Tag Archives: God’s faithfulness

Grounded

The silliest things can keep a gal grounded. Like being tagged on Facebook. If you’re on this social media, you know the one going around. Seven days of pictures for the “love your spouse” challenge.

When you choose to return to dark stairways into the deepest places of your heart, you need to be grounded. Especially when you step onto them and begin the descent when for a long time you’ve stood at the top only briefly and turned away.

I don’t walk alone. Jesus holds my hand, lights the torches so I can see the next step. I know His goal. To clear out the darkness completely. To flood these forgotten places with glorious golden light so they are no longer hidden passageways where despair lurks, but bright, gleaming staircases that are easily traversed for the good of all.

As I write, more raw than every before, I am humored by the timing of the Facebook tag. As I do the seven-day challenge, I am reminded, every day, of God’s good gifts. Of joy. Of good memories and healing and laughter.

Of how blessed I am.

And really, no matter what life is asking of you, it offers the beautiful moments. The joy of loving relationship, the fragrance of the lilacs, the glory of a sunset. It’s in embracing the little things, being present in the moments, where we find life’s greatest riches.

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God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

Reblogging this amazing post from Kayla Lemmon on All Our Lemony Things

There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike.

All my life, I’ve heard this phrase whenever I go through a rough patch. *And by rough patch, I mean a prickly, gnarly patch that leaves me bleeding to near death*. You’re probably familiar with those kinds of “patches”.

“God will never give you more than you can handle” is the phrase I’m referring to.

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And it’s a sweet sentiment, really. The people who say it are speaking from caring and concerned hearts.

BUT–it isn’t true.

I know that sounds harsh, but I promise I haven’t suddenly lost my mind or have become an angry-with-God bitter woman who hates the world. Actually, when I realized the simple fact that God can–and will–give us more than we can possibly bear, it got easier.

And it all started to make more sense.

I’ve often trudged through trials that overwhelm me. Ever since my childhood there have been trials that have made me “grow up” pretty fast. But granted, I know for a fact you’ve had your own fair share too, because that’s the reality of life. But this last trial is the one that shook me to my core and had me searching like a mad woman for answers as to why it was happening–and how I could possibly even survive it.

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I lost my Dad to cancer last month–if you’re a follower of mine, this is old news. But–it was absolutely horrific.

Every day leading up to his death was like walking through every level of hell–slowly– for lack of a better term. There’s no other way to describe it. The images…the sounds…the sleepless nights…the cries for God while we look on, helpless…the torment of rubbing morphine in his cheeks, praying it’ll absorb–but to no avail. The horrible, wrenching pain that came with lifting him up, laying him back down, lifting him up, laying him back down…because he became so restless and cried out for “home” every few minutes. And all along, in the back of my mind, I reminded myself that millions of people go through this, and have already gone through this, very thing. And it is simply unbearable. If you disagree–it’s because you haven’t been there.

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This trial was so consuming that I hate to even put it in the past tense–sometimes it still consumes me. Yesterday, at my Dad’s memorial service, it consumed me all over again.

I’ve suffered from nightmares where I relived the memory over and over mercilessly–I sometimes see his face on strangers that pass and worry that I’m going crazy. I cry over sad songs in the car and torture myself with stacks of pictures and yellowed photo albums. It’s beyond just missing him. And even with a firm testimony of the gospel and with peace that he is exactly where the Lord prepared him for, it is still too much for me to handle at times. It steals my breath–and it can steal my joy.

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So, the other day, I turned to the scriptures. I needed help.

I wanted to know where that phrase was that people kept repeating to me in church and at work and over the phone. Why did the Lord “trust me so much”?! Why did He think I could handle these kinds of trials?

And then I realized: I couldn’t find that quote because it isn’t there.

It never mentions anywhere in the scriptures that the Lord won’t give you more than you can handle. Yes, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 it speaks of Him giving us an escape from temptations so that it’s not too much to bear. But when it comes to pain, trials, heartache, and burdens– not once does it say it won’t be more than we can bear. Instead, it beautifully says this instead:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 28-30)

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The words struck my heart, as you can imagine. Christ is speaking to those of us who are carrying burdens much too heavy for our own shoulders. And in that one verse he simply states the reason why we are given more than we can handle: It’s so we can come to him. It’s so we can trust him enough to hand over our heavy, crippling burdens and let him carry the load.

