November 22, 2018 gratitude

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Good morning, ThankfulHeart.

I started this month with a mindset to notice my gratitude and to give thanks always. It’s funny how once I started, I began seeing connections through a fresh lens.

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:7, NLT)

Working this backwards, I realized if I want to overflow with thanksgiving, then my faith needs to grow. For my faith to grow, my life needs to be built on Him. And for that to occur, I need my roots to grow deeper still. Roots matter … especially when the surprises come out of left field and slam you.

-Through roots water is absorbed. As our roots go deep in Him, we are promised, “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14, NIV).

-Roots are the means by which we are anchored to the ground and supported. “Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT)

-Roots are the storage place of food and nutrients. “When I discovered Your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16, NLT)

-Roots are the means by which fruit is produced. “But they [those with deep roots] are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalm 1:3, NLT)

Root development is important so that faith and gratitude will flourish in our lives. Deep roots of faith are evidenced by gratitude for all God has done and continues to do for us each day.

Wake up.

Gratitude always.

Go.

November 20, 2018 creek

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Good morning, DearOne.

Do you see her?

In the midst of leaves that have all turned their color, in the middle of the creek there is one little black wienie dog. Ellie. We were on the creek yesterday cutting cedar limbs for my flower barrels. She smelled a critter and went laser-beam focus on a mission.

She didn’t think about getting muddy.

Or, what the onlooking cattle might be thinking.

Or, what others might think.

Or, if the protocol was right.

She was just courageously doing her job. The kind of courage it takes to be different than everything that might hold her back and cause her to fail.

And yet, isn’t that what we are called to do?

We are called to….

be courageous & not follow the crowd?

to do what is right & godly & hard?

to make a difference in the lives around us?

to live wisely?

kindly?

peaceably?

sacrificially?

to sacrifice and build each other up in the process?

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Wake up.

Be courageous.

Stand apart.

Stand alone.

Dare to be different.

Go.

November 19, 2018 watch for it

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“…put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:10 ESV

Good morning, DearHeart.

My men start preparing for deer season in the summer and the anticipation builds. This was deer-rifle opening weekend. Which also means: let the stories begin. Every year there are highs and lows to their routine … outsmarting the hogs, and coyotes … watching the activity of the squirrels and raccoons … making constant improvements to the stands … gosh, just getting out the door with all the gear and attitudes is a victory (we are Lewis’s – we have attitudes haha!). Always being tested along the journey.

My favorites stories that come in every single year are about the quiet moments, though. Because, God seems to break in to the turmoil at some point and my men notice … in the deer stand they become totally surrounded by His presence in the silence. He enters in with no boundaries. Their descriptions are priceless.

Certain sure tingling.

A sudden knowing of their Creator’s presence … and the power that resides within His child.

Sacred. Holy. Moments.

The question I am finding myself pondering this morning is….

TODAY, where will I find that sacred moment?

Where will you find it?

For you see, we may not remember every fact in Scripture but we will, in fact, remember the moments in which our God reveals Himself to us. We will remember the truth imparted. The Scripture He brought to mind. There are benefits that come from the tests and the trials, and those tests yield to the blessings God Almighty assigned to you and pours out onto you through the windows of Heaven.

May we be like Moses, who when he noticed a burning bush, decided to “go over & see the strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.”

May we be like Moses, when the Lord called to him from within that same bush, respond, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3).

It was that sacred moment that defined Moses’ life.

And those sacred moments will define our lives as well.

Sacred moments – I don’t want to miss them.

Wake up.

Watch for it.

Go.

November 16, 2018 wrestle

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Good morning, DearOne.

Fear shuts us down, doesn’t it?

It clouds our thinking.

Stops us in our tracks.

Kills momentum.

Makes us second guess every move.

Debilitating.

And, when fear and intimidation mix and gets set in place, it’s hard to clean up the aftermath and stop that pattern of behavior. It’s hard to rebuild people and empower them when they’ve been emotionally beaten or fear doing life because the heavy hand might take it wrong, twist it, and make it into something about them.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress gets results. It’s also bullying. And, it is wrong to treat people like that.

