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Philippians thoughts – no one looked down upon

18 Jun
I was reading in Philippians today and what I am hearing Paul saying is:
  • Don’t be selfish.
  • Don’t do things out of desire for advancement or self promotion.
  • Don’t be conceited.
  • Think of others as BETTER than yourself. This will give you a natural concern for their needs and concerns.
So….if I consider YOU above ME…and YOU consider ME above YOU…a beautiful thing would happen. A community where everyone is looked up on and no one is looked down on. Wow.
How appropriate. That Paul, y’all.
(Verses, for context, from NLT: 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.)
Disclaimer: I am NO Bible scholar (or any kind of scholar) so feel free to tell me I am way off….but man this message….it hits different TADAYYYYY.
(Posted on my personal Facebook 6/9/20 but wanted here to keep things together.)

Letting Go by Looking Up

30 Jan

I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find that when I attempt to save this blog post I am prompted to change the title due to the fact that I have already written one named this.  It seems like it’s something I have struggled with, constantly.  Feeling the need to control or be in control or….well, worry.

Let me back up really fast before I dive in.  I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression in my life and I deal with both quite regularly.  It doesn’t mean I am never happy or always fidgety or ever crazy…it just means that is my reality and just as you’d take medicine for cholesterol or diabetes, I take medication for that.  End of story, not up for debate and save the judging for Jesus, okurrrr?  🙂

So….when I go to a retreat or am in a period of deep thought or reading a devotion I am consistently looking for what the Lord is showing me through His Word, praise and worship music and through other people.  I was blessed to be able to attend You Are last weekend.  If you are local…or not…you need to just start planning on being there next year.  It is indescribable. Such a gift that I live just a few miles from where it is held but honestly, after going the last two years…if they moved it to the moon I’d be there!   It is so well thought out…with times of praise, worship, prayer, teaching, fellowship and even shopping!  One of the greatest moments I experienced there this year was in the prayer room….  Again, I can’t even describe the feeling of being one of HUNDREDS of women literally waiting in a line for prayer (by over twenty other women that were pouring out prayers over others!!)…it was a surreal moment to see the huge calling for prayer set before me so visually….and to be honest that was the first thing I thought of in reflection.  It gave me a new focus and new thirst to be in prayer for those that are hurting, doubting, stressing, searching…..just all the things.  Whew.

As I prepared my heart for even getting out of my seat to go to that place, I found myself wrestling with the question of what exactly I was going to ask for prayer about.  My health?  My family?  Our country? My parents or inlaws?  Friends that are in need of healing?  Friends that are hurting?  These are things I pray for every single day, mind you…but would I use this time to really focus on any of those things?  I literally started making a list in my notes of the things that I found myself worrying about….x, y, z….1, 2, 3….and I had quite a list, y’all.  I was saying to myself…”hmm, I worry about this and that and them and those”…..and then, I am just going to tell you exactly how it happened…..I prayed one more time for the Lord to just fix my eyes on the thing that He would have me pray for.  My eyes searched up and down the list I had made…..and then as clear as the sun, a word jumped off of the page…..as I realized it was listed over and over and over (honestly more than I even remember writing it!!) – WORRY.

Y’all this was NOT breaking news for me.  This was not some revelation that I never realized I had a problem with.  This was the same old thing creeping back up and making me realize I push it back down and don’t deal with it.  SO many times I pray about trusting more, I push it down and then it pops up again….within MOMENTS.  Not this time.  I am telling you that had the devil himself stood between me and that prayer room I truly believe I could have fought him with my own little hands.  This was an urgent kind of need to pray….but I am not going to paint the picture that I went in there and never “worried” once I stepped foot in there…because I did just that.  Once I wrote my name on a tag and sort of came out of the “moment” a bit…I started to (over)think about who I might be praying with.  Would I have to tell them my life story?  How could I work in the depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, move from NC to TX, the fact that I’ve had five surgeries in as many years (four of those pretty major)…in a short period of time and still get across ALL THE THINGS?  My heart raced.

But, God.

When the sweet lady led me to the face of the woman that would be praying over me, I saw a friend.  As a matter of fact, I had sat beside her the night before at the conference.  We had held hands in prayer for the conference.  We have had coffee dates and she was even my Bible study leader my first year here in Texas.  She gave me a look of, “are you ok with me praying for you?” and I laughed and said “YES!!  I don’t have to tell you my life story – you already know it!!”

