Monthly Archives: March 2013

Jesus died for Me???? Why???

It’s Easter time, my absolute all-time-favorite Holiday & to me, signifies the beginning of Spring!

I’ve always loved Easter; from being a kid & looking for eggs that the Easter Bunny left behind in my Dad’s army boots, to buying new Easter dresses to wear to Sunday morning Easter Church Service this holiday has a lot of meaning for me. It’s especially gained even more meaning as the last few years, I’ve re-committed my faith, walk & relationship with the Lord.

I see all the Easter egg hunts at various locations, the stores full of junk to fill Easter baskets, & my own house decorated with bunny wreaths & it makes me kind of sad. How did we get so far away from what the true meaning of Easter really is?

I’m not a very good listener, I’ll be the first to admit it. I try & try, but it’s a definite weakness of mine. I’m a much better talker than I am a listener. I often pray that God helps me to listen & recognize his voice & his direction daily as he guides me. But at the end of the day (doesn’t it always seem that’s when your brain reminds you of everything you’ve failed to during the day, when you’re trying to sleep!) is usually when I feel like I’ve missed God’s voice, that I didn’t “stop” & notice Him at work in me. Fortunately for me I’m a journaler (spell check???) I’ve always kept journals & 9/10 time’s the entries usually turn out to be written prayers, feelings, confessions, confusions, conversations & answers from me to God. I’m very fortunate that that is how God has chosen to communicate with me & that I’m recognizing his advice written in my own handwriting. Lately, my entries have been about Easter & how, why…he loves us so much even when we continually break his heart.

Romans 5.8

I was reminded of a time I shared with my nieces a few years back.They were spending the night at my parents house & I was over visiting, laying in bed with them just…talking (some of my favorite time’s spent with them). We were talking about Easter-what it means & I was struggling to answer their questions as best I could in explaining to a 7 & 6year old what the holiday is about. One of my nieces, as only a kid can do, said, “That must of made God so sad to see people hurt his Son like that.” I didn’t realize it until recently, but I bet it did make him sad. I’ve always struggled with the words Jesus spoke on the cross in Matthew 27:46,”My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”….God had actually turned his head away when Jesus was at the pinnacle of his torture. I never really GOT that until recently during one of my journal sessions. In my limited understanding of God, it seemed to me that if he turns his back on his only begotten Son, how am I supposed to believe he won’t do that same to me during the times I need him the most. Well, I realized he wasn’t turning His back on Jesus.

He was allowing the full-weight of the world’s sin to be upon His child. Because of the world’s sin, Jesus had to bear this sacrifice. He turned away & Jesus was alone, not cushioned by God’s support, so that the full-brunt of our sin was piled onto JesusGod’s ChildHis Son.

 God was pained…we caused God to be pained, you & I.

I don’t know how you feel, but I feel guilty.

I don’t have children, but I do have a wonderful family & amazing nieces that I can’t wait to watch the young woman God turns them into, but I can’t wrap my mind around sacrificing them (or any other family member) for someone who constantly rejects me, turns from me, even denies my existence. And to think that God did that for me, it blows my mind! And even if I was the only person on the planet, God would still have put His only Son through that pain…

How am I worthy? How are you worthy?

None of us are without sin, even the best of us, still sin. We’ve all seen how our decisions, our sin, has pained & hurt others. And I know I’ve pained & hurt my own parents through my decisions, but to think that I’ve actually pained God (not just pissed him off, but actually broke his heart!), that bothers me. To think that he sacrificed his Child, His flesh & blood, the human form of himself…for me…that’s a level of love that can never be reached through anything other than a relationship with God.

So this Easter when you’re spending time with your family. Take a minute & just be thankful…be grateful. Even if you do it in the privacy of your own bedroom, in the quiet moments away from family, just thank God for the sacrifice He laid down for YOU, so that you can live a life of forgiveness.

Like any Father, He’ll love hearing, “Thank You” from the mouths of his precious children.

*From the movie, Fireproof. Even if you’re not married, watch it for strong examples of how to love*

 

 

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Bible Verses & Struggling Faith…

On March, 21st it’ll be one year since my Grandma Cooper’s death. I think about all the changes that I’ve gone through this year, in some ways it seems like the year has flown by & in other ways it seems oh’ so long.

I’ve thought about her a lot the last few days, one of her lifelong friends passed away this week & it brought back a floodgate of emotions. I’d love to say that the pain of her passing has lessened as the year went on…it hasn’t…it’s just been replaced by…well….life. Life does go on. And it has for me. I’ve had a good year, a lot of changes have taken place for me this year, good changes…but this has also been one of my hardest years.

