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 Praise 

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. đź’•

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 recent 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 here 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 ALL 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 depict these moments?

As I make my list…. I just had 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 we hit the ground in prayer together, shaken by hardships. These are beautiful 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 is now.

The only difference will be that our FAITH will be 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 plain is.

I want to encourage you today that when surrounded by negativity… don’t miss a beat. Don’t fixate on the negative you hear. Just keep personifying 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 thought 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 to 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 I was 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 trials– not because God has changed, but because 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 “you see more of what you notice” is “you get 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. “This is an anxiety attack.” or, “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/ 

He is willing

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” (‭Luke‬ ‭5‬:‭12-14‬ NIV)

So many times we as Christians in our affluent and self-sufficient culture ask the Lord for things but we don’t really mean it. We don’t really think he’s going to answer… And I daresay some of us don’t even think he’s willing.

I think we’ve created to God in our minds that’s not willing to reach down to our level; to be born as a baby, to live among us, to love us, to sympathize with our weakness. To rescue us by his death and resurrection.

God wants to heal us, all we have to do is ask. He told the leper he was willing, and how many of us request from God that way? “Lord, if you are willing…” When Jesus is patiently standing there waiting, saying “I am willing.”

What do you think you should dare to ask for? What requests to you believe He is waiting and willing to answer?

Son or daughter of God- healing, deliverance, and wholeness in Christ awaits you!

Supernatural God

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Sometimes I think about how a pessimist sees the negatives of life, an optimist sees the opportunities in life. I think about how the good things are still happening, but maybe for that “glass-half-full” person it’s just not there. They can’t see it, so therefore they don’t think it’s there.

It seems crazy to believe in a supernatural God in a factual, logistical world. Many don’t see things as miracles- they see coincidence or cause-and-effect. Many don’t think science or logic and belief in a supernatural God can occur together. (I’m not saying factual people are pessimists or that people with faith in God are optimists… I’m just pondering how if we allow ourselves to slow down and look around, we’ll see all the little miracles happening around us.) {Tweet This!}

My dad’s successful surgery may look like to his oncologist that it was one of many possible outcomes. A good outcome. But when I look at my written down prayers for my dad’s body, cells, digestion, rest, comfort— and how they were answered word-for-word as God promised… I see a miracle. A miracle using the very medicine and science God created.

When I started praying to open my eyes to all the miracles happening around me every day… I started becoming more grateful. And it was like a snowball effect. I started thanking and then writing them down one-by-one. Then I started praying more boldly. My faith was stretched even in the really hard stuff. But I still prayed really boldly. And God always came through!

The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou saved me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 2 Samuel 22:3-4

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63