Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tangible Gifts of Encouragment

A little encouragement goes a long way, don't you agree? 

I'm over at God-sized Dreams today with some great gift items to encourage the dreamer in your life. Even if they aren't a dreamer they may love them! ;)

***


This month we are focusing on how we can give the gift of encouragement to our fellow dreamers.

As a dreamer myself, it always means so much when someone gives me a gift that acknowledges that part of who I am. Today I'd like to share some gift ideas with you for the dreamers in your life. (Or yourself!) :)

Let's begin with our ever-so-comfy t-shirts. I have several different ones and can attest to the quality and comfort of each one. The slouchy sweatshirt is so soft I could sleep in it. The long sleeved tee is loose around the middle (which I love!) and long enough to cover my, um...my rear. And all the skinny jeans wearers rejoice! Did you know we have a storefront at TeeSpring?

We've designed slouchy sweatshirts, long-and-short sleeved v-neck and athletic shirts, and a coffee cup design. All of those are available in a variety of styles and colors (if you click on an individual item it will let you see the other available styles, colors, and sizes) and most are less than $25.


Join me?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The seven mile journey

This past weekend my husband and I slipped away to a cabin in the woods to celebrate seventeen years of marriage.

We got in on Friday afternoon and relaxed by the lake and planned our next day. We decided to take a hike on one of the many trails nearby and maybe do some sight seeing afterwards.

After deciding on the 6.9 mile hike advertised as being the most popular and scenic, we headed out to dinner. The next morning with excitement, waters and fruit we set out to tackle the trail.

My phone was ready to take pictures of mountain top views and waterfalls until we realized scenic should not have been used to describe this MOSTLY UPHILL TRAIL. Five and half miles of uphill walking, stumbling over rocks and tree roots, water depleted at around mile three, we were desperate to get out of there.

But the only way out was forward.

Because of the terrain you couldn't look around, you had to keep your eyes on the path in front of you or you could risk slipping and falling or worse rolling down a ravine.

Isn't that so much like the journey of life? Eyes focused only on what is in front of us.

Since I had nearly three hours...felt like eternity...to be alone with the thoughts in my head I was able to do a lot of thinking. And I thought about how this hike and life are very similar. I like analogies and if there is a better analogy of life, marriage, and hiking in the mountains,  I can't think of one.

Life's struggles can keep us so focused on the battle at hand we forget to pause, breathe, and enjoy the view. There's beauty to found all around us if we take a moment to notice.

Oh, how the enemy wants to keep us distracted and discouraged. 

One thought played a loop in my head,  one foot in front of the other, keep going, just. keep. going.

We didn't expect the trail to be this hard, in fact we thought we were prepared.

Such is life. 




I'm not sure I can take one more step, I thought as we finally realized we were in the home stretch. The urge to lay down and give up was STRONG.

In life we go through hard times and we think, I can't do this, it's too hard...too much! We feel so overwhelmed that one foot in front of the other is the only way we know to survive.

We can't see the future or the beauty that may be around us, for the trial of getting out of the woods...alive...is our only focus.


The last mile was nothing but a sweaty blur. But I did notice one glaring difference in Trey and myself when faced with diversity. He full-steams ahead and blocks out the pain.He just wanted to get the heck out of there and be done with it. (I think I could literally see smoke coming from the his feet (also could have been the dust he was leaving me in, ha!)).

While I on the other hand, slowly and deliberately (mostly because I'm more out of shape than he is) took it one step at a time.We both had the same desperate goal, two different approaches.

When I stepped into the clear with the parking lot in sight,  I knew it was not through my strength to which I made it out alive(Philippians 4:13).  On my own, I would have laid down and died (seriously) or at the very least been dragged out by Trey. The thought of dropping a pin on my location did cross my mind to send to the park ranger in hopes of a rescue chopper. I know, I can be dramatic!

(The song by Rodney Atkins also played through my head several times, If You're Going Through Hell. And I honestly can't think of a more appropriate song for that hike(and the trials of life)).
***
What do I know for sure?

You gotta keep going forward.

When every muscle in your body is screaming to quit.

When your mind tells you, it's okay, just sit down and give up.

Each step forward is leading you out of the wilderness. 






























I guess what I'm trying to say and the point of it all, is that when life puts you in survival mode and the only thing you can do is put your head down and take it day by day, keep trusting, keep the faith that God sees you in the wilderness and is leading you out. (Or maybe is sending a rescue chopper!)


Through every hill, trip, and near falls you will only get stronger...PROMISE.


P.S. We got back to the cabin, showered, and went to an early dinner and came home and fell asleep on the couch by 8 pm. We may be old, but we finished that hike and slept like babies that night! All was well.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

My time in the outer courts

The last couple of years I've been tired. I could name numerous reasons, but when we moved back to Auburn three years ago, I knew I needed rest.

When we finally found a church home I asked God to just let me rest. I had no desire to jump in to serve I just wanted to attend, listen, and worship. He let me. I never felt pressured or guilted for needing rest. I was in a season of listening.

And listening prepared me for the storm that was brewing.

Now more than ever I am aware of the very real enemy who is constantly circling us, waiting and watching for his moment to pounce.

I realize now I moved from the gates out into the outer courts and though I needed to take a step back from writing and doing, the enemy saw me as being complacent and lazy. He was wrong. I was just resting up for battle.

The last few years since being back in Auburn have been some of the toughest. But...there's always a But. But, God has brought some of the fiercest prayer warriors into my life. Women who storm the gates of heaven and call on God in some of the mightiest and most powerful ways I have ever experienced.

I was able to spend a couple of days with a few of them at the lake a couple of weekends ago in the form of a spiritual retreat called, Out of the Wilderness.

For me my life lately has felt a lot like being an Israelite. Round and round I've gone with myself, others, and God. Doubting, trusting, believing...doubting, trusting, believing...over and over.

When I pulled out of the dirt and gravel drive of that lake house I felt like God has spoken to me the way He did the Israelites when they were walking in circles in the hill country. In Deuteronomy 2:3, He tells them it's time to move forward, you've circled long enough. He too told me, It was time.

The outer courts is fine for a season...a very short season...but in our day and age, we can't afford to stay there long. The battle rages regardless if we choose to stay and engage or not.

I'm ready to run through the gates. I'm ready to serve. I'm ready to take my place on the battle lines, geared up and rested. The battle is fierce and it's not time to be lukewarm, complacent, or a culturally comfortable christian. We are called. And one that is called does not sit.

 

p.s. Do you know how to get rid of HelloBar at the top of my site page? I've tried EVERYTHING.

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