Ode To A Slice of Life

By: Ms. O

A very sad anniversary is happening this week…one that still makes my heart cry…if hearts did indeed shed tears. This week marks the tenth anniversary of the closing of Astroworld. Sniff…sniff.

When we moved to Houston I was thrilled at the proximity of the park. We were season tickets holders each and every summer…and more than got our money’s worth out of price.

wild and crazy ride

The Texas Cyclone was the Grand’Mere of all wooden roller coasters.  I remember waiting in line, hearing the cars climb and fall ….the wooden structure bending and shaking….the screams of riders making you more nervous the longer you stood there.  I know I can still feel the trembles in my stomach as we climbed that first hill…dangling over the hump waiting for the back of the car (because of course I rode in the front so I could see what was coming) to reach the crest before it free fell.  I know it was a mix of sheer terror and the feeling of conquering this fear of coasters that kept me riding it each season.

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It was always worth the wait in line for Greased Lightning… Viper….XLR-8. I was there when they opened Batman the Escape….Mayan Mindbender….Serial Thriller… Dungeon Drop ….the last I rode only once…urp…I like to keep what I ate IN my stomach.

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Spending the day at the park was brutal during the summer months…so Tidal Wave…and Bamboo Shoot….always came in handy to cool off. I knew where every “misting machine” was located around the park…along with the rides that had shade while you waited.

Astroworld was a big part of my children’s growing up years. When family came to visit, it was THE place to take them. It was a banner moment when my kids were old enough to walk the park by themselves. This park was prime for taking the youth group….not too expensive….a lot of bang for the buck…and close enough that you could stay till the park closed and make it home before it was too late.

If I close my eyes I can still remember the lay out of the park. The ticket gates….the gift shops…where to get funnel cake…lemon ices. I knew where the pictures were taken at the primo rides so we could pose with horrified looks on our faces….hands held high in the air. We knew where each “cut through” was….ideal places to meet if we got separated….the best strategy to map out how to get the most of out all the rides.

Maybe part of the mystique of Astroworld is because it’s now…gone. It is a vacant lot…grass growing up….no trace of what was there. It seemed to disappear overnight…and now it is just a “remember when” place in our minds. It does not exist anymore…but for many of us…it will always be a part of…us.

Casting Crowns put out a song years back that captures that feeling for me.

I am a flower quickly fading

Here today and gone tomorrow

A wave tossed in the ocean

A vapor in the wind

Still You hear me when I’m calling

Lord, You catch me when I’m falling

And You’ve told me who I am

I am…I am Yours.

David speaks of God’s great love for us…even as “insignificant” and temporary as we are…in Psalm 8:3-4

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, when is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that  you care for him?”

In the grand scheme of creation, we are so very temporary…only here for a bit. It may seem at times that my life has stretched for eons….but in all reality…it is a blink of an eye for our Father…and yet He is ever mindful of me.  His desire is for me to live a FULL life here on Earth…spreading His gospel…His love….so that others will know Him also.  I am here to tell the “tale”…..

I think it is always important to “relive” my life with God….to be reminded of all that “we” have done together…how He set things in motion…and invited me in…to join and be a part of this…life. One day when I am in Heaven, I hope that memory stays with me…that I have the ability to look back…and be so very thankful of the adventure that I lived….because so far it has been a wild and crazy ride. There have been times in my life that I feel like I am waiting in one of those lines that zig zagged FOREVER…but in retrospect…I know it is well worth the wait…amen…and amen.

How To Embrace Your Inner Lovely

2 Life Coaching Tips Help You Embrace Christ’s Love…

Your Inner Lovely

Thanks for being lovely

I have to admit these coaching tips are inspired by Moo. Not the cow. The online printing company. If God can use a talking donkey…he can use something called Moo! (See Numbers 22:21-35.)

This company included the card shown above in the box of business cards I ordered.

I think it is meant to be handed to someone along with a business card. But I’ll have to pass it on to you here instead. I liked the sentiment so much the card is now stuck to my bathroom mirror!

Now, whenever I pass by the mirror, my thoughts are immediately directed to the truth: ‘I am lovely.’

