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We Are Better Together

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It’s easy to think that we are tough, independent women who can do it all on our own.

But, what happens when life takes a turn and we realize that we can’t do it alone?

I remember being pregnant with my first child and was so sick that I lost 10 pounds right off the bat. My energy was gone but I was trying to push through like every other mom seemed to. My pushing resulted in me nearly fainting and a co-worker having to strap me in my own car and drive me to the doctor. If she had not, I may have veered off the road driving myself in such a weakened state.

There was the time that my husband fell off of a roof and knocked himself out. By the end of the day we had people rushing to meet us at the hospital, taking my kids off of my hands and bringing in our dinner for the next few days.

There was the time that we were in the middle of moving from a home we spent 10 years in and I came down with an unexplainable lack of energy and motivation to get my house packed. My family and friends came over for a packing marathon while I took frequent breaks on my couch with more guilt than I could ever express. Turns out, I had full-blown flu.

There was the time that I quit my job on faith to stay home and raise my son after crying almost daily the first 10 months of his life while I went back to work. When a friend of ours heard me say that our income had just been cut nearly in half, he jumped in and offered for me to bring my baby twice a month to clean his house as a gift for his wife. He OVER paid me…just because.

I could go on and on.

Have you ever been offered help or a listening ear and refused simply on the basis that you didn’t want to appear “needy”? Has anyone ever tried to tidy up your kitchen while you were sick or offered to pick up your children from school when your schedule got out of hand or held out a little cash when you fell on hard times but you couldn’t bring yourself to let them help?

Is it pride? Is it fear of what others may think? Is it a feeling of unworthiness that you carry?

From the very beginning…of EVERYTHING…God himself was never alone. The Holy Spirit was there.

He went on to create Eve for Adam saying “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18)

Jesus sent his disciples out two by two.

The disciples instructed people everywhere that they went how to work and commune together.

Our Creator established the first family unit and then went on to mold the global church, both of which bring us together.

The idea that people need other people is from the maker of all. He wired us to need others.

Who are we to fight this? How does it work out for us when we separate ourselves or refuse a helping hand when it is offered? What have we gained?

These people who have come alongside my family over the years, we all have one thing in common. We’re part of The Church.

Are you tired of superficial short-lived friendships?  God has a plan for something better.

Finding a local, Bible believing church will put you shoulder to shoulder with family.  When we honor His mandate to keep meeting together, keeping Christ at the center, He will knock our socks off with friendships that are deep, meaningful and rich.

His thread is unbreakable and because of this…

“…A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”

We are better together.

Lord, help us to come together as your children. In love. Thank you for the gift of friendship that comes when we put you at the center. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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When Our Plans Get Interrupted

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Plans.

We make them. We keep them. We break them. We are informed of them. We look forward to them. We dread them.
I remember years ago making plans to go away to college and pursue a degree in education. Instead, God interrupted my plan with a man and a hard right turn. I landed a great job which led me to schooling in a completely different field which resulted in a great career.
More recently, my plans have been interrupted by way of a cancer diagnosis in my mom nearly two years ago. As my adult children were leaving home, my plans were to have more frequent shopping and lunch dates with my mother and take a trip or two to visit far away relatives. Instead, we spend time together at doctor’s appointments, crossing T’s and dotting I’s on a plethora of paperwork and relaxing on the back porch of her beautiful piece of land.
The way we spend our time together now…I’ll take it! But, it’s not what I thought we would be doing together had you asked me a couple of years ago.
In each of these times in my life I had a choice on how I would respond to the shifts and shoves.
The shift to change my career path so that I could be with my man sooner was easy.
The shove of making any time planned with my mom fenced in my doctor’s appointments and recovery times…not so much.
But, I still get to choose how I respond and my response is rooted in the One that I know loves me more than anyone else ever would or could.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

When our circumstances begin to shift or shove us, we won’t always understand in the moment the what or why. We may not even understand it when it’s all said and done. It’s times like these that we cling to our faith and trust that God knows what He is doing, and what He is allowing to come our way.
We cling to what we know.
We know that God is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31).
He has plans for us and they are good (Jeremiah 29:11).
He supplies all of our needs (Phillippians 4:19).

We know these things are true because He didn’t just speak these things with words, He actually did something to demonstrate His love for us. He allowed the one thing that was priceless in His eyes to act as payment for you and me. He used His son as a bridge to bring us over into fellowship with Him.

