Monday, August 3, 2015

The Comfort Embrace

This picture makes me smile because the angle
makes her hair seem super long! But it's the horse's tail. ha
Over the past year it has happened several times, but there are two times I remember being surprised by it. Once when my daughter returned from the most recent church teen camp and then today. Being that my girl will be 17 years old in a few months, I am shocked each time it happens. It's what I call "the comfort embrace."

When Rene' got off the bus after being gone for a week at camp, I guess I expected her to be a bit stand-offish with me while around her peers but instead, she bounced off the bus and straight into my arms in full view of, well everyone. And it wasn't a quick was a full on, let me stand here and be held embrace. I felt so loved!

Today, she spent time with new friends and had a day full of horseback riding and swimming. [More pics below] I picked her up from a local ranch and when she saw me, she walked up to me, "fell" into my arms and again just stood there in my embrace. 

So as I was driving us home today, the story of the Prodigal Son came to mind. I tend to picture that returning son falling into the arms of a comfort embrace with his Dad [Luke 15]. The embrace is one of those, "I'm so tired and glad to be with you that I just want to be held" type of hugs. And I REALLY want this type of relationship with God! But I found myself wondering when the last time was that I just "fell" into His loving embrace or cuddled snugly into the hope of my salvation or even let myself rest in the comfort of all that Christ's love is in my life? I think it's been too long! Do I even view God as the God of Comfort? Am I forgetting how much he loves to have me in a Comfort Embrace? Yes. I've forgotten that lately. And I don't think I reflect on Him as the Lord who loves to comfort us - but He totally does! 

So, as I'm looking up "comfort" in the bible, I'm seeing how MUCH our God really loves to comfort us and how He continually wants us in His Comfort Embrace! Want proof? Here are some verses I've been reflecting on - may they bring you comfort too. 
  • Isaiah 40:1-3Comfort for God's People -  “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned."
  • Isaiah 57: 18-19, "I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the Lord, who heals them."
  • Isaiah 61:1 Good News for the Oppressed ] The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me [Jesus - ref. Luke 4], for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3 [ God Offers Comfort to All ] "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." ...and verses 4-5
  • Also read - Zechariah 1:12-14
  • Psalm 94: 19, "When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer." 
  • Psalm 119: 50, "Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles."
  • Psalm 86: 17b, "...for you, O Lord, help and comfort me. 
  • Psalm 23:4 HCSB, "Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Deep Roots with God

Take a look at this tree in the picture below. It's obviously fallen, taken a beating in the Texas heat, and is under distress. But besides that, do you notice how most of this tree's leaves are still green? Take note with me that, even though it's fallen, instead of removing it and chopping it up for wood, the business has simply mowed around it. This intrigues me! This fallen tree has become a daily reminder to me about the value of having deep roots with God. You see, this tree fell months ago.

I'm not sure what happened. One day I drove by on my way to work and suddenly there it was in the grass looking as though it's completely disconnected. It's one of those things you notice casually at first and give only a passing thought to but then as the days, weeks, and months have gone by, it seems to whisper a valiant reminder and I marvel. 

In one way or another, we can all relate to this fallen tree. Over the past few weeks, I've felt knocked over. Besides Miss M. deciding she'd rather age out of foster care than be adopted by any family and that I have been extremely sick, I've felt impoverished artistically. Although this may seem small to most people, my fellow creatives know what a big deal that can be! I also have felt depleted of inspiration to blog. I'm struggling to feel inspired towards adventure. And most importantly, I'm lacking depth or emotions in my coffee and cozy times with God. : (  

But God is always showing himself to be fabulously faithful! And recently He reminded me of this tree. This tree obviously has one heck of a deep root! So today I've searched out scriptures to share and I hope they inspire you as well. May your roots go deep with God, my friend!

The bible says: 

"But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-9

"I pray that from his [God's] glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how long, how high, and how deep his love is." Ephesians 3:16-18

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-8

Friday, June 19, 2015

Inspiring Songs for Young Women

One thing I decided to create in 2014 right before my daughter moved in from foster care was a playlist of music. The list is meant to inspire her as a young women and to be played especially during the summer while we are in the car or jamming out to music at the house.

Even today, as another young lady is about to move in this summer, I find myself adding to it. I feel strongly that positive words and music can strengthen our character and resolve! Since my daughters are healing from tremendous heartache and have been bombarded by stress and negativity for several years, this is one thing I created to love up on them. 

You may not be familiar with some of these songs and you might not completely agree with some of what they share...that's okay. These songs have a range of themes and are from different decades or genres but are all meant to either be inspiring or spur our conversations and give me an avenue to teach lessons. Because my girls are teens, I know that music is especially powerful! I have over 65 songs complied in this particular playlist so the list below is a slightly shortened version I thought others might enjoy too!

I Lived - OneRepublic
Brave - Sara Bareilles
Make It Out This Town - Eve & Gabe Saporta
Just Fine - Mary J. Blige
Who Says - Selena Gomez
I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty
I'll Stand By You - Pretenders
Stand Up - Jessie J
You Don't Own Me - Lesley Gore
He Knows My Name - Francesca Battistelli
Price Tag - Jessie J
Fight Another Day - Addison Road
One Girl Revolution [Battle Mix]- Superchick
Perfect [clean version] - Pink
Soar - Christina Aguilera
Same in Any Language - I Nine
Who You Are - Jessie J
Hate On Me - Jill Scott
Masterpiece - Jessie J
Nobody Love - Tori Kelly
Corner of Queens - Walk Off the Earth
Eyelashes - Tori Kelly
I'm a Survivor - Destiny's Child
Stomp - [Remix] - Kirk Franklin
Life is Wonderful - Jason Mraz
Go Get It - Mary Mary
Black or White - Michael Jackson
Turn Off the Light - Nelly Furtado
Take a Back Road - Rodney Atkins
Howlin' At The Moon - Sam Bush
Better People - India Arie
Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
Just Around the Riverbend - Pocahontas
Three Little Birds - Strange Magic version
There's Hope & Video - India Arie
My Wish - Rascal Flatts
Listen - Beyonce'
Daydream - Tori Kelly
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson
Where Is The Love? - The Black Eyed Peas
No Giving Up - Crossfade
Appletree - Erykah Badu
I Gotta Feeling - The Black Eyed Peas
You Can't Hurry Love - Phil Collins
Good Fight - Unspoken
Stand - Rascal Flatts
Thank You - Alanis Morissette
Life is a Highway - Rascal Flatts
Best Day of My Life - American Authors
Shake it Off - Taylor Swift
Bills, bills, bills - Destiny's Child
How to Save a Life - The Fray
Say Hey - Strange Magic version
Home - Phillip Phillips