Lent Fast. Fail.

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Did you give anything up for Lent? I realize that isn’t necessarily a Protestant practice although it has become more prevalent in recent years.

I woke up yesterday and was like, “Oh no….what am I going to give up?” I obviously hadn’t put a whole lot of thought into it and to be perfectly honest, in recent years, I wasn’t even so sure of what I thought of it. Didn’t Jesus go to the cross and pay for all of my sins so what was it exactly I was giving anything up for? But as I’ve read and read and read my mind shifted a bit. My heart too, I suppose. And I thought if Christ, in the form of a man could go to a cross and hang on there in excruciating pain as a payment for my foolishness, I could give up cupcakes for 40 days as a form of self-denial!

Matthew 6 tells us, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do…..”. He doesn’t say, “If we fast”…he says, “When”. How often do I do this in any area of my life?

So yesterday, I thought okay, Diet Coke. I have started my Diet Coke addiction back up. I drink it any chance I can get it and my water intake had dropped. I don’t know how it happened. I’m going to blame my friends in Florida during Thanksgiving. They always have a refrigerator full of Diet Coke so as we spent time there, I indulged a few times. Since then, it’s been on. So, sure, Diet Coke it is!

Decided this around 8am yesterday morning. By 11:45am, I am at our Madison Cafe and lo and behold, there I am drinking a Diet Coke. About half empty, I look at it and thought, “Really?!?”. It wasn’t even in the forefront of my brain. Not even close to my head even. Nowhere in the building. Pretty sure I left it at the kitchen table when I made that quick, impulsive decision!

And after some Lent study and reading last night about fasting, I realized that the reason I didn’t have it on the forefront of my mind was because I wasn’t replacing it with Him! I didn’t bring Jesus into the equation. I was just going about thinking I was going to “give it up”. Fail!

Sacrifice is good. It’s important. And again, as Matthew 6 tells us…”When” we fast…not “if”….so this is something we are asked to do from time to time. But when we do…when, *I* do, my foundation needs to be rooted in Christ. Rooted in deepening my love for Him and my relationship with Him. Not for a sense of pride or accomplishment. Yesterday was a fail.

Today…..it’s only 8:34am but so far, no Diet Coke.

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Photo Cred: The Oops Store

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One. More. Moment.

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This year we’ve had loss. My Mother-in-law passed away in February and my Gran passed away in May. Three years ago we lost my husband’s step-Mom. Two years ago my Step-Dad. My Dad has been gone for years now. My husband and I each have one parent remaining. We have no Grandparents. We’re in our 50’s. Old to some of you but not that old to most. And more than half of our family is gone.

I don’t say all of this to depress anyone or to cause anyone to feel sorry for us. On the contrary. I say all of this to encourage you.

As you have those family gatherings, some of which you look forward to and some of which you’re dreading, take it all in. Take in the people that are around you. Look around the room and know that some may not be there the next Christmas or the one after that. They may not be your favorite but their presence will be missed when they are gone. And with this whole circle of life thing, I hate to break it to you but loss happens. And it stinks. And it’s hard. And it’s messy. And it’s sad. Even if they weren’t your favorite people. And especially if they were.

Take it in. Look around. And ask God to give you extra patience and love for those who make it their goal to be unloveable. What I wouldn’t give for another moment with those we’ve lost. One. More. Moment.

If you have that….take it.

Much love. xo

92 years…still counting….

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My friend Robin is one of the smartest people I know. She’s strong, Godly and has wisdom that I glean from! She shared a blog the other day about her Mother-in-law. It’s beautifully endearing yet profoundly sad and today, on Gran’s 92nd birthday, I can relate to every single thought and emotion.

When You’re Praying This is Her Last Mother’s Day

Watching a loved one reach closer to the end of their life is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I haven’t shared much, except with a small group of people. I don’t know why, really except it feels private. Yet, impending death doesn’t have to be a hush and taboo topic.

