True Colors

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Have you ever discovered someone’s true colors? Usually this term refers to a negative trait discovered in someone. It is shocking. Overwhelming. Saddening. Heart-breaking. Relationship defining. It stinks!

I have had far too much experience discovering “true colors” in the past several years. Part of it comes because as I grow and get emotionally healthier, I see the dysfunction around me more clearly. Part of it is due to the fact that I give people the benefit of the doubt and far too many second chances. Compassion and understanding have a limit on earth. When “true colors” are discovered, a choice needs to be made. Stay in and work toward a resolution/acceptance or get out.

I have chosen both paths. Both are painful. Both require time and emotionally energy. Both require hard conversations. Both are equally Christian. Both are opportunities to grow.

I continue making new relationships and investing in old ones, because my identity, my source of strength, is based on the One who will never show me His “true colors.” They just don’t exist.

” Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8 NIV

He is my rock. He is my strength. He is who I turn to when once again “true colors” are revealed. He is consistent. He is trustworthy. He is my God.

If you recently found out someone’s “true colors,” turn to the one who will  never shock you with who He is. For He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Our hope.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

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Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day to my mom friends. Happy celebrating your mom to my non-mom friends. Today is a day that can be complicated for many. Most of us have a good relationship with our mothers. Not perfect but good enough. For some, not so much.

I had a season with my mom where I was learning to love her as is. Just as I hope my kids will do for me someday. When I looked at cards, they triggered all my wounds. Maybe you too have had this experience at Hallmark. “You were always there for me.” Maybe she wasn’t. “You  sacrificed so much so I could accomplish my dreams and you always believed in me.” What if that isn’t true? To this day, I usually grab a purple card (mom and my favorite color) with little words. The sentiments written are so grandiose, they don’t apply to many moms. I love my mom. I appreciate the way she loved me. I understand her more and her upbringing. I am grateful for time I get to spend with her. She’s my mom. I love her.

For those of you who want to be a mom and aren’t yet (or may never be), I am sorry for the pain this day brings you. The reminder that your dream may or may not happen is what Mother’s Day means to you. You haven’t “succeeded” yet in life because you haven’t had kids or adopted a kid. The pressure to be OK with it is monumental on Mother’s Day. To those friends, I encourage you to self care today. Do what you need to be in a place of peace and contentment. God loves you as is and isn’t surprised by your situation in life. He has compassion and understanding. Lean on Him today.

To those of you who love Mother’s Day and can’t wait to spoil your mom, go for it. Embrace her, celebrate her, shower her with love. If you are the one being spoiled, soak it in. You deserve it. You see, none of us are the perfect mom, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, etc. We are doing the best we can. Today is a day of celebrating those that did the best they could to raise us while they were battling their own health issues, marriage issues, financial issues, etc. Wow. They did it. We are here. We did it. Our kids know we love them.

In our complicated, emotional world, celebrate Mom.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Chivalry

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“Chivalry is dead” many say. I say it’s not dead but it’s very hit or miss. It is also discouraged because some feel it’s chauvinistic. I had two encounters with chivalry this week.

As I walked out of the parking structure, weighed down by several bags, a man was entering the building I was headed to. I was across the courtyard from the door he was entering. He saw me, and my load, and waiting with the door open for me. I thanked him and said it’s nice there are still gentlemen in this world.

The next day, same location, I emerged from the parking structure at the same time as a man. We were walking side by side to the door. I dropped a bag and paperwork fell all over the courtyard. He stepped around me and said nothing. I set down my other bags, picked up my mess and continued on. A missed opportunity for chivalry.

In both cases, I didn’t need a man to help me. I did appreciate it fully the one day and felt sad for the man’s lack of consideration for others in the second situation. A woman could have done the same for me in both situations too. However, we are talking chivalry here which by definition is a male trait.

Dictionary.com defines chivalry as

The methods of training and standards of behavior for knights in the Middle Ages. The code of chivalry emphasized bravery, military skill, generosity in victory, piety, and courtesy to women

Chivalry now usually just means “courtesy to women.” However, I was pleased to see that piety was also a part of chivalry.

pietyreverence for God or devout fulfillment of religious obligations

A man who loves God and gives courtesy to women is a rare thing these days. If you know one, thank him for being counter-culture. If you have a son, raise him to be chivalrous. Have him open the doors for his sisters. Teach him that Jesus loves him with all His heart and has great plans for him. Pour into him an appreciate for women and the unique way God created us.

