Monday, April 29, 2013

It's Your Choice

Mondays are hard. 

For me (and probably you as well) it's the hardest day to get out of bed. It's a struggle to get back in the swing of things at work. No doubt it feels like the longest day of the week. 

Mondays just feel like one giant muddy dark pit where all I can do is stare towards the sky, wondering how to get to the light. As I struggle to climb out of the pit, my arms and legs tire quickly and my breathing becomes labored. A couple of times it seems I'm making progress only to slip on some mud and slide back to the bottom.

Thankfully, Mondays aren't completely hopeless. Once I finally find a way to climb out of the pit, Mondays usually turns out to be a pretty decent days. Especially when I remember that it is my choice as to how I'm going to respond to my circumstances.

Do I always make the right choice? Heck no. There are some Mondays (and other days as well) where I forget that it's my choice as to how I'm going to respond. Many times I get caught up in the drama of it all and choose to argue with my husband, or complain about having to clean the house yet again, or pay bills, or whatever it is that day that sets me off. There are too many times where I forget that there are many other, more positive, ways to respond to the crap life throws at me.

I can choose to be kind rather than hateful.

I can choose to be grateful rather than complain.

I can choose to be positive rather than negative.

I can choose to find the good, beautiful things throughout the day and focus on them.

Like this image I captured right after leaving my office this afternoon. When I took a moment to breathe, to look at God's beautiful creation, all the tension from the day slipped away and my spirit was filled with peace. My circumstances didn't necessarily change, but my attitude and focus changed.

Today, let me encourage you to make a different choice. Choose to change your attitude and focus from the things that will bring you down. Instead, focus on the good, the beautiful, the positive things in your life. Trust me, it's not easy, but it will make a difference in your day.

How can I pray for you today as you seek to make a more positive choice?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Easy Way

Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner. My transgressions are many, far too many to name. There is nothing good in me.

Return to me, for I have redeemed you.


At the beginning of this year, I chose a word. One word that I would focus on all year long. It really wasn't a word that I chose so much as I felt God whisper to my heart.


Return to what?

Return to Me.

Return to my first love, cliche as it may sound. 

This morning I chose to sit in my office and read for a while. I sat with one of my old, worn Bibles. One that has writing in the margins, scriptures underlined and circled, and all kinds of memories. It's one from a different time in my life, one where I was excited to read and learn and grow in wisdom and understanding. To spend time with the love of my life, getting to know Him and allowing Him to change me, mold me, shape me into the woman I am meant to be.

As I opened the crinkled pages to a portion of scripture I've read many times, I listened to God speak to the Israelites, His chosen people. He recalled their shortcomings, their wickedness, and their idolatry. He then recounted how He had formed them, created them in their mother's wombs. And then He whispered to them the same thing He whispered to me, "return." 

I wonder how the Israelites felt as they heard God whisper. Did they wonder at His grace and mercy? Did they weep with joy at the sound of His voice, knowing all their sins were pardoned? Or did they scoff, kicking their feet in the dust, dismissing Him altogether?

This morning, as I ponder God's words to the Israelites, and to me, it's easy to scoff. It's easy to say, but God, you don't know who I am or what I've done. 


As ridiculous as it sounds, yes. The human heart - this human heart, especially - finds it much more difficult to lay down my pride and open my heart to Him. To His redeeming grace. To let the tears of joy flow, knowing all is forgiven.  Because to truly experience what it means to return to Him, I have to let go of everything that is holding me back from Him. All the stuff I'm holding on to must be dropped at His feet so that I can embrace Him. 

And letting go is hard.

Yet He continues to whisper. He speaks to my heart and tells me He loves me with an everlasting love. 

With those words I know He will wait. He will be patient and loving and kind, ever prodding at me to let go of whatever is holding me back. But always with love. Everlasting love.

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt God whispering to you but you found it hard to let go?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blood Sucker

Hi. My name is Buzz and I'm a blood sucker.

Every single day I wake up thirsty. Thirsty for the warm, sticky taste of blood. My body craves it; I need it to survive. The very thought of blood consumes me.

People all over the world think I'm annoying. Heck, I don't blame them. I swarm around their head, the quick beat of my wings ringing in their ears, as I contemplate where to land. Oh, they swat at me, hoping to deter me from my mission. But my goal is clear - I must suck to survive.

Can I tell you something? I'm a carrier. I don't know how or where, but I'm infected with malaria. I'm an agent of sickness and sometimes death. I don't want to be. But I don't know how to stop. I'm a blood sucker. Sucking blood is my life.

I've heard rumors. People say there's a way to prevent people from getting sick from malaria. I hope it's true. I don't want to kill people. I just want to suck their blood.


Today is World Malaria Day, a day to raise awareness about a deadly disease that is both preventable and treatable.

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted via mosquitoes. According to the World Heath Organization, there are 3.3 billion people at risk of malaria. Most susceptible to malaria is the world's poorest and youngest. In 2010, 90% of all malaria deaths were in Sub-Sahara Africa, and most were under the age of 5.

5 year old boys and girls are dying every 30 seconds from a disease that is both preventable and treatable.

My heart breaks when I read this statistic. Because it's not just a statistic. There are faces behind each number. A child, mother, and father. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles. Cousins.

No one should die from a preventable and treatable disease simply because they are poor.