Gran has lived a great life in many ways. She’s loved and been loved well. She’s been a part of our small family’s life always, even if we all didn’t live in the same state. She’s been a Mom, Wife, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother and Great-Great Grandmother. Such an amazing blessing!

Today on her 92nd birthday, there will be no formal celebration. She is on hospice care now and won’t have the energy to celebrate. Today as I spoon fed her jello and stroked her hair, I was filled with so much love for this tiny woman who has loved me well. Loved my Mom, my Sister and our children well.

You may not have the energy to celebrate today, but we celebrate you. And love you so very, very much!

Happy 92nd Birthday Gran!

 

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Beauty in life…

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Sitting on my front porch making calls concerning my Gran’s hospice care and the cutest little Hummingbird hovers directly in front of me with not a drop of nectar in sight. Thanks for the sweet treat this morning God!

This weekend was rough. So rough. And the call list for help has changed as life is fluid. People move. People travel. Relationships change. But then you discover people you knew but really didn’t know who drop what they are doing to come break down a bed so that hospice can bring a hospital bed. You find a neighbor who shows up with food, just because. You mess up your kid’s date day and they come to help, no questions asked. You’ve got your Mom who is there throughout the day offering encouragment and loving on her Mom and me and taking care of Megan. Your Sister, praying and loving from a distance. You have staff who pick up the caterings and work extra hours to make sure that everything goes well in spite of the sudden change.

You miss a funeral for a loved one of some precious friends and they want to love on me.

Life isn’t always predictable. It’s constantly changing with new beauty yet challenges daily. But you move. You continue to go forward. And then you wake up to a lady who is much different than two days ago. Who’s appetite is back. Who is enjoying her morning coffee even if from a metal hospital bed.

And a hummingbird flys by to say hello. God is always present. In people, in the hard and in the beauty. Grateful.

Christy by Catherine Marshall: Review

50 years ago this book was born.  50 years ago saw a life time of differences than what’s in our world today.  50 years ago, Christy Huddleston made a decision to take a train to Cutter Gap, a world completely different from what she had known.  Christy’s heart and her faith caused her to make this giant leap into unknown territory and to a people group that questioned whether she would change their way of life.

Yet although this was written 50 years ago, it is a timeless work of fiction.  It’s not the easiest read as the topics can be difficult but it’s real life circumstances and we can’t hide from that!

I didn’t read Christy as a young teen so am glad to have had the opportunity to feast on this classic which touches upon so many emotions that you can’t step away from it.  Christy’s determination and fortitude is inspiring for the generations!

 

Denise~

 

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I received this book in exchange for my honest review.  Always honest!

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Book Review: Rule of Law by Randy Singer

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This was my first novel by Randy Singer but it certainly will not be my last.    Family, suspense, joy, sadness and faith are all intertwined with timely topics that are relevant to today’s culture.  Randy gives us character depth as well as a storyline rich with facts but not in a way that deters the reader from enjoying.

Paige and Patrick are the two key players but the novel delves into real community and bonds with a multitude of people.  Before thinking that this is a sweet, feel-good always happy novel, this is a thriller filled with suspense while the other components are sweetly mixed it. And faith is a strong aspect!  I honestly couldn’t put this book down and was sad when it ended. For me, that is always the best sign of a great novel.  The characters become a part of you and you them. The best kind of writing!

I look forward to my next Randy Singer novel!  This man can write!

Denise~

 

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I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  Always honest!  LitFuse Group

 

 

Me too….

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Me too.
Hard to type it as I’ve put the past far into the recesses of my mind. But besides that there were other things over the years. 4th grade in Mrs. Burgess’s class some of the boys thought it cute to grab the girls in their private area as they walked by. In the classroom. Sad thing? It was only the pretty girls who were touched so there was a double edged sword. If I’m not grabbed am I not pretty? The grab happened. Yay, I’m pretty! But wait. Don’t touch me. Conflicting yet so wrong.

The neighborhood boys who thought it okay to chase the girls, pin them down and simulate the act. All the while hearing only screaming sounds of “Stop!!”.

