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New Year New You

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I don’t know what it is about a New Year starting, but it just feels like when those four digits switch from one year to the next, that I am given the right to leave whatever I did not like in the prior year and start things I do like in the new year.

It is crazy. In November, Thanksgiving is like the kick off for the family holidays. From that moment, all the way up to December 25, we spend planning grand events with family to make memories for years to come. Then immediately, the day after Christmas I wake up thinking about the New Year.

My mind immediate races with thoughts on what I want the New Year to hold for me personally. I donmental clutter stress overload overwhelm’t know about y’all but I am like a kid in the candy store with my ideas. As my ideas are fed by the sugar from the candy store I walk outside and go to the amusement park. At the amusement park my ideas jump on rides going all over the place.

I have a billion ideas running through my mind, okay maybe not a billion, I start to feel a little pressured due to time. I mean I have less than a week to get a plan in place to make these ideas reality.

By January 1 those ideas are usually not written down and surely not planned out.

How many of you do this? The excitement of the New Year has you busting at the seams. It makes you feel like you are going to be able to accomplish any and everything that you think of.

This year in this chaotic New Year mind game I do every year I caught myself. I had to ask myself, “Wendy, how many of those ideas are you really going to accomplish?” “How many of those are ideas towards the big goal you have?” “How many of those goals are just to say you did it?” But the one question that I asked myself that was the most important question was, “Wendy, how many of those ideas are part of God’s plan for your life?”

I could not answer.

a239715e10c34e3df5313612c16cb8f8--challenge-group-saving-moneySo here I am taking the month of January to seek after what God is saying He has for me and my family in 2018 so we can go after it with all our heart.

As I reflect in my own life, usually the goals I make for a new year that do not become reality are because they are not the ones God has for me. Instead of accomplishing just a couple of goals, I accomplished none of the goals. I am too busy chasing after all these other goals and trying to take on more than I can handle.

See when getting rid of the old and walking into the new it is easy to talk about. It is easy to even start. But to actually carry out what God has said He wants from you takes commitment. A commitment that requires discipline. Rejection. Missing out hanging with others because God is trying to work something new in you that takes your time to make the goals attained.

Truthfully, I knew what God wanted but fear held me back and all the other ideas that came were intriguing to pull me away from what I really wanted.

However, this year I have decided I will no longer chase after all the ideas that keep me running in circles that lead to nowhere. This year I am facing the fear and dread I have and going after what God has said to do.

Maybe you are someone that makes goals every year but they never happen. Then I ask you join this journey with us as we encourage and support one another to get us to our heart desires.

If you said YES then get your running shoes out, lace them up, tie a double knot, and get ready to chase after what you have dreamed of for years in 2018.

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Our first mission on this race is to take the time to open up so others know what they are going through there is someone else out there going through it to. So take a minute to answer just one question and response to one other person.

I can’t wait to read your responses.

  1. What is one New Year goal you really want to attain?
  1. How many of your New Year goals become reality?
  1. At the end of the year does it make you said that you did not accomplish what you set out to do in the beginning of the New Year?
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Nothing There

Okay, so in my first blog “Stray Dog” I pointed out we get strays in abundance. Well, a seed from that abundance has landed again. Which has gleamed insight on walking life out in faith.

Our house is situated a distance off from the road. There is a long, red dirt path lined with trees that leads up to an older, white frame, two story house. Mostly, when people let their dogs go on our street, it’s at the end of our driveway. Filled with anxiety the dogs stay in one location, not even trying to get past the gate that blocks trespassers.

They stay in that area for three days. Believing their former owner will turn back for them. Then reality sinks in, along with the stomach cramps of starvation, and they act on finding food and a place to reside.

img_1545-1Although, this time the story is slightly different.

After three days, the stray dog still had not moved to find her way to the house. It is summer in Texas, with temperatures passing 100 degrees. I grew concerned that the dog would become dehydrated. The images of her never moving from there appeared in my mind. She will starve herself to death waiting on her previous masters. I could not figure out why she would not join us at our home.

Baffled.

When we get out to retrieve the mail or newspaper we talked kind to her. Petted her. Told her to follow us. She would get excited to visit us. Wag her tail. She seemed as if she knew we were for her.

I could not take it anymore I gathered up food and water. Walking to where she was. As my daughter presented her the food, she ate it in record time. Afterwards, she lapped up the water as if she had nothing for days. I felt this would alter her judgment about walking to our house.img_1554-1

Nevertheless, after a couple days she still had not come.

In my heart, I knew if she would move up the driveway to take notice of the house, pond, and the other dogs she would give up that area.

I ended up taking food down there to show her the way to the house with a food trail. I reached my hand out to her, let her sniff the dog food, patted her, and reassured her how good of a dog she was. Laid a handful of food down for her to eat. After she ate, I gently stroked her fur, reminding her I was proud of her. I stepped distances in front of her in the direction towards the house, placing more food down. We continued this for a limited time. Going away from the gate. She would turn her head around, gaze at the gate. Reason about traveling back. Glance at me. Think twice about the food, and continue with what we were carrying out. We advanced half way down our driveway with food still in my hand. I perceived we would reach the house and she would understand how great it was to stay. Instead, half way down, at the curb, she turned around and walked toward the gate.img_1559-2

I guessed it was too soon. Saying, “Tomorrow I will attempt it again.” The following day I tried again. The results were the same. I questioned why she chooses to return to a place that was empty. No food, water, or people to give her love.

On one occasion, I observed underneath her that it was obvious she had puppies. I simply concluded she was a mom wanting her babies. Therefore, she could not give up the chance of returning to them. She had to get back for when the former owners returned.

One time, as I was working on getting her to the house, I watched her keep turning her head looking back. Finally, she gave into her thoughts and walked away from the house and back to the gate. In this picture before me was a display of God extending His love to us, and we decline it to go back to a point that is empty.img_1556-2

God will present a way He desires us to follow. Through the path, what is to come is unclear. All that is in our view is a dirt road and trees. God sees we need encouragement along with some cheerleaders to follow this route. He surrounds us with individuals just loving on us. Cheering us on. Telling us we can do it. Being there when we are at our weakest and fear has taken the greatest of us. People feeding us when we cannot provide for our self. On the trail, we stop. We turn our head and look behind. Then we glance forward. In that split second, we convince our self to return to the past because people and things are waiting on us. If we don’t go back, we will miss them when they show up. Therefore, we walk back to what is familiar, presuming the existence of something is still there. Only to realize, emptiness is all that is waiting for us.

In Ezekiel 20:6 ESV God informs us He will lead us out of the land of Egypt (our former ways not of God), into a land that is beyond what we have experienced.

“On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands.”

He does not just show us this is Ezekiel He assures us in:

Exodus 3:8

Jeremiah 32:22

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

Exodus 3:17

God informs us that this land, that we cannot see, is abundant in love. A lifestyle of richness, not necessary rich as one might imagine with wealth. Instead waking up excited to face the day. When somebody claims something offensive to you, your joy responses in compassion. The most glorious of all the lands. If I dwell in a place where people and the environment bring me down, it indicates it will be greater. If I remain in a place that I come up empty, with the people I hang with or the places I go, the new location will enhance my fullness. A place I remain satisfied and content. Where I hang around people or go places that have me overflowing with goodness.

Reflecting on how this dog prefers returning to a place of emptiness it leads me to pray for God to search me. When I am walking forward in faith but I turn to look back believing there is something there waiting on me. Finding any state of emptiness in me. Asking God to provide the courage to cling to what He has declared. Coming into what God has that is “the most glorious of all lands”, an area beyond my imagination.

Prayer: Dear Lord, when I cannot make out what is ahead and the suffering of where I am speaks louder than your promises. I ask that you quiet the voices of pain and bring in remembrance Your Word, giving me strength like I never have had. So, I can overcome the battle, walking fiercely towards all you have sworn. In Jesus Name, Amen

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. If you are unsure where to start here are questions to help you get going:

  1. Do you have a suggestion for the dog’s name in the picture?
  2. Do you believe God keeps His promises? Is there an area in your life God has promised you one thing but you return to something contrary to what He has said?
  3. Is there an area in your life that you are trying to walk forward but you keep looking back, thinking if you do not stay you will miss out? Explain.

 

Listening To God

Life with a Boom!

It is Summer! image3

Time for outside entertainment. Barbecues. Swimming. Hanging with friends. Then right in the center of all the summer fun is July 4. A moment of remembrance for American’s Independence, celebrated with fireworks.

Fireworks where families travel to see a magnificent extravaganza. Fireworks people go buy, putting on their own personal show.

