Heart in the Clouds

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #10

So I’ve been on a blog break. Not sure why, but a day turned into a week…which turned into a few weeks. But it ended up being a good thing and something I feel God led me into. Over those few weeks, I’ve had some good talks with God and He’s shown me some things in my heart that need work. I guess that it’s good for me to take breaks now and then, so I can see if my desire to express my gratitude this way has actually had any REAL effects on my attitudes and on the true condition of my heart…I’m happy to say that it has.

Instead of being down on myself because of the issues I see in my heart, I have been able to look past them and still see myself the way God sees me. That’s a big deal for me. A couple of years ago, I would probably have carried my issues around like a dark cloud and let myself get overwhelmed by the amount of work that *I* would have had to do. But in the middle of all of this God-led self-discovery, this Scripture came to me…

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”--Philippians 1:6

If you read that Scripture and really, truly take it to heart, you will be able to remember, even in the darkest of times, that God is still working on you. You’re not finished yet! You will have issues until you die. You will still have faults. You will still have times where you look at yourself and think, “Have I really changed at all???” But you have. You are a work in progress and you always will be. The heartening thing is that HE is the one doing the work. All you have to do is yield.

Sometimes the yielding is the hardest part of the whole deal. But the promise is that there will be a completion. I think there are times when that thought is all I have to hold on to because I know I can’t really do anything in my own strength. But that’s the comfort you find in God…He is always working in you. He is always speaking truth. He is always loving you. He is always hearing you. He is always there, even when it feels like He isn‘t.

I hope you realize the truth that God, who created you, loves you and will continue to do the GOOD work He started. It’s not up to you, thank goodness!  So keep your head up. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Pain ends. Heartache fades. Even life’s peaks descend into valleys, at times. The one constant is the true love of your Creator and He never lets go.

Today I’m grateful for…

Quality Time. It’s my love language.

Sadness. When you mourn, you will be comforted. It’s a promise from God.

Not knowing. I am coming to a bit of a crossroads where I don't know what's happening next. However, instead of feeling fearful or like I am heading downhill, I am beginning to feel the excitement I get from waiting on God. He always does things I don’t expect.

Connections. I’m so thankful for the friendships and connections in my life. I value my friends and family so much and I am so grateful for each and every one.

Loneliness. I have moments where I feel completely alone in a crowd. It's not often, but when it happens and I give it to God, He reminds me that He is all I need. Such an important thing to learn.

Music. It’s a gift from God, whether it mentions Jesus or not. To me, music is the art of the heart. It speaks to me and says things I can’t express.

This song (below)…It’s by Colin Hay and it’s called “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin”. There’s a line in it that says, “And You say, ‘Be still, my love. Open up your heart and let the light shine in.'” As my 4-year-old son, Brendan, quotes Psalm 46:10, “SIT STILL and know that I am God.” This song renews my desire to be still and know. It doesn’t mention Jesus, but I know that it expresses how I feel sometimes. Enjoy.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #9

You know how there are times when God uses your misunderstandings with other people just to let you see what’s really in your own heart? Yeah, that’s been me the past few days. It’s just been one of those weeks. I guess, though, that it’s been a good thing because I have seen myself get better, even this week, at tempering my attitudes. It’s truly through no good thing in myself, I’ll tell you that for sure.

It’s easy to remain hurt, to play the victim or to blame others when you‘ve been wronged. The hard part is forgiving, letting go and being honest with yourself about the part you play in your own failed interactions. Humility is something I’m trying to learn. Humility is a key ingredient in the mixture that is forgiveness.

Why is forgiving so hard? I suppose if it were an easy thing, we wouldn’t appreciate the forgiveness and undeserved favor we have in our own lives. By realizing how hard it is to really forgive, we realize how much God loves us. I know that I have done so many things to hurt Him. I have yelled and screamed at Him, questioned His existence and squandered His love. He keeps loving me, though, and He forgives me even before I ask Him to.

The Prodigal Son could have played the victim, or he could have blamed everyone else but himself for the problems in his life. But if he had, he probably would have stayed and wallowed in the pig sty for the rest of his life. Instead, when he turned to head home, he was shocked and overjoyed to see his father running toward him with open arms, because he had been sure his father would reject him. He was certain that he would be forced to become a servant, and he was okay with that. He knew what he had put his father through.

Instead, the father brought out his best robe and put it on his son. He had his servants make the best meal they could to welcome the boy home. He threw a party! Did he care that his son had squandered his inheritance on the worst possible things? No. He was just happy to have his son home, and he wanted his son to know that he was loved and accepted.

I assure you that forgiving would be harder for me, no matter how much I love the other person. As faulty humans, we put up walls and we give the cold shoulder when we’ve been hurt. But the story of the Prodigal Son is not just a lesson in God’s love for us, it’s also a lesson in forgiving and letting go of our hurts.

The Father is the best example of forgiveness we can have. He first loved us. He sacrificed everything for us, even though He knew we would never really be able to appreciate it. That’s a big deal. That’s a REALLY big deal.

