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Thank YOU!

Thank you for the gift of your time today. My prayer is each time you stop to visit you are blessed with truth, and encouraged to keep going ~ one foot in front of the other, chin up ~ simply because you've been reminded you are on the road to VICTORY!

Monday, March 30, 2015

FMF::Break

Today I'm linking up with Kate Motaung and a whole bunch of beautiful souls for Five Minute Friday (on Monday).  Kate's word prompt for this week is BREAK.

So, with 5 minutes on the timer, here I go...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Break!
Spring Break!
YES!!  I work in a middle school, and as of Friday, I (we) will be on spring break.  Woo Hoo!!  Count it down...4, 3, 2, 1...

All I've heard for the month of March, "I'm so ready for spring break!"  Adults, as often as the children, are crying out, "I need a break!"

A break from what?  A break from stress, demands, routine, the early alarm clock, and maybe each other; the possibilities are endless.

For me personally, I look forward for a week long break from the demands of the early alarm clock.  Additionally, I look forward to spending a whole week with my husband in which we remove ourselves from the routine and live a bit "in the moment".

A Previous Spring Break Adventure

Though we have matured in years, our hearts feel the youthful excitement and anticipation of
spring break.  Whether we stay home or go away, we just naturally see this week as a time to let our hair down, pull out the flip flops, turn on some music and twirl a bit...and laugh!

You know, God is in favor of taking a break.  
He established a Sabbath day for rest.  Genesis 2:2-3

Jesus set the example for taking a break.  He went off by Himself at times, and invites us to do the same.  Mark 6:31

The Psalmist reminds us that sometimes we need to take a break, and be still.  It is in the stillness we remember God is God and He is in control of all things.  Psalm 46:10

My time is up, and I am sure Scripture gives us plentiful examples of taking a break.
What Scripture examples are being revealed to you by the revelation of Holy Spirit?
Will you share?
Do you need a BREAK?

Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa 


Five Minute Friday is sponsored by Kate Motaung.
Each week Kate posts a prompt word.  The idea is to write on the prompt word for five minutes without re-writing, re-thinking or editing.  One word and 5 minutes worth of thoughts.  Please take time to visit Kate's website and read through the creative thoughts of the many women who link up with Kate for Five Minute Friday.


Disclaimer:  I rarely write on Friday.  I typically take two or three days to marinate on the word prompt, and for the most part "write" my thoughts in my head before sitting down at my laptop with the 5 minute timer.
It takes me longer to go through and find pictures to go along with the writing.
All in all the five minute free write is still a challenge to my first-born perfectionism.  However, I embrace the challenge and appreciate the opportunity to express each week my thoughts through the written word.

Also, I am linking up today with Anita Ojeda on her fabulous website ~ Blessed (but Stressed).

Thank you, Kate and Anita, for hosting link ups.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Five*Minute*Friday::Real*

Today I'm linking up with Kate Motaung and a whole bunch of beautiful souls for Five Minute Friday.  Kate's word prompt for this week is REAL.

So, here I go.  Keepin' it REAL for the next 5 minutes.

GO.  My intent is to encourage.  I hope to cause us all to question, "What is beautiful?"  I hope to create a discussion, and I hope we will all seek Father for His view.




This is me in my mid-twenties.  No gray hair; just naturally brown and sun-streaked compliments of the Florida sunshine.



This is me in my late-forties.  I had some gray, but I was attempting to cover it up at great expense and to no avail.  The grays grew in faster than I could cover.






This is me...50ish, and I've gone natural.  This is the REAL me.

Frustrated with the time and expense of dying my silver hair brunette, I finally did a quick cost benefit analysis.  I decided the benefits of color in an attempt to maintain a youthful appearance were not enough to justify the cost.

Besides at 50, I was turning over a new leaf of freedom. Freedom to be me; the REAL me.  I decided my hair color should be REAL as well.

It wasn't an easy choice.  I didn't want to have large streaks of silver framing my face.  I didn't want to be perceived as old because of my hair color.  And so with fear and trepidation, I made a choice...a difficult choice in our perception conscious culture; I chose to embrace the REAL color of my hair.

The reactions of others have been interesting!  

I want to make it clear right up front.  This isn't a rant.  I'm not mad at anyone.  I'm not trying to convince anyone to stop coloring their hair.  I'm not arguing that I am right and you are wrong.  I say with hair color~to each her own!