So, with all of that behind me, and as another reminder that He has little ole ME in the palm of His pierced hands….I admitted that I have a problem with WORRYING.  That sometimes it consumes me and I know it’s not healthy.  I know it’s not something He rejoices in.  I know it is not from Him and I know without a shadow of a doubt, that He wants more for me.  He wants me to trust Him completely.  With the huge things – which I seem to have less of a problem with….but also, with the silly things that seem to “worry” me all day long!  I received such a blessing in that prayer room…a prayer so sweet, so freeing, so intentional and so perfect JUST FOR ME.  I truly believe the Holy Spirit got me to that room and interceded where I was absolutely DREADING to go and admit my failures.  When I think of the BIG things in life, I truly feel like I trust Jesus….totally.  But, y’all, with the mundane little things?  The things that likely most of you don’t even bat an eyelash at????  Ummmmmmmmm…….

IMG_1700

Seriously, that was my life!!!  All the doctor appointments, the waiting for test results, the day to day things that were not 100% clear or answered – WORRY.  The feeling that I might not be doing enough, or doing too much, or being unsure about directions to a place…the worry that I might feel *gasp* embarrassed.

Well. Not. Any. Longer.

I cannot tell you the peace or difference that I feel today versus even Friday.  Only hours have passed but I feel like a lifetime has.  I cannot imagine the hours I have wasted in my life of trying to retain control over a situation that was absolutely not mine.  That was not my circus, my monkeys, my family or even my friends….  I have always excused my worrying ways with statements like “I just worry for everyone” or “that’s just me” or by calling it something that it is not – like anxiety.  They are two different things.  Yes, both can lead to physical FEELINGS but my worry was out of control and Jesus is healing it.  He is helping me remove that from my life and I cannot tell you the weight that is off of my shoulders today.

I have not shared this with anyone, becuase I felt like I needed to tell the WHOLE story – all at once – and not pieces of it…so that it’s clear that I am not judging people who have a tendency to worry.  You do you, boo.  I had to deal with the root cause of a lot of the issues I was facing – the things that were keeping me up at night – the things I felt so deeply were affecting my daily life (besides my fatigue) in such a large way.   This was a HUGE thing…and does it likely feed into the depression and anxiety that I face?  I have a hard time thinking it does not.  So, who knows how this whole thing will effectively change my life in more ways than one?  God does.  He’s already worked this all out and tied it up in a bow….and I’m just here with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and a considerably stuffy nose from the crazy amounts of crying I did this weekend.  It was amazing, to say the least.  To know that there was a purpose for my attendance there, totally just makes me so grateful that I answered His call to go.

I am already so very excited for next year’s conference.  Instead of worrying about who I’ll go with, what I’ll wear, the perfect time to arrive….my thoughts are full of promise and wonder about what answers He will reveal to me next year.  What will this year in between look like for my spiritual walk?  How is He going to use me to show and tell others about His love and His provision?  Ohhh the possibilities are endless and so is His love.  For that, I am SO grateful.  Without a worry in the world.

 

Focusing on the grace…not so much the race

17 Jan

This is a post I’ve wanted to share for a long time. I’ve written probably fifteen iterations of it over the last few months and every time I let fear win…I delete…I walk away…I keep it to myself.

I’ve not landed on a word for 2020 yet. I had one last year…I’ll probably decide on one this year, but it’s something I do with prayer and intention…but I can tell you that a theme I keep hearing in music, in scripture, in prayer and in life – is SHARING. So, I’m going to DO THAT. When I feel something resonate with me that I hope can help others, I have a natural inclination to want to share it. So here it is today:

Having something wrong with you that others cannot see is a struggle. When I show up at Bible Study with my hair curled, a dress on and my shoes actually match…you don’t know that I had to wash my hair the night before because there’s no way I can wash, dry and fix my hair without a break in between. You don’t know that I had to pick out my clothes the night before to make it easier for myself the next morning or that I decided against makeup because holding my arms up for extended periods of time makes me exhausted. You don’t see the tears I cried last night because I didn’t feel like cooking dinner for my family because I knew it would wear me out and that a bath would be out of the question….because even that is tiring. You don’t see the depression that cycles from missing out on life events…the anxiety that comes with planning anything – literally anything – because I am afraid that when it rolls around I will be too fatigued to show up. You don’t see the worry that comes from letting people down and fearing that they won’t give you grace – again.  You don’t see the disappointment from getting excited about getting out and doing something but then it’s “one of those days” and there is NO way you can make it out of the house….and quite frankly, the bed.  You don’t see the way I miss the race of deadlines and a work family and last minute presentations.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a THING.  It is one of MY things and I have truly tried to own it.  To just live with it…to give MYSELF the grace that I’d extend to any of my loved ones.  To pace myself. To do what I can and focus on THAT.  Focusing on the things I can’t do…the things I run out of steam for…the things that do not get crossed off of the list? That leads to frustration, shame and sadness.  Which puts me in a funk…which leads to a depressive state…which….are you seeing a pattern here?

