Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Love"ly Thoughts - Day 20 Love that Brings Peace

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul." - Psalm 23 1 -3

Would it surprise you if I told you that I'm having a hard time being 'spiritually wise' here today? 
If I'm being real with you all, I need to tell you that I'm not a super-dee-duper Christian who always knows what to say and how to be and who to love on. 
I'm just me, and today, well today, I just am. So how about I just share what's going on, ok? Walk with me a bit through my thoughts. It's not quite the minefield some think it is! I promise!

The hours in my day today have been full and pleasant, no crazy stuff happening, no out of the blue 'whoa' moments. No call the ambulance moments. I'm not in a "bad place" or mad at God or anything you'd think of as negative. 

Today, I just am. 
Content. Satisfied. Chill. 
And honestly, I'm not feeling particularly wordy. I know, shocker! There's nothing special on my heart that's just burning to be shared - well, actually, that's not true. I'm always burning to share the love of Jesus with whoever needs to experience it. But that's everyday so maybe what I'm trying to say is that there isn't anything ELSE that's just bursting out of me. 

Perhaps with ALL the craziness of last week I've landed in the center of the storm for now. Because really, if truth be told, there's a lot of junk swirling around outside. You know, out there in my life. 
I know you feel me - because it happens to you too. No use denying it - we're all surrounded by junk that makes us nuts.

So, I was wondering, how come I feel so peaceful? 
That's kind of a dumb question when the answer is as plain as the nose on my face. 
It's Jesus. 
Plain and simple.

He reminds me that I can just rest in Him - no need to get stirred up and upset and frazzled over stuff I can't control. 
Doing that doesn't make anything better - least of all my disposition. 

I think some would say that on days like this they can't "feel" the presence of Jesus. But can I tell you something? 
If you are a Christ-follower;
a redeemed and forgiven and sanctified believer in the Jesus who lived and bled and died and rose again so you could be saved for eternity Christ-follower, then He's there. 

In fact, it's days like this that I think you can rest even more in the promise that He is always there. 
Want to know why?  

Because our faith is just that. It's FAITH. 
He's called us to believe. Not just to believe IN Him, but to BELIEVE Him. 
See the difference? 
Believing IN Him saves us, makes us clean and whole and righteous and free. 

BELIEVING Him means that we trust Him. 
We trust Him to keep His word, His promises, His plans for us. 
And for a lot of Christians, that's the really, really hard part because we SO love to worry and fret and my goodness - we love to HELP Him with our problems. 
Lemme just ask - how's that worked out for ya?

Not so good for me - so I've learned to just let it go. Worry is a waste of my time and energy and thought processes and it keeps me from seeing the simple miracles that He works in my life every day.
I'm not always successful - but I practice a LOT. And you know that the more you practice the more likely you are to get it right. 

So, I'm pretty sure that someone out there - maybe YOU - needed to read this tonight. God always works it out that way - kinda cool, huh? 
If so, just take all that junk you're carrying around and set it down. Go on. It's time. No need to carry it anymore because frankly, He's promised - He's got it all under control and He just wants you to BELIEVE HIM. 

With a Courageous Heart, 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"Love"ly Thoughts - Day 19 - Circumstancial Love? Faithful Love.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." - Proverbs 16:9

Well friends, it’s been quite the week. 
Full of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between – absolutely nothing like I had planned. 
But then again, when do our days really turn out the way we plan them? 

As Christians, we know that the Lord is the one who directs our steps, orders our days, winds our clocks. This week reminded me of how grateful I am that he walks every step of the way with me! 

You see, this week was supposed to be kind of a mini-vacation for our family. My daughter Emma is a figure skater. She skates on a synchronized skating team (that’s kind of like the Rockettes on ice) and this week was the Eastern Sectional Championships. We travel quite a bit for her skating and it’s made for some truly wonderful memories for our family. This particular trip was to Lake Placid, NY, a place that we have come to love over the years and to say we were looking forward to it is a bit of an understatement. 

