October 28, 2013

Ever Patient With My Mess

This is Pascal. His "serious face" cracks me up.
As many of you know, I have two golden retrievers. Chloe is 2 years old and finally starting to settle down a bit.

And then there's Pascal. He's 1 year old and the sweetest little (well, 70 pounds) ball of fur. He snuggles up to us. He wants to be near us. He loves other dogs and people...especially kids. He's rambunctious sometimes and super calm at others.

But Pascal has a vice.

He loves to dig in the mud.

And since we have a doggy door that lets the pups come and go as they please...let's just say, mama no like that vice.

Because it's kinda not cool to come home after a long day to find mud all over the couches, newly washed floors, and well, Pascal.

And unfortunately, I'm not the best at controlling my temper. I get angry and so frustrated with him. It's even worse when he tries to jump up on me and greet me with mud on his paws.

But then I look at his face. He's sorry, he really is. He gives me his "serious face," the one that says, "Mama, are you gonna stay mad at me forever? Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"

And my heart just melts.

And of course, I forgive him, clean up his mess, and give him a bath.

When I think about it, that's just how God responds to me when I mess up -- except God doesn't get angry and yell at me when I've come slinking to him with my tail between my legs.

He doesn't make me feel worse about myself. Instead, he opens his arms and calls me to him. He gathers me in his arms, mud and all. He doesn't care that I leave muddy footprints on his robe -- he washes them all clean with the power of his majesty.

The way he feels about me doesn't change. He forgives me and my mud -- my sin -- is as far as the east is from the west. He's removed it, scrubbed it clean. I may remember the effects of it, but I no longer see the stain on the couches and floors.

It's something I do not deserve, but something I am so incredibly grateful for...that he sees my mess and loves me anyway.

What patience. What grace.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see."

Your Turn: Can you relate? And anyone else have a dog -- or kid -- that loves to track in the mud?!

October 21, 2013

The Ultimate Dream: To Stand Among the Millions

So. The last few weeks have been less than awesome.

I've just felt...stuck. Had some not-so-fun waiting with my writing. Felt like I didn't fit in.

Basically, I've been throwing myself a pity party. Praying for God to take away my pain, my wait, the unpleasantness in this life.

But then, yesterday, I sang a song with the choir at my church. It's called "Stand Among the Millions." Here's a group singing it (it's a great song, even though this version sounds like it's sung by a 1990s boy band...still very powerful) if you'd like to listen to the words:



Anyway, the song is basically about how one day, those of us who believe in Jesus will stand before him...with all the millions of other believers. We will stand...and then we will bow. Our entire purpose will be worshipping Him.

As I sang the song yesterday -- the instruments and voices of my fellow singers swelling around me -- I was so overcome with a sense of awe.

And it struck me.

Worshipping shouldn't just be my entire purpose when I'm gone from this life.

It should be my entire purpose while I'm here too.

So that pity party? I mean, yeah, it's only human to be disappointed and sad sometimes. But I can't let those pity-party moments take away from my worship of Him.

I can't let myself become so entrenched in what I want for my life -- and what I'm waiting to happen -- that I miss those opportunities to worship Him.

And I can't let the sum of my life be defined by what I do, what I don't have, and those long waits.

Instead, I want the sum of my life to be defined by my worship of Him.

I want it to pervade every crevice of my life so that I'm utterly soaked in and surrounded by worship.

I want to worship in the wait. In the good. In the bad.

I want to see the beauty in every circumstance of my life -- and I'm discovering that THAT comes through worship.

The more I worship Him, the more I know Him. The more I know Him, the more I recognize His presence in my life...the more that becomes enough.

The more it becomes my dream not to achieve and to fit in and to NOT have to wait. Instead, my dream is to live daily in constant worship so I'm prepared for that day when the only thing I have to do -- the only thing I GET to do -- is stand before Jesus, in awe of my King, and then bow with millions of others...fully satisfied, fully immersed in Him.

Amen and amen.

Your Turn: How do you turn personal pity parties around?

