Just Peachy!

Just Peachy: Fruits of the Spirit

I wish we could sit across the table from one another, sipping on crazy amounts of coffee and snacking on freshly sliced peaches, while having this conversation:

I’d ask how you are and when you’d ask me, I’d likely respond, “I’m just peachy!”—LITERALLY!!!A8116F0E-2E9B-4843-9145-A1FB68E3A3E7.jpegIt’s peach season and we have an abundance of peaches growing on our peach tree this year in our backyard. They’ve been ripening at different times over the past few weeks which has been nice because what I consider a “rare delicacy” has lasted just a bit longer than in the years before!

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My girls picking peaches

I absolutely love this tasty fruit, from its sunset shaded color with velvety soft skin—to the benefits of its nutritional value, offering an assortment of vitamins and minerals.

According to dr.axe.com the peach is a high-antioxidant food with anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties which makes it a great (additional) resource for fighting disease and promoting a healthy immune system.

I also love that they’re such a versatile food. We’ve been eating them right off the tree for a quick snack or dicing them up over top of vanilla yogurt or hot oatmeal.

We’ve made peach pie, peach crisp, peach smoothies, and we’re fixing to make peach ice cream..we’ve canned them, froze some with a little lemon juice to use year round, and made peach jam in the past as well.

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Mc..someone in our house can bake! Yaaa!!

Last week I even tossed some firmer slices into my salad along with berries and nuts, fresh spinach, and then drizzled Italian dressing over it..that might seem desperate but for any of these peaches to go to waste would be the “pits” (lol) so I do try and get creative, and it was actually really yummy.

Continue reading “Just Peachy!”

Good Good Father

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Photo taken in Ouray, CO

Chris Tomlin (a Christian musician) sings Good Good Father, a song regarding and recognizing God’s immense love for us.

The other morning I listened to this very song and noticed I can finally get all the way through without choking up as I sing along to the words. I wasn’t always able to do so before…And I’m thankful beyond measure.

I’ve intentionally and passionately pursued Christ for the past five years, not perfectly but with great effort. I’ve read and memorized scripture. I’ve counteracted and demolished negative thoughts by applying God’s faithful word where fear and worry long to thrive.

But in all that, can I just be honest and admit that for a long time I failed to see that God loves, loves, loves me deeply and without limitations…He LOVES me with unconditional genuine love. Keep in mind I’ve believed in Him since I was a young girl, and was taught of His love from a young age but the idea and reality of His love never struck me until more recently.

God absolutely loves me even though I mess up everyday and I don’t deserve His love. I simply didn’t understand and couldn’t grasp that concept until I allowed the words of this song to sweep in and settle throughout me.

It’s like this: We can read the same verse three or four times and it may just come across as words and nothing more. It may not be until reading that same verse for the 100th time that we finally realize the power and hope found in those very words. And then it hits us like a ton of bricks and we have that “ah-ha” moment.

Sometimes God uses His people to amplify the meaning of His words, whether it’s through a song, a devotion, a church message, a fellow believer…fill in the blank.

For me, I was just taking for granted the raw truth of God’s love for me. I was missing an important key ingredient to my faith..functioning and believing in Him—but not absorbing the fullness of His words. I was reading scripture and applying it to my life, but not always in a heart-pounding, adrenaline-rushing way.

If you’d have asked me if God loved me I would’ve been quick to respond with, “yes, absolutely!”…because I knew the answer in my head from reading scripture, but my heart didn’t know and feel it.

The first time I heard Good Good Father was nearly a year ago. I was driving alone and as the music spilled from the car’s radio those words melted over my heart overwhelmingly. Tears ran down my cheeks as I soaked in the lyrics—

You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.

Those words brought me to tears over and over every time I’d hear that song because it became this revelation of finally understanding and realizing that I am loved by God.

I AM LOVED BY GOD!!

(It kind of makes me want to head to Colorado and shout it from the mountaintops).

There’s something about knowing who you are, more importantly knowing who you identify as (as a follower of Christ) and knowing who He is.

Being able to declare that you are loved by God…there’s just simply nothing like it.

It’s when you feel lost, hurt, broken, or lonely but knowing and saying, “everything is going to be alright because I AM LOVED BY GOD regardless of my circumstances or feelings.”

I don’t know anything or anyone else in the world that can provide that kind of grace, mercy, and truth. When you’re in those moments of despair all you want is to feel love, because relationships are all that really matter and Jesus’ love offers the ultimate healing and restoration.

It causes me to consider those who don’t know God as Lord and Savior, where do they draw hope and comfort? I’ve said it before: “I’m still kind of a mess some days, but without God I’d be a bigger mess.” I’m so thankful for a life with Him as my Good Good Father. I’ve tried it the other way (with me in control) and it’s always left me empty and disappointed.

