My oldest daughter, Paige, is now mid-season in her second year of girl’s high school wrestling. Last year, watching wrestling, this mama was a real hot mess; I had no idea the amount of throwing around, twisting unnaturally, and bending forcefully that would be involved in this sport. You could say I was very much a nervous rookie wrestling mom, smacking madly on my Doublemint gum before any flavor could even hit my tastebuds!
This year, however, I’m a little more relaxed having sat through almost another completed season. Although, recently, my mother-in-law wondered why the gymnasium bleacher we were sitting on (while Paige wrestled on the mat in front of us) was shaking rapidly, only for her and I to both realize it was from my leg bouncing up and down uncontrollably. Okay so maybe I’ll never be 100% chill while Paige is in a match, and that’s okay!
It really has been a fun year so far watching these girls wrestle. They’ve learned quickly, as girl’s high school wrestling was only sanctioned into Nebraska just last year. For most of the young ladies wrestling, this is a completely new-to-them sport.
Paige’s technique, skill, and knowledge have improved so much. She has a lot more control out on the mat than she did last year. Sometimes she pins her opponent and sometimes she doesn’t, but regardless she wrestles hard.
I’ve noticed, though, that once her opponent gets Paige on her back it’s typically game over for Paige and she ends up getting pinned almost immediately. There’s a strategy Paige could use to her advantage to help keep her from getting pinned and it’s called “bridging”. Paige won’t do this, ever. Shhhh, don’t let her opponents know this.
Bridging involves lifting the pelvis off the ground so that the body weight is supported on the shoulders (or head) and the rest of the weight is supported on the feet at the other end of the body.
When I asked Paige ‘how come she never uses this move,’ she said ‘it’s because it terrifies her and she’s afraid she’ll get her neck broke.’
Well okay then, no argument from this mom. I get it and I’m in complete agreement. I would never dismiss her concerns and ask that she give it a try just for a chance at a win. Never. So we’ve indisputably settled and you won’t get a bridge out of Paige…reasonably so. On the other hand, there are other ways out for Paige to utilize and get out from under her opponent before a pin would happen and I’m certain as she gains more muscle and experience she’ll opt for those instead.
In learning of Paige’s issue with bridging during a wrestling match I could have argued the matter and urged her to try it regardless of her concerns. But instead she felt comfortable enough to share her biggest fear in wrestling, she opened up, and was met with limitless understanding and no frustration.
As I think about this, I’m reminded of the way our Sweet Heavenly Coach meets us on our mental or spiritual wrestling mat with mercy and grace over our struggles and insecurities. I think of the way that His understanding opens the door to mercy, and grace kindly follows— simultaneously pardoning any potential grudge-holding.
Wonderful and encouraging mercy and grace.
It’s what helps us want to continue onward.
When we take notice of our shortcomings, communicate our concerns to God, and seek forgiveness, God gives to us boundless mercy and grace. Our posture should be one of gratitude, and the desire to embrace this type of kindness while extending it to others.
Who needs a “bridge” anyway when we have the Lord, and the fullness of His mercy and grace, to walk upon the waters alongside us, leading us to the ultimate victory…
This morning, my neck of the woods woke up to eight inches of snow. I know it was eight inches because my dear husband literally took a tape measure outback to precisely check for himself!!
We typically only end up with a dusting to a few inches when it snows; so this amount of snow is a rare treasure for us—well maybe not for those who aren’t a fan. I’m loving the beauty of today’s winter wonderland though, it’s the messy roads in the days to come I don’t really favor however!
Beautiful, pure-white snow.
Isaiah’s message of warning to a rebellious nation of Israelites comes on behalf of the Lord in Isaiah 1:18-20 and has this to say:
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
(Bold and italics added by me for the lesson)
Boy if those words don’t sound like we’re just as in need of that warning (today) as Israel and Judah were all those years ago!!!
There are two “ifs” to choose from in that piece of scripture, and depending on the “if” chosen the results are drastically different.
In verse 20b, choosing the second if, consisting of resistance and rebellion, would leave a person in the permanency or stain of deep scarlet-red sin…devoured by the sword.