Words of Encouragement

God loves encouraging words…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Phil. 4:8

This is what I get from the words of encouragement on this card.

a. You are lovely.

b. We appreciate your loveliness and thank you for being lovely.

c. Please share your lovely – pass it on!

Moo preached the gospel in just 7 words! Thanks for being lovely. Pass me on!

It’s a perfect reminder of the love of Jesus living inside of us. Jesus has made us lovely. This truth lives deeper than our reflection in the mirror. It is born of God’s grace, and gifted to you and me by the Holy Spirit.

How do we embrace our lovely? Here are two life coaching tips that may help.

Life Coaching Tips

#1: Take Time To Be Lavished In Love

Take a moment and think about the times you’ve used some really great soap or lotion and it feels thick and luxurious going on. This is what comes to mind when I linger on the word ‘lavish’…being drenched in richness.

In those times when you may feel inadequate or insignificant, take a stand against such lies and make time to intentionally reflect on the extravagant, lavish, drenching love of Christ.

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.

1John 3:1 (The Voice)

Schedule some luxury into your day. Stop and be lavished by God’s extravagant love.

#2: Ask As You Pray

Paul lifts a prayer on behalf of the Ephesians in the book of Ephesians 3:14-19. He asks God that they would:

  1. Gain inner strength
  2. Invite Christ to live in them
  3. Be firmly planted in love
  4. Reach out with Christ’s love
  5. Experience the length, depth, and heights of his love
  6. Live a full life in the fullness of God

What more could they – or we – possibly desire?

Why not make this beautiful prayer of Paul’s yours? It might go something like this.

My response is to get down on my knees before you Father, the magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask you to strengthen me by your Spirit – not brute strength but a glorious inner strength – that Christ will live in me as I open the door and invite him in.

And I ask you that with both feet planted firmly in love, I’ll be able to take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.

Reach out and experience the breadth!

Test it’s length!

Plumb the depths!

Rise to the heights!

Live a full life, full in the fullness of God.

If you find yourself feeling unlovely, intentionally ask and pray this scripture. It may seem a little selfish at first, but this is not a love rooted in pride. It is a love centered on Christ.

Go ahead. Embrace your inner lovely.

Then do as Moo suggests…pass it on!

Purpose Steps

  1. Make the above personalized scripture your prayer each day this week. Journal about any changes you experience in your feelings or attitude about yourself or situation.
  2. Put a word of encouragement or this Moo card on your mirror. What a great reminder to start your day!
  3. Pass your lovely on!

Purpose Prayer

Speak out loud the personalized scripture prayer above. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Listen to Your HeartSong! (Click the link below)

Isn’t She Lovely/Stevie Wonder

Live the song written on your heart

* The heart on the card is not original to the Moo card.
** This is not an endorsement of Moo printing nor do I receive any payment for bragging on them. It’s simply my way of applauding the encouragement they desire to pass along.

It’s all in the PLANNING…(right?)

By: Ms. O

Plans

I am a planner…as in, I like to MAKE the plans. If I am not the maker of such plans, then at least I would like to have all the details so I know what I am doing….what to expect.

I am not a good “surprise” person. It catches me off guard….I am sure that has a lot to do with why we call it “surprise”….and I am off kilter. I end up wasting time, trying to get my bearings and then I am behind. Way behind. Not something I like…at all.

Maybe that is why having the first child is hard. You have no game plan…no play book to go to…at least one that you trust…that makes sense…that covers ALL the bases.  Each day is a new experience…make that each moment that first week or two…and I never seemed to get ahead of “it”….the plan. When I had my second it was simply modifying previous strategies. (mind you…some worked…others…maybe not)

If I try a new recipe, I am not one to serve it. I want to make it first so I have confidence if I plan to bring it to staff lunch, a pot luck, or get together with friends. Even after my first attempt, I still find a way to taste test it before I present it. After a while I am good at modifying, adding, or taking away to make it my own.

I love roller coasters….after I have ridden it a time or two. I need to know the dips…the drop offs…if it goes upside down…sideways…or backwards. If I know what to expect…the fear is lessened…to a point. I can brace myself…actually be prepared…for what is ahead.

