100 Beautiful Days -Day Sixteen

Day sixteen –

I have a new friend!  Well, technically she is a new co-worker, she lives on the other side of the country, and I’ve never met her in person. But hey, she’s my new friend nonetheless! I’ve spent countless hours this week visiting with her by phone, Skype and Zoom and we have forged quite a bond over spreadsheets, computer issues and the like.

So yesterday, after a long zoom meeting with my new co-worker, I was doing a little happy dance about having a new friend.  My family was just looking at me like I had lost my mind! (I don’t think they believe that friendship is classified as remote meeting with someone over the computer

But…something you need to know about me is I love to collect people!!  I know that sounds odd, but let me explain.  Some people have collections of sports memorabilia, antiques or even little what nots, but I have none of those. I collect people!  Meeting new people and making new friends is at the top of my favorites list and I tend to meet someone once or twice, quickly become attached and claim them as my friend.  I can’t decide if that makes me nice or creepy.  Either way – people make my heart happy.

So – I’ve been excited to visit with my new friend/co-worker but all of our meetings have either been over the phone or non-video skype calls. Yesterday was the first chance I had to meet with her by Zoom meeting and see her face. Oh, the fun to finally have a face to put with the name/voice.

As I finished up my meeting yesterday and was doing my happy dance, it hit me: wow! If I am this excited about visiting with Julia after many conversations of just hearing her voice and finally getting to put a face with her name, how much more exciting will it be when I see my Savior face to face? After all these years of knowing Him, listening to His voice, and operating out of faith, won’t it be wonderful when our faith is made sight? What a beautiful thought! I had to sit down and really let that sink in.

In that same thought, I realized that many of the people I have collected will be there when I arrive. The celebration will be big, and the happy dance will be real! Oh, they joy!!

So now I ask you – what beautiful thought brought you happiness today, and made your feet want to do a little jig? In what way are you really being pushed to walk by faith in this season? What can you let remind you that right now you walk by faith, but someday your faith will be made sight?

If all else fails, call up your mobile help line and chat with a service representative whose face you can’t see, and let it remind you of this story… but don’t tell them I sent you!

100 Beautiful Days – Day Fifteen

Day fifteen –

There was a birthday in our house yesterday!  Oh, the joy!!

Anytime there is a birthday in our house the fun is over the top.  There are streamers and candles and cake and celebrations galore.  Endless amounts of attention are given to the birthday boy or girl and they get to choose the activities for the day.

Birthday’s make my heart incredibly happy and I absolutely love to celebrate my people.  I just see that special day as a chance to be thankful for another year together and it’s just not something to be taken for granted.

So – for the man of the house – who had a big birthday yesterday, we brought everything to a screeching halt and just spent the day letting him choose what we would do.  He had asked for a “cake size version” of a Hostess cupcake.  He used to carry them in his lunchbox as a kid and he thought that sounded fun.

Well, we’ve already established that my cooking skills are slim to none but baking has always kind of been my thing so…I determined to give him the cake of his dreams.  The girls and I hit the kitchen and started baking! Four round chocolate cakes, marshmallow, powdered sugar, heavy cream and butter for the filling and four containers of chocolate icing!!  THE YUMMINESS OF IT ALL!!

We were stacking and filling and icing and getting so excited when suddenly we realized that we needed to put the cake on my lovely cake pedestal for better appearance.  So – we all gathered around (yes it took all five of the family members), we contemplated and calculated and counted and held our breath.  FLIP……….FLOP!!

We made it over from pan to pedestal but one side of the cake was compromised and out started oozing our yummy cupcake filling.  Admittedly we were sad but there really wasn’t time to notice the emotion because we were all too busy rolling on the floor laughing.

So, what set out to be a cool “cake version” of a Hostess Cupcake ended up being a “bowl version” of a Hostess cupcake.  I guess that makes it a bowl cake.  Truly it was a Pinterest fail

My husband was an excellent sport and even said it reminded him of what his cupcakes used to look like by lunchtime, after they had been carried to school, shoved in a locker and smashed.

We all agreed it was much better that it turned out this way because oh, the memories we made, and the cake was delicious!  What a beautiful day when we can celebrate the people we love and make wonderful memories along the way!

How do you celebrate your people on their birthdays?  Maybe next time you can try a cupcake cake too!

 

100 Beautiful Days – Day 14

Day fourteen –

If you’ve been reading my blog since the first one in this series then you have officially invested two weeks into 100 Beautiful Days!  If that’s you then – thanks so much!!

Now that we’ve come this far I wanted to stop and explain just a little about why I started the series in the first place.  It’s honestly been on my heart for over a year but I just couldn’t find the space in my world to commit to it the way I wanted, so I’ve had to wait.

The idea started because there are so many people in my life walking through difficult circumstances (me included).  Some have suffered through an unexpected death of a loved one, some are fighting cancer battles, others are in a season of loneliness and some are just walking through a life that doesn’t look like they thought it would at this point. In each of these situations just putting one foot in front of the other has often been hard but time and again I’ve watched the power of faith, gratitude and positivity move them forward.

Digging deep and finding one small positive moment in a day, otherwise dark with pain, brings hope and keeps us from drowning in difficulty.

