“Mommy, be my safe”

IMG-1434When my eldest was around 3 years old, she began to express her fears or concerns with her own original phrase that I thought was just precious.

When we found ourselves in situations where there appeared to be a cause for concern, she would nestle her tiny little body up close to mine and quietly say, “Mommy, be my safe.”  She meant, protect me and shelter me until the threat has passed.  It could be stormy weather or a creepy noise, or that stranger in the grocery store who got a little too close for comfort.

Whatever the peril, she trusted that I would save her from it.  Wrapped around mommy’s legs, with one sticky little hand in mine, she could be at peace.

Yesterday afternoon as the sky darkened, it started to thunder and the wind was bending the tree branches and lightning cracked across the sky.  We went from sunshine to eerie skies, with the promise of a good storm.  My youngest granddaughter came over to me and buried her little head in my lap and then looked up with her big blue eyes and said, “Nana, what noise?”  She’s always said that when she hears a noise that upsets her.  We have always speculated that all the time spent in the NICU and the strange noises might have affected her in some way, so we are always quick to reassure her that all is well.

Her cuteness reminded me of my daughter’s cuteness years before and I smiled thinking of the all the times that we have cried out for help from our Father.   What do our cries for help sound like to Him?  Are there times He thinks we are “cute”?  Do our petitions ever bring a smile to His face because of the way we phrase them?  I think so.

The storms of life roll through without warning, we are exposed to traumatic things all day on whatever type of media we choose, there is so much noise.  Noise, by definition,  is “a sound that is loud or unpleasant that causes a disturbance”.  Yes, there is much noise in our world.

Thankfully, like my daughter and granddaughter, I have a safe haven, a place where I can run to find peace and comfort.  I can cry out to God, “What noise?!?!”  As He stills and comforts my spirit with His still small voice, I can lean in and say, “Be my safe.”  And, He will, every time.

Thoughts on a summer day

Feet planted in a little green pool painted to resemble a watermelon, I’m thankful for the cool water while sitting on a scorching hot back deck.  I silently wonder how long my feet will be safe from toddler pee or if they have already been contaminated.  Considering I just polished off a blackberry after she licked it and offered it to me, I suppose I will live.IMG-1718

The cardinal showing off his vivid red coat on the fence post looks as if he would love to join Cali in the little pool for a midday bath, but he is staying out of reach.  Smart guy because I am positive he would get more than he bargained for.

Cali, sitting in the shade of her umbrella, is oblivious to the cardinal and seemingly to the heat as well as she munches on blackberries and strawberries and repeatedly dumps water from one bucket to another while singing bits and pieces of “head, shoulders knees and toes”.

I am thankful for my day out shopping, the mani-pedi and a long lunch with two of my favorite people.  I was anxious to get home and babysit this little rascal though tonight after my errands were complete.  With Cali and her mommy living back at home, that means I am the primary baby sitter when Morgan works.  Sometimes, Nana gets a little tired.

We were empty-nesters for a couple of years and I got quite used to my free time.  Time to read or write for hours without interruption.  Time to take a long nap on a Saturday without a little munchkin banging on my door.   Yes, there are times I long for more solitude.

At these times, however, God always reminds me of my prayers to Him when we didn’t know if Cali would make it.  Those long drives to and from Miami filled with fears and tears and prayer.  The months in ICU, the surgery days, the ups and downs.

I’m reminded once again that life is a journey.  We travel through seasons with all kinds of weather.  The seasons will never cease, but we can learn to face them with His strength and grace.  He is our great Help and Comforter.

It is how we handle the journey, it’s our attitude while we walk it out, it’s our abiding in His sweet vine.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the next big milestone is the destination, that once that “thing” happens you will forever by happy or you will have finally made it.  There is always something (good and bad) around the corner as long as we walk this earth.  If you acknowledge this, it makes the unknowns a little less intimidating.

Take joy in moments, learn to find the lessons in the trails, look for God’s plan in the middle of your messes, be grateful and find your peace and rest in Him.