When you see someone with a cast or a sling or hear them coughing or see visible scars – is your inclination to judge them or feel a certain pang of hurt for their illness/injury?  Just because all scars are not visible does not mean that we don’t all have them and need that sympathetic/empathatic smile you’d give someone that you knew was going through something based on their appearance.  I have to tell you, I barely made it through this afternoon.  I overcommitted myself this week and I was struggling this afternoon.  Once I had the chance, I got comfy and I slept for HOURS. I needed it. It didn’t mean I am lazy or worthless or unproductive.  It meant I was taking care of a need.  I needed rest.  But don’t think I didn’t go to my calendar, make a line for rest, draw a box AND CHECKED IT OFF.  Focus on what you CAN do, friends.  It makes a world of difference.

*******SIDE NOTE TANGENT BELOW*******

While I’m at it…a reminder…check on your friends.  The sick, the well, the strong, the weak.  The busy, the bored, the employed, the retired, the traveling, the homebodies….ALL THE PEOPLE.  Ask how they are…and listen to the answer.  And y’all…if someone asks how you are, TELL THEM.  I don’t know about you but I mean it when I ask someone how they are really doing….I want to hear the truth.  I don’t want to a hear a standard answer or a flippant reply.  I want to know HOW they ARE….how can I be praying for them….have the prayers I’ve been praying been answered?  I value my friendships…I value my prayer time…and I want to be sure that my friends know I am praying for them with intention, as specific as possible and as often as I say I am.

Heart Broken Week (Pt. 5)

14 Jan

So – I am WAY behind, what else is new?

The last time I updated Mike and I were still in NC and he has had a couple of appointments since then so I thought I’d just type out a little update for those that have asked…and for me too…because my memory…YEP!

Since we returned home to Texas he has been seen by his Primary Care Physician and his Pulmonologist here in College Station.  His PCP reviewed his labs, notes and all the information from the cardio team and did not find anything alarming or that he felt that was missed.  He agreed that on paper, Mike was not at risk for a heart attack…which is one of those things I keep hearing but also keep thinking of all the ways we could live better, exercise more, blah blah blah…but in the end, I truly believe that was God’s plan.  All the things are, and that was His plan for my hubby on that day and I will just have to rejoice and be glad in it.  Okay?  OKAY?  🙂  It taught me a few things and I’ll get to that eventually but for now….just trying to stick to the facts!

His Pulmonologist has suggested another sleep study (scheduled later this month) and Mike is VERY receptive to finding a CPAP mask that will work for him.  We already know he has sleep apnea.  He has been kicked out of a lab before because basically it was very clearly and quickly seen that he had it…that he needed a machine….but he has very very very particular about this process.  So…this is a huge triumph as in the past he has been….ummm….well….ya know.  I am ever so hopeful that this will be a game changer and will give him a restful sleep.  He wakes up SO tired and I can see the exhaustion by the time he comes home at night.

Speaking of him coming home at night………I am PROUD to say that he has been going into the office later and leaving every day by 5:30!  This has NEVER happened in the history of our marriage (and likely before) so I am extremely happy that he has taken this drastic measure and has the support of his team at work as well.  Finding a work/life balance is a huge issue for so many and I am very thankful that it didn’t cost my husband more than it did before he made this change.

His first Cardiac Therapy appointment is this week so he will learn more then about what is expected of him exercise and diet wise.  He is already eating better and eating less (portion wise)…drinking more water…trying to make better decisions and just getting more active, but he knows he needs to be guided by this great group of people that specialize in heart patients!  Again, this is a win – if you know my sweet but stubborn hubby.

Okay, without getting all mushy and in my feelings, I just wanted to give y’all the facts you want about “how Mike’s doing”….and I’ll keep you updated.  I cannot tell you how much it means to him and myself to get a text, email, phone call or card that asks about how he is feeling….it really does lift his spirits, and mine too.  We have for sure been blessed by some amazing family and friends.