In the movie “Titanic” there’s an exchange where Rose says, “You must be thinking ‘poor little rich girl what does she know about misery?’” And, what’s his name … Jack .. Jack replies something along the lines of … “No, that’s not what I was thinking. What I was thinking was, “What could’ve happened to this girl to make her think she had no way out?”

We really can’t predict what others might be thinking, yet our own imaginations can be our worst enemy on what others think of us, or what they may be thinking. Do you ever look at someone and wonder “what has life done to you to make you so paranoid? To assume all people have ill-intention? And, must be dealt with. ..with power and fear and intimidation?”

What kind of ego assumes ill intent of good hearts?

The first Christians were persecuted. They must have struggled with fear and what people were thinking and saying about them. Paul wrote encouragement to the church in Colossae from various co-laborers in the faith. Paul mentions, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Col. 4:12).

This one verse implies that the struggle with fear is a wrestling match that must be done through the power of God. This is a prayer issue. I am not able to rationalize the fear away, as the fear often causes me to over-think any challenge. A different approach is needed – surrendering the unknown future of the challenge to God in prayer. Paul also wrote to the Philippian church, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).

The result of going to God in prayer with the fearful situation is that the power of God guards the very parts of my life that Satan attacks with the fear – my feelings and my thoughts. And, know this ANY ATTACK OF FEAR IS SATAN AT WORK. The enemy’s agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy your peace. Through prayer, the power of God steels back my mind and my feelings to resist the “doom and gloom” thinking and instead focus on what God is able to do.

Wake up.

Wrestle it out in prayer.

Go.

November 15, 2018 my manifesto

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Good morn’ DearOnes.

I keep a personal manifesto in my top drawer. I wrote it in Dr. Barnes class at UCO maybe 20 years ago while working on my Masters. It’s been tweaked a million times. It comes in handy on days when God needs to remind me who I was before the world pushes in and tries to tell me who I “should” be.

Or, that I’m doing it all wrong.

Or, that I’m not enough.

Maybe it’ll be a reminder for who you are, too.

Thought I’d share. In a nutshell, it says to default to love.

Always.

Always.

Go ahead, right now, and send love out to where you are going today.

The store.

School.

The office.

Chemo.

The couch.

Wherever.

So – this a lil long. Before you start have I told you lately how much I love my people? You’re my people.

And, I so love you. You, too, are enough.

My highest value is compassion, which comes in lots of forms: love, kindness, empathy, gratitude.  And, every time a situation comes up, I ask myself, “How can I deal with this with full compassion?”

My goals are the same whether they are professional, personal or otherwise. Success is not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.  It is hard work. Messy work. The following are my goals; they are also my key ingredients for assuring I maintain a successful spirit. I start each sunrise by sending the love of God out before me to all the places I will be.

1.  Humility. Be humble. Have a huge amount of humility. Everything comes from God; it is a gift, an undeserved blessing. Be aware of every gift. Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.”

2. Nurturing.  Nurture those who follow me. Do not enable them – teach them to find answers themselves. Praise them immediately, in public if possible, send notes of encouragement. Nurture always. Titus 2:3-5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the world of God may not be reviled.”

3.  Commitment.  Everyday. Have a “no matter what” mentality. Commitment is the one trait that separates those who make it with those who don’t. Stop “trying” and just “do it”. Don’t give my power away. Don’t make excuses. Be committed. This is my way out of anything that is holding me back. Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

4. Focus. Understand my goal. Know what it is that I am striving for, then get LASER BEAM focused on that goal. Eliminate all tolerations that hinder my focus.  Proverbs 4:35 “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”

5. Positive Attitude. Love those around me, everyone that I come in contact with. Always assume the good intentions of others. My Mom Reinking always said, “Annnngellla, (it rolled off her tongue, she only addressed me by my real name) always judge by others by their best intention”.

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

6.  Integrity. Character. Do what’s right even if it is hard. Do the right thing. Be transparent, share my weaknesses. 1 Peter 3:16 “Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” Job 27:4-6 “My lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.”