You aren’t living, until you’re believing and living IN HIM—immersed in all He has to give as truth.

Do you know and trust that God loves you unconditionally?

Check out Good Good Father for yourself by clicking on the photo link.

Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*This is part 3 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 2 are located at the bottom of this post

Growing up I took for granted the idea of family time and commitment. We had many fun times, but I failed to place much value on our years together while they were occurring.

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Winter of 1999-a few months after my dad’s motorcycle accident

I’ve managed to mentally revisit and collect the moments we spent together and I hold on to those precious memories now.

I can also identify our number one struggle as well. We believed in God, but we were far from a relationship with Jesus, therefore our family-dynamic suffered in following Christian morals, which led to lenient parenting. Often times I was absent—drinking and partying with friends. House rules and expectations were shallow for me; late nights and a selfish mentality were abundant. Mistakes and poor choices were high as I ran wild.

It wasn’t until I was married with three young children and in my mid-twenties that I recognized the hurt and brokenness in me. I thought I could fix it on my own and I tried for the next five years.

I watched as my mother, meanwhile, had found healing over my father’s death by seeking Christ. I remember relying heavily on her for wisdom during that trying period and she pointed me to Jesus every time.

And then one day I finally submitted… Continue reading “Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)”

Part 2: Remembering My Dad (story)

As the years move on, I slip further away from memories of my dad. In this crazy, busy world I must intentionally reminisce of our times together or I risk altogether losing the memory of the sweet time we had together…”

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October of 1983-mom, dad and I

*This is part 2 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 3 are located at the bottom of this post

My father was not perfect, as no one is, but he was incredibly good to my mom, brothers, and me; hard-working and courageous and taking pride in caring for his family and looking after my epileptic mother. He struggled with drug and alcohol addictions for most of my younger years but eventually abandoned the two and in the mix found out who his true friends were. He began attending church regularly with my mom and us kids but soon afterward discovered an interest in an old-time hobby of his…

Dirt bike racing.

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Summer 1999-Photos from top left clockwise: mom, dad racing, brothers, me

Since the races were on Sunday mornings our church attendance as a family declined, while race attendance increased. The end of my dad’s first race season came in October of 1999 along with the abrupt end to his new hobby. Our lives were forever changed when a miscalculated double-jump left my father with a broken neck—paralyzed and ventilator dependent.

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Christmas of 2000-our last family photo

During that time my dad lived hours away in an assisted health facility for proper care. We visited him often, but tragedy would strike again not even two years after the motorcycle accident.

We brought my dad home to visit for the Fourth of July weekend, upon returning him back to his “rehab-home” I fell asleep behind the wheel. My father didn’t survive the car accident. I was just seventeen at the time, my dad only thirty-nine.

A life cut far too short.

In an uncanny way, that accident was a blessing in disguise—that morning my dad had told my mom he ‘didn’t like living this way, that he was thankful she was the one caring for him over the weekend, but he didn’t want to live this way anymore…’

Whew..deep breath..heavy heart..

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*Part 3 follows with the lessons and faith I’ve found since my dad’s passing

Part 1: Remembering My Dad (poetry)

*This is part 1 of a 3 part series- links to parts 2 and 3 are located at the bottom of this post

I must admit with all honesty, and with a guilty conscience, that poems are not always my favorite thing to read or write.

I sometimes think they sound a bit gushy or sappy. Maybe it’s because in my daily language I don’t use the kind of effusive talk which is typically involved with poetry.

However—I truly do appreciate and respect the effectiveness in expressing and communicating deep thoughts through a poem, thoughts that may not have been conveyed otherwise. It’s for that very reason, I take advantage of the power of poetic writing. The idea of  describing emotions in few words, in a simple yet meaningful way, is appealing to me, for sure. Regardless of how corny the words may sound at times, poems make for a great opportunity to share true passions, experiences, and feelings in a practical, heartfelt manner.

With the Father’s Day celebration among us, I took to honoring my dad (who passed away when I was seventeen) by writing a poem:

DAD

Hunting, fishing, camping, riding—
Things you loved to do;
Family and friends—
Loved being with you.

Thankful for the years together we spent, Blessed for how they went.

Home early you left to be with Jesus,
Some days I still search for reasons.

The Father of you and I—
Our Father in Heaven,
He knows our time here,
He knows when He’ll call us there.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

Those memories I have of you,
The Lord truly blessed.
Those memories I have of you,
Are no doubt some of my best.

Some days reflecting back on those years,
Leaves me in tears.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

His ways aren’t for me to question,
But His words are for me to rest in.

Our Father in Heaven had a plan
When he made you my dad;
He brought me to you
to share as a daughter.