Blessings,

Lisa

Simmering pots and changing views

food-pot-kitchen-cooking.jpg“Up, up”, cried the curly blonde headed toddler as I stirred the big simmering pot of lima beans.  The scent of supper hung in the air, tempting me to perform yet another taste test.  My pallet satisfied, I turned to put away the remains of the ham I has used to season my savory soup.

I felt a tug on the leg of my blue jeans, prompting a downward glance at a vision resembling my youngest 20 years ago.

The practical, get-things-done side of me almost said, “Go play, sweetie”, but the Nana in me bursting with love for this little angel, took one look in those blue eyes filled with curiosity and I picked her up and positioned her on my hip instead.

She was fascinated by the steam coming off the pot and pointed toward it, exclaiming “Hot, hot!”.  Right on the heels of “hot, hot”, was “eat, eat”.  I guess she repeats things to make sure she gets her point across.  God does that with me.

As I held her, allowing her to touch the cool, granite counter, hold a round, ripe grapefruit and smell it’s clean citrus scent she smiled.  I gave her a taste from a small spoon, after she and I “blew it” to cool it off, and I was reminded of something.

While she stood on the kitchen floor, hearing the sounds of lids banging, water boiling, the chopping of onions, she couldn’t see any of it.  She could smell something that awakened her hunger, but she couldn’t dig in, she heard noises but she couldn’t identify their source.  From her line of vision, her viewpoint, her perspective, things were unclear, possibly a bit confusing, maybe even a little scary or unsettling at times.  Only when Nana picked her up and began explaining things, did it start to make sense.  At her age, and with her limited knowledge, things still aren’t 100% clear, but at least she got a glimpse.

Another spiritual lesson or reminder for me in the everyday things!  We can’t see the whole picture yet, the goodness God has prepared for us continues to unfold, but often from our perspective we can’t understand.  At times, our lines of vision is obstructed or clouded by unbelief.  Since His ways are not our ways, we can’t fathom His plan.

As we lean into the Father, tug on Him and say “up, up”, we begin to get a least a glimpse.  And because of His unconditional, passionate love toward us, even if we don’t understand 100%, we have peace in knowing we are in good hands.  The more we seek Him, the more we find Him.  The more we eat, the hungrier we become.

Let His word and His love change your perspective today.

An authentic love

15e28fdec2e63367268f864f4189a405

Many times I am asked to explain what I mean when I talk about feeling close to Jesus and having more than a superficial relationship with Him.  How can I say he is my best friend?  How do I know when He is guiding me in a certain direction?

When I was very young, I was taken to church by my mother and grandmother and as I grew it continued to be part of my life.  In my pre-teen years, I went for the fun and games, to see my friends and because I genuinely wanted to be good.  I wanted to do the right thing and I was afraid of the consequences if I didn’t.  Somehow, in spite of all of the lessons telling me that Jesus died for me and how much He loved me, I couldn’t wrap my head around what it meant to be in a relationship with Him.  There were times I felt more inspired than others, but I still didn’t grasp the depths of His goodness at the time.

Many years later, after multiple failures and the death of my mother, I found myself in a bad place.  I felt alone, insecure and without much hope.  As a young wife and mother, I didn’t feel like I had anything left to offer the ones I loved.

But slowly and surely, the things I had learned in my youth came back to me and the timely words of a friend reminded me that there was somewhere to find strength and peace.  I found myself thinking about God and wondering what it would feel like to run to Him and cast all my cares in His lap.  Would it work?  My mind, educated in the bible, said yes but my emotions were a wreck and my doubts numerous.

I don’t remember the exact day and time like some people do when they have life-changing experiences, but I do remember feeling like I didn’t have anything to lose.  Why not cry out to God?  I was at the end of me (and therein lies the key).  That was almost twenty years ago and I haven’t regretted my decision to fully surrender to Jesus, not one time.

On the contrary, my love for Him has grown by leaps and bounds.  He has been my friend when there was no one else who could possibly understand me.  He has forgiven me though my sin was deep and He freely gave this precious gift of salvation.  All I had to do was believe and ask and surrender my life to Him.

