him ...

Make sure you know that when the Lord calls your name, you'll be joining Rickey in Heaven!

Love like there's no tomorrow {for it isn't promised to anyone}!

Grieve if you must, but not without hope!

Smile and do something kind for someone else - to honor Rickey's memory!

Have a Mountain Dew, a cup of coffee or a piece of raspberry pie or German chocolate cake in his memory!

Shoot your gun or your bow and remember that time you hunted with him!

Do something good and fun and happy ... he would not ask you to grieve, he would want you to live and be happy and to serve God well in the days you have left on this earth!

So go out and do just that ... it's o.k. ... really it is!



8/17/15

... do it TODAY!

"Love is all you need" is how the old song goes ... and while that my not be entirely true, and I had a completely different post written in my mind to go with the "love" theme I posted on the "My Journey 139" Facebook page, it's the song in my head right now.

While "love" might not be "all you need", it sure is an important part of living!

Tonight I went to the local funeral home for the visitation of a former neighbor, a friend, a classmate. She died in her sleep. She was only 50 years old.  If you are 16 and reading this, that makes her sound ancient. If you are 75 and reading this, she's young enough to be your daughter. If you are somewhere in between, you are thinking, wow, 50 isn't that old!

So, what does visiting the funeral home and my neighbor/friend/classmate have to do with love?

Everything actually!

As I stood in line, it was hard not to remember being there myself almost 4 years ago. It was hard not to remember the mixture of emotions that are felt when your family is the one that is being visited. It was hard not to see Rickey laying there, not my friend. It was hard to see her Dad & Mom grieving.  It was hard to see her sisters and children and husband and grandchildren grieving. It was just plain hard. I had a moment where I felt the room spinning, it was a surreal feeling.  I've been to the funeral home before. I get it. Life has a beginning and it has an ending, all written by God before our days are even begun here on earth {Psalm 139:16}. Yes, I get all that. Yet tonight's visitation hit me hard. Not sure why? Maybe because tomorrow is Rickey's Birthday, his 4th in Heaven. Maybe because I'm myself grieving the loss of friendships that came about because I got remarried too soon in the eyes of some. Maybe because I saw her parents and family grieving, and could actually relate and feel their pain. I'm not sure, but I do know that God allowed those feelings. Not so I would doubt his sovereignty, that I've never done, but maybe so I could see things more clearly. Maybe so I could see how important relationships are. Maybe so I could sit down and write this post, because maybe, just maybe it might change one life or one family. Maybe.

So, here goes. After I left the funeral home I got into my car and had a good cry. As I drove home I prayed. And I felt God telling me how important it is to live life with no regrets. How it really is so important that we "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." Ephesians 4:26b I felt the need to blog about how important love REALLY is and how relationships do matter. Even the messy ones. Even the ones that have hurt you. Even the ones that you don't want to make right. Even the ones that don't have "warm fuzzies" anymore. Even those that have grown apart and have grown cold. Even those who "rub you the wrong way". Even, even, even ....

We will all die someday, "It is appointed to men once to die" Hebrews 9:27. Those we love, and those we like and those we have grudges with will all die someday.You will die someday. If that day is today, and you have let the sun go down on your anger for a day, or two or ten {or ten years ...} you won't get another chance. Please, today, be the first! Be the first to say I'm sorry. Be the first to forgive. Be the first to forget. Be the first to move on. Make today be the first day of the rest of your life, letting go of bitterness and anger. Let the other person know that the past really is past and you love them TODAY and you'll love them TOMORROW and each day after. It's their choice if they want to accept it, but you'll be free. Free to love them and to let go of the baggage you were carrying. And, maybe, just maybe, you'll release them in the process as well!

My guess is that in many cases, picking up from today, and loving again is all that it takes. The past probably doesn't have to be re-hashed. The old hurts and the old anger, bitterness, un-forgiveness, don't have to all be laid out on the table and "fixed" before you can move on {sometimes that is not the case, but often I do believe it is}. I have seen for myself that lives can be changed just by being willing to look forward not back. To choose to love again, and to move on, letting bygones be bygones. 



