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One41: Giving God the Glory in the Everyday

Tiny papers in my bra

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Read 1 Chronicles 14:2, and Acts 12:11

I have tiny papers in my bra. They fall out at the strangest and sometimes most embarrassing times. I can forget about them, work out and they literally melt away. They can blow out the window of my van and I get frustrated because I have to stop my day, turn around and go pick up my little papers because this crunchy. mama. ain’t. gonna. litter.

This may sound inappropriate to you for me to even type about my bra…..my suggestion for you would be to stop reading now, get out more, laugh more and maybe stuff your bra once in a while…….:)

In my time with God each day I ask Him to give me just one truth to stand on from His Word (the bible), I beg Him to allow me one thing to help me for this one day. And He is always faithful to this ask. Always. I use a different bible each year and as I am encouraged, corrected, or reminded, I gently brush over these words in colored pencil.

It provides me with this beautiful rainbow of reminders.

I also write the words in a tiny notebook and most times I tear off that page and keep it on my person. Hence the paper issues. Some folks have rock solid memories and don’t need this discipline but I need to keep these truths with me; I have a tendency to forget these truths about five minutes after I leave them.

So early today I read about Peter in Acts 12. What an amazing story! In the midst of reading this story, I am forced to reflection. Just a little phrase:  NOW I KNOW THAT THE LORD REALLY……And I am reminded of a tiny paper I had days ago from another story about David. Also an amazing story, but in that story I was also stopped in my tracks and prompted to reflect on the same words: THEN DAVID KNEW THAT THE LORD REALLY……

David’s, “then I knew that the Lord really” moment came after he received a gigantic gift.

Peter’s, “then I knew that the Lord really” moment came when he realized he has been released from prison.

Have you ever had one of these, “then I knew that the Lord really” moments?

If you have had a moment like this, one can assume you have also had an, “I didn’t know that moment”, a moment of doubt or questioning.

These stories about Peter and David give me GREAT encouragement. Because I know ALL about moments of doubt. I doubt a lot, I can doubt myself, I can doubt others, I can doubt God’s timing, and in the past I have doubted God altogether.

I start thinking of all my, “then I knew that moments”,  and I think about the doubt that preceded them and all that doubt can seem silly to me now, but in those moments NOTHING about them seemed silly. And I am challenged to pray for God to use ME to encourage others who may be in those moments now.

I think of another little paper in my bra from weeks ago, a scripture I recite WAY more than I care to admit to help me overcome those moments of doubt. It’s found in Mark 9, also an awesome story, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  ~Mark 9:24

As a matter of fact, I think I will write that one down again too. I think I may need two tiny papers on my person today……

Anchors

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“One of the ways I keep myself grounded in God’s grace is by collecting mementos that remind me of his goodness and faithfulness”. ~Mark Batterson

These anchors are more than just mementos that mark a time, more than pictures, signs and symbols you display to serve as reminders of the past, no… these anchors should fuel your faith FORWARD.

Perhaps…

Words that changed the trajectory of your life tattooed on your body or painted on your walls.

A photograph framed that represents a moment so precious you can close your eyes and still feel it.

Objects or items that encourage conversation and the sharing of wisdom.

Books that challenged and altered your way of thinking.

I’m not into stuff. Too much stuff makes me uncomfortable. Books are meant to be shared; I try and hold possessions loosely. But WORDS can serve as powerful anchors for me…..and sometimes a season or moment or circumstance is just SO important to me, I HAVE to anchor it in words. For myself. So I remember to give God glory for all things.

Today we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the small yet mighty among us, our “Brookie Cookie”…so I felt compelled to anchor this very precious fourth birthday.

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Brooke Kathryn Macy

Four years ago today you brought a warm familiar peace,
bringing also the grace filled chance to live again moments we may have missed.

Joy bursting from within you,
with a voice that cracks with excitement over the simple wonders of each day.

There is a child that lives in this house whose spirit I guard the most,
with large clear trusting eyes and loyal tiny hands.
Her giggles are large and overpower her,
leaving impressions on the hearts of those she allows close.

She is beauty in every sense of the word,
desiring only to be close,
with a fragileness that makes her contagious and pure.

Her songs and games and drawings and emotions fill this house.

She has a bright way of seeing things, and a jumping way she moves,
with fingers in her mouth, like little guardians of her passion…
keeping it from leaking out too soon.

Yes, there is a child that lives in this house whose spirit I guard the most.

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Disconnected Christmas

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The other morning I woke up earlier than anyone in my house which is very unusual. My husband typically greets me with something snarky: Well good morning, Queenie, how was your slumber? This is because he has already been up for hours doing his schoolwork, working his second job, reading his bible and probably praying extensively for patience to deal with me. #Overachiever

So this rare morning I SOAK in the book of Ecclesiastes. I sit at the feet of this wise teacher, I pray the verses, I read it, I talk to God about enjoying life, enjoying work, being obedient, accepting my calling. I take notes….and I think about a conversation I had the day before.