So here’s the rundown - in the span of 5 days, we’ve dealt with an awful health scare for my husband; my daughter being ill without benefit of her prescription medicine – and a fight to get the dr. at home to call in an emergency one; a weird brake problem with our car; me being verbally challenged by someone in a restaurant over getting a table (THAT was really weird!); Emma catching a head cold – yes on top of being sick already; and to top it off, she and another skater on her team had a horrible crash during a practice session that left them both bruised and shaken. By the time we got to Saturday morning, I was feeling a tad beaten and bruised myself. 

Now the human me finds it really easy to focus in on ALL the negative stuff – don’t we do that so well? 

Instead, our awesome God gave me a gift. Our crazy weird, stress-ridden trip ended with a wonderful celebration at the historic Olympic Speed Skating Oval in front of the Olympic Center. It was a fun family time of roasting marshmallows by the barrel fires while some of the parents skated with our kids on the oval. There was music and there were fireworks against the cold, clear night sky and the whole evening had a magical feel to it. 

And honestly, that’s the strongest memory of this trip that I’ll take with me – the sheer joy of shared family time in a place that seemed to be set apart from the reality of the hard week before. To me, that’s a beautiful picture of the pattern of our lives. 

As Christians, we aren’t promised an easy life – far from it. We are tried and tested at every turn. Each test molding, shaping and refining us so that we can be better used for God’s glory. And because we are Christians – Christ-followers – we are given the ability to see above our circumstances and look at the fireworks in the night sky and enjoy a few toasted marshmallows with our loved ones. 

Last night was the best reminder to me that God shows His love to me all the time, in all circumstances. When we CHOOSE to focus on His grace, goodness and LOVE for us, all the difficult hours in this life fade in comparison. Yes, they still exist, but they have so much less power over me when my mind is fixed on Him. 

I will ask for your prayers this week friends as we visit doctors and get back to everyday life. Thank you in advance for your heartfelt petitions on our behalf, you don’t know how much you are appreciated. 

With a Courageous Heart, 
 ~~ Robin

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Love"ly Thoughts - Day 18 - His Love is "More Than Wonderful"

Yep, I'm still out of town, but thankfully, my friend Julie has one more blog post for you so we can keep the "Love"ly thoughts going as we finish our countdown to Valentine's Day.
Today's message is a powerful one and I know it will encourage your heart as it did mine. 
Love you friends!

“For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” - Psalms 86:10

One giant goosebump.  That’s how I’d describe it to you.  Yep, one goosebump!!  Tonight, I went to see some old-school Christian music icons of mine in concert.....Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris.  Their concert did not disappoint....I was glued to the edge of my seat for every minute of the entire two and a half hours....and loving every minute of it.  I’ve always loved music because of the emotions it can invoke, and the feelings it can bring back.....as if they just happened yesterday.  Or, in my case....22 years ago....when I first heard Sandi and Larnelle sing.

The year.....1991.  I was 25 years old; I had been married to Mark for three years, we were living in Tallahassee where Mark was coaching football for Florida State, I was teaching high school English, and to my inexperienced mind....I was living the dream.  See, up to that point, nothing much had happened to me.  Honestly, I felt as if I was pretty much right on track to my “white picket fence” existence.....I even had the requisite Golden Retriever!  I knew where my life was headed, because I had it all planned out.  

1991 was also the year I happened upon a new Sandi Patty cassette.  (There, I said it....cassette.  Remember those?)  You need to understand.....I love to sing....all different types of music.  But Christian music has always held a special place in my heart....and in 1991, Sandi Patty and I were rocking it in my shiny new silver Cutlass Calais! One of the songs on the cassette was titled “More than Wonderful”, and it was a favorite!  Part of the lyrics go like this....

For He’s more wonderful than my mind can conceive

He’s more wonderful than my heart can believe

He goes beyond my highest hopes and fondest dreams.

He’s everything that my soul ever longed for

Everything He’s promised and so much more

More than amazing, more than marvelous

More than miraculous could ever be

He’s more than wonderful, that’s what Jesus is to me.”

I loved those lyrics.....loved to sing them, loved to think about them, really, loved everything about them.  Of course, as time moved on, I forgot them.  New songs replaced “More than Wonderful”, and things changed. Until tonight.  22 years later at a concert in Nashville, TN.

