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Politics over faith?

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This Presidential election year has brought out the good, the bad, the ugly and the very ugly.  We have seen sides of people we called friends that have had us holding our mouths wide open with surprise.  We have read countless posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more all giving opinions of the current POTUS.  Of the outgoing POTUS.  Of how people voted. Whom they voted for. Why they voted for said candidate. How moronic one side or the other is.  It has been an exhausting campaign and there is still a sting from all that has been said and done.

As a Jesus follower,  I personally don’t feel that my voice for politics has to be incredibly loud.  Now, this is my own personal opinion and I realize it isn’t shared by all.  So, I sit back and wonder….if we are Jesus followers, is that evident in the way I discuss politics?  Or are my politics outshining the fact that I am a Jesus follower?

Stay with me here!  Look over your posts for the last few months.  Do they reflect Christ?  Are we slamming the side of politics we are not on?  Are we standing up, holding signs about politics? Where are the signs about Jesus?  (not that I’m into that….just a metaphor).

If the loudest and most apparent thing about us is our political stance, then aren’t we missing an enormous opportunity to share the love of Christ?  Do our words contradict what we claim to be saying is wrong with the opposite “side”?

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borrowed from @cleerelystated

 

To me, being a Christ follower and being loudly vocal about politics can cause a direct conflict because when it all goes down to the nitty gritty, Jesus is the King of Kings. How much more beautiful our world would be if we rest in that. If we remember.  If we don’t forget.  When I feel an eye roll coming on, that is what I need to tell myself.  Jesus. Is. The. King. Of. Kings.

Isaiah 9:6  For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;                                                              And the government will rest on His shoulders;                                                                                                 And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  

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Photo taken in Antigua, Guatemala

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2016 musings…..

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With all of the recent celebrity deaths, people are using social media to talk about how bad 2016 was.  In many ways, there are reasons for “do overs”.  A nasty election tops the bill, shootings, racial disharmony and again, a nasty election.  Several deaths of people that my generation and beyond grew up with…..Prince, Alan Thicke, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Florence Henderson, George Michael and more.  There was much sadness and a whole lot of anger this year.

2016 for me personally brought sadness, hurt, anger too but it also brought much joy.  It was a blended stock pot of the good and the not-so-good. And isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t there good and bad in every season or chapter of our lives?

There’s a Right Time for Everything
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (The Message)

As I look back on 2016, I remember my grief.  Losing a loved one to suicide is beyond comprehension.  And if I allow myself to ~go there~, well, I just can’t.  I’ve chosen to bury the process deep within.  All of us have. It’s too hard for our family.  Grief and sadness and even some anger are prevalent. And the loss still stings greatly.

Business….we are so fortunate to do what we love. They say you are only as good as the people around you and for that, we are pretty blessed. Being a small business owner isn’t easy.  Yes, we escape the games of the corporate world but we answer to many more people in our line of work than most would in an office. People with lots of opinions, good and bad. We’re grateful for both….the opportunity to be affirmed and the chance for growth and improvement.  We do, however appreciate the ones who are nice about it. ~wink~

Friendship….been a very interesting year for this.  While some friendships have ended, others have blossomed and some have been restored.   I have found great love for people whose paths I may not have otherwise crossed if not for ministry and serving together.  I’ve been hurt by people who I thought were friends but I’ve also hurt a friend I care about, too.  Good and bad. Season for everything. Right and wrong.  Black and white.  Or really a whole lot of gray.  I’ve learned that giving people opportunities can come back to bite you in the tush.  That when it comes down to it, sometimes people will take from you what they can and when they are done, they move on.  We have been givers, not takers.  And sometimes it’s hard to remember that just because you care for someone, doesn’t mean they care as much for you. That’s been a very hard lesson this year. But one that I/we have learned from and will move forward with, prayerfully with no bitterness in our hearts.

Family…..always the tricky part of life yet the one certain in life.  Family knows buttons to push but the bottomline with family is that you are blood, you will be there together, through thick and thin and even though you may want to choke the other at times, no one else better try it. Family really is a forever thing and I’m grateful for them all, immediate and extended.

