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Ball Cap Ready

ball cap readyI clean houses for a living and when you clean houses; you need to be ‘ball cap ready’ at all times. Any effort to shower, put on make-up, style hair and look like you just walked out of a salon is pointless.

By the end of the day, you will have bleach stains on your work cloths, smell like anti-bacterial wipes and multi-purpose cleaner, sock bottoms that are disgustingly black and wish you had chosen a different career path. A career where you wake up and shower, not showering in showers you clean (trust me; it does happens when you fail to push or turn the wrong knob when cleaning the shower head).

You may not clean houses for a living, but each of us will find times in our life when we need to be ‘ball cap ready’. That call from a friend in need, the bestie who wants to meet for lunch in an hour because they facing a crisis moment, the family member that unexpectedly needs a ride to an appointment or a community member in need of an extra helping hand when everyone else bailed on them.

‘Ball Cap Ready’ means you are prepared for every situation that life throws at you with no regard for your physical appearance, attire, the sentiment or opinion of others. You just put on the ball cap and do what you are called to do. Serve.

The name of my company is on my ball cap, but there are moments throughout each day that the cap changes names. It’s unperceived by others, sometimes even to myself. Sometimes the ball cap reads friend, at other times it may change to grace, shoulder to cry on, just listen or Jesus cares.

It doesn’t matter what lettering is on the front of our ball caps because at any given time it could change. You might say, “I don’t wear ball caps!” I beg to differ. It may be vicariously, but the ball cap we wear on a daily basis says something.

It might say teacher, mom, electrician, builder or any host of names that define who and what you do for work. But that same ball cap also says something about who you are as a person and your response readiness to switch caps in a minutes notice to be the person that Jesus has called you to be in any given situation.

  • Are you ball-cap ready?
  • Are you attentive to the words God has commissioned on your ball cap today?
  • Does it hang in a prominent place where it is easily grabbed when needed, or stashed in a remote corner of your closet?

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Heavenly Father, you are aware of the ball-cap I wear everyday. Let it be that of a servant’s heart, one who truly cares and seeks to lay my own will aside to serve others because that is what Jesus has called me (us) to do.

Remind me that small acts can have a huge impact when guided & ordained by you. Inspire me to wear a servant’s ball-cap every day and take the focus off my needs and put others first.

AMEN

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Seasons of Grace

img_3614[1]I gaze out window watching remnant leaves from the fall season gracefully skate across the surface of my ice-glazed deck.

They spin around and then smoothly skim the surface of the ice with occasional moments of being air bound before gracefully, flawlessly descending back to the icy surface.

And then, without notice, the edge of the remnant leave becomes caught in a crack. It fights to free itself to no avail. Suddenly a gust of wind dislodges it and it once again is free to glide across the surface of my ice-glazed deck.

We are all leaves fallen from grace trying to weather the seasons of life. There are winter season when we navigate across ice-glazed surfaces to keep our balance; avoiding cracks and thin ice.

Spring brings the emergence of new growth. We labor to recover from any losses in the wintry season of our life. The arrival of summer’s glorious, bountiful sunshine is welcomed. It’s a time of renewal, joy and reprieve. Our dreams for the future blossom, we bear fruit and flourish in preparation for fall.

Fall descends and the colorful sprays of leaves will soon fade and turn brown. A reminder of how we have all fallen from grace. It’s nature’s call for us to reconcile with the Creator of all things because winter is coming.

“In [fellowship with] Christ we have redemption [i.e., we have been bought back from Satan] through His blood, and have forgiveness of sins according to the abundance of God’s unearned favor,”
Ephesians 1:7

PRAYER FOR TODAY

Heavenly Father, no matter the season I face in my life, I ask for your guidance, encouragement and the knowledge that you go before me in all things. You have eternal purpose for each and every one of us whether we choose to accept it or not.

Open my eyes to see my life through your eyes. A life that is redeemed, rescued and full of plans directed and orchestrated by you.  In my bleak and barren seasons lead me, in those seasons of rejoicing may my feet dance in praise for your enduring mercies and endless kindness.

In all things, I give you thanks always.

Amen

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And So It Is Christmas

Aand so it is christmasnd so it is Christmas…

A day children awaken with wide-eyed anticipation of presents delivered overnight by Santa or gifted by family and friends. It’s a day that often includes a Christmas dinner or for some, like myself, a day of grazing on leftovers from earlier family gatherings.

And so it is Christmas…

Wrapping paper is torn from boxes and emptied of their contents. Ribbon, bows and gift tags are scattered on the floor as the joyous litter of another Christmas is tossed into an oversized garbage bag.

And so it is Christmas…

Favorite holiday movies are watched throughout the day, family board and card games are played together and laughter is shared amidst all the typical pandemonium and commotion of Christmas day.

And so it is Christmas…

Dusk descends and the day draws to a close. Bedtime prayers are said as the kiddos are tucked into bed. It’s been an eventful day and as the tree lights are switched off, I glance up at the moon and stars that shine brightly against the backdrop of the dark sky.

And so it is Christmas…

In that quiet moment I am reminded of a time long ago when a stable feeding trough was a makeshift crib for a baby destined to redeem our world from the guilt of our sin and disobedience to His Father: GOD.

And so it is Christmas…

My head hits the pillow, exhausted by the activity of the day. I whisper a prayer as I rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas: The peace, contentment and hope that the birth of Jesus gifted to me.

It may not be a peace that changes my circumstances, but IT IS a calm that can fill my mind and heart during the worst storm—contentment that poverty or plenty cannot take away—a sense of hope that God is in control, no matter what happens.

It’s not something I work up, or earn—it is a gift from God, a gift each of us can unwrap this Christmas Day, or any day. The gift of salvation brought through the birth of Jesus.

And so it is Christmas…

Rejoice, celebrate and claim your free gift of salvation because it’s the only gift that really matters at the end of the day. When tree lights are unplugged, presents unwrapped and guests return home and food put away, you are left with the backdrop of the night sky and yourself.

And in the stillness of the night, I pray you choose to embrace the true gift of AND SO IT IS CHRISTMAS. His name is JESUS.

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Our Skyline is Forever Changing

IMG_4043
This morning’s skyline over the lake appeared ominous and threatening. But in a short time, I watched the skyline change to a luminous, vivid spray of color that welcomed the IMG_4064dawning of a new day with open arms and shouted to anyone that cared to listen, “There is hope if you are willing to be still and wait for the Creator of all things to showcase His glorious influence over how you perceive the day He has set before you.”

“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us be full of joy and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24

Did your day start out like this morning’s skyline? I encourage you to wait prayerfully and patiently before the Lord. He listens to us in our time of need and just when we believe all hope has vacated the skyline of our life, HE arrives in the most magnificent way and reveals hope. God has a way of turning our ominous and threatening moments into joy.

“You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away my sorrow and surrounded me with joy.” Psalms 30:11 (GNT)

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Lord, let me move and breathe with the knowledge that YOU go before me at the dawn of each new day. From sunrise to sunset, your grace is sufficient. You only want the best for me and no matter how dark the clouds above me, you are continually reshaping the skyline of my life into something glorious and beautiful. Thank you, Heavenly Father for caring about every detail of my life.

AMEN

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The Beauty of Pain: It Turns Us to Love

quote-god-did-not-rescue-me-out-of-the-pain-he-rescued-me-through-the-pain-tullian-tchividjian-128-47-56
I listened to a play list of my favorite songs today.  Each song represented a season in my life. Some brought memories of reclaimed joy while others resonated with lyrics that held my emotions hostage to some of my deepest moments of pain.

Letting go of what no longer supports a healthy lifestyle or relationship can be painful. It may be a failed marriage, death of someone deeply loved, feelings of emotional abandonment or quitting an addiction. There are a plethora of reasons and life events that torment our body, soul and mind.

When we fail to seek the divine consult of God and pursue our own desires, there will be consequences. Make no mistake, our heavenly Father loves us deeply, but the outcome of our success requires obedience to HIS will and planned purpose for our life.

If you are like me, you will screw up and it will be a hot mess. But, there is beauty to be found in our pain. How can that be?

God stands ready at any given time to turn our pain into HIS love and take our ashes and replace them with garments of joy. Isn’t that so like God?

And so, as tears filled my eyes in remembrance of the painful times in my life, I remembered that I am a child of an Almighty God who will forever point my pain in the direction of HIS love. It is my heartache coupled with HIS unconditional love that has shaped me into the person I am today.

