How to Embrace Seasons of Change

Change: we all go through it at some point in our lives and it happens whether we want it to or not. So what do we do when the winds of change start to blow and we simply don’t want things to change? Do we stomp our feet like little kids and cross our arms, forbidding change to happen? Do we jump on an imaginary surfboard and ride the waves of change like a free spirit? Do we go through the motions of change, doing what we gotta do, all the while wondering, “what just happened?” If you are anything like me, you’ve probably done all three at some point or another in your life. This year though, has been different. This year has been all about change in every single arena of my life. Okay, so not every single arena. I am still very much happily married, but pretty much everything else has changed and this has proven to be one of the most emotional, gut wrenching, spirit checking, soul searching seasons in my life. I’ve always pictured myself as an “adventurer” type of person. The one who leads change, blazes new paths, plows right ahead. It wasn’t until everything changed that I realized just how comfortable my life was and how much I liked it that way. Isn’t that usually the way it is in life? You think things are one way, then quickly realize you were off in your view of reality. This has absolutely been the case for me, and while I wrestle with all the change, I’m slowly starting to let the words from...

be Still

In our society, we are always on the go. Our to-do lists are constantly running through our heads and chances are even as we skim over this we are thinking of all the other things we still have to do today. Oh my, sweet friends, it’s time for us to stop the running, the chasing, and the endless pursuit of what the world tells us that we should want– – money – status – stuff – more _______ (fill in the blank) …and stop long enough to simply be still. Just for a moment. Come on, try it. Just be still, take a deep breathe in then exhale slowly. Don’t text, tweet, instagram or update your status (ha, caught you!) — there’ll be time for that later. Right now though, let’s try to simply be still and see what God does. Listen, I’m not great at this either, I’m about as “Dory” as they come, but it is something I’ve been challenged on lately and wanted to share some of what I’m learning through it with you. Here’s what you can do to get started on learning to be still. Ask Him to join you in your be still and silent moment. Release all the distractions clamoring for your attention. Take a few deep breaths in and really start to slow yourself down a bit. Wait for Him to come sit beside you. I’ve found that it’s best to do before your days gets away from you, but here’s a little heads up as you get started. I can guarantee you that it will not be easy at first. Everything around you...

Beyond Approval – You Are Wildly Loved

Who are you? Do you define yourself based on what others think of you? Do you crave the approval of others? You’re not alone. It’s common to seek approval to overcome feelings of rejection and low self-esteem.  But pleasing one person can cause a problem for someone else. On our quest for approval, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. So how do we fill the void? It’s not as difficult as you think. God created you with a specific purpose and plan. Because you belong to Him, what He thinks of you matters most (click to tweet). So just what does He think of you? How God sees you He designed you with infinite care before He formed you (Psalm 139:16). Remember the Psalmist David? He was quick to recognize the miracle of life and praise God for it: I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14; KVJ God’s Word is true. You were created in the image of God. He made you uniquely you: with the looks, personality, and abilities you have. You are a masterpiece. The right focus While we often get our hearts set on winning someone’s approval to validate our worth, our vision clears when we focus on Jesus. His actions demonstrated a radical love we can’t deny. He was willing to humble Himself and become a man. He lived a sinless life. Jesus died on the cross in our place. When we put our faith in Him, we will live with Him eternally in Heaven. Wow! Now that’s...

Nighttime Beauty

There really is something about the beach. The grains of sand, salty sea air, the consistency of the waves, the expanse of the sea with the painted-sky sunsets – it’s as if I’m standing hand-in-hand with the One who created it all while He tells me His love story. Every detail there just waiting to be noticed, observed and appreciated. I am willing. Eyes wide open, my heart aching for Him to speak life into some hard seasons and make sense of them all. Even in the dark of the night, there’s beauty to behold. Millions of stars beam proudly against the night sky and the moon so bold and bright it draws you in, holding you captive as it reflects the perfect beauty of it’s Creator upon the water. This year out on the beach at night, the shore line randomly came to life in little electric green lights. Under the light we discover all this nighttime beauty coming from a little jellyfish, no bigger than a silver dollar. These jellyfish don’t appear to be anything special in the light of day. Only at night when the water washed over them did they display their glory. The moments the wave sweeps over them the electric green comes to life, disappearing as the wave rolls away. Incredible! There. He speaks to my heart about the beauty of hardship and seasons in the dark. Desperate prayers have pleaded for change, yet the call is to stay the course and walk in obedience remain. “Stay. Look at Me. Be still. Know. Shine.” C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “Many men owe the grandeur of...

Life!! It’s a ROLLERCOASTER!

Recently a friend told me that they were on the “bottom loop” of the roller coaster. Isn’t that just life. Up and down, twist and turns. Funny that sometimes the anticipation of the next loop or deep dip doesn’t feel quite the same when we’re “living” it. But what a gift we have! We can be reminded, by God, in His word, that this life, with all the unexpected loops, does NOT surprise Him…not one bit. EVER.  He’s working and moving in it all; even when we want OFF the ride. He is working, He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He’s working and moving in it all; even when we want OFF the ride. He is working. He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He is working. He is moving and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! He is moving. and HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! HE goes with us through every detail of the roller coaster called life! THAT is something worth throwing your hands up...

