Heart in the Clouds

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts --March 29, 2010

I'm at Panera...after the day I've had (or created, if you will), I figured some "chocolate pastry therapy" was just what the doctor (me) ordered.

The day didn't start off well. I woke up in a bit of a stupor. I took something to help me sleep last night and it never quite wore off properly until after noon. So, needless to say, I was crabby all morning. I was short and impatient with the kids, and I was angry with myself for being short and impatient with the kids. Then, just before noon, I got the call that our final offer on my dream house/property had been rejected. So I stewed about that for a while, wallowing in self-pity. Then, while I was cooking dinner, the smoke alarm went off. I'm not sure why because nothing was burning. The smoke alarm freaked the dog out so much that she pooped all over the family room. While I was cleaning up as much as I could in a hurry, the stir fry noodles got way overcooked and turned to mush. While all of this was going on, the kids were running around in circles playing "Tag" in the living room...they weren't doing anything bad, really, but I was so tired, crabby and upset that I was just done.

That's when poor Sean walked in the door from work. Let's all say it together..."Poor Sean." Seriously, the guy puts up with enough from me. He gave me a hug which I accepted stiffly, and while he happily ate the mush I made for dinner and chatted with the kids, I wallowed some more. I sometimes feel like I don't deserve my family.

Before I left the house to head to Panera, I asked Sean for a hug. He hugged me tight and asked if I was okay. Of course, I said, "No. I'm really, really disappointed." He asked, "What did the house represent to you?" Hmmmm...not sure why he asked that, and, at the moment, I wasn't sure what exactly to answer, but on the way here to Panera, it came to me. The house represented the dream of security. It represented knowing where we were going to rest our heads for the rest of our lives and where we could put down permanent roots. While I love my home right now and it means the world to me, I know that it's not where we're going to live for our whole lives. It's got too many floors and no land. It's a "first home" for us.

I KNOW God is going to provide his best for us and I could say it over and over in my head, but I'd still be disappointed about this. I think it's okay to feel what you feel, as long as you don't wallow. I know I was wallowing a little today, so I'm going to cut that out. I'm just going to feel what I feel (sad and disappointed) for a little while. It'll all be okay in the end.

I think what I'm going to learn out of this is that I have a tendency to look outside of God for my security and that's wrong. Yes, I look to him. Yes, I trust him. Yes, I know he has my best interests at heart. But I also know that I want to feel security--to feel like I really have nothing to worry about. For all my big talk about trusting him, which I do as much as I can in my own power, I know that I've not yet reached the place where I trust him fully. I want to get there.

God, help me to trust you. Help me to know that you're looking out for me. Help me to remember that you see the full roadmap and I only see the next few feet ahead. I am making myself ready for whatever you want to do with me, as much as I can in my human heart. While I'm sad and I'm disappointed, help me to remember all of the blessings I have and that they've all come from you. I'll never be able to thank you enough for all you've done for me.

_______________

I'm grateful for...

Learning. Sometimes, even if it's difficult, I have to remember that I can learn something from every situation. In a way this is a death of a dream, for now...MY little dream. God's dream for me, though, is so much bigger than this and beyond what I could imagine. I'm grateful that he's taking this opportunity to remind me of that.

Emotions. I used to stop myself from getting too excited about things because I didn't want to be disappointed. I chose to look at things with NO expectations rather than full expectations because I hated to be disappointed. God has been teaching me that if I hold myself back from feeling, even if it means running the risk of being disappointed or let down, I can never fully love anyone, and I can never fully receive what he has for me. God, don't let that happen to me. I want to feel and I want to risk disappointment if it means I can experience the joy of love and the excitement of expectation. This situation has shown me that I'm beginning to get past my pride and the fear of letting other people and outside circumstances controlling my emotions. I allowed myself to be excited and expectant. I ended up getting disappointed (for now), but it doesn't make me want to stop expecting. God GAVE me emotions for a reason. While everything's not always peachy, I love the beauty of feeling and I'm grateful that I can feel. I used to feel dead and that's changing.

Easter is coming. It's another chance for me to remember that there are bigger things than my problems. I have the deepest gratitude for what Jesus did for me and I'm looking forward to celebrating the freedom I have because of his sacrifice.

Beautiful weather is on the way. The gray isn't helping me today. Yeah, "excuses, excuses"...I know.