But by choosing the first if in verse 19, the crimson color that once stood out so boldly from sin, would be entirely replaced with a pure and calm white—the color of snow or wool. Choosing this if requires willingness and obedience but leads to satisfaction or a reward given by the Lord, “you will eat the good things of the land.”
This beautiful, pure in color, dazzling in the sunlight, white snow outside my house windows sets the stage for the reminder that I want to willingly and obediently stand in the presence of God’s desire daily—to “eat the good things of the land,” as quoted.
The message given in Isaiah chapter one—sin cleansed white as snow—was as much for the people of that time as it is for us now. Jesus’ sacrificial blood shed on the cross and his resurrection washed away those crimson colored sin-stains we once carried; and though we’ll continually sin (this side of Heaven) Jesus makes those sins white as snow as we place our faith in Him, seek forgiveness as needed, and remain in unity with Him through a healthy relationship.
Choosing and following Jesus, points us to choose that first “if” in Isaiah 1:19—may we be ever thankful, never taking for granted, but instead praising God for the removal of permanent crimson stain and the washing and cleanness of our sins, white as snow, all because of His magnificent love for us.
Recently I attended a weekend youth retreat as a leader with some of the junior high kids from our church youth group. The weekend was geared toward the words ‘BE STILL’ and served as a reminder to intentionally take time out of our day from this crazy, busy life and ‘be still’ so we can hear from Jesus.
And the kids loved it…as well as the leaders.
I always look forward to the opportunity of attending these youth retreats because I can get as much out of it as the kids, my heart really soaked in this particular topic.
Here’s a list of scripture we read and studied that paired up with our weekend focus:
1 Kings 19:9-15
Exodus 1-6:13, 12:1-28
Our very own youth pastor led one of the afternoon breakout sessions sharing tools to help us connect with God:
Start the day with quiet time.
Be alone in our quiet time.
Read scripture and listen to what God is speaking through His word.
Spend time in prayer, also pausing in the midst to hear from the Lord.
He also shared a free app called the One Minute Pause App by John Eldridge (New York Times Best Selling Author of Wild at Heart and Captivating). It encourages stillness and “the simple practice of releasing everything to God, restoring your union with God and inviting him to fill you.”
There’s soothing music, scripture, commentary with words, and beautiful scenery for each meditation.
It’s super simple to navigate and allows you to choose from one of the main pauses offering different lengths of time; or as a huge bonus there’s a 30 days to resilience program “designed to lead us on a path of supernatural resilience—to recover our joy, strengthen our hearts, and thrive through the challenges of modern day life. Each day has two 8 to 10 minute sessions, designed for the morning and evening and grouped into six 5-day modules. Each session is part soul care, part reflection, and part contemplative prayer.”
After downloading the app I have yet to miss a day of connecting to God in this way and wanted to share it with those of you reading this blog.
P.S. Our youth kids have really enjoyed the app and right before our small group discussion time starts on Wednesday evenings when we meet, I’ll typically go through a three or five minute pause (using the app) before we get into our lesson questions—they look forward to this time, it helps them settle and connect with God before we start on deep questions and discussions.
Do your heart a favor and download it, tell me what you think, and share it with others. I really hope you love it and I look forward to getting feedback!!
Below is a link that will take you directly to the app and gives the option for Apple or Android devices.
Thanksgiving in the U.S. is right around the corner, and with it comes the tendency to oftentimes jump into overdrive taking inventory of our blessings! I never want it to be the stereotypical thing for me or my family to do so I’ve tried to be better about counting blessings of thankfulness YEAR-ROUND instead.
Research shows that when we concentrate on an attitude of gratitude, giving notice and calling out the things we’re thankful for it leads to:
Growing our relationship with Jesus, overall happiness, better mental health, positive relationships, higher energy levels, improved self-esteem, mercy and grace for ourself and others, creates positive thought patterns, lowers stress and anxiety, plus it causes us to be present in the moment.
Recently I picked up a small, blank notebook from the store to serve as a gratitude journal and have been journaling little notes of thankfulness. I’ve not made it an everyday thing at this point but I aim to. There’s a ton of good resources on Pinterest or Google to spur ideas on gratitude topics, including sentence starters.
