TODAY

Today I just want to be…
still
quiet
contemplative
thankful
grateful
observant
peaceful
hopeful
thoughtful
kind
positive
joyful
present

Today I just want to be.

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Adventurous Faith

In 2014, I had the opportunity to get away from every day life as I knew it and head to Idaho to visit with my oldest son and his wife while we waited for the arrival of their first-born.

Getting there was the beginning of several adventurous moments that God would use to teach me spiritual lessons. The first thing he wanted to teach me was to be more “adventurous ”; to stop allowing fear to keep me from living abundantly by faith. It seemed for about a year he kept bringing to my attention, in one way or another, a verse— “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.“ proverb 3:5-6

You see, in every situation I was always trying to figure things out; always needing to know “why”, or what was going to happen next. So, God worked it out that someone offered me their employee pass to fly for free. I was told it might not be a simple flight, but I was very grateful for the opportunity and didn’t mind doing whatever I needed to, and bravely embarked on my journey. It turned out to be very unpredictable, hurrying to terminal after terminal trying to get on the next flight while someone I had never met was coaching me over the phone as she tried to find the next available flight each time I would miss one. My luggage made it Idaho before I did, and I ended up spending the night in Kansas, then catching a flight to Utah, and finally catching a flight to a tiny airport in Hailey, Idaho just before midnight on the night before my grandson would be born. I wouldn’t have changed a minute of my journey ; It was the perfect trip for me. God did a lot of speaking to my heart, and I did a lot of listening.

After all the excitement of my grandson being born, I had a lot of time to relax, rejuvenate, and refocus. My son ended up taking me on a beautiful hike towards the end of my stay there, and it was one of the best days of my life. The photo I used for this post is actually a picture my son took of me at one of the more intense parts of our hike. The poem is one of the things that came from my time on the mountain.

Thirty minutes into the hike I had to stop and check my heart rate, and say a little prayer. Even though hiking has always been one of my favorite pastimes, I had not hiked in quite a while and my son was taking me on a hike up to about 10,500 feet. I was also experiencing some health issues at the time so my prayer basically consisted of, “OK, God, I don’t know what I’m doing here. I want to go as far as I can, so I’m trusting you to give me the strength that I need to go as far as you want to take me. And I’m just going to enjoy it and let you speak to my heart if you choose to.“ Then I looked to my son and I said, ”OK let’s go!” I was not disappointed. It was an awesome hike through an amazing landscape unlike anything I had ever seen before.

Right before we were going to attempt the peak, we stopped for lunch in a beautiful grassy meadow, filled with wildflowers. The view was indescribably beautiful. As I looked around at the incredibly blue skies with soft white clouds that seemed closer than I’d ever seen clouds floating by, and mountain tops peaking one after another for miles, as far as I could see… Tears filled my eyes, and I heard Him whisper to my heart “if you trust me, I’ll take you further than you ever thought you would go.”

That is a moment I carry in my heart to this day. Whenever I feel life is more than I can handle, I remember the promise he gave me that day, and I trust in Him who gives me strength, and whatever else I may need, to just keep on living by faith, moment by moment.

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It’s Time to Let Go!

“It’s Time to Let Go!”

In January of 2013, I was driving home from work trying to unwind from the day and refocus my thoughts before I reached the house. My drive was usually very relaxing and enjoyable because it was mostly on quiet country roads with no traffic. About halfway through, I noticed something different about my surroundings; I was amazed that everything had lost its “green”, and it seemed to happen so suddenly; the grass was brown, the trees were all faded or barren, and there were no signs of wildflowers anywhere. As I looked around it kinda bummed me out. And then it hit me– “this is exactly what has happened to me!”

I used to be full of hope, joy, and life and then it all dried up. It’s not the first time it’s happened, but this time It seemed as though I had really “given up”. I was done. I had cried out over and over again, “I can’t do this anymore! I’m done! I’m tired! and I’m confused! God, where are you?!” Emotionally and mentally I gave up. I quit. And, I didn’t care anymore.

I had left California in 2011 after my world, as I thought it was supposed to be, was flipped upside down, and my life and plans were in shambles. I was very disappointed and confused that God had not answered my prayers the way that I thought He would (should). After moving to Texas and trying to start over again and get back on my feet, things just seemed to get harder and harder and I struggled, it seemed sometimes, daily. I was truly in a “wilderness place”.

