The Red Cup.

I have a confession. I just bought a Decaf Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. It was handed to me in their new, plain red cup. I drank it. And I Love Jesus.

I didn’t proclaim, “Merry Christmas” in the middle of the store (its November), tell them my name was Merry Christmas, or run around holding my baby girl above my head screaming, “WE LOVE JESUS!” And you know what, I didn’t feel slighted. I didn’t feel a direct attack on my faith. And in no way, did the removal of the Reindeer effect my love for Jesus Christ. In fact, my love for Jesus only continues to grow, every day that I spend with Him, despite my surroundings in this world.

But you want to know one thing. As I looked at that red cup sitting on the counter I did feel annoyed.. Maybe, even so much as disappointed at the man who caused the big stink over these cups. Granted I don’t know much about Starbucks as an entity but I can’t recall hearing them proclaim affiliation or know of them to be a Christian run and based business. So, why the fuss about them removing the Reindeer? And I hate to say this, but don’t we often hear complaints of people saying that Santa Claus, Reindeer, Christmas Trees, etc. detract from the main Reason for the Season, that being the birth of Jesus Christ!

Let me remind you, fellow lovers and followers of Christ. We are called to lead people to Jesus. We are called to be beacons of light upon a hill. We aren’t called to stir up animosity or get mixed up in the silly arguments about removing “Christmas from Starbucks cups.” We aren’t called to have thin skin, leaving us easily slighted. Rather we are called to be warriors. To take up the cross. To spread LOVE, not condemnation. And PLEASE do remember, that Jesus Christ, NEVER forced the Gospel upon any one. He never screamed “Merry Christmas” at the coffee baristas of His time. I will ensure you one thing… we WILL NOT further the Kingdom by forcing the Good News upon people. It is said, “I will stand at the door and knock.” Scripture doesn’t say, “I am coming to your door, move to the side because I’m kicking it down.”

Now, dear man who created this unnecessary stir at Starbucks… I feel for you. I understand how easy it is to get caught up in bologna. We all do it from time to time. But listen here, “Keep your eye on the goal. Keep your eyes focused on the One we serve.”

In the future, if it truly means that much to you (which is a whole other issue) as opposed to starting chaos and controversy slamming Starbucks new red cups why not put a spin on it and say,

“Thanks Starbucks, for the new red cups with a clean, blank surface reminding us of The One who was born on Christmas Day, who lived a life of humility and love, and who was crucified, and died to wash away the sins of the world… [WHO DIED to WASH AWAY MY INDIVIDUAL SINS], leaving us all a CLEAN, BLANK SLATE!”

Sorry about the rant. But come on people. I don’t mean to sound insensitive but It’s a RED CUP FROM STARBUCKS. Lets toughen up a little and stop allowing the enemy to play games. There are people in this world who are not only slighted for their faith, what they stand for or who they are, but are literally dying as martyrs because of their Love for Our Father, God. These are the situations and the problems that command our attention, not the design team of Starbucks new coffee cups.

 

Those 3 Words.

Truthfully, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience the blessings God has enabled me to achieve throughout my life. However, something happened yesterday that far exceeded any stage I ever competed on, any runway I have ever walked on, any photographer I ever shot with, any gymnastic coach I ever trained with… and any dream I have ever dreamed of.

Those 3 Words.My son, completely out of nowhere, hopped up on the couch, wrapped his little arms around my neck, and for the first time in his life said, “Momma. I love you.”

Okay, now speaking from experience – had someone told me 3 years ago this story,  my exact thoughts and words would have been, “Awww. How cute,” I would have smiled and that would have been that. I’ve never been a mushy person (aside from when it came to puppies). I’ve never been one to dish out,  the “I love you,” to just anyone, nor was I ever afraid to offer up the “Aw, thank you.” to a, what I believed to be, unwarranted, “I love you” from a beginning relationship.  I wasn’t opposed to love nor did I ever take “love” lightly. However, I am not sure that I ever realized how truly profound those three little words spoken, could be.

In the world we live in today, we all have a tendency to be selfish. Unfortunately, it stems from our very own sinful nature. We have a conversation, but most of the time we are “listening” for that pause that allows us to jump in and tell our OWN opinion, or our OWN story. What is it I want to say? We are constantly on the look out on how to better our OWN lives or situations? Our thoughts are often, “Am I loved?” “Am I happy?” “Am I successful?” “Am I being heard?”

