Friday, February 28, 2014

Faithful Friday: Be Contagious

So, I've suffered from the ick going around this week.  I'm fairly certain it is thanks to my co-workers, as two different strains of icky have swiped through the majority of us in the office.  Like dominoes, we've fallen one by one.  And as such, I've shared the wealth with most of my family at home.  Tina, our lucky girl with super immunity, is the only one I know who has escaped the path of nasal destruction.

Sickness isn't something I ever want to share with someone and I do my best to both avoid giving and receiving this unwelcome gift.  Sanitizers -from industrial size pumps to mini travel size- can usually be found within hands reach.  I wash my hands obsessively.  Vitamin C is ingested in super doses at the first hint of illness.  Fogs of Lysol are sprayed in a protective bubble around or behind me.  Yet, without fail, I normally will contract whatever it is anyway.

This morning, on the way to work and listening to K-LOVE, they shared a story about 9 things you didn't know were contagious.  Of course my mind went to the worst...

But #6 made me smile.  In fact, it was the only positive one on the list!

6. Joy. It turns out it isn't even necessary to have direct contact with someone (or their pheromones!)
 for their feelings to rub off on you. A study published in 2013 with the Public Library of Science's publication, 
PLoS ONE, found that
people can catch another person's happiness
by watching someone else watching the joyful person.
"Our emotions can quickly and subtly be transmitted to others, even if it's unintentional,"
says Guillaume Dezecache, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland.
And they can make a big impact.
And I thought...hey, that is one thing I do want to be contagious with!
What better thing to spread around than JOY.

So go ahead....Go out and spread some today!

 "For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother."  Philemon 1:7  (HCSB)


Friday, February 21, 2014

Faithful Friday: Lifelong Student

"Do unto others..." is usually something we learn in kindergarten, yet it is a lesson most adults need reminders of even as we grow.  Or, at least I know God gently nudges me of this.  Sometimes often!

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that."  Matthew 5:43-47  (MSG)

It's easy to treat someone nice when they're being the same, but life gets a little more difficult when people are not so kind.

If someone does something that hurts you or those you love, it is human nature to react in a negative way, or at least think ill of the person.  But it is Godly nature to be forgiving, and not just that, but to also pray for them - and even harder still love them anyway

Because isn't that what He does for us all the time?  I'm not always lovable and yet He loves me anyway.  In spite of my imperfections, God sees the best in me.

But that doesn't mean He won't take opportunities to teach me, mold me, and shape me into a better version of myself.  Like sending me difficult individuals to love. 

"Sandpaper people" I've sometimes heard them called.  You know, the ones that just rub you the wrong way?  Or even worse, people that go beyond abrasive to downright hurtful.  Those especially sting when you know of nothing to justify the negative action. 

I've pondered back on that the past couple weeks and again as I was reading through my devotional journals this morning. 

Time and again I've written asking God to "give me His eyes, His heart" to see and love other people.  In my mind, I'm thinking of the ones I maybe don't notice who need an extra lift.  Because again, it is easy to love those who need loving.  But God has reminded me those aren't the only ones to love.

In fact, throughout my life He's sent me hefty doses of people that have taken a little extra effort.  People who only through His help and strength, have I been able to put my feelings aside and love them anyway. 

Sometimes I'd like to wave my hand and say, "Ok, God, enough lessons.  I'm good!!"  Yet I know that with each circumstance, no matter how hard, He has taught me something new.  With each occurrence, it took me less time to be convicted of harboring resentment. 

With every life training, I become a better disciple.  Because that is what being a student of God is about.  No matter how tough class is here, I'm listening to my Teacher and being obedient, eager for an "Ultimate Graduation" when I'm promoted from this life to the next!



Monday, February 17, 2014

Sunday Sneak Away

Did you enjoy our Valentine's weekend? 

I hope it was filled with reminders that you are special, cared for, loved.  Mine was, even though it was also very, very busy.

When you're married with teenagers, finding time for just the two of you isn't always an easy task.  And we've found through the years that survival comes to those who either schedule regular dates or take advantage of impromptu pockets of time. 

Our weekend was filled with basketball games, grocery shopping, laundry (ugh) and all the normal activities that makes you feel like you've blinked and it's Monday again.  As such, finding quality couple time seemed unlikely. 

Originally, we had thought of sneaking away this weekend but my body took a "trip" instead.  I knew my injuries would prohibit much joy so, as we do, we went with plan B. 

Or maybe C? 

We opted for a Sunday morning mini date and set the alarm a wee bit earlier to make it to early service at church. Since Tim's niece and nephew have been regularly attending, I knew they'd be able to take the kids home after Sunday school and regular service.

So we were off on our date at 10:30 in the morning yesterday.  And it was wonderful.

A little sunshine.  A little brunch.  A little shopping.  And a lot of LOVE.
After 20+ years together, it doesn't take much to make this girl happy, as long as she's holding the hand of the one who still makes her heart skip a beat.
Joyful wishes to you this week! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Faitful Friday: Love Lifted Me

I started writing this post yesterday.  Little did I know, the scripture that came to me would have a somewhat humorous (and painful) meaning today.

