Tomorrow Will Be a New Day

Tomorrow Will Be a New Day

I don’t have a blog post to share today, but I would like to share a song I wrote. “Tomorrow Will Be a New Day” is a lullaby that I started writing bits and pieces of while rocking my grandson, Traxen, to sleep. I recently finished it, and I hope you enjoy it!

Lyrics: Lullaby, lullaby. Close your beautiful eyes, and dream the night away.

Lullaby, lullaby. Close your beautiful eyes. Tomorrow will be a new day.

Now it is time to rest and take deep breaths. Say our prayers, and God will listen.

It’s time to say, “Good night,” by the moonlight, while the shining stars twinkle and glisten.

Lullaby, lullaby. Close your beautiful eyes, and dream the night away.

Lullaby, lullaby. Close your beautiful eyes. Tomorrow will be a new day.

Tomorrow we will talk, and take a walk, and listen to the birds sing.

Let’s make a list of what to do all day and be sure to cross off everything.

The sun will rise, and light up the skies. We’ll have a delightful day.

And when it’s time for bed, you’ll lay down your sweet head. We’ll fold our hands and pray.

We’ll thank God over and over and over and over again for loving us so amazingly.  

Amen.

Lullaby, lullaby. Close your beautiful eyes, and dream the night away.

Lullaby, lullaby.  Close your beautiful eyes.  Tomorrow will be – 

Tomorrow will be – Tomorrow will be a new day.

Does God Care About Our Happiness?

Does God Care About Our Happiness?

Friends, this is my July contribution to devotableapp.com, a website I write for monthly. Check them out on their website, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter for daily inspiration!

A quick internet search on, “Does God care about our happiness?” displays titles of blog posts and articles that provide positive, negative, and “somewhere-in-the-middle” answers to that question. Some declare that God definitely wants us to be happy. Some assert that our happiness is likely not on His list of top concerns. And others make the case that He absolutely does not care if we are happy or not. 

Personally, I am going with the “somewhere-in-the-middle” answer.

Am I saying God does not want us to be happy? Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong. God cares deeply about each one of us, and Zephaniah 3:17 says He takes great delight in us. I certainly do not think He wants us to be unhappy!

I AM saying that in general, we have become a society that places our happiness (which is a feeling that wavers and waffles) as way too high of a priority. Statements such as, “I’m just not happy anymore,” “You no longer make me happy,” and “I just can’t remember what it feels like to be happy,” often precede unhealthy, self-centered thought patterns which can result in selfish, destructive decisions. It is not our spouse’s, kid’s, co-worker’s, friend’s OR God’s responsibility to make us happy or to keep us in a happy state. That is an unfair amount of misplaced pressure to put on anybody! 

I AM saying that joy and happiness are not the exact same thing. It makes me happy when I wake up to sunshine, breakfast in bed, or an encouraging message. My happiness may be affected if I wake up to dark skies, complaints, or a sharply-worded email, but I have a choice about whether or not I remain joyful in the midst of it all. Our temporary circumstances frequently seem to dictate the level of our happiness, but trust in an everlasting, eternal, and enduring God brings genuine joy.

I AM saying, “Friends, let’s be aware of what we are truly seeking!” If we seek happiness, our fickle feelings will prevent us from reaching the point we are striving toward. But knowing God is in control, and that He is willing to walk with us through anything we face brings a joy we can depend on to be an anchor in our life throughout all situations, even disappointment or disaster.

Enough about what I am saying…what does the Bible say? In God’s Word, it tells us that being in His presence and remaining in His love produces joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And John 15:10-11 says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

If we change our internet search and our focus to instead wondering what God truly does care about, we will find His concern is not whether or not we feel happy, but rather that we are seeking joy in His presence. That is definitely a joy worth searching for. 

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Years ago, whether our family was arriving home after a week-long vacation or a day-long excursion, our kids could accurately predict that the words out of my mouth as our car pulled into the garage would be, “Home sweet home.”

I have always loved going away. However, when it was time for a family trip to end, an undeniable joy would grow inside of me as our car neared our house. As much as I love family time in exciting locations, and even though these trips provide treasured memories to reminisce about, the truth is, I love being home even more. I feel comfortable, content, and cozy. I feel “at home.”

My husband and I have four children and two daughters-in-law, and all six of them are in varying stages of their college or career pursuits, which means “coming home” has an entirely new meaning these days. 

When our adult children come to our house to stay for a day or two, they open the refrigerator for refreshments and are aware that they are more than welcome to use any household items. It feels natural to them as they “make themselves at home,” and I would not have it any other way.

John 14:23 says, “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  Ephesians 2:22 says, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Clearly, God’s Word reminds us that we are to be a dwelling place for our Lord – that He is eager to make His home in us with His Spirit. 

What an unbelievable blessing that Jesus chooses to abide in us and take up residence in our lives. Regardless of the fact that we are unworthy of such a gift, He sincerely desires that our hearts will be His home. Friends, our Lord longs to “make Himself at home,” in us!

