2021 Joy Dare- Day 39

Dare

Good morning friends! When I stumbled upon this Dare back in December I was going through a time of real struggle when I was seriously having trouble being grateful. I found myself being grateful for the same thing over and over again. Coffee…..coffee…coffee…sunshine (not that there was much in December here in upstate New York) and a few other things. I’m not saying that it’s bad to be grateful for the same things over and over again, but sometimes we have tunnel vision and we lose sight of all the other blessings God has given to us. And then I “just happened” to stumble upon this Dare while scrolling through Pinterest. I had already read Ann Voskamp’s Book One Thousand gifts so I was intrigued. I checked out all the images and I was certain this is what I needed When I chose this challenge for this year I had no idea what the rest of the year held BUT God did!

Are you willing…..

So I want to ask you are you willing To take this Dare? The great thing is- you don’t have to commit to the full year! You can just start with one month AND you can start Any time! It really is so simple and it changes your perspective! I Dare you to take this challenge~

Day 17- 3 Gifts Ugly Beautiful

  1. gloomy gray skies-so sad yet intriguing
  2. broken lives changed by Jesus- amazing
  3. Dying fields- turning brown- yet there is a beautiful fall aesthetic

Day 18- A Gift fixed, folded, freckled

  1. fixed-Hubby putting LED light fixtures in my craft room
  2. folded- clothes that are folded in the Cedar Chest for the future
  3. freckled-Kiddo’s #4’s freckled face!

Day 19- 3 gifts In Conversation

  1. Conversations with my prayer team this week
  2. Conversations with our future Bible study leader
  3. Hubby had a very encouraging conversation with a friend in ministry

Day 20- 3 gifts in Salvation

  1. Grace
  2. Hope
  3. Peace

Day 21- 3 gifts in information

  1. Books
  2. Podcasts
  3. Conferences

Day 22- 3 Gifts rattling, receding, redeemed

  1. Rattled- my emotions this week as I have continually come face to face with some hard realities and broken relationships (not mine but ones of close friends-it’s hard to watch)
  2. Receding- a falling away- it hurts to see. it’s painful to watch
  3. redeemed- Countless stories that I can name right now where God took brokenness and turned them into something beautiful. He redeemed those moments for His Glory

Day 23-  3 gifts in silence

  1. early mornings
  2. Outside devotions
  3. spare moments stolen away in my craft room

I’m so glad you came by for the Joy Dare this week and I’m praying You all have a fabulous week full of gratitude and Joy!

And how about You what have you found joy in this week?

For more Joy Dare posts click here and for more Choosing Courage Posts click here.

To Check out The Joy Dare and One Thousand Gifts  by Ann Voskamp click here.

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My Greatest Joy- Day 38

Greatest

Good morning all! So quick question. Can you guess what my greatest Joy is? This is one of those blog post ideas that I had once upon a time and I wrote down this great idea (a title) and no other details! UGH! Yes I have learned from my mistake But each week as I read through my post idea list this one almost taunts me. Coming out of a season where I had to be super intentional about my gratitude and having to REALLY hone in my sights to what brings me true joy- I struggled to remember what laid behind this blog post. That is until this Sunday.

So what makes something the “GREATEST”

When I think of “the greatest”. I think about the absolute best And coming out of the Olympic season we heard the term GOAT. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why on earth it was a compliment to be called a GOAT…..that is I finally put two and two together and realized it stood for “Greatest Of All Time”. AHA but as the Olympics continued on we began to see that GOATs weren’t perfect. They might be considered the Best in the world (at that time) but it didn’t mean they were perfect.

Since Sunday and realizing and remembering what my greatest joy is I kept coming back to this word perfect. Greatest does not equal perfect. Jesus is my perfect joy- I get so much joy from Him….and that is where my greatest joy stems from.