You might be heavy laden right now like I was before reading and re-reading and re-reading once again this scripture that has never stuck out to me as much as it has lately.

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You might be shrunken with sadness or drowning in debt. You might be overwhelmingly angry at someone at church or aching under the pressures of raising children or maybe the inability to have them. You might be dealing with a terminal disease and you still have young children. And chances are–you might need your Redeemer to find you on the path and take up that heavy cross you’re dragging. Besides, even he tells us that he’s more equipped to carry it, so why not hand it over?

I’ve come to learn–slowly but surely–why I need Him.

I suppose it’s because of pride that I always thought I could just do things on my own. I’m strong, I’d say. I’m a tough cookie. I can help others through their tribulations while carrying mine all by myself. Well…wasn’t I wrong.

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I didn’t really know what needing him meant until I had no other choice. I didn’t know what it meant until I wrapped my arms around my middle so I wouldn’t fall apart–or the time I choked on tears and yelled toward Heaven. Or the times when I was utterly alone, and the silence was too much to bear. Those are the times that taught me he’s not just a want or a convenient symbol of love or a reason to do good deeds.

No, he’s the very air we breathe.

And he’s the only one who can make it bearable when life is simply anything but.

~Written by Kayla Lemmon

Grateful

After the intensity of yesterday’s post I long for the simple again.

Just the everyday thoughts and remembering the everyday stuff that makes life beautiful.20140605_224323

Like the grown kids popping into visit and my refrigerator being full enough to feed them all, no problem.

Full. Abundant. Lots of left-overs. Fresh stuff, too.

Like the cool air on my bare arms last night as hubby agreed to walk at a nearby park. The clouds were cotton on blue and by the time we left the pink tinged them with glory. We bumped into some longtime friends who were at the lake fishing. Our youngest son rode his long board, weaving in and out of the those who, like us, strolled the sidewalk.

Just beautiful, simple living.

Hubby and I went grocery shopping.

We found a great sale and bought meat. Chicken breasts. roasts. steak.

And we COULD. We could pay for it.

How many times have I taken such simple graces for granted?

Today blueberries arrived on my doorstep. I’m dreaming of blueberry pancakes. There’s already real whipped cream waiting in the fridge to top them.

The roses are beginning to bloom, and I planted bright fuchsia and dark purple petunias. Would you believe a few pansies lived all winter long in my flowerbed, right through the snow, and have raised their pretty faces to greet me?

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I put a bright pink Gerber daisy next to them, a feast for my eyes each time I travel my own sidewalk.

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I’m walking again, and those few pounds that tried to steal my weight loss are beginning to recede. I am empowered. Stronger when I walk.

My new-to-me $25 dishwasher is amazing. After the week and a half of hand washing I’m especially grateful. And it holds more dishes and gets them cleaner than the old one did. And after a week and a half of the chaos of repairing the damaged floor and having clutter everywhere, my living room and kitchen feel huge. Clutter makes me claustrophobic, but oh the joy of putting everything in its place again! It makes an ordinary, familiar room seem new.

20140605_224433-1Fresh mint and lavender now grace my glass water pitchers, picked from plants next to the driveway. Sometimes I add lemon slices.

This isn’t a fancy post. No careful wording, no effort to ease into a poetic feel, no going deep.

Just real.

Just me.

Just thankful.

Just hoping you and I can grab a little joy and rest in a little beauty.

Noticing the little things.

 

 

 

 

Just Life

20140527_183112It got worse before it got better.

I’m talking about the kitchen floor saga.

For days we had the fan running. Finally we had to give up and take out the entire kitchen floor. The stove ended up in the living room, the huge side-by-side refrigerator in front of the microwave, floor boards stashed here and there, kitchen chairs on top of each other, topsy-turvy.

We lived this way for a week. The only saving grace was there were a lot of nights I didn’t cook. But even without the stove there were many, many dishes to do by hand. I know. I should be grateful we had food to eat and dishes to eat them on. Let’s just say that wasn’t at the forefront of my mind while drying dish after dish.