I'm simply conveying the very REAL (unsolicited) commentary regarding my very REAL hair color - dark brown streaked with silver!

On a weekly regularity, a stranger will approach me and ask, "Is that your real hair?"  (I kid you not!)

With equal regularity, in a group of women discussing hair color, gray roots, etc, someone will state that while gray looks good on me, it wouldn't look good on them.  (I receive your compliments. Truly I do.  Thank you!)

And just a month or so ago, I ran into a neighbor at the grocery store who did a double take and then exclaimed, "Wow, Lisa, you're so gray!"

I've been asked if my husband is OK with my naturally gray hair.  (I don't know why not; he has gray around his temple and lots of gray in his beard.)
I've been asked if I'm concerned about being passed over in the job market in favor of younger looking women.  (I'm really not trying to compete against younger women for a career at this point.)

I'm fascinated....truly, fascinated on a daily basis by the reactions of others to my decision to be REAL...hair color and all.  

Probably the most fascinating aspect of all is my own reaction.  Though I made this decision and chose to "do it scared" (my life motto), I've truly embraced my REAL hair color.  I rather like it.  

I never could have manufactured the silver band of hair which now frames my face.
My silver hair is unique...it's me...it's REAL!

And in this Word, I take heart...

Gray hair is a glorious crown:
it is found in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31 hcsb

Five Minute Friday is sponsored by Kate Motaung.
Each week Kate posts a prompt word.  The idea is to write on the prompt word for five minutes without re-writing, re-thinking or editing.  One word and 5 minutes worth of thoughts.  Please take time to visit Kate's website and read through the creative thoughts of the many women who link up with Kate for Five Minute Friday.


Disclaimer:  I rarely write on Friday.  I typically take two or three days to marinate on the word prompt, and for the most part "write" my thoughts in my head before sitting down at my laptop with the 5 minute timer.
It takes me longer to go through and find pictures to go along with the writing.
All in all the five minute free write is still a challenge to my first-born perfectionism.  However, I embrace the challenge and appreciate the opportunity to express each week my thoughts through the written word.

Psalm.Sunday.March22.

Psalm 121.Where will my help come from?  My help comes from the Maker of heaven and earth...Protector of Israel...the One who never sleeps.Amen.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tuesday @ Ten::Strength

Nehemiah 8:10...do not grieve, for the JOY of the LORD is your strength.

There was a time in my life I looked around and saw my people in disarray, the walls were broken down and discouragement, sadness, and yes, even hopelessness were the prevailing winds of this season.  




There was no strength...none of our man-made security was enough to hold us steady.

I imagined myself much like Nehemiah, grieving the state of his scattered and distraught people and his ruined hometown - Jerusalem.

I asked myself, and God, on a daily basis - perhaps multiple times daily - "How did we get here?"  

I wonder if Nehemiah did as well.  He and his people were the people of God.

We are also the people of God.  Followers of Jesus.  Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  

Believers...holding firm to the Word of God....the blood of Jesus...forgiveness and redemption through Jesus' finished work on the cross.

Ahhhh, but hadn't we, like the Israelites of old, Nehemiah's era; hadn't we relied more and more on our own strength...our own abilities?  Hadn't we wandered a bit?



This Scripture jumped off the page.  Grieving, I recognized two qualities I longed for, but could not resurrect by my own effort or willpower.  


JOY and STRENGTH 

And they both come from Him...the LORD!


As I looked backward through Nehemiah for context, I realized this declaration was made in Jerusalem by the Priest, Ezra, when the word of the LORD had been restored to God's people.

Nehemiah was grieved over the devastating report he had received regarding Jerusalem.  He repented before the Lord on behalf of his people, and Nehemiah was given favor by a pagan king to go and rebuild the wall.  He was blessed by God to go home and restore his people and their city of Jerusalem.

I prayed.  I repented.  I confessed my weakness.  I asked for favor...and wisdom...His power because we had none of our own.

By God's Grace and His Strength, our walls are rebuilt.  Our people are continually being restored. We rejoice in God's goodness and faithfulness to us... even when we haven't been either, good or faithful.

And I testify...today....The JOY of the LORD is my strength!



Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa


Linking up with Karen Beth for Tuesday @ Ten with this week's prompt word - Strength.

Also, linking up with Anita Ojeda  for Inspire Me Monday.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tuesday @ Ten::Grow





Tonight I am linking up with Karen Beth...writing on her current word prompt - GROW.  I hope you'll take time to visit her blog Finding The Grace Within.  Perhaps you will make yourself a cup of tea and relax while you enjoy the creativity of the beautiful contributors to this link up with Karen Beth.