7. Generosity. Share. Sacrifice and give generously of my time, my talents, my money, my ear. Share always. Proverbs 11:24-25 “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

8.  Self-Discipline. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments. Only undertake what I can do in an excellent fashion. Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

9.  High Expectations. Dream Big. Paint a BIG picture of where I see myself. See it in my mind’s eye. Freeze that image until I’m ready to enlarge it! Have a classy style of portraying my expectations. The kind of class that lends an aura of confidence – that is, being sure without being cocky. Mark 9:31 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”

10. Endurance. Run the race to the finish. I don’t have to win – just finish. Finishing is where the success lies. FINISH. Philippians 3:13-14 “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

Thomas Jefferson penned the words, “Those with the ability to take action, have the responsibility to take action.” As I grow my hope is that my people gain camaraderie, from which we will serve together and learn about each other. Relationships are critical to accomplishment, and I hope to gain insights that will enable me to love well. I also hope to gain confidence in the area of “leadership presence”, but not in a pretentious way, just a very real transparency that will allow me to make a positive, authentic, impact, and courage to lead with soul. Romans 12:1-2 “ I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: by be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  

November 14, 2018 heavy

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Good morn, DearOne.

Anxious?

Are things out of your control?

Did you get left out? Slighted?

Heavy-hearted?

This verse is on my fridge:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).

He promises to keep us in peace. That is His part.

Our part?

…well, we are to trust in Him

…we are to keep our thoughts fixed on Him.

Some days, if we are honest, that is easier said than done. Some days maintaining our focus is hard.

Almost daily my closest people and I look at each other and remind each other “God has a plan.”

Some days I need to say it.

Some days I need to hear it.

Every day I need to believe it.

Even when it’s hard.

“The Lord is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalms 23:1-6 NLT

Wake up.

Believe.

Go.

November 13, 2018 steeping

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Good morning, DearOne.

My mom has never been a coffee drinker. But, oh how she LOVES her hot tea! Every time I grab tea bags to toss in boiling water I think about my mom. Funny. It really is the little things that keep us grinning, isn’t it?

Like tea steeping. Mundane.

At times, we find ourselves wondering what God’s will is for our lives. When His will is unclear, we find ourselves waiting for Him to direct. Steeping. But, there are other areas, where He very specifically tells us His will…. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thess 5:18.

Well that’s pretty clear.

Up for the challenge?

May we all walk in His will today … but, something hit me last night. Let me ask you a question:

Which would you rather….

Eat a dry teabag,

Or, drink a hot cup of tea?

That cup of tea, brewed just the way we like it is what we would pick – every time. For it is not until the tea bag comes out of its pouch & gets submerged into the boiling water that the true flavor is released. The hotter the water, the longer the tea bag is left to steep, the better the flavor.

Oh the irony of this today!

Is this really any different than our lives?

We all would so much rather have life go along without difficulties. No complications to speak of.

But, would we be as authentic?

Would our faith be as precious?

Would our stories be as meaningful?

After all that Job went through, he states this:

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10.

Job knows that the only way to have anything lasting, anything of value is to go through. He knows that in going through, He will come forth.

He will come forth in us

stronger,

bolder,

more courageous,

authentic.

He knows it will be worth it.

Who would have thought that in the mundane & ordinary task of making tea, God would have something to speak to my heart. Tea anyone?

Wake up.

Steep and thank.

Go.

November 9, 2018 just a deal

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Good morning, DearHeart.

Have you ever been so distressed about a deal that it is all consuming? I have. It hangs – looming among every thought and action, even lighthearted conversations and routines carry the weight of the “deal”. My brother, Russell Fred has a saying about the the undesirable situations he walks through, “Awe, Ang, you know, it’s just a deal.” He is right. Look back on all the “deals” you’ve walked through. So far, you’re batting .1000 for getting through. Often, God sends people to help you, too. I remember one of my worst deals, people would look at me and say, Ang, you don’t have to carry this, you certainly don’t have to carry this alone. I recognize now, those were God’s words – God’s people, on assignment for Him. The ones that taught me to focus on THIS moment’s blessings and not on the ‘what if’s’ of the future and the ‘I should’ve done’s’ of the past.

