He Sees – And Still He Loves

Matthew 28-20

Matthew 28:20 (NIV)
(b) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Sometimes when I read the Bible a verse that I’ve read a dozen or more times will jump out at me with a whole new meaning. This is one of those verses. So many times I have read this and found comfort without giving it a whole lot of thought.

Today I thought about it.

And not only did it bring the usual comfort, but discomfort as well. Or maybe it was conviction. Do I live my life as though He is with me always? Would I be okay with Him seeing how I live each day? I have to admit most days that would be a big resounding “No!” Rather, I would be ashamed if He saw me:

Exhibit that eye roll at someone’s suggestion.

Firing off that angry email in response to another’s.

Cheating the system, just this once.

Offering harsh criticism and judgment instead of acceptance.

Exhibiting contempt rather than love.

Feeling entitled rather than grateful.

That all-to-quick sharp human retort.

Turning a blind eye to someone in need because I don’t have the time to be inconvenienced.

Hoping not to get caught because no one is around to see? Busted!

Psalm 73:23 (NKJV)
“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.”

And though I may think at times, “Well, I’m not so bad, because at least I haven’t been as bad as so-and-so.” I don’t believe God measures in degrees. Rather, I believe He sees it simply for what it is–the condition of the heart.

He is with me always, to the very end of age.

Reading and meditating on this verse today has led me to a desire to want to live my life more intentionally. To be more aware of my words and actions, and to be proactive rather than reactive. To extend love in all circumstances, and to live my life in a way that shows gratitude and honor at being the daughter of a King. To love as He loves, forgive as He forgives, extend grace, as He extends grace.

To bring Him joy as He is always with me. To the very end of age.

Thankful Thursday -The Smallest Hope

provoking sunrise

Recently I was laid up with an unexpected illness, accompanied by a level of pain I can’t ever remember experiencing.  On the third day I woke feeling relieved of the pain.  Until I tried to ride my bike and walk, both of which were not possible, as it brought the pain back full force.  However, what was a constant, won’t-let-up pain, did let up for a couple of hours.  And those couple of hours gave me strength, relief, and hope to carry on when the pain got bad again.  God knew what I needed and He provided.

This experience brought to mind other areas in which the smallest hope is glossed over as coincidence or not recognized at all.

When fretting over something I’ve said or done, something I try not to do but also something I have yet to master, and I’m caught in the middle of inner torment, that moment comes when I realize that God is all I need to please and the burden disintegrates into dust particles.

When in the middle of writer’s block or a stand-still in my writing life and that story idea pops out of nowhere, flashing through my conscious.

When guilt makes its ugly way into my writing time, telling me that’s time that should be spent doing something “important” and “worthwhile,” and then comes that comment from a friend or stranger telling me that something I wrote made such a difference to them.

When it’s been a gloomy, rainy spell and the sun decides to peek from behind the clouds for the briefest of moments, it’s rays creating the most beautiful iridescent streamers of light reaching all the way to the mountaintops.

When it’s been a long, dark, cold winter, and finally that burst of green comes through the thawing earth, showing the promise and hope of spring.

Crocus in Snow

When it’s been a difficult week at work, lots of noise, angry callers and co-workers, and then that afternoon happens that all is silent–the phones, the people, even the background noise.

When it’s been a morning, a day, a week, of feeling painful insecurity, and someone decides to make a comment about nice you look, how much you mean to them, or gives you a hug out of nowhere, letting you know you are valued.

When I’ve had a restless night, complete with unsettling dreams, and when reading the Bible during quiet time the next morning and the absolutely perfect Bible verse is laid out before me, lifting me up.

During these moments of hope, is my mind saying “It’s about time” or “Thank you.”  Each phrase is short, simple, yet place the heart in opposite hemispheres.  One shows the heart to be connected to oneself, while the other shows the heart to be connected to God.  One is negative, one is positive.  It’s all in how we choose to live and see life.  Glass half-empty or glass half-full.

Entitled or grateful.

Gratitude changes everything

Today I choose to be grateful.  And, God willing, tomorrow too.  But right now all I have is today.

Thank you God.

All is Grace

My Aha! Moment -K.I.S.S.

 photo (28)

I always love reading the My Aha! Moment section in Oprah‘s magazine.  In fact, I usually feel like I have mini Aha! moments with each one.

Being of the perfectionist type A personality, I’m quick to find the error of my ways, looking how to improve the way I’m doing things, kicking it into overdrive as I do.  There is no half way here.  It’s speeding all the way, pedal to the metal, as I tackle not just one or two things to improve, but the whole shebang.

And before I can pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t, I’m burnt out, tired, and completely unable to focus or remember what I was trying to “fix” in the first place.  My mind is hurried and harried, my body tired and trembling.

Recently I found myself up to my neck in the middle of too many irons in the fire, being “good” at any one of them not an option. Only excelling at all of them was allowed.  By me.photo (26)

I burned rubber, skidding sideways into a burnout moment which resulted in the need to take a mental health day from work.

The first half of that day was spent feeling guilty because I wasn’t being more productive.

But somewhere in there God placed His gentle, firm hand on my shoulder, breathing new energy into me.  Energy that didn’t make me feel like I needed to DO something.  But mental energy that created focus and clarity.

I realized that in trying to do everything, I was doing nothing.  At least nothing worth doing.  I spent so much time trying to micromanage (aka Control) everything I took on from the process all the way to the outcome.  And the weight of that need to control was suffocating me.

A modified definition of the acronym K.I.S.S. hit home.  Keep it super simple.

Instead of trying to do everything perfectly, I now work at doing some things that are the most important to me–like being mom, wife, grandma, writer, employee–the best that I can. God can, and does, control the outcome.

photo (24)When I stress about the outcome of something I’ve taken on, I envision the worst possible scenario. Yup.  The worst thing I can think of.  Because it’s usually so far out there and absurd that I end up laughing until my stomach hurts and the anxiety simply dissolves.

Rather than try to tackle an entire book in the Bible during my quiet time with God, I have learned that reading and meditating upon one or two verses–or even a short passage–brings much more peace.  It’s then I truly absorb God’s message because my focus becomes God, rather than my time.photo (27)

I have found that when I slow down and take off my control superman cape, I’m  less restricted and  more productive.  And  life is so much better.

Slow down and smell the roses is more than just a cliche.  It’s keeping things simple. And that simplicity has saved my sanity.

All is Grace.