A lovely Sunday with friends. We spent the day in Washington, D.C. seeing the cherry blossoms and doing lots of walking around the city. It's one of my favorite cities. It was fun. It was relaxing and I'm glad to have experienced it again.

My hope for you is that you don't shut yourself down. Feel. Life is too short to allow your pride to rule you. Most people who don't like feeling deeply or showing their emotions are that way because they think that feeling is giving up control...and it is. They are too proud to let people think that they are giving up control.
They're often the same way with God. They let him have control to a point and then they take over the reins from there. I can say all of these things because I've experienced them. I've lived in that pride. But I've wept, I've laughed and I've openly expected more in the last year since I started my gratitude journey than I have in any of the years since childhood.

There's something about learning to experience the emotion of gratitude that begins to connect you with all of your other emotions. Gratitude has connected me with my passion and fire for life. It's connected me with the desire to continue living a fuller existence. It's helped me to realize how I've been cutting myself off from life for so long because my control was more important to me than really, truly living. I done with cutting myself off from life. I will allow myself to trust God's intentions. I will allow myself to be led like a sheep, as long as God is the one leading me. I will allow myself to be open to people around me because he promised to put trustworthy people in my life and show me who they are...and who they aren't. He's been faithful to keep his end of the bargain. I'm learning to be faithful in mine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts --March 24, 2010

What does it mean when I say that I'm ready? I've been thinking about this. What does "ready" mean? For a long time, I've felt a change coming in my life. I was in the doldrums for a while, I had a bit of a high and now I'm settling into the knowledge that change is coming in some form, and I am making myself ready...but what does that mean?

I guess "ready" just means that I'm choosing to be open. If I go with my gut reaction, it's usually to close myself to change or to avoid it so I don't have to adapt...which isn't good, obviously. Being open to change is something I think that God is working on in my life. He wants me to be open ALL the time, to be ready for whatever he puts across my path. The actual BEING ready part is on me. He can prepare me and teach me, but when change comes I have to just step out.

Whether we move or not, I feel change is going to come in some form. I can't explain how I feel it, but I do. It's in my bones. It's weird to say that I feel it on the wind, but that's one of the only ways I can describe it. And instead of being wary of it, I'm choosing instead to open myself to it.

If you have change coming in your life, expected or unexpected, I hope that you make yourself ready and open for what happens. Don't fear change. Don't fear a shift in your life. God brings change sometimes to keep us on our toes. Change is uncomfortable and it tends to come at times when we're not truly prepared. The only way to be prepared for the unexpected, if that's even possible, is just to choose to be open. Every morning when you wake up, talk to God and say, "God, whatever you want to do today, help me to be open to it. Help me to trust you." I'm going to start doing that.

__________________________
___________

I'm grateful for...

Sunshine. Until yesterday, the sun was shining and it was warm. I was in heaven and it gave me a push to get some things done and to get up off my winter-weary butt.

Rain. Yesterday it rained AND there was a thunderstorm. I'm not a big fan of gray days, but it was actually raining (instead of just being gray) and I'm cool with that. I am okay when the weather is DOING something, but I can't stand it when it's only being gray just to be gray. Bleah. Plus, thunderstorms make me happy.

Waking up to hear chirping birds. I miss that all winter, so it's a reminder that Spring is finally here.

SPRING IS FINALLY HERE! I can see green buds on the trees. They're not just sticks anymore, and I'm gettting excited. The daffodils and crocuses are poking their pretty little heads above the soil now...sigh. Beauty is back.

Preparation. God is preparing me for something. Not sure what it is, but I'm just going to go with it. I feel like a boxer who is ready for a fight I know I'm going to win. I'm not nervous, but I'm excited to see what happens. My trainer is rubbing my shoulders and giving me a pep talk. I'm making myself ready...I'm open. The gloves are on.

New mercies. I don't handle myself well all the time...surprising, I know. I am not a patient person, but I think God gave me kids in order to teach me to be patient. I hate waiting. I hate having my schedule rely on other people's timing, but that's the way it is. I'm getting better at it and every morning is another chance to test my ability to love and to accept and to be patient. God is loving, accepting and patient with me. I have no excuse.

My friends. You know who you are. You are all patient with me. You are good people. I am grateful that each of you is a part of my life. Thanks for letting me be myself.