Grow.  According to Merriam Webster, the word has many definitions and applications. Here are just a few: 
1. to become larger: to increase in size, amount, etc
2. to become better or improved in some way: to become more developed, mature, etc
3. to pass from childhood to adulthood

To grow is to change.  To grow is painful.  To grow is exciting...and scary.
To not grow is boring...to become stagnant.  To not grow is death.

I remember one summer of my youth complaining - my knees hurt, my hips hurt, my shoulders and back hurt.  And I remember hearing, "You're ok, those are just growing pains."  

Indeed, at the end of the summer I had grown 6 inches!  Yes, physical growth is painful, and yet exciting.  As our "seeds" grew in height, we measured and marked their progress on a wall in our basement.  Each growth marker brought smiles, shouts and jumps of joy!

While growth from childhood into adulthood means that we become physically full grown, there's continual opportunity for emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. To become better or improved in some way: to become more developed, mature, etc. from the Merriam Webster definitions above.

A tree grows from seedling to fruit bearing maturity.  New growth and bearing fruit are signs of life.  At times a little pruning may be necessary to further the growth and fruit production...to cause the tree to flourish in life.  

Similarly, we should be continually growing, maturing and bearing fruit - even into our old age.  I don't know about trees, but I know pruning in my life is painful.  And yet, pruning is necessary, at times a little fertilizer is necessary for growth as well.

Growth is necessary for life.  I want to live fully every day of my life.  And so, this is the desire of my heart....to continually grow, mature, develop gifts and bear fruit for the glory of God.

This is the encouragement I find in Colossians 1:9-10 ~


So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you.  
We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.  
Then the way  you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.  
All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Finding Our Way to the New Normal

We (my sun tanned feet man and I) are living a "new normal".  It's not the first time we've found ourselves in this somewhat uneasy growing place.  Just off the top of my head, here's our top 5 list:

1. Getting married
2. Moving to a new state
3. Bringing children into our family
4. Sending our children off to college - Empty Nesting
5. Receiving an unwanted medical diagnosis

Sun Tanned Feet Man

All of the above scenarios created a "new normal" for us, and required adjustment to some or all aspects of our daily lives.  In fact, another name for "new normal" is "change"!  

The word "change" is not as inspirational as "new normal".  In my experience, there's a fairly large percentage of the human population which does not embrace the idea of change as a positive. 


 Looking at my top 5 list, I recognize some of these were welcome and exciting - getting married and having children.  Some brought a mixture of welcome and dread - moving to a new state and sending our children off to college.

But this last one, the most recent, has been anything but welcome.  No one wants to hear from a doctor, "You have..." and no one wants to find out that major medications are likely to be their "new normal".

And yet, it happened for my STFM, "You have Parkinson's".  For several years now the tremor has worsened and simple tasks of dexterity, like removing his wallet from his back pocket, have become increasingly difficult.  


We wanted a different answer.  Many doctor visits, many tests, specialists, traditional medicine and some less traditional caregivers have been consulted over the last four years or so.

Finally, though, there is a consensus and an acceptance is coming.
I pray we are not in resignation.
We are not defeated.
We believe Jesus is Healer.
We believe with God ALL things are possible!

We haven't lost the dip!

I pray we are in acceptance.
We are accepting this is the path our good Father is allowing us to walk.
We are accepting Father has a plan to glorify Himself and mature us in faith.
We are accepting our "new normal" as a pathway to encouraging and serving others.

Our race is not nearly finished and there's plenty of life yet to be lived...abundantly.
So, we choose to take up our cross and carry it on...
to the finish line.

Sun Tanned Feet

Please pray with me for my Sun Tanned Feet Man, the one I love...
Lord, Jesus, please use the medication You have provided to bring relief and restore function to Your son's body.  May he be so improved through Your care and provision of medical professionals, he will say to me, "Why didn't you make me do this years ago?"

And Jesus, grow me up in tenderness and care and patience and selflessness.
May I represent you well in love and mercy...for Your glory!
May we overcome as You have promised by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!
Amen.

Most everyone I know is facing some type of new normal.
So many share this path with us...
What about you, friend?
Have you experienced a "new normal" lately?
Is the adjustment a struggle?
May I pray for you too?


Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing journey with Jesus!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

FMF::Gather

It's Sunday rather than Friday, but I'm still linking up for Five Minute Friday with Kate and the lovely hearts who write with her each week.

The idea is simple.  Kate posts a word late on Thursday.  We, who love to participate, take her word, set a timer for 5 minutes and type what flows.  No editing.  No rewrites.  No second guessing.

And better late than never.

This week the word is... Gather.    
Linking up also with Testimony Tuesday and Holly Barrett.  I hope you'll make a stop over there as well for some beautiful testimonies of God's grace and love!

Go!



This is us.  My Sun Tanned Feet Man, my nickname for my husband, and me at the ocean ~ one of our favorite restorative places.  We've been married for almost 27 years.  Most of them lovely and a few challenging; therefore I see our almost 27 years as an ongoing victory.

The last four years have been some of the best for us ~ relationally.  
But in those "challenging years", we came to that proverbial place - the crossroads - where we would either go on together or go our separate ways.  

We needed help.
  
And probably the only reason we sought help was because of the commitment we made way back there at the beginning as we gathered together and promised before God, "divorce was not an option".

We had no biblical basis for divorce.  However, we were stuck and we had built walls of unforgiveness and resentment.  

With help, as three of us gathered together in the name of Jesus, we were able to break down the walls of resentment and stop blaming and truly forgive one another.  We no longer felt stuck and hopeless.  

We realized, at this crossroads, we would rather journey together, knowing more rough terrain would surely be traveled, than go our separate ways.

We're grateful to God He brought us through this marriage crisis.  He allowed us to struggle through to come out on the other side with more defined spiritual muscle.  Individually (and as a couple) our faith has been stretched and strengthened.

Father knew what we would need as a couple.  He knew we would soon face a more fierce battle; the challenging circumstances of health, care for an elderly parent, and job loss.

So, as we've recently struggled through some of the darkest days in the perfect storm of all these difficulties crashing over us at once; we've faced them together.
  
And gratefully, my Sun Tanned Feet Man has been able to reach for my hand, walk me to our prayer room and ask Father for the things we desperately need right now ~ wisdom and breakthrough.

Jesus is faithful to His word as we agree together, asking Father for help.  We gather together, me and this man, as followers of Jesus, and Jesus is here among us!


He hears, He knows, and He will calm the storm.  

Amen.


Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Heart Garden - What's the condition of my soil? - Matthew 13

(Jesus) told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.  As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.  

Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.  

Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 

 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!  

Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”  Matthew 13:3-9  NLT


This is a familiar passage.  I've read it many times.  I’ve heard a number of sermons on this parable as well.  

Have you?

Through this Lent season, I’m reading through the Gospels.  About two weeks in, I’ve paused here.  The significance of these words for my own life seem to be highlighted. 
  

As I ponder the parable, I visualize a garden.  It's my heart.  My heart is the garden and the One True Living God is Master Gardener. 

At first glance, I see all the elements of the parable are present in my heart garden.  It’s messy, overgrown in some places, weed and thorn infested in other places. 

I see the well-worn, soil-hardened foot path; the place where old hurts are trampled over and over to justify judgment.  The hard soil reveals a rocky layer just underneath.  It’s dry and brown and tough!

My heart garden, without the Love and Care, Skill and Wisdom of the Master Gardener, is dead and unproductive.  The seeds of Life will be scattered.  Truth will fall upon this dry, rocky garden, but to no avail.

This is not what I want!

I desire the fertile soil, which produces the bountiful crop of which Jesus spoke.  I want to be a productive fruit bearer.  Yes, the lush, rich, beautiful and fruitful garden is what I desire for my heart.


Master Gardener, take over the garden of my heart.  Till the hardened soil along the footpath.  Break up the rocky ground and help me to gather all the rocks to create a beautiful safety boundary around my heart garden.


Pull up weeds, the produce of bad seeds (the lies of the enemy) scattered to and fro.  Remove old stumps of unforgiveness.  Prune back the overgrown places, so new growth will come in strength and vitality.

Water my heart garden with Your Living Water, especially after You have lovingly allowed some fertilizer to be sprinkled around my roots. 

I thank You today, Master Gardener, for Sovereignly tending my heart garden with love and care and wisdom. 

I thank You for creating fertile soil in my heart, for sowing Your seeds of Truth, and for growing my roots down deep in this good soil.  Thank You for the beautiful fruit bearing trees You’ve planted throughout my heart garden, as well.

