postheadericon Grounded on a Sweet Spring Evening

It's been two years and two months since I've posted on this blog... But I suppose now is as good of a night as any. Today was a bit of a rough day for me, but I was blessed to be able to relax at home with my parents for a couple of hours this evening. As we sat on the deck, I worked through a "grounding exercise," or so my therapist calls it, in my head. As I drove home a couple of hours later, this is what came out of me...

I see the orange breasts of the orioles fluttering midair as they fight, or perhaps dance.

I see a strong and sturdy knight staring back at me through his mask; protector of the garden.

I see a blue jay swoop to the ground so quickly that I wince as I prepare for him to get injured with the impact, but land so gracefully my breath catches in my throat.

I see a watering can. Its metal shell a cold, stark contrast to all the life happening around it.

I see a lazy, black dog relaxing at my feet. His deep, slow breaths filling me with a sense of calm as I feel a rhythm to this evening emerging.

I hear water running in the fountains. Dripping and splashing. The memory of buying one with my dad last summer brings a smile to my face as I close my eyes and let myself focus on only the water...the healing and cleansing water.

I hear birds chirp all around me. Are they communicating with each other? With me? Amazing grace, oh what a sweet, sweet sound!

I hear the soft breeze rustle through the trees. Like God and like love, I cannot see the wind. But I hear it. I sense and feel it. I know it's all around me.

I hear my own breath. As I begin to think about it, I hear myself hold it for only just a moment. But then I hear the rhythm again. I find peace in my own body.

I smell my mom's bug spray. It's comforting somehow. It smells like baby powder with a hint of something...vanilla, maybe? It reminds me of her and transports me instantly to the golf course.

I smell barbeque sauce, sweet and tangy, wafting from the kitchen. I don't really even like barbeque sauce, but I cherish quiet, casual, unplanned evenings like this with just Mom and Dad so I don't mind.

I smell spring. The air a mixture of flowers, fresh rain, humidity (how do I even smell that?), sweat, and jelly all colliding together.

I taste Mom's iced tea on my tongue. Somehow bitter, but just a tiny bit sweet. Cool and refreshing as I let it slowly pour down my sore, dry, tired throat.

I taste the bug spray that still hangs in the air. Vanilla, definitely vanilla.

I feel content. Loved. Home.

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postheadericon Let Your Life Be A Gift

As I sit here on the last Wednesday night in Lent, I can't help but be reflective. Lent can be such a healing time as we journey through Christ's ministry and realize all the incredible things that He did for us. But here's the deal...the bottom line. Christ loved us such an incredible amount that He was willing to die for us. He gave His life for us all those years ago. And through His death and sacrifice, We are redeemed.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or a sister in need
but has no pity for them, how can the love of God be in that person?
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
- 1 John 3:16-18

Because He gave up His life as a gift�for us, we now get to let our lives be a�gift�to others.

I don't often feel like my life is a gift, but it is. In more ways that I can even imagine.

A new baby is a gift. To parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and friends. So 33 years ago, I was a gift in a tiny package.

A child is a gift. To my family, teachers, and others that I don't even know, I was a gift as I grew up right before their very eyes.

A friend is a gift. So even on my lowest days, I could be brigthening someone else's.

A teacher is a gift. So even though I don't realize the impact I might be making, I have hope that I am.

To be perfectly honest, it's really hard to see myself that way. But that's the way God sees me. Two different friends recently told me that they loved me, and to my recollection, it was the first time I had heard it from them. What a gift that was! And today, I was thanked for sending some mail to a friend. For me, I just like writing and sending mail. But in a way, isn't that being a gift?

As we approach Easter and remember the greatest sacrifice ever made for us, I encourage you to find a way to use your life as a gift. Make it an Easter to remember!

postheadericon Psalm 56

But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
(verses 3-4)

I am realizing more and more how much I let fear control my life. I sat and read these two verses and let the tears flow freely down my cheeks. I wondered aloud, "What am I so afraid of?" Ultimately, am I scared of being alone? And if so, why? I don't need a man to take care of me or provide for me. God can and will�do that.

Am I afraid of being a disappointment, or maybe even an embarrassment? Again, why? My identity is in Christ, not in anything of this world. His love for me is far greater than anything I can even imagine.

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family
by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.
This is what he wanted to do,
and it gave him great pleasure."
- Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

I am a daughter of the One True King. And that love is bigger and deeper and stronger than the closest thing I can compare it to, which is the love of my parents.
You keep track of all my sorrows
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
(verse 8)

Being that I cry all the freaking time, this verse just really tugs on my heart. It's like this painting of the best friend I could ever dream up... Holding me, rubbing my hair, tickling my back, and whispering that I am loved. That I have worth. That my life means something. And not only is He there for it all, He remembers my hurts because of His love for me. Truly, that's mind-boggling and remarkable!

This I know: God is on my side!
I praise God for what he has promised;
Yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
(verses 9-11)

And that's exactly it...why should I be afraid? The Bible is so full of promises meant for me! Why live in fear when I can live in HOPE and in LOVE?!

I will fulfill my vows to you, O God,
and will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for your help.
For you have rescued me from death;
you have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in your presence, O God,
in your life-giving light.
(verses 12-13)

Just like always, we come back to gratitude. A sacrifice of thanksgiving. What I think is really cool is that I read this and in the same week, painted a piece called "Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart." It's already hanging in my kitchen. What an awesome reminder to start every day with praise for the blessings poured out on me. For the promises God has made me. For the fact that there is nothing�I need to be afraid of. I can walk with faith and hope and love and grace because God has called me into His family. And that's a pretty great feeling.