Fuel & Fun in The Journey

Today I thought I’d do a random post of a few things that I am enjoying, in recent days. Some of these things fuel my pursuit of greatness and some are just plain frivolous or fun! I am all about sharing great finds with others and I believe we can glean much from each other, even if some of those things are just some extra fun things, that may just make your smile a little bigger on any given day! These are in no particular order, but they are all some of my current favorite things…

May favorite drinks, other than water, is a cup of decaf coffee with this Salted Caramel Creamer. It’s delicious and, although I don’t have coffee everyday, I do enjoy a sweet cup and the “Ahhhh” feeling that comes with it for me! I also love my Complete Shake.  I have a few different ways I enjoy it, but for a quick snack, I mix it in my fabulous shaker bottle with coconut water. It’s also very refreshing, after a great workout (you know, the kind that leaves you shaking all over and crawling to the refrigerator for some nourishment).

I am probably late to this “game”, but one thing that I recently started enjoying is audible books. I have been on tour with my husband some over the last few weeks, and due to the fact that I get motion sickness, I am extremely limited on what I can accomplish while the bus is moving. I have really loved being able to pop in my earbuds and listen to great books, like “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. I love learning, growing, and becoming better, especially as a wife, mom, friend, and leader. This is a great book. Check it out, if you haven’t read it. If you’re like I was and never tried audible, this is a must! Seriously, you can clean your house, cook dinner, ride on a tour bus (with your eyes on the road), or unwind at the end of a day, while you listen to the book from your phone, Ipad, or computer! I’m a new fan!

I am still reading regular books, and my favorite right now is Moving Mountains. This is a great book, recommended to me by my sister. It is about praying with passion, confidence, and authority. It’s challenged me in my own prayer journey and I have a post coming up in just a few days, where I will share an exciting answer to a long time prayer that God gave me recently! If you like to read and you’re looking for a great book to add to your reading list, this is a great choice.

Another thing that I enjoy, that is much more frivolous, is my face scrub, night serum, and lip serum.  I can’t say these help in my pursuit of greatness, but they sure make my face feel great! I have a precious friend, Tori, that helps me, and I love that it can be so customized, for each person. You can explore it HERE!

On a parenting note, Circle by Disney is AMAZING! I was skeptical and waited a little while before making the purchase, but I am loving it!!!!! I can control the wifi throughout my house, as well as, the content viewed by each person in my home. Each child has his/her own settings, including time limits, bedtimes, and safety features. I can control it all from my phone! Did I say this is AMAZING? I just got it this month, but I, seriously, love it! If you have preteen or teenage kids, this is a must!

One more thing that makes me smile is my youngest sister’s blog. She has such a way with words. She encourages her readers in the stuff that matters, while sharing the simple things in everyday life. Whether you need encouragement in life, motivation for fitness, you have an infinity for cupcakes (or anything sweet), or you just like reading excellent material, you’ll want to start following CupcakesnCrunches!

This was fun and I hope you enjoyed browsing and exploring some of my favorite things! My other favorite things will have to wait for another post. Do you have a few favorite things in your life right now that fuel your journey or just add some fun to your life?

Showers of Stress

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Do you ever have those verses that, in certain seasons of life, literally wash over your spirit and minister to your heart? James 5:7-8 are verses that have jumped off the pages of Scripture for me. There is so much truth in these two verses. As I reflected on these living words and on the life God has entrusted to me, one particular phrase penetrated my heart.  These verses say, “Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.”

The phrase “patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work” seemed to leap out at me.  Often times, we can see the storms in life as things that God uses to push us to His loving arms (if we “patiently let them”), and certainly they do, however, the word used here in this verse is “rain”.  I thought of the song by Mercy Me, Jesus Bring the Rain, and began to contemplate the term rain.  Rain comes with aggressive storms, for sure, however, it also comes with simple showers.  Showers can be aggravating (especially if you are parked outside and have to go somewhere with a decent hairdo ~ha!) or they can be refreshing on a hot summer day.  I thought of the song, Showers of Blessings, and how blessed I truly am.  I have received showers of blessings, but I have also experienced the showers that are more aggravating .  Oh, not “storms”, like most of us would think of.  I haven’t lost a child, gone through a divorce, or hit a financial crisis.  I have, however, felt the “showers” that come from people hurting you deeply or taking advantage of you, unexpected hurdles that cost time and money, parenting challenges, and life decisions that just weigh heavy on your heart and mind.  These are what I call “showers of stress”, if you will.  None of these things are “storms” and sometimes they aren’t even “big problems” in the big picture of life, but they are often annoying and energy zapping things that Satan can use to suck the life out of us.  These verses reminded me that God desires to use even these “smaller showers” in our lives to remind us of just how dependent we are on Him and to grow us into all that He desires us to be.

