Sufficient Grace

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.    2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

If you’ve spent much time reading and studying the New Testament, you know that Paul endured a “thorn in his side” which he often asked the Lord to remove.  While there are theological debates over exactly what the thorn represented, most of us don’t fully understand, nor will we ever know this side of Heaven specifically what the apostle suffered in the flesh as it relates to his “thorn.”

I sometimes feel the sting of a thorn.  Perhaps from an event or circumstance completely out of my control but nevertheless a bother.  Or…maybe from my own self-centered-self. My sin.  My shortcomings.  And less than positive thoughts or actions.

Every moment of every day I simply need His promises. His unconditional love and unwavering faithfulness.  Him.

What about you? Is there a thorn in your side that continues to poke, prod and sting?  Won’t you come before Him, repent, accept His forgiveness and experience His grace? Whatever it is that you need, His grace is sufficient!

 

 

 

Washed in His Grace

I’ve never been much of a bath person.  Generally speaking, I’d rather jump in the shower, bathe and shave and move along with my day. Check! Done. For my Hurry Up-Get-Er-Done attitude toward most everything in my life, this has always been my go-to self-cleaning plan.  I mean really…why would one want to sit…and soak…and relax in a tub full of water for several minutes….or an hour?  I’ve never understood my girlfriends who prefer the sit-down over the stand-up version of personal hygiene!

As a little girl I do have some fond – and quite funny – stories of taking baths at my grandmother’s house. Big Mama.  Oh how I miss her.  To keep the story clean (pun fully intended, ha), I’ll just say that if she thought for one second I didn’t stay in there long enough to thoroughly wash all the important parts, she would send me right back into the bathroom!  I promise she could be clear on the other side of the house and know if I had even swung one leg over the big, white claw foot tub on my way to stepping onto the floor.  It was like she had her kitchen timer set or something.  Cracks me up every time I think about her hollering across the little house on Congress Street in Jackson, MS, “You better get back in that tub and wash!”

And here I am.  Longing for a bath in an big, white claw foot tub.  Or any tub where I can stretch out, I reckon.  And sit….and soak…and relax…at least for a few minutes!

I can’t remember when I first tried bath bombs. I think it was when I bought a bunch of them to give as Christmas happies a couple of years ago. Figured I’d try one – just to see what all the fuss was about.  Ok….they smell wonderful, they make my skin feel really soft – and – if you get the right ones – they have a prize in the middle!  Like Cracker Jacks without the calories, whoo hoo!  So bath bombs have become the bomb dot com for me.   I love ’em!

While bath bombs have certainly contributed to my increased interest in tub-time, they share the attention with dry shampoo!  When I fully realized what that stuff can do and that I don’t have to wash my hair everyday, that was a game-changer in my every-other-morning routine!  Shower one day. Bath the next. Five minute hair fix on bath days.  Twenty minutes on shower days. Hellooooo!!

And so it is.  God in His awesome, marvelous holiness has done it again!  He has used everyday, simple things to teach me a powerful lesson.  He is slowing me down.  He is changing me.  He is washing me in His grace again and again as I learn to embrace His will, His timing, HIM in all things at all times in all ways.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 

Psalm 51: 10 NKJV

BathBombs

 

 

 

 

 

Great Expectations: Part Three

Whew!  The last few weeks have been a whirlwind!  I don’t know about y’all but from my viewpoint, January has flown by!  Just like that and it’s time to decorate for Valentine’s Day!

If you read parts one and two of the “Great Expectations” blog I hope you’ve taken some time to reflect upon your own expectations and exactly what that means to you.  As I’ve dug into the subject myself, especially in light of my word (and commitment) for the year to be intentional, I’ve pondered over my own attitudes, circumstances, beliefs and thoughts.

Let’s take a look at the Merriam-Webster definition for expectation:

the act or state of looking forward to some occurrence                                                      

And a few synonyms: Anticipation , contemplation, expectance, expectancy, prospect

And lastly, some related words: Alarm, apprehension, dread, foreboding, misgiving

There are several words within that definition that resonate deep within me – but mostly I hang onto “looking forward” as I think about what God has in store for me and how I aspire to live my life.

I have intentionally set out to read the Bible in its entirety this year. From start to finish – Genesis to Revelation.  Every Word.  Every Page.  While I’ve read the Bible in parts since I was a young girl, this is the first time I’ve determined to read it cover-to-cover with a deliberate action plan.

