Can I just say I’ve never seen a dog with smile lines. Maybe I just never noticed. This little rescue pup of ours has stolen my heart, and spending time caring for him has taught me such valuable lessons about worth, and how God sees us.

We’re rejected and abused, left alone, labeled “bad”, “broken” or “unteachable” before he adopts us into his family, too.

A child of God. What a treasured position to be in. 

We are so fortunate to have a God who wants to be a loving parent to us.

I’m reflecting on what our pastor Matt said on Sunday, “gratitude seals the provisions of God in to our hearts.” 

Each time I see my dog’s smile begin to curl around the corners of his mouth .. all because I speak to him, and spend time delighting in him… I feel Jesus’ warm smile over me. He says, “this is how I see you. I delight in you – not because you can do anything to add worth to yourself- but just because you are.”

Homecoming PraiseĀ 

There’s something new and beautiful about a homecoming & yet a new beginning, all in one. Pathways are reopened in the heart with a new outlook, and beautiful memories lie and wait in the remembering… the walking down old roads as a completely new person, in Jesus. šŸ’•

As I drive these old roads, ride the old trails, smell the old smells … something is different, and it’s me. 

I was afraid that living where I grew up would somehow make me feel small, like a child.. or remember things I wish I could have done differently- a widescreen video of the outtakes from my past life- footage of the  mistakes I’d made. 

Instead… I have nothing but worship in my heart for the God who enables me to remember all the sweet memories of what made me, “me”. 

We all have a journey and it’s rough, but Immanuel, Jesus, is God with us. He is awakening a new outlook on days gone by- because he is love, and light. He is rescuer, healer, friend. 

Today, I choose to not only love new seasons, but also to praise him for the ones I’ve already lived. 

Beautiful Hardships

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.14.29 AMToday as I sit trying to get a good picture of our year as a church… I begin to take inventory of some of our music. August to August… I start marking the recentĀ service dates by the hardship that was occurring when we chose these songs together.

Sadness filled me as I thought, “Oh this song was picked through many tears…”, “This one happened when, _______…”.

But these times of hardship as church- marked in the annals of our software- have taught me something about God’s love.

He was there then… and we got through it. One foot in front of the other, as a church. He is hereĀ now as I write and reflect.

As I gaze over these dates, songs, prayers, lighting and audio notes… I realize that back then, something amazing happened. People on differing sides of arguments agreed to disagree. We ALLĀ held hands during “the Lord’s Prayer”… and even hugged and cried together.

We all bowed the knee at the altar together.

Why can’t our software depictĀ theseĀ moments?

As I make my list…. I justĀ hadĀ to stop and remember this major monument to God’s grace and goodness in our lives. FBC… I treasure this year with you. I treasure the things God has done, the times weĀ hit the ground in prayer together, shaken by hardships. These are beautifulĀ hardships… because God is found there.

God never said we would always agree. He never said the entire Bible is black and white… our theology may sometimes not line up, leaving frustrations and questions. Relationships were never easy in Bible times, and they’re not now.

But we know in our future, we never have to go it alone…. God will be there in the future just like He isĀ now.

The only difference will be that our FAITHĀ will beĀ bigger next time around.

We can smile and have joy, through tears, knowing God never changes.

Dream Big, Sustain that Joy.

I think that joy is different than happiness because happiness is circumstantial.

Joy is hard to sustain. It just plainĀ is.

I want to encourage you today that when surrounded by negativity… don’t miss a beat. Donā€™t fixate on the negative you hear. Just keepĀ personifyingĀ joy through trials. {Tweet}

Focus your efforts on who God says you are; because, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Draw Near to God, He is already Near to You

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Recently I thoughtĀ I had too much on my plate. I exercised my ability to say “no”, and took my day off seriously. Looking to the future: I tossed the idea of cutting down my hours at work. I wanted toĀ work on future details of our family, make our house a home, and visit my family back home more.

None of that was the plan, for now.

In a recent turn of events IĀ wasĀ asked to take on more of a leadership role at the Church, with more responsibility, with pay cuts and budget cuts all across the board for our church.

So. I dropped my plans and fell on my face before Jesus. He has been my Rock. I have peace. I have joy. I am brave.

I know God will make it possible for me to plan our future as a family, cook, clean, plan visits, have people over, take care of our pets, enjoy life… all while taking on this important calling. I just need to listen to His voice.

I’m ashamed to say in these times of turmoil… they are the sweetest times of worship for me.

Why can’t I seem to be this close to my Lord during the good times?

I realized today that I find the most peace and joy in the trialsā€“ not because God has changed, but becauseĀ I have. Tweet this.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you {HE IS already close by}. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

7 Steps to Becoming a Happy Person Others Wants to Be Around

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The corollary to the principle ā€œyou see more of what you noticeā€ is “youĀ getĀ more of what you notice. If you catch people doing what is right and complement them for it, guess what happens? They start doing more of it. This is not manipulation; it is influence. It too is contagious!

7 Steps to Becoming a Happy Person Others Wants to Be Around.

What you Believe about you is not who you are

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“Worry is a down-payment on a problem you may never have.”

I found this article I’d like to share particularly helpful!

“A stands for: Activating Event
B stands for: Belief
C stands for: Consequent Emotion”

… what do you believe about an actual situation that came to pass? If you’re like me… you belive it’s all your fault and that everyone hates you because of it. Everyone thinks, “She’s such a failure.” That’s what these voices say! I want them to stop.

The article goes on to say that labeling irrational thoughts is one of the many steps to recovery from anxiety taking over your life. Call a spade a spade.Ā “This is an anxiety attack.”Ā or,Ā “That thought is irrational. Lord, who do You see me as?”

I hope this is as helpful for you as it was for me.

http://dalepartridge.com/worry-payment-problem-may-never/Ā