The unknown is…plain and simply put…terrifying. I need to make sure I have packed the right things…practiced what I will act out…have the right ingredients….brace myself for the rough times that are ahead.

I am all about quotes…especially ones that make me laugh. Woody Allen has one about plans…and it truly made me lol.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

But perhaps the better quote comes from scripture…..

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

When God told Solomon He would give him anything, Solomon was pretty wise….he asked for wisdom. Not knowledge of what was to come…what will happen…but more the wisdom knowing that God has this covered. Our wisdom comes from knowing God…placing our future…whether that be tomorrow…or next year…in His hands…and know with all certainty…that He will do the groundwork for us.

Does that make it easy for me?…hmmmm…NO.

But it truly gives me a new perspective…offers me a sort of relief…that I don’t have to have it all figured out. What I need to do is lean in towards God…to sit in His presence…and simply wait for what He knows is best.

Sure it would be nice to know what is coming. At times I have a frank conversation with God, trying to convince Him how much more effective I could be if only He would let me in on His plans….because I can offer some great imput…in which I know I can hear Him laugh…out loud. Putting my trust in Him means getting on a new roller coaster each and every day…strapping myself in…and realizing He sits beside me…hands held high…encouraging me to trust in Him and do the same. I wonder if if counts if I close my eyes on that first big drop off….hmmmmm.

Amen.

Redefining Competition

By: Amy Dalke

So you know how we normally hang out here on Mondays, right?

Well, this Monday, I invite you to join me somewhere else. I was asked to contribute to a series called 30 Days of Raising Boys, and I don’t want you all to miss it.

Whether you’re raising boys, girls, or both, motherhood is messy and wonderful and miserable and awesome all in a great day’s work. So do yourself some good today and read words that prove you aren’t the only one.

You’ll find the series home page right here: 30 Days of Raising Boys. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for links to all the posts.)

You can find my post for the series here: Raising Boys Who Redefine Competition

Let me just tell you something about these words I wrote. Luke played in a baseball tournament over this past weekend. And these words came back to punch me in the gut. Not because I needed to whip them out in my parenting arsenal…but because I needed to preach them to myself.

Which is another one of those times I’m convinced Jesus is all like #burn. (In a loving way, of course. Because I promise I don’t think Jesus zaps me or anything like that.)

Raising Boys Who Redefine Competition

My most favorite thing is that if you sign up before the end of October, you get the Big Book of Scriptures to Pray Over Your Children for free. 

See you next week!

Amy

 

Confessions Of A Recovering Perfectionist

Confessions of Perfectionist Instead Seek Me

By: Gail Armatys

I confess. I am ~ a recovering perfectionist.

It’s not that I think I’m perfect. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But, I have been known to strive for it. Perfection, that is.

Prefectionist Found Out

Somehow, it wasn’t until earlier this year that I finally realized I have been a perfectionist much of my life. This revelation surprised me. I uncharacteristically mentioned this trait to friends recently and one of the women nodded saying something like, ‘I knew that.’

I was shocked!

First, I couldn’t believe it was so apparent. Second, her statement was like an arrow that had pierced the armor this perfectionist hid her imperfections behind.

If you know anything about perfectionists, we think we run a pretty tight ship and strive to be put together and cinched up. The fact that this characteristic was apparent hit me like a wild pitch in a baseball game.

I was totally unprepared, left slightly bruised…and ultimately appreciative.

Jesus Desires Perfection…Really?

When Jesus taught the ‘Beautitudes’ he said we were to ‘be perfect’ immediately after speaking specifically about loving our enemies.

Therefore, be perfect. Just as your Father in heaven is prefect.

Matthew 5:48

Most of us would probably agree, pulling off love for our enemies might take more perfect than we’ve got…it takes Jesus’ merciful perfection in us.

That being said, the Greek translation of ‘perfect’ here means completeness, growth. An appropriate definition offered might be this.

Be that which God has designed you to be.

Sweet words to a recovering perfectionist and career encourager ~ and to you who join me in your perfectionist armor!

