It was toilet paper from Heaven. Really. I was listening intently to a friend tell her story about being desperately short of cash at one time in her life. She was single so she didn’t have anyone contributing to the household bills. She didn’t want to have to move back home. Counting every penny, she prayed fervently. She watched as her household items dwindled. Including her toilet paper. Down to less than half a roll, she really didn’t know what she was going to do and seriously didn’t want to ask anyone for toilet paper (as one can imagine). She kept telling herself that God would provide for her every single need and believed deeply that He would. She was in her car driving one day and noticed something white in the grass on the side of the road. She slowed down to look at the object since it looked strange in that particular location. The little white mystery was a roll of toilet paper! No joke. Right on the side of the road, in a grassy area, was the single most important thing she needed at that time in her life besides more money. She almost couldn’t believe it except that she pulled over and picked it up to claim it. Overjoyed, she began praising and thanking God. That wasn’t how she had pictured God answering her prayers, but she was thankful just the same. With no disrespect meant at all, and with the most sincere heart, that roll of toilet paper became a symbol to her of God’s love. As it turned out, she eventually got a new job with a better salary and was able to live in comfort again. He provided for her every need just as she knew He would.
God has answered some of my prayers in the most bizarre and mysterious ways too. I smile and laugh (and sometimes cry) seeing my Father’s hand in it every time. He has a brilliant sense of humor even in sending a rogue roll of toilet paper, just for my friend, with a delivery method that will forever be a mystery.
Hoping your day is filled with plenty of toilet paper,
“…my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“If we could hear the Heavens rooting us on, we would feel continually motivated and joyous,” were the thoughts inside my head as I watched a basketball game recently. The guard brought the ball down and then just stood there, ball in hand, trying to draw the defense out. It turned out to be very comical because the young ladies on defense didn’t come after the guard. So, the guard stood there and stood there just watching the time tick away. It went on for so long that the spectators started laughing and talking amongst themselves. Finally, the offensive fans starting rooting on the guard to stand her ground. The fans of the defensive team started booing. As the decibel level of the offensive fans rose, it became easy for the guard to stay put. She knew she had the support of her coach, team, and fans. She smiled. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, one of the defensive players came out and challenged the guard and the game continued.
As I sat there contemplating, it dawned on me how wonderful it would be if we could hear the Heavens rooting us on when we go through challenges. When we’re sick, suffering, bullied, struggling financially, mentally weak, dealing with family conflict, grieving, shameful, or just dealing with the difficulties life throws at us every day. What if we could hear the cheers of our ancestors when we had no confidence? What if we could hear the angels say, “Don’t be afraid,” when we were terrified of moving forward. What if we could hear the calm voice of our Savior saying, “Come,” when we’re trying to trust Him as we get out of the boat. We, too, would just stand there and smile with all the confidence in the world that we are loved and cared for and cherished.
So, if you haven’t had anyone cheer you on recently, this writing is for you. Our Father has fearfully and wonderfully made you. God is working out all the plans for your life. He loves you so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for you. The cheers of the Heavens are drowning out any “booing” that can be heard my friend. Go be great!
Cheerleader in Christ,
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Her hands were weathered, crooked with age, perfectly manicured, and beautiful. I watched as this older, gray-headed woman lifted her hands in worship to our Father. I wondered where those hands had been, how they had served. I wondered how many meals they had cooked, babies they had held, band-aids they had applied, loads of laundry they had folded. I wondered how many tears they had wiped, bills they had paid, letters they had written, prayers they had prayed. I secretly hoped my hands would have the privilege of living that long. So long that they, too, would be wrinkled and matured. I secretly hoped that they would still have the courage after all the years of joy accompanied with pain to be lifted up in worship to my King. Then my mind went to contemplating how God saw those hands – reaching up to Him and for that moment being pure. Being holy. Against all fear, against all the reasons to be unfaithful, against the world, her hands were held as high as she could get her body to make them go. She didn’t care who saw her. She didn’t care what people thought. She was present with her Lord giving Him the heart felt praise He deserves. She was inspiring.