I took a step forward

But not like you might be thinking. I was in the middle of praising Jesus and all of a sudden a thought came to mind. So I took a tiny step forward and glanced down our row of chairs. And what I saw and heard struck the deepest sense of joy I have felt in a long time. And all I had to do is LOOK. I didn’t have t do anything. I didn’t need to get anything. I just needed to pay attention. And then in that moment my reason for putting that post title came flooding back….

What I saw…and heard

Looking to my left and right I saw 4 kids who were worshipping Jesus in their own way…without any reservation. They weren’t being judged they were in their own spaces one on one lifting the name of their Savior in song You could tell it was personal. AND THAT brought me my greatest joy and made me praise Jesus all the more.

And as that welled up in my soul, thoughts came flooding back- of a teenager asking me (very sheepishly) if I could read the Bible with her. Or another teenager asking if I would go forward with her at a youth conference. Seeing tears flow down her faces she prayed which in turn made me ugly cry because I had been praying for this girl for oh so long.

To see a group of 17 teenagers- boys and girls embrace and love each other like I have never seen any other group of humans ever do. Such different backgrounds….such different experiences….such different economic backgrounds…encourage each other lift each other up…and just care. Yes they had their moments of disagreement but that was rare.

To watch on any given Sunday morning a herd of children run up to new kids and invite them to “come play with us in the gym”. To swallow up the new ones, it wasn’t an exclusive club for these kids. They wanted to include everyone because they themselves had been included.

Teens who would share their deepest burdens of their hearts because they felt safe.

Women who were honest about where they were at- tears shed as they shared their broken places.

And then I remembered – my Greatest Joy WAS perfect every single time-

Changed Lives- It didn’t matter how it happened or how messy it was. When people were honest with themselves and really let Jesus change them- there is nothing better (except for seeing them all in heaven someday.)

BUT My greatest Joy is also linked to my greatest sorrow

This was a harsh reality for me Monday and I am not going to lie all of the emotions that flooded my soul was rough. I was angry I was sad I was disappointed. I was crushed.

I’m not going to tell you what happened but I will give you a breakdown…..

  • selfishness (putting oneself before others)
  • mistreatment of others
  • a limiting of grace to someone else (the idea that You only deserve this much …………because of………….)
  • Rejection
  • judging

The list could go on. There was this realization that people aren’t willing to change.. They know what is right and wrong. They can even verbalize it BUT they are unwilling to let that change them. Their hearts are hard. They think they are entitled, They make an exclusive club and they limit God’s grab for certain people. THAT is my greatest sorrow because that isn’t what God teaches in his word.

Jesus says “Love your Neighbor as yourself”

We ask “who is our neighbor?” looking for a specific easy to love group of people -mostly the ones just like us.

Jesus answers EVERYONE.

We don’t get to pick and choose who get’s love, grace and mercy. But we tend to think that we get to be that judge. We don’t. we are commanded to (to quote NIKE) -“JUST DO IT”

And at the end of the day

My realization was this

  • I’m glad Jesus doesn’t treat us like this.
  • that I am called to be like Jesus so I need to treat people like Jesus treats me
  • It’s not my job to withhold grace mercy and love- it’s my job to lavishly give it out- just like those kids. who didn’t see backgrounds, color, economic standing , or anything else for that matter
  • I need to die to self and put others before myself
  • I need to not just take in the information from God’s word I need to apply it . And Not just bits and pieces that make me comfortable
  • It’s not about what is easy for me. It’s not about my time, my money, my strength. It’s about serving Jesus with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength- REALLY my whole life- not holding anything back. It’s not about Convenience. (It wasn’t easy or convenient for Jesus to die on the cross)

All of this from a bunch of teenagers and a bunch of kids. Oh how we have lost sight of what is most important. I promise you if you can learn these lessons from children you too will experience the greatest Joy because it’s not MY greatest Joy- It’s Jesus’!!!!!

Thanks for joining me for Day 38 of my Choosing Courage 100 day blogging project. If you are new here you can check out this blog post that explains it all. 

