Saturday, December 19, 2009

"I Can Love You Better"

Today was Scott Kaehr’s funeral. I can’t remember the last time I was so moved. I couldn’t stop crying after I saw his widow, Karen, because she and the entire room was heavy with sadness. Kent said, however, that Scott didn’t want people crying for him, but for the ones who don’t know Christ.

Scott was passionate about Christ! How wonderful it is that he is with Him NOW! It stirred my own desire for Jesus so much (which is just what I needed right now). In clips from his last sermon, Scott shared how he felt God saying that He loved him. Kent asked us if we had heard God say that to us. In my heart, I was thinking “not lately.” Emotionally, I have been very numb (to say the least). I won’t go into a bunch of details at the moment, but I’ll just say that grace like rain washed over me and I am doing much better. I don’t want to love or be loved by anything or anyone more than Jesus. I could feel Him say, “I can love you better.” It keeps echoing in my mind. He’s the ultimate love, and no one can out-love Him. He always has (and always will) love me most and love me better than anyone. He belongs to me, and I belong to Him. It’s Christmastime, and we celebrate the fact that He came to us, and for us, and He invites us to come to HIM.

Scott always made a point of telling us how prideful and arrogant he could be and how he wrestled with it. He always said we needed to humble ourselves and surrender. All of that, and more, resonated so much stronger with me today. I can’t even begin to describe all I thought and felt during the beautiful service today (which Scott requested that it be not about him, but about Christ). There was an altar call at the end, and so many people went up (praise God!). I prayed and thanked God where I stood, with Casey by my side. I also pondered what he might have been thinking, and about the day where he might be one to go forward when he’s old enough to understand. I know, and Scott knew, that nothing is more important than Jesus.

I was concerned about the state of my heart lately, and how I would even prepare to enjoy and celebrate Christmas. Now, everything has been made right again. I don’t have the words to explain or express it all. All I know is that I am grateful for Christ and grateful for the impact He made on Scott because it has impacted us all. I venture to say I am jealous of the fact that he gets to be in heaven with Jesus right now. How glorious that must be! I want that too! I can hardly wait! Until then, I will remain faithful; trusting and clinging to Christ until my day comes.

Whether you knew Scott or not, please watch his last sermon. Ironically, he was showing people his casket and talking about the reality of death and the choice we all have to make. Please, please, watch these videos (there‘s three of them because Facebook only lets you upload so many minutes of footage at a time - you do NOT have to have a Facebook account in order to see it). I promise you will be glad you did!! Grace and peace to you, and God bless you all!! (Keep praying for Scott’s family - especially his wife, Karen, and that she will be empowered and strengthened by Christ and have all she needs to endure).

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Simple Blessings

A few days ago, I got something in the mail. It was from my dear friend, Holly. Imagine my delight and surprise as I opened the gold envelope and found two little packages of limited edition coconut M&M’s and a note which read: “Simply because I think you ROCK! : ) Enjoy… Holly”

I was profoundly touched! You should have seen me! I was giggly and squealing with girly excitement. I had my hand to my heart and was like, “Awww!! She loves me!” On her blog, she had talked about those limited edition M&M’s and ever since then, I had been looking for them (but hadn’t found any). How thoughtful of her to send them to me (and to attach such a sweet note to them - and on HELLO KITTY PAPER, NO LESS!).

Words can’t describe what that meant to me! It was such a sweet, simple, kind, and thoughtful gesture. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal to just anyone, but it encouraged me GREATLY and spoke love to my heart! It was exactly what I needed! It meant all the more to me because it was sort of “random.” It’s not my birthday, and it’s not quite Christmas. Yet, she took the time to listen to a little “nudge” to do something nice for a friend. Add to that the fact that she actually had to take the extra time to go to the post office, and probably wait in line in order to get that mailed, and I appreciate it even more (because I’m the type that tries to avoid the hassle of the post office). Those of you who are Moms totally understand why that is AWESOME!! So yeah, this little gift is a HUGE deal for me! My dear friend, who is a busy wife and Mom, sacrificed some valuable TIME! She thought of me, and went beyond just a “good intention” or a nice idea.