Has it been easy?  No, I would be lying if I answered that with a yes.  There were times I felt weak and frail when He has been my strength.  When I felt faithless and my shortcomings seem to come in droves, He was long suffering.  When my tears fell like rain, He taught me to have joy in spite of my circumstances.  When I was afraid and fearful, He spoke peace.  Making a decision to surrender didn’t make things perfect and life still had it’s curve balls to throw but now I had a perfect God to run to, Who gave strength like no other and a peace that I had never known my entire life.

Having said all that, I still haven’t fully explained how I feel so close to Him, why I am certain of His abiding presence and direction.  How do I know how much He loves and and how can I confess such an overwhelming love for Him?  Intentional time spent with Him, loving Him, getting to know Him and in the process, getting to know me.

The only way I know how to explain is this.  When you love someone (and I’m not talking about the superficial relationships this culture is wrought with), you spend time with them.  You get to know them.  You read their notes or letters over and over again because you want to discern how they really feel about you.  You’ll take the time to discover what moves them.  It’s not a “hook-up” or a “best friends with benefits” type of attraction.  It’s way deeper than that.  You put them first and even in the midst of life’s craziness, they remain a priority.  You look forward to their touch and you share with them your heartfelt thoughts and desires.  You turn to them for direction and advice because they know you so well, they are the best to give it.  You take every opportunity you can to be in their presence.  It’s intentional.

This made all the difference for me.  I went from feeling like I was outside looking in, to a beautiful, holy relationship with my Maker.

I felt inspired to share this on this beautiful rainy Sunday.  We will all have our perfect sunshiny days, but we will all also experience the rain.  Let us love Him intentionally, placing Him in the proper place in our lives.  When the rain comes, He wants to be your shelter.

 

Post Irma musings

SONY DSC

As I sit on my cousin’s porch here in Tennessee, the air is cool in the midst of my favorite season.  The birds are filled with song and two little squirrels are chasing each other up, down and around a tree.  In the midst of one of the most chaotic seasons of my life, I sing praises to my Creator and thank Him for His abundant mercy and the beauty of my surroundings.

After losing our home in hurricane Irma, I am a grateful guest in a household that is filled with the love of Christ.

Due to my granddaughter’s health condition and fearing long lines and possible fuel shortages, we fled the state of Florida prior to Irma’s approach.  Some said we were over-reacting but I had prayed about it, discussed with my husband and had peace with our decision.  He would stay and continue to make preparations and be close to assess the aftermath and my daughter, granddaughter and I would head for the hills.

The first weekend I was here I remember sitting in Sunday school thinking that if I let one tiny teardrop fall, I was going to bawl a big ole ugly cry in front of a room full of people I didn’t know.  I did cry during service as the Pastor described efforts already underway to send trucks of essentials and workers down to assist in our area.

The emotions pre-Irma, mid-Irma and post-Irma have been like the tea-cup ride at Disney.  One minute you’re screaming as someone spins the cup faster and faster and the next minute, you need to throw up.  And, all of my emotions have been from afar, so add a strange sense of guilt for not being there with and for my friends and family.  All I could do was pray, and that I did and continue to.

Mid-Irma, we watched with horror as we experienced wind and storm surge in real-time, thanks to Facebook, face time and videos sent to us.  We sometimes watched along with the people we love who stayed to ride it out, hearing the fear in their voices as the waters continued to rise.  Thankfully, technology also provided a way to let us know everyone was safe immediately after the worst of it.

Post-Irma my husband sent pictures of the destruction as he walked for the first time back into what we once called home. We cried along with him.  We lamented some of our most painful material losses together, always thankful that we still had each other.

Then we shed overwhelming tears of gratitude as we saw people from all over; loved ones, clients and strangers begin to load up trucks like the hands and feet of Jesus, destination Everglades City, to unload a little bit of love and hope.

Homeless Irma victims, we have so much to be thankful for.  We have family who immediately opened their home to us until we can find a place of our own, more family and friends, clients and colleagues who have blessed us with gift cards, money, prayers and encouragement, and a place for my husband to stay while he is down there working.  We have our lives and our precious memories of how things used to be.