Be who God designed you to be! Be perfectly you!

True Story

Just before I began writing this blog with ‘perfectionism’ as a possible topic, I thumbed through my journal.  The one I write scripture verses, prayers, and Holy Spirit inspiration in during my early morning time with God. This was what I found written on January, 2015:

“Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world,

pour your energy into seeking me.”

Clearly, God intended to peel back yet another perfectionist layer by leading me to I write this blog.

My prayer for you who wear your armored-up perfectionist wardrobe is that you would seek God in your moments, in your circumstances, and in your days so that you may be all God designed you to be.

Purpose Prayer

Merciful God, thank you for opening my eyes to your definition of perfection. Forgive me for armoring-up instead of seeking more of you to pour into me. Help me strive only to be that which you have designed me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Purpose Step

Write down one step you can take this week to reveal yourself ~ the true you to others. Be brave. Do it!

Listen to Your HeartSong!

Flawless/Mercy Me

What To Do When Insecurity Calls

By: Amy Dalke

Insecurity can be beaten you know. And I've got 6 ways you can do it.

I know a little bit about insecurity.

Actually, that’s an understatement because if there was such thing as an Insecurity Expert, I’ve basically earned a Ph.D. or something.

The good news for you is, I’m real-life proof that just because you live steeped in insecurity today, does not mean you’re doomed to that life forever. Ideally I could tell you that my own path from insecurity to freedom was instantaneous.

But it wasn’t.

In fact, it’s been an ongoing growth process where those “less than” feelings have been shed layer by layer.

Maybe you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, and that’s fantastic. However I have a sneaking suspicion that you are intimately aware of this life-stealing issue. If insecurity is your standard MO, then the following experiences may be familiar:

–Insecurity walks into a room, and a familiar wave of “not belonging” begins to fill up your gut.

–Insecurity reminds you that you don’t fit there.

Insecurity convinces you that every eye is on you, deftly picking apart all your inadequate pieces.

–Insecurity whispers that you’re wrong in all the right places, like an uncomfortable waistband that squeezes around your center. (Insecurities about the central region are the real deal, mind you.) (Which is why Spanx generates billion dollars in revenue.)

Insecurity reads between the lines of every word spoken, and hyper-focuses on how others interact with you (their tone of voice, body language, etc.). You’ll use this info later in your obsessive mental replay.

–Insecurity takes the words of others and twists them to confirm that you are wrong, good for nothing, and “less than” everyone around you.

–Insecurity tells you that you shouldn’t get involved at church since you probably don’t have anything special to offer. They seem to have it handled anyway.

–Insecurity keeps you from applying for that job you feel like you were made for…because surely someone more qualified will get the offer.

When you carry insecurity in your heart, you carry insecurity with you into every room, every situation. Is this really how Jesus people are meant to live? Didn’t Jesus say that we’re worth a whole lot? Didn’t he prove we’re worth a lot more than human opinions when he died for us? I mean, that’s kind of a big deal.

So how do we live like that’s really true?

You can’t fix insecurity with a pill, essential oils, or shopping. Not that I know anything about that. (Actually, I know far too much about it.)

Victory over insecurity requires that you have some face time with God. Because God’s view of you is reality. But if you don’t know what He says…then how can you live out the truth?

(1) Rather than nurse your irrational feelings in the face of insecurity, lean into Jesus and ask him to show you what truth looks like in your current situation.

Your freedom is inexplicably tied to knowing the TRUTH, according to John 8:32. And I’ve learned the hard way that feelings are not fantastic truth-tellers. Here’s a handful of truth to keep in your back pocket:

  • You are loved and accepted by the One who matters most. (Ephesians 1:5-7, Ephesians 2:4-5).
  • God gives you strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25), therefore you are valuable and worthy of respect.
  • You are God’s work of art. (Ephesians 2:10) (This is more than a Christian-y motto: it’s WHO YOU ARE.)

Insecurity doesn't have to your thing. Here's 6 real-life, proven, practical ways to beat it.

2) Go ahead and channel REO Speedwagon. Because you really can’t fight these feelings anymore in your own strength.

