Friday, April 29, 2011

Good News.

"Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy."

Sometimes I have to read this Psalm over and over and over.
Just to remember that the tears are part of the planting, but the JOY will be part of the harvesting. The process doesn't end with the tears, but with the joy.
That's good news.
Because some days are harder than other days.
Some days, the tears just seem to be a little more real. A little more accessible. A little more abundant.
But the good news is that it doesn't end with the tears. It ends with the joy. And the joy is worth waiting for. Worth crying for. Worth fighting through the tears for.
So, when the tears come, I just remember that on the other side, there is joy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's on your list?

Things that can bring a smile to my face guaranteed:

-sweet words from my sweet friends
-bear hugs from my sweet Zeke
-weddings (they bring a smile and usually tears)
-fresh flowers. any kind, but ESPECIALLY ranunculus.
-toothless grins from grade-school kids
-sticky notes, note cards, sharpies... pretty much office supplies of any kind
-bows and ribbons in my hair
-listening to After the Storm. Over and over again
-witty text messages
-my cat when he snores
-listening to little ones pray
-hugs. always hugs
-notes on my windshield

Some days, you just need to remember what makes you smile.

(here's a picture of ranunculus)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just a thought for today...

Today, I choose to be glad. To rejoice. To give thanks. To have hope.
Today, I choose to fix my sights on what is lovely and good and joyous and pleasant.
I find that many are drawn to only see the negative. The ugly. The imperfections in their life.
My only question for them is why? Why waste your time looking at the bad and ugly? Why not make a choice to be positive; I'm convinced it's contagious. And sure, some call me naive, but I'm okay with that. I just happen to believe that life is too short to waste a day angry and bitter. We often become comfortable in our bitterness, and can't find our way out.
So, I make a choice. Every day. To be glad. To rejoice. To give thanks. Because my God has rescued me. He has set me free. He has given me hope. He has given me a glorious, beautiful, wonderful, blessed life. How can I NOT be thankful for that?
Now hear me out, I'm not saying it's easy, or that I ALWAYS succeed. There are definitely days where I'm grouchy and upset. But it's something that I'm constantly remembering. Constantly reminding myself of. Constantly asking myself.
What am I choosing today? What am I fixing my thoughts on today? Who's voice am I pressing into today?

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8-9

I believe we all have a choice. Every day. What do we choose to fix our thoughts on?

Friday, April 15, 2011

It is April. There is hope.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I keep seeing banners and tweets and updates about it. It seems to be in my face everywhere I turn.
When I was 16, I was a victim of sexual assault.
It's taken me years to talk about. 10 years, to be exact. I've lived with this big, painful, paralyzing, dark secret for 10 years. Nobody knew. And that's how I wanted it. I carried so much shame. So much guilt. I thought people would judge me if they knew. I thought they would leave me, betray me, reject me if they knew the truth. So, I kept the secret. Until almost exactly a year ago. That's when I had possibly the hardest conversation of my life. Unveiling the truth that I'd been hiding for 10 years. There were a lot of tears. And there was a lot of fear. But, once the truth was out there, out in the light, out of the darkness it had been living in for 10 years, everything changed.
The shame and
fear and
pain and
guilt began to disappear.
And were replaced with truth and
joy and
victory and
God began to speak truth and life back into the most broken and wounded places in me. He began to restore and redeem and heal. It was a long, hard road. One that I'm still journeying down. But one that I choose to take every day. I choose to believe the things God says about me. I choose to celebrate and press into God's words for my life. I choose to see the progress I've made. I choose the hope I have in God. Part of healing is a choice. You have to choose to tell your story. Even if you've been keeping it a secret for 10 years. You have to choose to be vulnerable and real. And to trust God.

I'm choosing to tell this part of my story, not because it's fun (it's actually still kind of terrifying to tell... especially in such a public way), but because awareness needs to be raised. One in four women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
One in four.
The numbers are shocking, but what's even MORE shocking is that many of those women won't report or even talk about the assault.
I'm telling this part of my story so that people know they aren't alone. And so they know that there is hope.
Deuteronomy 31:6 is my constant reminder that there is hope, that God doesn't leave us, that we don't have to be afraid or terrified or fearful... "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
That is his promise to us. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. There is hope.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. That's why I'm choosing to tell this part of my story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm allergic to Redding.