We have a lot to do and some new paths to forge but I remain steadfast in the knowledge that my God will provide.  He has not forsaken us, nor will He.  This life is fragile and our things are perishable but His love is everlasting and His promises are sure.  I pray for wisdom to follow without hesitation His perfect direction and plan for my life.

My deepest gratitude to all who have helped in any way.  May God richly bless you.

Door number two

SONY DSC

Let’s face it, some days are just harder than others.  Every once in a while you wake up realizing immediately that your attitude needs adjusting and sometimes all seems well until a challenging situation comes out of nowhere.

You wake up on time feeling ready to take on the day.   The aroma and taste and just right temperature of your coffee pleases 3 of your senses.  Your devotion reaches down to touch you in the very depths of your soul and your prayer time is heavenly.

Your cereal doesn’t get soggy and your toast doesn’t burn and you find the perfect outfit on the first try.   You get out of the door with time to spare and notice that your hair looks almost perfect in your rear view mirror.

You run some errands.   Everyone is pleasant.  Traffic is light and you find a nice shaded parking spot.  You’re in a marvelous mood.  That’s a pretty easy accomplishment when everything is going your way.

Then boom, out of the blue, just like that it can all change.  The day that was so agreeable just a few moments ago takes a turn for the worse.  Sometimes its a call or a text.  At other times, it is something more subtle and sneaks up behind you and grabs you before you know what hit you.

Either way, from this point forward something shifts, the atmosphere around you that was filled with peace and hope now feels like turmoil and dread.   Your once sincere smile turns into a pinched and pained one.  Tension hovers over you like a cloud ready to burst.

It is what you do at this point that sets your course.  You can choose door number one, the one our flesh wants to chose every time, and open it up to continued strife.  You can embrace the sour mood, wallow in the unpleasantness, welcome the surly attitude and guarantee more negativity.

Or you can choose door number two, and press in to prayer and worship.  Find your strength, peace and love in Christ and let Him be your rock.  Lift your head up, forgive quickly, remember to Whom you belong and encourage yourself!  Amaze yourself (and others) in your reaction to what the enemy tried to use to defeat you.

I’m learning to choose the second approach and save myself a lot of stress and grief (and repentance).  I don’t always succeed but I can definitely say my percentage is improving and that’s a start.   Mom always said, “it’s the little foxes that spoil the vines”.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Optic Flow

cardinal

At lunch today, I enjoyed warm sun, a nice breeze and fresh air; an elixir guaranteed to induce tranquility and on occasion deeper than normal thought.

The chair I was lounging in was positioned so that I could look across the creek to a more densely wooded area.  Although there is a small clearing, the foliage is pretty dense, so I have never seen much except a few birds and a lone raccoon foraging for food.  Birdsong is plentiful from that direction though and today with me having just scared all the black birds away from my cardinal feeder and scattering over there, it was exceptionally loud.

There are always multiple bird species around, but today I noticed something I had never paid attention to before.  I was watching a particular bird fly from somewhere behind me into the wooded area and I noticed that he flew into the foliage and managed to dodge branches without even slowing down.  Having just watched the raccoon pick its way along the branches and move along carefully, the difference was made all the more obvious.

So, once again, I sat amazed at the wonders of our Creator.  I googled it later and found out that birds do this by a trick of the eye called optic flow.  Optic flow is the way our eyes perceive motion as we travel thru a landscape.  It is the illusion that trees and buildings are passing us by; the greater the optic flow the more quickly things seem to be moving.  Below is a short pbs.org video, in case you are interested in knowing more.

Optic Flow Video

As I sat and thought about this, it reminded me how the bird fully trusts his Creator; he forges on ahead using the talent God gave him.  And as God cares for this little bird, He cares for me.  He sees every obstacle ahead and prepares me to meet them head on.  I just have to do my part and trust Him every step of the way.

Matthew 6:25-27 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

The Anything But Ordinary Day

13511042_10154214939926763_6505748762857644676_n

Today started out like most ordinary Fridays, with me peering through half closed eyes at the clock to check the time, then realizing its almost seven and feeling like I’m wasting the day away.  I stumbled to the bathroom and on to the kitchen for coffee.  Thursday is my Friday, so today I allowed myself to sleep late (for me) and take my time getting the day started.