For our family, we do them ourselves. There are two holidays you will find us at the waterfront setting off fireworks. Although, there are years, due to planned activities, we go elsewhere to enjoy them.

image1 (4)This year, with my son away at camp, my daughter and I elected to go to Fair Park in Dallas, to view the fireworks. We had gone several years prior and started remembering the wonderful day we had. As we conversed about the memories, it was the most pleasant experience in our life. Then with concern in my eyes I questioned, “Do you remember the traffic to get out of Fair Park?” My patients could not handle her delay response, “It took us over an hour to get out of the parking lot. As we sat in the same area, in a hot car, filled with gas vapors from other engines, while we were amused by people playing soccer and football.”

After recalling the incident, I was not convinced going to Fair Park was an excellent decision. But my daughter had put on “the look”. You are aware of the look? Where no sounds are heard but the facial expression produces the silent phrases, “Mom this is such a great idea and I would be heartbroken if you broke these plans.” Yeah, so my brain went to work. Trying to figure out how to overcome the obstacle of getting out of Fair Park after the 4th of July firework display.image2 (1)

We considered many solutions, but agreed that we would have a picnic by the lagoon while basking in the evening. We had it thought out. A blanket to sit on. Dinner outside. Card games as we waited. My favorite, observing people around us. Surely, we could get out of the park within reasonable time.

As the evening unfolded, our plans went contrary to what took place. Our picnic turned to eating inside a fast food restaurant. We ended up parking inside Fair Park, opened the rear door of my CRV and watch fireworks from my vehicle.

Yet our plans varied, I was still seeking the strategy to defeat the difficulty of getting out with little wait time.

image2The distances to exit Fair Park was visible from where we were. I parked, so all I had to do was travel straight to the gate with no reverse action. Told my daughter when the Fireworks are over close the doors and we will go as quick as we can to the gate.

We were set.

Fireworks ended and our course of action begin. As I drove through the gates to leave with no traffic, I could hear trumpets going off in my ears.

But there was one issue. I did not realize the street I turned on you could simply go left or right. My intention was to go straight. As I pulled closer to the light I had a choice to make. Right, which would bring me into the Fair Park traffic and was the route towards going home. Or left away from the Fair Park traffic. I picked left. 

Turning left only brought me to the unavoidable traffic. My car claustrophobia set in and my strong will felt crushed. I became aggravated, frustrated, angry, and disappointed in myself. To escape having to sit in traffic, and my struggle within myself, I would turn on a street in which I was convinced was the way to get out. Only to make a full circle and be taken right back to where I was. Eventually I yielded, with my daughter’s aid, and remained in the traffic.

What I preferred to not deal with, I ended up facing… sitting in traffic for over an hour after enjoying the firework display at Fair Park.

When I came upon the freeway to freedom I was so furious at myself. My meditations were induced with negative thoughts about myself. Wendy, if you had turned right instead of left you would not have made circles all over Dallas just to get home. If you would have given further regard to the routes, this would not have occurred. 

With sorrowfulness in my soul we made it home. I was worn out. The reality that it was late was an insignificant percentage to why I was tired. I was mentally broken down and weakened. All I longed for was to lay down and escape.

As I crawled in bed, I picked up my phone to go though mindless post on Facebook. The first post in my feed was about a shooting at McDonald’s by Fair Park. Not only a shooting, but a gang fight. One that created chaos. People running away from the shots being fired and into the street.

Instantly, I took a deep breath and became thankful.

See if I turned right I would have been in the center of that, I know I checked the time. Instead I turned left and believed I made the worse decision in my life. But, it was the best decision, even though it did not look that way as I went through it.

In Psalm 32:8 it reads, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

I have been going through the Psalms which states on many occasions about God being with us and having His eye upon us. As I read that post about the shooting and fight I could not push back remembering how God’s eye is upon me. But in my anxiety and uncertainty I mentally take a sword out. Then in my thoughts start negativity cutting at my worth when it does not look as if I heard correctly, yet God clearly said it. In addition, I make every effort to get out of the precise place God permits only for me to end up right back in the place I left.

When listening to God on most occasions it’s like taking a left at the light instead of a right. I do not completely comprehend why He took me the way He did, until after it is all over.

In the comment section below share your thoughts over what your read. Here are some questions to help you get going:

1.)    How do you spend July 4th?

2.)    Have you ever thought you were going the wrong direction in life, or in a situation, to only find out you were exactly where God wanted you to be? Explain.

3.)    During times of uncertainty, or you think you have heard God wrong, how do you respond?