Having Eyes That See (Life Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The One Thing You Should Commit to in 2018

There is something that you should commit to in 2018...

Diet?
Exercise?
Spiritual Growth?
Financial Freedom?
Travel?

Yes
Probably
Nah

These are all great

however

I believe that the one thing
you should commit to in 2018 is...

GRATITUDE

gratitude
noun grat·i·tude \ ˈgra-tə-ˌtüd , -ˌtyüd \
the state of being grateful : thankfulness

What does gratitude look like for you?
One Hundred Days of Grace

Friday, December 29, 2017

What is a Testimony Journal?

A few days ago I released
the first lesson from my testimony journal, but

"What is a Testimony Journal?"

A testimony journal is a place to... 

document
record
write
recall

the miracles in your life

Have you ever been...

saved?
rescued?
healed?
fed?
delivered?

Are you currently...

in a situation?
facing a dilemma?
fighting depression?
experiencing hardship?

Begin documenting your testimony journal!

1. click the link
2. download and print the pdf (or grab a notepad)
3. read the lesson
4. answer the self-reflection questions (to get you started)

click here to start at the beginning...

--------------------------------------------------
"Having Eyes That See"
Life Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God
click here to read my first lesson
"You Are My Child"

Why a Testimony Journal?












you worried
you prayed
God answered

and you forgot

UNTIL...

the next time

you worried
you prayed
God answered

and you remembered...

that He is always faithful

so you wondered...

why you must 
first worry

Here's how it all began
   click to read the first lesson 
   from my testimony journal

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hurting During the Holidays

While you are enjoying the Holiday Season

please remember that this time of year
often brings stress and pain to others

and while I am not a licensed mental health expert

I wholeheartedly believe in living
a life full of gratitude and grace


If you or someone you know is hurting...

1. Acknowledge the pain (Job 14:1)
don't minimize or ignore your source of pain
(pretending will not produce healing)

2. Talk to someone (Proverbs 17:17)
Speak up. Tell a trusted friend, loved one,
or mental health professional if you are hurting

Please do not "suffer in silence"

3. Talk to the Lord (1 Peter 5:7)
Allowing time to pray, read, and meditate
is crucial because this is also a Spiritual fight

4. Do something for someone else (Acts 20:35)
Volunteer time, energy, or resources to help someone else

5. Give yourself the gift of time (Psalm 30:5)
Emotions come and go like waves.  Even the highest waves eventually recede.

Monday, December 25, 2017

God's Gift to Man

The boxes have all been opened

wrapping paper torn
and thrown to the side

leaving behind

a

dark
empty
tree

to remind us

that God's gift to man
wasn't under a tree...

it was on one

______________________________
"Having Eyes That See"
Life Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God
click here to read the first lesson
"You Are My Child"

Monday, December 11, 2017

How To Get What You Really Want For Christmas

We all want the same thing

all
humans
everywhere

want

the same thing

(Maslow summed it up)

supply
shelter
space
safety
specialness

same needs
different names

because...

it's really not just about the "stuff"
it's really just about "the stuff"


you know?

the stuff inside...

love
respect
joy
inner peace
meaningfulness
purpose

and that being said

the real way
the best way
the only way

to get the thing you really

want
crave
desire

is to learn to first...

give it

Friday, December 8, 2017

Let Thanks Giving Linger



Well...

the meal has been digested
the tree brought down
the lights put up

crisp leaves
cool air

boots
scarves
sweaters

first frosts
warm fires

all proof

that Christmas is approaching

But Thanksgiving is not over

(we simply cannot afford to let thanks giving end)

not now
not ever

so

throughout
this Holiday Season

and

into
the New Year

let's all hold on to the only thing that really matters...

gratitude
grace
graciousness

(as we give daily thanks)

while reminding

everyone around us
to also

let
thanks giving
linger

Monday, December 4, 2017

Fake Tree... Real Joy

"Please pull the tree down before you leave for work"

I asked

and

his response made me cringe
his word choice made me cringe

(it's funny how a word can do that)

elicit...

a reaction
an emotion
an actual feeling

in the gut

because some words are intended to do just that...

question
reach within
touch

December 10, 2016

And sometimes when left unchecked
we effectively manage to mass-produce

artificial

moments
days
lives

filled with...

manufactured

interactions
responses
praise

until

a word
His word
the Word

elicits a response that literally makes us cringe

finally stop
take note

and realize

that just because you look at my tree and see "fake"
the fact of the matter remains that...

there is absolutely nothing artificial about this joy


December 4, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Exploring Art and Culture (Native American Heritage)

This series...

