Do You Trust Me?

Do you have any pets? Maybe you have a dog or a cat, or even an iguana! Well, if you have a pet that you love and are very attached to, we can relate with each other. I have a gorgeous, sassy little dog. She is sugar and spice and everything nice (and I make sure to tell her so every day :-)). Her energy level is usually full throttle – she absolutely has to have supercharged playtime daily. Her toybox (yes, she has a toybox ;-)) overflows with toys of various shapes and colors and she never gets tired of any of them. Yep, this little dog keeps me on my toes, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. There’s one particular thing she does that’s not only adorable, but is also a way in which God speaks to me quite often. One thing she loves to do is roll over on her back and expose her cute fuzzy tummy with the hope that her tummy will get a rubdown. Seriously, she could be in the middle of running around in circles like she drank an entire pot of coffee (don’t worry, I don’t let her drink my strongly brewed java), yet she will instantly roll over on her back if she thinks there’s a belly rub in store for her. Well, I read somewhere that when a dog rolls over on its back willingly for its owner, that is proof that the dog genuinly trusts its owner because, when a dog is on its back, it has let down its guard. Wow, it makes me feel wonderful that my dog trusts me that much! Well, somtimes when I’ve pondered my dog’s trusting actions, God has spoken to me and reminded me that we, His children, need to trust Him fully and let down our guards. We need to surrender all to Him and trust Him – trust Him with our everything. If my dog can trust me so much that she extinguishes all inhibitions, rolls onto her back, and breathes in deeply the air of peace, knowing at every moment that I will protect and defend her, how much more should we trust the Lord and believe, with utmost certainty, that He is who the Bible says He is and that He does want the best for us? We need to breathe in deeply His peace and stand upon His promises as His beloved children. Please rest assured in your heart today that you are loved and cherished by the Maker of the universe, by the Lord of Lords, and know that when you surrender all to Him, He will bless you with an overflow and abundance of His goodness. Let go and let God.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

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Freshly Baked Goodness

Have you ever been to an unbelievably remarkable bakery? I’m talking about the kind of bakery that takes your breath away when you walk inside. The captivating aroma of all the breads, pastries, and sweets gently tickles your nose; the sights and smells make your stomach growl and your mouth water; and the incredible atmosphere of the place seems to wash all your worries away the longer you’re inside. Well, now that we’ve established just what type of bakery I’m talking about, let’s talk about the food! This type of bakery makes each and every scrumptious doughnut, loaf of bread, chocolate-covered pretzel, etc. by hand – everything made at such a bakery is unique, not some assembly line production. Hence, you know that when you and a friend each order a sticky bun, your pastries aren’t exactly the same. Doesn’t the knowledge of your order being hand-made, stamped with the signature of the baker who formed it, make eating it so much more special? Well, as wonderful as that sounds, I have something even more wonderful to fill you in on. The God of the universe hand-made you! He formed you in the secret place of His dwelling, knitted you together perfectly and intricately, and stamped his signature of approval all over you. From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, His fingerprints adorn you. You are absolutely unique. You didn’t ride on an assembly line and get packaged like a box of crackers. NO! God made you precisely the way He, and only He, envisioned. You’re His masterpiece. Sometimes we all feel like we lack something – like we’re not this enough or that enough. But, let me tell you something: You have wonders inside of you. God has placed glorious talents and marvels within you and He wants you to radiate with His divine light. If you feel like your flame is slowly fading or you feel too depressed to even care what it is you’ve been placed on this earth to do, fall at the feet of Jesus. He knows exactly why you’re on this earth and He knows all the beautiful things He has equipped you with. He made you; He knows everything about you. If you’ve fallen down, that’s ok – He knows how to pick you back up. And He wants to pick you back up – He wants to pick you up in His arms and illuminate you with everything He has in store for you (and what He has in store for you is more amazing than you can even fathom!). Please know how valuable you are to the Father’s heart. Know that He loves you and wants the absolute best for you. You are His spectacular creation!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument].”
Jeremiah 1:5

