Deep Breath

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As we watch the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we must take a deep breath and breathe in the Breathe of Life, our Creator God!!! From the beginning of time, the Bible shares in the first book Genesis: the creation of the earth, water, the sky, animals, birds of the air, ocean creatures, and the human in the physical forms of Adam and Eve.

Genesis 2:7  7 Then the Lord God formed a man[a] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

At these times of uncertainty in the world or even in our personal lives, our first reaction is to freak out and isolate hold or decrease our breathing. Our body is an amazing thing that needs the breath of oxygen and the exchange with carbon dioxide. We don’t even think about this physical exchange, it happens naturally. Our body needs the balance of these two elements.

When we are anxious, in fear or anger, we may tighten our chest, breathe more shallow and become more anxious, fearful, or angry. This sure doesn’t help our circumstances. With less oxygen circulating and less carbon dioxide exchanged, our minds are less clear and we freak out even further.

What would happen if we remembered to Breathe in with the Lord? With every deep breath, meditate on the fact, the Lord is your creator and He is filling you with Life. What awe, what truth, amazing!!!

I was blessed to hear this song from Maverick City Music, “Breathe”, is so filled my mind with hope, lessened my anxious thoughts on world events, and brought me to my Savior again.

Breathe in the Lord! Don’t hold your breath instead Praise the Lord! I believe you will sway with the music and receive the blessings of a moment of peace.

Kintsugi and Life

Light through the Cracks

 This is a reblog of my first post. It feels so relevant for current times. May it encourage and remind you we all have broken parts. The world seems to be fracturing between nations. We all need peace and unity with our Creator. Our cracks can be healed and patched up by time meditating on His Word. Let Jesus provide the glue and wisdom.

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I am inspired to share wisdom from the challenges in life.  I went to an adoption group meeting last week, one of the leaders spoke about an ancient Japanese art called Kintsugi.   

This Japanese art mends broken pottery with gold lacquer making the repaired piece more beautiful for having been broken.  The message of using our broken stories, mistakes, trials and pains, for good, resonated with me.

Why do I see broken experiences as loss? Why do I see mistakes as failures? Why do I see trials as punishment? Do these broken stories mean I am forever broken? Who gave me this pessimistic thought?  Should I stay in the negative or choose instead to see the other side? That is the choice I must make no matter which road I choose to journey.

As I purposely broke the creme colored china tea cup, I pondered the long list of my challenges with myself, and others. I pondered the mindset of the negative. I thought back to how in my infertility I found God. I thought in the stress and fears of adoption, awaiting God’s blessing, I felt His presence again. I thought, how each one of my children came to my husband and I at just the right time, God’s time, His Presence, His blessings to me.  Why is that surprising and yet inspiring? The trials brought me to a closer relationship with Jesus. I had to trust Him with the unknown.

As I watch each stage in my children’s life, I am reminded yet again, God is refining me as the epoxy and gold flakes reconnected the broken pieces of my china tea cup. The bond of strength in this cup is stronger, the gold shimmering edges of the cracked pieces are more luminous. The beauty of the creme colored tea cup is changed and more meaningful to me now than if the tea cup hadn’t been broken.

As I was breaking the tea cup, I thought in the back of my mind how amazing it would be if there was a small irreparable opening. I reflected if that opening appeared it would be a reminder of how the Lord God Himself has shown Himself through the cracks of my life.  It would remind me I am not meant to go through repair without His Light.

Interesting enough, the small opening in my creme colored tea cup did appear, I carefully dabbed on gold dusted epoxy in the opening. Surely I will remember He is steadfast in all trials, joys and the steps of life. May I be the example to those who watch the step by step journey of His Light shining through the cracks. Refined, remade, richer and Luminous!!!

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Conflict

Conflict, according to Merriam Webster has a two-part definition: a conflict of principles involving divergent ideas, opposed, and in the verb tense, to contend in warfare.

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From personal experience, I was afraid of conflict because I often wondered, “does the squeaky wheel get the grease”? This old adage reminds me of generations past and the assumption you have to speak up for yourself (maybe even rage)or you will be squashed.

