January 23, 2015

this conversation with my 8-year-old daughter

How do you teach an 8-year-old to put others before herself?

Well, I'll tell you what I did, but if you have any words of wisdom on this subject, feel free to leave them in the comments section! Please!!

Here's the story.  Last Saturday morning, after I witnessed my oldest daughter be particularly nasty to her little sister and then proceed to cop an attitude with me when I tried to correct her, I broke out the Bible (yep, I went there) and made her read the following verses:

Mark 12:31 "Love your neighbor as yourself."

and

Matthew 7:12 "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." 

I wish I could tell you that her attitude immediately improved and she instantly saw the error of her way.  Sadly, I cannot report that. In fact, she became even more nasty (rolling her eyes, whining) and claimed she had no idea what those verses meant.  (FYI: The child has been in Sunday school virtually every Sunday since she was in diapers - literally - so I KNOW she knows what these verses mean!)

Much to her delight (#not), I explained to her what the verses meant.  I told her they illustrate for us how Jesus expects us to live.  He expects us to live loving others - Him first and then our "neighbors." We should live to love. And whatever the circumstances, we are to love everyone as we love ourselves.    

She responded with a question... Why?

To more accurately quote her, "Why should I do THAT?"

And my answer made tears unexpectedly well up in my eyes.  With a shaky voice I said, "Because that is how Jesus loved us."  And I quoted a verse she had recently learned in Awana:

Romans 5:8 "But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us."

#mindblowing

What a GREAT love He has lavished upon us!  WHILE we were STILL sinners, Christ loved us so much He DIED for us!!!

I tried to explain to my reluctant audience of one that the very least we could do in repayment for such a sacrifice is to obey His commands and be loving toward others as He was toward us.

Well, I'm sorry to say I did not see an immediate turn around in her behavior after our conversation.  Although, the removal of her new notebook all day Saturday did inspire a good bit of time to reflect on her actions, and she is now attempting to be more "gracious."  That's her one word for 2015.  We have a lot of conversations using that word lately. ;-)

What I can tell you though is this:  God used that conversation with my 8-year-old daughter to remind me of the magnitude of God's love for me - for US.

While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.  Say that slowly three times!  Dwell on that one!!  And praise His great name!!!

Today's forget-me-not: Romans 5:8  "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!" Praise Him!


Warning: Clicking on the video below will result in an outburst of praise and worship! Do it!!


So we cry out Your name, El Shaddai, God of grace
Lord most High, Jesus Christ
We rely on your grace, Adonai crowned in praise,
Lord most High, Jesus Christ

Read more: Kari Jobe - We Cry Out Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

January 16, 2015

My One Word for 2015 AND My first giveaway!

Bonnie Gray - blogger at Faith Barista and author of Spiritual Whitespace - is launching a linkup:
We’re launching our first Beloved Brews LinkupLet’s become the Beloved in 2015. Writing intentionally with Jesus — with our whole heart. Every Thursday here.
I am super excited to participate in Bonnie's linkup this week!  Here is the topic:

What is your One Word for 2015?

Beloved Brews Linkup

Joy.

As soon as I read the above question, that word popped into my head.  Joy.

I have already blogged about my need to slow down and look for joy in a post about my New Year's Resolutions, and lately, God has been teaching me how to do this.

Matthew 25:23 "Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Share your master's joy!"

Jesus wants me to share His joy!  Each day is filled with His joy, but I have to learn to slow down, look for it, and take hold of it. I know He wants me to have it; He died so I could have it!

Romans 15:12-14 And again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope." May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Slow down. Enjoy rest. Trust in Him. Give Him your worries and fears. Be obedient in this.  That's how you find and obtain joy.

Look for the joy in the journey. It's there.  He's there. Grab Joy!

Put down the smartphone and talk to the person beside you.
Put aside the day's tasks to play with your children a few extra minutes.
Push away your worries and fears.  Rejoice always and pray without ceasing (1Thess. 5:17).
Push to embrace whatever the day holds for "this is the day the Lord has made; rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24).

Slow down and enjoy the race of life. It's not a sprint; it's a marathon - pace yourself, take breaks, stop and drink when need be. No worries. You can do this!  For joy, He did it.  For joy, you can do this too!

Hebrews 12:2 For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Today's forget-me-not:  Take the time to enter into the joy of the Lord!


Thank you, Bonnie Gray, for inspiring so many of us to make more room for Jesus in our lives!  And to express my gratitude to you for your efforts, I want to host my first blog giveaway. I want to give away a copy of Spiritual Whitespace!

