April 25, 2012

Remaining

Welcome P31 friends! Thanks for spending time with us today.

There are times in each of our lives hard or lonely. Yet the truth Miss Emma knew is one that can resonate down the halls of our hearts.

And echo into the core of who we are:
Christ beside me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ within me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
~St. Patrick

Sometimes it helps to have a visual of this truth. Something tangible to hold onto.

My friend Melissa told me about this neat remembrance, Nesting Envelopes, and I wanted to share with you how to make your own.

#1: Write “Jesus” on small paper
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2: Write your name on an envelope {made mine with scrap paper/tape}
Tuck #1 paper {Jesus’ Name} inside

“I will remain in you.”

 

 

 

 


#3: Write Jesus’ Name on a slightly larger envelope
Tuck #2 envelope inside
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

 

 

 

 


#4: Write God’s Name on an even larger envelope
Tuck #3 envelope inside
“I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5: The final product will be one big envelope with “God” on the outside!

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
~John 15

 

 

 

 

 

 
Wherever loneliness lurks, tuck this confidence snug away. You are not alone. He is there. {I keep mine on my bedside table.}

I’d love to make one for you! Today, I’m giving away a personalized Nesting Envelope to 5 different people. To enter to win, please visit any of the blogs under the tab “Where I Love to Stroll. There is tons of encouragement from each amazing friend, and connecting with them is a sure-fire way to remind yourself you’re not alone. Then, c‘mon back & leave a comment with which blog you visited and what encouraged you on there. Thanks!

 

 

 

xoxo,
Sam

March 7, 2012

Making Our Way Toward Peace

I once lugged a brand spankin’ new boyfriend to the ballet. I know, I know … not the optimal way to woo him. But he dragged me to college football games. All’s fair in love and war, eh?

Eventually I warmed to the beauty of football, but he never took a liking to dance. Which seems odd as football is a dance of sorts. {That’s an analogy for another day.} My point in telling this tale of love lost {we broke up} and love found {I count the days till the next football season starts} is that I love dance. All forms except one.

I don’t dig the dance we do with our thoughts.

True, some thoughts gracefully glide us across the dance floor of life. Warm memories, kind words, happy encouragements.

But other thoughts? Those that steal our peace … like we’re not as pretty as so-and-so. Or as bright as smarty-pants PhD. How about the thought that life will forever be hard? Or that loneliness, depression, anxiety, {fill in the blank} is our lot in life.

I danced with this one for years: I’ll always be fearful.

In hindsight, that feels melodramatic. But I spent years in the absence of peace because I was afraid. Negative thoughts swung me around till I got sick of being frightened and tired of having no peace.

Maybe you’re exhausted from being haunted by a negative thought too? You think, “Something’s gotta give.” You’re to the point you can’t dance another day, but you don’t want to be left hanging on the dance floor. That’s when we need something else to step in and replace our {_____}.

I wish I had an oh-so-fab 10 Steps to Peace Program. I don’t. But I’ll tell you what’s helped me end fear’s dance.

Prayer… asking God to help set me free.

Counseling… talking the dark thoughts out into the light {helped a ton!}

Music… consuming worship music filled my soul with hope.

The Bible… Every time fear grasped my hand for a spin, I shook it off with a scripture, repeating positive truths over and over.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. ~Psalm 94:18-19

I’ll be honest. Changing dance partners wasn’t the easiest. Negative thoughts break-danced and cha-cha’ed around my knocking knees. I had to fight them off in order to dance with peace. But over time and through prayer, counseling, worship and determined focus on Scripture the negative thoughts have lessened and peace has increased.

Can I encourage you to try a combo or all four of these to help you shake {_____} too?

 

xoxo,
Sam

January 27, 2012

One Good Man

“I see Mercy’s dating you,” she says as if it’s common to say such things. As if I knew this fact. {I didn’t.}

True, there have been glints of Mercy hanging around: softer heart, gentler words. But dating? One must tread lightly; such things could lead to a lifetime commitment.

A laugh tries to move past her statement, but it sticks. Though she and I are editing 10’s of 100’s of 1000’s of so many words during our meeting, hers won’t go away. Days after, they trail me and greet me at my front door and bid me good morning.

There’s this list I etched in the early spring of life. Qualities of a dreamed of man-husband. Some sweet, most naive, like flowers that bloom too early, before the frost has been chased away till winter. Give him blue eyes, tall legs, guitar fingers and a fondness for snow, Lord. And a passion for You, a heart for missions, goofy humor, and desire to have a house full of children . And swirl in this and that and the list went off the margins.

Now? In the summer of my time, the list blooms with  just one characteristic sure to weather all seasons: good.

Because surely goodness and mercy walk hand-n-hand. Dream of giving love and money and peace. Care for the least and the more than enough and everyone in between. Ride the wave of justice to set captives free. Walk humbly with God.

Surely, goodness loves Mercy. This Mercy dating me, asking for my hand, my heart, my life.

I can’t help but think: if this is what the Lord requires of a man… must I need more?

Oh sure, my heart still leans toward many of those things on my adolescent list. I’ll gladly lay them down though for that greater characteristic. Then again, many of them are embedded in good. So, I’ll whittle my list down to that one thing: good. Well, perhaps there’s one more quality I’d want a husband to have: a desire for a good wife.

And so, I’m accepting Mercy’s hand as I wait for one good man.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~Micah 6:8

 

 

xoxo,
Sam

December 21, 2011

When Loneliness Overwhelms

Loneliness is a clever fella. Even when smiles brim over the edge of paper. Red and white stripes wrap families tight. Green jingle bells dance off cards. Happy sentiments and merry wishes burst forth in glossy text.

Even with all these stamped acts of love before me, loneliness taunts. Ahhh… the Christmas photo card.  I love them. Indeed, I bounce to the mail eager for a friend’s warm greetings. Yet.

Yet, it’s hard. Chubby-cheeked babes and pig-tailed little girls and proud moms-and-dads.  They remind me once more “you’re alone.” As my hand cramps, scrolling Christmas messages in old-fashioned ink, I battle bitterness. Knowing if I had a “Plus One” it’d be acceptable to send a picture of two. Or three or four or seven. But just one; that’s odd… unacceptable.

Yet. Yet I know this to be true: loneliness isn’t combated with spouses or children or parents or friends or work or busyness or parties or an abundance of cards. For a little while, yes. These keep loneliness at bay.

Yet traveling the high seas of loneliness, rocked by its storms. Swayed about till sick and tired. We can’t live from wave to wave, only catching our breath when there’s an ebb. The only acceptable thing? The only way to get to the other side of this ocean of doubt and pain and fear?

Call out. Shout above the raging. ’cause only One Voice can calm. “And the disciples came and woke Him, saying, Master, Master, we are perishing!” {Luke 8:24}

When opening your mailbox splashes waves of loneliness over your heart’s sides.
When feeling all alone, even in a house full of family, whips your sails around.
When Christmas movies on TV pull you under.
When  you’re pretty sure this lonely journey will be the end of you.

Speak His Name. Only there. Only there {take that in. Only there, not in anything else. Only there.}, is hope, safety, rescue, guidance. “And he awoke, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.” {Luke 8:24}

Master. Master of the wind, waves, depths and heights. My journey to the other side of fully trusting Jesus is still in transit. Maybe you’re still sailing a particular sea as well? Wherever we are in the course of this voyage, when He asks, “[Why are you so fearful?] Where is your faith (your trust, your confidence in Me–in My veracity and My integrity)?” let’s lift eyes off the waves and answer, “There is surely a future hope for [me], and [my] hope will not be cut off.” {Prov. 23:18}.


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xoxo,
Sam