But ife doesn’t stop ’cause a girl’s kitchen is in chaos. Last week we turned a blind eye to the mess so we could enjoy:

A rehearsal dinner at a park while the sun set behind mountain peaks

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A good-bye lunch so we could send our “boy” off to work in those mountains for the summer

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A  wedding where my oldest son’s best friend finally married the amazing woman he’s been in love with since he was 16. Not only was it a gorgeous ceremony on a lush green lawn,

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Our other two boys were ushers, and there was a bit of a problem with shoes. The bride told Sam and Stephen she didn’t care what they wore as long as they matched. They couldn’t agree on whether to wear Converse or dress shoes and showed up like this. There’s one (or two) in every crowd, especially with Moldenhauer boys around.

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Saturday brought wedding #2. If you’re a Bronco fan you’ve heard of Mile High Stadium. But if you look closely, there’s a wedding party posing right there on the field! Cool huh?

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This beautiful marriage, another example of young love surviving over years, took place club level in this famous stadium.The ceremony actually looked toward the Denver skyline, not the field.

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Hubby especially enjoyed the venue. I admired the china. We both enjoyed the food, including amazing raspberry-peach cupcakes, a little too much.

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It was fun hitting romantic venues this weekend. Good preparation for our 25th wedding anniversary coming up in just over a week. We couldn’t resist getting a picture while we were all dressed up.

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Sunday meant church (and an amazing message which I’ll share more on another day) and then . . . a baby shower for a sweet young woman I taught years ago when she was about eight! Now she’s a married woman and about to give birth to their first child. How time flies. Had to share this picture. I thought the fruit was presented especially well. ;O)

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We rushed home from the shower to watch our youngest play baseball at the high school field. You know, the crack of the ball on the bat, the cool evening air brushing our faces. Sounds like an all-American weekend, right? But after all that wonderful stuff, we returned home to reality.

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We agreed Monday morning held a baptism back into real life. We would conquer the disaster. The goal? To do it ourselves and not spend money on anything. I wasn’t exactly excited about getting up this morning.

When I forced myself out of bed I sought hubby out in the office where he was already working at his computer. This is often how I start my day, and Jerry never fails to welcome me onto his lap. This morning was no exception. He smiled and opened his arms to me, and I snuggled in. Then he told me today was going to be a good day because he got to spend all day working next to me.

And with those few, precious words he turned my attitude right around.

Things got even better when our oldest son told us he had some experience at this stuff from working with a friend. Together the three of us put the jigsaw puzzle of a floor back together. Seth and Jerry did the hard part. I was mostly there to veto the boards that were especially warped and to pick the boards with the least flaws for the most visible spots. If you don’t look too closely you’d never know that some of the seams are no longer smooth. The worst boards are placed carefully beneath appliances or where rugs go. It’s not perfect, but it actually looks pretty good.

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It’s late. The day is drawing toward tomorrow, the clock ticking to midnight. I should be in the kitchen using my new-to-me dishwasher (a $25 find on Craig’s list) and enjoying the fact that for the first time in days I’m not hand washing. I could also be moving everything from surrounding rooms back where they belong. Or maybe I should simply be sleeping. Honestly, I’m not sure why I’m here typing instead.

Maybe just because things turn out okay. Because real life is full of the juxtaposition of pain and pleasure, of leaky dishwashers and beautiful, fancy weddings. It’s full of jigsaw pieces that we’re not always sure how to fit together, even as it offers open arms to help us through.

Chances are next time I’m upset I won’t remember this lesson. But tonight I am grateful. My heart is quiet.

And I trust.

Until Next Time,

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Water Under the Floor

It’s not earth-shattering, Lord.

It’s not death or disease.

But even such a little thing can feel like destruction.

Even such a little thing is an assault on your gifts.

And they were your gifts.

In a time of financial empty you gave them to me, one at a time, over the long season of want.

A dishwasher and a new floor.

Both hand-me-down gifts that looked brand new.

I should have paid closer attention when something didn’t seem right in front of the dishwasher. Why did I wait until the beautiful floor seemed to buckle before sounding the alarm?

My heart dropped as the dishwasher was pulled from the cabinets and we saw the gush of water.

I cried as we began pulling up my beautiful floor, one long gorgeous board at a time.

We don’t live in financial nothingness now. But we’re still unprepared for this expense in this season of college bills and baseball teams.