We all experience physical, emotional pain and challenges of life. The beauty behind that pain is Jesus. He can transform it into joy and love if we allow Him to actively engage in our heartbreaks, hurts, losses and grief.

There is beauty in pain when we give it all to Jesus! It brings to mind the lyrics of an Evie song:

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
And at the feet of Jesus lay them down
(Chorus)
give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys,
Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
And He will turn your sorrow’s into joy

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Love Wins Every Time

love wins
Sorry! I just don’t see how posting your political venue on Facebook along with sarcastic comments, quotes and venom is going to change the heart and mind of those who oppose your views.

Yes, you are entitled to your viewpoint on all things political, but do you have to present your case on Facebook?

If you really want to make a difference, do something that requires more than copying and pasting political propaganda and opinions you find on the internet. It’s the lazy person’s way of broadcasting politics and requires little effort.

We are a nation that has to co-exist together regardless of our political views. To verbally or physically assault others who oppose our views achieves nothing. History pretty much confirms this truth.

In a perfect world, it would be nice to believe that after the November 6 elections, all political disparity would subside. Sadly, you and I both know that won’t happen. There will be a new barrage of online verbal attacks; some on a very personal level that will sever family and friendships.

My life is surrounded by friends and family members with differing political and religious views that are contrary to mine. That’s OK. What’s not OK is for me to take an offensive enemy position in an effort to persuade them to my point of view.

For the record, there is this thing called prayer. God is the judge and jury of all mankind (at least in my religious views). Even if your views should differ, the bottom line is this:

We were created for a purpose. Hopefully, you view your purpose as someone who embraces humanity with love, understanding and compassion.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

I encourage you to practice love. It wins every time.

There is clarity when we set aside our differences. The blinders of hate, political discord and allegiances to groups that seek to divide us are lifted. Love allows us to see people who may have opposing views as a group of individuals that truly want to find a way to bring unity without twitter feeds, media hypes and Facebook / Internet propaganda.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Heavenly Father, unite our nation. Unite our people. Let us look toward the greater cause and purpose of why we exist… faith, hope and love.

Amen.

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The Inspiration Behind the Dream

kindness winsAs the founder of the Linden Pay It Forward Project, this post is written from my heart.

Many years ago I became a part of the Linden community by marriage. Some of you know the person I married, others may not; that is not important. What IS important is, after the marriage ended, I felt abandoned in a community I did not know.

I had to find my way and it wasn’t easy. But God’s grace is sufficient in our time of need and that grace was more than I ever hoped for.

ROLL BACKWARDS

For whatever reason, I believed my self-worth was based on my martial partner. Hmm…. any of you been down that path of misconception? Now, at age 63, I can’t even imagine that I gifted that former spouse a digit on my scale of worth. But it happened.

ROLL FORWARD

My point of sharing is to enlighten you that WE create our future; WE reshape the circumstances that we thought would define our destiny.

I started to step outside my comfort zone. I joined a gym where I met some forever friends. I became active in my community through a Bunco group with friendships still shared to this day.

My daughter’s participation in sports throughout high school brought new friendships with parents in the community. When I started a home-based global business, I hired students from Linden High to help out. To this day, these gals are like daughters to me.

Bottom line, I choose to reshape my destiny. I went back to college, finished my degree and in the process recognized that I was worthy. I finally got it.

GOT WHAT?

I finally got that my faith, the love of family, friends and community is what really matters.  Some of you know my deepest struggles, some don’t. Again, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the knowledge that whatever life throws at us, God’s grace and community friendships will see us through the pot holes of life.

FAST FORWARD

The community that once felt foreign to me is now my safety net, my fortress and my forever hometown.

PAY IT FORWARD

My reason for starting the Linden Pay It Forward Project had a dual purpose. It was inspired by an act of kindness by two high school boys within our community. On a more intimate level, it was a desire to make people feel like they belong. Perhaps, their life story differs from mine, but in the end, it’s all about a need to be accepted, appreciated and loved.

We all have stories of loss, personal heartache and remorse. I can think of no better way to recover, regroup and regain whatever it is we have lost than to reach out to others in their time of need.