Won't you try it? Won't you be the one to make the first move? Won't  you be the one to love again? Pick up that phone, make that call, type that text, send that Facebook message, send that e-mail, write that card! Whatever it takes, just do it! don't stand at someone's graveside with a heart full of regret for what "should have been", make things right today, for your sake, for their sake, for God's sake! 

To those reading this who I have wronged in any way, I'm asking your forgiveness. If I hurt you, I'm sorry. I do believe I can honestly say that I don't remember a time in my life that I intentionally caused someone pain "just for the fun of it". I know that there are those I've not seen eye to eye with on issues, or who I've hurt by actions, reactions, or non-actions. Please forgive me. Let's let today be the first day of the rest of our lives, let's move forward to the future in love, let's not hold grudges, and someday have to say "if only".

Take a moment. Pray about it. Listen to God. Is he telling you to make it right with someone? Don't turn your face from that today, take a step out in faith, trust God to do a work that is bigger than you. Don't let the sun go down on your anger for one more day because you don't know if you'll get one more day!

8/15/15

A challenge to myself {and you!} ...


I LOVE Social Media. There, I've said it.  I'm a Facebook fanatic, a Pinterest pinner, an Instagram guru ... I enjoy my time on the computer.  We use social media to promote our businesses.  I use social media to {hopefully} encourage others in what God is teaching me. I have re-discovered many long lost friends {and even relatives} and made many new "friends".  Social media is NOT a bad thing! But, it's not always a good thing either.  Have you ever ended your endless scrolling to feel dissatisfied? Maybe your home isn't as beautiful as others. Your children certainly aren't as well-behaved, or as smart or as photogenic as so-and-so's. Your husband isn't as charming and romantic as "hers" is, and that's just what you see in your news feed.  What happens if you go even further and take some of those "quizzes" {Which TV/Movie character are you? How sexy are you? Are you a lover or a fighter? How popular are you? How evil is your Mother in law?}? Or how about reading some of the articles {Did you marry the right person? How to know if you should stay in your marriage! {really, mine didn't come with an escape clause}, Six signs your spouse doesnt' really love you ...} and on and on it goes. Suddenly {or subtly} your pretty good life, your blessed by God, and walking in His plan for your life life seems a little "less than". A little less than perfect, a little less content.  Your spouse, your children, your home, your financial situation, your job, your friends, your "security" is a little less than the guy next door {or down the street or across the country or around the world}.  Or, the opposite happens and you can begin to feel "puffed-up", your life surely is better than the person who ALWAYS complains in their status updates {you know the one!}, your "luck" has surely been better than theirs, your IQ is way above average {the quiz said so}, you ARE sexy and on and on!  Have you ever measured your "worth" by the number of "likes" and comments to your most recent post or photo? Have you posted to someone's page, hoping for a response, and getting none, therefore assuming "they must not really love me as much as I love them"? So, while social media {and all things associated with it} can be a good thing, it can also become a stumbling block and a monopolizer of our time!  What do you do when you have a few spare moments?  Are you like me?  When you are doing the following, do you do as I have been prone to do? 

*Waiting in line at the grocery store?
     Check Facebook
*Riding in the car?
     Pin a couple of projects on Pinterest
*Sitting in a waiting room?
     Scroll through Instagram
*Walk past my computer with a load of laundry?
     Forget the laundry and check for new Facebook notifications
*Between Sunday School and Church {or sadly, sometimes during}?
     Check my text messages
*Go to the bathroom?
     Check Facebook {again} ... C'mon, I know you've done it too!
*Take the dogs out?
     Scroll my Facebook newsfeed
*Feeling neglected, lonely, insecure?
     Pin a few more projects on Pinterest

I think you get where I'm going with this by now! When I'm happy, sad, bored, procrastinating or feeling lonely, I gravitate toward social media. When I should be spending time with my family, loving on others, serving God or studying His Word, I often go first {or instead} to social media. When I want to feel better about myself, run away from the responsibilities at hand, or just plain don't want to do the task that is before me, I turn to social media.  

Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail, texting, my computer, they all have their place.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with any of them. But ... I am asking you, as I've had to ask myself, how much time is being devoted to {them} vs. how much time is being devoted to God's Word and time with Him, to furthering His kingdom, to loving on my family, to being present IN REAL LIFE, not virtually connected to my 1065 "friends" on Facebook, my 304 fellow pinners and my 299 Instagram followers? How often are my eyes on my computer screen or my phone when they should be seeing God's beauty around me, my loving {or hurting} family member, the needs of those in my family, my church, my community ..... I know that I have had my priorities out of order for some time. I know that my "screen time" far outweighs my God time, and my "in-real-life" relationship time. I know something has to change!