When a child reaches up for their parent or loved one, they need something. They need comfort, love, attention, to be fed. It’s a tremendously vulnerable place to be. Humble and in need. If you have never lifted your hands to God, it will change you. Even if you privately worship Him in this way, it will change you. It is a beautiful, peaceful, cleansing place to be. Nothing else seems to matter in that moment. Just Him. And just you.
May He bless you as you worship Him no matter the age of your holy hands,
“I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:4
Have you ever been down on your luck? It’s usually a period of time when everything seems to go wrong. It’s the day that turns into the week that turns into the month when it’s hard to find good things to focus on. Like waking up with a stiff back, realizing it’s Monday, your alarm didn’t go off, and you're late for work. Then you spill your coffee on your lap and have walk around all day looking like a slob. If that’s not enough, your child’s school calls, and your son has flu-like symptoms. Unfortunately, as the week progresses, you and your whole family end up with the flu. Sounds about right, huh? The fact of the matter is, we have all been there in one way or another. Some of us have even worse situations like death of a loved one, chronic illness, divorce, debt, addictions, disabled children, troubled marriages, etc. And these people would give anything if coffee on their pants and the flu were their only problems.
One day, feeling like so many things were going wrong in my life, I prayed about it as I always do. God is my first “go to” for strength. I decided to start looking for all the blessings and the things that were going right that day. The first thing that I noticed were the lyrics of a song which said, “Keep your head up, my love.” To be truthful, I teared up. I felt like God arranged that song to be the first thing I heard when I finished my prayer. That will remain a mystery, but I choose to believe He blessed me with that. Sometimes we just need the reminder to keep our head up, to keep moving forward, to dig deep, and find strength in the Spirit that God has equipped us with. Everyone has bad days. It’s the way we deal with them that determines if we press on or give up. I am as human as the next person, so I need support from my friends and family. God blesses again and again through friendly listening ears. Cheerleaders in the form of my brother, sister, parents, and best friends. Hugs - lots and lots of hugs. And people who remind me that they are lifting me up to the Great I Am. God sends His servants to comfort one another, all you have to do is open your eyes and look. It is through God’s beautiful mercy that I can focus on the good things even during bad times. My vision, hearing, all my fingers and toes, a good meal, clean water, and the peace of a moment when drama had subsided.
If you are in a turbulent season of life now, my heart goes out to you. Remember that you are loved by the King and He can turn the most awful times into something beautiful. You were born for a purpose. You were born for His glory. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. And when you are strong enough again, use your experiences to bless others. He needs you to help His struggling children just like you needed help and encouragement at one time.
If you’re looking for the positive things to lift you up today, imagine one of them being His sweet words, “Keep your head up, my love.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3,4
There is a slightly mentally challenged young man who works at a store I frequent. I try to look for God in my everyday life, so seeing this young man is no different. He is kind, happy, inspiring, and loves his job. It makes me want to support the store even more knowing they have hired him. As I passed this sweet young man one day, in a mad rush as usual, we simultaneously asked each other, “How are you?” He gave me the biggest smile and said, “Positive as always!” The words left his mouth, but the spinach from lunch had not – right in the middle of his teeth. All I could think was, “Bless.” It’s happened to all of us which is why you’re probably laughing right now or at least have contemplated this with a grin. (You may even be checking your teeth right now.) It’s at these times in life we all hope to have someone close enough and brave enough to tell us about the spinach in our teeth before we go back out in public.
Even when we’re walking in the light, have you ever wondered how God looks at us with spinach in our teeth, smiles, and loves us anyway? Oh, how I wish my life were always perfectly polished, flossed, and rinsed clean. But it’s not. It is so very NOT. Which is why I am daily grateful and thankful for grace and mercy - daily thankful for the blood of the Lamb.
Look for God as your day unfolds and may you be free from spinach in your teeth my friends.