Exploring Art and Culture

is proving to be an amazing
opportunity to

learn about
celebrate
share

our similarities
our differences
our cultures

with one another

Native American Heritage Month
"Certain things catch your eye, but
pursue only those that capture the heart"

-Native Proverb

The gathering drum to summons the tribe
"Throw me to the wolves and
I will return leading the pack"
-Native Proverb

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

You rang the doorbell

then stood and waited

while

holding a pie your mother had baked
Thanksgiving 1998

I introduced you and...
you stayed

Thanksgiving 2017
holding a pie your mother had baked

while

walking into their house
together

our children following

grateful that although we started as strangers
we are now family

here
together
celebrating

another
Thanksgiving

with our...

familiar
familial
familia

Thanksgiving 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Not Flowers... He Brings Me Leaves

I wrote "Crunching Leaves" on November 15, 2013

The following morning this happened...

November 16, 2013

One single red leaf

arrived
hanging on

to the front of her car as she pulled into my driveway

and parked

and as
the tears started

forming
falling
flowing

(one at a time, at first, then in streams)

I had to give thanks
for how God

tells me
reminds me
shows me

every time
He brings leaves

(originally posted 11/16/13 at 8:26pm)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Crunching Leaves (My Thanksgiving Repost)

We held hands
shared apple pie
and crunched leaves in the hospital courtyard

I believe that it was his way of letting me know it was ok

to...

keep moving
keep living
keep enjoying the moments of life

even though we had to leave her there... again

Doctors were giving up
but 35 years later, and yet she lives



She lives
I live
we live...

all because He lives

This time of year always reminds me
(that just like those leaves)

we are still here for

a reason...
a season...

And as they start 

turning beautiful colors
falling off of trees
and blowing in the wind

they float to a soft landing where they wait for

that final crunch
that final "surrender"
that final "thank you"

Life is like that...

we grow
we mature
we change

and just as we are starting to get the hang of it
it is time for us to let go and sail away with the wind

That's what life and crunching leaves is all about...

understanding and acknowledging

the surrender
the process of dying out to bad habits and old ideas
the letting go of one's self and becoming selfless...

in preparation for that final crunch

We are always reminded of that during this time of year

And as life keeps changing

leaves keep

turning
falling
blowing

I am reminded that I am still here for a reason, a season

and so as they surrender,
so do I

because

I am grateful for...

another day
another chance
another opportunity to

hold hands
share apple pie
and crunch leaves

I'm So Thankful

(originally posted 11/15/13)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Day 31... Grace Still Happens


And finally
on

the 7th day
the last day
the final day

God "created" rest

not because
He needed it

but because
we do

(return to Day 1)
------------------------------
"God Created Rest"
(originally posted 10/11/15)

He spells it out for us...

create
speak
plant
shine
bless
breathe
rest

and after six days of creating awesomeness
he chose rest

we spend our days chasing

greatness
relevancy
brilliance

(amongst mediocrity)

and are

too busy
too weary
too afraid

to find rest 

But man was created on the sixth day


and I'd like to think that God took rest on the seventh
(not because He was tired)

but

as an example
to spend time with
to enjoy

His creation as

He spells it out for us...

because

at the end of the week God created man, and rest, and
at the end of Jesus is "us" and our rest is found in Him

Monday, October 30, 2017

Day 30... Grace Still Happens


shine me
refine me
define me

don't deny me

as you make me whole

right
new

and true

forever faithfully yours
forever grateful too 
------------------------------
"The Refiner's Fire"
(originally posted 6/10/14)

We boarded the bus for our mini road trip

and before we departed

our docent

prayed
quoted Scripture
and read to us

this morning devotional...
Refiner's Fire
The silversmith holds the silver over the hottest part of the fire,
but he must sit and hold it, watching it carefully the entire time
If he leaves it in too long, it's ruined
If he doesn't leave it in long enough, it's worthless
And when asked how he knows when the silver is ready to be removed,
he simply replies...

I know it's ready when I can look at it and see my reflection

Can God see Himself in you?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Day 29... Grace Still Happens

Pay attention... 

to both
who you follow

and to
who follows you
------------------------
"First Follow Me"
(originally posted 10/4/15)

Dear People of the World,

I know that you are hurting

I see you
I hear you
I feel you

and I want to help

but...

what I offer
you will not receive

what I've provided
you've rejected

So what more can I do?