 
Most of all, I thank You, Master Gardener, for never leaving me untended and for the eternal source of Living Water.

May I continually surrender every square inch of my heart garden.  May my heart garden be beautiful and available to all who peek in, and bear much fruit for Your Glory.
Amen!




Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tuesday @ Ten::Create

Create some memories.

Now that our family has grown up, our seeds off to college, I have made a conscious choice to emphasize memories over the material.

Three years ago, the four of us spent a rare extended vacation at the ocean from Christmas through the New Year.  My husband arranged this extravagant gift for my 50th birthday.

Gulf Coast 2012
We unintentionally created a family tradition.

For our time at the beach we revisited a quiet gulf coast location, mostly frequented in the winter by snowbirds.  Our family originally visited when our seeds were just pre-schoolers.  

These were simple years of adventure and make believe; a time when no one ever got bored of playing in the sand and surf.

And then, for a season, the snowbird beach town became boring.  The sand and the surf were not enough excitement.  We stopped going.

Now, still quiet during the winter season, our more mature family revived the old memories.  We walked the beach and collected shells, rode bikes from one end of town to the other, played games and watched movies.

Gulf Coast 2013

As another year drew close to conclusion, I chose again to reserve a week away.  I was a little surprised with the enthusiasm of our seeds; they were excited to re-create the old traditions while creating new memories.

Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds...Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deuteronomy 11:18-19 hcsb

Sometimes, in parenting, we wonder if anything we are teaching our children is sticking.  Many times, especially through the teen years, I've been thoroughly convinced of my absolute failure as a parent.

Gulf Coast 2014
Yet, the last three years have proven to me the truth of God's word.  It's the daily living and talking and sharing moments which teach the lessons of life.  Traditions are formed in the routine of family life.

The memories created in the past become the traditions maturing children cling to and insist on preserving into the future!
Go ahead...dare to create some memories...

Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!  

Linking up with Tuesday@Ten.  Thank you, KarenBeth for hosting.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Notice the Mustache- revisited from November 2014

I was recently reminded of this post from November 2014.  I rather like the reminder because I find I so easily forget the lessons once learned!  

Some of the comments I received on this post encouraged me 'not to be too hard on myself', and I appreciate the kindness of those words.  

However, though I extend myself grace, it is more accurate to recognize the selfishness of my flesh.  The glory is found in re-visiting the lesson, and seeking once again to take my eyes off myself and focus them on Jesus.



Mustached groom - May 21, 1988
I hope you too will find value in the refocus to "notice".

My husband had a mustache.  He wore a mustache from before the time we dated, through dating and into marriage.  In fact, every picture I had ever seen of him, from high school forward, included a mustache.  

I had never seen this man without a mustache upon his upper lip!


1991 with our first seed
and mustache.
1996 with both seeds
and mustache!
  












And then one day it was gone...the mustache that is.

For some reason, in that season of his life, he decided he was finished with the mustache. While I was away on one particular day, my husband stood in front of the bathroom mirror and shaved his very full, black mustache right into the sink and down the drain.

I DIDN'T NOTICE!

Oh, no, not like I didn't notice for 10 minutes or an hour.  I didn't notice for a couple of days! And then, I didn't actually notice; I was prompted.  Our two seeds, who had never known their father without a mustache, were beside themselves.  They began to drop hints and then laugh.  Obviously, I was the butt of the joke!  So, what was I missing?

And then...FINALLY...I saw it, or rather I didn't see it.  His mustache; it was gone!  For how long, I didn't know.  I knew I had missed it.  I was horrified.  I was not paying attention.

I DIDN'T NOTICE...
a major event in my husband's life!


I was a busy mom, working full time, team mom, involved in church activities and classroom volunteer.  I could make plenty of excuses, but there was no excuse.  

The person with whom I had vowed to share the most intimate of human relationships should have been a top focus of my attention.  Suddenly, the realization hit home, I was living distracted and pre-occupied.  I had taken for granted a most precious treasure...unacceptable.

I apologized, and yes, there was forgiveness; however, there was no way to un-do my lack of attention.  So, while there was repentance and forgiveness, so necessary in the marriage relationship, a lifestyle change was also required.


 I made a commitment to make my husband a priority in my life. Though I have not "noticed" him perfectly, I have asked Jesus for change.  I've asked Him to help me keep my priorities in order, to change me from the inside out and prick my heart to...

NOTICE!

His divine power has given us everything required for life and Godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4