Heart Beats

The sound of a beating heart is one of the most precious sounds in this life. It’s beautiful. The rhythmic beat coming from the body of a little baby cradled close to you, the strong steady beats in the chest of the loved one lying beside you, the hard thumping sound reverberating from a kid who’s run into your arms for safety or comfort… Whenever I hear it, whenever I feel it, I am awed. It is a prized sound that signals life!

My favorite category in my Reflections… blog is “Matters Of The Heart”. It is what most drives me to write. And it’s also what is hardest for me to capture in words. I have one life to live (that’s all you get too!) and the things that matter most are the issues of the heart.heart

Today I’m reflecting back on some of my entries in this category over the past two years. If one of the blog fragments below strikes a chord in your heart, click on the colored words. It’ll take you right to that article. Hope you find one or two that’ll make your heat beat a little stronger this week!

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~ As night falls, I can choose to reflect with true thoughtful contemplation. I can move from the “You can’t be serious!” frustration to a purposeful look for something “good” in that tiring, seemingly unproductive day. I can reflect on what, indeed, was truly “accomplished” even though nothing – I repeat, nothing – was crossed off the ever growing to-do list.

~ Being the receptor of sacrificial love gives you a feeling of smallness that is both beautiful and healthy. In this self-focused world, when you either succumb to the path of the advertisers or battle the temptation to bend to your natural will, it is refreshing and humbling to see people step forward with straight back and joyful heart to spotlight others rather than themselves. To give generously and graciously, expecting nothing in return. To bless others because they recognize how they themselves have been blessed. To live openhanded. It is, indeed, stunning to see such abundant generosity. And it is overwhelming.

~ I’ve always enjoyed being a people-watcher. Now, as a mother, I have learned to become a child-watcher. It really does amaze me that so many people living together under the same roof can be so extremely different! But different doesn’t mean bad and shouldn’t mean annoying! It’s just different.

~ My Dear Children, This is a very important letter.  The purpose of this letter is to try to explain to you one of life’s most important secrets – the secret of death. Very few people understand death.  Most are afraid of it.  Many try to ignore it.  Hardly anyone wants to talk about it.  But God wants you to understand it.

~ A tribute says ‘you are worthy. You have value. You may have failed me, hurt me, and disappointed me at times, but I am taking off my judicial robe and releasing you from the courtroom of my mind.’ A tribute allows you to take a hard, honest look at a person and your experiences together and to recognize the things they’ve done right, the sacrifices they’ve made.

~ Every single person you encounter…has so much more going on inside of them than you’ll ever know. But once you get to know a person, once you get to know their story, you’ll be amazed at how much you like them. Once the external layers are peeled away, you’ll begin to understand that we all struggle and wrestle with a lot of the same things, and once you realize that, it makes a huge difference in how you relate to people.

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Thanks for traveling through the past couple of years with me! I’m going to take a break from blogging for a while, but maybe our paths will cross again sometime in the future. If we’re headin’ in the same direction, I bet they will! May God bless you, friend.

 

Remember…

Remember when your hope is lost and faith is shaken
Remember when you wonder if you’re gonna make it
There’s a hand stretched out through your deepest doubt
We can’t pretend to see the ending or what’s coming up ahead
To know the story of tomorrow
But we can stay close to the One who knows

We can trust our God
He knows what He’s doing
Though it might hurt now
We won’t be ruined
It might seem there’s an ocean in between
But He’s holding on to you and me
And He’s never gonna leave, no
He is with us, He is with usHe is with us
Always, always
He is with us, He is with us
Always

We believe there is purpose, there is meaning in everything
We surrender to His leading
He wants nothing more than to have us close

We can trust our God
He knows what He’s doing
Though it might hurt now
We won’t be ruined
It might seem there’s an ocean in between
But He’s holding on to you and me
And He’s never gonna leave, no
He is with us, He is with us
Always, always
He is with us, He is with us
Always

Our faith is sealed
Our hope is real
Come what may
We’re not afraid
Our faith is sealed
Our hope is real
Come what may
We’re not afraid
We’re not afraid

We can trust our God
Always, always

Our God is with us
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Just going over the lyrics to this powerful song by Love and The Outcome today. Just talking to myself.

If you stopped by and joined me, thanks! He is
I know I’m not alone on this journey. And you aren’t either.

To listen to “He Is With Us”, click HERE. It’s fabulous!