Pool games with neighbors. Show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Childhood games that had no innocence. I didn’t show but the pressure was always there.

I personally know women with some very difficult stories. Things that make you weep with them. I also know many women who have overcome and who are better than their past. Who grew stronger and confident and brave and beautiful.

Men are not the enemy. I have wonderful men in my life. Respectful, kind, generous and loving. It’s the other men that choose darkness that taint the landscape. Some women do that too.

Be kind. Be loving. And may we never turn a blind eye again to injustices against women and their bodies. Never. Ever.

#metoo

 

 

Heavy hearts…..

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seem to be a constant thing lately.  We’ve witnessed, whether up close and personal or via the news and social media, hurricanes, tornados, flooding, shootings and more.  It feels like every other week there is something causing us to sit back and ponder how difficult life is.  How fluid.  How it can all change in a mere moment.

How do we get to a place where there’s hope again?  How do we find that elusive light at the end of the tunnel?  What brings you to a place where you may once again exhale and feel safe in your surroundings?

I remember back to 9-11. We lived in the Boston area at the time and because of the distance to New York City, many of the residents in our area also traveled to NYC often. Several of the home offices of their businesses were there so travel was necessary. And flights to Los Angeles from Boston were so common. In fact, my husband flew from LAX to BOS that early morning prior to 9-11’s devastation.  It was impossible to live in that community and not know someone connected to this tragedy.

Shortly after, my friend and I went to a Neil Diamond concert at what was then called the Fleet Center in Boston.  It wasn’t long after 9-11 and security was at it’s highest level.  Purses were emptied, bodies scanned and we went through X-ray machines.  All this to get into a concert.  Funny thing though?  There was still some fear and trepidation.  We were with thousands of people in one place to see a concert.  We were a perfect target and that thought, although Neil Diamond was fabulous, never left us!

When he sang “America” though the place went completely wild!  Tragedy brought unity to the citizens of the USA.  Flags were flown on cars and in storefronts.  People were kinder to one another because as a nation, we all shared this “together”.

Now as a nation we’ve seen Harvey tear through Houston, the surrounding areas and my beloved Florida. We’ve watched San Juan, Puerto Rico and surrounding islands completely decimated by Irma and then Maria.  We’ve watched the tragedy in Orlando, Florida just a little over a year ago where 49 people were killed.  And last night, at last count 53 people killed and over 500 injured in Las Vegas.  And last but certainly not least, we have several racial issues that have broken hearts in 2017 and before.

What are we doing?  Who do we lean on?  What happened to that kinder, gentler nation we saw after 9-11?  And what on earth is it going to take to get it back?

It’s ALL of our jobs to fix this.  We can’t make madmen or women change their modus operandi but we can change how we treat one another.