Caregiving….I’ve learned that I can’t do it all.  I am so weary at times caring for my daughter, my Gran, our home, our life and working when I’m able.  So. Weary.  Realizing that there has to be time for self-care and in this next year, I need to figure that out.  I need downtime that is more than escaping to my room and closing the door.  I need a hobby.  I’ve always wanted to take a pottery class.  Lowe Mill, here I come?

Church life….I’ve taken a backseat musically and miss it. But know that I can’t sing just to sing. It has to mean more. It has to be more. I take it seriously and to heart and need more.  Maybe that desire of the heart will return soon. Maybe I will figure out where I belong.  Maybe I’ll pay attention to the signs.

Health….Every year it’s “this is the year” and every year, it’s more of the same.  This year I will try to not repeat that mantra without substance to back it.

2016 my word was present.  I tried to be more present in things, even when my body wanted to lay on the couch.  If someone suggested something, I was in.  If I was involved in something, I was all in or not at all.  I didn’t always succeed but the effort was there.

For 2017 I’ve chosen the word delight.  I want to delight more in my Father.  I want to be delighted by what is happening around me.  I want to feel delight in my husband, my children, extended family.  I will continue to delight in the best gift that 2016 brought us…our Grandson.  My delight will come from things of the Lord.

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.  Psalm 35:9

For I delight in your commands because I love them.  Psalm 119:47

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  I Corinthians 13:6

What was your good this year? What was your not-so-good?  Would you have do overs?  And what will you take into 2017 with you?  I’m going for a clear mind and heart, an intentional selection of people to surround myself with, and opportunities to serve.

Starting tomorrow, January 1st? No. Starting right now.

Reaching. Stretching. Growing. Flying.

Denise~

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Ho Ho No – 5 Reasons We Don’t Do Santa

My friend Ashley said this all so well!!

Ashley Doyle Pooser

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The tree is trimmed. The stockings are hung. The gifts are ready. And by that, I mean the gifts are ready for me to find them at the store, buy them, hide them, wrap them, and put them under the tree at approximately 1:37 a.m. on December 25th. It’s okay. I’m good at other things.

The only thing that’s missing is a jolly old bearded guy in a red suit. And his reindeer. Oh, and that creepy elf dude.

Yes. We are one of THOSE families. We don’t do Santa at our house. I know, I know. It’s okay to go ahead and roll your eyes. We get that a lot.

It’s not like we’re marching indignantly on the North Pole, picket signs in hand, but it does come up a bit during this time of year. The reaction is generally one of disappointed surprise mixed with polite disapproval. “Oh, is that so? I…

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The Mystery…..

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Lacey Sturm is a rocker girl.  She was the front person for Flyleaf and is known for not only her lyrics and rocker voice but that she was an atheist who became a believer.

Her newest book release, The Mystery:  Finding True Love in a World of Broken Lovers is a story of her life. The good, the bad, the ugly and a bit more ugly.  It’s a story of hope!  Of redemption and of coming out of an ~orphan identity~ that makes us think that we don’t have a Father who loves us and care for us.

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Lacey shares her story and others who are also brave share theirs.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when Lacey showcases one of her Heroes….and they write a letter to the reader.  It’s always written with the thought of what they would tell their younger self and about the hope, grace and love that they have found in Christ. It’s personal and raw….true sincerity.

Throughout Lacey’s journey, she discovers True Love in Jesus Christ.  She allows us, the reader to go on this wild and crazy journey of highs and deep valley lows with her. Lacey is inspiring and her words will encourage you, no matter if you are on the highest hill or deep in a valley in your life right now.

I didn’t know who Lacey Sturm or Flyleaf was before opening the pages of this book, but I’m so glad I got a glimpse into this young lady’s life.  What a journey. What a testimony!

Buy The Mystery Here  #bakerbooksbloggers

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*I received The Mystery in exchange for my honest opinion. 

He sees me…

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6:15am.

Awake to make the boys sandwiches for their Deep Sea Fishing trip today.

Coffee has brewed and its aroma fills the kitchen. I fill a mug and head to the balcony.