Thankfully, there are so many amazing organizations that are doing something to help in the fight against malaria. Compassion International is one of those organizations! As part of their health & medical needs program, Compassion helps aid poverty-stricken families with a way to prevent and treat malaria. Insecticide treated mosquito nets are key in preventing malaria, and for most Americans, they are inexpensive. 2 mosquito nets cost just $20 - that's less than a date night at the movie theater!

Would you consider purchasing 2 insecticide-treated mosquito nets today? Click here to bite back and help prevent someone from getting malaria today!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hope Is Not Crazy

Mondays have never been my favorite day. This is no surprise to anyone who reads my blog. But when I woke up this morning, I wanted it to be different. I wanted to appreciate the day, all day long. I wanted to find the beautiful, the good and positive things about my little piece of the world, and share them with you.

But three quarters through the day at work I heard about the tragedy of the Boston marathon. And my heart was deeply saddened. My heart breaks for the families who are grieving the loss of a loved one tonight, and the families of the injured who have such a long journey of healing ahead of them.

My heart is angered at the thought of another senseless tragedy that has taken place. I'm angered by the way folks turn tragedies such as this one into just another point in their political or religious agenda. Even as I type these words, I think to myself, should I even add to the noise?

In spite of today's tragedy, there is still much good and beautiful in the world. Oh, it's harder to see on days like today. But as we wipe away the tears and look around, we'll find it. As we cling to each other and join hands and hearts in prayer, we'll see that even though the world is a broken, messy place, there is still hope.

Will you join me in holding on to hope in the midst of tragedy?

Photo by Laine

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Together We Can End It

End It Movement

27 million people.

161 countries.

32 billion dollars.

27 million people - men, women, and children - in 161 countries across the world are enslaved. Slavery is a $32 billion industry.

The statistics are staggering.

But the statistics aren't just numbers. Each number represents a person. Men, women, and children - people just like you and me.

Katya is an educated Russian woman who returned home after graduating from college only to find there were no jobs available. She responded to an ad for a waitressing position in Greece only to be forced into striping and having sex night after night along with 30 other girls.

Rajesh is a 50 year old Indian man who was forced to work for 30 years for a loan he took out from his landlord to help with family medical bills. His loan was equivalent to $35. No matter how hard or how long he worked, his debt was never able to be paid in full.

Guillermo is a 24 year old who was offered a chance to come to the US for a well-paid job but was sold as a contract laborer for $1100 once he arrived in Florida. Forced to work in tomato fields with little pay, Guillermo was beaten when he tried to escape.

Amanda was sold into sex slavery as an 8 year old living on the streets of Cambodia. For 9 years she endured hell on earth, being abused, raped, and used daily.

The stories are heartbreaking.

Yet there is hope.

There are people - just like you and me - who have joined forces and are speaking out against slavery. Others have created organizations - like Love 146, Not for Sale, International Justice Mission, Exodus Road, Stella's Voice, Rahab's Hideaway - that are actively involved in rescuing and restoring those enslaved worldwide. There are grassroots movements, politicians, celebrities, and everyday people that are taking a stand and raising our voice to shine a light on slavery.

You might be asking, what can I do to help? Good question.

Check out the organizations above and consider giving a financial donation.

Tell your family, your friends, your co-workers about modern day slavery.

Consider hosting an event to raise awareness.

Share this post.

Above all, pray.

Will you join the movement to shine a light on slavery? Together we can end it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Beautiful Things

Oh, Monday.

You could have been a little kinder, gentler.

Then again, I blame Sunday. 

Sunday wasn't very nice to me, so I suppose you were just following in her footsteps.

Nevertheless, I'm choosing to find the beautiful.

One good thing came from yesterday - the remembering of a long-ago promise. An ongoing promise of making something beautiful out of the ashes of life. A promise of hope, of redemption.

Remembering God's promise to me is the only thing that has kept me going today. The only thing that could ignite a spark of hope into an otherwise hopeless situation.

As I remember this promise, I also remember that He makes all things new. He takes what has long-ago been thrown away, set out for trash, burned up, and makes it into something new.

Thank God.

          Thank God He makes beautiful things.

                    Thank God He makes all things new.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Fresh Start

Today is Monday.

And April Fool's Day.

This morning it snowed, briefly, and I tweeted about it. The first person to respond to my tweet didn't believe me. Of course they thought I was trying to fool everyone. And I don't blame them.

But hear me out on this next thought. Don't dismiss it as foolish simply because of what day it is.

What if Monday's weren't a day to dread but rather a time for a fresh start?


You know you've thought about it at least once.

How many times have you heard these statements:

I'll start dieting on Monday.

I'll start working out on Monday.

Yeah, I'll do that on Monday

I've said "I'll do fill in the blank here on Monday" so many times.

So today I thought to myself, why not? Why can't Monday be a fresh start?

There are many reason why it might not be a good day for fresh starts. But think about it for a minute. Monday is the first day of the week. It's the first, and perhaps best, day for new beginnings. For starting over. Fresh.

I need a fresh start today. Especially now as my husband and I are fighting. Throwing hurtful words at one another, hoping to ease our own pain but really creating more.

My prayer, my hope, is that God would create in me a new heart. One that would follow desperately after Him, so much so that the childish things of this world would fade from view. That my own selfish desires would cease so that He could fill my heart with His desires.

Do you need a fresh start today?