Friday, June 15, 2018

Showing Dad Some Love

It seems like Mother's Day just last weekend! My Mother's Day was wonderful. Especially as I learn through life's seasons that it is not about gifts, pampering or being doted on that is important. When all my sons gather in one place, that is truly the best gift!

Image may contain: 5 people, including Kayla Fullbright, Joyce Fullbright and Josh Fullbright, people smiling, people sitting and people standing

Image may contain: 5 people, including Joyce Fullbright and Josh Fullbright, people smiling, people sitting

Now, here we are with Father's Day approaching.  Father's Day is a bit of a challenge for me to find the perfect gift. My father passed away many years ago. I focus the gratitude of fatherhood to my husband, who is a wonderful father. He loves his sons and daughter in law fervently and always seeks their best. How do you express love for a true man''s man who is filled with integrity and purpose?  A home cooked meal is a must, but sometimes I long for something extra special to show my love and gratefulness.

DaySpring shared a fantastic printable - 8 Notes for Dad's Bathroom Mirror.  Simply download these notes, print them off, cut out, write a personal message on the back and tape onto his bathroom mirror (or hide in his car, by his nightstand, or even next to his workout equipment). They are colorful, based on Scripture, powerfully encouraging while being quick and to the point - you know guys don't do mushy!  
Here is the link:  Dad's Notes

I'm excited to share these with my sweet hubby and find creative ways to let him know how much he is loved and appreciated.  If your dad is still alive, be encouraged to spend some time with him. There is nothing like a father's love for a daughter.  It frames the foundation of her relationships.  If the memories are not good ones, be encouraged to look to our Heavenly Father - God who loves us with an unending love and continually offers His grace to us.  

Share some Father's Day love this weekend!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Moments That Change Everything

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Have you ever had one of those days where something happened that changed the circumstances for the rest of your life?  Most of us have experienced times like this which can be for good or bad.  Things like:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Births
  • Deaths
  • Accidents
  • Betrayals

The good things are cherished and embraced.  They often bring a new life, brighter circumstances, renewed hope.  We eagerly walk down the path they present.

The bad things make the same significant changes as life will never be the same following them. But they are not eagerly embraced, and may be questioned, railed on as unfair, thought of as destructive for us. 

Two of the most life changing events in my life happened in June and were one week apart.  Today is the anniversary of my father's unexpected death. 29 years ago our family was in the throes of wedding plans. My wedding was one week away and along with finalizing wedding details, we were packing and preparing to move into our new home. I'll never forget the day my dad drove a load of my belongings to my future home, walked around it and later told me he had to stop alongside the road and shed some tears. It was a time of transition and great change for our family.

Just days after that a tragic situation occurred and my father lost his life. In literally seconds, our family was forever changed.  Everything was different now that dad was no longer with us. Our family, our home and lives now had a huge void and we wondered where to go from here. The leadership shifted to my mother who was grieving her husband, but bravely advised us to move forward with our lives and the wedding, assuring us that is what Dad would want us to do. 

The wedding went on as scheduled and gave us a beautiful light in the midst of the dark circumstances. A beautiful newness began as a new branch of family grew. 

Time does bring healing as our intense grief fades and acceptance begins to settle in the soul.  Daily routines change and become more familiar. The 'new normal' comes into play and our lives eventually adapt. Grief and pain are never forgotten, but new and good memories come into life and begin to bring more good days and less bad days. 

As shocking and unexpected life's circumstances can be, our faith and trust can be solid as we recall that God is never shaken or surprised. Although we live in a world full of bad things that can and will affect us at times, He is steadfast and sure. Looking back over the years, there is a thread of comfort and strength that continues to this day. God's grace is sufficient to cover us. 

Anniversaries like today bring memories flooding back but also bring the reality that God is with us and always has been. His grace is seen through the hard days and the joy He gives as healing and help come. God is truly the God of all comfort and will walk with us through our circumstances. 

As June 9 changed everything in the world of my family, the faithfulness of God proved to be a comfort and a steadfast source of strength. With Him, we can face our tomorrow, whatever they may bring. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Second Chance Redemption

May is the month in our area for wildflowers.  The roadsides are covered with vibrant yellows, pinks and purple flowers that are just gorgeous!  There is an area where I do my daily walk that usually provides moments of pure beauty to gaze at. Except for this year.

The spring in our area was unusually dry.  As the wildflowers bloomed, they didn't receive the rain that would help them to flourish and were smaller in size and not as beautiful as in past years. 

Each morning as I walked past the place the flowers bloomed, I noticed that they seemed to quickly die out. Finally it looked like wildflower season was over.  Then, would you believe, the rains came.  There has been almost 2 weeks of rainy days, which we desperately needed.  

But, even after being scorched, parched and then rained excessively on, the flowers came back!

Seeing the flowers come back for a second round of blooms brought a smile to my face and renewed joy to my walks. But it also represented a beautiful and paralleling truth. God is the God of second chances.

Have you ever just 'blown it'?  Said the wrong thing, made the wrong choice, followed the wrong crowd or simply messed up? We all have. Life has a way of stealing the beauty of our souls in times of drought and heat.  In our hearts, our beauty fades and we seem to die back in the dust. Sometimes we hide in shame, avoiding others and situations. 