And REMEMBER… “We can trust our God;  He knows what He’s doing.”

Blessings, friend.

Sixteen Truths

Sixteen Truths:

1. True beauty is not of the face, but of the soul. Without true beauty of soul, a pretty face is a dangerous gift.

2. Learn God’s truth, and refuse to believe the lies Satan whispers in your ear.16b

3. God doesn’t need you (or anyone else), but He wants you. Join Him and experience His blessing in life!

4. Your life’s work is very important. But your heart is what defines you…not what you do (your profession, etc).

5. Keep the upward trajectory. You’ll never be perfect on this side of heaven, but we should be becoming more like Jesus each year of our life.

6. Give thanks in all things. It is impossible to give thanks and feel fear at the same time.

7. Take care of yourself. You are His temple. Keep on exercising, eating right, sleeping well, etc. No one can do that for you!

8. Each day is a gift. God owns tomorrow. We are responsible for our use of today. Don’t waste time worrying.

9.The way we live ought to manifest the truth of what we believe. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.

10. Have a cheerful countenance. Master the art of being sunny – even under the shadows (trials) that come your way. Keep God’s perspective.

11. Be able to make up your own mind, to make decisions, to be sure of yourself. If you choose wrong, turn back. None of us are perfect!

12. Be responsible. Evasion of responsibility is the mark of immaturity. To do right will often cost a struggle, but it is always worth the effort. What ought I do?

13. Christian love is action. Keep on doing what is good. You are preparing now to be a wonderful wife and mother as you minister at home as a daughter and sister.16

14. Be sincere. Learn to be honest with yourself and others, though it may be costly and difficult.

15. Fight selfishness. Saying yes to happiness often means saying no to yourself.

16. Keep studying God’s Word and learning from Him. Go to Him for strength and wisdom. He is your only hope.

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I wrote this list for a precious young lady on her birthday.

16 truths for her 16th birthday.

It’s a list that I could put on my nightstand and read repeatedly myself.

 

You know what they say? “You can’t change the truth, but the truth can change you.”

Keep the truth always in front of you, friend.

It will set you free! (John 8:32)

Faith Focus Friday

About six months ago, I shared a bit about the ‘Soul Work’ that’s been happening in me. If you missed that blog post, you can read it HERE.

Guess what? Six months later, I’m still working on the same thing – the work of trusting God… having faith in the One who’s very name is Faithful. And I’ll tell you why. It’s because it seems like we’ve been in ‘the waiting room’ for so long.faith2

The very hardest thing for me is the WAITING. I realize this is partially because I live in such a speed-lane driving, fast-food eating, breaking-news sort of culture. But it’s also simply because the longer I wait, the more I have to work on trusting.

So as sit in the dimly-lit waiting room, I resonate with what one author says.

 

“Waiting may be the hardest single thing

we are called to do.

In the Bible, waiting is so closely associated with faith

that sometimes the two words are used interchangeably.

It is frustrating when we turn to the Bible

and find that God Himself,

who is all-powerful and all-wise,

keeps saying to his people,

‘Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him…

Wait for the LORD, and keep to his way,

and he will exalt you to inherit the land.’

Forty-three times in the Old Testament alone,

the people are commanded,

‘Wait. Wait on the LORD.’

-John Ortberg

 

Here’s a thought… maybe what God is doing IN me while I wait (the molding and shaping, the training of character, the pruning, the growing) is JUST AS IMPORTANT as what it is I think I am waiting for. Hmmmmm…..

So I’m calling today “Faith Focus Friday”. Here are a few quotes on ‘faith’ for reflection:

 

“Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led.

But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading.faith3

It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason –

a life of knowing Him who calls us to go.”

-Oswald Chambers

 

“An example of faith was found on the wall of a concentration camp.

On it, a prisoner had carved the words:

I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine,faith1

I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown,

I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.

What eyes could have seen good in such horror? There is only one answer:

Eyes that chose to see the unseen.”

-Max Lucado

 

“What is faith? It is total dependence on God that becomes supernatural in its working.

People with faith develop a second kind of sight.

They see more than just the circumstances;

they see God right beside them.

Can they prove it? No.

But by faith they know He’s there…

Faith alone is the trigger that release driving power.”

-Jim Cymbala

 

“True faith means holding nothing back.

It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His Promises.”

-Francis Chan

 

“Waiting means that we give God

the benefit of the doubt

that He knows what He is doing.