It’s a Good Day to Help Someone

The past six months have been rough for me. There have been days I didn’t want to get out of bed. I have struggled with hurt, anger, and betrayal. I have felt torn apart and fractured, yet in an odd twist, I’ve also focused: I’ve focused on God. And through Him, I’ve focused on others. I’ve prayed a lot. Sometimes for myself, but most the time for others. Because, really, this life isn’t about me. There’s healing in trusting God and seeking His truth. There are so many statements we hear that we want to be true, we long to be true. We respond as if they are true. We build upon them as truth, yet these statements and standards are often not true statements and standards. Our wishful thinking doesn’t make something true. God doesn’t say we deserve to be happy by our own preferences and feelings. God doesn’t say relationships that seem to be hard work should be tossed aside. God says to love Him and love others. It’s easier said than done at times. We twist what we believe love should be. We reframe what we believe God wants so that it is more palatable to us. We don’t like a love that steps on our toes, that prompts us to humbly change, that’s inconvenient to our schedules. We want to be secure, to be safe, to feel good. Just after dark, I walked by a young couple with a broken down car. I made a little bit of small talk as I walked by, then God tapped me on the shoulder: “Hey! Remember that prayer...

The mess that’s called life

**reposted from May 2015. Maddie is still Maddie. She’s now in grad school figuring out the next steps of this “messy life.” She continues to struggle with directions and singing off key, but she’s living intentionally and can often be found resisting the temptation to overthink. Perhaps you need this reminder today.  You probably don’t know me. Hi, I’m Maddie. Here’s a glimpse into some of the things that I call my life: There’s a big difference between the energy I’m exerting when I say I’m “going for a run” and when the METRA train pulls into the College Avenue station and I’m a block away from the platform. The only points I got marked off on my driving test (despite not having actually taken a real driver’s ed course) were for not following directions. Evidently I “left the course” when I was trying to back up next to the parallel parking cones. I didn’t even know that was something you could do. I’m pretty much perpetually cold. So naturally, I decided to go to college in Chicago. Two years later and I still never remember to keep an extra pair of gloves in my backpack. Speaking of being cold, I’m currently in one of my dad’s old sweatshirts that I found in the basement. Don’t tell him I’m wearing it. I’m just freezing and despite having carried 140 lbs of clothes home (literally one of my bags was 57 lbs. The lady at the airport made me take some of the clothes out and wear them – no joke, I walked through the airport with 4 shirts on,) I didn’t think...

Cling Tight Dear One

When life seems to keep knocking you down and you start to wonder when will you see the sun again just remember to cling tight, dear one. This has been the four words that God keeps pressing on my heart these last few months. Oh how I wish that I could tell you that the Christian life was all sunshine and roses, but truth is that it’s not always easy. Yes, there are times when It’s full of sadness, disappointment, and hurt, but there are also times full of happiness, joy and love. Thank goodness for that, because can you image how hard it would be to even get out of bed each day if it was only the hard stuff? Here’s what I will tell you — I’ve grown more as a believer in the hard times than in the easy times. Sit there for a minute. It’s a hard truth, for sure, but it’s true. It’s when things are tough than we run (not even walk) to God. It’s not when things are going smoothly. So, what’s one supposed to do when you are buried deep in the middle of the hard times? Well, that’s where these four words come in handy…cling tight, dear one. These four words have been on my mind for months now. Every single time I cry out to God for help, relief or comfort I feel Him say to me, “cling tight, dear one”. Why those four words and why every single time I pray these days? I think I’m beginning to understand and it’s my hope that these four words will...

Why God’s Plan for Friendships is Way Cooler

As I comb out her beautiful white hair she reminds me to take her hearing aids out before I spray it. She has family coming in from out-of-town so she wants to look her best. She asks me to find her favorite pearl necklace out of her jewelry box and as I hang the pearls around her neck my mind goes back over the last eleven years of our friendship. We have joked for years asking, “What did God think an eighty-two year old Italian Catholic would have in common with a thirty-one year old hillbilly Bible thumper? I met Landi eleven years ago when I moved in next door to her. When we first met she’d pop over unannounced, tap on the door, walk in and call out my name. I remember the first time it happened I was making my bed and thought to myself: “Did she really just walk in?” I was a little ruffled by it, I mean in our generation we just don’t do that. We have our privacy walls and fences for a reason, amen? I remember one day in particular when she came by, she asked, “Would you like to come over for a glass of my husband’s homemade wine?” I politely declined being I’m not a drinker and she looked up at me inquisitively asking, “Why is it because you’re Baptist?” I chuckled and right away I was taken in by her eager desire to get to know someone and knew I was going to love her. From that day on we have been inseparable. She always tells everyone, “We just took to one other.”...

Freedom to SERVE one another…Happy July Fourth

As we pause to celebrate the many freedoms that we enjoy this July Fourth, may we too pause to reflect on how we serve our fellow man, regardless of those things often taint our view of each other. Pause for a moment and reflect on how you express your love for others, even the unlovable, by serving them in grace. May we ALWAYS see freedom as the opportunity it is to not serve self, but one another, the way Jesus would, setting aside pride and embracing the real gospel of love and grace. We have the freedom to love because LOVE freed us, and we are challenged to LOVE our neighbors, and that means all of them, (even the ones you disagree with.) It’s only in freely loving each other in grace, that we walk out as real witness what the Gospel of Jesus was all about. Enjoy the fireworks. Enjoy the picnics. Enjoy the celebrations of freedom and reflect on what it really means to one who has been made FREE. It was and never will be about you. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke...