Friday, July 31, 2009

"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 NIV

This verse popped into my email this morning as part of one of the numerous daily devotionals I receive. They are a great way to start my work day with the right perspective. I’ve been perplexed and pondering a lot lately. There are many things on my mental list. There is a lot that I could worry myself over, if I let it slip into that spiral…

However, God won’t let that happen. Seems like just at that moment where my feet are on the ledge of diving into a pit, someone, something or some wonderful reminder comes along and snaps me back into perspective. It’s pretty amazing when you stop and actually meditate on that for a while, instead of thinking about all those things we worry about!

Two things happened this week that have driven this point home for me that I thought were worthy of sharing. First, I have a friend who is one of the most devout Christians I know. If there is anyone I look to for example on earth, it is this friend. Through unbelievable trials and twists in the path, my pal has always managed to find a silver lining of blessing and keep a heavenly perspective. Every once in a while, I get little encouragements from my friend. This week, I got one and the exact moment I needed it (thank you Lord!). Among other things, it was a lovely reminder to take time every single day, slip away and relish in the awesome presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough to say for a message like that.

The second thing that happened was in conversation with a family member I had never met in person. She is my husband’s cousin and lives in another state. We all had the chance to visit this week when she made the trip to Colorado. Through the beauty of technology, we have become “friends” via Facebook. She very sweetly told me how this blog was an encouragement and a great testimony. Wow, that blew me away. Someone is actually reading this! I am humbled and grateful that God gives me these words. They are not mine, they are His to use as a blessing how He sees fit. I am just the vessel.

So, when this verse was staring me in the face, it was an easy connection to make. Whether it is with words, actions, resources or some other way, every day we all have an opportunity to be a blessing to others. Sometimes we don’t even know who or how we’re blessing someone – and that’s okay. God is knitting it all together as part of His plan, and we should look every day for ways to bless others so that He can work through us. That in itself is an unbelievable blessing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped…” Mark 4:35

…Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown? He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:36-39.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on boats in my lifetime. My brother has one and every time we visit them, we try to get out for a day on the boat. It’s always great, but I find myself nervous with the “what if’s” of being out on the water in a craft that isn’t all that big. We’d never had an issue when we’re out with him. He’s a very skilled boater and certainly knows his way around the waters of Southwest Florida.

We spent a day on the boat with him earlier this week. Me with my two kids and he with his three boys. Everything was great and we were all having a really good time. Fishing, swimming, seeing dolphin and even a manatee! We decided to make one last little run up into a deep channel where the tarpon usually are biting. He wanted to see if anyone had any on their lines. So away we went.

When we made the turn to head back to the marina, there it was. A typical Florida afternoon storm. Sitting right in between us and our destination. Now, the boat doesn’t have an under deck, so we were stuck. We thought we could get through it, so we made a decision to try. Within minutes, the rain was pounding us, it felt like little pins hitting our skin. I had the two little ones (ages 5 and 6) on the front seat with me. Needless to say, we were getting the brunt of the storm.

Strangely, this story came to mind almost immediately. And, almost as fast, I felt calm. Calm enough to know that Jesus was in the boat with us. As we huddled under the towel in a feeble attempt to protect ourselves from the rain, we talked about Jesus and that the best thing we could do was to pray and ask Him for protection. My daughter was all over it. She took charge of her younger cousin and the two of them prayed the whole time we were in the storm. She later told me that they were fine and not scared because they were praying. I prayed silently and felt a sense of peace knowing that we were going to be okay.

We were able to safely make it in without any incident, but this episode has stayed fresh in my mind and heart this week. It seemed like every song I heard today had a reference to the ocean, storms and Jesus, of course. Okay, so I think there’s a lesson in this for me! (Sometimes I have to be hit pretty hard over the head to get it.)

It may not be a storm in the sense of rain, thunder and lightning, but the storms of life are real reminders that I need to continue to trust, pray and have faith that Jesus is there with me, every step of the way. If it took being out on the furious sea to drive home the point, then I’m glad I stayed on that boat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

“Blessings crown the head of the righteous…” Proverbs 10:6.

I’m spending some time this morning counting my blessings. It’s not something I do enough of, but today is one of those days where I am focused intently on it. My kids and I are about to head back home to Colorado after two weeks in Florida on vacation. Two weeks of vacation is a blessing in itself! But the biggest blessing has been the ability to spend a ton of time focused intently on my children.

This past year has required a lot of my time be spent on challenges and issues at work. A lot more than usual, normal or whatever word I could pick to describe it. It has also required me to spend a lot of time away from home, traveling for meetings, events, etc. As a working mom with two elementary school-aged children, this is not an easy task. But that’s where we get back to counting our blessings. Even in the trickiest of “work-related” situations, I have been blessed with an amazing support system. My mother-in-law is my daycare – who could be better than Grammy!? And, my husband has been home a lot more in the past 8 months, so Daddy’s there, too. And, while my paying job may have its challenges, I have THE best earthly boss a woman could ever ask for. So, all-in-all, God has been so good in placing these incredible people around me, and giving me the opportunity to help provide for our family. And, all the traveling this year gave me more than enough airline miles to redeem for our vacation trip.

Which gets me back to the vacation. Two weeks of beaches, aquariums, boating, pool time, hanging out, seeing relatives we haven’t seen in years, watching movies, relaxing – sheer bliss in the midst of crazy times. Sure, not all of it was “off,” I put in a fair amount of work due to uncontrollable circumstances – but it’s easy to squeeze in a conference call from the deck of a beach-front condo when I know that tomorrow I’ll still be able to build sandcastles with the kids!

I’m grateful that these past two weeks have given me the chance to reconnect with the kids – not that we were disconnected, but I think I fell in love with them all over again. They are dynamic, amazing, sometimes fearless, adventurous little people with their whole lives ahead of them. Most important, they showed me over and over again in the past couple weeks that they are very aware of God’s greatness and that they know he is a part of everything they, and we, do. From perfect sun-filled days to raging Florida summer thunderstorms, He was here with us and is present in all our days – and they know it.

And last-but-not-least, I am blessed and grateful that they still think their mom is pretty fun to hang out with for a couple of weeks of vacation. God is so absolutely amazing!