My hope for all of you is that you keep yourself open and choose joy in the middle of change. Put your gloves on. Your trainer is giving you a pep talk. You're being prepared for something. Your life has a purpose, so KEEP your sense of purpose. Change can be incredibly hard if you're not prepared to roll with it whenever it comes. You never know the amazing things that are ahead of you, so don't lose hope and choose joy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts --March 21, 2010

It was a beautiful day. I started my day by taking a long walk at sunrise. I let my iTouch shuffle my music and ended up with the perfect playlist for the perfect morning. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning and a lovely time to be alone with God. Somewhere along the way, I reconnected with my thankful heart. The past couple of weeks have been a roller coaster, but this morning I reconnected with the fact that I'm thankful to be alive. No matter what happens with our house hunt or what happens in everyday life, I'm just thankful to have the opportunity to experience a day like today...my family spent the whole day together. The boys played outside, the sun was shining, Sean was home with us. Can't ask for a better day than this was.

In fact, this past week has been a lesson in learning to be thankful. I'm so happy to be alive. I've had an emotional roller coaster, but no matter what happens I am alive. I have a wonderful family. I have great friends. I have a cozy home. I have a great life.

While I was walking across the bridge into the sunrise, this song came on. It's a church song, but it said everything I feel. The tears in my eyes weren't from the brightness of the sun. The song will speak for itself and it's my gratitude for today. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKxo35pMxq4
O Taste and see that the Lord is good
O Taste and see that the Lord is good to me
You have turned my mourning into dancing
Put off my rags and clothed me with gladness
And I will arise and I will praise you
I'll sing and not be silent

Chorus:
O Lord my God I will give thanks to you forever
O Lord my God I will give thanks to you forever

Bridge:
I will live only for you
I will lift these hands up to you
I will dance before you
I will shout it I will shout it to you

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKxo35pMxq4

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts --March 17, 2010

The past few days, I gave myself a bit of "radio silence"...or Internet silence, if you will. I have been thinking about a lot of things, and some of you already know the circumstances. God is speaking to me, though, and he's teaching me. I HATE waiting, but it's a good thing sometimes.


I'm grateful for...

Patience. It's a virtue I don't normally possess. But God tends to "help" you learn the virtues you don't possess, doesn't he?

Spring is here! I saw the crocuses blooming today. The sun is warm, and the sky is blue and cloudless. Buds are growing on all the trees and bushes. I'm excited to see green soon.

Possibilities. When God opens my eyes to them, it makes me more appreciative and more hopeful. He's good that way.

New mercies. There's a reason why people say you should "sleep on it" when you're going through a decision or a time of INdecision...God gives you wisdom when you least expect it, and, often, that means a little waiting and thinking. God's mercies help that waiting process and the times where you have to process things.

St. Patty's Day. Yes, we're celebrating the Irish, but all this green is making me a happy girl, too! You know that Spring is arriving when St. Patty's Day comes.

Mom2Mom. I had fun with the ladies in the group today. All the wearin' o' the green and the green foods (broccoli quiche, green veggies to dip, brownies covered with minty frosting) and fun discussions was good for the soul.

Friends. Nuff said.

An awesome real estate agent. Michelle is tops.

A husband who balances me out. I have become a lot calmer and a lot smarter with finances and plans the longer we've been married. We have very little in common, personally, but it works.

My hope for you is that your hope arises. Whatever you're going through and whatever your circumstances may be at this moment, keep your hope alive. God has you in the palm of his hand.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--March 13, 2010

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last couple of days. Since I saw the beautiful property with the house on it, I have thought of little else. But I've been taking some time to be realistic about the options. Yes, I love it and I want it, but I want to make sure that I don't let my excitement overtake my common sense. Where is the line between an educated choice and a choice made from the gut? I'm still excited about it and I love it, but I'm choosing to be cautiously optimistic. I want it to be the RIGHT thing for us at the right time. This could be it! It's got me thinking of so many things, though, even outside the idea of moving and changing locations.

All of the thoughts of change have brought me to a little crossroads. Something has risen up in me and I don't know how to describe it. I have been waiting and asking God for months about what is next for me. I feel like part of the answer I've gotten so far is that it's time for me to learn to take care of myself. I often forget myself. I find my life filled with noise. I find that the reason I don't feel like I have a direction for the next step in my life is that I'm focusing on so many other things. I am busy a lot. I am distracted a lot. I don't pay attention to how I treat myself. I don't take the time to quiet my mind and focus on what God has to say to me.

Learning to really take care of yourself isn't a selfish thing, because if you take care of yourself, you are free to take care of other people. Your cup is full and you have enough in it to give away. I'm asking God to teach me to let him fill me and to teach me to truly care about myself.