*cue happy dance*

If you are intereted in having a copy of Bonnie's book, here's what you have to do:
1 - Log in using the rafflecopter below.
2 - Complete one or more of the activities listed on the rafflecopter.
3 - After you complete an action, click to submit an entry into the raffle via the rafflecopter.
4 - Complete all four activities to get multiple entries in the raffle!
5 - Come back to Forget-me-not, Oh Lord on Monday (1/19), and I will announce the winner by noon that day in the comments section below.  I will also announce the winner on Facebook and Twitter.

Contest goes from Friday, January 16 (12:00am) to Monday, January 19 (12:00am).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 9, 2015

Talk about that baby!

Not long after I lost our second child - Angel - to an early miscarriage at eight weeks, I knew I wanted to help foster dialogue about pregnancy and infant loss as a way to remember her.  As a result, I eagerly participate in projects that help give a voice to this taboo subject.

For example, when I heard that Katy Larsen - a fellow blogger - was putting together a compilation of stories written by women who had experienced a loss and was looking for submissions for her new book, I jumped at the opportunity to write and share the story of my miscarriage.  The result of Katy's efforts is a beautiful book called Because They Lived. My story, entitled "Because Angel Lived," is featured in the book. It made my heart soar to see it in print and to know that others might read it and be comforted by the reality that they are not alone if they have just suffered a loss.

Recently, a friend shared with me another project aimed at breaking the silence and erasing the shame that surrounds miscarriage called Don't Talk About The Baby (DTATB).  This project is working to put together a documentary film "that explores the culture and shame surrounding miscarriage and infertility," and they are calling for stories:
We want your voice to be heard, and you don't need to be a part of the final film in order to tell your story. We encourage you to record your story and share it with us, so that we can share it with the DTATB community.  Tell us about your journey. Tell us about your baby, your loss, your treatments, your life, and how you're breaking your silence to take the stigma away from miscarriage and infertility. There are no guidelines concerning video content or swearing, so please feel free to tell your story exactly as you feel most comfortable telling it. Simply record your video, upload it to YouTube and contact us with the link. We'll add your video to the website, and may feature it on the Facebook and Twitter pages. Your story is an important part of this movement, and we'd be honored to share it with the world on your behalf. 
Although the idea of filming myself was a bit uncomfortable, I knew I had to do this!  So one afternoon during Christmas break, I set up the camera in our bedroom, pulled up "Because Angel Lived" on my computer, and filmed myself reading the piece I had written  for Katy Larsen's book.  The result is below and is today's forget-me-not.

After sharing my video with DTATB, they contacted me and said they had decided to feature my video on their Facebook and Twitter pages with plans to also share it on the DTATB website!  To say I was thrilled would be a huge understatement!  There is even a possibility that I could be interviewed for the documentary!!

And then, I got a message via Facebook from an old friend.  I had shared the DTATB page on my timeline, and she had seen it in her newsfeed.  After watching my video, she sent me this:
Jamie, I just listened to your story "Because Angel Lived" and I feel the need to message you and let you know how it affected me. It is not going to be the same as you would expect. I don't know how much you remember but in Jan of 2000 my husband and I lost our son at 14 weeks into our pregnancy. It was considered a live birth even though he could have only lasted maybe seconds. That remains to this day the most devastating day of my life. It took me a very long time to grieve and get to a point where I could move on. It was ultimately the birth [of my second son] later that year that saved me. There were still things about that time that I never got over and one of them involved you. On July 4th, which was my original due date, we were at your house for a celebration but I wasn't feeling much like celebrating. You and I ended up talking some and during the conversation at one point you told me that it was time for me to move on. Those words broke me because I couldn't move on and I felt ultimately abandoned by the friend who had been so supportive. When you lost your Angel, my heart broke for you. I would not wish that pain on anyone and I grieved for you and your family. At the same time I realized that I was still upset with what had happened all those years ago and that, in some ways, it kept a slight wedge on how I could view you as a friend. I was cautious and afraid to be close to you again. I prayed that you would have the support and understanding you needed during that time but did my best to distance myself from it. Hearing your words tonight gave me the closure I needed. Hearing you admit that you had said things in the past to others grieving that you were hurt by and knowing that in your heart you thought you were doing the right thing helped me to let go of that hurt and finally fully forgive. So thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being so honest and open and saying all of the things I wanted to say to you 15 years ago. I hope that because of your story there will be less hurt between friends because there will be more understanding. Because Angel lived, there was forgiveness and healing.
 Her message to me is the exact reason why we MUST talk about miscarriage and infant loss!