I had been desperately asking God to speak to me, and He finally did, however, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

I went to church that night to help with childcare as I always did. That Tuesday, we were watching the movie “Finding Nemo”. I had watched it MANY times, but this time God spoke to me very profoundly through it. As I sat there, with a little one sleeping in my arms, completely “detached” from all of my struggles, He was able to reveal to me what He had been waiting for me to “get”. The Holy Spirit was preparing my heart throughout the movie through certain scenes and dialogue, but it wasn’t until they were inside a whale that the message came through loud and clear.

In the movie, Marlin is always expecting bad things to happen or only seeing the bad in his circumstances, not having a good attitude, and pretty much is a bummer to be around. Dory is just happy–no matter what– and very positive and encouraging, usually seeing the best in every circumstance. The contrast between them was so apparent to me this time, it made me realize how disappointing I must have been lately to my Father in heaven. My attitude was not pleasing to Him, or anyone else for that matter. He created me to be a joy and a blessing to others, but I can’t do that if I’m all “dried up and faded” like the grass and trees that I had seen earlier that day.
I realized I identified with Marlin because bad things had happened to me in life; painful, sad, and unpleasant memories were something I had in abundance, and I chose to focus on those, and the negatives of life, instead of trusting God with them and allowing Him to use them for my good. I was a grumbler and a complainer.
(Have you read 1 Corinthians 10:10 ?!)

I continued to watch the movie with anticipation of more lessons to learn from it, I wasn’t disappointed.

When they became trapped in the whale, Marlin, in his anger and frustration, practically killed himself trying to get out of, what seemed like, a hopeless situation, complaining and insisting it was never going to get any better. Meanwhile, Dory’s in the background enjoying her time in the whale without a care in the world. When Dory heard the voice of the whale telling her to go to the back of the throat, she did so without question. Marlin, however, thought she was crazy and assumed that their situation was only getting worse…he was intent on doing it his way, trying to control a situation which he had no control over. It was only when Dory yelled at Nemo,
“He said IT’S TIME TO LET GO! Everything’s going to be alright!”

It was then that Marlin had his moment of faith, choosing to trust in what didn’t seem to make any sense. (It may sound silly, but in that moment it was as if she was saying that to me!) And, again, I identified with Nemo, realizing that is where I was also. I needed to let go and simply trust God.

God wants me to trust Him–no matter what. Operating out of fear of the unknown only kills the soul. I have no idea why things in my life have been so difficult and at times sorrowful, but God does. And He’s using every struggle, every trial, every difficult, painful situation to take me right where He wants me. I need to trust Him…even when I don’t understand. I need to “let go” and enjoy every moment of life that He gives me, and look for ways to be a blessing and encouragement to others.

You see, Dory and Marlin were on a journey and getting stuck inside the whale only “seemed” to be keeping them from what they were trying to achieve. The whole time they were stuck inside the whale, they had no idea where they were headed or what was going to happen to them next, but when they let go, they were set free to find themselves right where they needed to be.

Trust Him, where ever you are in your journey. He knows what He’s doing.

~Jonah

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Temporary, or Eternal?

What are you living for? What are your goals, or purposes?  What is the main motivation behind what you do?  Do you ever question, or wonder “what’s it all for?”

One day you may wake up and realize that everything you’ve been living for has no true or lasting value; like you’ve been chasing an illusion, a mirage in the desert.  When you finally reach that goal or acquire that one thing that you’ve been so focused on; when you get to the “spot” that you’ve been so intent on reaching, once you grasp it… suddenly, it slips through your hands like sand, because it wasn’t what you thought it was at all.  It really didn’t turn out the way you expected or didn’t satisfy you the way you thought it would.  So, you begin chasing after the next vision, dream, or desire thinking that it’s the thing that will give your life meaning, satisfaction, or fulfillment.

To a person who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, these words I write may have no meaning.  But, for a true believer, someone who has asked Jesus to be Lord of their life, these words will hit their mark. Because we know that there is more to life than what we see.  We know that we are not meant to live for the things of this world because the things of this world are only temporary, having no eternal value.

Jesus was born to fulfill a purpose on the earth, as we all are.  He only did what the Father told him to do.  He set the example for his followers to live by.  He left instructions for all of us to find.  But, instead of seeking Him and following his directions and example, we get caught up in the world’s way of “living” and forget that “this world” belongs to Satan (John 12:31) the enemy of God, who is constantly trying to destroy the works of God in the lives of believers by deceiving them or distracting them in subtle and mundane ways.