I want to truly love me. I want to truly know me. The last year has been the beginning of a journey of focusing on what's important, and I'm realizing that I am going to have to start taking care of myself on every level. I am important...it feels weird to say that, but it's true. I want to be here for a long time. I want to show my kids that loving who you are is okay and it's a God thing. Some of the happiest people I know have learned to love themselves and to take time for themselves. I have joy. Now I am ready to enter a phase where I CHOOSE happiness. It's easy to choose to be pessimistic and down on myself.

Only God knows what other things he will reveal to me in the next while, but I feel like I'm on the beginning of something. One of the steps that has brought me to this little precipice is gratitude. If I hadn't started on the gratitude journey in the first place, I wouldn't be at this place now--wanting to make changes. I hate change, for the most part, but when it's God-inspired, I get excited. God is nudging me to make some changes, so stay tuned for what happens...I don't even know what to expect, but I'm okay with that!

_______________________

I'm grateful for...

Making good choices. Yesterday and today have been about a shift in my thinking and in the choices I've been making. I have sabotaged myself so many times in so many ways, and I feel like I'm gathering the strength to start making better choices.

Change. I can feel it coming, and I want to be ready. I am going to take care of myself. I am going to allow God to prepare me for what's coming next.

A shift in my attitude. Something inside of me has shifted ever so slightly and I can feel it. It's a good feeling. It's like a switch was just flipped and I feel a sense of purpose washing over me.

Encouragement. Last night, I took the time to encourage Liam. I told him that I'm proud of him and of the boy he's becoming. I told him that I can't wait to see the amazing man he becomes and that I want God to help me to be the best mom I can be for him. I said that God has big things in store for him. It's true. I can't wait to see where God takes Liam.

Crime TV. Yeah, it's shallow...so sue me. I am fascinated by how some people were born with no conscience or by the way a life can be changed in a moment of thoughtlessness. I guess it also forces me to remember how blessed I am.

Blessings. I am grateful for the blessings in my life and I don't ever want to take what I have NOW for granted. Of course, there will be more blessings as life continues, but I want to focus on what I have now. My home, my family, my friends, new mercies, God's love...all of it is here for me now.

A snuggly 3-year-old. Tonight, Brendan came downstairs to cuddle with me instead of watching a movie upstairs. He said, "Hold me, would you?" I smiled, grabbed him up in my arms and he wrapped around me and held on. Then he looked up at me and said, "I love you, Mama." Ah, these are the moments I will remember...or at least try to. God, help me remember.

My hope is that you remember how blessed you are right now, but that you prepare yourself for the new things God wants to do. I find that Springtime is another instance of the natural reflecting the spiritual. I hope this Spring brings you new joy and new peace and an abundance of blessings.

Have a blessed day, full of gratitude.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Food for thought...

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. ~ C. S. Lewis

My thought for the day...


I am feeling this way on so many levels. I am making the choice today to make myself ready for life, and I'm going to start to take steps to do that.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--March 10, 2010

Recently, we have started looking for a property where we can live, along with my parents, for the rest of our lives. My husband has wanted to do it for a long time, and has always had the thought in the back of his mind. We want acreage not too far away from where we are now--a place where we could build a couple of houses for our family.

So a few days ago, my mom happened upon a property online. She looked through the photos and the description and started to get excited. We all looked it up and decided it was worth a look, so our real estate agent (Michelle Coffman...who is amazing, by the way) met us there to walk through it.

We ALL loved it. That's never happened before with any other properties. It's got everything we wanted. It's the perfect place for us, but the price range is a little high. But because it's got everything that was on our list, we are going to try to see what we can do. It's a peaceful place. It's quiet. It's secluded. It already has a great house on it. It has gorgeous land all around it...it's the kind of place I could see myself living for the rest of my life--seriously!--and I'm not one to ever say something like that. So we are praying for financial wisdom and for some ideas of what we can do.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that the thought of losing it is devastating? That's where I am right now. I am emotionally attached...which they tell you not to be when you're looking at prospective homes or properties. I have already pictured myself sitting on the back porch with my coffee and watching the sun set over the trees. I have already pictured how I would decorate it. I have already pictured how I would remodel the kitchen and make it beautiful. I have already pictured my parents building a home next to it. I have already pictured Sean building himself a little lean-to out in the woods for his camping adventures (seriously, you could camp out there and never see the house). I have already pictured my children growing up there and my grandchildren running in circles in the family room. That's all in my head now.