What are some ways that our hearts can be a more welcoming place for Him? Are we striving to live our lives in such a way that it will feel natural for Him to dwell in our hearts, as He opens our eyes to His plan for us and uses us for His glory?

As we boldly love Him and bravely live for Him, let our prayer be that we will be a “home sweet home” for Jesus Christ! 

Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts and Prayers

Lately, the phrase “thoughts and prayers,” has taken a verbal beating in some circles. Numerous times, the common social media response of, “My thoughts and prayers are with you,” has been mocked, belittled, or challenged.

Of course, there are occasions when the “thoughts and prayers,” response may be a trite, typed phrase with little to no real meaning behind it. However, there are many times it is said with the sincere motive of asking God to comfort and strengthen those affected by hardship and asking for wisdom to know how to be of assistance. And in those cases, hearing a sarcastic or angry complaint after telling someone they are being prayed for can definitely take the well-wisher off guard.

When a Christian says that their thoughts and prayers are with someone, it is not to relieve them of the responsibility of doing something beyond praying. 

Prayers are not being said to check off some “thing I need to say to make myself feel better,” box. I get the impression that when someone expresses that their thoughts and prayers are with a person, there are people who actually hear, “Now I have said I am thinking of them and praying for them, therefore, I can go about my business and act as if nothing is wrong and continue hoping for no change.”  For Christians, when a tragedy strikes and it is a situation that they are able and compelled to help with, thoughts and prayers come to mind first in order to get prepared to take action. Prayers preface action because the person praying desires to take action that will reflect what God is calling them to do. Prayers preface action because they desire to hear from God, who promises to give wisdom generously to all without finding fault, as found in James 1:5.

In John 16:33, Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart because He has overcome the world. Until the end of time, there will be tragedies and difficult situations and therefore, many reasons to pray. But thank God, also until the end of time, we can pray with confidence to God because He has overcome the world. Friends, keep praying! God hears. God cares.

How Are You Doing?

How Are You Doing?

How are you doing? It is a question that is easy for us to quickly answer most of the time. But for my daughter, Mallory, and others who have brain injuries, the reply depends on multiple factors. I would love to have an opportunity to give you an idea, to the best of my ability, to tell you “how she is doing.” 

Mallory suffered her 4th concussion in a basketball game in December of 2016, and her 5th in a car accident in February of 2017.  She has seen many professionals, all with the best intentions, but not all with positive effects. She has been prescribed various therapies, supplements, and medications with differing results. So far, many have made the “Not Effective” or “Made Her Feel Worse” lists. Right now she is in the midst of a couple new therapies that we are hopeful will give her a much prayed-for breakthrough.

Since December of 2016, she has struggled with a vast array of symptoms at different degrees of severity depending on several components including the time of day, how tired she is, how full her schedule is, and how much cognitive activity has taken place that day. 

There are bad days and there are “not-quite-as-bad” days, and rarely any indication of what kind of day it will be until she is smack-dab in the middle of it. Some symptoms she battles on a daily basis include a constant headache, fatigue, and insomnia. Also, her autonomic nervous system refuses to calm down, so she is constantly in fight or flight mode. She has short-term memory issues (the reason she writes in a notebook and types many reminders on her phone to keep track of what she needs to do that day, her homework assignments that are due, and even conversations that she has had because she is embarrassed when she repeats stories to people) soreness in her back, shoulders, and neck, because her brain is trying to coax her into the fetal position for protection purposes, focus problems, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to different sounds, sensitivity to overstimulation in her environment, anxiety, and because of the part of her brain that is injured, a difficult time trusting people. Add in the fact that she is a teenage girl and there is built-in stress with that and therefore…bad days can be, well, pretty bad. From my perspective, her “not-quite-as-bad-days” sometimes have me thinking (hoping) she is on the upward swing, when I can’t physically see her grimace in pain or suffer from fatigue, for instance. But it comes down to the fact that I often do not realize how bad her day has been since this young lady copes with her new life like a champ.

Quite possibly the most disturbing of all of her TBI effects is that Mallory feels like her brain belongs to someone else. She does not feel like herself anymore. She is on a roller coaster ride that she did not ask to get on. It’s as if her emotions, physical symptoms, and neurological functions conspired against her and boarded a different roller coaster that’s running right next to her. That ride is within reach, but she has no control over the ups, downs, twists, and turns.      

If you don’t mind, I would like to be “that mom” for just a few moments and say that brain injury is an invisible injury that doesn’t require a cast or crutches while healing, but it is just as real. I would like to shout from the rooftops that she is not faking it, it is not an attention-seeking ploy, she sometimes just needs a break from the world and to not take it personally, and, no she is not “lucky” that she has some school accommodations to help her cope with the fact that schoolwork is all of a sudden challenging. (She would much rather have a healthy brain and no accommodations, thank you very much.)  I want to say that because she seems happy-go-lucky one day and maybe not the next, it is to be expected, because it is a very up-and down-healing process. “That mom” in me wants you to know that she gears up for activities and does those activities to the best of her ability…but the “gearing up” takes a toll on her even before the activity begins, so after a busy week or a big event, her body and brain require extra time to get back to normal, or rather, whatever her new normal is.  “That mom” in me wants to say that the thing she wants the most from people is understanding. 