We truly need Him for everything!  We cannot let the showers of stress “soak” us and weigh us down.  We have to “patiently let the rain (whether a storm or a shower) do its slow and SURE work”, by staying covered in the Word each day.  I want to allow even the “showers of stress” that sometimes fall around us (honestly, they daily fall most of the time), to do their work in my heart and life.  I don’t want to allow them to deter me from the pursuit I am on for Greatness!

Just like the earlier verse in James 1:21, which reads, “In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.”  I am far more blessed than I deserve, and I deeply desire for God to cultivate a garden in my life that will bring glory to Him and enrich the lives of others!

Thank the Lord today for being the patient Gardener of our hearts and for tending to every detail of our lives, in order to make us a beautiful display of His Glory.  May we see the showers of stress as reminders of how completely dependent we are on Him, and may we be patient, allowing them to do the work He desires them to do in our lives.  As we’re pursuing Greatness, let’s thank Him for the showers of blessings, that He always intermingles with the stress, in order to remind us of His sweet presence!  Finally, whether you’re in a storm or you find yourself walking through one shower after another, be encouraged, because the Son could arrive at any time!

Play Your Part

PlayYourPart

Do you ever find yourself teaching your children a valuable life lesson, usually through a childlike story, and it’s as if God says, “That’s for you, too!” I seem to have these moments often, when I am the teacher or coach to my children, and I simultaneously find myself as the student, hearing the voice of The Great Teacher. This post is about one of those very lessons.

As a parent, I try to speak to my children based on what I know is true about them, what God says about them, and not on how they are acting. In other words, if one of my children is lying, I’m not going to say, “You are a liar!” If one is acting like a complete brat (yes, it happens at our house, too), I am not going to say, “You are such a brat, and you need to straighten up!” Instead, I do my best to remind them who they are, who they were created to be, knowing that how they are acting in a given moment doesn’t change who they are. Let me explain by sharing the story I often tell them.

There was a beautiful princess (or prince, depending on which child I’m talking to), who lived in a castle just outside the city. She was kind, gracious, and was a strong leader, who cared deeply for her people. One day, she decided she wanted to explore the city, as a common girl. She replaced her royal gown and tiara with jeans, a t-shirt, and a ball cap. As she strolled through the city, she ran into a group of other young girls. These girls were nothing like the princess. They were mean spirited, selfish, and simply out to do what they wanted, with no regard for others. In an attempt to simply blend in, the princess tried to emulate the behavior she saw in her new acquaintances, and in no time, she found herself being disrespectful to the people around her, unkind to those that got in her way, and instead of leading her people, she found herself joining them in behaviors and attitudes that she knew were wrong. These friends told her that this was the way to survive in the world, to find happiness, and to get what she wanted. For a time, the princess forgot who she was, what she really wanted, and what she was destined to do.

This is the part of the story where I stop and ask my kids if the princess’s behavior changed who she was. The answer, of course, is obvious. No matter how she looked or how she acted, she was still the princess and destined to lead her people to greatness. In these moments, she simply wasn’t playing her part or acting like who she was created to be. She was leaving the role God designed her to fill unfulfilled.

The young princess had a choice to make. The same choice we each have every minute of everyday. Are we going to play the part God has given us? Will we act like who our Creator says we really are, or will we allow the Enemy, our flesh, and our circumstances to determine our behavior. What’s true about us is what God says about us and nothing can change that. We are HIS workmanship (work of art), created in His image, and He has great works that He has already ordained for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). The question isn’t who we are, it’s will we play the part, stepping into the role He has called us to.

No matter where you are, the question is the same. Even when the princess was in the city, living contrary to who she was, she was still the royal princess. All she had to do, in order to find what she was looking for, was step back into the role she was designed to play. She had to act like who she really was. It’s the same for you and me…and for our children.

God has called each of us to greatness. He calls us His treasures, and we are to radiate Him. Because of Him, we are loving, kind, faithful, honest, loyal, strong, pure, gentle, self-controlled, and much more. We are filled with purpose. Whether we feel that or not, whether we are surrounded by an environment that reflects that for us or not, the reality is the same, and we have a choice. Will we act like who we are or will we choose to live contrary to who we are created to be, making choices that actually sabotage our real identity?

In the moments when we all find ourselves acting out of character, let’s quickly step back into the role we were created for and play our part. There are no understudies to your life’s role, so make the choice and be intentional to play your part today!