I keep telling myself that even if we don't get it, at least we know that the perfect property DOES actually exist...but that's not how I feel inside. So I'm praying for wisdom about our financial situation, patience to allow God to do what HE wants to do for us, and the ability to let go if it ends up that this isn't the place for us to live.

I want to be grateful, no matter what. God is in control and he knows my thoughts. He knows our family's needs better than I ever could. He knows our future and has our best interests at heart. I know it and I believe it. So, no matter what happens, I will be grateful. If it ends up that it's not for us, I will probably grieve a little bit, but I will know that God has something better in mind.

My hope for you is that you keep your eyes on God. Even if there's something you really want and that you think you'd be devastated to lose, God has your best interests at heart. I can remember one time specifically where I wanted something so badly, but when I got it I didn't keep my focus on God. The outcome of the situation was not what I had hoped and it was likely because I was focused on myself. God wasn't punishing me and I know he didn't decide to take it away to spite me, but it just didn't end up working out the way I'd hoped. I know, however, that it was because of my attitude and my skewed focus. Lesson learned.

If you keep your focus on God's heart for you and for others, you can't go wrong. The two greatest commandments are that we love God with all of our hearts and that we love our neighbor the way we love ourselves. I want to be willing to focus on God's heart in this situation and not worry. He loves my family and will take care of us. He'll do the same for yours, as well.

_____________________________

Today, I'm grateful for...

Sunshine. The last couple of days have been warming up with blue sky and sunshine. I can feel my mood getting better. I can feel my spirits rising, and that's such a good feeling. It's about time. Spring is on its way!

Seeing the grass. After all this time of having everything covered in a two-foot blanket of snow, I feel hopeful because I can see the grass again. I can hear the birds singing. I can walk outside without a parka! That's a blessing to me. I am so tired of snow.

Life. There are so many ebbs and flows to life--relationships, jobs, busy times and bored times. I am grateful that I'm learning to embrace the ebbs and flows, rather than trying to fill the ebbs with noise. God is teaching me to hold onto life. It's too short, and every ebb and flow can teach me a lesson if I'm willing to learn.

Hope. As I mentioned, seeing that this property actually DOES exist has given me hope. I was beginning to think that to find what we needed we'd have to go an hour away...I didn't like that idea. God has shown me that I shouldn't put him in a box or think that he isn't really on my side. He IS on my side and he knows me. Sometimes I just need a swift kick in the pants as a reminder that I make God too small.

Supportive friends. All of my friends, near and far, have been such a blessing to me. They have prayed for me through hard times and good times. They have been a listening ear when I've needed to vent. They have been a source of peace and strength...I know God has put each of them in my life and I'm grateful for all of them.

Peace. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you."--Isaiah 26:3. I'm holding on to perfect peace and I'm choosing to trust God. I'm grateful that all I need to have peace in my life is childlike faith and trust in God's heart. Actually, it sounds easy, but it's not always easy. It is, however, a choice.

A thankful heart. Gratitude has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I have taken my focus off of the bad and I have shifted it to the good. Gratitude, like so many other things, is a choice. If I wanted to, I could focus on discouraging things...sometimes people wallow. It's the way things are. I do it, too. But every time I wallow, I come to a point where I have to make the choice to stop. God has given me the means to step out of depression and to focus on joy. It's not that easy for everyone, I know. But I'm grateful that all it's taken for me is a shift in focus. Try it! You'll see!

Have a blessed day and make the choice to be grateful. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gratitudes and Thoughts--March 7, 2010

Currently in process in my little brain is the idea of Grace and how it relates to Humility. If you asked me why God loves me or has grace for me, I could honestly say that I have no idea. I don't know why God loves me. I don't know why he chooses to bless me, or why he gives me grace when I don't deserve it. All I know is that he does. Grace is a mystery to me.

I'm learning to move past the "why," and (once I get past that) to move on to my response to his grace. I have to realize there are things about God that I'll never understand. I could know him more and more each day and still never know everything about him. I have learned to be okay with not knowing why. I am now learning to respond to him even if I don't understand why or how he does things sometimes. I don't know why my heart is as dark as it is sometimes. I don't understand why God is okay with me, even though I'm nowhere close to perfect. I have come to terms with the fact that there is a lot about God that I'll never know.