This time, when I heard Sandi and Larnelle sing this song, I started to cry.  (Oh don’t worry, it was a happy cry....not the ugly cry that only girls can relate too!)  I cried because the 46 year old Julie, is a different girl than that young 25 year old of 1991.  And if I’m being honest....a better different.  When I sang those lyrics as a young adult, I sang about “my highest hopes and fondest dreams” with ease, because they were all coming true.  I was on easy street, and I was taking my God there with me. 

However, as a 46 year old, I’ve lived a little more life.  I’ve dealt with the bitter disappointments that only infertility can bring.  I’ve seen dreams taken, and doors closed.  I’ve been through job losses, starting over, moving, cancer, both crippling success and paralyzing failure......and if any one of these experiences could cause one to question the whole “more than wonderful” thing....I think the entire lot of them could! 
Still, don’t get the wrong idea.  I’m here today, 22 years later to tell you this.....Jesus is still “more than wonderful”.  He’s “everything that my soul ever longed for”......and “everything that He’s promised, and so much more”.   Because in the midst of every challenging “life moment” I had, He was there.
I’ve seen Him take bad, and turn it for good. I’ve seen Him be faithful to me in the form of a precious baby...my now 16 year old son, Matt. I’ve seen Him heal my mother of brain cancer, not once, but three times. I’ve seen every job loss become a new job opportunity. I’ve seen Him move my family to Nashville, where we are surrounded by so many who love and bless us.  
I’ve seen Him bless me in successes, and make me so much better through my failures.  So, that’s why I cried.....because now I really know what those lyrics mean.  And every syllable of them are true for me....and they can be for you too.

That’s what Psalm 86:10 means, in fact. David wrote that Psalm, and he actually wrote it during one of the many times he was under attack.  (That David, he was a warrior!)  Psalm 86:14 goes on to say, 

“Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me - they have no regard for you.”

The lesson that David learned, and that I am reminded of, is that circumstances don’t dictate God’s power, His majesty, or His awesomeness.
He is powerful, majestic, and awesome simply because He is God.  I think that sometimes, we want to attribute those characteristics to Him in the good times, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But the real lesson, and the real strength of conviction, is when things are really hard.....and we KNOW (not just say it) that God is STILL powerful, majestic, and awesome.....that He is not a vapor who’s very character changes according to the whims of fate.  
He is God. He is constant. And He still “goes beyond my highest hopes and fondest dreams”. 
Thanks for the reminder, Sandi and Larnelle!

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Love"ly Thoughts - Day 17 A Love that Never Lets Go

Hello friends,
I'm sure you enjoyed my friend and Guest Blogger, Julie Salva's post yesterday. Here's more from Julie's heart to encourage you today.
With a Courageous Heart,
P.S. I miss you guys!

"Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady;  keep a firm grip on you." - Isaiah 41:10 / The Message


I remember when our son, Matt, was maybe 4 or 5 years old.  I don’t know what it is at that age, but anything he would find remotely intriguing was to be found on the opposite side of the street.  The kid could dart across the street quicker than I could turn around!  So, we obviously got in the practice of hand holding….and I mean TIGHT hand holding.   You know the type I mean……white knuckle, strong grip, rubber cement, “ain’t letting go” hand holding!  I knew, when I was holding Matt’s hand, no harm would befall him.  More importantly, HE knew when I was holding his hand, that no matter what….he was safe.  That’s because he knew I loved him so much that I would never let go.

Isaiah 41:10 offers believers that same promise.  God gives us His assurance that He is not letting go….he has a “firm grip” on us!   In these trying times, it is easy to want to “run to the opposite side of the street”, isn’t it?  We think we can find something better over there, maybe the answers to problems, maybe a quick fix, or maybe just a “better view” if you will.  But the great news is this…..as believers, God is holding our hand.  And if “the opposite side of the street” isn’t where we need to be, He won’t lead us over there.  Better yet, we can rest assured that WHEREVER HE leads us is perfect, because He’s holding our hand and guiding us to where we need to be. 

How does that make you feel? 
Things tough.....God’s got you. 
Circumstances you don’t understand....God’s got you. 
Uncertain about the future....God’s got you. 
Questioning......God’s got you. 
Need strength.....God’s got you.  
And never forget…..He loves you so much, that He’ll never, ever let go. 
That’s a promise to hold tight too! 

So, my "Love"-ly thought today.....God’s got me....forever.

- Julie