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
Jeremiah 29:11

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I like sunshine, swimming outside, frozen yogurt, and freshly brewed iced tea. I like feeling the warmth of the sun tickle my face when I take my dog for a walk down a tulip-lined sidewalk.  But, I know that there’s another time of year that has to occur before I can bask in spring and summer’s comfort and ice cream cone goodness. It’s called…winter. Yes, winter has to come every year and freeze me down to my toes. I can’t help it but always make a connection with the winter to spring journey and the valley to mountain top journey. Of course, if you absolutely love winter, you don’t feel the desperation and discouragement I feel when I’m snowed into my house and three blankets can’t make me feel warm enough, but for the rest of you out there that have an allergy to frigidness, I’m sure you can relate with me. Don’t you sometimes feel like February will never give way to spring? I know in my heart that spring and new growth will come, but it’s just so hard to see that through the lense of snow and ice and barren vegetation that winter provides. But, I am thankful that God always teaches me during this time. He teaches me that, even though I can’t feel that spring (the mountain top) is coming, even though I feel like winter (the valley) is going to blow cold air on me forever, spring is coming. Maybe you’ve been going through a very long winter – a deep valley that has crushed your spirit. You feel like your life has hit rock bottom and snow is all you will ever see. I know what this feels like – believe me, I do. But, what we need to remember is that God is in our winter – our painful valleys – just as much as God is in our spring – our joyful mountain tops. He never leaves us, no matter how cold and desolate we feel. Winter will give way to spring. Your valley won’t last forever; you will reach your mountain top. And God will be with us every step of the way. I don’t know what your winter is composed of, but I do know that God is with you even when He feels far away. And He wants you to enter into spring as much or even more than you want to. Please don’t lose heart. Flowers WILL bloom up ahead. Keep trusting Him; keep leaning on Him. He won’t fail you. He’s never let me down and He won’t let you down either. He can and will turn your winter into spring.

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:19

Rendezvous of Love

Sometimes, when I’m feeling jaded, downcast, restless, or I’m simply in need of an altered perspective, I  step into a gondola and float down the glistening waters of memory. As the water swishes past the sides of my boat underneath the puffy clouds of the past, I recollect and reminisce about various years, events, or even mere moments. I suppose the February dissonance – that time when winter and spring are fighting to reign  –  has been the cause of my recent memory regurgitation. Anywho, since I’m quite the foodie (you probably know that by now ;-)), it’s not surprising that food-related memories often flash through my mind. One certain memory that brings joy to my heart involves my mom (she and I have always been very close and I thank God everyday for my relationship with her). When I was younger, I was involved in sports. After various athletic endeavors, she would routinely take me to the local coffee shop where I would order a vanilla bean shake topped with whipped cream accompanied by a shortbread cookie. It was such a treat after working so hard. I always looked forward to these special rendezvous with her. We talked and talked and just knowing that she made such an effort to arrange these special times together made me feel remarkably loved. So why exactly have I invited you into my gondola and shared this memory with you? Because I want to remind you how important it is to be a blessing to people. My mom could have just picked me up and drove me home, but she chose to make our time together special. She chose to display her love for me in a unique way to let me know how much she cared. I will never forget those trips to the coffee shop and the laughter-filled conversations afterwards. It is incredible how much good one can do by implementing kindness into another person’s life. Because my mom took the time to show kindness to me, I have learned to show kindness to others. She helped me to realize how God wants us to pour love into other people’s lives. By doing so, we are showing people what Christ looks like. My mom has always shown me the face of Christ with her love, her wisdom, her compassion, her grace. Because God’s love illuminates my mom’s heart, I love the Lord also. Surrendering my life to Christ is the best decision I have ever made.  See how much power there is in blessing others? If you have ever thought “What can a kind gesture actually accomplish?” or “Can I really make a difference?”, think again. Please know that you can make a difference. You can shine Christ’s light into someone’s life and that light will guide them to Christ’s loving arms. To the world, you may be one person; but to one person, you may be the world.