The Lord knew of our fun to be had.
He knew all our family would do.
He knew you’d love us like crazy too.

So it’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

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Dad and I..I was maybe 4 years old here

As the years move on, I slip further away from memories of my dad. In this crazy, busy world I must intentionally reminisce of our times together or I risk altogether losing the memory of the sweet time we had together…

*Part 2 follows with my dad’s story and part 3 with the lessons I’ve learned as a result

Why Do You Run?

This is a longer post, but I’ve tried to keep my posts at under a thousand words (many times) and well, I’ve decided I can’t do it! I only post once every week or two so it makes it seem justified I suppose. Blessings and hope you enjoy…

My favorite little fur-friend is covered in silver and tan color, weighs a whopping four pounds, mimics a bulldog stance with his front legs, possesses separation anxiety, and usually has a seizure once or twice a week. (We joke as a family that he inherited seizures from my mom and youngest brother who also have them.)

His name is Eli, but sometimes we call him Liza Jane, E Bug, E.B…

He’s our family dog—A three year old, purebred Yorkie who will never be used for breeding stock because of his many flaws; but in our eyes he’s perfect!

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Just look at his cuteness!

On a busy Monday morning, with joint effort, my kids and I packed their small luggage bags into the back of my “mom van.” They were going to be staying the week at grandma’s so they could participate in Vacation Bible School (VBS) at the church she attends. After what seemed like we had just loaded everything they own (except for bedroom furniture) we set out on our twenty-minute drive to my small hometown.

On the drive I ran through my mind my perfectly planned Monday morning…

  • Drop the kids off at church for VBS
  • drive to mom’s
  • unload handfuls of bags
  • unload more and more bags
  • Spend a few minutes sorting paperwork
  • Visit with my younger brother all the while
  • Take Eli for a walk on the nearby walking trail

Afterwards it would be time to pick up kids from church, head to afternoon dentist appointments, and thereafter the kids would land at my mom’s so they could enjoy a combination of Grandma, zero chores, and Vacation Bible School, all for a full week!

It was perfectly scheduled in my control-freak mind.

We soon made it to the church and I dropped the kids off. Then I headed to the little house I grew up in where I was greeted by my brother who helped me carry gobs of bags inside.

Everything was going just as I had planned.

But after a few minutes something seemed off…

Eli? Where was Eli?…If I was going to stick to my “perfectly planned” itinerary I would need my dog for my walk that was scheduled to happen shortly. Continue reading “Why Do You Run?”

Spring Cleaning: Out Satan!

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write due to a combination of super busy and miserably sick, and learning a new phone system!!!! (I’m still not even sure this will show correctly to my ‘email followers’; if you’re interested you may need to click into the link and read it from the blog’s website).

In the midst of all of the crazy, some really cool things have been happening…

I began guitar lessons a few weeks ago, something I have wanted to do for years now. I’m hoping one day I’ll hear my husband say, “good job honey!”…instead of, “it sounds like you’re strangling a cat.” He’s right though!! I’ll be strumming along nice and lovely…and then all of a sudden out of nowhere, “rrrreerrr”…not music to my ears or anyone else’s to say the least, but I have a fantastic guitar instructor and therefore I’m hopeful this will all get “harmonized” in due time.

Also I took a spiritual gifts test recently with the rest of my co-youth group leaders and discovered that my top strong points are exhortation (encouragement), serving, and hospitality. This has helped me know myself just a little more!

ENCOURAGEMENT seems fitting since I’ve referred to myself as my kids’ biggest cheerleader, including my husband’s. I’ve even poured that encouragement out on my classroom kids as I sub and my youth kids as I help lead them—kids and adults alike need rooted on!!

SERVING comes in as I get involved in mission trips, community service projects, and local outreach programs.

And HOSPITALITY has shown up as our family has held youth group events at our home, hosted the most amazing foreign exchange student, and entertained numerous guests between large birthday parties and dinner dates.

I have provided a link if anyone is interested in taking this spiritual gifts test: http://ebcrochester.org/misc/php/LifeWaySpiritualGiftsSurvey.php

**side note: there’s a huge difference between spiritual gifts and talents! In quick summary, God gives both; a talent can be possessed by anyone as the result of genetics and/or training, whereas a spiritual gift is the result of the Holy Spirit’s power at work in a believer. Romans 12:6-8, 1st Corinthians 12:4-11, Ephesians 4:11-13

Next, since garage sale season is among us, I browsed a few the other day. I was set out for mason jars to use for canning purposes and found NOT a single one; however, nearing the end of my search I came across what resembled more of a “garbage sale” than a garage sale and I spotted this little gem: Continue reading “Spring Cleaning: Out Satan!”