Gratitude encourages us to look at the glass half full rather than half empty. It takes practice like any good habit but it is achievable and so worth the effort!!
“Gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine. Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. The more we think positive, grateful thoughts, the healthier and happier we feel.” Cerebral Cortex
I’m subbing today so my time is short while my class is at music, but wanted to share with you a poem my youngest daughter wrote. I’ll leave you with her words as a Thanksgiving blessing and also share a picture of our planters on our front porch. I couldn’t stand seeing them empty during these cold months so I dressed them up for fall and am already looking forward to changing them up for Christmas! I’ll maybe do a DIY as I decorate them for Christmas!
Until next time, sweet autumn blessings and a Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Leaves fall red, brown, yellow. In the distance neighbors say hello.
I put my little five speed Jeep in reverse, checked that all was clear and pushed down on the gas pedal quickly to back away from the curb after finishing a recent counseling session.
If any staff at the architecture business located next door have ever watched me pull in or out of the hillside parking space each week they’re probably relieved I’m seeking therapy because my skills with driving this Jeep are about as unreliable as my emotions sometimes.
Boy it’s been a year! I started counseling back in January after realizing my childhood trauma had some explaining to do, what I didn’t know was that it actually had A LOT of explanation into the thoughts and choices I’ve made throughout my entire life.
In faith, through Jesus, I might be brave enough to finally say that I’m (really, actually) in the process of truly overcoming!! It’s the most scrutinizing process I’ve ever endured, but my counselor is amazing and God is using her to the fullest. My husband has been a solid encourager, along with my momma. I am so blessed and I can feel God’s presence at work. (Bare with me though as my blog posts may continue to be hit and miss for a while.)
Leaving Monday’s therapy session, I felt a spurring for some guilt-free me-time so I set out to purposely photograph the changing of the fall leaf colors. It felt refreshing to experience awareness in nature’s surroundings. My little iPhone has continued to help capture this week’s beauty, filling an abundance of thankfulness within my heart all the while.
Nebraska may not offer the warm, playful amber hues of the aspens in Colorado during this time of year, but nevertheless, we definitely have some reminders of our own kind of gratifying autumn…
Hey there!! I realize my posts have been few and far between this year but right now I have time to write, along with a message of encouragement so I’m gonna take advantage of it!!
In our neck of the woods I am surprised camels haven’t shown up with the drought we’re experiencing! The heat from the sun has poured down heavily and meanwhile rain has been almost nonexistent. Crops, cows, and farmers would quickly attest to that!!
My own front yard which consists of what is typically hardy buffalo grass has even felt the sting of a dry, sweltering summer.
Buffalo grass usually looks after itself and can withstand warm temperatures with little watering required and still maintain a nice, healthy, pale green color. My husband and I noticed recently, however, that even our once strong grass was now fading to golden hues, with curled edges and in some areas there was nothing but large patches of dirt where grass once grew.
We needed to quickly improvise if we were gonna keep up on curb appeal with our yard. A trip to Ace ensued where we purchased a standing, rotation sprinkler and once we were home we set it up and turned it on immediately! No joke within one watering session there was a dramatically, noticeable difference. That ground along with its sprigs of grass was thirsty. Very thirsty. And it soaked up that longing for water while almost simultaneously producing fresh, green nourished results in return.
What a spiritual lesson in the midst…
As Christians we experience seasons of what feels like our own personal or internal drought. Jobs, relationships, health…they don’t always measure up to our expectations and therefore can leave us feeling depleted or dehydrated. At times, rather than reaching for Jesus (the only way we can quench our desperate position) we instead stay dormant much like my buffalo grass.
To overcome, action must take place!! My buffalo grass wouldn’t get better on its own without intervention. The same is true for us…
We must reach for our Bibles. Open them and immerse ourselves in God’s word and believe His truths for our good and His glory.
Just like the sprinkler in my yard is hooked up to its life source to replenish our buffalo grass…we have the greatest life source of all, Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us—to guide, remind, comfort and direct—and to connect us with the Father as we communicate our prayers and praises.