So stop trying. (I mean, hello, that hasn’t exactly worked out so well…)

When the self-obsessed drivel works up a chatter for your attention, ask God what it’s all about. He can shine light on the real source and help you deal with it in truth.

(3) Think “Drop It Like It’s Hot” when perceived slights creep into your insecurity loop. Don’t even give those thoughts a chance to make one full spin around the mental track. Because over-analysis is sort of what got you here in the first place.

It all sounds pretty easy tucked into neat bullet points, but this is one of the hardest battles I’ve ever faced. Time and time again we need to stick our nose in scripture and beg God to give us His perspective so that we don’t just fold up into our own shaky self esteem.

But watch out, world. Because when we apply God’s truth to our insecurity, we will be unstoppable. And friend, that’s exactly what God wants for you.

Will you believe it or not?

Amy

p.s. Quick before you go! Here’s proof that freedom is possible for you:

Exhibit A: Referencing REO Speedwagon does not fall into any kind of hip category. (I own my nerd-ness.)

Exhibit B: Drop It Like It’s Hot. I don’t even know, y’all. I’m blaming it on hormones or Jesus. Because seriously.

Will You Choose To Surrender?

The Truly You Purpose Project

The Truly You Purpose Project God Knows and Loves You Anyway

Truth Tip #4

Surrender to Your Purpose

This is week 4, Truth Tip #4, of the Truly You Purpose Project. We’ve been learning how to live who we truly are by understanding our inherent and sacred worth, accepting God loves us anyway, and remembering God has a plan for each of our lives. This week we end our project with Surrender to Your Purpose.

I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

Jeremiah 1:5

Your Assignment…Should You Choose To Accept It

You have been appointed, ordained by God for a special work, called to a certain mission. And, you are in good company.

Jeremiah was appointed to be a prophet to the nations, Mary was pre-ordained to bear the Savior of the world, the woman at the well was intended to tell others what Jesus said and did for her, Philip was to teach the Ethiopian eunuch, Mother Theresa was assigned to serve the poor, sick, and dying. Jesus came to save the world.

Everyone who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random; we are not here, that we may go to bed at night, and get up in the morning, toil for our bread, eat and drink, laugh and joke, sin when we have a mind, and reform when we are tired of sinning, rear a family and die. God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, . . . for a purpose.

Cardinal John Henry Newman

Surrender to willing obedience

Like those whose names and stories fill the pages of your bible, you have been given an assignment. You may never be written about, sung about, or quoted but your willing surrender to your mission makes a difference in the lives of others where you are today and those who follow in years to come.  None of us have gone untouched by those who displayed willing obedience to God’s calling.

Exposed and Surrendered

In the New Testament Greek, the word purpose most often means intentional, to set forth, be exposed before God. In another word…surrendered. Yikes! Full exposure! Could this mean that we must willingly and intentionally expose ourselves, our sin, pride, and plans at the foot of the cross in order to live fully our purpose?

Jesus submitted himself to God’s will as a boy in the temple and as he walked out his ministry as an adult. It’s exactly what he did in the Garden of Gethsemane, too. He surrendered his human desire to take a pass on the degradation and pain of the cross in order to fully expose sin and accomplish the purpose for which God sent him…in exchange for the glory before him.

Surrender to Your Purpose

For us, there is another option…

When it comes down to it, we may not really want to know the purpose God has in mind for us. Or we may be afraid of what God’s purpose will require of us.

Dr. Katie Brazelton

My hope is that you choose to know God’s appointed purpose and joy for your life. Like Jesus, you must surrender your will…a moment by moment process for us.

And although God’s plan probably doesn’t require you to die physically ~ brutally ~ in order to know and fulfill your purpose, you surely must die to yourself. When you do, yes, you will be exposed. But you will also live as you were meant to…truly you.

Purpose Step

What will you surrender today to help expose yourself to God’s purpose for your life?

Purpose Prayer

Lord, thank you for appointing a unique purpose for my life. Help me to boldly and humbly desire and accept your will for my life surrendering myself completely to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Listen To Your HeartSong (Click the link below.)

Surrender/Lincoln Brewster