 As I’ve watched these people in my life struggle, it caused me to think of how, so very often, we perceive the absence of hard circumstances to equal being blessed.  I don’t know that we teach this necessarily but somehow it is perceived nonetheless. Friends!  Let me make one thing very clear, the absence of struggles does not equal a blessed life!  It simply does not.  Do not buy that lie!  In fact, the older I get, the more I understand that blessings are very often the hard, difficult seasons of life that come our way.  Through those seasons we grow and refine our faith.

That’s why in 100 Beautiful Days it won’t always be “beautiful” because my life is a busy, crazy, chaotic, challenging, perfectly wonderful less than perfect life.  I choose to see the beauty in every day but that does not mean every day is beautiful.  The beauty is in finding the good in those I meet and in seeing God’s hand in every day that I live.

Sometimes we can see the bright spots and silver linings on our own but sometimes…when life really beats us up…we need someone to come along beside us, reach out and take our hand and help us see the light at the end of the tunnel.  That’s why we’re here, me and you.  I needed to focus my vision on the positive, journal the beauty in the hard places and I wanted you to come along too!

God tells us to encourage one another.  In fact, in Hebrews the word says “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

100 Beautiful Days is my way of “stirring us up”.   It was born out of my heart’s desire to encourage you –to encourage me – and to challenge us all to see life with childlike eyes and imagination.  To celebrate the little things, be thankful for the good and see beauty in the hard.

Well, there you have it – the story behind 100 Beautiful Days.   So, grab your coat and comfy shoes, some road snacks and lots and lots of coffee and let’s keep on this beautiful wonderful, perfectly imperfect joyful journey together.

 

100 Beautiful Days – Day Thirteen

Day 13

As I write tonight my house is quiet, the large clock in my living room is the only sound outside of the clicking of computer keys.  Tick – tock, tick – tock, tick – tock.  That clock reminds me that I’m waiting – I’m in a waiting season – time is ticking and I wait.

Friend – are you waiting too?  Is there a miracle that you need to see happen or maybe a promise that needs to be fulfilled? Are you down on your knees every day just begging for God to move mountains on your behalf, to intervene in a situation that desperately needs his attention?

I’m there – I’m in that season and it isn’t a new place, I’ve been here before.  I’ve got journal entries to prove it and Bible scribblings to back it up.  If you haven’t been here you will be and if you’ve been here before you most likely will be here again.  Waiting, clinging, praying, holding out hope.

These seasons of waiting are beautiful and ugly all at the same time.  They push me forward and pull me backward, they lift me up and bring me down they make me weak but then oh how they make me strong, so very strong.

The assurance that we have is that God is in the middle of the waiting.  He hasn’t left me and he hasn’t left you.  Oh, it will feel like he has and Satan will want you to believe that he has but know this…he has not!  There are lessons to be learned and there is growth to be accomplished and so the waiting must go on.

We are in good company in this season of waiting – so many have gone before us.  Abraham, Joseph, Job, Moses, Paul.  Giants of faith and masters of waiting! 

 As I wait, I remember who God is and how much he loves me. When I feel anxious, I pray. When I feel unworthy, I pray. When I feel afraid that the outcome won’t be what I want it to be, I pray.  I pray, very often, in the middle of the night in this quiet room with the ticking clock. The ticking that reminds me we are getting closer – the day of answered prayer awaits.

The beauty of this waiting season is how very close it draws us to our father. In the middle of the waiting is the knowledge that the outcome is not the big picture, knowing him better and loving him more…that’s the big picture.

 While I wait, I remind myself of all he has done before and I look back on other seasons of waiting and take note of how he answered those prayers.  I don’t know that he will answer these prayers in the same way but I do know that he will answer.  I don’t know what he wants me to learn in the middle, but I know I’m willing to learn it. I don’t know what the outcome looks like but I know he’s there, on the other side of this season of waiting.

As I wait today the Lord and his goodness and his peace washes over me like a mighty river.  I know that he is moving, I know that he has a plan and I know that I can trust it.  In the quiet of this house the ticking of that clock does not rattle me or make me feel that time is running out.  It reminds me that the answer is coming, it is getting closer, the day of answered prayer awaits!

Be encouraged my friend, on this night with the beautiful moon, that as you wait he waits with you.  The creator of heaven and earth fights for you, loves you and waits with you! There is no beauty greater than that!

100 Beautiful Days – Day Twelve

Day twelve

What is it that you need today friend? Are you walking a hard road with demands and expectations constantly weighing you down?  Is your family struggling with difficult decisions or broken relationships?  Maybe your world is spinning in the right direction but you have people depending on you to care for their needs and watching them grow older is breaking your heart.  Maybe a happily ever after is not turning out so happy and you are left picking up the pieces.

I want you to know that whatever it is, good or bad, God sees you and he knows your need.

When we walk through hard seasons sometimes we feel all alone.  We feel like God has left us or that he’s been caught off guard by our situation as much as we have.  The longer the situation lingers we feel hopeless and even angry, as if God sees us but refuses to act.