I'm learning to appreciate the mystery. While I don't appreciate mystery in people (actually, it bothers me and I tend to gravitate away from people who aren't open), I do love that facet of God's personality. I love knowing that I can never know everything about him. He surprises me in a world where so little surprises me anymore. He baffles me at times. I can get a headache when I think about him for a long time. Often, I just can't wrap my head around him, but I know that he sees the bigger picture and that there are things that will make a lot of sense down the road. To receive grace, to fully receive it, you have to trust that God has your best interests at heart. There's no other way around it. So I'm learning to trust him and to trust that his grace is sufficient for me...I need nothing more. I think the least gracious people I've ever met have been the ones who just couldn't trust the heart of God. I've struggled with that in the past, but God is teaching me to let go and to trust.

I've been praying for God to teach me to be gracious and to forgive others the way he forgives me. It's a rough road when you ask God to teach you to forgive because, to forgive, you have to have bad things happen through other people or by mistakes you make. I hate forgiving myself because I'm the hardest person for me to forgive...so I can't imagine how it's so easy for God to forgive me.

All that said, I want you to remember that God's favor and blessings aren't because of what you do...it's UNMERITED for a reason. It's unmerited so that we can't claim any glory for it, and we can't claim it's because of anything we've done. It's not. Humility isn't self-deprecation and not accepting compliments. Humility is what comes out of the awe of knowing that you are forgiven and loved and accepted despite yourself...humility accepts Grace, knowing that it's not at all related to anything we've done. That's the mystery of Grace. It goes completely against human values. We value people's works. We value our worldly view of success. We value prestige and recognition. It's funny that God's values are opposite of our own.

I want God to teach me the humility that comes with knowing that nothing I do will change how God feels about me. That's my hope for you, too. There's a freedom in realizing that nothing you will do will change how God loves you...if all you do is listen for his voice and follow in your own simple way, you are free. The world's values bring constraint and put up walls because we'll never live up to the ideal. God's values allow you to take down your walls and live because you don't have to deal with the worry of what other people think. So live without fear. God has grace for our mistakes if we accept it, and he has freedom for us just because he is who he says he is.

_______________________________

I'm grateful for...

Sunshine. Seriously, my body, my mind, my soul and my spirit needed it. I didn't realize how much. I love the sun. I love blue sky. I also love warmth in the air, but that will come soon enough.

A husband who's having fun camping in the cold. Sean likes snow camping, but don't ask me why. But he and a friend are out there in the wilderness somewhere camping in the snow--at least I HOPE there's snow there. I don't get it, but I chalk it all up to the fact that Sean should have been born a couple of centuries ago. He doesn't like technology or electricity or the complexities of modern life. I like that about him, even though I roll my eyes. I'm grateful that he's getting a night away to do something that fills his survival tank...he loves the idea of surviving in the wilderness.

Learning to accept myself. As I've said before, I am more like a Botticelli than a Barbie, but I'm learning that the beauty of a woman comes when she stops trying to look like everyone else, and she has inner confidence, knowing she's beautiful just as she is. I think God plays a big part in it for me. While I'd love to lose weight at some point, I know that won't happen until I accept myself and love myself fully, no matter what size I am. I'm on that journey. Embrace your curves, ladies. Don't give in to people who tell you that you have to look a certain way to be accepted or to be beautiful. You ARE beautiful.

Keeping my head above water. Lately, I've had moments where I just feel like I'm treading water, like I'm alone in the middle of the ocean. But God has been helping me keep my head above the water. I think I go through these times just because I have to sometimes hit a wall (or fall into the water) before I remember that I truly need God. I'm pretty self-sufficient these days, and that's not always a good thing.

Lazy days. Yesterday (Saturday) was a lazy day and I enjoyed the heck out of it. I watched an old TV miniseries on DVD and it brought back memories of watching it when I was a kid. The boys played together and periodically came into my bed for cuddle time. Happy times.