As opposed to focusing our energy on, “Do we make those around us feel loved, appreciated, happy, complete,” our thoughts are more often, “Does he/she make me feel loved? Does he/she make me feel happy and appreciated?”

And we do the same with God. Yes, we might thank God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our lives. We might thank Him for walking us through troubled times. But so often our main concern is feeling His love for us. We think, “I feel so loved by God right now!” or, “Where is He? I feel like He has turned His back on me…Does He even love me?”

How often do we think about our love for and towards Him? This may sound crazy, but how often do we think about how our love makes God feel?

He longs for a relationship with us. He is our father. He calls us His children.

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.”  1 John 3:1

Knowing the incredible joy my son brought to me yesterday by uttering those three little words for the first time, I can not even begin to imagine the amount of joy it must bring our Heavenly Father when we finally express our love to Him.

I encourage you, to step back from your daily lives and look around. How is it that you make those around you feel? Do they feel your love, your friendship, your consideration for them? Do you make God know his importance in your life? Does God know how much you love him?

**Side Note: Please do not misunderstand this post to say that uttering, “I love you,” is the only and best way to express love. Had my son been throwing a tantrum or a toy at the moment when he said those three little words, I am not sure their effect would have been so profound. However, I could genuinely feel his love for me as he hugged me. This genuine feeling of love that came with his “I love you,” is the feeling I am referring to that we need to spread to those around us. This genuine feeling of appreciation, acceptance, love and unending gratitude through our words and our actions is the feeling we need to make known to our friends, our family and our God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things God Says About Me.

Have you ever seen one of the those kids, that is so bad, you think, MAN THANK GOD that is not my child…

Well, when it comes to the swimming pool, that is my child.

There is something about the water that literally turns my Little Man into a maniac. All he wants to do is PLAY, PLAY, PLAY… and not how little toddlers are supposed to play, but how wild animals play in the open ranges of Africa As I see other moms of toddlers sitting around watching their little ones scoop up water and empty it into buckets on the side of the baby pool or sit beautifully on the stairs, I on the other hand, am narrowly rescuing their unassuming children from my son as he attempts to “pounce” on them like they are a zebra and he is the lion.  I am blocking splashes and flying pool toys hailing from my child’s domain of the pool, as he flops around wildly, going under water and jumping up and down in an attempt to make the biggest splash. At which time, I reluctantly change my hat from “mother” to circus tamer, simply attempting to contain my little monkey. (It’s awful) … (Little side note. We are working on this issue.)

Yesterday,  with the weather as amazing as it was, the pool was packed and my little man was on his A game. (No, I don’t mean good behavior A game.) I mean he was like a wrestling, bull-fighting, shark attacking, tiger preying champion at the pool yesterday. Needless to say, we had to leave early and “Mommy and Little Man” took a much needed stroll to the grocery to “cool off” and “think about our actions.” Frustrated and annoyed that my otherwise, unbelievably well behaved child acts like such a hooligan in the pool, I reached for a carton of eggs and received a little message from God.

No, He wasn’t telling me I have a rotten egg for a son. (Although I am quite certain a few of the other mother’s at the pool may have valid arguments. Haha)  No, quite the contrary. To me, this was a little message, saying nothing more than, “Chill Out Momma. We’re all different. We are all created with our unique blessings, gifts and talents AND we are all created with our own unique struggles. So embrace the blessings. Embrace the talents. Embrace the gifts. And deal with the struggles as they come, but don’t dwell on them. Don’t let them ruin an otherwise beautiful day.”

So I started thinking, of all the things, just at the age of 2, God has blessed my son with. And then I started thinking of all the beautiful things I can say about my son (and truthfully, like any mother, I can list just about 90 million things I love about my son and say about him on a daily basis).  However, then I started thinking, what does God say he loves about my Little Man and what would God say about him right this instant, knowing his actions in the pool? Would God’s list be the same as mine?

What does God say he loves about you? Despite our struggles, our hardships, our annoyances – what is it that He would say about you as a person?

I encourage you, make your own list, “What does God Say About You?“ Then make a list of things God says about your son/daughter/husband/partner… What is it that God loves about that person?

What Are 10 Things God Says about _____________________.

 

In the meantime, you can check out what I have come up with…

10 Things God says about me.

 

1. He loves that I am a little bit weird. (just a little bit) He created me this way. He created me in His own unique image.