It's allergy season. For me this means:
-mouth breathing
-itchy throat
-itchy eyes
-itchy nose
-absolutely NO breathing out of my nose
-tearing through a box of Puffs Plus Aloe in less than a day
-constant runny nostril (just one. just the left nostril. strangest thing ever.)
-blood-shot eyes (from the itching/coughing/itching)
-using my inhaler every night (yep, allergies triggers asthma. Amazing.)
-washing my bedding every week (they say the pollen gets in your hair and then in your sheets... I'll do just about anything for relief!)
-not really enjoying food (can't breath while I'm eating, and can't taste anything.)
-sounding sick 24/7. Don't worry folks, it's allergies. Not the Bubonic plague.

Pretty much, I'm miserable from April - August. I should probably just go see a Doctor to get REAL allergy meds, but instead I just pump myself full of Zyrtec D and try my best to not mouth breath all over my friends.
And I remind myself, it's only seasonal. It's only seasonal. It's only seasonal. Some people live with this stuff their entire LIVES! Now that's a bummer. I can get through a few months. Also, it makes me thankful for the days when I can actually breathe through my nose and taste food and make my "m's" sound like "m's" and my "n's" sound like "n's".

SO there you have it. I'm not even sure what exactly I'm allergic to... so I like to say I'm allergic to Redding.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rear-view mirrors

Sometimes the past fogs my vision.
I try to live life through the rear-view mirror.
I hold onto the past.
To the pain from the past.
I become comfortable with that pain.
It becomes a little companion that I carry with me everywhere I go.
Reminding me of the things I've done wrong.
Of what a mess I am.
Of what a mess my life looks like most days.
Of all the ways I've made mistakes.
And of all the ways those mistakes will forever go with me.
This companion, it has a name.
This companion is called shame.
It's sneaky and tricky and comes camouflaged in all shapes and sizes.
It settles into the places in your inner-most being, the most tucked away places, the most hidden and repressed. The most insecure.
And it sits there.
And sits there.
And sits there.
Reminding you of why you aren't worthy.
And why you aren't deserving of good things.
And all of the things you've done wrong.
And so, you listen.
You believe.
You accept these as the truth.
Because it's what you hear and feel. So it becomes reality.
But, there's some good news.
Really, really, exceptionally, extraordinarily, astonishingly, stupendously good news.
When Jesus climbed the mountain
And hung on the Cross
And laid down his life for us
It meant no more sacrificing, no more striving, no more living in a place of pain, of sin, of shame.
When Jesus uttered the words "It is finished" it meant we could stop climbing that mountain of shame.
Shame is gone. That constant companion is forever vanished from our lives.
And in it's place is joy
and love
and peace
and excitement
and hope
and redemption
and healing
and freedom
and strength.
Shame is gone. Because of Jesus, shame will never have a place in our lives ever again.

My favorite Psalm says it best, "Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces." Psalm 34:5

So when the truth is hard to see, and I'm living from my rear-view mirror, I have to remember that I don't have to climb that mountain any more. It is finished. Jesus took the last trip up that mountain.
And because of that, I get to live from a place of such beauty. Such gratitude. Such love. Such joy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A little bit about my thankfulness

Back in November, I got wind of a great idea from a friend of mine... 30 days of thanks. Instead of just being thankful on Thanksgiving, the idea was to be thankful for the entire month of November. What started off as a "challenge" has turned into a new way to see the world. A change in posture, if you will. Another friend of mine wrote a blog yesterday along these same lines, and it sparked my passion all over again. Life is too short to be negative all of the time. Of course there are going to be bummer days. Bummer weeks. Bummer season. Sure, that's part of life. But if the ONLY thing you can ever see is the down side, the negative, the cruddy part of your day, what kind of life is that? I want to be full of thanks and gratitude. I live an incredible life. Sure, I've been through my fair share of trials. I've had some pretty low lows. There are been some pretty dark seasons of my life. But I refuse to believe that's all there is to life.

I'm thankful to have an incredible family that loves me and speaks life and courage into me.
I'm thankful to live in one of the most diversely beautiful places in the world (argue with me if you'd like, but you're wasting your breath).
I'm thankful to have a God who is jealous for me, who loves me with an unfailing, never ending love.
I'm thankful to have a job that I absolutely love.
I'm thankful.
For a whole lot.
My life is incredible. And that's what I choose to see. I choose to see the good, the beautiful, the positive parts of my life. Call me naive or simple. I don't care. My life is good. I'm lucky. I choose to thank God every day for the wonderful things he's given me. Sure, some of them may have come in pretty crappy packages, but they turned out to be incredible nonetheless.

So, like I said, this whole thing started out as a 30 day challenge and has turned out to be one of the most life-changing challenges I've ever taken. It changed everything. The posture I have, the lens I see life through... It's powerful!
My hope is that my thanks and joy and gratitude could be contagious to those around me.
Because life is just too short.
Images by Freepik