Do we think that He would give over His son and then let our circumstances just blow around in the wind?
No! He has way too much invested in us to just shrug His shoulders and sit back.
That addiction, that divorce, that unplanned move across country, that friend that dropped out of your life, that health issue you never saw coming, that unplanned pregnancy…the sudden windfall of financial blessing, the new job you were just offered, the debt that disappeared unexpectantly, the healing that took place in your body, the reconciliation you experienced with your wayward teen…you may have never seen any of this coming.
These weren’t necessarily in your plans.
As our scripture says, His ways are not our ways. If we will accept that, we will be able to not just deal with the shifts and shoves, but experience them, be fully present through them, and make them count for something.
When things aren’t going quite as we had planned, let’s loosen our grip and allow God to do His thing. Scary? Yes! But can we trust Him? You bet!
What about you? What is it that you may be missing out on because you’re working so hard to squint your eyes and turn your head just right in order for your own picture to come into focus? What is your response when you see your plans shift or get shoved in a different direction?
Sometimes handing God what we think is best results in Him handing back to us something even better.
My career change and young marriage sent me on a trajectory I could’ve never imagined for myself…and the conversations my mom and I have now are more intimate and deep than we would’ve ever had while antiquing and sipping latte’s.
He’s good ya’ll.
Let’s choose to trust Him when life gets interrupted. He just might blow our socks off if we will lean close and look for the blessings.

Kellie

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When Sitting Shoulder to Shoulder is All You Can Do

 

What do we say to someone who has suffered great loss?

How can we adequately express the deep sorrow that we feel for someone when they are in mourning?

I recently had the privilege of hearing someone speak at a Memorial Service and they said something like this…

“What if we all acted like sponges.  When those around us are hurting, we sit close and absorb some of their burdens for them”

That may not sound like a very welcoming invitation, but it has stuck with me.

God’s word says to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”.

Merriam Webster says this…

Definition of mourn

intransitive verb

 1.  to feel or express grief or sorrow

 

I love that mourning is a verb.  A feeling that can be expressed and the expression doesn’t have to be with words.  We don’t even have to speak.

We can grieve over many things:

  • A marriage that is ending
  • A healthy body that has now been diagnosed with an illness
  • The loss of a dream
  • Failure of a business
  • Death of a loved one
  • A wayward child
  • A close friendship that is ending
  • A broken heart

 

Here’s where the sponge comes in.

When a loved one is hurting and we lean in and allow ourselves to feel what they feel, we become spongy…absorbent.

When someone is shedding tears we can slide right over and absorb some of that sorrow with them.  And when they are rejoicing we get to soak up some of that exhileration that they are feeling too.

What happens when a sponge takes on water?  It comes to life!

When we allow God to use us, He brings life into our bones.  Like a sponge that puffs out and becomes soft and pleasant to hold on to, we too become a soft place for others to lean in to and we are smack in the middle of where God is working.

This is one way that we help to carry one another’s burdens.

When we become spongy:

  1.  We help soak up some of the sadness in the lives of others and remove it so that they aren’t wading in it from the ankles to their knees, to their waist.
  2.   Like a sponge, we come to life.  As a dry, porous material crashes into wet tears of sorrow, we expand.  Our capacity to take on and take in grief and sadness grows as we become agents of God’s sustaining grace.

Many times when someone near us is going through something hard, it’s easy to become a little gun shy.  To back up and let someone else comfort them.  What would I say?  How can I help?

 

Just.  Show.  Up.

 

It’s okay to not have the right words or not have any words at all.  Slide along side that friend and wrap your arm around them.  Cry and snot and shake with them.  Hold their hand.  Serve them a glass of cold water.  Fold their laundry.  These are all verbs and they do not require words.

God’s word says…

God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!”

Matthew 5:4 

Perhaps God wants to use you to help bring comfort to someone.

Your presence is enough.  It is a gift to those who need help absorbing all that has them wrecked.

A present.

We don’t ask people if they would like to receive a gift, we simply give it.

Don’t let your nerves keep you from moving on this.  If God has put someone on your heart who is grieving something, go to them.  Just show up.

Those are sacred tears they are shedding and you will have the privilege of soaking up some of that grief.  It will bring you to life.  It will bring nourishment to your bones and you will be glad you moved.

May we all strive to be more pourous.  More pliable.  Absorbers.

Agents of grace.

I’m working on this myself and praying that we all step out when necessary.

Challenge:  Is someone in your life grieving and you just don’t know what to do?  Invite them for a walk or take them a meal.  Watch what happens when we slide over close.