  1.  Smile and say hello to the people who walk past you.  You don’t know them?  It’s okay. They won’t bite you and it doesn’t cost you one thing to say hello and greet someone with a smile.
  2. Do something unexpected.  Hold a door open for them.  You see someone carrying a load of groceries to their car? Offer to help!  Is there an elderly person walking into the store?  Grab a cart from the lot and take it to them.  You will make their day!
  3. Buy your person flowers for absolutely no reason. Don’t wait until the holidays when the same bouquet that would normally cost $10-$15 is now $40!  Come home with fresh flowers and receive a smile, hug and maybe something a little more! (Just saying.  Flowers are my love language.  So is helping around the house. Nod if you’re with me??)
  4. Don’t get angry because someone cut you off in traffic. Don’t show your kids that. Instead, say, “Maybe they are in a hurry to get home because their wife isn’t feeling well.”  I know. They probably are just impatient and think that they own the road but let’s teach out kids that it’s possible it could be something else!
  5. Out to eat?  Pick up someone’s tab anonymously. We see this quite a bit in drive thru’s and it is fabulous.  Try it inside sometime, too.  In our Cafe, we have been blown away by  the people who pick up someone else’s tab.  Let me tell you.  The one who is enacting the kind gesture receives a blessing as well as the one who is benefiting from the kind gesture.  But also, all of us around who are witnessing it are touched and uplifted. It truly has a domino effect!
  6. Tell someone that you love their hairdo or their dress or their shoes or that they look beautiful or handsome today. You can do this without it being a flirty thing.  Makes people feel good that someone noticed them.  Don’t we all love this?
  7. Another easy one.  Say please, thank you and I’m sorry.  Bump into someone?  Say sorry!  Someone hands you something or holds that door open for you? Say thank you!!  Asking someone to do something? Always end with a please.  So easy, friends!
  8. Zip our lips.  We will not ever agree with everyone around us.  Sometimes, this is really tough.  Really. Really. Tough.  But life goes on and we have to make decisions. Continue in relationship or has the ship sailed on this one?  Either way, we can still be friendly without being friends.  We can still be co workers without being friends. Believe it or not, we can still serve Jesus without necessarily being friends with those beside us.  And we can believe what we believe without alienating others.  Right or left leaners, especially, how we can learn from this.  Just because we have opinions doesn’t mean we need to share them. Especially in the way they have been shared in recent months/years. It’s been awful to witness and makes one want to completely unplug. It’s been worse than SEC football in the South even and that is saying a lot!!  Zip the lips.  Be kind even if you disagree!

To quote my friend and Pastor, Dr. Robert White, Jr.:

How to Disagree in a Disagreeable Time

Everyone knows there are serious differences and disagreements over any number of issues these days. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with having a difference or disagreement-it is the way we disagree that is important. Too often we end up going from talking with each other to talking at each other and finally talking about each other. Social media only makes it easier to follow this destructive progression.

I offer the following two quotes as worthy of our consideration                                             when we find ourselves in a disagreement.

“The crucial prerequisite of intelligent disagreement — namely: shut up; listen up; pause and reconsider; and only then speak.”
Excerpt from The Dying Art of Disagreement by Bret Stephens.

Maybe we should learn to heed the advice found in James 1:19 -“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen,                                                   slow to speak and slow to anger.”

By no means have I mastered this but I am working on it – I hope you are making progress as well-just in case we ever find ourselves in some disagreement with each other.

 

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Such a good perspective during times of stand up, kneel down, fist in the air, love the President, detest the President, you are an idiot for voting for him, “he” is God-ordained to be in office and so forth. It’s like a carousel that will not quit and all of our heads are spinning out of control. Where is the Dramamine??!!

I have hanging above my doorframe that leads to the garage this little sign I purchased on Etsy a couple of years ago. It is a quote that Jen Hatmaker said in her book, “For the Love”.  It’s a gentle reminder each day to our family and although we have not arrived in any sense of the word, when I look at the sign it jars me back into a place where yes, I need to:

Be Kind. Be You. Love Jesus.

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Jesus may not be your Person but oh how I wish He was. He is the most authentic, genuine lover of ALL mankind. As Author/Podcaster Jamie Ivey says in her upcoming book release, “If You Only Knew:  My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free”,

Jesus is Better!!

Be kind. Love people. Choose a smile over a frown. Hold a door open. Pray. Cherish. Serve. Make this world a better place because you’re here. Choose joy and gratitude.

 

With an abundance of love…….

Denise~

 

Dr. Robert White, Jr.

Jen Hatmaker

Jamie Ivey

 

 

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Bringing Maggie Home…..

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Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer was one of my favorite reads this summer.  A 70 year old mystery, dealt with by three generations of DeFord women leads to conflict, frustration and renewed love.

Hazel is haunted by her past.  Diane, her daughter, has issues over how smothering Hazel was. And Diane, Hazel’s Granddaughter and Diane’s daughter is the middleman trying to keep the peace in the home.

The mystery brings these three women together and you see a story of forgiveness, repentance, redemption and deep abiding love.

I received this book for my honest opinion.  My opinion is that you should read this. Sweet story with eternal satisfaction!

Bringing Maggie Home

Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer

 

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