“…If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
If you have ever been employed, there is most likely something you have done repetitively at that job. I had a job once where I asked people everyday if they had a religious preference. I heard everything from "Native American" to "Catholic" to "non-religious" and everything in between. I didn't bat an eye or judge people, but one day I was pleasantly surprised at one little lady who hesitated when I asked her that question. She looked at me, smiled, and said, "Jesus." His amazingly beautiful name hung in the air as we both smiled. I had never heard anyone claim their religious preference to be "Jesus". Simply, Jesus. Now that's food for thought.
"...God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name..." Philippians 2:9
Although I didn't care to look, my husband asked me to see what was on the tattered, cardboard sign a young man was holding up in the median near an intersection as we drove past. The words, "It's probably a homeless man," came out of my mouth as I read the sign, "Jesus loves you." I was both ashamed of myself and got the warm-fuzzies all at the same time. We've all seen unfortunate people standing with signs by the edge of the road; I suppose we've become immune. There are multiple reasons why we drive by and don't help - some of them very legitimate. But in this case, with nothing to gain, who in the world has the guts to stand with a "Jesus loves you" sign by the side of the road? Good for him! What would be on your sign if you had the courage to stand by the side of road with it?
"Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32
Initially, I thought I saw the sanitation worker lose his balance and start to fall off the back of a garbage truck. As my brain caught up with my eyes, I realized he was dancing as he rode along emptying garbage bins at the side of the road. We were on the same path, so I continued to follow him in my car. He was ever so smooth as he danced away like Fred Astaire. The sight made me smile from the inside as I drove on to work that morning. I recognize that we can’t all dance around at our jobs, but I wonder what the world would be like if we all danced joyfully in our minds as we went along our day? Hum…
“…there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good…and find satisfaction in their work – this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:12,13
It was the sweetest little voice. That’s all I could hear at the time because I was busy looking for a cake mix in the aisle of Walmart and she was behind me. I was on a mission to get out of there, so I tried not to pay much attention to the conversation, but it was beckoning me anyway. This precious little girl, in her squeaky little 3-4 year old voice, was explaining that she was going to be a princess for Halloween. Excitedly, she went on about how the costume would look; it was going to have this color here and that bow there. It’s then I couldn’t help myself and I turned see who she was passionately talking to because whoever it was, wasn’t saying a word in response. She was with her Dad because at some point she tried to get his attention and said, “Daddy.” He was busy looking at something he was likely to purchase. I could tell he had a lot on his mind. I had a flashback to the time when my children were that age. It felt like I had gone back in time and I was the one rushing around trying to do too many things at once and missing the moment of my own daughter’s excitement over a holiday. I gave the precious soul a big smile and turned back around to look for the cake mix. Big tears filled my eyes as I realized how much I missed the times when my girls were young. You see, the cake mix was to send to my daughter at college so she and her friends could make her cake since she would be gone on her actual birthday. I wanted so badly to turn back around and tell the young father to soak in this moment, to soak in her tiny little body, to soak in that precious, squeaky voice, but I refrained. He probably would have taken me for a crazy person giving that sentiment with tears in my eyes and breaking down in the middle of Walmart.
As life is passing us by at the speed of light, try to live in each day the best you can. Try to soak in the moments – even the ones that are painful or less desirable. Try to feel the pleasure, the pain, the calmness, the storm, because without one, we can’t have or understand the other. Remember that this very day is the only one we have and that ultimately, this is not our home. In our real home, there is no pain, no anxiety, no depression, no illness, no conflict, no tears, and no death. Only joy and peace and love. Golden streets and jeweled walls. Praise and singing with the angels in the presence of our Lord.
Find joy in this day, my friends, in whatever way you find joy. Don’t forget to tell your loved ones that they are dear to you and you love them. Leave a positive mark in this world. Be the person who lifts others up, serves with all their heart, believes that there is still good in the world, and loves so deeply it can be seen at a great distance. Talk to your King daily. And in your case, you don’t have to tell Him how you are going to pretend to be a princess (or prince); you already are one. His throne room is always open and He’s never too busy to listen.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…” 1 Peter 3:12
Most people have given to charity. But, have you given to charity and wondered who was blessed by your gift? Whether it was money, clothing, shoes, eye glasses, or food, someone out there needs your leftovers and cherishes them. A humbling thought, huh?
