Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pure Grace

This may sound kinda funny, but I found this passage on a bottle of Pure Grace Shampoo/Shower Gel/Bubble Bath by philosophy! It just struck me as such a good word that I wrote it down to keep.  Just thought I'd share with you, in keeping with the theme of my last few posts:

"To learn to live our lives in a state of gratitude is easier said than done.  And yet that is actually the master class we take when we finally make it from Kindergarten  to graduate school.  Be thankful for the bad times as well as the good times.  Remind yourself that we learn and become so much more from the hard lesson rather than the easy one.  Hardship is the master teacher that tells us to breathe more deeply, laugh harder, love deeper, hug longer, and kiss more often.

One of the best tools for longevity and good health is not just taking a walk outdoors but taking your walk while holding the hand of God.  When we walk in gratitude for each and every moment, we empower ourselves by empowering our spirits.  When we breathe in nature though our eyes, ears, and lips, we become certain that not only are our souls eternal, but that God knows how to manage our lives, our troubles, our worries and our days better than we do.  So today and every day, "let go and let God.""

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Cherish Life's Simple Pleasures * Live Fully, Laugh Often, Love Much * DREAM * IMAGINE

These are all favorite sayings I have around my house.  They're all things I believe, that I aim to do in my life.  Maybe for you too.  But, how often do we really live by them?  Often they just end up being "goals" and it stops there.  How often do we just truly *cherish* the simple things?  Do you laugh daily?  Are we really living fully?  I *dream & imagine * but it rarely goes much farther than that.  And how often do we take for granted the people we love and care about?

Recent events in my life have brought these things to the fore-front of my mind.  Due to my Mom's recent cancer diagnosis, it looked like the beginning of an unknown and difficult journey.  And although we've now received a good prognosis, it isn't over yet and still causes me to look at things from a different perspective.

It makes me want to be more deliberate about my life - and more spontaneous.  I recently found a note I'd written around the New affirmation/ read, "My #1 resolution for 2009 is to be more present in my life -as a wife, a mom, for my family, with God, life in general!"  I hadn't forgotten that, but it's definitely been a challenge.   It's a daily struggle with two small children and a husband who works a lot, and financial troubles, etc.  But I've tried.  So I thought, anyway.  I just get so caught up in my life that the little things  slip by sometimes.  I forget things...forget to DO things.  I'm so sick of hearing myself say "I meant to__, ", or "I forgot" or "didn't get around to it."  AAACK!  Just get so busy with - well - being busy!  I don't want life to pass me by and someday wonder where it all went.  I'm already doing a little bit of that and I don't like it!  Play with the kids - the vacuuming can wait!  *Get up an hour earlier and you would probably get more things done so you CAN be available to the kids and not feel guilty! *Go to bed earlier so you can GET UP that hour earlier! *Go see your grandparents! *Find time to get together & catch up with that old friend who's been on your mind!* ETC,ETC,ETC!

But, it's really getting clearer.  Oddly, at a time that's been clouded in uncertainty!  But really - isn't life itself uncertain?  As much as we'd like to think we can control it, we really don't have a clue what life will bring us tomorrow.  Things can change in a moment.  And I'm just really starting to "get" that God's clarity often comes in the midst of that heavy fog of uncertainty.  Probably because we're more vulnerable and open.  It's not always spelled out in big, flashy neon billboards or lightning strikes.  In fact - it rarely is!  Sometimes it's just simply PEACE.  That odd "peace that surpasses all understanding".  And it's in that peace -there amidst the turmoil & craziness life throws at us - where we can bask in those simple pleasures, and appreciate them all the more.

I love this passage:  Ecclesiastes 5:18-20:  "Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."

I want to be more present!   I want to be satisfied & grateful at the end of my day, knowing I've put in a days' work and have enjoyed the blessings God has given me.  And to know that, on the bad days,  no matter how bleak things may look or how miserable I feel, there is always -always - something to be thankful for!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Keep Singin

You know, I've learned something recently.  I've learned that life is full of challenges.  Really? you say. Yes, I'm perceptive.  What I mean is I've just come to peace with it, I guess.  No matter how "good" we are, how much we pray, how much we give or love, or even box ourselves into safe little cocoons, life happens.  Bad, hard things happen.  It's inevitable.  That said...

We've recently had a big helping of those challenges thrown at us.  Almost as if to say, while juggling the usual everyday-challenges like financial, job, and kid-raisin' stresses, "OK- Let's see if you can catch a few more balls".  In a week's time, we lost our two beloved dogs -Levi and Crystal -our best pals of 14 years, a close family member & a friend both in a medical crisis, other family members in marriage crises, additional  job stress, and those seems when we're finally poised to take a step forward, something(s) happens that knocks us two steps back.  Ugh.  One of the hardest weeks I've had in recent memory.  (Oh yeah - and our monarch caterpillar died too.  Hmmm.)

I cried.  I mourned.  I worried.  I prayed.  I cried some more.  But I didn't stay there.  I can't.  I was just able to find some peace in the midst of the- well - CRAP.  Music usually has a way of settling my spirit, and here were two songs that spoke volumes:

Keep Singing by MercyMe
Another rainy day

I can’t recall having sunshine on my face
All I feel is pain
All I wanna do is walk out of this place
But when I am stuck, and I can’t move
When I don’t know what I should do
When I wonder if I’ll ever make it through

I gotta keep singing
I gotta keep praising Your name
You’re the one that’s keeping my heart beating
I gotta keep singing
I gotta keep praising Your name
That’s the only way that I’ll find healing

Can I climb up in Your lap
I don’t wanna leave
Jesus sing over me
Oh you're everything I need
I gotta keep singing

Bring the Rain by  Mercy Me
I can count a million times

People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you oh Lord
My only shelter from the storms
But instead I draw closer through these times

So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know There’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus Bring the Rain

I am Yours regardless of
The clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain


Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty (repeat)

Yes, life is sometimes hard.  Sometimes- it just downright sucks.  And even though I'm feeling better, it's not all over fact, some of it is just beginning.  But God is good - ALL the time, and ALL the time, God is still GOOD!  And I believe that with every ounce of my being.

As far as the dogs are concerned - they were a part of our family.  They were our 'kids' before we had kids.  Fourteen years of our life -that's a long time.  (Well, we had Levi that long, since he was a puppy.  I remember going to get him -he was the only one who ran up to greet me and wanted to play - that's why I picked him.  That, and his teddy-bear face! We 'adopted' Crystal at 1 1/2 when Levi was 3.)  They had 3 litters of puppies.  Just think...somewhere out there, there are 'little' Levis and Crystals (just go with it, ok) running around, hopefully enriching other families' lives like ours did.  That makes me happy...