Bye for now…more later…much much much more!  🙂

JJ

Heart Broken Week (Pt. 4)

27 Dec

I said I’d update after Mike’s appointment and I promise I meant to right away but……Christmas!  Whew!  What a busy and amazing and wonderful and blessed time of year….but….busy!  🙂

His appointment was A LOT.  I had several questions, naturally.  He had a few too….but he let me go first!  (He is SO smart, y’all!)  I had some small questions about his new meds and new diet and exercise….but my biggest, scariest, most important question was…..how likely are we to go through this again?  I know there are no guarantees and that there are so many variables that are involved but I also know that many health conditions or episodes are likely to happen again once you have had them once.  I wanted to be realistic and knew that the answer might be one I didn’t want to hear but I needed to know.  She gave me the best answer EVER.  Through a lot of technical reasons (lack of blockages in his other arteries, success of the stent, etc) and historical data….she says it is very likely that this could be an isolated incident!  Of course, that all depends on him taking his meds correctly, exercising regularly, eating balanced meals, decreasing his stress and addressing his sleep apnea.  That is a long list of things to do, yes…but I think he is more motivated than ever.  He detests the thought of a C-PAP machine but he has promised to try it.  (He’s been kicked out of the sleep lab before hahahahaaha – y’all he’s kinda hard headed and every machine he’s tried has not been a good fit for him.)  He had just started to exercise more regularly and has an amazing friend that is willing and a such a blessing to us that he will help him in that area.  The food is my area since I cook for him and he has promised to be more open-minded about trying different things (fruits and veggies are a big deal and he hates about 99% of them).  He also has committed to taking a lunch every day and actually getting out of the office.  His Dr has had several conversations about this with him and how important it is for him to take a brain break.  He is also going in later than usual so he can sleep a bit longer and THAT is a blessing to me (and also is going to take some getting used to as that was a good thing for me to get up early and get my Bible time in…so I have to figure out how my day is structured when I get back home!).  The hospital we use has a great cardiac rehab program that he will be taking advantage of and I am happy that he was open to that immediately.  He already has an appointment with a sleep specialist so we are on our way to a healthier (and hopefully less dramatic) 2020!
We are currently in NC visiting our families and enjoying this season.  It has been great to rest the last two days…since leading up to Christmas is a bit of a crazy time….and we have done just that.  Mike is still a bit tired and the Dr says that is normal and expected.  He played golf yesterday locally though and said he felt tired towards the end of the round but that he never felt “winded” as he would have normally.  THAT is such a blessing to hear!  I am telling you, God can make any situation GOOD.  I am so thankful that Mike is feeling better, is heeding the warnings and is listening to the team that is caring for him.
Again, I cannot say enough thank yous to all of you who have been praying for him (and me too) so faithfully.  We feel the love and we are so grateful.
I’ll update again in a bit once we have more information on the sleep apnea because I know that will make him feel so much better if he can get GOOD sleep!!  Hope each of you had a Merry Christmas!!!

Cry.It.Out.

24 May

I’m not talking about the tactic where you let your newborn-ish baby cry to the top of their lungs in their crib while you sit by the door in anguish and try to resist rescuing them.  I could never do that, personally…but that’s SO not the point…or maybe…it is?

I feel like I hear more often than not – BE STRONG….PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES AND DEAL WITH IT….SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP…basically all the ‘wash your face’ logic that is so popular today.  I just wonder why?  Why are we fighting so hard to be so strong when we were created to depend on Jesus and also on others?  Why are we trying to hold back our tears when we know…from the Bible…that Jesus hears our cries?  He heals our hurts and He is pleased by our need for Him.

