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When You Need to Make a List

August 29th, 2013

 

If your mind is like mine, it often gets “filled up” with things to do, places to go, and people to call.

 

I met a lady at a conference several years ago who told me that when her mind begins to be overloaded with thoughts,

she takes a notebook and writes down every single thing that comes into her mind.

 

From the tiniest thought to the biggest project,

she literally “dumps” her thoughts onto a piece of paper randomly and quickly until she has everything out of her head so  she can “see” it.

 

She then goes back and organizes everything into categories and groups them by priority.

 

This helps her not tackle the most important things first, and frees her mind to concentrate on what each particular day holds.

 

I need to do this tonight,

because my mind is definitely too full this morning…..

 

it’s so full that I forgot to click “publish” before moving on with my day!

 

Love you all!!

 

Hope your day is overflowing with as much joy as my mind is with things to do!

If it is, you will have a very wonderful day!

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

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Pushing the snooze button is part of my normal morning routine.

I set my alarm thirty minutes early just so I can push this button three times before getting out of bed.

I love knowing I can lay my head back down for ten minutes……

three times.

 

But the problem with the snooze button is that when I’m really tired the “ten more minutes” can happen way more than three times.

And the next thing I know,

I’ve over-slept….

Even though I’ve been halfway hearing my alarm for an hour and a half.

 

In life, we have all kinds of alarms.

Our health can warn us of things that need to change.

Our struggling relationships can do the same.

If we keep thinking, “ten more minutes” or “next week,”

time can slip away and before we know it,

we will be in panic mode.

 

Spiritually, we are warned that there will come a time when it’s too late too.

Not because God isn’t full of love,

but because God has given us more than enough opportunities to grasp how

how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.

(Ephesians 3:14-19)

 

He is patient.

He longs to have a personal relationship with each of us.

He loves us all.

 

But He is also God.

And we are not.

So putting our schedule before a relationship with Him will only last so long.

 

I may push my snooze alarm too many times some mornings and find myself “down to the wire” on my morning routine,

but I hope none of us will find ourselves down to the wire spiritually.

 

Turn to God now.

He created you to have a relationship with Him.

Ask Him to walk with  you today in your good times, your bad times, your stressful times, your fun times.

He will never force His way into your life.

 

But He is waiting patiently for you to ask Him to join you.

Don’t wait a day longer.

Don’t push the snooze button on a life shared with God.

There’s nothing more wonderful than waking up and realizing you don’t face today alone. Smile

 

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

Romans 12:1-3 (The Message)

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Today Matters

August 27th, 2013

 

It’s just another Tuesday in August.

 

The last Tuesday in August of 2013.

 

We’ll soon be clicking away at September, then October, and on and on.

 

If we’re not careful, we can slip into a routine that has us so forward-thinking that we miss the very moments around us today.

 

And today matters.

 

Today matters because there are people we will encounter who may need to hear the very words that slip from our lips in order to keep pressing on.

 

Today matters because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised.

 

Today matters because we woke up breathing and there are still things for us to do here on this planet.

 

Today matters because someone needs to know you love them and today is all you hold with any kind of certainty, and actually all of today isn’t actually guaranteed.

 

If you want to really break down life, this minute matters.

 

This very minute that you are reading this is the only minute that really counts with any depth of “for sureness” because this minute is happening now.

 

So today as one minute turns into the next minute,

make each one count.

 

Use them wisely.

Don’t waste any of them  feeling frustrated, angry, bored, confused, or depressed.

 

I’ve lost so many minutes of my life with those very emotions.

 

The devil loves and wins when we slip into patterns of self-absorbed living.

The Bible clearly tells us that he is here for three reasons only,

 

“To kill, steal, and destroy.”

 

Today, don’t let him kill your dreams, steal your joy, or destroy your faith.

 

He’ll do whatever it takes.

 

Realizing that today matters may be your very first step toward defeating him,

because all it takes for him to win today is for him to convince you that it’s just another Tuesday in August.

The last Tuesday in August.