Blessings,

Kellie

 

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Finding Strength When You Feel Shaky

As we sat in the snow covered cemetery under a big flapping tent in folding metal chairs, I watched as her hand gingerly reach over to brace herself on the nearby headstone.  She used it as leverage to push herself up out of her chair, into the cold wind, and stand to speak.

My mom.

She’s been battling cancer for the last 18 months.  Weight loss.  Weakness.  Chemo brain.  Wheelchairs, walkers and soft shoes to accommodate swollen feet.  This is a short list of what outsiders have seen.  The list of challenges and set-backs that close friends and family have witnessed is even longer.

But on the day that we memorialized her mother-in-law of some 48 years, my mom found the strength to plan for the service all the way from out of state and get up to speak kind words about my grandmother.

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Strong:  able, sturdy, stable, tough, influential, brave

The strongest women are often draped in humility.  They do what has to be done without a lot of fan fair.  Their strength rises to the surface when life calls upon them to just get it done.

Do you ever look at other women…louder women…and think “why can’t I be strong like that?”

Volume doesn’t always equal strength.

Have you ever seen a woman in a dress suit and sunglasses at Target and thought “she must be important and look at me in my yoga pants and sweats shirt!”

Polish doesn’t always equal importance.

This time of year, I often think of Mary, Jesus’ mother.  She was barely a teenager, no husband and without the Holy scriptures to help fill in the gaps of what was happening to her.  She was not a prominent figure.  She wasn’t the best dressed.  When her home town demanded she travel while pregnant for a census, she didn’t get any special favors.

She was a young girl carrying the full hope of the world inside of her belly.  No bubble wrap around her.  No escorts making her pathway clear.  No reservations made ahead of time for a soft bed and a warm meal.

God given responsibilities don’t always equal special treatment.

She did what had to be done.  Quietly.  Humbly.

Both my mom and Mary.

One only beginning her journey into adulthood.  One who is fighting to remain in hers.

I come from a line of strong women.

If you are a child of God…you do too.

Women who have risked their lives in the name of saving their people (Esther).  Women who chose Jesus over what their entire town would think about them (woman at the well).  Women who left everything familiar in order to do the right thing (Ruth).  Women who let their children go, clinging to their faith, trusting God (Hannah and Jochebed).

 

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Sometimes, the strongest women aren’t the ones on stage, but the ones behind the curtain.  Strong women are sitting bedside with their ailing parents, feeding them ice cream and wiping the corner of their mouths.  Strong women are raising rebellious teenagers and not backing down.  Strong women make hard choices and do hard things, not based on their feelings, but on what is right.  And the strong women that I know…they pull other women along with them to do the hard things and celebrate each time they surprise themselves with their accomplishments.

Each breath that we take is another opportunity to ask the Lord for help and step into the strength that He provides for us.  Sometimes that’s the only prayer we need…to ask for strength, and then move.

Just.

Move.

Scripture:

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2

Prayer:

Lord, help us to grasp that when we are at our weakest, You are there with exactly what we need. We are grateful that you don’t require us to be strong before you set our tasks at hand, but that you provide with each step, the strength for every forward movement in our lives.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Kellie

 

 

 

 

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Putting our Thoughts in Their Rightful Place

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Surely he will realize how disruptive he is being.  For heaven’s sake, church has started!  The lights are dimmed.  The opening video is playing.  People are seated quietly.  Why does he keep talking…and laughing…and talking some more?  And who is he talking with?  It takes two, right?  Who is the other person who is not ending the conversation when it is clearly a time to quiet down and pay attention.

I think I may have to get up and punch someone in the face.

I think I will have to quietly slip out of my seat, walk to the back of the sanctuary, tap this man on the shoulder, point his direction to the video screen that is being used at present, then ball up my fist, rare back, and punch him.

Then I will walk back to my seat and try to get my focus back where it should be.

Nope… nope…wait a minute.  It seems that he is finally closing his mouth and going to his own seat.  Lucky for him, huh?

But wait a sec.  I was so caught up in my plan to get violent at church that I totally missed what the video was about.  I just completely missed out on the introduction to our sermon for the morning.

So who is the winner here?  or better yet, who is the loser?

Me.

I’m the loser because I didn’t recognize what was happening sooner and I allowed my thoughts and feelings to lead me down a path that completely distracted me from what was right in front of my face.

And now you know that I think I could get violent if I had too.  In church.  That doesn’t make me a loser.  Just a human.

Have you ever been so tied up in what’s going on in your head that you completely miss out on what is right in front of you?  Ever let your thoughts run away from you and before you know it you’ve put yourself in a bad mood and possibly everyone around you too?