I am so guilty of being ashamed of crying. Of trying to hide my tears and trying to appear strong…of trying to pretend someone didn’t hurt my feelings or disappoint me…and of not just crying it out.  Imagine if Jesus is right outside of our door, waiting for us to cry out to Him so He can rescue us?  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Prayer Priorities

23 Apr

Y’all wouldn’t believe how many people have asked me recently about prayer. How to start…what to pray about…format…how do I find the time…and I LOVE sharing what I personally find helpful and am ALWAYS happy to share (so message me if you have questions at all!! NOT an expert but I can say I work hard at it!!)…

I heard about task oriented prayer a while back and forgot to share it in case it is something that might help someone! I cannot find the article/blog/instagram that I read it on but basically it just involves praying about what you are currently DOING….so it’s not as hard to remember/fit it in your busy day/etc…

Examples:

folding clothes – thank Jesus for the bodies that wear the clothes, the conveniences (washer/dryer/electricity) that we have, the means to buy them/wash them….and then pray for those same things..blessings for your family….

cooking dinner – thank Jesus for the family you are cooking for and the means to have food / ways to cook / water / etc….and then pray for nourishment and blessings for your family…for health and joy to come from your cooking!

driving to school to pick up kids – thank Jesus for the blessing of children, education, freedoms, etc….pray for them/teachers/admins/safety

You see how easy that is? The idea is to remain grateful and in prayer constantly so that you are keeping the communication with Jesus ongoing. It is SO SO SO easy to fill our brains/minds/ears with constant NOISE of this world with TV/radio/podcasts/books but the most important thing we can do is talk to Jesus. I know I am preaching to myself here, so hopefully I am encouraging someone!!

 

Promises, Promises

23 Feb

I am so human.  SO human.  I am also SO thankful that Jesus is much more than that.  That His promises are guarantees.  That said, I am going to promise you that I am going to update you, in due time, on all of the changes that have gone on in my life in the last year.  I will try to follow through with this but I will likely fail….but I do PROMISE you that I have good intentions!  If you have followed or known me long at all, you know that I love lists…so I will just jot down here the changes and come back here to link once I actually type it out!

In 2017 – we……..

  1. Sold our NC home.
  2. Lived with my Mom and Dad (and without my hubby!!!) for two months.
  3. Moved to Texas.
  4. Road tripped to Austin, Houston, Waco, Arlington, and Galveston.
  5. Lived in an apartment for several months.
  6. Started an amazing Bible study, through Community Bible Study.
  7. Continued weight loss.
  8. Built a house.  An amazing, beautiful, creation if I do say so myself!  (see #10 for referenced IG acct to see pics)
  9. Started backyard projects.
  10. Started a home decor Instagram page (due to that nagging fear of my friends/family growing tired of me sharing home stuff) at http://www.instagram.com/sweetcharmhouse
  11. Visited NC in July and December.
  12. Stepped up our prayer life.

SO, happy Friday and have a great weekend!  I’m going to work on my blog catch up posts!  🙂

 

Does God have Disney plans for you??

1 Jul

So, I kept a secret from my kids.  They didn’t know we were headed to Disney World after we moved into our new house….and I did quite a bit of planning behind their backs.  I wanted the WOW factor when they found out…I wanted them to LOVE it and to be SO EXCITED.  I have waited and waited for the time to reveal this surprise to them.

Disney

 

It got me thinking.  I wonder how our Heavenly Father must feel about the plans He has for us.  I wonder how it must be to know our future and know how much He can bless us?  It makes me feel pretty pitiful for ever going against God’s will.  To think that I’ve bucked His plans or wondered what He was thinking.  You know if my kids would have said “MOM, I’d rather have gone to Carowinds!!”  I would have been crushed.  I imagine there are many times that God wants the WOW factor for us and we give Him a groan or moan or anything-less-than-excitement.

May we remember that the worst of things that are happening to us might be the very thing that Christ is using to teach us a lesson of life or of LOVE.  His secret will lead to our joy if we just remember to see it that way and treat it as such.

I hope I can hold on to this and remember it tomorrow and the day after…and forever.  It’s so easy to complain but much more of a challenge to look for the blessings….are you up for the challenge?  I am!!!

Moving On

20 Jan

I can’t imagine losing my husband…or my daddy.  I have such emotion right now for my friend and her mom.  I can’t imagine the “what do I do now” feeling or the immense feeling of loss.  I know they are absolutely relieved that he’s no longer in pain, but I would imagine that they are also having that empty feeling as well.  I don’t know how you move on…how you go about your daily life and miss that person….how you sit down to dinner at the table you shared with them and they aren’t there.  The whole “time heals all wounds” saying would fall on deaf ears to me…it would almost offend me.  I’d want more time…more moments…just a few more memories.  Knowing that person is in a better place, of course, helps you with these feelings somewhat I’d think…but not having them present in your every day life has to sting so much.  I am praying so hard right now for this family…I love them so much and I know if there is any way they are going to heal, it will be from our Lord.  God bless them…

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