This week, as you walk through life, look for acts of chivalry. If you are a man, perform these acts. Women, thank the men who live this way with a sincere expression of gratitude. Men, when you are thanked, receive it and let it build you up for those times when your way of living is mocked. Let’s make sure chivalry never dies.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Easter people

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Easter was a week ago. For Christians, Easter is every day. It’s the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and God’s gift of grace and redemption. We are promised eternal life if we believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection. His death paid the penalty for our disobedience (a.k.a. sin) and now we don’t have to pay that penalty. We are filled with hope and His Holy Spirit. We are Easter people – people of hope. Let’s be that every day.

What does that look like? Being an Easter person – a person of hope. Let me define hope with the help of Merriam Webster.

1: to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment
2 : to expect with confidence : trust
Let’s start with #1. Hope is when I have an expectation that something will come to be. I desire it to be so I hope it’ll happen. I may have to wait along time. I may never get some things I hope for. I have been told by many to lower my expectations or else I will just get disappointed. In some parts of my life, that is true. However, when it comes to the plans God has for me, I can expect away. I can’t see or even know all that is before me. I do know that I hope for all the things He has planned. I look forward to His plans unfolding before me. I don’t always wait patiently. I usually wait very impatiently. Sorry God. When it comes, or even just a piece of it comes, I rejoice and give God glory. I see Him show up daily. This is hope – pieces of life and God’s plan unfolding before me. I can trust in that.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
~  Romans 8:24-25 NIV
Definition #2 is my favorite because it is expectation with confidence. I find that I have less and less confidence in things happening the way I expect. However, in my faith, this shouldn’t be the case. I want to live with hope that is confident. I can because that is the very definition of faith – confidence in what we hope for. I can trust God and His promises. I can’t trust my plan but I can trust in His.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

~Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Ultimately, hope is Jesus. There is no hope without Jesus. I can hope it’ll be sunny tomorrow. I can hope my car makes it to the gas station before the tank runs dry. I can hope my kids thrive. I can’t guarantee these things. I can guarantee that Jesus will be with me whatever the weather. Jesus will provide a way if my car runs out of gas. I can know that Jesus walks with my children every step they take. Jesus is my hope in all things and He himself is hope.
 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
~ I Thessalonians 2: 19-20 NIV
Let’s be Easter people – people of hope. When Jesus is your hope, you are safe to live expectantly and in confidence. Let’s be Easter people every day.
Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

I’m back

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I missed you. I missed writing. It has been a month. Let me explain. A month ago, I started working full-time. It has been 17 years since I worked outside the home. Yep, you read that correctly. I had the honor and privilege of being a stay at home mom for 17 years. I had hoped to stay in that role until all of my children graduated but circumstances dictated that extra income was needed. So, I needed the month to figure out my new rhythm and schedule. I am not there yet. However, I am ready to be back to you and my blog. I have a plan. I can write my blogs and schedule them to be posted on a certain day and time. I will set it to go out Mondays at 9 a.m. like I used to.

A bit about my blog process. I don’t have one. Ideas come to me all the time and if I don’t blog it then, I usually lose it. When I sit down to blog, I pray. I listen and then I type. That’s it. If you are using me as a model to start a blog, my process isn’t normal or even professional. However, my process is me and how God inspires me. My hope is I inspire you.

During this month of transition, my oldest child turned 18. She also decided which college to attend in the Fall. My son had his first volleyball game on his school team. My middle daughter won MVP of her Varsity Soccer Team. I dealt with sibling rivalry. I taught my son how to make his own breakfast. I cried. I yelled. I smiled. I laughed. I comforted friends. Friends comforted me. Life happened in this past month. I missed sharing it all with you. There is too much to catch you up on, so let’s start fresh.

I’m back implies I’ve been gone. My blog was gone but I was still thinking of you and ideas to share with you. So I was still partially with you. Yet, I was reminded today that God never says “I’m back.” He never leaves. He doesn’t have to say “sorry I was distracted.” He never is distracted. He wouldn’t show up with flowers and an apology. However, we should. We are the ones who step away when God stands firm. He follows us into our despair, our anger, our frustration, our melt down, our joy, our happy distractions, our daily life. We are the ones who walk away, or take a break, or forget. Not God.