Mallory is attempting to figure out her new normal, and she is doing it while being a pretty amazing young lady.  She will soon be graduating high school and registering for college classes, she is involved in many music endeavors (I believe music is extremely therapeutic) she is on the local ambulance squad, she has started a blog (mallorythielgesblog.com) which I highly recommend checking out, and she does it all (most of it) with a smile. 😉

My husband and I have said that this is a whole new territory for us, and truth be told, we are getting educated on something we would rather have not known this much about!  However, the “all things work together for good” promise that God gives us in Romans 8:28 reminds us to look for the positives in this situation. The most important one is that Mallory’s faith and boldness in sharing with others about her faith have been renewed and revitalized. Engage her in a conversation, and you’ll likely be reminded of God’s plan and peace for your life. 

And that is my attempt to sum up how Mallory is doing. She is experiencing something she could be complaining about; something that could make her feel hopeless at times, but at the end of the day, she is finding and focusing on the positive. She is reminding others and herself of God’s plan and peace. And this mom thinks she is doing quite well.

 

Walking Partner

Walking Partner

I might just be the queen of allowing my feelings to get in the way of facts. I have a habit and a history of seeing my life’s circumstances in light of my emotions. However, a lifestyle in which my life’s circumstances are instead viewed by applying the Light of the World’s illumination is a goal I am praying about and pursuing.

Taking stock of what is happening through God’s lens instead of a “how I am feeling today” lens is valuable. And it is necessary. It helps us to confidently react based on the way God helps us see our situation, instead of allowing our emotions to dictate our response.

If I wake up each day and make a conscious decision to spend that day walking in God’s presence, I am much more likely to desire to live in a way that pleases God. One way that will be exhibited is that I will be more likely to react to challenges in a better manner. I will run my reactions through a filter of, “What is a Christlike approach to handling this situation?” rather than an “I handled that impulsively…how do I go back and fix what I did wrong?” filter.

When I think of walking with someone, I realize it is a conscious decision that takes action on my part. I have a walking partner. Years ago, we used to walk more often, but now because of busy lives, our walks have become a once-a-week commitment. We do not just “happen” to exercise together. It requires us to set our alarms, get out of bed a little earlier than usual, and don our exercise gear and walking shoes. Walking with God also requires a conscious decision…it does not happen by chance. We make a choice to take the steps toward God that prove our desire is to be right by His side. That is the best choice we can make each day. It is a choice that grants us an improved mindset and an increased sense of peace.

How beautiful it is to serve a God who is eager and willing to walk through this life with us step by step and to shed His light on our lives.

 

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 ESV

(This is my May contribution to Devotableapp.com –  a website full of encouragement!)

Do Not Trust In What You See

Do Not Trust In What You See

Recently, I wrote a song that contains the lyrics, “Do not trust in what you see,” in the chorus. God continually brings this phrase to my mind as I pray for my loved ones who are facing challenges. There have been instances in which I felt as if God forgot to intervene or chose not to, and that is when the words, “Do not trust in what you see,” have served as a reminder that He is constantly working in the lives of people we are praying for. However, it can be difficult to remain strong in our faith when He is working in ways that we cannot see.

The lyrics of the first verse are: “Looking at our problems with human eyes, we don’t always realize that God is a god of miracles; specializing in impossible. When it seems like He is far away, when you can’t grasp why life’s working out this way – if we love and live for Him it’s understood: He’s working all things for our good.” 

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” When I do not see (with my human eyes) situations “working together for good” for the people I love, I can easily allow my faith in my all-knowing God turn into doubt. Doubt about whether God is actually fulfilling the promise to work things together for good can begin to cloud my regularly unswerving faith. (You know, the faith that is unswerving as long as God is answering prayers the way I think He should…) However, His good and our good often have different definitions. 

Our definition of good stems from looking at our life solely from our perspective and seeing how certain answers to prayer would benefit the people we are praying for. Our definition is very limited in scope. God’s is not. His definition of good comes from the perspective of seeing the entire universe of people, whom He longs to bring to salvation, and intertwining our stories together to form a beautifully designed tapestry. A tapestry that brings glory to His name. A tapestry in which the goodness of His plans for each and every one of us is woven beautifully throughout. 

When we can get to the point at which we trust in the goodness of God’s plans instead of “what we see,” that is truly…good.

 

Lord, help us to believe that You are working in our lives and the lives of our loved ones even when we have difficulty seeing Your hands. Help us to not trust in what we see, but to instead trust in Your goodness and Your promises.

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