“Generous people will be blessed.”
Proverbs 22:9a

Oh, the joy of a cinnamon roll

Imagine the most amazing cinnamon roll you’ve ever seen. It’s HUGE, covered in icing, and the aroma rising from it invigorates your senses. It’s perfectly shaped, perfectly baked, and if you don’t put in your mouth in the next minute, you’re going to lose your mind. My favorite part of a cinnamon roll is the very middle. It usually constitutes one big bite – that perfectly round center that’s soft, chewy, and the basin for all the wonderful flavors the cinnamon roll contains. I enjoy every other bite of the pastry as well, but in my heart, I know each bite I take will get better and better until I reach that much desired center. You know what else is like a cinnamon roll? Deliverance from a stronghold. What is a stronghold, you ask? Anything that creates an obstruction between you and God. And, there’s a reason the word strong is in the word stronghold. Whatever the stronghold may be, it’s stubborn and doesn’t want to leave you alone. It wants to keep your focus away from God. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with a cinnamon roll, but hear me out. Picture that perfect cinnamon roll again. Ok, the sought after center of the pastry is deliverance. Deliverance is sweeter than sweet. It’s that place where the stronghold no longer has control over you. Now, the outside of the cinnamon roll is the path on which God leads you on your way to deliverance. He leads you step by step, peeling back the layers of that stronghold until you reach that golden center. So, just how do you get on this path toward deliverance and how in the world do you actually get delivered? Call on Jesus. Yes, the Lord of Lords can surely deliver you. Strongholds come in many different forms, but God can deliver you from any and all of them! He wants to deliver you because He loves you, He wants the best for you, and He doesn’t want there to be any obstruction between you and Him. That cinnamon roll of deliverance is awaiting you. All you have to do is ask the Lord to deliver you from your strongholds, whatever they may be, and He will take your hand and begin leading you through each layer until you reach that sweet spot of blessed deliverance and freedom – that place where His eyes are all you see and those strongholds must bow at His feet.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.'”
Matthew 19:26

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” -Ernestine Ulmer

This may sound strange, but I love to eat cookies for breakfast.  Wait, don’t alert the health police just yet! I make these cookies myself and they’re quite healthy. They look like regular peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, but their ingredients are very different from what you’d expect: ALA Omega-3 peanut butter, wheat germ, pure honey, stevia powder, and the list goes on. They’re cookies that make you feel like your indulging in a “ships to your hips” treat, but in reality, they’re filling your body with goodness. Ok, back to my story now. I LOVE waking up to these yummy sweet treats in the morning. One giant cookie with two cups of strong, bold coffee is just what I need in the AM to revive me from my zombie state (I am NOT a morning person). But wait, there’s more to my breakfast time delight. Yep, the most important part of my morning is…*drum roll*…the Holy Word of God! This glorious holy Book makes me bouncy in the morning, too :). I love reading God-breathed Scriptures – words energized by my loving God – to help guide me throughout my day. It’s more vital to my breakfast than the cookie and the coffee combined! Ingesting God’s Word is like filling your car up with gas. This morning, I read Isaiah 26. Part of this chapter is as follows: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4). See what I mean? It’s incredible! These words spoke wisdom to my soul this very morning. They reminded me that if I trust in the Lord – my strong, unwavering Rock – with my whole heart, He will grant me perfect peace. Wow! That’s good stuff! I encourage you to dive into the Scriptures yourself. Pray that God will guide you to the Scriptures that He wants you to read as you flip through the pages of His Word. His Spirit lives in those pages. The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1-2).

In closing, I want you to know that I am praying for you today. I know God has great things in store for you and that His blessings for your life are beyond what you can even comprehend. Call on the Lord; yes, call on Him. You will never ever be disappointed.

Polly wants a cracker

You know what’s uncomfortable? Having GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). It’s not life-threatening or anything, but it’s a real nuisance. I try to abstain from eating super spicy and greasy foods (jambalaya is definitely a no-no), I avoid carbonation at all costs, and I have to deal with agitating heartburn. A few months ago, however, I found some healthy, whole wheat saltine crackers that effectively calm the acids in my stomach. So, I try to make a habit of taking a few crackers with me whenever I’m out and about just incase a thunderstorm erupts in my stomach. Well, today, I forgot to bring crackers with me; and wouldn’t you know it, I needed some. As my stomach began to behave like a washing machine, I sought the Lord. I said, “Lord, I forgot my crackers and I need my crackers. Please help me.” And oh, what a faithful God He is! After I prayed, I was walking down a hallway and felt led to stick my head into a room I was passing. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a tray – in this very room – full of crackers that someone had left there for whoever wanted them. I was overjoyed. I ate a few crackers and within minutes, my stomach was passified. What’s my point with this story? God hears your prayers. He hears every one – even the ones about crackers. He cares about all of your needs. Do you have a need today? I’m sure you do. Pray to the Lord. Cast your cares upon Him. He wants to help you. Remember, He can do what men can’t do! He can do the impossible. You can count on Him.