2. God loves that I am redeemed. He knows my failures. He knows my struggles but He loves me despite of them and has made me whole in Him! (Ephesians 4:24)

3. God says, I am forgiven. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

4. God says, I am an Overcomer. God says, that not only will He never give me anything too big to handle but that with Him, there is NO one that can stand against! “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

5. God says, I am His child. Think about this for a moment. There can be 9,257 people in a room, and I have just as much confidence that the God of the universe, the God who has EVERYTHING,  would point me out in a room, like that of my own mother or father, and say, “Yes, she is my child! I claim her as my OWN!” Talk about feeling accepted! 1 John 3:1

6. God says that I am beautiful. He created me in his own likeness. He knows every hair on my head (and there are a lot).  (Matthew 10:30) I am the apple of His eye. (Psalm 17). His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

7. God says, He doesn’t care if I … Continue reading

The Crayon Drama : Actively Listening To and Seeking God on a Daily Basis.

When first deciding to enter, “full-time-stay-at-home-mom-status,”  in preparation for my little girl to arrive, I had thought it sounded like a perfect recipe for some increased R&R.  I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. In fact, my normal morning routine of  1- 2 hours backstage in hair and make up is now a mad dash of breakfast making, choo-choo train finding, race car driving, lego stepping (and by the way, have you ever stepped on a lego? It will bring any grown man down to his knees in sheer agony!), book reading, soccer playing, laundry folding, tantrum throwing, floor mopping, vacuum cleaning, diaper changing awesome-ness! But, I’m not going to lie, its exhausting. By the time 8:00am rolls around I am checking the clock like, “Is it NAP time yet?” Not for Littleman, but for me!

This morning was no different, but as we were in the midst of the chaos, I noticed the littleman had gotten some crayons and paper from his craft drawer and had crawled up to the table to color. So taking advantage of every opportunity possible, I prepared myself a cup of Decaf coffee, grabbed my devotional and headed to the balcony for some time with the Lord. Keeping an eye on my son through our screen and sliding glass doors. I watched as he continued to color for about 15 minutes, all the while slowly loosing his crayons as they would roll from the table on to the floor, in the midst of his wild flipping of pages in his, “Airplane “Bird-Bird” Coloring Book.”

As the final crayon rolled to the floor, I watched as he tilted his head sideways and yelled, “Momma! Momma!” Responding, “One Minute Bunny,” laying down my book and setting my coffee aside, I went to stand up (which is no easy task at this point in pregnancy) and walk through the screen door, when I paused, watching him tilt his little head yet again and go, “Momma, Momma…Help. Please.” (Okay call me mean, but I stood there for a minute looking in to see what he was going to do next. He wasn’t in his high chair. I knew exactly what he wanted.  And truthfully, he could easily get down and gather his crayons himself to continue coloring.)

He waited a moment, still not seeing me through the sliding glass doors, hopped down, and frantically began running from room to room, calling, “Momma, Momma! Mommmmmma!” (Okay don’t worry, I live in a city condo, so the time it took him to run through our entire house is like 3.7 seconds). When I walked in through the screen door, he was making his final turn around our hallway and burst into tears, grabbing my leg, and letting out a final, “Momma! Color. Floor.” (for those non-parents out there, that means, “Momma, my crayons are on the floor and now, how can I color?”

He wasn’t aware that I was watching the entire event unfold.

See, he wasn’t aware that I was here the entire time, listening to and watching his every move. I wasn’t ignoring him, nor hiding from him, nor failing to help him.

The first time he cried out for me, I responded. But he wasn’t listening for me.

The second time he cried out for me, I was standing there watching him, waiting, listening through the screen door, but he never lifted his head in my direction to see me. 

As he went racing through the house in search of me, he wasn’t aware that I was never gone, that all he needed to do was look right next to where he had been. 

And as he reached out and grabbed my leg, telling me the “tragedy” that had just unfolded, he wasn’t aware that I had seen, every crayon fall to the floor.

How many times in life are we like my LittleMan was today.

We cry out for help, but we don’t listen for OR to God’s response.

We cry out for help, but we don’t raise our eyes NOR our heads to seek Him.

Feeling lonely, scared, forgotten and abandoned, we frantically run around, in search of God and His hands in our life, only to hear, “My Child. What are you searching for? I am here. The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 3:16

This week I encourage you to not only spend time studying Gods word on a daily basis but actively listen and seek Him in your daily life. God isn’t some far-out, scary higher being that we go to when there are “issues” to deal with. He is a friend. He wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to be someone that you spend time with on a daily basis, in good times and bad, so that when there are “issues,” you have unfailing confidence that He is by your side through every step of the way.