It must be patient trust –

trust that is willing to waitfaith

again and again

day after day.”

-John Ortberg

 

That’s exactly what I have to do, over and over again. I have to continually, presently, actively believe that God is trustworthy. That He is worth following… even when I don’t understand where, how, why… Because He is God and I am not.

So I continue to wait… and trust.

When Life Gives You A Lemon

When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade.

 

Summer’s almost over… and for many kids that thought is sort of like getting handed a big ole’ lemon. The news is a bit sour.

(You mean I have to get up with an alarm in the morning?

I have to go to school all day long?? I have to do homework? What???)

 

How do you handle that kind of information? Any news that is bitter, unpleasant, or disagreeable???

 

Maybe this is a good time for a family discussion,

an opportunity for you to share how you handle the things in life that are difficult to swallow,

an opportunity to reveal both your success and failures

in the area of attitude and choices.

 

“We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have,

and that is our attitude…

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

–Charles R. Swindoll

 

Care to tackle the topic of attitude and choices with your kids?

As in so many other areas of parenting,

food or drinks always make a pondering session

a bit more palatable,

so how about some ‘easy peasy lemon squeezy’ recipes

to sweeten your talk?

Here you go:

 

Lemonadelemonade

4 c. water

1 c. lemon juice

2/3 c. sugar

Mix the first three ingredients in a pitcher. Then add ice cubes and serve it up. This recipe makes 5 eight ounce glasses.

 

Pink Lemonade

Make a simple syrup by heating 1 ¼ c. sugar and 1 c. of water in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set it aside. Now stir the syrup with 3 additional cups of water, 1 c. lemon juice and 1 c. cranberry juice. Chill, then pour over ice.

 

Lemon Cakelemon cake

Mix 1 c. sugar and 2 eggs.

Add 3T. lemon juice and 1 c. almond milk. Mix.

Add 1 ¾ c. rice flour , 1 ½ t. guar gum (or xanthan gum) and 2 t. baking powder. Stir.

Add ½ c. oil. Blend.

Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

(This is a recipe my kids originally found in a High Five magazine. We made a few adjustments to it so this is the gluten and dairy-free version, made just for our family! I’m sure it’s wonderful with a layer of frosting, but we eat it sans topping!)

 

Yes, when life gives you a lemon,

make lemonade…

or a lemon cake…

or at least an attitude adjustment.

It’ll make a big difference in the outcome!

 

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“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.

It is more important than the past, than education, than money,

than circumstance, than failures, than successes,

than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill….

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day

regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change our past…

we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.

We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have,

and that is our attitude…

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me

and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you…

we are in charge of our attitudes.”

(Charles R. Swindoll)

Seven

7/7
Welcome to the seventh day of the seventh month of the year.
Some time ago, I read a book titled 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

Rebelling against excess and resolving to live differently is what 7 is all about.

It is a good hard book, a book that caused me to admit that7b
as my life has zipped along unchecked and automatic,
I’ve actually lived unconsciously with greed, ungratefulness,
ruined opportunities and irresponsibility in some areas of life.
Ouch.
That, my friend, is what I call a good hard book.

With life’s excesses piling up around her, Hatmaker embarked on a self-imposed challenge to simplify her family’s life.
She spent seven months focusing on seven areas of surplus, one focus each month:
food,
clothing,
media,
spending,
possessions,
waste and
stress.

7

Her goal was to begin living a deeply reduced life that would, in turn, allow her room for being more generous. Reduction by means of a fast in each of those categories of abundance.
By focusing on a fast of sorts in the seven areas, Jen hoped to interrupt the lifestyle of privilege she’d created and instead form a “fresh platform in the empty space where indulgence resided.”
Hatmaker explains that when you fast, you become acutely-conscious.
“It’s like jeans you wear every day without thinking,
but take them off and walk outside,
and you’ll become terrible aware of their absence.
I bet you won’t be able to forget you are pantsless,
so conspicuous will this omission feel…
that is basically the result of a fast.
It makes us hyper-aware, super-sensitive…”
And which of us doesn’t need to be jerked from the ordinary, mundane of life to be made more mindful?

At the start of each chapter, Jen explains her plan for implementing the challenge of month.
She then reports every day or so how it’s going… how it’s playing out in her life, in her home, in her heart.
At the end of the month (and the chapter), she gives a review of what she’s learned.