God’s Love Language

Love5
As I was pondering the simple ways I could shower love on Tony, my one and only Valentine, and even our children, I thought about our precious Lord Jesus, the One who is Love. Many of you have probably read the book entitled, The Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman.  If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to check it out. It is a very insightful book and helpful in building relationships.  Dr. Chapman lists several ways in which we communicate love to those closest to us.  There is physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, and quality time.  Each play a significant role in every relationship, but he shares how we all have one or two particular languages that speak love the loudest to us.
I often use this to evaluate how I am expressing love to those around me in order to ensure that I am communicating love to them in the most effective way possible.  We all desire for our relationships to be rich and refreshing, and we know that in order for this to happen it takes diligence and dedication.  It isn’t something that just naturally happens, but rather it requires that we be intentional in cultivating these kind of relationships.
Deuteronomy 6:5  says,“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, and with all your strength.” As I was pondering Valentine’s Day, I considered my relationship with God.  Not just where I stand with Him, but how I love Him, and more specifically, how I communicate that love to Him.  I cannot help but think that even Jesus has a favorite love language.  Don’t get me wrong, similar to my own marriage, every love language is valuable, however, the reality is that we each have a particular love language that, when expressed, it shouts loud and clear, “I love you!”  I believe we express love for God when we serve Him, when we sing praises to Him, and when we give our gifts and offerings to Him, but I cannot help but think that His primary love language is quality time, savoring the gift of His presence.
Think about the story with me of Mary and Martha. You remember the account in Luke chapter 10, when Jesus is being hosted in their home.  Martha is serving Him, preparing a luscious meal for her Lord.  Mary, on the other hand, is simply sitting at His feet, giving Him her undivided attention.  Jesus didn’t reprimand Martha for serving.  He knew she loved Him and was attempting to express that love through her service, but what He did do was clearly express that which He felt was best.  I am sure he enjoyed lunch that day, and I can’t help but think that he expressed gratitude later for the meal Martha prepared for Him.  However, what brought Him the most joy and expressed love to His heart the most?  What did He say was most valuable?  Take the time to check it out for yourself.  You will find it was the quality time and attention that Mary offered Him, sitting at His feet.
In this culture, it’s something we all have to fight for, this most valuable gift of time with Him.  We must practice His sweet presence throughout our busy days, choosing to stay focused on Him and acknowledging Him in the details of our life. We can all get stuck in the whirlwind of acts of service, that are fueled by a deep desire to express love to our Savior, and all the while He is quietly whispering to our spirits, “I just want some time with you”?  Are we offering Him our talents and our treasures materially, but withholding the time and attention He so passionately desires from us?
He is God, and He knows our hearts, but as we express our love to the special people in our lives today, for Valentine’s Day, let’s make it a point to consider the One who is Love. Let’s take the time, make the necessary adjustments in our schedule, and guard that time with Him, not just in the morning, but all throughout our day.  Give Him that which He most enjoys, sweet, intimate fellowship.  Speak His love language, if you will.  Sit at His feet, hear His heart through His Word, acknowledge His presence even more throughout the day, and then, out of an overflow of that precious intimacy, we will find ourselves speaking the other love languages clearly, and our lives will exclaim to the world around us, “I love the Lord”!

Hot Pursuit

To pursue is to chase after something. According to Webster’s dictionary, it is an activity that one engages in. It’s trying to catch something or someone for usually a long distance or time. What comes to your mind when you hear the word pursuit? I picture my dog chasing a cat, or the cat tracking a chipmunk. In those moments, both of the animals in pursuit act as if there is nothing else going on around them. My dog can be sleeping soundly or totally engrossed in something indoors, but at the mere mention of the word “Simba”, she immediately starts barking and running toward the closest window or door, and nothing will deter her, until she is confident that she has either caught the cat (which has never been done) or she feels like she has victoriously chased it away.  In both of these scenarios, the pursuer catches a scent or a glimpse of their “treasure” (or prey), and they go hard after it.

As I was chewing on this word, pursuit, it stirred my heart to evaluate my own life, not just the things I am pursuing, but the intensity of my pursuit. One thing I know about all of us is that we can get quite comfortable in every area of our life and, although we may be on the right path, we can become lethargic in our pursuit of what we really want. Our pursuits and the vigor in which we are following after them is an issue worthy of keen consideration.

If you’re visiting this blog, it’s my hopes that, although we may be pursuing a few different things, we share one major underlying passion. This passion trumps all else and has a vast impact on everything else we chase after. It’s the pursuit of greatness. Not the  greatness that is simply associated with financial gain or notoriety, but more with Who we are pursuing and, as a result, who we are becoming.

I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and blessed are those that trust in Him. (Psalm 34:8) I’ve gotten enough glimpses to know the pursuit is worth it, so I am willing to seek the Lord Jesus and His presence diligently, passionately exploring and learning more of His greatness and the impact that has on who I am. I want to be intentional about stepping up and into the person He has created me to be, walking in the greatness He has called me to. This one pursuit affects everything else I am chasing after, in my home, my relationships, my job, and even in my health.

It is my desire to invite, inspire, and empower others in this dynamic pursuit. This blog will serve as an overflow of the treasures I am finding, the hurdles I am facing and overcoming, and the lessons I am learning in my journey. I pray that you will come alongside me in this pursuit, not just as a follower of my blog, but as one who wants to desire to join me in the pursuit. If you stumbled onto this site and aren’t quite sure about what you’re reading, I pray you will continue to follow and that God will use this to give you that glimpse into all that He has for you. No matter where you are in the journey today, I pray that we will encourage, empower, and glean from each other in this vital and exciting pursuit of all the greatness He has called us to.

Chasing Greatness,
Tammy…
Isaiah 62:3