We have the blessing of music and the ability to saturate our heart, soul, and ears with rich, meaningful worship of our Savior—filling us with amazing, satisfying hope. Let’s tune in!
We surround ourselves around likeminded Christians…none of that lukewarm stuff, that’s where the weeds have a chance to overtake…we need the fellowship of true, authentic Christ followers to spur us along for encouragement and growth in our faith!
Everyday we should thirst for Jesus’ overflowing goodness.
We are most certainly capable of staying spiritually hydrated when we make a conscious effort to keep inventory of our current condition and then follow up with action that draws hope from Jesus, the source of Living Water!! (Read John ch.4)
Soak Him up sweet friends!!Blessings this weekend!!
Today’s post will be short and sweet on words—I’ll let the pictures do most of the work!
Last week we vacationed to Moab, Utah. Since we live in Nebraska it made sense to do kind of a circle through Colorado, hit up Moab (which is near the western border of Colorado) and then drive the southern highway of Colorado on the way home. By doing this we were able to change up the scenery a bit on the way there and back.
Welcome to our road trip:
***The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved in North America. Sometime during the late 1190s, after primarily living on the mesa tops for 600 years, many Ancestral Pueblo people began moving into pueblos they built into natural cliff alcoves. The structures ranged in size from one-room granaries to villages of more than 150 rooms. While still farming the mesa tops, they lived in cliff dwellings, repairing, remodeling, and constructing new rooms for nearly a century. In the mid-1200s, the population began migrating to the south, into present-day New Mexico and Arizona. By the end of the 1200s, most everyone had migrated away. ***Info noted at nps.gov
Looking through these pictures I’m reminded all over again that we have an amazingly, creative God! He didn’t have to bless us with an array of color as he paints the sunrises and sunsets each day, or allow us the challenge of climbing and hiking his self-made obstacle courses through rigid mountains.
Landscapes aren’t in short supply, God has perfectly placed them all over the world and we get the opportunity to explore and praise Him because of this. We can see evidence of Him in the beauty of His creations! Nothing to be taken for granted.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. —Psalms 19:1
Where is, or has been, one of your favorite places to visit, seeing God’s handprint throughout? Maybe it’s even your own backyard…
Recently I was invited to a ladies gathering —just a sweet night of worship and fellowship time.
One of the women in our church was hosting at her house and I was unfamiliar with the address but thought I had a pretty good idea of the location. Nevertheless I typed it into Google maps this way I could have some reassurance.
Once I got closer to my destination though I began second guessing the directions my phone was offering. It pointed me to continue driving forward another half-mile but my unreliable self-made navigational skills were urging me to take the next left instead.
Reluctantly I listened and followed the GPS directions rather than my wavering mind. This is rare for me.
But guess what…I made it (without fail, rerouting, or wasted time) right to my destination.
After the evening was finished, and I was on my way home, I couldn’t help but ponder the irony of my “almost-wrong turn” I about made on the drive there.
I thought about how similar to my faith-walk at times…
God guides with perfect accuracy and I second guess, opting for my own curvy path—mindless to yield to the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
It’s interesting how, often times, I’ll ask God for direction or comfort over something I’m struggling with and He readily answers through a Bible verse, the words of a song, time in prayer, or the wise words of a friend and yet I completely miss the ‘spiritual’ road signs.
This is such a work in progress for me.
To help navigate life’s roadblocks, I love the reminder and truth of Jesus’ words spoken to the disciples in John 14:26-27:
“But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I will give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
What a great depiction of how the Holy Spirit moves and will never lead us astray.
Allowing Him to speak into us will deter us from getting stuck by the wayside.
When our thoughts and actions align with what God’s word teaches it’s a clear indication that we’re allowing and listening to the Holy Spirit as He pours into our hearts with truth, love, encouragement, healthy thoughts, peace and positivity. When we feel and sense those things we’re surrendering to God’s faithfulness rather than our stubbornness.
The Holy Spirit will always usher us within the guardrails of peace and Jesus’ way—anything other than this just isn’t of Him and must be dismissed from temptation or acceptance. I can’t come up with a better route to take as I journey through this life toward my Heavenly destination.