Habit has long taught me to worry at such times.

But it has also taught me to give my worries to you.

That floor was your promise to me that all that was wrong in my home could be provided for in a snap when you chose to move.

Not only were the boards themselves a gift, the labor of love, the weekend of friendship was from you, too.

But hanging onto the gratitude is a bit testy while I watch my gorgeous floor boards crumble from the wet, smell the rank of saturated sub floor.

I’m not sure how to deal with this, Lord.

Even if there are enough scraps in the garage for the repairs, we don’t know how to cut and lay them.

And there is the issue of the gaping hole where a dishwasher used to be.

(I’m not thrilled about doing the volume of dishes we go through by hand, Lord.)

I want to fight through to gratitude and hope and praise and faith.

After all, if you cared enough to give me these gifts back then, isn’t such still important to you now?

The floor that my sweet family has walked upon, where I have fed precious children meal after meal. The room I’ve opened to guests, no matter how we had to crowded around my small table.

You care about my floor.

You care about my dishwasher.

You own the cattle on a thousand hills. This is not even pennies to you, this repair, this new provision.

Guilt whispers to remember all I have in this land of America. That I have dishes. Food to put in them. A comfortable home, pretty floor or not. Guilt says I should not care so much about such things as broken appliances and broken beauty.

But you’ve been showing me that your voice isn’t guilt.

You teach me to care about others, look for ways to serve and give, but not to pretend I don’t care about my own needs because they seem petty compared.

My needs and desires are my own.

And they are important to you, the hopes of this mom in America, just the same as the hopes of a mother in Africa who today prays for more immediate, life-giving needs.

I won’t live in guilt. I won’t pretend I don’t feel this need.

I won’t live in the knee-jerk hopelessness and worry of the past.

I will live in faith of provision.

I will live in the Truth that You see and care.

I will remember the provisions of the past and look to the provisions of the future, no matter what form they take.

Friends, I started praying with pen and journal this morning, talking to the God who Loves about this issue (and others). But this little blog beckoned, this place where I’ve chosen to be vulnerable about the big things and small. This place where I’ve asked for prayer, and it has been given.

I’m not sure why I choose to share this mundane problem. Maybe because I so desire to take a stand for hope and faith and to it in front of the whole of the Internet seemed definitive. Maybe because I know some of your stories and how my little tales of provision have given you hope in your own long season of want. Maybe because I know some of you will whisper a prayer for my attitude and my provision. Maybe just because we’re journeying together, you and me, and this is today’s journey.

As I type I whisper a pray for your journey of this day. Whether issues are big or small assualt or whether it is a day of sheer ease, I ask Him to bless you, to provide for you, to show His love. I pray that you have hope and faith. That neither you or I try to ease the stress by stuff that never fixes anything, like pigging out on cheese dip and chips. ;o)

Until Next Time,

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The Stuff Dreams are Made Of II

(For part one of this story click here.)

Valentine’s Day morning Jerry and I lingered in our beautiful vintage room at the Broadmoor. I couldn’t resist a long, hot bath in the large, tiled tub, complete with lavender mint bath salts from the Broadmoor’s spa collection. We chose a lazy morning over breakfast, so by the time we left our room we were starving.

We ate in the Tavern, next to La Jardin, which is a 1900s style garden room attached to the main serving area. (Since it was Valentine’s Day we needed reservations to actually sit in this beautiful room, so we settled for being close enough to gaze inside. Not that the expensive wooden decor of the Tavern left anything to be desired.)  La Jardin, with its 16 ft long chandelier, reminded me of the garden room dining area on the RMS Titanic, which I researched carefully to include in one of my scenes in our book, Titanic, Legacy of Betrayal. Of course this gracious space is on solid ground, not on the ocean floor. And Jerry and I loved it. Oh the opulence of the early 1900s!

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I chose a very wonderful french onion soup to start my lunch. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

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And I savored every bite!

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Afterwards we headed to the Espresso shop for that morning coffee I’d not yet enjoyed. It was now our after lunch treat, and we each ordered something sweet. Jerry opted for a chocolate filled croissant, but I chose entirely based on beauty. And the fact that you can NEVER go wrong with raspberries and chocolate. (Just another example of why the thoughts in my post last Thursday about maintenance and keeping weight in check after a time of feasting were necessary reminders for me!)