Simple things really do mean the most. Yet, we underestimate just how much our simple gestures and random acts of kindness mean to others. We even push it aside because we are just too darn busy! We don’t want to lift a finger unless we have to because it’s just not “convenient” for us to spare five minutes or more. So, we brush it off as “no big deal” and that it probably wouldn’t matter anyways - all because we don’t want to put forth some minimal effort. Thank the Lord for people like Holly; who genuinely cares more for others than herself! Though, what she did is easy enough for anyone to do, but as I mentioned, Moms like us are busy. We’re taking care of our families and barely take care of ourselves. So, to go out of our way (and maybe make a special trip to the post office) can be a bit of a chore; and who needs another “chore” on their endless to do list? Yet, she said “yes”….to me (and to God)! It was as if she said: “I thought of you and you are definitely worth my time. Here’s a little something that I know you’ll enjoy! I don‘t want you to miss out on some limited edition cand
y, in case you can‘t find it yourself. You deserve it! And, as an added bonus, I’ll even write my note on Hello Kitty paper just because I know you love it (and because I love YOU!).”

This is but one of the many “simple” blessings that I have experienced lately. One of the other
ones was when Casey brought me something he made at school. He sweetly said, “Merry Christmas, Mom!” and gave me a picture with those words on it. He had also drawn a Christmas tree, presents, and two stick figures (representing he and I) on it. I smiled and lavished my praise and thank-yous on him as he sheepishly grinned from ear to ear. He also saw to it to bring me two more pictures just like it lol. The best part is, I think he does it more for me than for the sake of praise and approval. He really does love to make me smile (though, I’m practically going to cry right now lol). I am so incredibly blessed!!

So, to my dear Holly, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!! Thank you for hearing me bang on my silver bowl (if you all don’t know what I’m talking about, please read my recent post: “Bowls of Steel”….and Mike Huckabee‘s book “A Simple Christmas“).

Grace and peace to all of you!! Here’s to hoping and praying that more people will be like Holly and hear the sounds of silver bowls (yeah, “Silver Bells” are overrated! LOL). Remember, you never know just how special your words and actions are to someone! Never underestimate just how much you can significantly impact another; and that often times, those simple things you think are “no big deal” are the BIGGEST deal of all!! God bless you all!! Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

God on the Greenway: The Last Run


It’s December. The days are shorter and it’s getting colder. Some people actually bundle up and run outside in this weather. Me? Not likely! Even though I REALLY miss running on the Greenway, I think I will just stick to doing Turbo Jam at home until Spring comes.

The last time I ran on the Greenway was late October. I remember how nice the weather was and thinking that it would probably be my last run. So, I just tried to enjoy it and take it all in. The Fall scenery was colorful and beautiful and I was listening to worship music on my iPod. I also reflected on the many things that God has taught me during my runs this year (and the blessed fact that I had even begun running!). It certainly had been an amazing and unexpected journey!

I’ve enjoyed blogging about the many things that have touched my heart as I’ve run on the Greenway. I’ve shared most of them, but there were also many time where I just let myself “be”. Often times, I get so excited about sharing things that I don’t enjoy the moment enough to learn it first myself. I remember when God impressed that concept upon me in 2008. It happened as I was searching for the meaning/lesson in a driving adventure in which I got messed up in my directions. I knew God was trying to teach me something, but I was so caught up in it that I couldn’t learn at all! That’s when this profound statement came to mind: “You’re too busy looking for a lesson to learn one.” I’ve never forgotten that!! Therefore, I have been learning to take the pressure off myself when it comes to blogging. As much as I like to learn and share, I don’t want to miss being fully present in the moment by wondering too much about what I should learn and how I will blog/share it later. I’ve been able to enjoy my runs with God (and life in general) a lot more that way! ;) I still need work, though!