I have this same conversation at least twice a month. I am feeling excited about a book I am reading, I mention it to someone and they say: How do you have time to read? I wish I had time to read.

And the question always catches me off guard. Not sure why because I have this conversation twice a month.

So this conversation happened again the other day and instead of my candid answer, I am tempted to reply:  How much time do you think you spend on social media, or watching Netflix, or movies, or whatever, cut that in just 1/4 and you will read four books this year. You really want to know how I make time to read, I put my face-in-a-book, and THAT is how I find time to read.

A little snarkier than my usual answer.  So I decide on the canned answer instead: I make the time to read.

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But this conversation and this time in Ecclesiastes causes me to do a time evaluation, to reflect on where time is going. The largest bulk of my day goes to homeschooling my kids, there is work, housework, exercise, husband time, family time and other times.

And as I am praying through my time, and our time, I decide I should talk to the husband and maybe we should have, “A Disconnected Christmas” this year!

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Why? Because there IS a time for everything. And this season IS the time for being disconnected in one way and connected in the very BEST way.

We can spend even more time soaking up like a sponge the people God has entrusted to us.

Instead of posting, scanning, sharing, liking, commenting….

We will dance.

We will visit.

We will sing.

We will celebrate.

We will pray.

We will read.

We will serve.

…Ok, I will cheat a little here and there, but for the most part, I will be disconnected..and it’s gonna be #Awesome.

We’ll just SOAK it up… this Disconnected Christmas.

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Crappy Handwriting

A precious woman gave me a book the other week that contained these words, I jotted them on paper and posted them up immediately:

Pride is like bad breath, everyone knows about it BUT the person who has it.

Side note, my husband tells me the only thing he doesn’t love about me is my handwriting. Isn’t that strange? I actually have MANY unlovable characteristics, and yet handwriting tops his list. So it probably is so annoying that I am always writing little notes everywhere with this evidently crappy handwriting!

Bad breath…and stinking in general is the WORST. I am always telling my kids to brush their teeth, and as they get older, we are carrying deodorant and mouthwash in the car. Honestly, you never want to be that person who smells. I remember this gal who was so beautiful and talented but sadly every time I think about her…I can only think about how bad she smelled. I know that’s terrible that I think that, but I do. Smelly is the worst.

Pride in general is a funny thing because it flares up at the strangest times. @science.ig posted this image not too long ago:

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SO much could be said about this image. We have had some great conversations about this image at our house with our kids.

But, pride all flared up can block us from so many things.

Being teachable.

Saying sorry.

Submitting in areas of our lives where God calls us to do so.

Changing our way of thinking.

Following or recognizing the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Going deeper relationally.

And ultimately, pride can stop us from realizing God’s complete plan for our lives.

We play this card game at home, Big Fish Little Fish. It’s super simple, fun and allows for quite a bit of trash talk, so we love it. You are trying to get rid of your cards, but are limited by the size and color of the fish on your cards with regards to what you can play. When you run out of regular fish, you have to throw these puffer fish, and then can get frozen and unable to play the next round. Many times the person is stuck like this for the rest of the game. We call it frozen pond and we make our kids make this face:

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Pride is like that. When we are acting out of pride, we are like a big ol’ puffer fish, all puffed up, stiff and unable to move forward…..and often times we can be unaware of it.

I remind myself of this image when my pride flares us, it helps me laugh at myself and let all that hot air out….bring that pride to the feet of Jesus, lay it down and ask Him again to lead, teach and shape.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. ~Proverbs 11:2

Snazzy Little Book

Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionism Painting 1948

Yep, Jackson Pollock. I’ve been slightly, ok, completely obsessed with his work as of late…and also the short stories of Anton Chekhov. Seriously. Good. Writer. The best writers don’t answer questions, they invite you to ask them.  #HomeschoolMomReflections After all, great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

When I take my kids to the library we play the computer games, read all the books, play the puzzle-magnetic games and they ALWAYS want to stay longer than my attention span can handle…so I resist the temptation to work or scan to social media instead I make myself grab a book from the adult section, sit down and wait them out.

If the books are small enough and they are enjoying the time enough, I might finish one.

So the other day I’m waiting them out and I came across this little book with a snazzy cover: The Happy Life. The Search for Contentment in the Modern World. And it was a catchy title so I sat in that children’s area, by the way….completely content in MY modern world at that moment because picturesque as it was, all four of my kids were happily and quietly playing or reading at the LIBRARY….and I read that whole thing.