I know that you are hurting
because

your lives
your media
your actions

are screaming...

look at me
hear me
acknowledge me

and I do

but in order for the pain

to actually stop
you must stop

and first

follow
Me

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Day 28... Grace Still Happens


make an effort to
connect with someone
in person today
----------------------
"Just Go Outside"
(originally posted 7/6/15)

Some days we only had...

one bicycle
a pair of skates and
a JC Penny catalog

but we figured out how to make it work

because it was summertime
we were together
and there was no such thing as being "bored"

With one bicycle we could...

take turns

giving each other rides on the handlebars
pulling the other one wearing the pair of skates

or

chasing stray cats back down the alley


With a pair of skates we could...

share them

each wearing one while sporting a tennis shoe on the other foot to

run
run
run

glide

Or we could always...

play jacks
jump rope
hopscotch
eat Captain Crunch
read magazines
act out scenes from our favorite movies
make up our own
chase down the ice cream truck
run through the sprinklers
wash the car
sing
dance
do cheers
make up drill team routines
look through each other's yearbook
talk about boys

and people watch

Then after all of that...

when we got

hot
hungry
tired

we could retreat

into my grandmother's house to eat fresh meatloaf sandwiches
into her mother's kitchen for bowls of chicken rice-a-roni
then back to my grandmother's for vanilla ice cream and butter cookies

Until finally...

plopping down into her father's rocking chair
opening her mother's JC Penny catalog across our laps
and playing "I got that"

But kids today don't know nothing about that

they'd rather

tweet
text
talk to "friends" on social media

instead of connecting with people who are actually in the same

neighborhood
house
room

with them

They'd rather

lay around
look around
complain of boredom

when all they need to do is get up and...

just go outside!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Day 27... Grace Still Happens (Perfect Together)

She

made biscuits from scratch

sifted the flour
cut in the shortening
hand kneaded the dough

let rest
and baked

until they were perfect

pulled out to cool before

real butter
grape jelly

made them perfect

they were perfect
she was perfect
we were perfect

together

And I wonder if she knew...

because the year she left us
was the same year I met

him

(almost as if she made room for him)

to sit at the table
sharing biscuits

made perfect

and I am overcome with emotion
as I have been blessed once again

because...

this feels perfect
they are perfect
we are perfect

together

Country Gravy or Jelly?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Day 26... Grace Still Happens


resist
or
embrace

change

for those are
the only two options you really have

today
-----------------------------
"The Same Black Dress"
(original posted on 04/05/13)

Early this week I shared with one of my coworkers how the "Dress For Change" consumerism project had captured my attention.  When I told her that I would be wearing the same dress every day she suggested that I refrain from telling the other ladies, and wait to see how many days it took anyone else to notice. 

Today marked the end of the work week, and I have worn

the same "little black dress" to work
everyday this week
and no one noticed


I know this because today when I asked them, they were clueless, and when I pulled out my camera to show them pictures from the week, they were shocked.

Even the coworker who knew about the dress said that she would have never noticed because of the way that I changed it up each day

It made me stop and think and...

I had to shake my head in disbelief at the erroneous number of times
I have complained of "nothing to wear"

Nothing
to wear

When the truth is
that I have "too much to wear"

So many options
Too many options

But I love how living a life of gratitude and grace

brings lessons

quiet
subtle

lessons

that promote

insight
new perspective
growth
maturity

and this "Dress For Change" has shown me that...
"nothing to wear" simply doesn't exist for us

and I should never
even think

of muttering those words
ever again!

(click the black dress photo on the home page to follow this journey)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Day 25... Grace Still Happens


some times
just
because
---------------------------
"Code Blue"
(originally posted 3/26/16)

We spent seven days in the hospital...

worrying
watching
wondering

(while waiting for test results)

to tell us what was wrong


and by Day Three

my resolve was to begin to just thank Him for what was right

heart... good
kidneys... good
liver... good


and then her smile returned
and it was all... good

and on Day Six

we heard them call a "code blue" on the roommate

so we prayed
and she returned

and I marvel at how He died
and rose

giving us hope that since

"...He abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel"

we will also live forever in Him!

So when...

the final "code blue" is called
and it is my turn to go

please don't cry

worry
watch


or wonder

but just know that because of Him...

I'm alive!

(2 Timothy 1:9-10)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Day 24... Grace Still Happens


Sometimes the hardest thing to revise...
is your thought about something
--------------------------
"Our Home Remodel"
(originally posted 12/12/14)

This past summer we came home to find our house flooded
and what has since unfolded has been one of the most

amazingly scary
shockingly revealing

experiences of my life
(to date)

I have...

talked to God in new ways
heard Him speak in new ways and
seen Him do things I hadn't even dreamed of

and when it was all said and done

I witnessed Him turn our MESS into a MESSAGE!