In the weeks leading up to my Grandma’s death, I spent a lot of time with her, just talking. We talked about everything; her youth, her dreams & goals, her faith, even her death. One thing on my “list” of things to ask her was what her favorite Bible verse was, sadly I never got the chance to ask that. At some point during this year I was visiting my Papa & looking through the peg-board of business cards, doctor appointment cards & memento’s that still contain cancer appointments he took my Grandma to. Buried underneath it was a church program she had hung up from the early 2000’s, with the Bible verse from Jeremiah 29:11 in bold writing across the front.

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She had this hanging on the peg-board that was full of her cancer doctor appointments…think about that. I can’t wrap my mind around her level of faith, it blows me away. For the rest of my life, I will remember that moment. That inconsequential little moment of reading through doctor appointment cards, months after her death & finding this bible verse hanging up. In the middle of her cancer struggle, she still had faith in God’s plan for her future.

I never got the opportunity to ask her her favorite Bible Verse, but I’ve adapted this verse as hers.

I wish I had her level of faith, I’m just not there yet. I question God all the time, I fight God all the time, I fail daily at trusting Him & His promises. It’s so difficult to pray for something & not see that prayer come to pass (yet). I’m struggling with faith…

It’s in those moments that this verse comes to mind…that my Grandma comes to mind, that her words;”The greatest decision you’ll ever make is to follow the Lord” comes to mind, when I told her weeks before her passing that I had decided to get baptized.

It’s hard to see God’s goodness at times. It’s hard to see his hand at work when you’re struggling. I think that’s when you need faith the most. When you don’t’ understand; that’s when you’re closest to God, when you’re barely hanging on.

I miss my Grandma. I miss her very much. My dad is right now going through his own battle with cancer & I don’t know how many times I’ve thought,”I wish I could pray about this with my Grandma” because I just don’t understand “why” she’s not here.

I don’t always think God is fair, but I do think he’s always right & I do think he always has my best interest (and yours) as his #1 priority. It’s hard for us to see his plan through our own eyes, it’s hard for us to trust his plans when we can’t possibly see how a certain situation will heal or how a specific opportunity will happen. That’s where faith comes in, that’s where my Grandma never faltered & that’s what I find myself struggling with these days.

My Grandma’s favorite saying was, “Every cloud has a silver lining…”. Tough as it is right now, I’m believing in those words & I’m believing in a God that never does anything without a reason, even when I can’t see it.

Memorial video from my Grandma’s service. Thankful for this reminder of her smile…

 

 

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Random Questions: If you could have dinner with 7 famous people, dead or alive, who would they be & where would they sit?

It’s Wednesday, which means its my blog day. After my near-death-almost-met-Jesus-last night experience; thanks to my car brakes bombing out on me while driving home, I needed a “fun” blog to occupy my mind.

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For starters, I’d choose the location to be somewhere chill & relax. For me, the most relaxing place in the world would be a cabin, in the woods, up in the mountains. So, I’m thinking the mountains of the great-West; Montana, Washington State, Utah, Idaho. Outside under the stars (no bugs to bother us, of course), a fire going & a table full of fresh homemade bread, wine, bowls of my Grandma Cooper’s potato soup, lots of fresh vegetables & different kinds of cheesecake for dessert, along with my Grandma Martinez’s pistachio muffins & copious amounts of organic green tea when the discussion goes on until the early morning hours (and it’s a given that everyone is to bring their dogs to lounge around at our feet).  Can you really have a more perfect evening than that? Not to me!

Some of my 7 dinner guests were relatively easy to pick. Others I bounced around on. What I did notice was all my picks were (mostly) scientists or religious figures. Makes sense because those are the two things that I seem to be in battle about. I love the Lord & am a proud follower of Christ, but at times I find the Bible & its teachings so far-fetched that its hard for me to wrap my mind around (God talking thru burning bushes-that don’t burn up, floods that destroy the whole earth, armies that go into battle with just music…c’mon that’s almost like drug-induced, hippy-dreams, right there!).

Regardless, I’m pretty satisfied with my final-7. Although, she’s not “famous” by world-standards, I’d love to add my Great-Grandma Henderson to this list. I’ve never met her, but from the stories that I’ve heard I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have fallen in love with this lovely lady (country lady to the core!). A few years ago I had a dream about her (my dreams are always vivid, very real, & incredibly wacky) & that dream brought a conversation with her that I still cherish. She loved the Lord, so I know I’ll get to continue that conversation with her again one day. That’s the most comforting thing about God’s promises, its knowing you’ll be reunited with those you lost during your time on Earth & those that you never met, but still have shaped & prayed for you.