So this little book….David Maldouf wrote it. You can look him up on Wikipedia if you are a person who needs to know all about the author before you read something. Side note, I always look up the author before I read anything because it’s just a #Nerdy thing I have, to read up on the author before I read a book, just so I know where the content is coming from. The book was an intelligent quick read and I enjoy reading books from people who have worldviews different than my own.

But happiness IS an incredible ideal, right? It’s the condition we ALL aspire to. We judge a society on how happy and free its people are. We have all felt moments of happiness, of self fulfillment.  In a sunset, in a win, in a moments rest, in the face of a child, in an accomplishment, in a job well done or maybe in the face of a lover.

What makes each of us happy varies greatly. I know folks who love to travel. I like quick trips, but even the thought of long trips makes me feel drained. I feel happiest with the warm sun on my skin, in my own yard, reading a book, drink in hand, with my husband close enough to touch and the sound of my kids playing and laughing…..ahhh….

Mauldouf states that despite all our efforts, we as a culture are arguably the most unhappy we have ever been. I will spare you the statistics Maldouf shares on depression, antidepressants, anti anxiety meds, various fads, natural medicine, and other diets for combating and treating this unhappiness. But all this is particularly alarming considering in developed countries like ours all chief sources of BASIC human unhappiness and misery  have been removed from our lives: social injustice, famine, plague and other diseases. Our culture and other developed cultures have little to complain of, according the Maldouf, as most of the conditions that might have made us miserable in the past have been legislated or ameliorated. Yet Maldouf argues we are still unhappy. He also asserts that much like exercise releases endorphins that cause the body to function optimally, research is revealing that multitasking with technology may release comparable chemicals in our brain, creating an addictive and “happy like” feeling that causes the brain to function optimally.

Maldouf would argue it is pushing the brain to evolve.

I would argue that this very thing is making it harder for people to be still and simply notice those moments that may bring them happiness when they DO come.

So why does happiness elude so many? And how should we live if we want to be happy? And why are we so unhappy?

Maldouf doesn’t answer this directly.

He concurs that man as a species is driven and that it may not be possible to achieve happiness. He argues that there is no end to what man cannot become, discover, invent, remake, improve and that very innate condition in itself makes it impossible for us to be happy.

Whether or not I agree with him is not important. I just love books that make me think! So what did this book challenge me to reflect on sitting there in that library, in THAT moment?

The fact that I think personal happiness CAN be sustained if we pause long enough to seek, create and SOAK in the moments that make us happy.

I don’t want to spend my life discovering, inventing, remaking, improving, wandering, becoming, evolving……trying to figure it all out, and then come to the end and realize I never just relaxed, STOPPED and was CONTENT to just REST and SOAK it all in…..

..

Ain’t nothing but a mist….

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….Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. ~James 4:14

“Your life is a mist. My life is a mist. You ain’t nothing but a mist.  We think WAY too much about our lives.” 

These are the very encouraging things Chad (the husband) and I say to each other. And this may sound like an insensitive thing to say to your spouse as they are venting…“Honey, you ain’t nothing but a mist”. The first time Chad told me this I let the thought settle in my brain, cocked my head at him wanting VERY badly to say something biting back, but all I could muster was…..Yep. True that. Ain’t nothing but a mist.

We think too much about our own lives. Feeling wronged, being late again because the kids didn’t listen again, traffic, parenting just plain wearing you down, marriage in a tough spot, family conflict, our schedules, things we view as inconveniences, others opinions, friend conflict, financial struggles, insecurities, physical pain, things not going as I think it should at work, home, family, wherever…..whatever.

Mists.

A mountain washes away and crumbles;

and a rock can be moved from its place.

Water washes over stones and wears them down,

and rushing waters wash away dirt.

In the same way, you destroy hope.

You defeat people forever, and they are gone;

you change their appearance and send them

away.

Their children are honored, but they do not know

 it;

their children are disgraced, but they do not

see it.

They only feel the pain of their body

and feel sorry for themselves.

~Job 14:18-22

My troubles ain’t nothing but mists. Your very life is nothing but a mist. This helps me overcome my selfishness….and I personally need the help.

Then I fill my mind with truth…..the God I serve, He ain’t a mist. He deserves all my attentions, all my affections and my complete and total obedience!

And so when I start to get all in a wad over the mists,  which is like……all the time,  I remind myself there is a God enthroned in the heaven and a Jesus I was CREATED to serve.

Move on from the mists.

People and situations will disappoint me, I will disappoint people. But God is faithful and His loving-kindness is new and available every day.

#DayStarter

The “uh-oh” feeling….