On my way in to work, I decided to stop and buy a loaf of bread and cinnamon butter for my co-workers.  Life was all sunshine and roses, as I left with a smile on face, eager to love on these new-found friends a bit and - wham!  I hit the sidewalk.

A bit stunned, confused, and sore (ouch!), I tried to gather myself, minus a shoe, and hop up before anyone noticed.  Alas, I was too slow, as a kind couple was immediately by my side, who minutes before were enjoying a Valentine's breakfast together.  I'm sure they didn't expect the show that took place when my foot caught in the door rug and I face planted in a crumpled mess in front of my truck.

Although I was a bit embarrassed, it was touching how much they cared for me.  The lady tried to dust me off, the man went to retrieve new bread and climb under the truck for my keys, and the shop manager was also there to roll up the rug and roll out a string of heartfelt apologies.  As I eased into my truck, they sent wishes of a better day.  I left in tears but it wasn't just from my stinging knees, it was for the love they all freely shared in lifting me up.

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor: 
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9

My original post was about gifts and I'd planned to share some of the most thoughtful (and unexpected ones) from Valentine's past.  But I don't think that was God's plan for my message and the tiny - yet eventful trip - I took this morning was validation.

Flowers and Chocolate seem to be the focus of this holiday, and while they are nice, gifts don't fully show love.  Unless of course that is your love language, but Tim and I both know that is not the case for either of us.  His is physical touch, mine quality time.  We do both appreciate gifts but would rather have them come unexpectedly, not because of a date on a calendar.

And while acts of service aren't high on either of our lists, I will admit that when someone helps me it does make me feel loved.  When someone lifts me up -physically or spiritually, it matters to me.  I remember it and tuck it away, as it shows me they care.

There are several people on my heart today who are hurting, some who are single, some who are not.  But my hope and prayer for them is that no matter what they are going through, they know there is always, always someone who loves them. 

God loves you no matter what. 

And the gift of His love can't be bought in any Hallmark store or delivered by a florist.  His gift is free to anyone and everyone.  All the time.   Every moment of every day.

Father, please shower my friends with your love today.  I lift up to you those who are especially hurting right now.  May the peace that only you can provide fall upon them and may they be wrapped in your loving arms.  Lord, please hug those I love today.  My hope is that through the course of this Valentine's day the warmth and comfort you give them follow them wherever they go. 
In Jesus I pray, amen.

Special thanks to new friends for sharing these uplifting pictures!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Who am I?

Society puts so much focus on image and identity.
From the time we start school we're asked,

 "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

It doesn't change after we grow, as in conversation it is often one of the first questions to be shared.

"Where do you work?"  or...

"What do you do?"

By these answers we get a sense of who a person is, when in truth, what we do isn't at all who we are.

I've thought a lot about this the past year.  My husband and I have both had our "identities" pulled out from under us.  For both of us, we'd invested our entire adult lives in a focused area.  For me it was my career.  For my husband, his hobby -for lack of a better description, but I'd say more it was his passion.

He learned yesterday morning that after 30 years of devotion to the fire service his time as Chief would be ending.  Politics don't play well with joy so I won't include all the nasty details.  Short and sweet, he was pretty much booted out with no just cause from a volunteer position.

Its hard to wrap my head around why this happened or what my husband will do not being a firefighter but I know that through every trial there are lessons to be learned and good to come.  God has a plan in this, I have no doubt.

Since the news, God's already revealed a pretty giant lesson, or maybe a gentle reminder of what I already knew to be true.

Our identities shouldn't come from this world.
What we do is not who we are but rather He who dwells in us is what defines us.

When someone looks at me (or my husband), I want them to see God first.  If we have any title in this life, I want it to be that we are His.  I am a child of God.  And that's enough!

As my husband put it this morning, we're ready for the next chapter God has in store!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Faithful Friday: Fairy Tales

Marriage isn't the "Happily Ever After" fairy tale versions we read from story books as little girls.  It doesn't end with "I do" and a kiss.

Marriage is hard work and it's something you "do" every. single. day.

And marriage doesn't survive unless it involves a third party.
Without God, happily ever after isn't possible.

This is what I wish was in the small print after every romantic book or movie.  That for every little girl, teen, young woman out there waiting for her Prince Charming, she would know there is so much more to the story.

Last night the kids were begging to escape the house.  After five days off from school, they had cabin fever in a very bad way.  Initially, I'd planned for a family night out, but when my hubby arrived home, tired was written all over his face.

Old man Winter hasn't been kind to his healing foot.  Hobbling around in a boot is hard enough but when you add snow and ice, it makes the trek much more difficult.  He awoke to so much pain yesterday morning that we'd feared he had a stress fracture.  After a quick visit to his ortho, we're hopeful it is just inflammation.  I know my knee has thrown fits feeling this latest snow storm's arrival.  (gee, when did we get so old!?)

Anyway, I could tell without him saying a word that all he really wanted was to kick back by the fire, prop his aching foot up, and relax into the weekend.  So, we compromised.  The kids and I headed out to pick up Chinese and we ate picnic style in the living room floor.