Today, I hope you remember that you're not alone. God is right there beside you. Remember that. You don't have to know everything or do everything or be everything, you just have to be yourself and listen to his heart. It sounds simple, but for us humans it's a hard thing to do because we always feel like we have to be DOING something. Life is about living. So go live it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Hatching of a Heart

"The Hatching of a Heart"
A song by Rich Mullins

Well, the night was cold and my heart was
Hidden very safely in a shell
But I knew somehow I'd have to run that risk
Have to open up myself
Look at the stars on the face of the sky
They're the same ones Abraham saw
Come under my wings I will make you shine
Give you strength enough to love

Oh now I'm getting strong enough
You helped me chip my way out and open myself up
And for the snow that comes with winter
For the growth that comes from pain
For the joke I can't remember
Although the laughter long remains
For the faith that brought to finish
All I doubted at the start
Lord, I give you praise for all that makes
For the hatching of a heart

Well my face was smooth and featureless
Just like an egg
And if I was moved you would never guess it
By the look upon my face
But You said man looks without but I look within
I can see the love you hide
It's a matter of doubt it's a symptom of sin
It's a problem of too much pride

And I now I'm opening up wide
Wet feathers pulled out from beneath me
And You're teaching me to fly
For the strength that comes with friendship
For the warmth that comes with hope
And for the love time can't diminish
And for the time love takes to grow
And for the moonlight on the water
And for the bright and morning star
Lord, I give you praise for all that makes
For the hatching of a heart

And for the moonlight on the water
And for the bright and morning star
Lord, I give you praise for all that makes
For the hatching of a heart

Where to begin?


If you were able to read any of my gratitudes last year, you basically saw what Rich Mullins called "the hatching of a heart". My life was made new because I CHOSE gratitude. You can be a Christian all your life, but the missing ingredient of a grateful heart can make you miss out on life. Christians have bad attitudes and they struggle to focus on the good, just like everyone else. I'm glad I recognized my lack last April, and since then my life has been fuller and more open than it ever was. I always had moments where I FELT grateful, but writing them down every day forced me to focus on being thankful for everything.

Last year's daily lists were meant to get me in the habit of thinking in a thankful way and having a grateful heart. And it worked! It changed my life. I'm continuing with it in a little bit of a different way this year because this is a new chapter. Now that I have made gratitude an actual part of my life, I know that it will continue to be, no matter what I do to the format of my posts, or whether or not I post daily. I chose to change my heart. God can do everything, but some of it he leaves up to us and the choices we make.

I'm grateful for...

Choices. God gives them to us knowing that we could screw up. He gives us the ability to feel gratitude, but he doesn't force us to feel it. There's something about your child being genuinely grateful, instead of forcing them to say "thank you", that really warms your heart as a parent. I have a feeling that God feels that way, too.

Peace. I love the feeling of peace I can have in the middle of the storm. I have to say that I don't always FEEL it because I choose not to (Why? I don't know.). Worry makes us feel in control, and it's a way a person tries to take control of a situation over which they have no control...There are times when I try to take control from God. I try to think up ways that I can get around the resting He calls me to. Humans like to feel the push and pull of life sometimes, and that's probably because a state of rest isn't natural for us. It's uncomfortable to choose not to worry or get angry. It's uncomfortable to choose joy over depression. Those choices aren't our natural tendencies, but God calls us out of what's comfortable. It's strange that joy and peace and rest aren't comfortable to us, but it's true.

Time. The more I've focused on living at rest, the more I've realized how much more time I have in my day. I didn't realize how much time I was spending rushing and flitting around like a little bird in a new cage. Gratitude has given me time, and that's the biggest gift I've ever received. I have time to sit and talk to my kids. I have time to think about life and how grateful I am for each moment. I have my busy days, just like everyone else, but I don't struggle as often with being busy for busyness' sake. Why do I have more time? I think it's because I no longer want self-imposed busyness. I don't want drama or people who create it. I don't want worry. I don't want depression. When I shifted my focus from all of those things and I focused on being grateful, my life got considerably less busy. It makes me think of an old song we used to sing in church:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

And it's so true. Turning your eyes away from the things of the world, and the hands that are always reaching out to pull you in different directions, sharpens your focus.

My hope for you today is that you turn your eyes away from your obstacles and away from all the worry, busyness and drama of life. Look full in his wonderful face. The way to do that is to choose gratitude. Gratitude only works if you have someone to thank. Gratitude is looking into his face and saying "thank you." Try it. You'll notice that all the unnecessary things will fade away and your focus will only be on what's important. I PROMISE you that the more often you focus on gratitude, the less often you'll be depressed, angry, bitter or worried.

______________________

So this is the beginning of my journey with a gratitude blog. I have been posting forever on FB. I have a couple of other blogs I've started, but I wanted to change the name. It is an appropriate beginning of the continuation of my journey...can you have a beginning of a continuation? Oh, well. You know what I mean.