October 14, 2013

A Game of Would You Rather with Author Melissa Tagg {and a Big Giveaway!}

Sometimes in life, there are those people you just connect with instantly.

Author Melissa Tagg is one of those people for me. When we became craft partners over a year ago, we hadn't even met in person. Since that time, we've seen each other several times, and our connection can only be described as God-given.

Melissa's first book, Made to Last, just released September 15 from Bethany House Publishers, and I couldn't be more excited for my friend. To celebrate, we chatted over Google Hangouts and played a game of "Would You Rather" with her three main characters: Miranda, Matthew, and Blaze.

In the video, Melissa gives a quick overview of her story and the three main characters. We hope you enjoy! And don't forget to play along and see the details below to enter the giveaway for a copy of Melissa's book AND a $25 gift card.



Thanks for hanging out with me, Melissa!!

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?
 
GIVEAWAY DETAILS: We are giving away a copy of Melissa's book to one lucky winner. And if that wasn't an awesome enough prize, the winner will also receive his or her choice of a $25 gift card to Home Depot, Lowe's, Hobby Lobby, or Michael's!

Use the Rafflecopter box below to enter by
  • Liking Melissa's Facebook page
  • Liking my Facebook author page
  • Tweeting about the giveaway
  • Sharing about the giveaway via Facebook
  • Leaving a blog comment below
The contest is open to U.S. residents only and will close at midnight on October 20.

Your Turn: Would you rather go way back in time and meet your ancestors or go way into the future and meet your great-great-grandchildren? Why? (Or you can answer any of the other questions we asked in the game!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 7, 2013

Learning to Accept a Little Help

It's funny how I'm still learning stuff about myself. It feels like I should have a firm grasp on who I am, but sometimes life throws a situation at me -- and it changes my perception of myself.

Over a week ago, I had one of those days. You know the kind I mean. Nothing went right.

It started when I had to bring my dog Chloe to the eye specialist -- again -- because her eye had been watering and infected for two weeks and the medicine wasn't fixing it. The vet took a look and declared that she needed minor surgery...and he could do it right then.

We knew the surgery was a possibility, but man, having to make a decision so fast -- especially when we found out how much it cost -- threw me for a loop.

So I left my dog there and went home to finish up some work. Then I cleaned my house because we were having small group (aka twelve people) over that evening. I turned the oven on so I could pop the lasagna in the moment I returned from picking Chloe up after her surgery.

However, by the time I got all the recovery instructions explained to me and fought traffic to get home, I had only one hour until small group.

And the lasagna would take two hours to bake.

I had nothing to feed people.

I got desperate. Called Olive Garden, but to feed just 4-6 people, it was going to cost $54. Considering I'd just spent a lot on my dog's eyes, well... that wasn't an option.

I was about to call and order some pizzas from Pizza Hut when a friend from small group called and offered to make something. She was already making a smaller dish for the people in our group with allergies and knew of my plight (I'd texted frantically!)...and she had extra.

So my friend brought the food and everything worked out.

Thing is...it was hard for me to accept that help. Like, really hard. I felt guilty, like I should have had it handled. Like I'd be irresponsible. Like I'd inconvenienced her.

See, I love helping other people when they're in a bind. It comes naturally to me (my spiritual gift is mercy).

But I saw something in myself that day that smacked me in the face...I like giving help but not receiving it.

God wants us to reach out to others, yes. But I think He also wants us to accept help from others when we need it. Just like it gives ME joy to help others, it gives them joy to help me. I don't view it as an inconvenience to help out a friend, and the same goes for them.

I realized something else. The underlying reason I don't like accepting help...is pride.

I like feeling like I have it all together. Like I don't need help. Like I've got stuff covered.

I don't want people to think I don't.

Wowza.

I don't like that about myself. Because the thing is, this translates not just to my not being able to accept help from other people...but also from God.

And ironically, the moment I think I have it all together and don't need someone else -- that I don't need Him -- is the moment I've truly failed.

Your Turn: Do you have trouble accepting help? I'd love to hear of a time that a friend blessed you in some way!

*Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net