I’m finding that things flow a lot easier when I start to relax and just “be”. If God wants to show me something, He will. If not, I don’t have to worry about learning something if all He wants me to do is just enjoy His creation and His presence. Sometimes, that’s all that is necessary. Maybe even the biggest lesson is that there is no lesson. Kind of like the days in which I would run from my house to the Greenway instead of driving there. I usually took the same route and on my way there, there’s a building that I run past. I don’t know if it’s vacant or what, but the front door has a window in it and right there at that window is a life-size cardboard cutout of John Wayne. I remember being startled the first time or two I passed it! I thought it was an actual person and it took me off-guard! However, I got used to it quickly and jokingly started giving a wave or a head nod to it as I smiled and ran past. I also started thinking of ways how I might incorporate Mr. Wayne into a Greenway blog. However, it never happened. The only thing that ever came to my mind about “Cardboard Wayne” is that he just is what he is. In fact, he sort of became my little reminder about the “no lesson” concept. Running by him reminded me to just be present and enjoy fun and unexpected things like him without having to make relevant sense out of it.

My last run was a “Cardboard Wayne” kind of run. I didn’t think about learning or blogging; I just decided to run and enjoy!! It was a good and peaceful run. I was able to run the full four miles which ended up being 60 minutes and over 800 calories burned. I was pretty happy about that!!

The one thing that I thought would be the icing on the cake was if I could come back and take some pictures! I had always intended to take some of the Greenway, but never remembered to bring my camera with me. Since I happened to finally think of it (and had a little bit of time left before my small group) I decided to go home and get my camera and come back. The colors of autumn had been very generous to the Greenway; I knew I just had to take some photos!

Mitch and the kids came back with me to the Greenway. I had Mitch drop me off at one end and meet me at the other (that way, I would only have to
walk two miles instead of four round-trip). Normally, I wouldn’t have minded doing four, but I didn’t have much tim
e and I had already run four for the first time in a while (and my hips were already feelin
g it). It took me 75 minutes to walk those two miles and take all the shots that I wanted. And, at the end of the Greenway, there is a bench where I often sit to rest, reflect, pray, and praise God after my run. I used my tri-pod to take a picture of myself on that bench (and in the positi
on I am usually in). I hope you enjoy the photos!! (Just click here).

Grace and peace to all of you!! I pray that the things I have learned have also helped someone else in their faith journey! We’re all in this together!! God bless you all!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Newness Under the Son

When you have the "be still and know that He is God" moments, you realize that nothing else compares to the awesome wonder you have for who He is, all He does, and how He loves. When you soak up the grace that He pours out, the sorrows melt away and He fills you; really fills you. Nothing and no one else can do that; or even remotely come close.

If only the reality of those moments of clarity would embed themselves so incredibly deep that you never forget it for a second; never to be deceived by a deception of Satan who tries to steal your joy. However, in this world, it’s all too easy to forget. It’s all too easy to wander away from the presence of God and forget everything that is important. Life gets “complicated” because we don’t remember to keep it “simple”. We become like Solomon and start searching for something new to captivate us and then realize the simple truth that the only thing that never gets old is the true newness that only God can give you. Everything under the sun is vain and meaningless; it all gets old sooner or later. There is only one thing that is continually new (rather SOMEONE). It‘s Jesus! He is always refreshing, restoring, and fulfilling. He’s amazing! The more you get of Him, the better! He truly satisfies your heart’s desire and doesn’t leave you empty.

For some time now, it’s been on my heart to re-read (and re-post) something that I wrote last year. I always feel weird saying “I wrote”, though, because I don’t really feel like “I” ever write anything. I have no ability on my own to write anything worthwhile. If any blog has an impact, it’s because God did it. I can’t even tell you how often I am blessed (and re-blessed) as I read over the things that end up getting typed on this screen. When you just KNOW that God is teaching you something, and that you couldn’t have possibly come up with it on your own, that’s simply the greatest thing ever! I think that’s why He’s been nudging me to repost the following blog because He knows that I need the reminder just as much as anyone. I confess that I have been very stressed and depressed. That’s pretty typical for me during the winter, which is why I always dread October through about February. This year, it has seemed to be a little worse than normal, but I think I am starting to “snap out of it” like I usually do. It just takes prayer and perseverance (and the support of TOTALLY awesome friends! Thanks to all who have, and are, praying for me! I deeply appreciate it! Thank you for carrying me and helping me bear my burdens!).