I just think that it is really easy to say, “yes, I believe God is faithful, and good”, we can believe what God is … yet until we have to step off that cliff and have His arms wrap us and carry us to safety – it is then that you go, “ ok. I get it. This really is You, Father, you caused people’s souls to align and You caused these miracles to happen in the right order. I get it. I get it. I can trust you here, too.

At times, (most times!) we think more of the circumstances facing us in a particular day than of the Creator of the day.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NIV.

He made the day.

He brought it about.

He designed it.

He knows all about it.

Nothing that will take place in this day will take Him by surprise.

May we not miss what He has for us in THIS day.

Now I am not saying that a day may not be hard or difficult. It may. We are yet instructed what to do on days like that.

“I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.”  Psalm 116:17 NLT

He knows it is a sacrifice during those hard times to find reasons to give thanks. He knows. We offer that sacrifice & CALL on Him. We do not want to miss any of the delights that He has prepared for us. We do not want to miss the beneficial training that today holds for us. May we not see only the darkness of our thoughts but remember to “gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4b).

Wake up.

Refocus your gaze.

Be thankful right here.

Go.

November 7, 2018 wide eyed wonder

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Good morning, DearOne.

Our granddaughter, Liv, is two. Through a two year old’s eyes there is curiosity and surprise and excitement in unexpected places. And, everywhere is an ‘unexpected place’. Her face lights up, her brown eyes get big and cut around, her eyebrows lift, and her lips make an ‘o’ as she gasps. Which, in turn, elicits the exact same response from all the adults who are watching.

Pure joy.

Wonder.

Awe.

Appreciation.

All a gift.

It makes me think of this … the familiar, that which we have known & experienced before, can surely rob us. It can deny us of the wonder, the awe, the gift that is before us. If we are going to appreciate what is before us, it is going to be because we deliberately choose & pursue the wonder.

“The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.

…He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.”

John 9:30, 38 ESV

Wake up.

Watch in wonder.

Go.

November 6, 2018

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Good morning, DearOne.

We have a very special rose bush in my backyard. It stays loaded with yellow blooms from spring through fall. It’s amazing! My cousin gave it to us several years ago when my father-in-law passed away. In June I was walking around fertilizing the flowerbed plants in a broadcast motion just like the YouTube video showed, tripped, and the whole coffee can of fertilizer landed on my rose bush. Every effort I made to clean up wasn’t enough. Branches died off one by one. But, I pruned and watered and babied it and I started talking to it. Even got my sweet baby Liv to sing our version of “Baby Shark” …

“… baby cow, moo moo – moo moo moo – moo”.

Then pruned some more.

It turned a corner.

Began producing blooms again, and it’s going to make it. As a matter of fact, it has tons of buds and blooms again.

It just had to be pruned and loved on.

Jesus tells us that the Father prunes “so that we will be even more fruitful”. I look back on times of loss in my life … could it be that while I was being pruned by the Father, I have so focused on the process (the pain), that I missed that He truly knew what He was doing? How did I miss that He was only removing what was dead? That He was even doing what was best for me at that time? He was in the process of removing all which was no longer purposeful in my life. He was removing the unhealthy. While I lay in the dormant stage for a time, a new branch of my life was waiting to burst forth & bear fruit. He was always at work in my life to make me more beautiful, more productive, more healthy. And it would all be for His glory.

Every woman has a story. Pruning is part of it.

How He has been unfolding these truths this summer has been amazing to me.

I’ve found myself finally appreciating the pruning process. Notice I did not say, “I liked it” but that I appreciated it. I realized that, sure the pruning is for presently in my life, but it is also for what is yet to come. As I allow the Lord to prune from my life the heavy, the unattractive, the strongholds, the unproductive; it is so the future generations of my family will also be productive for Him, walk in integrity, and be healthy spiritually.

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:2, 5 ESV

Wake up.

See the pruning places.

Go.