But what a precious reminder that God is a redeeming God. He can pick up the seeds of distress and bring life to them.  With the water of His Word flowing in our hearts, newness and beauty can once again be captured. Our lives can shine brighter as grace flows through.  He alone can create a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us.  His arm is not too short to save nor His ear to short to hear. 

When those times come and we feel the heat of shame, let the seed of hope rise up and remember God who brings newness of life to all things is ready to bring abounding blessings and beauty to you.

Friday, June 1, 2018

"Practicing" Hospitality

Image result for bible lesson on hospitality

The sweetest thank you card came in the mail recently. It is always a blessing to receive handwritten notes with kind words!  However, the last sentence made me totally laugh out loud and praise Jesus at the same time!  "You do everything with grace and ease." were the beautiful words.  This was sent as a result of a Sunday lunch. 

I have to tell you about this lunch.  We invited some out of town guests over for Sunday lunch.  The weather forecast was for heavy rain and our guests were eager to eat and travel home quickly. The morning was spent preparing as much of the meal as possible, then we headed to church.  As church ended, the skies poured down rain!  Attempts to get home quickly vanished.  Our dear guests arrived at our home before we did and we arrived home wet, late with a few last minute food preparations to finish. 

Normally, this would have been a hospitality nightmare....except for grace.  Through the years God has worked in my heart to embrace guests and serving in my home. It begins with understanding the difference between entertaining and hospitality.  For years I 'entertained', making sure the house was spotless, exhausting myself over menus and details, hollering at the kids for bringing any dirt in the house. Generally making the family miserable, so we could bring others into our home. 

Hospitality is different. It shifts the focus from self to others.  Biblical hospitality offers our best to God first, understanding that our best to others will then fall into place. It transforms our selfish motives and elevates our guest. When the hospitable hostess swings wide the door, all her attention focuses outward: “You’re here! I’ve been waiting for you. No one is more important today than you, and I’m thrilled you’ve come.” The posture we assume in hospitality is one that bends low, generously offering our heart to another despite whatever interruption to our own plans or comfort. Extending hospitality is about freely giving of ourselves while granting others the freedom to be themselves. Shifting our focus from us to them removes all unnecessary expectations. 

For the Christian, practicing hospitality shouldn’t be something we just check off of our “holiness” list or something that we do one time and then feel like we have done our part. Hospitality is a lifestyle that we should embrace. It should become so much a part of us that it becomes one of our characteristics.  Of course, this takes practice and often learning from our mistakes.  But most of all it comes from the heart. 

It’s about opening your heart to others by opening your home to them. It’s about serving without grumbling. It’s about consistently putting others’ needs before your own. 
Hospitality is about developing an inner attitude that makes both physical and “heart” space for others.  Hospitality is showing those you serve, God’s heart. It is demonstrating His generosity, love, service, and provision. It is also showing our willingness to trust and submit to God’s authority.  It is a lot to learn and a beautiful grace to constantly grow in.

So, back to that Sunday lunch....with the heart attitude of blessing our guests and enjoying the precious time with them, it created a beautiful time of fellowship in spite of all the obstacles.  Food, laughter and memories flowed freely and the 'grace and ease' of Jesus flowed as well.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Words Matter - Let Them Bring Life

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Words are powerful tools in our hands (or mouth!). Depending on our aim, we can make them arrows that can build up or tear down. They can impart wisdom or bring shame. They can deliver encouragement or deflate the spirit. Words can be a weapon or a healing balm. A welcome sound or a dreaded racket. 

It is easy to remember words spoken by others into our lives. Some build us up and when we remember them, give us a warm feeling deep down in our hearts! They inspire us to become what those words spoke to us. Maybe we heard words that cut deep.  They too echo in our minds with a taunting cry and reminder of failure or mistakes. The voices we choose to listen to affect us greatly. We long to choose to remember the good words.  The Bible tells us that 'death and life are in the power of the tongue." 

We cannot do anything about harmful words in the past, but we can begin today to choose to give words of life to those around us. Because words often seem to fly out of our mouths quickly, choosing uplifting words requires deliberate and intentional action. Thinking and choosing gracious words for appropriate times while listening for the quiet warning when words are not appropriate is a delicate balance that will take much refining.  I read a verse this week that I need sealed in my heart.."He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit."  Proverbs 17:27. Words matter and it is never too late to purpose to choose words that bless.

So here is a challenge. Will you carve out some time today to use your words to encourage — to intentionally bless others? Someone is waiting to hear how thankful you are for them. It might just make their day. 

Love Prompts
Got a minute? Grab a pen! Use any of these prompts to get you started on jotting a note, an email, or a text to a loved one in your life. For some, the statement stands alone. For others, elaborate on the thought that is given. Your words are sure to bless your recipient!

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Spouse

I trust your judgment.
I’m glad I married you.
Here is what I appreciate most about you...
I am with you.
Being your wife has taught me...

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Child

You can do it.
A happy memory I have of when you were younger is...
I am confident you can make good choices.
Being your mom has taught me...
God has an amazing life planned for you.

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Parent

I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you before, but thank you for...
A wonderful memory I have of my childhood is...
I admire your strength.
How can I help you?
I am proud of you for...

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Friend

My favorite thing about our friendship is...
The best time I ever had with you was when...
I am with you all the way.
The character quality I most admire in you is...
You remind me of Jesus when you...

Often the hardest part of trying something new is the beginning.  These prompts make it easier to get started in a life giving habit of speaking life!