So I hope you take some time to appreciate that forgiveness is HUGE. I heard someone say that forgiveness is letting go of the possibility that the past could have been any different than it was. It’s about releasing those who have hurt you from your judgment and your grudges, and expecting no more of them. It’s about loving, even if you don’t like what the person does. That’s hard. I’m the first to admit it. But if God, the Father, can do it for me (knowing who I am on the inside), I can learn to do it, too.

Today, I’m grateful for…

Seeing myself for who I am. When I can really take a look at myself and take stock of the good and bad things in my heart, I can truly start to learn from my mistakes. But I can also appreciate the good things I see in myself.

Laughter. It’s been a life saver this past little while.

Chocolate. Another life saver. (You think I’m kidding, don’t you?)

Having so much to look forward to. God is so good to me in the NOW, but I’m so grateful to have exciting things ahead.

Friends. I have so many encouragers in my life and I’m wholeheartedly grateful for all of you.

My bootstraps. Sometimes they’re necessary, because I occasionally need to pull myself up by them.

Learning to focus on what IS happening rather than on what is NOT happening. I used to be the kind of person who focused on what people weren’t doing or on what I did not see happening in my life. Gratitude has given me the shift I needed to look at all the amazing things that are happening, even when some things aren’t. To everything there is a season…

I hope you are able to see yourself for who you really are. Be transparent about your flaws…I’m not talking about the muffin top that pops out of your jeans (ugh!) or the wrinkles that appear on your face. I’m talking about REAL faults here--not in a “woe is me” or an “I’m so horrible” way, but in an honest/self-accepting kind of way. I’m talking about taking stock of the things that need to change in your heart and then asking God to take control. Giving over control is not easy, but I’ll tell you for sure that it’s worth it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #8

It feels like forever since I've been able to write anything or to even put two coherent thoughts together. I am so thankful to be back on the wellness wagon! I feel like myself again after the last couple of weeks of feeling horrid. FINALLY! I am going to do everything I can to avoid more germs. Spring is in sight and I don’t want to be sick again.

Today I’m grateful for…

Being sick. Nothing makes you more grateful for feeling good than being sick does. Stomach viruses are awful. So I’m grateful that I was so sick, so that I could actually appreciate feeling normal again. You have no idea.

Cyber school. I love that it’s flexible enough to allow us to have sick days. Liam was sick after I was, so that made for an interesting school week. However, for some reason, I got him 5 days ahead on his school work last week, and it ended up that we needed that time. Things work out!

A homecoming. Lt. Col. Bryan Wood, my friend's  Marine husband, came home from Afghanistan today. It gives me hope that more of our servicemen and women will be able to come home soon to their families. I know many families who are enduring a deployment and I pray for them all the time...I can only imagine how hard it must be. I pray that God rewards them a million-fold for their sacrifices.

Being one day closer to Spring! Hooraaaaay!

Loving myself. There’s nothing as fulfilling as learning to love who you are. There will always be things you don’t like, but loving yourself in spite of the things you don’t like is so important. If you love yourself and learn to see yourself the way God sees you, you will love other people, too.

Texting! OMG…people. Somebody stop me. Seriously, I can see that this could become issue and I’ve only been doing it for a week. However, it’s so nice to be able to send lovely little friendly messages to people I don’t get to see often and to know that they’ll get the messages immediately. Can you tell I’m a novice?

Walks with my kids. Yesterday I went walking with both of the boys, and today I went with just Brendan (he and I are not sick, so it was good for us to get out). We have the best talks and it's fun to see what they notice about the world.

Losing my dream house. It was never mine, I guess, even though it felt like it was. It was just sold, probably for the same amount we offered last year. I am trusting that God has the exact right space for our family. In the meantime, I am so grateful to be living in a house that I already love. Someday we’ll have a property and a big backyard. Until that happens, though, I will continue to love Colligan Castle.

Being able to take care of my family. I’m not sick anymore…they are. Which means I can take care of my sickies and do what they need done…including scrubbing barf out of the rug. (Don’t get me started on that.) If we had all been sick at the same time, it would not have been pretty.

Another upcoming trip to KC. Today, I booked my trip and I’m going in two weeks! Yay for seeing my KC friends! Mama is looking forward to traveling.

Love. Learning to do everything out of love is SO difficult. Scolding my children in love. Speaking the truth in love. I guess I have a lot of learning to do on this subject, but I AM learning. God is a great teacher because He does everything for me out of love, including gently telling me when I’m wrong. I love that about Him.

I hope you can see Spring ahead…the dormant season is almost over! I always see Springtime as a prophetic thing. The spiritual is reflected in the natural. This is the first Winter in a long time, though, where I haven’t felt dead. I have actually enjoyed as much of it as I could and I’ve seen the difference in myself this time around. Gratitude has had an effect on me in areas that I don’t even get to see all the time, including the fact that my normal demeanor and my everyday attitude seem to have permanently shifted a few degrees toward the sunny side. Who would have thought? Even when I’m at my worst, I still feel peace and I trust that God is working on my behalf. I hope you can do the same.