Watching our dog navigate the animal world of our two cats shows the difference between assertion and aggression. Barking and hissing, or using a bite and slashing with claws are their skills of conflict resolution. I added the photograph as a visual for the topic of conflict :).

In human terms, we may have to pause before we throw out words that we can’t take back. Words can hurt more than punches. Words seem to find a way into the deep crevices of our minds. They can fester into pus that scars our self-concept or another’s for a lifetime.

Yes, there are times we need to be held accountable for our actions. However, a soft gentle answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1 has been a gem to me. I have it posted on my refrigerator. Can you guess why it is in this location?

Proverbs 15: 1 - 5 
 1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
    but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
    keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
    but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
5 A fool spurns a parent’s discipline,
    but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.  

Hangry and tired people hurl words without thinking. Can you relate? Grrrrr. Words that can bring regret, pain, loss, and permanent damage to relationships are the way the enemy devours the good people from our lives. That is the enemy’s plan to destroy our healthy relationships!

Jesus is our Shepherd, the gate for His sheep. We must learn to listen to His voice and wisdom not the impulse and emotions of the enemy who wants to rob us of good things.

John 10: 7- 9 
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Action steps to healthy conflict resolution:

1. Deep breathe, slow down impulse reactions.

2. Post one of the scripture verses in Proverbs 15 ahead of time in places where you are triggered.

3. It is Spiritual warfare when the battle is on. It isn’t about flesh and blood but the enemy trying to destroy our relationships.

Ephesians 6:10-12
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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.

4. Realize we all need a reboot, we sin, we need a Savior to help us change unhealthy patterns.

5. Go to Jesus, talk to Him, ask for insight into your reaction.

6. There are times the other party needs to be laid at the cross of Jesus. What does that mean? Let go and let God!

You may need to step back from another for a while and almost detox from the conflict. Or even leave the dysfunctional relationship. The One (God) who created you knows all about you. He will be a safe place to regroup.

Self-care means putting your needs to refresh ahead of people-pleasing. Rest with Jesus!

The other party without your intervention may actually get a God revelation and change reactions. Even if that doesn’t occur, your time with Jesus will refresh.

Seek to learn from each experience. Let your mind be renewed.

Romans 12: 2  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Conflict can bring new revelations, they provide us with the opportunity to see our flaws and work to change them. We can’t do this on our own we are too self-absorbed.

Don’t fear conflict seek to want a better relationship. If the Lord is asked into your communication He will give the best advice. Choosing God’s best and believing He loves and wants to give a good life can bring joy and a healthy future.

LOVE

Jesus loves you !!

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day when those with love interests and those without are deeply effected. We all want to feel loved. It is the most important connection to our human race. It defines our need to fit in and feel a sense of worth. Our Creator made us in His image, Jesus loves you!

Love crosses every human relationship: family, friends, besties, team mates, and then, the more obvious on Valentine’s Day, the romantic relationship.

God gives a template for how to really love another human. The key character traits are found in 1 Corinthians 13, I have found over a few decades of marriage these traits are not always easy but they are mandatory.

Grace, mercy and forgiveness in relationships is a choice. These are the same character examples given to us by our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t use these love actions without knowing Him and wanting to reflect Jesus to those we love. It is not in our strength it is in asking Jesus to help us be a loving example. On my own, my responses tend to be selfish, self serving, impulsive, prideful and pretty much it’s “my way”.

So on those days, you feel anger, disappointment or sadness related to a miscommunication in your life, seek Jesus first and be amazed as your response is more like Him.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT. [4] Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud [5] or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. [6] It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. [7] Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love in Action exercise: Reread 1 Corinthians 13 and replace your name in every place of you see love.

As you say aloud: ——— is patient, ——— is kind, etc. you may reevaluate your responses and deep breathe as you exchange your actions in love Jesus way. It isn’t easy however it will be worth it.

Happy Valentines Day! Jesus loves you!

Help me be more

We are so capable of transformation in our walk with Jesus! Did you know He wants to move in your life? We have to submit to His authority not as a judge snd jury but as the One who wants to use us in a mighty way.