I’m gonna waste no time and get straight to raw transparency here…I’ve been in a season of life that feels like perpetual nagging in my heart and mind—downward spiraling thoughts of inadequacy, brokenness, and just flat-out self-depreciation. And it’s been tough, so tough.
I’d love to blame Covid, from a week of being cooped up in my room, away from family over the Thanksgiving break, allowing my thoughts to trail…but I’m certain the overwhelming distress would’ve caught up to me at some point regardless of Covid-isolation…Satan and a fallen world are the real culprits.
In this struggle, however, God has lead me to and blessed me with the kindest, most patient, sense-talking therapist one could ever imagine; and (as a result) even though I’m still surrounded by deep waters I can feel God’s strong presence keeping me afloat.
I’m probably 30 years past-due on counseling sessions so the content of discussion with my therapist is wide and harsh. I’m thankful for my husband and mom to debrief with afterwards.
The encouragement is sincere and passionate and for that I am grateful. Though the shoreline is a far distance off yet, my hope is fixed on an anchor of faith.
Friend, maybe you too are facing waves of difficulty in some way, but I pray you’d join me—embracing the calming, reassuring reminders of ‘God-for-us.’ I’ve compiled 22 affirmations of God’s faithfulness backed by scripture, with the intention that the solidity of these words would become more than just simple phrases and all about rich, heartfelt truth and comfort.
Read into them, pray through them, allow every single word to embody you…I’ll be doing the same.
GOD LOVES ME.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. —John 3:16
God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8
We love because God first loved us. —1 John 4:19
GOD HAS SAVED ME.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18
For anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. —Romans 10:13
GOD FREES ME FROM FEAR.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. —2 Timothy 1:7
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “do not fear; I will help you.” —Isaiah 41:13
GOD PROVIDES ME WITH SAFETY.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. —John 16:33
The righteous person may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all. —Psalm 34:19
The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. —Psalm 121:7-8
GOD HEALS ME.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds. —Psalm 147:3
GOD IS MY HELPER.
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth. —Psalm 121:2
So we say with confidence, the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? —Hebrews 13:6
GOD CARES ABOUT ME.
Give all your worries and your cares to God, for He cares about you. —1 Peter 5:7
GOD EQUIPS ME.
All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. —2 Timothy 3:16-17
GOD POINTS ME TO TRUST IN HIM.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. —Proverbs 3:5-6
When I am afraid I put my trust in you. —Psalm 56:3
Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. —Psalm 84:12
GOD DESIRES FOR ME TO REST IN HIM.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28
Be still and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10a
GOD STRENGTHENS ME.
For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. —Philippians 4:13
Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, put on the full armor of God so that you can take a stand against the devil’s scheme. —Ephesians 6:10-11
The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. —Psalm 29:11
GOD COMFORTS ME.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. —Psalm 23:4
GOD FILLS ME WITH JOY AND HOPE.
You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. —Psalm 16:11
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. —Isaiah 40:31
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11
GOD LEADS ME.
In their heart humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. —Proverbs 16:9
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. —Psalm 119:105
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. —Psalm 23:2
GOD IS WITH ME.
Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9
The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” —Exodus 33:14
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10
GOD BLESSES ME.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. —2 Corinthians 9:8
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. —Psalm 84:5
GOD FORGIVES AND REDEEMS ME.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9
As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:12
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. —Ephesians 1:7-8a
GOD HAS MADE ME NEW.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. —2 Corinthians 5:17
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. —Galatians 2:20
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. —Isaiah 43:18-19
GOD GIVES ME PEACE.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. —Galatians 5:22-23
GOD HAS CHOSEN ME.
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession. —Deuteronomy 14:2
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. —Ephesians 1:4
GOD DIRECTS ME TO LOVE OTHERS.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. —1 John 4:7
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. —John 13:34
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. —Philippians 2:5
GOD WANTS ME TO LOVE MYSELF.
I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. —Psalm 139:14
To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper. —Proverbs 19:8
For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, as the Messiah does the church. —Ephesians 5:29