I hope the following blog helps you as much as it did me. I also hope that you will consider reading “A Simple Christmas” by Mike Huckabee. It’s a short little book, but it’s very touching (as well as humorous). I was deeply moved and encouraged by it, and it was a great boost for me. May we all remember that true peace and joy really does come from the simple things; the things that don’t come from a store and all wrapped up with paper and bows. Grace and peace to you all!!! Merry Christmas!!

***

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like Solomon, like there is nothing new and that everything is just the same old thing? Does it seem like everything just repeats itself over and over again? Such is the case with me the older that I get (and I am only 27!). I find that there is nothing "new under the sun" and that everything just cycles and repeats in a monotonous routine. It's how I felt when beginning to write because I struggled to come up with something beautiful, inspiring, and focused on the reason for Christmas.

Though, the more I tried, the more cliché it seemed. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing cliché about Christ's birth and the miracle of what God has done for us. What I'm talking about is the tireless beat of the drum at this time of year. The whole "in the midst of your shopping, get-togethers, etc. don't forget that He's the reason for the season." I mean, don't we all know that by now? We are reminded of it every single year. Yet, everything repeats. We get through the holidays, celebrate a new year, and the seasons change, holidays come and go, and everything just keep going and repeating.

How do we stay fresh in a world that has gone stale? How do we find the "newness" under the sun? Well, my friends, I think that we need to think about things a little differently than Solomon. He was probably the wisest human to ever live, and yet, he seemed so empty. That is why he came to the conclusion that there was nothing "new" and that all had been done before because he had "been there, done that" so much. Hence, he became bored and discontent when there was seemingly nothing new left to discover or experience. So, of course there was "nothing new under the sun" because nothing under the sun can fulfill! ALL of it will grow cold and lose its luster! This world cannot offer us anything that lasts.

Thankfully, since Solomon's time, we have been blessed with something truly new: the new covenant! Now THAT would have been something for him to discover and experience! Maybe he wouldn't have been so bored if he could have had the renewal that all of us can have in Christ every day of our lives! Though, even with all this "newness" at our fingertips, we STILL get bored because we are still searching for fulfillment under the sun rather than the SON!

This concept provokes deep thoughts in my heart. It stirs me because I know that I get "bored" a lot. Though, I don't suppose there is much excuse for that when there is so much joy, fulfillment, and LIFE in Christ (which is FAR from boring)! Yet, we still get stuck in the temporal things and wonder why we are wasting away inside.

Christ never gets old, and the newness doesn't lose it's luster. It's our desire for him that sometimes wears away. We get busy, distracted, and overloaded with responsibilities (and even the blessings) of our lives. Just like Solomon, we can have so much and still be so bored and discontent. Dear friends, this need not be! Jesus said that he came to give us life to the fullest (John 10:10). Life isn't found in the temporal things, but the things that are unseen and non-material (2 Corinthians 4:18). The unseen things are what last, and what will fill us and bring us joy. These are the things of the Spirit; the untouchables that we cannot get our hands on, but fill us beyond measure! It's the loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled moments that bring us unfathomable renewal, and keep us from getting bored, apathetic, and on a downward spiral in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

I pray that we would do more than just "survive" the season and breeze through all the traditions, rituals, etc. I pray that we will remember the "Jesus is the reason for the season" mantra, but that it will truly sink into our hearts. I pray that the newness the Son brings will fill us up with gladness as we focus on the freshness that Jesus can bring to each moment of our lives; whether we have experienced them over and over again or not!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! Have a truly blessed Christmas as you celebrate the Son!!