The sun is just beginning to display it’s beauty, barely showing itself with its pinks and orange and gold.

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I look out into the ocean and the only sense I can use is sound. Wave after wave rolls in, crashing against the shore. I can’t see it but I know it’s there. I can’t feel it but I know it’s there, doing what it does. I know that each time it rolls in, it’s bringing with it an abundance of sea shells. Some are perfect little specimens while others are a bit fragmented. But the ocean has cared for them all.

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I can’t physically see my God, but I know He’s there. I see him in the sunrise and in the ocean. I see him in the faces of my family. In the recent birth of our first Grand. I see Him in the friends who are loyal and faithful and real. In our crew who work hard, especially in our absence. I feel Him. I see Him.

And He sees me. His perfect creation, like a beautiful unaltered seashell cast upon the shore with wave after rolling wave. He sees me when I am a fragment of that shell. Broken, hurt, betrayed, fallen. He sees my broken pieces and loves me in spite of the jagged edges.

El Roi. He is the God who sees me.

Genesis 16:13The Message (MSG)
13 She answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her,   “You’re the God who sees me!
“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!”

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The sun…..

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Most of us go through our lives taking the simple and sweet things around us for granted.  Coffee….the pot is there.  The grounds… in a little pod or a grinder. The mugs carefully put away in the cabinet for the next visit.  Steaming hot and flavored and the mug fits easily in your hand. You sip and all is right with the world.  I take that for granted.

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I take it for granted that each day my family will wake up from their slumber healthy and raring to go.  It’s not always going to be that way but I don’t go there. Yet I don’t appreciate enough that we are up and at it again.  I look across the table at my frail 90 year old Granny and am really trying to focus on not taking things or people for granted.

This morning, I woke up 5 minutes before the sunrise was scheduled to appear at the beach. I hurriedly got downstairs with my husband and we made our way to the beach. With coffee in hand, of course.

What was right before us was none other than majestic.  The clouds were surrounding the sun like they were protecting it.  The beautiful orange and pinks breaking through.  The waves on the beach rolling in to shore. It was a sight. A most beautiful sight.

I realized this morning that I take the sun for granted.  It’s there. Even on a rainy day, it eventually appears.  It sets at night and rises in the morning. It warms our bodies and darkens our skin. It can be dangerous if not respected. It doesn’t complain about the work to be done each and every single day of it’s existence. It. Just. Is.

Today, I am not taking the sun for granted.  Join me?

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Orange Beach, Alabama

Being “Made Well”

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Jenny can write about loss, heartache and disappointment because her life has been filled with such. As you read her words, you relate to those times in life when your heart was broken because we have all experienced it. Some more than others, but we all have had disappointment and heartache. But what you walk away with when you read Made Well is the overwhelming and abundant message of hope. Beautiful soft, sweet hope!

Jenny shares with the reader about family tragedy and loss. You will cry when you read it. And you will cry when Jenny speaks of Paul McCartney and the healing that came from a concert filled with his music. You will laugh out loud when “worm poop” is mentioned and you will cringe and make an “ewwww” face when scabs are brought up. (I’m “ewwing” as I type this!!).

Jenny is one of the most real, vulnerable and honest authors I have ever read. There are no pretenses and you see that in every word written.

Being made well isn’t easy. We all have burdens, heartache, loss, frustrations and more than we have to process through. Because of Jenny’s book, I feel as though some loss that my family and I personally experienced earlier this year is beginning to seep out. I feel as though I am on the road to being made well. I’m trying to look for those little glimmers of hope and happiness that are sometimes not as obvious as other times. As Jenny says in her book, “ If my eyes are open and I am looking, I will see that the whole world is full of tiny particles of healing pointing me back to the Healer.”

The God inside of us, coming to surface even when a cure doesn’t happen as we’d like, the end result brings sadness or life comes unraveled…..He is true and His imagine is deep inside of us all. He is there “bypassing my desire for cheap grace and quick fixes. He invites!”

Thankful to Jenny for writing this book. For sharing her heart yet again (The Road to Becoming is her first book) and for helping us realize that being made well happens in the every day little things and the big things, the tiny glimpses and the fireworks overhead. May the healing begin!