I’m using a Bible App on my phone and am really enjoying the format which includes a thorough devotion along with supporting scripture for each day.  Transparently, I have always struggled with the family tree lineage in the Old Testament.  Keeping up with all those folks and their wives and kids makes my head spin – and honestly, it’s just tough not to skip right over the genealogy parts.  What I’m discovering however, is how beautifully and wonderfully it all fits together.  My expectation is beginning to evolve from bore to excitement as the individuals and their stories come alive with each new day of reading.

He’s changing my expectations.  And my intentions.  And my motivations.  And Lord knows I need an attitude adjustment on many days!  I’ve asked Him to work on me and I expect Him to do great things – not because of who I am or what I do but because of who He is!

And through all of this – as I continue to be a work-in-progress, I’m learning some very cool truths:

**It’s good to have expectations, it is.  It’s even ok to have great expectations if they are realistic and vetted through what’s legal, moral, ethical and for me – within His will and plan.

But here’s the really good stuff:

**Sometimes (or maybe often for some of us), when we least expect a blessing, an answered prayer, a turnaround relationship, a __________________ that’s when we are receive it!

He just wants us. All of us.

He gave Himself. And His Son.

For us.

Selah…..

Like anyone else reading this – or on the face of the earth – I have stuff to deal with – personal issues, family concerns, work obligations… life is full of – stuff…right!?! Over the years I have placed expectations (sometimes realistic, often not) upon myself and others and I have finally come to the realization that the greatest expectation that I can ever have is that of trust.

It’s really pretty simple. If I believe and TRUST what His Word says and I choose to obey His Word, I can GREATLY expect Him to do GREAT things in my life and the lives of my loved ones!  And that, my friends, is the greatest expectation of all expectations!

I’ve never read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (in case you were wondering).  But I can tell you that God sure did use the decorative “fake book” that caught my attention in Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago.  And it all started with my OCD-gotta-get-the-Christmas décor out of the attic NOW-self barreling down a set of stairs and knocking a picture off the wall.

The things our Father will do to get our attention, to speak to us, to use us…..continues to amaze me!

I hope your greatest expectation(s) are grounded in Him and centered around His goodness.  I pray you will dream big but trust bigger, plan smart but rest in His faithfulness.

#greatexpectations2018 it’s a wrap!

 

 

 

 

Great Expectations: Part Two

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What are you expecting today?  This week?  This year?  Next year? In the next five, ten, twenty years?  Of yourself?  Of others?  Of God, if you are a believer?

Seriously.  Think about it.

Your New Year’s resolution(s) results.  Your hard work and efforts – professionally and/or personally.  What. Do. You. Expect? To happen. To transform. To change.  To stay the same.

Is the glass half full or mostly empty?  Do you hope for the best? Expect the worst?  Believe that good will prevail or generally sense the bad and the ugly?

These are not rhetorical questions simply asked for literary effect; rather they are fully intended to evoke emotion and deep thought in you – and me. And elicit responses within our own minds and hearts.

In his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale writes, “When you expect the best, you release a magnetic force in your mind which by a law of attraction tends to bring the best to you.”

Now I’m no brain surgeon and I’m certainly far from a scientist or scholar, but y’all I believe it and I can attest to it: Expect great things and great things will happen!

I could go on and on with testimonies and Lord willing I’ll keep up with this blog and eventually share a few real-life events that only He could orchestrate through my faith in Him AND positive expectations.

Would you join me in the journey of great expectations?  I’d love to hear your stories……

<<<<(still) to be continued>>>>

Great Expectations: Part One

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In late December I received a voice mail from the framing department at Hobby Lobby. The message indicated that I needed to come to the store before they could complete my framing request.  Aww shucks, okkkaaaayyyy twist my arm to make another trip.  (I love me some Hobby Lobby, y’all!)  🙂

So….let’s rewind to the day after Thanksgiving….picture this with me:

Walk-in attic upstairs, framed pictures of family lining the walls on both sides of the stairs between the first and second floors, an impatient gal barreling out of the attic with an extra long, extra wide plastic container coming down the stairs with a determination as strong as nails to get all the décor down those stairs and on that Christmas tree quick, fast and in a hurry….

Bare feet and glass included.

Yep…I did….I carried that container down those stairs (well…I made it to the second stair from the top) and plum knocked off the biggest frame on the dang wall!  The one with the most glass, y’all. And the one that had taken me FOREVER to frame.  It’s a collage – with 6-7 (all different sizes) black-and-white pictures of my sweet girl when she was 10ish AND it has individual, raised letters at the bottom that spell out B L E S S I N G S. My favorite one on the wall!  I swore when I got that thing done that I would never embark on such a craft again.  Framing is not for me!

It broke!  Ya think?