 

When actually today is the first day of the rest of your life.

That might be an old saying, but it’s just as true today as it was the first time it was spoken.

 

I hope your day is filled with significant moments of joy, love, and happiness.

Because today really does matter.

 

Thankful for an unexpected video this morning that inspired this post.

You can watch it on my Facebook page or by following me on Twitter @ilovepennies.

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How I Start My Mornings

August 26th, 2013

 

There’s something about knowing today isn’t in my own hands.

My hands are often weak, unqualified, unequipped, and unsteady.

My hands often try to hold too many things at once,

causing the most cherished things to slip through my fingers.

I could become discouraged thinking about all the things I wish I could do better or do over,

but that would only lead me down a road I’ve walked too many times before.

The road of regret.

So, I start my mornings in the only way that gives me the strength I need to face the next challenge, the next test, the next question.

I get up early and go to Him who knows me better than I know myself,

and I simply ask for help.

I lay everything out before Him and ask Him to hold what my hands just can’t.

Many times I mess up throughout the day, and I try to pick back up the very things I know I’m not capable of handling on my own;

but somehow God gently reminds me to “let go” and trust Him.

So I do.

Again and again.

I’m thankful the Bible promises that God’s mercy is new every morning.

I need His mercy every single day of my life.

This morning try turning to Him.

Tell Him everything.

Try placing your hope in His Word.

See what happens.

I rise before dawn and cry for help;

I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 119:147

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Losing Your Grip

August 22nd, 2013

 

It’s never pretty when we lose our grip.

People or things we hold dear often end up hurt or broken as we do or say things that just aren’t normal.

photo (61)Normally, I don’t move my sugar jar.

I take my spoon to it.

But, in the early hours of this morning, I picked the whole thing up and in the process, I lost my grip.

And now I have to fix what never should have broken.

photo (60)

 

Do you have things in your life that need to be fixed?

 

Relationships?

Family routines?

Attitudes?

Perceptions?

Priorities?

 

Sometimes, losing your grip is the only way to know there’s a problem.

Because it’s in losing our grip that we come face to face with the reality that we really can’t hold things together on our own anyway.

It’s hard for me to let go of things, but I’m learning more and more every day that the act of letting go is the beginning of being set free.

Because letting go means we are allowing Someone else to hold on more tightly than we ever could.

 

Isn’t it funny how we cling to things as if we have any kind of power anyway?

As if our grip means anything more than selfish pride.

 

My sugar lid will forever show the scars of my inability to hold on tightly.

 

But I hope it is a daily morning reminder of just how little I can really hold onto anything in this life.

 

I’m thankful to know that He who made me never loses His grip.

He never loses His grip on any of us.

Nothing can snatch us from His hands.

 

Colossians 1:17

He is before all things,

and in him all things hold together.

John 10:29

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all;

no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

I hope you will feel His grip on your life today even if you feel like you are losing yours.

He’s holding you.

Maybe that’s what Jesus’ scars are all about……

God let go of His Son just long enough to save us.

 

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Sometimes just taking a minute to read some of God’s promises can change everything about your day.

 

Psalms 37:5

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

Psalms 55:22

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;

he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

Jeremiah 17:7,8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water,

that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes,

for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought,

for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

 

 

 

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Philippians 4:6,7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I love you all so much!

Have a happy Wednesday!

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For years the melting of snow followed by the sounds of early-morning birds chirping and blossoms on flowers

sent me spiraling into deep sadness.

The transformation in nature from winter to spring flooded my heart with memories of Adrienne’s short little life. 

She was born as winter ended and she was gone before spring could even end.

Everything about her life was wrapped in blossoms and promises of a fun summer.

 

For a long time I struggled to find anything about spring that I liked,

but I remember the year vividly when I seemed to notice all the blossoms as bright and beautiful again.

It was like a layer of haze had been removed from my sight and suddenly I could see spring’s beauty again.

Kind-of like the moment in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when the evil Queen had been destroyed and winter ended in Narnia.

I would drive down the same streets I had driven year after year and see bushes and trees in yellows and pinks that seemed to take my breath away.

God restored my springtime heart.

 

Now, I’m dealing with similar struggles as summer changes to autumn.

Everything about cooler weather, leaves beginning to slip from the trees, hints of Halloween in stores.

All these things stir memories of Nick’s last fall.

And my heart feels faint.

 

Hard memories are fresher this time of year,

and maybe that’s why grief can ambush me so much more easily right now.

Like the other day at school when a little boy’s one tiny question swept over me like a tsunami.

 

I just happened to be walking by a class lined up in the hall when I heard a student ask his teacher,

“Was that a compliment?”

This particular teacher gives points to her class if they are praised by other people in the hall or in the classroom for good behavior,

and someone must have said something nice about how quiet they were being.

As I heard his question, I turned to look at his little face and everything about him reminded me of Nick.

His voice, his eyes, his desire to please his teacher.

It took me by such surprise and was more than I could bear at that moment.

I slipped back to my office, shut the door, and for the first time in a long time,

I cried deeply.

 

Honestly, I had reached a place where tears for Nick seemed to be gone.

Not that I don’t miss him every single day, but I just hadn’t cried in so long about his absence from our daily life.

And then it hit me.

 

Fall is coming and with fall seems to come layers and layers of memories

Many of these memories are precious ones,

because my boys loved Halloween.

Going to Mamaw’s to shop for costumes was an annual tradition.

All four of them trying on masks in the aisles of Cox’s, a store in Mamaw’s town, is a snapshot in my heart I’ll hold onto forever.

Carving pumpkins, jumping in leaves, taking walks with boys on their bikes speeding ahead of me with me hollering,

“Wait at the corner!  Watch for cars!”

 

I love my fall memories as a mom of four little boys.

 

So, even as I type this my throat swells up and my eyes rim with tears,

because I am thankful and sad all rolled into one.

 

And for the first time in a long time,

I realize that this particular time of year has become for me what the ending of winter use to be.

Maybe just acknowledging it will help me walk through it with a smile even as I wipe big tears from my cheeks.

 

I’m not surprised that Nick’s life would end in fall.

 

Foot ball season.

Crunchy leaves.

Fun holidays.

Thanksgiving in everyone’s heart.

Christmas nearing.

This was Nick’s favorite season.

 

If I could write my life story, I wouldn’t have included many of the chapters I have lived.

But, I’m thankful that the Author of my life somehow continues to pull me through the painful chapters and the constantly changing seasons by reminding me of just how special each of them are.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the hard chapters.

 

I wouldn’t love as deeply.

I wouldn’t care as passionately.

I wouldn’t understand what having a living Hope really means.

 

So, today, I’m thankful for hints of autumn even though they stir parts of my heart that bring tears.

And as I typed these words this morning, a Scripture came in a text from a friend who had no idea I was typing.

This was the verse Pam sent this morning,

“We will be His people, and God

Himself will be with us and be our

God. 

He will wipe every tear from our

eyes. 

There will be no more death or

mourning or crying or pain.”

Revelation 21:3-4

With that kind of promise coming from God this morning,

I know I’m going to be okay.

He’s walking this journey with me even when it’s hard.

He makes it clear every day either through things I see, things I hear, or even texts I receive that He is with me.

He longs to have this kind of intimate, personal relationship with each of us.

I hope today you will feel His presence with you in a very special way no matter what kind of day you are having.

He is there.

 

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Do you ever feel stuck?

Like a drawer crammed too full of junk,

it’s easy to feel as if much of your potential is in hiding.

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I can remember dumping my mom’s junk drawer out from time to time as a young girl and organizing the rubber bands, paper clips, and other odds and ends jumbled in the midst of ink pens, markers, and keys.

I loved how the drawer looked when I was finished.

I loved the order.

I loved how everything seemed to make sense.

 

This weekend, I’ve wandered through the house and done some junk-drawer cleaning of my own.

I seem to have more of these kinds of drawers than my mom ever did!

 

I’ve thrown a lot of things away.

I’ve moved things from one place to another so that things like pencils can all be found in one location.

I still have hours of organizing ahead of me,

but I realized this weekend that you’ve got to start somewhere when it comes to getting organized.

 

So, one drawer at a time, one room at a time,

I’m opening drawers and dumping them out so I can see what kind of mess I’m dealing with next.

 

Life has to be dumped out sometimes too.

Over-commitment, too many responsibilities……..

all those things we say “yes” to can somehow force us into a place of feeling stuck.

 

I don’t like feeling stuck.

I don’t think God likes when we feel that way either.

He doesn’t want us running ourselves ragged even in His name or filling our schedules so full that we don’t have time to breathe.

 

There’s something very empowering about writing down everything that is on your mind and then sorting it out.

 

Phone calls that need to be made.

People or doctors who need to be called.

Errands that need to be taken care of.

And on and on.

 

Once you see your life written on paper, it’s easier to decide what to do next.

The feeling of being “stuck” or “running in circles” can be transformed into a sense of purpose and direction.

 

If your life feels like a junk drawer lately,

I challenge you to dump it all out and take a good look at every little “paper clip” dancing around in your mind.

You may discover that some things need to be tossed out and forgotten.

You may find a treasure you had forgotten was even there.

You may realize that what you thought was “so important” isn’t even a big concern.

 

Life can be stressful enough when we feel organized.

 

As I dive into another Monday, I’m taking a little time to jot down all the things dancing in my head and then I’m going to

decide what needs to be done,

what needs to be dumped,

and what needs to be treasured.

 

Life is too short to live as a junk drawer crammed full of things I’ll never get a chance to appreciate.

 

And life is definitely too short to miss the One that matters most.

 

Simplify what you can today.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

 

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For the most part, I’m not an easily-angered person.

I don’t have episodes of road rage.

Slamming doors and screaming at a people isn’t part of my daily life.

I don’t keep a list of people who I refuse to talk to because of past events involving them.

 

However, there are a few things that can catapult me into such fits of rage that I sometimes don’t know what to do with myself.

Seeing a child mistreated or talked to in a vicious way while I’m in a store can upset me for days.

Seeing a woman beaten down by a controlling man can consume me for a long time too.

Finding out that a child is being bullied at school infuriates me.

 

But the one thing that can throw me off the charts is seeing my own children hurt by others.

 

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

 

I receive texts and inbox messages from friends asking me to pray for their kids who are going through hard times at school or with friends.

I see Facebook statuses in which upset moms vent a bit about the injustices of this world with regards to their children.

I receive phone calls from friends who are beside themselves in anguish about what their child is dealing with in their relationships with others.

 

 

When fatigue, disappointment, and hurt feelings turn into tears at our house it takes me a while to move on with life.

I’m almost paralyzed by the frustration of not being able to “fix” things for my kids.

I find myself moving from room to room straightening “things” because I can’t straighten life.

 

I’m thankful for new mornings and new starts.

 

I’m praying today is a good day.

If you’ve felt righteous anger lately, know you are not alone.

 

Life is tough.

 

Being a mom is tough.

 

I’m so thankful for a God who is always there to hear our praises and our complaints.

 

I’m glad He can handle our righteous anger.

 

He is patient, and I am thankful.

 

I Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because

he cares for you.

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You Can Do It!

August 14th, 2013

 

It’s amazing how defeated we can feel in this world if we keep our eyes on an earthly horizon.

 

Job expectations.

Relationships with friends.

Family dynamics.

 

No matter where we turn, we can let someone down and find ourselves coming up short over and over again.

 

There’s good news, though, if we remember to look to God for our affirmation before we look to anything or anyone in this world.

 

The One who made us in His image says He loves us with an everlasting love.

 

He tells us not to be discouraged.

 

He strengthens us when we are feeling weak.

 

If you feel discouraged today, take heart!

God knew you might, so He left His Word to brighten your day.

 

No matter what your day holds,

remember God holds you!

You can do it!

 

 encouragemetn from God