As I try to live one day at a time, I encounter people from every walk of life who are living life on their own terms and in their own way.  They’ve planned their whole life out, and with bucket lists in hand – they’re livin’ their dreams!
However, some are simply existing–living for the next paycheck so they can pay their bills, or perhaps to buy the new and latest gadget or item that they’ve been wanting so badly.  There are those who are planning their next vacation or get-away because it’s the only time they seem to “enjoy life”,  while some are looking forward to the next drinking party or night out, so they can get drunk and forget all their problems (for a tiny moment in time).  Others seem to constantly be looking for a new job because each one they have just isn’t satisfying their need for approval or acceptance.  Then there are those who are always looking for the next new relationship because the thrill and excitement of someone new in their life is their addiction (or sex is their addiction).  Still, some are just stuck where they are because nothing has worked so far and they’ve given up; they have no direction.

What most people don’t realize is there’s no life worth living without Christ.  There’s no joy outside the perfect will of God, and there is no lasting satisfaction in pleasing the “flesh” because chasing after the things this world has to offer only leaves us unsatisfied and longing for more.  The only thing that brings true peace and fulfillment is choosing to live your life according to the ways of God, and finding your purpose in knowing Him and making Him known.

Life on earth is short, especially when compared to eternity.
You don’t even know if you will be alive tomorrow! For all you are is a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears.”  ~  James 4:14

What we do on earth affects our eternity.
It is appointed once for man to die, after this the judgment..”  ~Hebrews 9:27

God has written the number of our days in a book and only He knows how many there are for each of us.  Sadly, we waste most of our time doing things that really don’t matter and live our lives without regard to the Truth.  We waste the time that we’ve been given, chasing after things that only satisfy the dying part of us, and missing out on the life God had planned for us before we were born.

You have decided the length of our lives.
You know how many months we will live,
and we are not given a minute longer.”    ~Job 14:5

“Your eyes could see me before I was born,
and in your book all my days were already written;
my days had been numbered before any of them existed.”   ~ Psalm 139:16

Finding satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, contentment or peace in this life and in eternity, can only be found in the One who gives us life.

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Only One Way

No sin is beyond God’s forgiveness. Sometimes we feel unworthy of God’s love and we hide from Him—believing our sin is more than He can forgive. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from Him in shame. Thankfully, God’s love is greater than our sin. His love for us is so great, in fact, that He prepared the way to set us free from our sin.

Although each of our struggles may be different, we are all caught up in a hopeless battle against our sin, and the harder we fight to be free, the more hopeless we feel. We can then begin to believe that we will never be set free from those things that are killing our soul and stealing our lives. But Jesus, seeing our desperate need, says, “Only I can set you free, give you victory, and bring you life.” He uncovers the hidden things in our hearts, breaks the strongholds that have us bound, and frees us from their grip.

All we need to do is realize that our problem is not that we sin –whether it be lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, gluttony, lust, pride, anger, sexual immorality, drunkenness etc., but that we have a desperate, unsatisfied “thirst” that can only be quenched by the “living water” of Jesus Christ.

We are all born sinners, broken and in desperate need of God’s love, healing, and restoration. Only He can fix us, because only He truly knows each one of us, and only HE has already done the “work” that will save us.

He has made a way for us to be free from the very things that keep us from Him, because He knows that He is the only source of true life.

Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, you still feel empty inside? Does it seem as though something is not quite right within your soul? Do you need forgiveness, healing, or restoration? Come to Christ. You can trust Him to save you, heal you, and recreate you.

Prayer: God, please forgive me for the ways I have tried to satisfy my longing for You apart from You. Forgive me for trying to live my life my way; by my own rules and my own terms. I want to be made new by the power of Jesus Christ. Fill me with Your Living Water today. Thank You for Your salvation, healing, and renewal.

I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

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Some Things Can’t Be Avoided

Three or four times a week I have a 30-minute drive, both directions, so I like to try and avoid construction zones and freeway traffic, simply because I prefer to not interact with stressed-out drivers, nor do I want to become one. So I always drive the back country roads where I can enjoy a peaceful drive and pretty scenery while exploring new ways to get where I’m going.