And if you have fallen behind or missed some posts you can check it out here

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Change: Week 5 Update

Change

Good morning! And I can ACTUALLY say that! I have and am in the process of making some big changes around here. As much as I have loved this writing project for 100 days I have hated every minute of the schedule I was keeping! I have been thinking and praying a lot about how to change the cycle I was in but nothing came to be until yesterday.

And then I remembered something……

Let’s Go Back in time (Cue Time machine sounds and funky music)

See the girl over there sitting in the old brown restaurant style booth. She’s had a busy afternoon and evening and now she was settling in to focus on her schoolwork- She’s a college student. She has a lot of trouble focusing She always has. She has so many things bouncing around in her brain.

But recently she made a discovery. She discovered that if she spent 30 minutes writing creatively then she could focus really well. And right now she is the only person in the room (that’s why it’s her favorite spot) but if she hurries she can get the creative writing in before the mad rush of people come into the student center for snacks and social time. So she put her head down and began scrawling down the new idea that had been bouncing around in that brain of hers all day.

Something Magic

With Each passing word that flowed out the end of her writing utensil her brain became alive and focused and driven. She had focus like she has never had before. Words came quickly and she almost never had to stop, erase or rethink the wording.

And then she was done. She would pack away her writing piece never to return to it again. And then the truly magical thing happened- She pulled out her schoolwork and she began working At some point the quietness turned into a murmur and then to a dull roar. There was chaos going on around her but that didn’t matter Her brain was calmed and she could focus on anything now. The time came fore her to close her books and she headed back to her dorm room. She changed, climbed into bed and laid there wondering why on earth she couldn’t fall asleep. Her brain was fully alive and functioning, not in the haze it had been that afternoon.

*cue time machine sounds and funky music* with a brief stop at yesterday.

Is that that the same girl?

The time machine comes t a screeching halt in front of a blue house and hey is that the same girl sitting out from with her journal in front of her.? The posture is the same. Hunched over her work. Her hair is the same color just shorter and she looks older. But she is just as busy scribbling away. She stops. She looks up. She is thinking about something. The girl in the booth didn’t do that. A smile spreads across her face. She picks up a strange flat box sitting next to her. Her fingers fly across the screen. Oh wait the front door open a teenager comes out, he’s holing a soccer ball, and he starts talking to her…He calls her MOM. She answers his question and he goes back inside. Wow a lot has changed for that college student sitting in that booth from so long ago.

She goes back to scribbling furiously. She stops picks up her head and smiles. It’s almost as if she remembered something. She picks up that flat shiny box again and turns it on . She looks startled. She pushes the chair away from the table gets her stuff together and heads inside. I guess it is time for me to head back to today. I climb back in my time machine and I look back as the front door closes behind her and I smile.

*cue Time Machine Sounds and Funky music*

An AHA moment and a Change

As I sit here this morning typing furiously on my laptop, I smile because I know exactly what that girl was going through…both that one from 20 years ago AND the one from yesterday. Because I am that girl. And I have been frustrated as of late. Yesterday when I was scribbling in that journal- my prayer time to be exact- I was asking God to help me figure out this writing schedule problem. It’s kinda been a vicious cycle over the last five weeks. And just like the girl from 20 years ago I will write my brains out before bed and then go upstairs and read I will be tired but my brain has been snapped back to life and I will lay there contemplating everything from what needs to be done tomorrow to….who knows what else. Then I wake up in the morning and I’m sluggish and unfocused. I have to fight my way through my devotions because my brain is not focused. Then the kids wake up and the demands of the day start.

By the time the kids go to bed at night I flop down in the chair with my laptop and I begin to write. And the cycle starts all over again.

But that me from yesterday had an aha! moment . She remembered the girl from 20 years ago. AND she was writing to another person online who was sharing how she handled her priorities and focused on each one. Her strategy struck a deep chord with me.

