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...

Could you use a little “re-prioritization?” Stop, Look & Listen!

Stop, Look and Listen A summertime re-prioritization guide Stop! For many of us summer is a time to re-group and re-focus but let’s be honest for a minute, what often happens is that summer slips away and all too soon and the leaves begin to change, temperatures cool, Christmas arrives just around the corner faster than we can say “sunscreen,” and we’re back to making New Year’s Resolutions! What if we took the summer to pause mid-year to prayerfully see where we’ve been and where we’re headed?  Summertime is a perfect time in the year to re-prioritze and reflect on where and how this year is going in your life.  Pausing mid year to evaluate is a perfect way to assess life; the perfect time of year to “Stop, Look & Listen.” It just may be the re-prioritization you need to begin the second half of 2017 refreshed and renewed, there is no need to wait until January! Here’s how to begin: Write down each and everything that fills your day. (ALL of it!  No cheating! I KNOW how tempting it can be! Include Household duties, commitments and ministries at church, outside and part time jobs and ANY other commitments that you regularly schedule into your week. This INCLUDES blogging, and social networking ladies!) It will also help to include HOW MUCH time a week or month is dedicated to these activities. There may be several ministries or groups that you belong to or participate in, include them each as a separate category in order to see later which ones need another look. DAILY ACTIVITIES & MINISTRIES:     WEEKLY...

You Can Go Your Own Way Or You Can Seek God’s Will

 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:5 Have you ever tried to do things your own way? When the focus is on trying to do what you want instead of what God’s will is for the situation? Me too! Truth be told, I am somewhat of a “control freak.” There, I said it. Whew, I feel a little better now. You know you are a control freak when you will do whatever it takes to make sure that things are done “just right”–whether it is the dishes, the laundry, the project at work, or even your hair. The catch twenty-two with this though is that people around you like that you things get done and that they can count on you when the going gets tough, but it can also frustrate and tear down some of those same relationships, not to mention the fact that it keeps us focused on what “we” can do. When our focus is on what we can do, handle and get done then the weight of the burden rests completely on our shoulders. We start to feel the weight of all these things we’ve picked up along the way because we are get it done girls who like things done the “right way”. Each step we take throughout the day seems harder and heavier until we feel like we can’t take another single step. In our pursuit to do things our way we somehow managed to sidestep God. We left Him out and...

Why I Stopped Dating Jesus

I was in my early twenties. I would hear about those Bible thumpers that went to church every Sunday and it somewhat intrigued me but I also knew I was not one of them. First of all, I was not going to give up my cigarettes. Secondly, I was not going to stop cussing. And thirdly, when I would visit my dad’s Baptist church, it scared me. Dad would always lean over and say to me: “If you want to go the altar, I’ll go with you.” (He had this obsession with the altar like it was the only place you could meet Jesus.) I would shake my head no and pray that the preacher man was not standing at the door shaking hands after the service. And if he was, please God, let me him not see me. God never answered my prayer. Preacher man was always standing there with his smile and outstretched hand, and I would shake it, hoping to God he couldn’t read my mind, knowing the last sins I just committed. I remember walking outside the doors feeling free, like I could breathe again. That conviction stuff and dealing with your sin was heavy. I liked my relationship with God just the way it was. I liked Him, He liked me. We’d hang out once in a while, chat here and there, I’d ask for forgiveness on Easter and Christmas. Everything seemed to be working out just fine. Until everything was not fine. September eleventh happened. I was a young mother, married only a couple of years, struggling with depression, anxiety, and was having...