Most Friday’s I do errands and this day would be no exception.  As I journeyed to town, I took the time to thank God for the beauty all around me and to ask for His mercy throughout the day.  I thanked Him for loving me and loved on Him as I enjoyed the view and the drive.  I felt such peace and such a spirit of gratitude enveloped me.  I determined in my heart that nothing would take that perfect peace away today.

I thought of a quote I had read this morning that said something about how we could be standing right next to someone who is completely broken and never even know it.  I would approach others with this thought in mind and show love.

As I drove on, I didn’t sense any agitation over other drivers or traffic.  I had a busy day ahead and many things to do, but I turned up “The Message”, sung along and resolved to do each errand without rushing and with patience and kindness.

Part of my list today included picking up some of my granddaughter’s medications.  This can be a test in and of itself because often they aren’t ready, doctor hasn’t approved yet, they require a specialty pharmacy or a compound pharmacy (all things I would have never known about until Cali).   I called the farthest pharmacy away (the compound pharmacy) and although that one wasn’t ready yet, they said they would text me when it was.  My first actual stop was another pharmacy.  The prescriptions weren’t quite ready here either, but they told me to come in and by the time I got to the counter, they would have them.  They weren’t all covered by insurance, but the cashier offered to find a coupon that saved me $20.

One of these meds needed to be refrigerated, so I bought an inexpensive cooler and ice and was on my way to grab lunch.  My hubby’s business needs required my next two stops and I found what I needed without delay and readied myself to kill time waiting on the other prescription.  But, I got a text hours earlier than anticipated and proceeded to the other place, where everything was ready.

I went on about my day and every single conversation and experience was a pleasure.  Traffic seemed to be waiting to give me the best spot in line; everyone was kind and helpful and returned my smiles.  At my last stop, I talked to lady who was busily stocking shelves and she gave me a much appreciated compliment and then at the checkout I got to hear a story about a man who is helping build homes in earthquake devastated countries.

I left there with a grin on my face and the realization that today had been an extraordinarily good day; a day filled with peace and laughter.    Many days are filled with impatience and agitation.  Some “errand Fridays” I complain about traffic, rude people, long lines and anything else I can think of.  Today, I didn’t!

Yes, I know that all days aren’t amazing and bad things happen, and we are faced with trials and troubles.   However, I also know that how you approach your day makes a big difference in the outcome.  Oh, the problems are going to show up.    It’s how we deal with them that matters.

If I mediate on and implement the scriptures that say “love is patient and kind and long suffering” and the ones that say “think on good things” and “say things that edify others and build them up”, I know without a shadow of a doubt my day is going to go better than if I gripe, grumble and complain and look for the bad.  If I meet others with a long face or a scowl, guess what I will probably get in return?  If I greet the day with a grateful heart, thankful that I am saved by grace and given this precious gift that comes with such amazing peace I am much more likely to stay on the positive side of things.

As I sit here, errands done and the day winding down to a close I am thanking God again for His many blessings and for this anything but ordinary day.

The other side of the fog

Sunday morning Word

This morning I was studying the story of Joseph from his coat of many colors and the telling of his prophetic dreams, to the jealous brothers casting him into a pit, and then selling him into slavery.  But all along God had a plan and He positioned Joseph to save Egypt and Canaan from famine.  A good outcome didn’t look possible to the human eye, guided by the flesh.

I was reminded of one of my recent trips to Miami to be supportive to my youngest daughter and visit my almost 8 month old granddaughter, struggling with an infection in her lungs.  Since her diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis, she has fought and won many battles in the short time she has been around to bless us.  I attribute this to many prayers.

On the particular morning, the fog was thick and blanketed everything for miles.  My travelling progress was impeded as I slowly navigated my way through the unknown.  Visibility was limited, and I found myself a little nervous because I couldn’t see the cars coming toward me from miles away and I was unsure of what was creeping up behind me until the headlights broke through the fog.  I found myself focusing on the fog and its dangers, ready for the sun to break through and begin to burn it all away.

I felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit as I realized that once again, God was trying to teach me something.  You know, if we slow down and pay attention long enough, we can hear that still small voice.

Such is life.  In this journey through the vast unknowns with Cali, I know that on the other side of it, there is clarity.  I cannot begin to figure it all out now, to predict what is coming or to visualize the hidden hazards along the way.  I can apply this to so many situations in life; those where I can barely navigate on a daily basis, much less discern the outcome.

But, this I do know; on the other side of the fog, there is a Son and He always burns for me.  His will may not be understandable at times, the outcome may not always make sense to me, but I will continue to live in the knowledge that He wants the best for me.  In the midst of a broken, fallen world, He is my hope, my strength and my refuge.

Remember, it was never God’s intention that we live in a broken, fallen world that is filled with sin and hurt and hate.  And, He loved us enough to send His Son, to give us a chance at redemption, restoration and an eternal life, a life much more important than the short one we will live out on this earth.

Rain or shine

Storms never last

It was a muggy Sunday afternoon and the steam rose up from the pavement as I traveled towards Miami to visit my granddaughter in the hospital.

Thankfully, I was nice and chilly thanks to my Explorer’s air conditioning unit.  As I took in the beauty around me and prayed for our little Cali and other needs, I remember becoming very aware of a Florida weather phenomenon if you will.

One minute it was raining, pelting down all around me, wipers rushing side to side on high speed, struggling to keep up with the falling drops.  The next minute, the sun was peeking out, I caught glimpses of that steam rising, and I could see blue skies ahead.  Then again suddenly, the clouds overhead would fight to shed their moisture, seemingly all on in one area and then I would burst forth out of the deluge again and readjust the wipers.  As soon as I thought we were down to that low intermittent speed, the skies would open up again.

If you are from Florida or traveled Florida much in the summer, you are likely shaking your head in agreement, as the same thing has happened to you.  Maybe it happens in other places too, but I’ve only experienced it in my home state.  Rain is pouring down on my neighbor and my grass and foliage is begging for a drop.

Anyway, all of this is occurring as I am fervently praying for answers and help with all of the complicated little vignettes of drama in my life.  The same thing occurs 4 or 5 times, and I was beginning to think it was getting a little creepy like I was in the twilight zone.   Finally I go through what was to be the last storm and I see the light…the sunlight and no more clouds.  I see perfectly beautiful, clear skies with no rain in sight.   I feel like God is showing me that there will be days of rain and days of sunshine, there will be storms, there will be times when you aren’t sure what to expect but in the end you will make it through.  There will be days of bright sunshine again.

Then I feel that peace, that wonderful peace that always assures me He has heard my cries.  And I know that he will continue to give me strength for the journey.

Blessings!

The Godly Chic Diaries

GRACE FOR PURPOSE

Daily Doodle

Art doesn't have to be worthy to be worth sharing

The Anonymous Writer's Notebook

Create, Share, Inspire

Jo Ann Maxwell

How a diagnose of a chronic disease turned my world upside down.

Let The Light In ~ Reflections

Reflections of a Christian (Cafeteria) Roman Catholic on Religion, Faith and Life Today

The Meat & Potatoes of Life

By Lisa Smith Molinari

The Shepherd's Presence

Living under the guidance of the Good Shepherd. All of living should be lived in light of God's Word. I enjoy taking life's litte parts and making them practical, yet have spiritual depth.

Laura's Lens

Taking a look at the beauty around us

Trailing Ellipsis...

Pausing Every Day To Find Jesus On The Trail

Believe.

Let your children believe.

Artsy Wanderer

a stroll through life

Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

Join the celebration of Jane Austen novels, movies, sequels and the pop culture she has inspired

average2athlete

EAT like an Athlete, TRAIN like an Athlete, THINK like an Athlete...BE an Athlete.

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Long walks and dark chocolate

Life as a wife, mom, nana and follower of Christ; hoping to share from lessons learned

This Caring Heart

From a heart that cares ... sometimes too much

Good Time Stories

Inspiring and Heartwarming Stories

%d bloggers like this: