Friday, September 27, 2013

Wherever we go, that's where the party's at!

When our daughter was 4, she heard this song by the Newsboys and belted out, "Wherever we go, dats where da potty's at!" She thought it had something to do with pull-ups or diapers. I still smile when I hear that song, but it goes even deeper than that sweet memory. 
Not too many years ago, I would throw a pretty big fit when it was time to leave the party or club. My friends were patient and tolerated it, but I remember not wanting to go back to reality. My downward spiral had begun years earlier, with some underage drinking and basically living a double life depending on who I was around at the time. I had several suicidal type thoughts, but it all stemmed from an identity crisis and no real, lasting happiness. I was hopeless and lost in a prison of my own making. One night, I did try to take so many drugs that I wouldn't wake up. It was because of this hopelessness, the darkness that surrounded my mind, and I just wanted the numbing hurt to end. After life support on a ventilator, I did live. There was a spark that built up in me, rather slowly, but it was a faint knowing that there was something more
During that journey of a few years, Kelly and I married. We had our daughter a little before our 2 year anniversary. Things were rocky at best. There was still this overwhelming desire for change. Though my outward circumstances seemed to be ok (as they always had), there was still a war raging in my mind. After a fairly long while in church--hearing the Word of God taught in truth and love--I came to a point where I no longer wanted to play games. No church games. No religious games. No "everything's fine" games. I wanted what makes no sense to the human mind: full surrender. I had tried all the ways I knew or had seen others living, and really just wanted to be happy. I had to lay aside what I kept telling myself since 16 years old...when confronted with salvation, the battle inside said "you're ok, you're not a bad person, what will it look like now if I say I wasn't really a Christian all these years!?" So one Sunday morning in February, 2009, I cried out to God to save me. I asked Jesus to come into my heart, to be my Savior, and I trusted Him fully that day to make me what He wanted. 
It felt like a ton of bricks were lifted off of me. It was the beginning of this fabulous journey--still with lots of ups and downs--but now I know who I am and why I'm here. I'm a child of the One True King. My identity is eternally secure in Christ. I'm here for as many days as God knows I'm needed here. I don't have to understand everything; I trust Him. 
After having pushed through fear and hopelessness, insecurities and tons of sin, I know I'm here to fulfill this purpose for which God created me. I want to always be quick to give God the credit for any good thing about me or that's in my life. (I know the mess I was and that I made when I tried to be in control.) I want to be quick to forgive others and myself. Anger, offense, and guilt would only take me back to that pit I used to stay in before I met my Savior. Life is too brief to go back to misery or darkness or old habits and lifestyles. 
So now I wake up every morning, so thankful that I woke up! Each day is an opportunity to learn from life and pursue being closer to my God. I have this eager expectation daily that something good is going to happen. God has given me the desires of my heart. He restored my marriage. He blessed us with an awesome daughter. He allows us to share His goodness with many. 
So back to the Newsboys' song...wherever I go truly is where the party's at! I have the Holy Spirit of God inside, directing my path, showering His favor and blessings, and continually bubbling over the joy and peace in me that I had always desperately wanted. I am living life to the fullest and enjoying my days here. Life is a fabulous journey with God at the center.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Remembering Bailey...Walking With Harley

These 2 sweet Boxers hold a special place in my heart. Bailey passed away on Good Friday this year. She was 13 1/2, and had a wonderful life. I have so many great memories and pictures of these gifts from God; He used them to teach me so much about love, about life, and about the importance of just getting outside, going for a walk, and seeing things from a different perspective.
There was a blood moon on Good Friday eve this year. This was a rare thing, and we drove to the water to see if we could capture some pictures that might do it justice. As we drove over Pickwick Dam and saw this spectacular sight, I later realized Bailey was fighting for her life. When we got home, I saw a shell of this beautiful animal who was hanging on, struggling to breathe, shallow eyes not seeing anymore like they once did. I lay in the garage floor holding her, sobbing, praying, telling her it was ok to go now, asking God to ease any suffering.  After a big seizure, she calmed down and slept through the night. The next morning, Kelly did what I could not do. He was with her while she breathed her last breath. I sat and waited at home. It seemed like hours later, he walked through the front door and I could only hold him, cry some more, and say I wasn't sure where she should be buried. I almost wanted to explain my tears, and mumbled out that I had just never been committed to anyone or anything in my life this long, other than this sweet friend of mine, who had protected and loved me unconditionally--and I had determined some time back to be dedicated to her even through the hard times.
My husband's love was as evident as ever that day: he said he had already found the perfect place, and we could go see when I was ready. So we loaded up, my precious family with Harley beside Baby Girl in the back seat. Kelly drove us to some family land, with rolling hills whispering God's goodness and weeping willows sharing in my tears. Water could be seen through the bare trees, and the gravesite, freshly dug with a tractor, had a large stone rolled on top that we used as a seat. There were more pictures made that day, more memories, and bittersweet tears that came and went for several days. It was an unforgettable Easter Sunday. If I had been able to love one of God's creatures so much, I was overwhelmed, amazed, and comforted at God's great love for us, the ones He calls His masterpieces. (Ephesians 2:10)
So now I walk with Harley, savoring each moment I see God's beauty in nature, thanking Him for His goodness, taking in His creation and celebrating along with it at the grandeur of our Creator. Life is what we make of it. I choose to trade my ashes for beauty, my mourning for His joy, a spirit of despair for a garment of praise. We can live the good life, because God has already made the Way for us through Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big City Lights

As I walked around the big city last weekend, I took in the sights and sounds, smells and textures. There was hustle and bustle with fans headed to the stadium to watch the Cardinals play. There were tourists with cameras capturing memories. But I soon caught glimpses of children running and laughing under the Gateway Arch. Then, across the way we saw a flower garden with fountains. I was most amused with a couple dozen birds playing, flipping, and frolicking in the overspray from fountains that puddled on the sidewalk. I snapped a picture with my iPhone, not wanting to forget the moment. 
My thoughts were taken to the birds that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Amplified Bible)
Those birds weren't looking around wondering where the next worm would come from, or thinking themselves into an anxious frenzy. They could be here today and gone tomorrow. Yet they lived for the moment, enjoying the simple delight of fellowship and cool water. 
In context, the verse is even better understood. It is between these 2 verses that beautifully tie the message together into a life-transforming gift that will ease the heart and mind of the constant worrier..."Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?" (vs. 25) "And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?" (vs. 27)
Jesus knew what we would face, so He left us with His gift of peace. He knew what concerns would bother us and He prepared us with His example and the answer to bringing all this together: "But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides." (Matthew 6:33)