How different would {life} look if instead of the list above this is what I did?

*Waiting in line at the grocery store?
     Encourage the struggling mom with 3 toddlers in line behind me - maybe 
     even let her go in front of me
*Riding in the car?
     Listen to uplifting Christian music, read a book related to my walk with 
     Christ {or read it to my husband so we can both enjoy/benefit}
*Sitting in a waiting room?
     Quietly look around the room, saying a prayer for others who are also            waiting {it doesn't matter if I know their needs, God does!}
*Walk past my computer with a load of laundry?
     Fold the laundry, and put it away, thanking God for the fact that I have a 
     washer and dryer, and a family whose clothes get dirty and need washing
*Between Sunday School and Church {or sadly, sometimes during}?
     Connect with someone who is PRESENT at church, someone I don't usually
     talk to, but may need my encouragement and prayers
*Go to the bathroom?
     Go to the bathroom {novel idea, I know!}
*Take the dogs out?
     Enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, use my camera to capture that beauty,        or just enjoy being outside with "my furry girls"
*Feeling neglected, lonely, insecure?
     Grab my Bible, find a quiet corner and pour my heart out to God, re-              discover all His promises to me, and remind myself that in Him, I'm always      loved or love on someone else .... taking the focus off of me, me, me            usually curbs those feelings of neglect, loneliness & insecurity pretty              quickly

This morning, I shared the following on my Instagram and Facebook {sigh} 

"Lord, help me to seek You {first} but also {most}! Shut out the clamor of the world and its promises of fulfillment in anything but you! May I not seek fame, fortune, contentment, peace or love in anything outside of You. You promise so much more than anything this world can offer, help me not to forget that as I go through my day! Amen. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God..." Matthew 6:33
Such a good reminder ... where or with who or what do I devote more time? Is it to loving and serving God, spending time with Him and in His Word and following Him, or is more time devoted to checking my Facebook newsfeed, making sure I'm "up" on the latest "news"? Am I devoted to following Him first or am I following the latest trends on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, or just wasting time on my computer? I long to be more intentional with my time and to put more focus on "Kingdom work" than on storing up treasures here on earth! "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth ... where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21"

This really is my desire!  I want to seek HIM first, to serve my family second, to use the wonder of social media to encourage others to seek after Christ. My challenge to myself, and to you is to SET SOME BOUNDARIES!  

The challenge, should you accept means that you'll strive to FIRST seek Christ and His way for your life!  SECONDLY, you'll strive to serve and love on your family, your friends and all the "in-real-life" people that God puts in your path on a daily basis!  You will strive to seek out human {not virtual} relationships and live like "Jesus with skin on" to those present around you!  You'll set some boundaries that are appropriate for you {I've un-installed Facebook and Messenger from my phone - I can still access it, but now it's not just the "one click" app, and I'm not receiving a constant barrage of notifications! This makes me stop and think before I "check in"}.  You may need to set aside a specific time of day and a time limit for catching up with social media accounts and maybe times of the day that you actually shut off those electronic devices so you can be intentional about being PRESENT in the lives of those you love, and those who love you!  Maybe you'll check e-mails and Facebook messages at 8:00 a.m., noon and 8:00 p.m. and you'll only answer those that need your immediate attention. Maybe you'll only answer those texts or voice mails that REQUIRE action on your part.  I'm not sure what battles you face in this area, only you know that, but I challenge you to seek God's face, ask Him to show you where you've neglected those who live with you and around you in favor of "virtual" relationships, and that you then strive to make changes that will draw you closer to Him, and to those that really matter, your God, your family and the "real" {not the "virtual"} community that He has placed you in!  

If you are "in" ... let me know, so we can do this together!  Let me know how i can pray for you and encourage you! Let's strive to use social media FOR God's glory, not our own satisfaction and escape from real life!

{me, a chatterbox?}

if you have followed my blog at all you know that my heart has always been to share God's grace in the midst of human tragedy ... or wh...