Scripture Verses:

Joshua 1:9 : “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Deuteronomy 31:6 :  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your … Continue reading

Fear of the Unknown.

Fear.

Physically, mentally and psychologically debilitating.

It’s happened to all of us before. You’re lying there in the darkness and you hear a creak. You’re parents words from childhood come flashing through your mind, “Its just the house settling…” But you close your eyes and then it happens again. “Creak…” A floorboard!? Is that a shadow under the door?! Could someone have slipped by the alarm? At that moment every Lifetime/Suspense movie you’ve ever seen flashes through your mind as you remember screaming at the characters on the TV, “GO GO GO.. they’re right outside you’re door!” And you think, “Okay, I’m not going to be her.  What is my next move?…Lie here and play dead under the covers? Maybe they won’t see me. Prop myself beside the door and prepare to tackle? Should I crawl out the window?” Only to hear a faint creaking noise again and then “BOW!!!” The dog comes bounding from behind the door,  leaping to the bed, offering her wet, slobbery kisses!

Fear. It’s physically, mentally and psychologically debilitating.

Remember back to your childhood. A fear of the darkness would cause you to see monster shadows out of a lamppost from outside. Burglars from puppy footsteps up for a midnight drink of water. Boogey monsters lurking under the bed.

Fear. It clouds and hinders your judgement, your vision, your hearing, and your actions.

Every fear in the universe stems from one uncertainty, Fear of The Unknown.

  • What lingers in the darkness?
  • What will the diagnosis be?
  • What happens if my marriage fails?
  • What if I end up alone?
  • What if I say the wrong thing?
  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if they reject me?
  • What if my daughter/son gets involved in the wrong crowd?
  • What if I lose my job?
  • What if my partner is being unfaithful?
  • What if my dreams never come true?
  • What if I fail?

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalm 56:3

The answer to these questions are all unknown? What if the diagnosis is cancer? Then what? What if they reject me? Then what? The truth is, no one knows but our Father himself. But the one thing we do know and the one thing we can hold on to as reassurance is, He is always with us, always protecting us.

Fear is indiscriminate. It affects all of us regardless of our age or position in life. Whether our fear is absolutely realistic or out of proportion in our minds, our greatest refuge is Christ.- Luci Swindoll

“Did you know the children of Israel had nightights? The entire nation was afraid of the dark. In ancient times, the oil lamps that lit homes were kept burning all night long. In fact, it was often considered more important for people to buy oil for their lamps than food for their families. God knew his people needed reassurance. So when His people were uprooted from their land and forced to sleep in tents in the barren lands, they were comforted by the presence of a pillar of fire, that would cast a glow over the darkness reminding the people and children of Israel that their comfort was there.” (Living Above Worry and Stress)

For some reason this morning when I read those words, I felt a sense of relief, as sense of reassurance. When we think of God’s chosen people throughout the bible and/or the people around us who we esteem to be spiritually alike we often attribute them with bravery, honor, courage, and extreme faithfulness. But the truth is, take a quick look through the scriptures and it isn’t difficult to discover the fear that lives within the hearts of each of these people.

  • Eve : afraid of missing out on wisdom (Genesis 3:5)
  • Jacob : afraid of revenge from his bother (Genesis 27: 41-43)
  • Moses : afraid to speak in public (Ex. 4:10)
  • David : afraid of the exposure of his sin (2 Sam. 11:15)
  • Solomon : afraid of failing as a leader (1 Kings 3:9)
  • Jonah : afraid to face the enemy (Jon. 1:3)
  • Esther : afraid to admitting and allowing people to find out about her family heritage (Esther 2:10)
  • Hezekiah : afraid of death (2 Kings 20:1-3)
  • Joseph : afraid of what people would say (Mat. 1: 19)
  • Disciples: afraid of asking dumb and/or irrelevant questions (Mark 9:32)
  • Jairus : afraid his child would die (Luke 8:41-42)
  • Martha: afraid of disappointing her guests (Luke 10:40)
  • Paul: afraid people wouldn’t believe him (Acts 9:26)
  • Felix : afraid to face the truth (Acts 24:25)
  • Peter: afraid of breaking tradition (Gal. 2:14)

There is some relief, almost reassurance in knowing that even some of the bravest, most Godly people ever to have graced this earth, and called by God, too dealt with fear.

But God calls us to take courage, amidst our fears. He calls us to come to Him in faith,  for guidance protection and security, rather than to allow our judgment to become clouded by human fear.

When we find ourselves hindered by fear, we must remember we are not alone. “There resides in … Continue reading