God’s word says this about our wandering thoughts…

 “… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5b

When I was in elementary school, my family and I were sitting quietly in our den watching TV together.  Suddenly, my mom started screaming and grabbing at her shirt as if it were on fire!  It turns out that by brother’s hamster had escaped and thought that hiding in my mom’s shirt would be a good idea.  NOT!

We all scrambled to our feet to grab that little rascal as she flung it in the floor.  It scurried in fear but it didn’t stand a chance against all of us.  We knew we had to capture that creature and lock it up in its rightful home or else none of us would get any sleep that night.

Sometimes we may need to jump up and aggressively go after those thoughts which we are contemplating

This idea of taking them captive brings a few ideas to mind:

  1.  We can’t control that which pops into our minds.  Like that hamster, sometimes they just show up.
  2. Our thoughts have the ability to run away from us.
  3. We own those thoughts and therefore, they are ours to take.
  4. Sometimes we have to be aggressive and maybe even a little sneaky to grab them up.

What would this world look like if we let our feelings lead us all the time?

Thoughts of skipping school or work because we just don’t feel like going.  Thoughts of withholding forgiveness because we just don’t feel someone deserves it (even though we want forgiveness when we’ve been out of line).  Thoughts of fear when it comes to trying new things.

We’d all be in some trouble.

And I might end up in jail.

As we grow in wisdom and stature, we should be recognizing when those thoughts pop into our head that aren’t worth pondering.  Those things that need to be taken captive immediately or else they will serve as distractions to what is right in front of us.

If you or I are still reacting to our thoughts and feelings the same way we did in high school, maybe we need to work on this.

It will certainly save us some grief, wasted time and energy.

The result of doing this more quickly each time should also be a pat on the back.  That means that we are learning and growing…and staying out of jail.

Let’s pay attention to our minds.  Don’t beat ourselves up when something irrational pops in our head but instead, speak to it, lasso it and get it out of our head.

What God’s word tells us to do, He will give us strength to accomplish.

Let’s keep the clutter out so there’s more room for the good stuff! It’s something we learn.  Let’s be about the business of putting it in to practice.

 

I’m praying we all do better at this today then we did yesterday.

Blessings,

Kellie

 

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Bumper Cars and Closed Doors

Real Talk About the Beating We Can Take When We’re Trying to Find Direction

 

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We’ve all been there.

Decisions need to be made.  Clarity is elusive.  Discernment is on vacation.

What school should I send my kids too?  Where should I work?  Should I work at all?  Should I start that business?  Should I invest in this relationship anymore?

Sometimes when I’ve got a decision to make and there are  multiple choices in front of me, jumping up and down with hands raised chanting “Pick me!  Pick me!”,  I can feel like I’m in a bumper car.  You know the place where the track is oval shaped and there are people all around driving like crazy.  It’s loud from the antennas screaming across the ceiling.  It’s lonely because I’m in this small car all by myself.  And if I don’t keep moving, I’m a dead man!

THAT’S how I feel sometimes.  Only there’s an exit sign pointing the way out with 2 0r 3 or 4 doors standing there.  I’ve got to figure out which door to push on in order to escape the madness.  I stare down door #1, grab the wheel with both hands, put the pedal to the medal and VROOOOMMMM!  Only to find out that that door was made of hard steel with no give.  I’m thrust back with my shoulder bruised from the seat belt and my head spinning from the impact.

No time to think…there are other cars on the track eying me down.  I grab the wheel, brace myself and head for door #2.  BAMMMMM!  I thrust back AGAIN into the chaos of life.  Feeling discouraged.  Feeling even more bruised and battered.  Feeling a little confused.

Anybody else?

Sometimes it may take ramming into a door or two before remembering that my map is right there in the glove compartment.  Maybe it’s been sitting there since I was a child.  Maybe I just threw it there a few months ago.  Either way, it’s there and the lay of the land has not changed.

THE map.  God’s word.

Before you say “that’s too big of a book, how will that help me make a decision by Friday?”, listen.  That book may not tell us exactly which door to pick, but it does tell us how to make that decision.  It does tell us how to get those other cars that are zooming around us to pull together, using them for leverage as we formulate a plan.  That book tells us who to call on for prayer support and wisdom, how to look over our shoulder and learn from our past and what the peace of God feels like when we’re on the right track with Him.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27 

In life, we will get a little beat up from time to time.  We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world surrounded by imperfect friends and family.  We will cycle through times of cruising along, doing the speed limit with the wind blowing through our hair and a smile on our face.  We will also cycle through times where we are white knuckling the steering wheel at a fork in the road, begging God to show us which way we should go.  Sometimes we may knock on a door that won’t open.  Other times, it will open for us before our hand even gets to the handle.