I may be back but God has been here all along. That brings me hope. That gives me purpose. That helps me when I feel so lost I can’t see straight. And it reminds me that you will welcome me back and my blog even though I walked away for a month. I know that you are forgiving people. You are giving people. You are people on a journey to know God more each day. I am back but God never left.

“…because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

~Hebrews 13:5b NIV

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Yoga

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I got to do yoga today. Fabulous. I used to go weekly and practice yoga at the LA Arboretum. After my teacher moved away, the new teachers just didn’t hold the same appeal. Now I pop in every so often at Foothill Gym in Monrovia. I love Betsy’s yoga classes. Perfect pace for me. The thing that stood out to me today was Betsy giving us permission to do or be however we needed to be. If both arms above your head hurt, put your arms behind your back or on your waist or just lift one arm. If you get tired in Down Dog, go into Child’s pose. At one point she said, even if you know you can’t do any of the poses, come to class anyway. Just lay on your mat and soak in the community of women here.

When is the last time you truly felt welcome as is? No matter your mood or ability, be here. I actually had tears in my eyes when Betsy said that. I felt welcomed and loved and accepted just as I was. It has been months since I last practiced yoga and reverted to child’s pose a few times today. It was OK. We all need places to just be whatever and however.

My goal is to be that for others. Do they feel they can let their hair down with me? Do my friends come towards me or away from me when they are in crisis? When life is messy, I want to be welcoming. Who are your safe people? What are your safe places? Are you a safe place for others?

I have many safe friends in my life. I am truly blessed. I know I can be that for others too. I am grateful. I hope I can extend the same graciousness to strangers or acquaintances. So many people lack that safe place. Like Cheers’ theme song “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. And their always glad you came.” Be that for others today. If you need it, find your place where you are welcomed as is. It feels wonderful.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Les Mis

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To love another person is to see the face of God.

One of the last phrases sung in the musical Les Miserables. Arcadia High School just gave an incredible performance of this show last weekend. I honestly expected to cringe a lot since the vocals in this production are challenging. However, I savored every note and soaked in the powerful message of the show. I cried on several scenes. This high school provides amazing theater. The costumes were incredible (especially since my daughter is head costumer). I expect to see a few of these kids on Broadway one day too.

If you haven’t seen the show, Pantages Theater has a run of it in May or you can watch the movie version of it with Hugh Jackman. Either way, you will capture the theme of this show – Grace!

(Spoiler alert) My favorite scene is near the beginning of the show. The priest gives Jean Valjean his silver candlesticks and tells him to give his life to God and begin a new life. I cry nearly every time. It’s the ultimate undeserved gift – aka grace. This priest trusts Jean Valjean to be a man of God and use this gift to make a difference in the world for God. And that he does.

Someone at the performance commented that this is a show about forgiveness. I disagree. Forgiveness is saying “I release you and myself from carrying the weight of ‘you wronged me’ anymore. I don’t condone what you did but I am not going to dwell on it any longer.” Grace is an undeserved gift. Is forgiveness a form of grace? Yes. However, grace is much bigger than forgiveness.

Grace allows someone to stay in relationship with you while they change and grow. Grace extends kindness to someone who doesn’t deserve an ounce of it. Grace is praying for your enemies. Grace is Jesus’ death on the cross to forgive us our debt that we could never pay. It’s sacrifice. It makes no sense. It’s humbling.

Les Miserables’ other main male role is Javert. He is the epitome of legalism. He’s a Pharisee. He can’t handle the grace Jean Valjean lives his life by. He is driven to death because of grace. He couldn’t understand how someone could be good when they deserved to be punished for their crimes. Both men loved God. However, Javert never learned to accept God’s grace. He knew the God of the Old Testament – black and white. The grace and fulfillment of the Old Testament is found in Jesus and the hope of the new covenant in the New Testament.

Where are you today? Living in grace or stuck in “he/she deserves it?” Be a Jean Valjean and spread grace wherever you are planted.

Dream Big! Pray Big!