Made a big ol racket, too. And left some scratches on the wall. And glass went EVERYWHERE. On the stairs. All the way to the bottom and onto the tile floor. And there I was in my bare feet, which is crazy because I ALWAYS wear those dollar pair of Old Navy flip flops. Always. Except on the day after Thanksgiving when I knocked my favorite pic off the wall!!

Praise God for the best hubby ever who insisted that I sit my little tail at the top of the stairs until he got it all cleaned up. That Shark vacuum he likes so much did the trick!

Now…back to Hobby Lobby – I made my way there earlier this week and you know…the framing department is in the BACK of the store…so I HAD to stroll a while…..just to look and see what “pretties” they had….and they had plenty….I could’ve bought up their entire “Farmhouse” supply of stuff – but I didn’t.  What did catch my eye, however, was some of those faux (aka fake, ha) books that are used for stacking and whatnot and I thought to myself how well they would look on my living room table since I’d been looking for something to add some height.

So…I picked up a couple – and one in particular resonated with me….but not until several days later when I spotted it on my living room table… 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I stopped in my tracks as I glanced down and noticed the name for the first time early one morning as I made my way through the living room.  You see, I had not noticed the name AT ALL in the store.  I had simply liked the style, design and colors, bought it along with one more, and that was it.  Quick, fast and in a hurry….

<<<<<<to be continued>>>>>>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate!

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In the spirit of being intentional in 2018, I will celebrate!  Big things, small things.  Important dates to me – and to my loved ones.

There’s so much to celebrate – if we will but look….all around us! And quite often, right in front of us!

During the month of January, I will celebrate my hubby’s birthday.  And new beginnings.  And the opportunities that have not yet presented themselves.  And forever grateful I will be. To have the chance to celebrate. To walk out this often difficult – but super cool blessing – called LIFE.

As an elementary-aged girl, I was very involved in the children’s choir at First Baptist Church in Jackson, MS.  I adored the Music Director (to this day I still think he hung the moon) and I remember singing “Celebration” over and over and over. Back then I had no idea that it was a ‘secular’ song – and frankly it didn’t make much difference once I found out.  The impact of the lyrics and the Music Director was far more important. (That’s another blog for another day).

What will you celebrate today, this week, this year?

 (Most of) the lyrics to: “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang 

Yahoo!
Celebration
Yahoo!
This is your celebration

Celebrate good times, come on!
(Let’s celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on!
(Let’s celebrate)

There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times and your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you

Come on now, celebration
Let’s all celebrate and have a good time
Celebration
We gonna celebrate and have a good time

It’s time to come together
It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure?
Everyone around the world come on!

Yahoo!
It’s a celebration
Yahoo!

We’re gonna have a good time tonight
(Celebration)
Let’s celebrate, it’s all right
We’re gonna have a good time tonight
(Celebration)
Let’s celebrate, it’s all right

Yahoo!
Yahoo!

 

In a Word

A couple of weeks ago my mother-in-law told me that she had chosen one word for herself for the coming year.  A word of focus.  A word that would assist her in establishing her goals, tasks and decisions for the next 365 days.  Her word.  As I listened, I could easily tell that she had put much thought into the selection.  While I was somewhat intrigued by the notion, I wasn’t necessarily moved to do much else as I went about my day, my week….my life.

Every year for several years now, typically in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve nestled under a blanket in front of a fire with a cup of coffee, I have taken some time to reflect and set.  Reflect on the year past. And set goals for the year ahead.  Each year’s goals have been similar and have usually been clarified in these categories: Spiritual, Health, Financial and Professional.  Detailed.  Specific. Actionable. Achievable. And quite tedious, actually.

As Christmas Eve 2017 approached, I just wasn’t feeling it.  #1 I didn’t want to reflect on what I knew I had not accomplished.  I didn’t want to look myself square in the eye and fully admit that I had done a horrible job of sticking to my self-imposed goals.  And I certainly didn’t want to establish a new laundry list of ideal standards without the necessary unwavering commitment to achieve such accomplishments.  #2 I didn’t even know where to begin anyway.  I just….wasn’t feeling it this go-around…

Then it hit me….I must be intentional!  If I choose to establish one goal or one thousand goals, it’s on me.  If I want to commit or throw the paper in the nearby fire, I can do either or neither.  Whatever I do, I must do it as unto the Lord.  He doesn’t care if it’s on a piece of paper or simply in this crazy head of mine.  He only wants my heart and He wants to receive the glory for whatever results are produced.

So I have a word: INTENTIONAL.  Not because my mother-in-law or anyone else is choosing one word… but because it’s right.  Right for me. And where I am right now. And who I am.  In Him.