While my husband was fighting cancer, on chemo, and out of work, we were living off a very modest income. My job, at the time, was a hospice medical social worker going into the homes of patients who were dying from various ailments. Many days I would cry as I drove between homes; I hurt for others, but also hurt for my husband’s situation. If you’re curiously wondering how I did that job during that time in my life, well…I had to provide for my family. But, God gave me the strength to make it one more day, and one more day, and one more day. That’s a whole story in and of itself. I digress…
The company I worked for during that time required certain color medical scrubs to work in. There were several colors to choose from. I had a black pair and gray pair. The shoes I wore were an old pair of comfortable, blue running shoes. In fact, they were so liked that I had worn a hole right in the pinky toe part of the fabric. It didn’t so much matter to me because I had to walk in some undesirable places, but I kept thinking my patients and their families might feel sorry for me because of my worn-out shoes. I kept thinking about a new pair of shoes and what color I would get if I had the choice. To match both the black and gray scrubs, I thought gray would look nice. I thought often about the gray shoes but would not let myself buy any because we didn’t have the extra to spare at that time in our lives. I kept thinking that when the cancer treatments were over and my husband is back to work, then I’ll pick up a pair of gray sneakers.
My eldest came home one evening from a date with her high school sweetheart. The young man was the son of some prominent people in town. His mother had cleaned out her closet and sent my daughter home with bags and bags of hand-me-downs. Every last piece of clothing had been very nicely kept. As we sorted through the clothes, we found some things that our family could wear, and the rest were donated to charity. Among the piles of clothes were several pair of shoes. Most were too large. But down at the bottom of the basket of shoes was a pair of gray Skechers. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were in perfect condition. I slipped them on and to my amazement, they fit. I smiled and thanked God for the small gift. I hadn’t told anyone about my desire for a pair of gray shoes. Not a word. I hadn’t even asked God for them. It’s not like they were a necessity. My old ones were certainly usable. But that’s how my Father works. He wants to give me the desires of my heart. He wants me to have joy. He likes to give good gifts in the same way I enjoy giving gifts to my children. And He even cares about a silly pair of gray shoes that had been just a simple little thought.
I have given shoes to people in the past. But this experience made me realize how important my tiny donation was. It’s not just a pair of shoes. It’s how God uses His children to do His works of love. It’s Him knowing us so well that we don’t even have to speak it. And for me, the gray shoes were a token from my Father saying… I’m still here, taking care of your needs even when you don’t know how this thing is going to end. I’m still here working out all the details. I’m still here loving you.
Hoping you have your own pair of gray shoes,
“…You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16
What’s the deal with so many toxic people lately? I have often wished I could start a colony accepting only non-toxic people. The criteria would be based on one’s public reputation for such behaviors. Toxic people would not have access to the colony and those with the fruits of the Spirit would. I recognize these are the ramblings in my head and are otherwise completely ridiculous. A girl can dream, right? Unfortunately, toxicity and narcissism are on the rise according to experts. Studies show that those who are raised in a cold emotional environment are prone to such disorders. Parents promoting over-indulgence, that are controlling, insisting on perfection and winning, and requiring toughness from a child can wreak havoc as the child grows into adulthood. These adults end up marrying others, becoming co-workers, “friends”, bosses, and raising children of their own. Unfortunately, if the condition turns to true narcissism, it is resistant to most therapies (probably because they wouldn’t consider therapy to begin with). They aren’t the one who has the problem (yeah, right) – it’s everyone else. Everyone else needs therapy (and we actually do if we have ever been affected by toxicity). I have to wonder if part of the problem is lack of the Word in homes, schools, and work places.