Compromise.  Give and take.  Flexibility. All things a marriage needs to be successful.
And selflessness.

We had this discussion on the way home, because Tim had offered at first to go with us, so we could enjoy the buffet.  He then offered for the three of us to stay at he buffet and just bring him a plate home.  Of course none of us felt right doing that and were fine fixing four plates to go.  But it was sweet of Tim to offer.  And so him, it is just in his nature to give freely.  His selflessness is the quality in him I most admire.

My niece commented, "How did you find him?"

I let this soak into my bones for a bit.

She added, "He's just so good.  There aren't many guys like him in this world."

Yes, I am a lucky gal.

"God sent him to me," I responded a little teary.

It touched me that she saw his qualities, his character, his love for me.  I breathed a prayer that this example would continue to resonate with her.
The good ones are worth waiting for, sweetie.

But later, I mulled it over, thinking back over our marriage.  Looking in at us now, it would be simple to say, "Why can't our marriage be that easy, they have it so good."  And while that is true, God has blessed us beyond measure, it hasn't always been easy.

Just as with any marriage that has survived, we've weathered our share of storms.  There've been highs and lows, some lows so unimaginable the only answer I have to our sustenance is that God has held us together.

God's the fairy tale factor.  

The closer we've grown to Him over the years, the stronger our marriage has become.   When we've pushed him out of our marriage, or not focused on Him as the foundation, it was weakened and we've suffered.

 "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" is so true.  (Ecc 4:12)

That's what I want to tell every other young girl longing and waiting for her happily ever after.  "I do" is just the beginning.  But for each chapter of your marital life to be filled with bliss, it must be full of God. He's the one who can write your love story with a happy ending.

Give God your heart, little girl, he'll lead you the man deserving enough to share it...someday.

 “A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”
 ― Max Lucado

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Oh, Happy Day!

What makes you happy?

If you were to think back through the course of your day, what moments stood out?  What made you smile? What brought you JOY?

Can you find happiness in every day?

What about for 100 days?

Focusing on the joy of each day is what inspired this blog, so I was elated to see a similar challenge in my news feed today.  The test - to simply post a photo of something every day for 100 days that makes you happy.

Of course I accepted!

You can follow my photos here or here, if you aren't already secretly stalking me.  But, I'd love to see you get involved too.  You can choose any outlet to post your 100 days of pictures or you can keep it private.  If you post, be sure to include the #100happydays to join in the joyful fun.  And if you take the challenge, I'd love to hear from you.  (There's a handy little comment box at the bottom of all these posts)

Thinking of "100 days" takes me back to my boys in elementary school.  Did yours ever celebrate the 100th day of school?  I remember so many last minute, "Mom! I need a white T-shirt tonight so I can make a 100 days shirt!"  And the race to Wal-Mart and raiding of the craft bucket and pantry to complete.  I'm pretty sure the glue gunned Fruit Loops spelling out 1-0-0 never all survived the trip to school.  But, oh, the memories of making them.

If I could photograph the flashbacks of my mind, I'd include that as a #100happydays pic.  Guess that's a smile I'll keep tucked in my heart - and a reason to seek out another joy to share!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Just Dance

Raising boys all my adult life, there are things I never expected to do as a parent.

Like not just shopping for, but researching the very best fake eyelashes.
Or recognizing good facials.  -And not the kind you get at a spa.
Or screaming like a little girl with each trophy Tina's dance team took home this weekend.

Our dancing Eagle celebrated her 15th birthday Saturday at an all day regional KDCO dance competition.

Oh, the weekend she had.

It began Thursday night with the youth group's annual trip to WinterJam.  This resulted in the kids not arriving home until after 1 am.  Friday morning's wake-up for school was a slow, sleepy one.  And Friday really never ended for Tina, as the entire dance team had a slumber party, complete with flashlight hide-and-go-seek.  

When I arrived Saturday morning to the high school, still yawning myself at 6:30 a.m., I found her already hard at work.  Full of bottled up excitement and nervous energy, she spilled some of it out at the mini birthday surprise I held in my hands for her - a mocha frappuccino.

Then she was off again, behind closed doors preparing for the big day, complete with applying those fake lashes to her sparkling eyes.

Dance has been so good for her.  It has broken the walls she'd put up for protection, from all she's dealt with in her young life.  Our family was grinning from ear to ear, watching her giddiness up in the rafters with her team.  She was a star in all three of their performances, beaming with eagle pride in each routine.

By the end of the day, our behinds had spent six hours warming bleachers.  And we even managed to dart away and cheer on our boy for another win in his undeafeated Upwards season.  In record time, the three of us literally ran back into the gym just as closing ceremonies began.  Thankful for the opportunity to catch some squeals on tape.

And yes, with no shame, I'll admit that is me with the glass shattering scream rooting on our girls.   Especially for one little eagle that brings such continued -and unexpected- joy to our lives.

We're very proud of the hard work and dedication she's given to this season.  I see the bone tired on her small frame as she comes home three nights a week from 8-10 hours of practice. With 1st place in every category, their devotion certainly paid off.

Now onto another first...preparing and planning for State!

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