Thank you, Dorothy. You planted a seed. Others watered it. And the Lord is growing it. In me and you. For His glory and in His time.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Happy

“Happy New Year!”  How many times have you said that to someone in the past 6 days?  How many times has someone said it to you?  Obviously neither you or I have counted the times that those three words have rolled off our tongues or been spoken to us since the clock struck midnight on January 1; nor would I expect that any of us would ever do such a thing.  But what if we DID count?  Not count for the sake of adding numbers as if we’d earn a dime for every tick marked or because we’ve established some sort of system to make ourselves feel better.  Count as in MAKE IT COUNT.  What if, every single time we chose to offer 2017 well wishes to someone, we paused and considered what we might do to contribute to the happiness of that person?  To take it a step further, what if we got really crazy and turned the statement into a question: “What can I do to contribute to your happiness this year?” Feel too weird or awkward to ask that of someone?  At the very least we could ask ourselves, “What do I think I could do to contribute to this person’s happiness in 2017?”  And: “What will I do about it?”

In a time when anything and everything we want is literally at our fingertips, we have become a society of doing what makes us happy. Us. As in me, myself and I.  As in I want, I want, I want. Or, I need, I need, I need (mostly based on our own justifications of what defines a true need). This will make me happy. That will make me happy.  Happy New Year turns into Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Easter, Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Father’s Day and Happy Birthday and Happy This and Happy That and before you know it another 365 days have passed and we are singing “Auld Lang Syne” and striving for continued/better/more happiness again – and again – and again.

Now do not misunderstand me! There is nothing wrong with saying “Happy New Year” or wishing “Happy (fill-in-the-blank)” to anyone and, in fact, I am a die-hard celebrator of all things happy.  Like Martina McBride sings (gosh, I love her voice), I’m a happy girl!  Lots of things make me happy and I enjoy sharing happiness with others.  My true, deep-down-in-my-heart happiness comes from the peace and joy that I have in knowing my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in my best, genuine, Mississippi twang, hear me say, “There ain’t nothin’ that compares to that!”

With that, I’ll leave you with a question and a challenge: What can I do to contribute to your happiness and what will you do to go beyond happy in your own life and in the lives of others today?  this week?  this year?

This is the day that the Lord has made.

Let’s rejoice together, SHARE the joy and ASK others to join us!

Happy, Happy!

Joy, Joy!

 

 

 

 

 

A heart like His

I wanna have a heart like Jesus.  A heart empty of judgment; full of love.  A heart closed to fear and fully open to forgiveness.  One that gives more than it takes and sees good in the midst of bad.  A heart that beats FOR Him, not just because of Him.  Every. Single. Beat.  But I’m a sinner.  I’m fragile and I’m human.  And I fall short in tall ways. And my shortcomings overwhelm me in the light of His purity.  Oh but grace…God’s grace. That which I cannot comprehend I can still choose to embrace. So I do.  And the clean waters of His love wash the dirt away.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 NIV

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Step on in…

Several weeks ago a friend said to me, “You are always on the go and see lots of nice places.  You should start a blog.”  I replied, “I DO have a blog but I’ve not written in quite some time.”  Just a few days prior another friend told me, “I sure do miss your blog.  I always love reading what you write.”

Ok, God.  I hear You.  Somebody – or at least TWO somebodies out there –  want to hear what I have to say through this platform.  Oh yeah, this means of communication that is a direct result of intense prayer time and a spirit-led decision to put my crazy, transparent thoughts on the World-Wide-Web, complete with a glamour shot and a quite appropriate label of “Mississippi Blonde.”   Yep, You still want me to do it.  You haven’t gone anywhere….I have.

Ask. Seek. Knock. And it shall be given to us according to God’s will.  We know this scripture.  We quote it.  We commit it to memory.  And, in our own human frailty, we believe that He will answer the question, open the door, provide the guidance. And He does, although not always when or how we desire.  But…what do we do when He answers?  Often if we get the response we want, we praise Him with hands held high and we shout “Amen” loud and proud.  We go forth on the path that we believe has been clearly revealed by His spirit or through His word.  On the other hand, if we receive less than our desired answer, we aren’t as willing to raise our arms toward Heaven.  We fall short in the excitement of a Father who still answers prayers.  So we stand. We stand at the door.  The door that we knocked on – and that He opened. And we keep standing – unwilling to take the next step – to cross the threshold into His perfect will.

I have no idea who needs this.  But I do know that I had to walk through the door – today. Not tomorrow.  Not next week. Today.  What door do YOU need to walk through?  He has already opened it for you…just simply step on in!