“He answered their prayers, because they trusted in Him.”
1 Chronicles 5:20

I’ll have the lobster with a side of euphoria

When you order something at a restaurant, you put your faith in the waiter and the cook. You trust that the waiter will inform the chef of your order, the chef will complete it exactly as you ordered it, and the waiter will place it in front of you. While sitting at your table, do you ever think to yourself, “I’m ordering the fish and chips, but it’s very possible that the waiter and the cook will decide to change my order to chicken fingers.” Or, “Well, I may have placed my order, but I bet the the waiter and the cook will decide not to acknowledge my order and ignore me.” No, those thoughts most likely don’t run through your mind when you’re dining at a restaurant. So, why is it that when we pray to the Lord, we sometimes begin to doubt that our prayer is reaching His heart. We think that maybe He will answer by giving us something, but He may decide to completely disregard anything we actually prayed for. Or, we think that maybe He is just ignoring our prayers all together. If you have entertained these thoughts before, let me give you hope today. God does want to answer your prayers and He wants to give you the desires of your heart. And every prayer that proceeds from your heart reaches His. If you can put your faith in a waiter and a chef – trusting they will do what they say they will do, how much more should you put your faith in Almighty God? He can always be trusted. He never fails. Cast your cares upon Him and lay your whole heart in His hands. He is right there next to you, longing for you to call on Him. He hears your every prayer, even the ones that are still buried deep within your heart.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need.”
Ephesians 6:18

You Are Designed for Greatness

You are valuable. You are talented. You are beautiful/handsome. There is a reason you are on this earth. Yes, you have a purpose. You are needed. How do I know all of this? Because I know your Creator. I know the One who formed you in the secret place – who put His stamp of approval on you before you ever took your first breath. When He looks at you, His creation, His heart swells with happiness; He is so proud of you. Run to Him and never leave His side. He will not fail you and He will never abandon you.

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:14

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument].”
Jeremiah 1:5

BAM!

There are coffee lovers, and then there are COFFEE LOVERS. Yes, I am the “capital letters” category. And, I like my coffee strong and the caffeine potent. Basically, I want my coffee to kick me in the pants. It helps me wake up in the morning…or afternoon. Well, coffee isn’t the only thing I want bold and vivacious – I want my life to be bold and vivacious as well. Apathetic, languid living is to me like a cup of cold, watered-down coffee that’s been sitting on the table for far too long. I mean, who would drink that and enjoy it? One of the things I’ve learned in life is that passivity makes one miserable. That feeling you have when you’re not really going forward or backward is agonizing. The problem is, life sometimes puts you in such a tornado of emotions and circumstances that you revert to feeling indifferent because it’s easier or because you feel it offers you some sort of protection from being hurt – or so you think. I would like to tell you today that you don’t have to feel that way any longer and you can heal from your wounds. How is this possible? Because God is BIGGER than your problems and He doesn’t want you to feel destitute anymore. See, God is bold and vivacious and also compassionate, loving, and merciful. He’s the mighty Lion of Judah that fights for you, protects you, and looks your enemies in the face and says, “Back away from my child! I will fight for them!” And, He is the gentle Lamb who wipes away your tears, calms your fears, and welcomes you into His loving arms unconditionally. He is everything you need and more. And God, only God, can drive any kind of apathy away from you! He wants you to get up each morning full of purpose, full of a never-say-die attitude. All you have to do is lay down your cares before Him and ask Him to give you direction. If you feel aimless, tell Him. If you feel like you just don’t care anymore, tell Him. He wants you to be honest with Him. He wants you to ask Him for help. Ask Him to take your life and re-energize it with His mighty power. He longs to see you become all that He made you to be and He’s ready to place His hands on your heart and breathe life back into your soul.