(thank you Chanea for reminding me again)


And I've always believed, but now I know for sure that...

God really did make a man from dust

because I have seen Him take

our dust
our rubbish
our tragedy

and turn it into something beautiful

Monday, October 23, 2017

Day 23... Grace Still Happens


work 
play
live

life fully

Spirit showing
skin glowin'
hair blowin' 

in the wind

without a care
-----------------------------
"The Blessing of a Skinned Knee"
(originally posted 9/5/12)

I found this book at a used bookstore and was immediately captured by the title

"The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" 

Isn't that an oxymoron?

I flipped the book over and read the back cover

It sounded...

intriguing
provocative
useful

for me in my career as an Early Childhood Professional
so I brought the book home and have been

reading it and
re-reading it

for over a year now

it is my "go to" book
when I need to remind myself of the importance of letting children be children
 
it is my "go to" book
when I need to look up the Jewish blessings
so simply outlined for someone of a non-Jewish background to understand and

it was my "go to" book
once again today...



Yesterday was my first day leaving my house for work in over 8 years!

As I prepared to leave my house, I told the angels who are assigned to guard me,
"Okay, it's time to go." 

My neighbor (who is also a Pastor) saw me leaving, and said "C'mon let's have a word of prayer.  Winston told me that you start your new job today, and we're asking for God's blessing."

He prayed and sent me on my way...

During orientation the lady sitting next to me (also a new hire) looked at me and said
"God is so good.  Can I just tell you how amazing He is?" 

She began to pour out her heart explaining how she had acquired her new job, giving me chill bumps, and leaving me speechless!

I was

introduced to coworkers
met many new people
and even saw a few familiar faces

Finally finished the day and headed to orientation at my children's school, still floating from the day's events until I suddenly realized that I was on the ground.  I rolled and ended up on my back looking up into the sky and the HUGE tree overhead and to my surprise...

A SMILE came across my face and I found the words
"Thank you Jesus" spilling from the corners of my lips. 

Apparently the tree had tripped me because I saw the roots that had pushed the sidewalk up leaving it unleveled.  I felt the burn on my elbow and my knee mourning the location where skin had just been... and I got it!

The blessing of a skinned knee! 

Yes, it is easier to stay in the house for 8 years because you are far less likely to fall on the sidewalk... but you will never get to look up at the sky and the trees and see God in all of His Glory!

Baruch Atah "blessed are you"

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Day 22... Grace Still Happens


Let the light within
shine without
------------------------------------- 
"He Became"
(originally posted 10/20/15)

He (became) what we needed

an eternal Father
became
an only begotten Son

not another
but the same wrapped in flesh

for there is only One God

We needed to be renewed as sons
so He (became) a Son

We needed peace
so He (became) the Prince of Peace

We were in darkness
so He brought us light

and everyday
He (becomes) what we need

(while having always been that)
as He takes our

temporary pain and suffering
and juxtaposes it against His

Eternal weight of glory

allowing us to

look upon Him
look to Him
look for Him

with gratitude

while waiting for Him

to translate our temporary moment
into His eternal one

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Day 21... Grace Still Happens


While you are traveling along life's busy way
please also remember to

take time

to 

give thought
give thanks
give praise

for the journey
--------------------------------
"Giving Thanks for the Path"
(originally posted 09/02/16)

I had five minutes on a Friday...

(but I only needed one)

to thank God for

His love
His peace
His power

and the daily grace

He gives...

as I travel along this path

Friday, October 20, 2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Day 19... Grace Still Happens

His

big
brave
boldness

gives me permission
to be the same

(while also acknowledging)

I don't have to be
-----------------------------
"When Life Hurts"
(originally posted 12/18/12)

I don't usually read the morning paper, but today's front page headlines caught my attention
 
It read: "Burials begin in Connecticut"

I looked down at a picture of a hearse carrying the body of a 6-year old child and my heart sank  I blinked hard to stop the tears that I felt tears forming in the corners of my eyes

I couldn't cry there.

I turned the paper over as if not seeing it would make it less real,
and was shocked by what was printed directly on the back side of the tragedy

Bold, brightly colored advertisements for

toys on sale
Christmas gift suggestions
pictures of more stuff to buy

(as if what we really need right now is more stuff)

The message rang out loud and clear that sometimes life is...

contradictory
confusing
cruel

Sometimes life hurts

In fact, just yesterday I was thinking about the 5 year-old girl in this picture

remembering the...
 
fear
uncertainty
unspoken pain

she felt as her mother lay sick in the hospital... on this picture day

It's like a tragic headline with colorful ads on the back

"Smile for the camera, sweetie"

But who wants to smile when life hurts?