If you could have dinner with 7 famous people (dead or alive), who would you pick & where would they sit?

steve-irwin1.- Steve Irwin: I have been a Steve Irwin fan for as long as he’s been on television. I actually remember the very first episode of his show that I saw on Animal Planet (truth!) & my “Kennedy” moment (you know, everyone always remembers exactly what they were doing when Kennedy was shot) was his death. Aside from the fact that he was entertaining, I thought he was a brilliant TEACHER with the way he explained & broke things down, simplified. Such an advocate for wildlife conservation & what you saw was what you got. I’ve read all of his biographies/auto & still watch his show(s) on re-run whenever I can catch them. *Side-note, no matter how much his popularity & net worth grew, him & his wife lived in the same split-level, $30k fixer-upper they bought when they first married. His personal salary was averaged out to that of a zookeepers & anything made above that he put into his wildlife conservation organizations & various other organizations he supported*.

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2. Pastor Joel Osteen: Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. My Grandma & Papa Cooper actually got me interested in watching him on television. I was hooked! This led to reading most of his books (haven’t read his latest) & several of his devotionals have made it into my library. Regardless if you’re a believer or not, watch him for his positivity & joy, its contagious. The enthusiasm he radiates is what the world needs more of. You can tell he’s on FIRE for Christ & has a true passion for leading people to Him. One of the items on my “Life List” is to attend one of his Sunday morning church services at Lakewood (a trip to Texas is always needed!).

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3. John Lennon: I don’t really think I need much of an explanation why I’d have John Lennon at my table, he’s John Lennon. Period. End of Discussion.

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4. Charles Darwin: He grew up very Christian, in a Christian home, but he had a deep love for nature & that caused him to question a lot of his beliefs. He came up with Natural Selection & the Theory of Evolution…to be able to have a discussion with him would blow my mind. And to have him on a panel with spiritual leaders would be an amazing discussion to watch (because I certainly wouldn’t be able to follow his thinking, way beyond what my mind can comprehend). *Side-note, Steve Irwin’s turtle, Harriet, was one of Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos turtles that he studied while coming up with his Theory of Evolution… Mind-blown!*

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5. Sarah: from the Bible. King David was originally on my list, but I kept coming back to Sarah (Abraham’s wife). She has been a key-figure for me over the last few years as someone I can relate to, biblically. God put a desire in her heart-she doubted & took matters into her own hands, it (obviously) was a train-wreck, but eventually that promise still came true-in God’s timing, despite her trying to control it herself. What a lesson! I’d love to be able to thank her, hear her advice, & listen to her testament on faith. Be like talking to your Grandma, one who has weathered all the hard parts of life.

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6. Anna Sewell: author of Black Beauty. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my Aunt Pennye, gave me Island of the Blue Dolphin, Where the Red Fern Grows, & Black Beauty to read as I was recovering from a surgery. Where the Red Fern Grows & Black Beauty remain as my top favorite books of all time & have had huge impacts in shaping the course of my beliefs & life. I’d love to have a discussion with the author of a book that introduced this young child to the horrors of animal-abuse & how everything can heal with patience, compassion, & love. I still remember bawling my eyes out & hiding this book in my closet because I didn’t even want to look at it, I was so heart-broken by the way Beauty was treated. This novel was the first (and only) novel written by an invalid & very sick Anna who died days after it was first published. One of my most treasured possessions is an early edition of this novel, from 1895 that I picked up at a friends antique store for $4.

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7. Snoop Dogg: okay, quit laughing Smile I’m not a fan of rap music, at all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to Snoop Dogg’s music (although, I did watch his show Fatherhood…hi-larious!), but I am a fan of him! He is one smart cookie & every time I read anything he’s done or see him on television it makes me laugh & then go, “brilliant!”. He’d be sitting right next to me at dinner, for the sheer fact that I’d want to catch every little sarcastic gem he says. I love that he’s so “REAL” & his attitude is, “F**k it! This is me, take it or leave it”. He’s so chill & cool (possibly because of the mad amounts of weed he smokes), but hey, I dig it!

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Lies…Deceit…and God’s Promises.

This blog is tough to write. I’m going to go on record & say this might be the most open, personal & “out there” blog that I’ve written (so far).

Lately I’ve hit a block on what to blog about (try saying that 5x’s fast!), there’s been a recurring topic that’s been forefront on my mind, but (frankly) I just didn’t want to write about it or even think about it. Writing it down, especially in the form of a “blog” meant I had to open up the potential doors to allow others to judge & criticize my actions. I didn’t know if I wanted this specific topic known & out-there for that level of critique (in other words, if you’re reading this, it means I actually grew a big enough pair of balls to post it!)

