Thankful Thursday – Nature’s Beauty

 “The earth has music for those who listen.”  ― George Santayana

English: George Santayana, a Spanish American ...

 Nothing helps lift my spirits quite as high or more quickly than a walk in nature, surrounded by God’s abundant gifts. Simple yet breathtaking. Serene yet powerful.  I enjoy looking for what God is teaching me through this magnificent beauty He provides.

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These trees growing and thriving in rock is amazing.  We, as well, would do well to build our “house” upon the Rock.

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Splashes of color amidst brown and green show us how we, too, can be beautiful while radiating the colors of God amidst the “rocks” and “weeds” in the world.

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The fountain in the middle of the a pond littered with debris and coated with algae is beautiful and peaceful, firm on its foundation.  We can be beautiful and peaceful in the middle of chaos and people acting less than beautiful, as long as we stand firm on a foundation of Him.

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“So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you…  Matthew 6:28, 30 (NKJV)

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All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday – My Passions

I feel so blessed that my passions in life can also honor God.

While I’m well aware that I’m not even close to perfect and I clearly make mistakes, my passion to be the best wife, mother, and grandmother I can possibly be inspires me to get my hope, strength, and guidance from God.  It gives me the opportunity to lead my family to Him, and encourages me to act as His child so as not to lead them astray.

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My passion for writing gives me an opportunity to do what I love while honoring Him.  And if making a difference in the life of even one person is the result of my writing, besides the joy it fills me with, it is time well spent.

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I wear a necklace every day that has a small cross and a small starfish.  I have two of these, actually, one is silver, the other gold.  The cross as a reminder that I belong to God and of the journey I walk with Him.  The starfish to remind me that making a difference to just one, as in the story of the man and the starfish on the beach, (you can read the story here http://www.ordinarypeoplechangetheworld.com/articles/the-starfish-story.aspx ), is what I am called to do.

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My passion for photography gives me the opportunity to honor God by enjoying His unending gift of nature’s beauty, as well as preserving memories of family moments, and sharing that gift with those I reach with my snapshots.

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What an incredible blessing to have passions that fill me with such amazing joy and allow me to honor my Father through that joy.  I am so thankful.

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday

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So I’ve decided to make Thursday’s one of my two posts each week, each one highlighting something I’m especially grateful for.   “Thankful Thursday” may sound cheesy–or even like a cliché …but being thankful is anything but cheesy or  cliché.  Being thankful promotes optimism and joy and reduces stress and keeps us connected with God.  It’s a natural medicine.

With that said, today I’m especially thankful for unanswered prayers.

If God had answered every one of my prayers along my life’s journey, I would be in one heaping pile of trouble, much too deep to ever dig my way out.  One hot mess.

I have learned that some of the most powerful God-speak is in the unanswered prayers.  In fact, I’ve come to realize it’s not that they haven’t been answered, just not in the way I had hoped for at the time.

Thank God.  Literally.

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If any one of those relationships I had prayed so fervently for as a young adult would have come to be, I shiver at the thought of where I would be today.

My unhealthy mind was not capable of making a wise choice back then, too hazed by numbing agents, to even know what it was I wanted.  God, however, not only knew what I wanted, but more importantly, He knew what I needed.  And that was to let go of those abusive relationships.  He made sure that happened by not answering my prayers according to my desires.

Again, thank God.

I remember praying to have knowledge of how long I would live on this earth, how much time I would have to spend with loved ones.  God knew better than to give me that answer.  If it were to be a short time, I would have done nothing but worry and mourn until that day arrived.  Worry robs us of life.

On the other hand, if He answered by telling me I would have a long life, I may not live each day as if it were my last. As the gift it truly is.

Thank God.

If God had chosen to answer my prayers to make my life easy, conflict-free, and always full of sunshine, I would miss the rainbow after the rain, the calm after the storm.  I would wither from weakness rather than grow in strength and perseverance through trials.

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Now when I pray, I’ve learned to end all with, “Not mine, but Thy will be done.”  That takes me out of God’s way to work His miracles in my life.  Rather than give me everything I want as a spoiled child, He loves me enough to give me what I need.

And thank God for that.

All is Grace.

My Aha! Moment -K.I.S.S.

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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.

 

Let Go and Let God

When my boys were babies, then toddlers, it never occurred to me that they would ever be anywhere else but home with me.  Home where they were safe.  No matter what could, or did, happen anywhere else in the universe, at least we were together. photo (1)

As they found their way into, and through, adolescence, moments of fear began to take its grip,  choking my ability to be fully present and enjoy our time together.  Rather than trust God to in order to completely enjoy them, I feared that God would take them from me.  That fear took me from them.

Having been that fiercely protective mom–okay, I’ll admit some may have called me that “helicopter mom” since I had a tendency to hover–I tried with all my might to protect and buffer them from painful lessons that had I stepped aside, would have had great potential to help them grow into God-fearing, God-dependant young men.

Sometimes it felt like our lives became a yo-yo. Give them to God, take them back, give, take, give…you get the picture.  I’m forever grateful He gave.

Despite the sometimes paralyzing fear of losing them, and the raw ache at the thought of having an empty nest, God has used my weakness to grow stronger in Him, teaching me how to not only let go so they could grow, but to learn the power  of the simple phrase “Let go and let God.”

He’s teaching me to:

Let go of trying to control every outcome and let God guide the journey instead.photo (8)

Let go of protecting my family with suffocating persistence and let God protect them by giving Him–and them–the space they need.

Let go of trying to change what is not within my power to change,  and let God give me the strength to change what I can. And to know the difference between the two.  (The Serenity Prayer)

Let go of trying to force them to understand me and let God work in me to understand them.  To truly love them with a love that can only come from Him. Exactly as they are.  Exactly where they are.

Let go of the need to orchestrate and plan every moment of my day, and let God lead our day.

Let go of the tendency to regret yesterday or fear tomorrow, and let God help me live fully today.  In this exact moment.

Let go of the need for organized perfection, and  let God help me find the beauty in the messiness of life.

The messiness that can create a masterpiece.  A unique, one-of-a-kind, work of art by the master artist Himself.

Grace to You.