Hatmaker is funny, raw and a bit sarcastic, in my opinion. Her conversational writing is like sitting down to coffee with an honest, humorous, contemplative friend. I laughed; I cringed. I wrinkled my eyebrows and twisted my mouth in thought.

There are several things I appreciated about this book.

I appreciated her frankness. Although she says things in a way that I would not, though she and I would handle things differently, I was glad that she acknowledged how hard it can be to hold to one’s convictions or even just our “self-imposed challenges”.

I appreciated the practical suggestions that Hatmaker gives.7a
For example, when she tells about eliminating 7 items per day from her home, she doesn’t advocate tossing them. Or selling them for a profit. Or even just dropping everything off at a thrift store. She advises giving the items you purge to a specific organization in your area that, for example, helps victims of abuse or violence. Or asking the local under-resourced school about the needs they see.

I especially appreciated her ‘fast’ from s-t-r-e-s-s. To do this, she began the practice of taking seven sacred pauses throughout the day. On another blog post, I’ll expound on this, but suffice it to say that I am working on this area also… and without those pauses, there would be times when I would continue on the downward spiral I’d started in, uninterrupted. And that doesn’t end in a good place.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker is a book about embarking on a journey. It’s a book about purging the junk, about paring down to the noble. But it’s a journey that can only be taken by the individual; there’s no pressure from the author to follow in her footsteps. And that’s another thing that I appreciated about this book. The feelings of conviction I felt came only from within.

In each area of life, I have to adopt an “as for me and my house” perspective.
I won’t answer for the way another person lives their life.
I’ll only answer for my choices.

Is that refreshing? Challenging? Frustrating?

After hearing a friend talk about the book 7, I decided to pick it up and read it. The prayer of the author is “Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.” If that resonates with you, I’d encourage you to read this book also.

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I’ll only answer for my choices.

7a

The Peppery Man

You feel grumpy…. and you don’t really care who knows it.

(Ever have one of ‘those’ days?)

The disposition of the Peppery Man just might make you feel like a saint!

 

The Peppery Man           

The Peppery Man was cross and thin;

He scolded out and scolded in;

He shook his fist, his hair he tore;

He stamped his feet and slammed the door.

 

pepper1Heigh ho, the Peppery Man,

The rabid, crabbed Peppery Man!

Oh, never since the world began

Was any one like the Peppery Man.

 

His ugly temper was so sour

He often scolded for an hour;

He gnashed his teeth and stormed and scowled,

He snapped and snarled and yelled and howled.

 

He wore a fierce and savage frown;

He scolded up and scolded down;

He scolded over field and glen,

And then he scolded back again.

 

His neighbors, when they heard his roars,

Closed their blinds and locked their doors,

Shut their windows, sought their beds,

Stopped their ears and covered their heads.

 

He fretted, chafed, and boiled and fumed;

With fiery rage he was consumed,

And no one knew, when he was vexed,

What in the world would happen next.

 

Heigh ho, the Peppery Man,

The rabid, crabbed Peppery Man!pepper

Oh, never since the world began

Was any one like the Peppery Man.

 

-Arthur Macy

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The kids and I read this poem during school last year and couldn’t help but smile!

pepper3Afterwards, when one of us would start to be in a bad temper, I would say “does the Peppery Man live here?” It would often soften the scene!

Having never read any other poems by Arthur Macy, I decided to do a little research.

Contrary to the character in this poem, Macy was “above all things cheery, and to his praise be it said, he hated a bore.”

Arthur Macy (1842-1904) was known to have a quick and keen sense of humor. After being wounded twice on the first day at Gettysburg (as part of Company B, 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry), he managed to “crawl into the town and get as far as the steps of the Court House, which was fast filling with wounded from both sides. His sense of humor was in evidence even at such a time. A Confederate officer rode up and asked, “Have those men in their got arms?” Quick as a flash Macy answered: “Some of them have and some of them haven’t.”

From my reading, Macy sounded like a jolly, honest, humble, and hard working businessman who enjoyed writing poetry but didn’t consider it worthy of attention. He felt that his was “not Poetry with a big P, and that is the only kind that should be published.” Thankfully, I easily found 50+ poems of his that are still available.

Hopefully, you enjoyed The Peppery Man but are seldom like him!pepper2

Rather may it be said of us – as it was of Arthur Macy- that we are ‘above all things cheery’!

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(Information in quotations taken from the writings of William Alfred Hovey of Boston, June 7, 1905)