I’m learning to listen to God. No easy task when you’re blessed (cursed???) with a controlling, know-it-all, ultra-stubborn personality like I’ve got. But I am learning to recognize God’s voice in my life; the direction & guidance that He’s walking me through. I’m working on paying more attention when He’s trying to steer me & when He’s trying to make clear something that I used to overlook. I think this blog entry is one of those moments.

I believe my lack of blog ideas, my devotionals lately, & my friend, Pastor Heidi, her message during our Tuesday night Woman’s Bible Study; on not allowing yourself to hide from shame, guilt, & telling your “story”-it allows God to work through you to lead others to Him who might find themselves in similar situations. Well, it all has worked together to convince me that God is telling me that its time to finally, finally, FINALLY put my past mistakes behind me & close that chapter of my life.

Woman’s Bible Study is currently reading, “A Woman’s Heart” by Beth Moore. On pg. 26 of the workbook, she asks the question,Can you think of a promise you really wanted to keep-meant to keep-but were unable to? Now, what specific promise has God made to you that He tenderly and faithfully kept?” (If I don’t get anything else out of this study, coming to terms with this question alone has made it all worth it! And this is only week 1!)

I don’t know about you, but this question stopped me cold. I knew the promises I had never kept, but the one that wouldn’t leave my mind was the one that I didn’t want to face or acknowledge. I said a quick prayer, a prayer that God would show me His promise because my mind was a complete blank.

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Well that put me in my place, when these words from Hebrews 13:5 popped into my thoughts. How incredibly true! During my darkest times, even when I was running from God, He was following me…patiently waiting for the moment I would stop & let him catch me.

Several years ago (can’t even believe it now falls into the category of “several”). I was involved in a relationship with a man that I had never met. I was deceitful, malicious & cruel to a man that treated me with kindness, love, compassion, strength & honesty. He developed deep feelings for me that I was careless with. I presented myself to him falsely, the lies got so out of control & turned into such a web of deceit, that looking back now- I can’t even believe I was a person living in such fantasy. It wasn’t the first time I had been dishonest, but it was the first time I had let it get to such a deep level. It eventually came to a cataclysmic explosion that affected not only us, but family & friends as well.

I could rattle off a thousand excuses as to why I did what I did, but in the end…that’s all they are, excuses. I had lied, I had given in to dishonesty, fully aware the whole time of what I was doing. I just chose to ignore my conscious & that little voice in my head that repeatedly told me, “the truth will come out eventually”. A part of me knew that (I also think a bigger part of me wanted to get caught). Even though I have an amazing family & phenomenal friends that loved & supported me through my guilt, it is tough to forgive yourself when you’ve wounded someone’s heart. Shortly after this “event” took place, I started seeing a therapist & dealing with some of the “why’s” I had done what I did. Why I felt the need to hurt others & myself as well.

Until recently I’ve always looked upon those years with regret & shame. I know I’m forgiven by God (something I used to ask for every time I prayed until it finally sunk in that God forgave me the very first time I came before him with a hurting heart) and I’ve even had to dish out some forgiveness of my own, to others. The only thing I couldn’t seem to do was forgive myself, to let “myself” off-the-hook. Something that, at times, I still struggle with when self-doubt sneaks in. Now, however, I can finally say that I’m “grateful” for this experience. Not in the fact that others were hurt because of my actions, but grateful of what going through this trial has done in my life. I’m grateful because I know my heart is different. I know that time-period is part of my past & will not (and has not) been repeated in the future. Through this process I’ve faced & dealt (dealing) with some of my childhood demons & I’m more conscious/aware of every time I’ve even slightly been less-than honest with people & myself. This incident has strengthened my relationship with my family, changed it & I’ll never take for granted the amount of love they have for me (and each other). I’ve come to value the act of forgiveness & how precious it is both to give & receive. And above all, it has brought me back to God, back to my foundations of being active in a bible-based church, faithfulness in His Word & Promises, & a friendship with Him built through prayer.

I have no idea how my actions have damaged those that were involved in my deceit. I will tell you this though, I pray about it continuously. I pray that God heals & restores trust to the hearts that were broken through my decisions. I recognize that I can’t go back & change what has already happened, nor can I control the decisions others have made because of my actions. What I can control is the lessons that I’ve learned from those years. It’s taken me a long time to be able to look in the mirror & not see myself as someone who is “deceitful…unlovable…bad”.

I’m so grateful for God’s promises.

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*eventually you give in, wherever you happen to be, when God keeps pestering you about something. This very blog was written at the Laundromat, while waiting for my clothes to dry* Smile 

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