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I saw one of my old swim coaches at our Harris Teeter two days ago. We were introducing him to our two youngest children and I say to them, “He taught me how to swim”….and he says…..I kid you not…. “Your mom taught me patience.”

And we all fall out laughing.

My parents used to tell me to be good not bad, and listen for the “uh-oh” feeling and don’t do the things that made my tummy go “uh-oh”. Work hard in school. Don’t do the drugs. Tell the truth. Take birth control. Be safe. Check your oil. Watch out for black ice. Don’t drive on 77.

I think my mom also learned patience from me. Sorry about that mom.

But I didn’t have a guide or anything for what being good meant. Just others around me, I guess. Like the kids in my classes who didn’t get in trouble for talking ALL the time, skipping school, chasing boys, lying, sneaking out, or trying to make a party out of every situation….every situation.

So it turns out I actually LIKED the “uh-oh” feeling in my stomach, and I still have no clue how to “be good”.

It also turns out there is a guide though. Not for “being good” but for being exactly who God CREATED us to be.

The bible.

I still like that “uh-oh” feeling, but now I know how to channel it into taking risks for Him, how to push harder and be a lot louder for Him because it gives me a buzz. And, hey, I like a good buzz.

And I know I don’t have to “be good” , I just have to be obedient to his Word…..and if I want to start a party in any situation, I am pretty sure God is down.

This morning I soak in the words in Romans 12, not just a verse out of context but the whole flipping thing. Over and over and over I read it and pray it and absorb it.

And man oh man, I can’t wait to read it with my kids when they wake up!

Romans 12

     So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Esther’s Ace in the Hole

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This little sign sits in one of the rooms at the family beach place. And every time I have walked by it over the last 7 days, I have smiled. It’s the reason I write each day, whether in a journal with a pen, or typed out here; it makes me happy. But happiness is not the end all of ,my life. It is so fleeting, and if you pursue it at all cost……you will have a very selfish existence.

Lots of things make me “happy”. Very few things make me better.

Reading the bible makes me happy, and restored, challenged and better. That’s why I do it every day…..

I was re-reading Esther the other afternoon because it’s my oldest daughters favorite book, and I am planning on doing something with it this school year…

I was zooming along…….King Xerxes was having a ridiculously long, big party. Long story short, his queen, Vashti didn’t want to be embarrassed at one of her drunk husband’s private parties, so she refused to come stand in front of all his buddies while they checked her out. Seems reasonable, right? Not in that time. Her husband had serious pride issues, and no one around him to speak truth, so he got really upset by the whole thing, he and his drunk buddies and advisors de-throne her, and they order all the beautiful young women in the area to be brought to the King so he can replace her. The young girls receive these freaky beauty treatments and then he gets his pick from all of them.

I always feel bad for Vashti when I read this story…..and all the young girls.

One of the young girls was a beautiful orphan girl Esther who was also a Jew (so she sadly, will have some enemies).  And a lot of people look at Esther and they are impressed with her courage, and her beauty and her resolve….and I am too…..

BUT what she REALLY has going for her more than her beauty is a solid uncle who really loved her and has her back no matter what. And who gives GOOD GODLY ADVICE. And the best part was…Esther knew it, she recognized the blessing and she was TEACHABLE.

Esther 2: 20 ….just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

And because of her ability to take instruction…..she is used by God in a big way.

And I find this challenging, so rich and helpful. And it makes me better, not necessarily happy, but better.

I spend quite a bit of time thinking and LISTING all the instruction/suggestions I have received from all the Godly people I respect lately, and I just reflect on THAT……

God, thank you for these Godly people, keep my heart teachable, and Lord protect me from pride, and give me ears to hear the instruction…..

A winding gravel drive

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A winding gravel drive leads to a place like nowhere else

where the air is different, warm and thick and welcoming.

Feet happy to feel the sandy slate floors,

slate floors that have been walked over by people as different yet as connected as the cement that binds them all together.

Time inviting you to forget it for a while….

On the porch

On the dock

On the beach.

A symphony of screen doors, the gentle jumping of fish, birds and frogs, bugs and giggles

and snuggles. Lots of snuggles.

Long runs through town, past the river

under the bridge and back,

working out more than your body on that long hot road home.

Driving with the windows down,

taking in familiar sights and smells.

Deep blue and green crashing into land,

creating a sandy playground where worlds collide.

Long salty, sandy days,

with orange fingers, and tender skin.

Exhaustion from nothing and everything,

body aches from days of play and rest.

Fingerprints all over glass doors, open bibles on every table

a tapestry of memories created while cooking, charading, dancing, singing

fishing, rocking and talking.

About everything and nothing at all.

Absorbing the view, with eyes and hearts that never tire of it.

Yes, a winding gravel drive leads to a place like nowhere else.

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