Zach William’s lyrics, Less of Me, were so right on for me lately. I want to be more full of grace, mercy, kindness, and less like me.

We all have failures, warts, so to speak in our lives. But we can be healed of the past and be used for the Kingdom of God.

We don’t have to settle for less than God’s best plan. Today’s the day, be willing to be more like Jesus and less of you. First, you must submit to His authority, bend your knee to Him, believe He can transform, say it aloud as Romans 10:8 – 15 reminds.

Romans 10:8-15 NLT
[8] In fact, it says, "The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart." And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: 
[9] If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
 [10] For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 
[11] As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced." 
[12] Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. [13] For "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved." 
[14] But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? [15] And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"

May you feel the love of Jesus direct your life. It is amazing;)! If you have made this declaration of faith, let me know, I rejoice with you as does the family of Jesus!

You Got a Friend in me?

People come and go but friends can impact each other in one moment or for a lifetime.

As I open the door to my favorite coffee shop, the brisk, frigid winter air swirls subzero for a moment. I am warmed by the smiling friendly faces of my breakfast buddies; the two baristas.

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I am welcomed by the sweet voice of the two women baristas. We share morning greetings. I am humbled as we have moved past pleasantries as long as the customers are not behind me. As time has progressed, the lovely ladies see me coming and have my favorite coffee drink ready to go.

The coffee shop is my writing environment. I anticipate my reserved table after school drop-off. I seek the Lord for His pearls of wisdom to flow from my fingers onto the computer page.

These young women and I have begun to share personal stories. One single mom and barista is blessed with an elementary school daughter. I have been asking the Lord if he wants our friendship to deepen.

Recently, she revealed being raised in a Christian home but stepping away from her parents’ religion. I truly understood this path. I reminded her Jesus loves you, always has, and always will. I said, “He will use every life step for a new graceful loving relationship but we have to seek Him, Jesus is grace-filled and loving”. She responded, ” Yes, I think you are right, I wasn’t raised to a relationship with Jesus, just religion. “

Psalm 25:12-14 NLT

[12] Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. [13] They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. [14] The LORD is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.

Friends join our lives in many ways and from many environments. Sometimes, they are friends of friends or being a mom whose kids are in extracurricular activities or sports, a coworker with common interests, or even a stranger who becomes a little sister such as the barista at the coffee shop!!

Thank you, Lord, for expanding my friend group. Today’s conversation was seasoned in love as we shared a common experience as moms in a crazy worldview time.

May the three-stranded cord of our relationship with Jesus grow into a rich mentorship. We can learn from others even those generations removed. In fact, I feel blessed that I am allowed to speak any words to this sweet young mama. May my words be good advice and encourage her as the Lord encourages me. There may be someone whose path you cross that may need a friend. Ask the Lord to help you take a step of faith, your life journey can bring hope to another.

Proverbs 12:26 NLT
The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.
Proverbs 17:17 NLT
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.


It is Well

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The Big C-word (Cancer) has a way of stopping a person in their tracks, your breath stops, your mind is blank and you are standing on the precipice of mortality.

Will cancer be my undoing or will I have faith in God as I tackle the necessary doctor-designed treatments and care? It is an independent reflective time, no one can take the process from you.

How will I be changed? Will my body be forever damaged? Will my emotions, psychological outlook, my spiritual walk be in trusting God or in anger to this potential future?

It is a dichotomy of thoughts. It is life and death in balance. It is knowing family and friends watch your faith in action or your questioning of faith. (It is ok, God understands.)

It is a time to let friends and family help, pray for you, and serve your needs. I am a giver and not the best receiver. However, as I went through this process, I was humbled and felt the love and support of many. God and his people were with me. I am a breast cancer survivor for two years. I reflect on my past and I celebrate the completion of my dear friends’ cancer treatments today. Praise the Lord!

I share this song by Kristene DiMarco today, It is Well. I love her rendition. It flows in such a way you will feel empowered, or should I say Him Powered!!

No matter the trial, choose to hold onto Jesus, It is Well with Him.