Order Jenny’s Book Here

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Where do you have church?

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The alarm was set.  I had a pile of things to take to church with me that morning.  My empty egg cartons to give to Amelia. Money for fresh eggs. (I don’t care what anyone says….(husband)…there is a difference!)  The book we are reading through in Lifegroup. My bible.  And cans of pumpkin to take to the Cafe to make Pumpkin Glaze for the Beignets.  Yes, it is amazing.

The alarm went off and in my typical fashion, I hit snooze. A couple of times.  The snooze button is one of the best inventions ever. Am I right?

Shortly after the 2nd snooze my daughter came in to plug in her iPad. If you have ever read anything I’ve written then you know I have a 26 year old daughter who is a person with autism.  Although she looks about 15 or 16, she has the developmental skills of a 7-8 year old and sometimes the behaviors of a teenager or a toddler. Depends on the size of the moon!

When Megan was born, she detested being swaddled.  Holding her tightly?  Nope. Not unless she was sick. And I have to say that there were times when she wasn’t feeling well that I was so happy because she allowed me to cuddle her on the rocking chair.  I could hold her close, sing to her and she let me.  My baby let me hold her in my arms. My little girl let me cuddle with her.   For most, that is an every day occurrence.  For my girl with autism, it was a very special occasion.

So this Sunday as she enters my room, she reaches over me and feels the bed. “Where’s Dad?”   He’s at work, Megan!  So she climbs over me and gets into bed next to me.  Lately she’s been laying closer to me than usual. She likes it when my right arm is under her and we share a pillow.  But don’t even think about touching her with the left arm.  I try…and fail.  And try again….and fail.  And she usually says “I lay by myself”, even though she’s not really since she’s cuddled up against me and laying on my right arm.

This Sunday was different though.  She spooned up against me, pulled her blanket she carried downstairs up over her, laid her head on my pillow, with my arm underneath.  And then I put my left arm around her waiting for her to fling it off.

But….she didn’t.  She didn’t touch it. I’m certain she noticed it because this child doesn’t miss much, but she didn’t flinch, didn’t say “I’m okay now” or “I lay by myself”.  She let me cuddle her. She let me hold her!

Outside of sending two text message (“Megan won’t be there today” and “I’ll get the eggs later”), I didn’t move a muscle.  I have asthma and probably because I was overly excited, I needed my inhaler.  But to reach for it meant taking my arm off of her. So instead, I did what my brother, sister and I called “breathers” when we were kids. Simple breathing exercises to help calm the panic.    I had an itchy nose too but scratching it meant lifting my arm up so I suffered through it.

She fell asleep in my arms and it was pure joy!  If you have a child with special needs, you know that you have to rejoice in the little things.  And sometimes, the little things are the big things.  This was huge.  This was church.img_5859

A fun, yet wet day at Tate Farms, Meridianville, AL.

Arnold Palmer….

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I grew up in a home where if my Dad was home, sports were on the television.  Didn’t matter what sport…..he loved them all.  But he had a special fondness for golf. He watched, he played, he built custom golf clubs.  He was in sales and in sales, deals are made on the golf course. And even if it wasn’t about a deal or networking, he was on the golf course.   An entire day was spent on the green and then a few drinks in the bar.  When Dad and my Other Mom moved to South Carolina, he spent some of his retirement working at a golf course. He loved it.  Was there all day, got to know the pros and played when he wanted to. Perfect retirement job.

In growing up with golf on the television, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were a really big part of my childhood.  I didn’t know them. They didn’t know me.  But we sure knew who they were because of Dad’s obsession.

Today, Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87.  Dad passed away ten years ago at the age of 67.    We’ve often said that Dad is playing all of the golf that he wants and we are certain there is a beer somewhere near by.  I’m asking God now….let Dad play a round with Arnold Palmer. And someday, I can’t wait to hear all about it!!

Rest in peace Arnold Palmer. Thank you for the memories!

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Photo from nolayingup.com

Arnold Palmer passes away at 87