I can’t tell you steps one, two and three to take in order to avoid having a fender bender.  It’s not that simple.

What I can challenge you to do is to stay close to your Heavenly Father.  And trust Him.  The One who designed your road.  The One who drew the map.  The One who holds the keys to all the doors.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6

Surround yourself with people who also look to Him for guidance.  People who recognize who He is and who love Him.  I can challenge you to look for the positives in every situation and to stay in continual conversation with Him.

These are the things that will help us heal from those bruises.  These are the actions we can take that will help us make wise decisions.  These are the real-life VERBS that we can incorporate into our life style.

Life can be hard.  Decision making can be hard.  Let’s stay close to the One who is eager to lead us and has our best interests in mind.  Let’s forgive ourselves as quickly as He is willing to forgive us.

Take a breath and tighten that belt.  I’m sure you’ll be faced with making some decisions before the end of today that will matter.  You’ve got this!!

Reflect & Respond:

**Can you relate?  

**If you’re trying to make a decision right now, get with a trusted friend and ask her to begin helping you to pray for direction.  You’ll be encouraged.

Blessings,

Kellie

 

 

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We Are Built for Friendship

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If you don’t consider yourself a “runner”, have you ever tried it?  Have you ever laced up your tennis shoes, thrown on a hat and taken off down the street for a jog?  You probably figured out real quick that it’s not as easy as it looks, especially when you’re alone.

After just a few minutes the body starts to warm up, the calves start to stiffen, the shins start to burn and the lungs just can’t keep up!  That’s when you slow back to a walk and start asking yourself “what on earth was I thinking?!”

 

On the flip side of that, have you ever gone out as a new runner and taken a friend or two with you?  You meet up at the local track, do some stretches in the parking lot, and start with smiles and a warm up walk.  After a few minutes of that, you’re ready to jog.  You can hear your friends breathing just as loud ( YES Jesus!) as you and you identify with their struggle.  You may be ready to slow down but there’s just something about running with friends that helps keep you going further.  By the end of your time together, you’re high-fiving and proud of your accomplishment, even if it takes a few minutes to catch your breath.

There’s something about doing it together that makes it a little easier.

When I am walking through something hard, my closest friends are a source of encouragement.  They send me texts with just a few words to push me forward and keep a smile on my face.  They let me know when they’ve prayed for me and they make sure I’m not isolating myself and I try to do the same for them.

The flip side is we have fun together!  Human contact is priceless.  We solve a lot of problems when we go antiquing or grab a meal together.  We go back home to our families feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes next.

Friendship.  Camaraderie.  Belonging.  People who “get you”.

This is a gift that is meant for you.  A rich, fluid gift that God uses at times to take care of our needs, to bring us joy and to encourage and lift us up.

God’s word says this…

” And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”

Hebrews 10:24

We were created for relationship.  That whole “hands and feet of Jesus” thing, this is your playground for it.

Jesus himself did life with friends.  He had 12 who walked with him throughout his ministry.  He held 3 of those closer than the rest.  He had one betray him in the end.

Can you relate?

A large circle, a smaller circle within those and one who loses their way.

I relate.  Jesus gets this, He’s been there and I can talk to him about all of it.

I have been reminded this season just how unpredictable our lives can be.  That they can be cut short in an instant.  These relationships, this is where the good stuff is.  This is where our souls can find satisfaction and the thirst we have for deep conversation and authenticity can be quenched.

Can I encourage you to step out?  To send that text or speak to that mom in the carpool line?  Even if with fear and trembling.  We need each other.  We were built to need each other.  But, sometimes, you and I have to take the first step in starting a new friendship.

“By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round-up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (The Message)

 

The enemy would have you isolate yourself.  He’ll use your weaknesses and try to convince you that you should keep your distance. The enemy will also keep you too busy with good things to make the time to spend with others.  He has a big bag of tricks and he’s not afraid to use them.

A friendship that reflects Biblical principles is a dangerous thing in the eyes of your enemy.  You may think that he could care less…that’s another lie.

Be on guard.  You may have to fight to keep some people in your life and they may fight for you to be in theirs if you’re putting up walls.

If I could sit down with you over a coffee and implore you to make the effort to engage and seek out these relationships, I would have my purse in hand already.

Put friendship on your priority list.  Ask the Lord to send those that you need  and to push away the ones that are meant for someone else.

You need this.

They need you.

We are better together.

Blessings,

Kellie