She eventually managed this forced little smile to disguise the fact
that she had already learned that even children are sometimes left feeling...

helpless
sad and
alone

I understand it all better now

and wish that I could sit down with her

pull her up onto my lap
hold her close
and just let her cry...

I would apologize for not giving her the opportunity to grieve that experience;
for minimizing her pain and lying to her that she was alright. 

I would apologize for teaching her to wear a mask,
and making her pretend to be brave when she was only a child.

If I had it to do all over I would let her cry

and after her tears subsided I would pull her in really tight and quietly whisper

Now let me tell you who to call the next time...

when life hurts

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Day 18...Grace Still Happens


share love
share life
share liberty

and don't deny anyone their share
------------------------------------
"Edit View Share Delete"
(originally posted 3/12/16)

It was an early Saturday morning...

and the options were laid out before me

edit
view
share
delete

edit
view
share
delete

and I stopped to remember a conversation
that I had recently had with the children about

how to edit
what you view
when to share

and

what to delete

Because we are all...

choosing
deciding
learning
growing

each day with
each experience

what to...

edit
view
share
delete

and we don't always get it right

But for grace...


and how God

viewed my situation
shared His Son, so He could
delete my sins, and
edit my life

and now I am

humbled
grateful
prayerful

to be the one who

He can continue to...

share 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Day 17... Grace Still Happens


Today's choice is a lesson
Today's lesson is a choice

for you can either

look down
fall down
stay down

or...

get up
listen up
grow up
--------------------------------------
"Home is With You"
(originally posted 10/5/15)

We loaded onto a bus
the bus loaded onto a ferry

and took us across to the other side

where we spent the day together

eating
experiencing
exploring

things that none of us had ever seen before

we were in an entirely new place

and when we returned to the hotel one of the children plopped down on the bed and said
"it feels so good to be home"

Only thing is...
we weren't

we were in a hotel
in another country
1275 miles from

our house
our home

But...
the more we grow together
the more we fall in love
the older we watch them become

the clearer it becomes that

home is wherever I am...

with you

Monday, October 16, 2017

Day 16... Grace Still Happens


there is often more than one way to read this...
---------------------------------------
"Upside Down Faith"
(originally posted 3/18/16)

The nurse came to draw blood as she lay in the hospital ER and

I couldn't help but notice
a tattoo on his right forearm that read...

DEATH
(upside down)

Why sir, would a nurse have a tattoo that says death?

and then...

an hour later when he came back

I looked again
trying to make sense of it all

and it appeared that the tattoo actually read...

FAITH
(upside down)

and I blinked...
hard...
again...

because we had been there all night
so I wasn't exactly sure what I was really seeing

and by the next morning...

we were transferred so I didn't see him again to ask

why...
or how...

he managed to have a tattoo that read

death or faith
(or whatever it said)

but I thank God...

that even when our experience

is confusing
and scary
and uncertain

we are certain

that Jesus has conquered death
(literally turning it upside down)

so that no matter what we have had to face

yesterday
today
tomorrow

it all still just reads...

FAITH

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Day 15... Grace Still Happens


years of experience

led to her mastery of illusion
so that she can now

remain hidden
while remaining

in plain sight
----------------------------------------------
"Hide Me"
(originally posted 7/20/13)

Watching my son and his younger cousin play "hide and seek" this morning was hilarious
(click here for a snippet of "Hide Me")

The younger...
(who has yet to understand the concept of the game)

could not stay put long enough to conceal his hiding place

while the elder...
(played along, pretending to be surprised, upon "finding" the restless younger)

I could hear them roaming throughout the house, and when they found their way into my room

I tried to help...
wanted to help...

the younger learn how to find and keep his position a secret from the seeker

But I realized a lesson like that only comes with

time
patient practice
experience

And that it is two lessons really...

Learning to find a valid hiding space
Learning to remain quiet while in that space

It is impossible to teach 37 years worth of hiding knowledge to a 3-year old in a moment
but if he only knew...

that there is a perfect hiding place

My first trip to "The Grand Canyon"

a place within a place...

that can be hidden inside of

a word
a song
a moment of quiet reflection

And I'm glad that I've found that place

a place in plain view
where I can remain hidden

while learning to be

still
quiet
in the moment

not anticipating

which direction He will show up
which direction He will take me next,

but just learning to

go with the flow
relax, enjoy, and hide

in the beauty of His presence

Psalm 91