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What we did next was not romantic at all. We set up office in the very elegant lobby and worked on FAFSA, due that day if we were to get our son on the list to be considered for college scholarships. Oh well, real life sometimes invades.

While we labored away we were given a wonderful surprise. I spotted my friend Brandy Cole-Vallance. She stood next to a gigantic fresh flower arrangement with a huge sign advertising her new book. Brandy’s gorgeous cover alone would have made me want to read the book, but when she shared her premise I was totally hooked! (Don’t miss the painted ceiling in the picture below. If I’m keeping facts straight, it was painted by the same artist who did the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City. When he was told his work was perfect, He purposely included an imperfection, telling on-lookers that the only perfect one was God.)

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What’s especially spectacular about bumping into Brandy is she had only received her book contract the night before, in front of a ton of people at the Writing for the Soul Conference. Everything was still new and like a dream for this debut author, and I loved the somewhat glazed sheen of joy in her eyes. Authors often spend years honing their craft and networking before breaking into the business. Many never actually experience this moment; few get their contract in front of an audience. I had a taste of this in 2011 when my first fiction contract for Postmark: Christmas was given to me in front of 500 people at an ACFW conference. It’s truly a stunning experience.

Getting to hug Brandy and cheer her on was a divine appointment–a sheer gift. As state coordinator for ACFW,  I feel invested in every one of our wonderful authors. Their victories bring me great joy. Plus Brandy and I share an amazing agent, Rachelle Gardner of Books and Such Literary, so we connect in two different, but precious, communities. Congratulations, Brandy!

All too soon Jerry and my lovely dream-of-a-stay came to an end. I waited inside the double doors as Jerry retrieved our car, standing just away from the blustery gusts of a very cold late afternoon. Two porters stood opening and closing the doors as each traveler came and went. Each was greeted with a genuine smile, and I found myself wondering if doing a job which required such consistent, cheerful kindness actually made a person feel happier. I finally got up the nerve to ask the smiling man during a break in the action. He said the Broadmoor was careful in its hires, getting good people who represented it well, but that being cheerful did help a person feel cheerful.

As I did the night before when I visited with our valet, I wondered at the stories this man could tell, at the people he’d met.

I think a novel series set at the Broadmoor is brewing. What do you think? Would you read it? I know I wouldn’t mind going back for more research! ;o)

I was a bit wistful as Jerry pulled into the circular drive and our dreamy experience ended. Thankfully the Creator topped it off with a gorgeous white moon to see us home.

The next morning Jerry made the boys and me our traditional Saturday morning whole wheat pancakes. Maybe the Broadmoor ambiance continued to flow through my veins because I decided my breakfast needed to be pretty. Which goes to show it doesn’t take a fancy resort to embrace moments of celebration. Like the smiling doorman, I want to find and spread joy in my ordinary days. It seems a worthy goal.

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Share it: Sometimes dreams do come true

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Success!

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Yep–this is one of my sons, but the pose just seemed to fit the topic: VICTORY! And yes, he’s on a mountain peak!

“You were made for more!”

Great news, huh?

In her Made to Crave Devotional Lysa TerKerrst says we were made for more than stuff like failure, cycles of defeat, being ruled by taste buds, body image, rationalizations, guilt, shame . . .

I’d add my own list. I am made for more than: discouragement, inadequacy, doubt, worry, and fear.

What would you add to the list?

No matter what is on your list or mine, Lysa speaks God’s heart when she says we’re made for VICTORY.

(I heard that in my head like the cheer I used to do as a 6th grader. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! Do you hear the chant as the word is spelled out, whispered, and increasing in volume? Grab the pom-poms and shout it: VICTORY!)

The great thing about the stuff in God’s heart is that He backs it up. In this case victory is our because we get to live in His incomparably great power. The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.

Father,
Please enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we have hope as we glimpse the riches you’ve prepared for us. Help us to better grasp what it means to live in the power you’ve provided that gives us victory over all that tempts us, all that pulls us down, all that discourages us. Let that power be revealed in how we live, including our relationship with food. We look to you for strength for this day!

Uh . . . a devotion on victory wasn’t intentionally scheduled for Superbowl Sunday, but sometimes things just work out well. Go BRONCOS!