Overwhelmed and frustrated

I know as moms (and humans in general) we all tend to feel like this. We have so much to do and keep track of. We have so many priorities to focus on Our kids, our husband, our home, our physical health our friends, church, our relationship with Jesus, perhaps an outside job whether it be at home or out of the home…..and the list goes on and on. and we all feel the need to be balanced and yet we can’t stop the mad cycle.

So as I sent a few DM’s back and forth with Crystal Paine (The Money Saving Mom) about how she handles her priorities the thought of 21 year old me came flooding back as well. About how writing has always cleared my brain and helped me to focus and get stuff done. And then this question resonated deep in my heart WHAT IF I WROTE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING? HMMMM.

The Change

There are 3 things that are going to change over the rest of this week-

  1. Writing will happen first thing in the morning. This might change after the 100 Days of blogging project is over. It may look a little different just in it might not be blogging everyday, but there will be some form of “writing” being done.
  2. I am going to set up a habit tracker of the must do things that NEED to get done every single day. These will be based on my six priorities.
  3. Then each day I will pick out which two priorities I will focus on for that day. I need to learn exactly what “Time blocking” is -that will help the focused time for each day.

I love what Crystal said yesterday in her Instagram Stories. “I only have two hands, so I only pick two priorities to focus on everyday”. She says that when she does this it means that she will visit all of her priorities in focused time at least once a week (obviously it might be more). But then you don’t have to stress over neglecting something.

Wow what a relief from the pressure I have been putting on myself for a very long time.

I know this isn’t the typical weekly update but it is the major thing that has been a frustration for a while and now I have this overwhelming sense of Freedom.

Have you struggled with these thoughts and feelings before? It cycles through for me and I would love to hear your thoughts and strategies in the comments below!

Thanks for joining me for Day 37 of my Choosing Courage 100 day blogging project. If you are new here you can check out this blog post that explains it all.

And if you have fallen behind or missed some posts you can check it out here

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Blog on Purpose

purpose

Confession time

I love to write. I always have. But you already knew that. BUT I struggle to write a purpose statement. The point of a purpose statement is that it’s short Concise and easy to remember. But if you have been around here for very long you know that concise isn’t on the of the words that describes how I write.

Well back one month ago as I began this writing journey, I began to consider writing a purpose statement for my blog. I could tell you what the purpose of my blog was but it would not be concise.

It rolled around in my head and I have thought many times how to articulate it. bu nothing ever seemed good enough,

A lesson in every little thing

Back in December when I was living every waking second and some of the not quite awake but not quite asleep moments, praying that God will get me through that moment.

Whether it was moments of pain ( That was the majority of the moments) or laying in the ER waiting for the next procedure You can only count the tiles on the ceiling to many times. I quickly learned that God really did care about every little thing. It was a hard lesson. But by the end of December I was taking every little thing to HIM. I wasn’t fretting about the details anymore.

But How Quickly I Forget

Fast forward to now and I am just hanging out pondering all these details – trying to do all the things myself and then when God shows up I sit mouth gaping at the pastor when he answers a question he didn’t even know was asked.

I mean seriously the WHOLE month of DECEMBER I spent learning this lesson…and I just forgot the lesson.

So about that purpose!

There I was listening- taking notes and BAM

Hebrews 10:24 NLT

24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

That’s exactly what I try to achieve her and on Social media. I want people to grow in their walk with God! I want people to grow in their love and good works!

I cannot tell you the number of times I have read the book of Hebrews and never really noticed that verse.. And yet there it is.

Baby Steps

Over the next few weeks and months there will be some changes here on the blog. She will be getting a facelift. BUT what’s more important is that the bones of this blog are sturdy. And that starts with a rock solid purpose Statement. It is what will be what keeps me on track and not lose sight of what I need to be writing about!

I can have a pretty blog but at the end of the day if I have no purpose or lose sight of my purpose I will not have joy in what I am doing! And right now I am loving what I am doing!

Thank you so much for joining me on this growth journey. That is what this project is….It’s pushing me to grow beyond my comfort zone. And it’s helping me to see just what God wants me to write about.

Thank you for being patient with me as I wobble with each baby step on this journey. If you are new here and you are asking what on earth is this girl talking about? Then you can check out this blog post here and if you have missed any of the blog posts you can check them out here.

See you tomorrow for Day 32!

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Remember…..

Remember

I Remember. As I sit here typing this my mind races with many scenes from September 11 2001. 20 years ago today I was 21 years old, living off campus of the Bible College I was a junior at. I didn’t know it at that point my I had already met my future husband. We were just good friends at the time. I was sitting inner college’s student center It hadn’t yet been transformed into the cafe it would later become. I sat in an old restaurant style booth. I was the only one there minus a maintenance guy that was bustling about taking care of his morning duties. I didn’t have a class first thing is the morning . But that was all about to change. this was the place to grab snacks and drinks before chapel…..

All of a sudden the mass entered all a bustle but something was different. There was silence in such a large group of people like I had never witness before…. They made a bee line for the TV- not allowed at this hour. There were some fussing with the cords and the channels, and in not too long we were all staring at the TODAY show in disbelief. What was happening?

It’s about to get worse

When we tuned in it was just after the first place had hit the first tower and within minutes we all stood staring in silence as we watched live the second plane hit the second tower. Surely the first one could have been an accident right? But the second- it was clear it wasn’t an accident. You didn’t want to keep watching but you couldn’t stop either.

At some point we headed to the hall where chapel was held. I remember a brief announcement that classes were cancelled the rest of the day and that we were to spend the day in prayer with each other.

I remember being in a girls dorm room and I remember being with a girl whose family worked in the world trade center and I remember praying that her family members weren’t there that day. I remember we all tried and tried and tried to call our family members but the lines were busy. Never in all of my life had I witnessed the inability to get ahold of my parents.

What I don’t remember from that day

I don’t remember getting up that day- or what I wore. I don’t remember walking back home or going to bed that night. I don’t really remember much of the weeks afterwards either.

But those things didn’t matter. what matters was our friend whose family members worked in the towers didn’t go to work that day. Her alarm never went off What mattered were the people who didn’t make it and the countless emergency workers who poured their hearts and souls into their jobs and sacrificed so much.

As much as all of this impacted our lives, something else happened.

7 months later

As much as all of the pictures on the TV are etched in my brain forever, I have some other memories that are etched even deeper. In April of 2002 our school was cleared to Mae our usual trip to NYC. and hubby was going for the first time (this was my third trip) and this time we were a part of a street miming team. We spent Saturday street performing in parks and then we had dinner (a pizza place near Times Square. We then took a tour on the Staten Island Ferry where we saw the Statue of Liberty and the the Lights for where the towers once stood.

What came next has made a lasting impact n me for my entire life. It shook me to the core. We went to ground zero. The weeping and wailing. The unnatural burning smell coming from the sewers. The signs, flowers and teddy bears that lined Wall Street. People hoping and praying that their loved ones would be found.

I wish I could describe the smell….the smell was probably the most chilling. It was nothing I have ever smelled before. There is only one other smell that has left that kind of last impression on me- and that was when I traveled half way around the world and the pockets of horrid smell throughout the city. And my heart broke then like it did in that far away city.

I have carried those image, sounds and smells with me and now 20 years later- that sounds like so long ago and yet at the same time it seems like just yesterday!

We need to remember these things in life that make lasting impressions. We need to visit them often so we can remember how we got to this point in our lives. We need to remember so we don’t go back there and having history repeat itself. Remember this who have been lost. Remember those who are still struggling with the loss of that day. And remember that people are sick from their service from that day. They live with a constant reminder that they did what they were called to do.

REMEMBER

How about you? What are the memories from 9/11 that stick out the most?

Thanks so much for joining me for day 27 of Choosing Courage 100 day writing project. You can check out the rest of the posts here.

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