Let me promise you friend, God is not refusing to act but rather he is constantly working behind the scenes, moving the pieces of our lives around to create a beautiful picture. Our eyes can’t see all that He is doing on our behalf but by faith we must trust that he remains in control.

Our feelings fail us and if we lean heavily in to them we will spend our days bouncing back and forth between faith and fear.  We must not let our feelings have control.  We must remember our knowledge of Christ, our understanding of his character, who he is and how very much he loves us, that he wants good for us and the ones we love, this is what we must lean in to and we must trust him with all of our heart and soul.

The road will be bumpy and often rough and we can only see one piece at a time and not the finished project but we can trust the one who knows exactly how our story ends.  I’m not going to tell you that it will always end in comfort and happiness.  Very often our stories end differently than we had hoped and certainly different than how we would have written them but when we know God and trust him, then we understand that our stories are far more secure in his hands than in ours.

Wherever you are today, whatever you are walking through believe that this is not the end but rather simply a pause.  Believe that he is working out the details of his next move and that his timing is so much better than ours.  Take a deep breath and trust him friend.  He won’t let you down.

100 Beautiful Days – Day Eleven

Day Eleven

Let me tell you a story about a lady who, just this very morning, woke up tired and a little grumpy. She was snuggled under warm covers with fluffy pillows and fuzzy socks and not one little bit did she want to get up. But, since she was a grown up with a grown-up job and grown up responsibilities she reluctantly climbed out of bed and got started on the day.

As she settled in to her office chair and started to work, she looked out the window at another gray, cold, windy day and wished the sun would shine, even if just for a little bit. She sighed a deep sigh and thought to herself “This weather won’t last forever, spring will come soon enough” and then she sighed again.

As the lady pulled her attention back to the computer on the desk in front of her, she saw something move out of the corner of her eye.  Looking back toward the window, she saw the tiniest little chickadee sitting on her windowsill.  The tiny bird was chirping and singing and jumping from place to place.  Soon the lady noticed other birds flying all around in the trees outside.  Male and female cardinals dashing in and out and all around the bird feeders that were hanging on the balcony.

Seeing these beautiful birds singing and flying with happiness and ease, she couldn’t help but think about the lesson they had to teach anyone who took the time to pay attention.  The birds didn’t seem to notice that the sky was gray or that the weather was cold and dreary.  They didn’t seem to complain that the bird feeder only had a few available perches for each to sit on, but instead they seemed to share without a fuss. It didn’t seem to bother the birds that the squirrels were waiting nearby for any little piece of seed that might fall to the ground and they didn’t even notice the dogs sleeping close to their beloved feeder.

Watching the birds, the lady couldn’t help but smile.  Not only did the energy and beauty of the birds warm her heart but their ability to be happy, when the world around them was less than lovely, served as a gentle reminder that people should do the same.  It reminded her that in the middle of difficult circumstances, pressing issues and trying situations we all have a choice to sing or go silent.  We can let the strong winds of life blow us down or we can lean in to them and let them help us soar like never before.

Turning her attention back to her work, her load felt a little lighter and joy filled her heart.  The birds stayed outside her window throughout the day and she reminded herself periodically to stop and watch them play. She was so very glad that she was a grown up, with a grown-up job and grown up responsibilities so that she could have a desk with a window beside it and beautiful birds outside.

Yes – this little story is about me and my beautiful Friday. I love how God shows up each and every day, with the tiniest little blessings, small encouragements to take heart and be of good courage and to always, always remember that he loves us so!

 

100 Beautiful Days – Day ten

Day 10

I see you friend, balancing a million balls in the air. Work, family, errands, school, homework, volunteering…the list goes on and on.  I see you and I get it. I’m right there with you. Life is busy and sometimes it feels like we are on a merry go round and can’t stop it long enough to step off.

But take heart…God has given us something wonderful to help us survive! I introduce to you…the dog!

 No matter how many times a day I come and go from my home, my dog is always sitting by the door waiting anxiously for me when I return. If I’ve been gone 5 minutes or five hours, her reaction to my arrival is the same every time.  Jumping, barking, running in circles, grabbing her sock for me to toss, and then of course, endless snuggles. It never gets old!

If I’m at home working, my little dog is right by my side changing rooms if I do.  If someone in the house is sick she dutifully lays beside them until they feel better.  She waits outside the bathroom door for me, lays in the kitchen floor while I cook, does tricks on command and is a wonderful listener.

She tolerates me putting goofy sweaters on her, forgives me when I buy the wrong dog food, gets straight A’s on her report card from the groomer and never complains when I ask her to run errands with me.

Today was a hard day in my land.  I’ve been balancing all of those balls all week and I’m running on empty. As I sat down with my computer to write about day 10, I wasn’t sure exactly what beautiful challenge or blessing I could share.  But then, my little Nickie dog curled up beside me, laid her head on my tummy and suddenly the cares of the day disappeared.

If you have a dog then you know exactly what I mean. You know that no matter how long your day has been, if you kept the balls balanced (or dropped a few along the way) your dog will still be waiting on you when you get home and love you unconditionally. And if you ask me, that’s a pretty beautiful thing!

 

P.S. – If you own a cat and not a dog…I’m sincerely sorry.