What If???? (Part 1)

Two or three years ago I heard Christine Caine speak at my church. She told a story of her team rescuing some young women from a sex slave ring, telling them they came in the name of Jesus, that Jesus loves them and wants them to be free. One girl’s response has haunted me. 

“Where have you been? What took you so long?!”

That’s a punch in the gut, isn’t it? It’s no secret our world is hurting. And I know I’m not alone in thinking it’s getting worse. Our sad little world needs God. I’ve found myself praying more, seeking Him more.  And I’ve determined our world needs Christians to live as true Christ followers. In fact, we’ve been needed for quite some time. Gulp. Where have we been? What has taken us so long?

I can’t control everyone -or anyone-else. But I control me! What if I lived as though my God reigns, as though I truly believed what I say I believe? What if my life pointed others to my great God? Deep breath. I don’t know if I can do this. 

  • What if I forgave quickly? Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV) “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
  • What if I stopped worrying so much? 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  Matt 6:34 NIV “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matt 6:25-27 NIV “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
  • What if I loved others, really loved others? John 13:34-35 (NKJV) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • What if I stopped judging others? Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV) “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
  • What if I spent my time and energy on “good” things? I’m thinking about the books I read and the shows I watch. Ouch! #workinprogress Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

I know you’ve heard people say it’s time to stop playing church, to start being the church. “They” are right. I don’t know if I can do it. Okay, I know I cannot do it in my own strength, but I can absolutely wake up every morning, spend time with My Father, love on my husband, go out in the world and love on coworkers, students, parents, friends, bank tellers, store clerks, fellow drivers, family, friends…. And when I mess up (and I absolutely will mess up) I can dust myself off, ask for forgiveness and strength, remind myself of the call on my life, and start again. 

My message-our message-is love. What if we all lived that love? What if????

I have at least two more posts on this, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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Now or Later?

I’d just finished running errands, and as I unloaded the car I saw it. A spider was sitting just outside our garage door. He was huge. He was scary. And I was scared. Hubby was at work, so I was alone. All. Alone. Allow a moment for the horror to sink in. I stared at him for about 30 seconds, realizing I could kill him now (Oh please, Lord! Let me kill him on the first attempt!) or worry about him all day, all night, and all week. 

Deep breath. Gulp. 

Another deep breath. 

I killed him. And after I killed him I killed him one more time. Let that be a warning to all spiders!  

We are faced with now or later choices quite frequently, aren’t we?  IWith the spider I needed to act quickly. I made the right choice despite wanting to run the other way and pretend everything was fine. And it –doing the right thing (the brave thing) quickly– felt wonderful. 

Confession time. God had been asking me to give up a sin…a pet sin. It was something that started innocently enough, but grew into a sin that separated me from my Father.  I’d ignored Him and His gentle prompting for months.  I know. I know. I think I hoped He was joking. Or maybe I hoped He would forget. Perhaps I’m strong-willed and bratty. Anyway…. Fast forward 5 weeks and I finally did kick the sin issue to the curb. It was hard. It’s still hard. But, man…it feels great to obey Him, to walk in that freedom. 

I started thinking of other now or later choices. Eating for health, exercising, making the phone call, forgiving, praying…. The now or later choices surround us, don’t they? The more I make the NOW choices, the better I feel, the healthier I am. Why, I wonder, didn’t I remember how awesome it is to obey and obey quickly?!?! Talk about freedom! 

Naturally, I’ve come to the conclusion doing ‘it” now is always the better choice. Obedience is surely the best choice for God’s girls. I’m finally realizing putting off obedience and doing the “right” thing is foolish and results in anxiety and distance from God. I know that’s a big “Duh!” for a lot of you, but it’s being driven home to me right now.

I’d love to hear your most recent now or later choices.  As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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Can I Be The One? 

It’s summer vacation, but I’ve been up to my campus a few times. I’ve attended a workshop.  I’m reading professionally. And it’s all good. School is such a big part of my life, of who I am…I don’t mind a little overlap on vacations. Naturally, my thoughts are starting to turn to August. 

One of the many things I love about my school is how we perceive our school and our jobs. We see working with children as a calling and a gift. We view each other as family and part of a team. We see our kids and their families as part of our family. And the thing I love most about my school is that we each earnestly desire to be “the one” for our kiddos. My school is special. Everyone-secretary, nurses, custodians, cafeteria workers, assistants, librarian, tutors, teachers….wants to be “the one” for our kids. “The one” is the person who goes above and beyond to reach a child, to break through whatever is going on and help the kiddo understand content or behaviors or, perhaps, himself better. It’s important. Everyone needs “the one” at some point. Many need several “ones” throughout their lives. 

So, this started me thinking about all aspects of life. You know that difficult family member? We all have one (or more), don’t we? Maybe I can be the one for him today. Maybe-just today-I can reach out in love and compassion, with zero judgment, forgetting all baggage.  Remember that rude driver? Well, I can be her one. I can let it go and say a quick prayer for her. Who knows what’s going on with her? You know that super grouchy retail employee? Perhaps I should be his one today. Perhaps I stay calm and polite, extending grace where it’s not necessarily deserved. 

How often do we not “deserve” the grace God extends to us?!?! 

Not long ago, I found this on Pinterest: 

“Don’t treat people the way they treat you. Treat people the way God treats you.” ~ Dave Willis

And I’ve been mulling it over ever since. 

God loves each of us unconditionally, without reservation or condemnation, with unlimited measures of grace, patience, forgiveness,and love. Maybe…just maybe it’s time we, as God’s girls, did the same for those in our path. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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Things I Learned at the Beach

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”

~Kate Chopin

We vacationed at one of my favorite spots this year. Destin has white sands, clear water, a salty breeze…pretty much my idea of heaven on earth. 

I am more free, more relaxed, more ME at the beach.  I also love bustling cities and the mountains, but it’s the beach that soothes my soul and reminds me God is on his throne. 

When we hit the beach,  I have zero responsibilities. I leave technology more or less behind. My focus is solely on God, His beautiful creation, my husband, and on myself.  

When I’m at home, my focus is on my students, lesson plans, grading, errands, laundry, cooking, and cleaning. It’s on what’s for dinner, we’re almost out of toilet tissue, and the car is making a funny noise. You know what I mean, because you share some of the same struggles. Life can be so daily. 

This year I decided to bring the beach home with me. Read on. 

  • At the beach, I spent all day with my husband. We swam. We sunned. We walked. We played. We talked. We snoozed. We laughed.  At home, I’m making sure we have at least one fun date a week where we -if only for a few hours- escape the daily grind and just enjoy each other. I know this is a very familiar bit of advice, but this summer drove it home for me. 
  • At the beach, I didn’t worry about my hair, makeup, cellulite, extra pounds, etc. At the beach, everyone had a relaxed “come as you are” mentality. At home, I’m easing up on myself. Stessing about every wrinkle, lump, and bump is out the door. Life is too short!
  • At the beach, I was surrounded by God’s beauty and I consciously enjoyed His creation. At home, I’m still surrounded by His beauty. No oceans. No mountains. We barely have trees here! At home, that beauty is in the form of my family, friends, and church. Beauty is the neighborhood kids running and screaming, my potted geraniums, the cool breezes our mornings and evenings bring. Beauty is my best friend’s laugh and my mom’s smile. Beauty is everywhere. I’m reminding myself to continue to enjoy His many gifts. Being cognizant of the beauty around me is just another form of gratitude. 
  • At the beach, I ate amazing food when I was hungry. At home, I’m reducing the amount of processed foods and junk. More cooking, chopping, prepping and less takeout. I’m also really trying to only eat when I’m hungry vs. when I’m stressed, tired, bored….
  • At the beach, I spent a lot of time “being still”. For me, this meant being alone in my head–thinking, praying, journaling, writing, listening. This meant staring out at the ocean, long silent stretches, and losing myself in the sounds of the sea. I was away from the noise and distractions of  life (traffic, TV, errands, to-do lists, deadlines, social media, laundry…). At home, I’m spending more time daily with nothing on. No tv, no iPod, no radio, no playing games or reading emails. So far, this has been the easiest to duplicate at home. It’s my summer break, after all. Summer Julie just gets it! The real challenge begins in early August when I’m back at work. School Julie tends to stress. Sigh. God’s girls are works in progress. 

Thanks for reading! As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

And if you are visiting Destin, Florida, yay for you!!! Hubby and I recommend the following:

  1. We’ve stayed at the Henderson Park Inn every time we’ve visited Destin. A one word description: perfection. It’s small and intimate. It’s romantic. The rooms are quite comfortable. The views are nothing short of spectacular. The breakfasts- AmAzInG. The boxed lunches, beachy toiletries, and many other amenities are so appreciated. Go! You won’t regret it. 
  2. We like to pop in to McGuire’s Irish Pub for a bite. Fun place! Be very careful going to the restrooms. I’m forever grateful to a waitress who cautioned me on my first visit. 
  3. We enjoy dining at Louisiana Lagniappe. Delicious and a great view of sailboats! 
  4. Try parasailing with Just Chute Me! Fun, fun! We sure enjoyed it! 
  5. Make sure to grab a VERY tasty lunch or dinner at Dewey’s on the harbor. Oh. My. Gosh. Super yummy!  Get the hushpuppies!!  Then check out the harbor’s sights and smells. Bonus: there is a fireworks show every Thursday evening in the summer months. 
  6. And if you get rained out or just enjoy shopping, be sure to check out Destin’s outlet mall. We explored a bit of it on our very first trip when the sun simply wasn’t cooperating. 

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