If you have ever been around someone who exhibits toxic behaviors, you were probably ready to exit the premises as quickly as possible. I recently watched as a patient’s daughter scolded a receptionist at a doctor’s office. I felt so bad for the young receptionist. It was quite unnecessary too. I was a captive audience, so I heard the whole story. The toxic energy was heavy in the room.
The fact of the matter is, if you live in society, you must deal with toxicity. You won’t have much influence on them, probably. In fact, the happier and brighter you are, the more they dislike you and make your life miserable; they can’t stand for someone to affect their fragile ego. You can’t fix other people’s issues. But what can you do? You only have control over yourself, your thoughts, and actions. Once you understand this very important fact, you can move forward with a few helpful hints…
1. Don’t react to the drama they create. Plain and simple. Keep to yourself if you are able. Say as little as possible. Don’t give unnecessary attention to them.
2. Don’t argue. As much as you will want to, don’t. It’s not worth it. It just fuels the fire. All they want is to create drama, make you feel small so they feel elevated, control, and manipulate. Just keep your thoughts to yourself so you don’t put another log on the fire.
3. Absence is the best policy. If you can, simply choose to not be around them. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you a better person.
4. Set boundaries. Yep, that’s right. You can and must. It’s okay to say no. Stick to your guns if you do. Otherwise, they will play you like a violin.
5. Get support. Vent to a trusted friend or family member. Center yourself again so your brain can realize you aren’t the crazy one. Know that you are strong, stable, beautiful, and capable. Pray for your peace and pray for your enemies.
6. Forgive. You may have to do this and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. This will be your superpower and your biggest secret to happiness.
Hoping this day finds you in your colony of peace,
“…Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the peace of the gospel. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:10-16
Has life ever pushed you down? If I had to guess, I’d say it has. I have certainly felt pushed down by life many, many times. The interesting thing about life and all of its problems is, those problems are some of the best teachers we will ever have. It’s how we get back up from the fall that will determine how strong we become.
When a baby giraffe is born, it falls 8-10 feet because its mother doesn’t lie down to give birth. That seems cruel enough. But then, when the baby finally gets to its feet, the mother kicks it down again. Why? So the baby can build strength against predators - so it will get up quicker the next time and not be eaten.
As with the giraffe, resilience is really one of our biggest and best friends. But what it takes to have resilience is taking a punch from life and then getting back up again and again and again and again. How do we do that, you ask?
1. Let the shock and disappointment sink in. That’s right. It’s okay to feel bad, sad, angry, frustrated, or devastated. It’s okay to sit there for a while and be by yourself with your emotions. In fact, the situation can’t be processed without doing that.
2. Let trusted people help you. Talk about your troubles. Don’t let the devil trick you into thinking bottling things up is healthy or “I’ll do this alone” is okay. Find your compassionate friend, mother, sister, loved one, favorite life coach or therapist, minister or pastor to talk to. God has put them in your life for a reason.
3. Find something that comforts you and relieves your stress and do more of that. Fishing, boxing, sewing, reading, watching a good movie, helping someone who is less fortunate, seeing the grandkids, etc. Your brain needs time to relax and heal. We weren’t meant to live in chronic stress. Doing things to help you cope will allow you to focus better and tackle life with poise and skill.
4. Pray and pray and pray. God will give you strength to go on every time if you just ask Him. He will send the right message, person, or encouragement your way. It will be just what you need, right when you need it. Be sure to be watching. Sometimes we overlook the amazing things He sends our way. Focus on getting back up after a fall and watch for the tools He sends you. He will lift you up and put you back on your feet. Every time.
Even though I find it hard to say sometimes, I thank God for all the falls, bumps in the road, disappointments, and failures. It is because of those that I have a strong soul. It is because of those “life stinks” moments that I can, without a shadow of a doubt, know that my God has given me a smooth stone to slay my giants.
Dare to tell life to “Bring it!” knowing that in the end you will be stronger, more resilient, and better able to handle the predators that want you destroyed.
God be with us when we fall,
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31