Thursday, as I was on my way back from running my errands, I had gone to a new place which was a little further than I normally would go, and had a little bit of trouble with my directions on my “inner compass”. I ended up turning left instead of right, and much to my displeasure, I was forced to get on the road that I was trying to avoid. As I sat at the stop sign waiting for my turn to merge into the slow-moving traffic and construction work, I was irritated with myself for making such a dumb mistake. “I knew I should’ve turned right back there! Now I’ve got to deal with this junk! So frustrating!…”

After I was done complaining to myself, a spot opened up for me to join the chaos, and as I made my way onto the dreaded road, I got a “life lesson” and encouragement:

Sometimes, we’re not meant to avoid difficulties in life; we don’t always have to look for the easy way out of situations and circumstances that make us uncomfortable or frustrated, or because we don’t want to deal with other people. Sometimes, we just need to endure, with the right attitude, and embrace the character building that comes from it.

As I relaxed and continued to drive, traffic began to move a bit more smoothly and quickly; and turns out the construction work has actually been making some progress since the last time I was forced to drive that road, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

The best part is, later that day I was able to share this lesson with my stepdaughter, after watching her endure a hurtful and uncomfortable moment due to the frustrating situation that we’ve been dealing with for a long time now, as with much frustration and confusion she asked me why things aren’t “changing” yet, and “how stupid it is the way things are”. What I shared seemed to help her let go of the frustration she was feeling, at least for now.

The hard part is maintaining the right attitude, and trusting God to work out the details the way they are meant to be worked out. Most of the time that means we’re going to have to be “uncomfortable”, at least for a little while. But, usually we can look back and say, “It really wasn’t that bad”.

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Not Afraid to Live

Does the thought of each new day excite you, or do you try to stay in bed as long as you can for fear of what the day may bring?

My site icon is a photo of some mountains that I came to know and love with the words “Life is an Adventure” hovering over the top of them.  I have tried to adopt that frame of mind since about 6 years ago when my life as I knew it suddenly took an unexpected turn.  The marriage I was fighting to save was unfortunately unsavable according to my husband of 19 years, and he “invited” me and our two youngest children to leave.

My two older children were already raised and out of the house, and both had been living in Texas (a place that I had sworn all my life that I would never live).  With no job, and no way to survive in the outrageously expensive Bay Area of Northern California, I packed up whatever I could in my F-150, sold enough of my belongings for gas money, and headed to Texas with my two youngest sons to stay with my daughter while I tried to regroup and “start over”.

God showed up right away in the little details, like bringing my oldest son back “coincidentally” in the same week that I had planned to make the 25-hour drive to Texas, though my son had no idea that’s what was happening.  I was so grateful to have a second driver and his love and support on one of the longest drives of my life.

I must confess it took me way to long to assimilate the “Life is an Adventure” mindset, and there were many days over the first 3 years that I either tried to stay in bed or didn’t leave the house because I was trying to hide from the craziness of life.  Fear and discouragement almost took me out a few times, but I’ve been blessed with wonderful, loving kids, and amazing friends and family, who have all contributed in one way or another to keeping me going on this journey called life, not to mention that I and my kids have been blessed with a great sense of humor which has been absolutely vital to our sanity and perseverance.

Several months ago the lyrics of a song grabbed my attention as I was driving along pushing the seek button on my stereo:

“…Hold on tight, slide a little closer
Up so high stars are on our shoulders
Time flies by, don’t close your eyes
[inch by inch, life] is like a thrill ride
What goes up might take us upside down
Life ain’t a merry go round…It’s a roller coaster…”

You may, or may not, have noticed I changed the words just a bit because I thought it was such a great way of looking at life.  I love rollercoasters, but I have been known to freak out a bit, scream a lot, convince myself I could die, hold on very tightly, and laugh uncontrollably at times. (I’ve had the same reaction just living life sometimes, haha)  Some people have a really hard time convincing themselves to take a chance and have some fun, embrace their fear to feel the thrill of the unknown and unexpected twists, turns, and flips turning them upside down, to just make up their mind to enjoy the ride.  Have you ever been in line and watched someone at the last minute decide they couldn’t go through with it?  they always look so disappointed as they walk away.

Well, anyway…I just think it’s a great comparison of how some people live their lives, and I’m determined to be one who’s not afraid to hold on tight when I need to, close my eyes and pray if necessary,  roll with the twists and turns, try to keep a smile on my face, and hopefully encourage others to do the same.

(Enjoy the video for the song below.)

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