I do remember when I admonished her to move on from her loss - as if someone could ever move on from the loss of a child.  And as I say in "Because Angel Lived," when I said those insensitive words to my friend, I said it in complete ignorance. I admit my this in the following portion from "Because Angel Lived":
I understood the comments after my loss were coming from those who had good intentions.  I knew this to be true because before my loss, I had offered up those same condolences to friends of mine who had experienced miscarriages.  At that time, I didn’t know how to comfort a woman who had just experienced the loss of a baby. 
My friend's e-mail to me was humbling for me to read and inspirational.  Her message confirmed to me that sharing my story - and Angel's story - is something I must continue to do.  Because if reading my story or something on this blog helps there be, as she says, "less hurt between friends [and family]," that's all I could ever dream or hope for!

"Because Angel lived, there was forgiveness and healing."

What an undeserved gift those words are to my soul!  Love you, my friend!!!

Today's forget-me-not:



January 2, 2015

lessons from God's Word reinforced on a New Year's Day morning run


January 1, 2015, I awoke with only one thing on my mind: a New Year's Day run!

All bundled up and prepared to run in the cold January weather, I started walking to the nearby park. I just felt I needed to start my year this way - running with God.

The crisp air filled my lungs, invigorating my soul.  Joy washed over me as I began to count my blessings and thank Jesus for each one: I'm alive.  I'm healthy.  I have a loving husband and beautiful girls.  God is on His throne and in complete control of everything.  As my mind dwelt on these things, the peace of God rushed through me.

Lesson #1 - Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

I turned on Phillips, Craig & Dean's new album Above It All via my phone and placed my earbuds in my ears.  The song "What Hope Feels Like" began playing, and my spirit soared when I heard these words:

It's like I woke up for the first time breathing
It's like I looked up for the first time seeing
I'm learning to live again
I'm learning to love again
I'm learning to dream again
It's like I've been born again

It's nothing but open road
Now that I'm not alone
I'm saying hello to life
This is what hope feels like

I couldn't help but smile big and shoot the Lord an "Amen!" upon drinking in those lyrics.  "You make all things new, Jesus!"  It was New Year's Day - a time for new beginnings - and I was ready to learn to live, to love, and to dream anew in 2015.  And then I heard God say, "Let me do this in you, Jamie."

And as I looked at the open road before me and began my run, I whispered, "Yes, Lord.  Yes. Yes."

Lesson #2 - Lamentations 3:22-24 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him.'"

Continuing my run, the words from my new favorite song "What Hope Feels Like" climaxed and concluded:

Now I'm running
Every chain is fallen
Into your freedom I can hear you calling

I'm learning to live again
I'm learning to love again
I'm not going back again
Because I've been born again

You have rolled that stone aside
Because you live so will I
What was dead is now alive
And this is what hope feels like

And as I ran on, I prayed that God would start a new work in me.  For me. For mine. For you.

For Him!

Happy New Year in Jesus!

Today's forget-me-not: lessons on a New Year's Day morning run

Yes!
hope


December 30, 2014

It's time for some New Year's Resolutions!

It's that time of year again.  It is the time of year when we get introspective...

It's time for New Year's Resolutions!

In my life, I've gone back and forth with how I feel about the idea of New Year's Resolutions.  I used to not make them because I hardly ever followed through with them.  And I figured, why wait until the new year to make changes?  If I see something needs changing, I'll just take action and resolve to change it right then and there.

Now with that being said, I think it's okay to make resolutions on New Year's Eve if you feel lead to do so.  There is something about this time of year that demands we take a moment to reflect on what has been and what can be. 

And this year, I'm going to yield.  Join me?


Jamie's New Year's Resolutions 2015

1. Make time for morning devotionals and spiritual whitespace.

I have a bad habit of starting my day with a bowl of Cheerios and Facebook.  As I eat, I scroll through my news feed...wasting precious time I could be reading God's word.   I need to break that habit. I need more time with my Jesus. #always So, I'm hoping a new devotional book (Run For God Devotional) and wisdom I've found in Bonnie Gray's Spiritual Whitespace book will help me achieve this resolution. Suggestion: Make reading her book a 2015 resolution! You won't be disappointed!!!

2. Train to run a few 10Ks this year. 

I don't know why this is exactly, but I've recently had a desire to run some longer distance races - specifically 10Ks.  In order to prepare for this, I've read up on Jeff Galloway's run walk run method. I think this approach is something I can use to successfully achieve this goal.  I am very excited about this!  If you run 10Ks, send some tips my way!

3. Slow down and look for joy.

This resolution was inspired by my new morning devotional (already started ;-) and reinforced by my close friend and running buddy Jaimee.  Read these words by Melissa Weimer as printed in the Run For God Devotional book:
Knowing there will be a day when I get to cross that final finish line of life and hear those words I long for, "Well done, my good and faithful servant," I challenge myself daily to enjoy the moment. I have stopped looking ahead.  Now I enjoy what is right in front of me.  So as I take this challenge, I also put it out to you.  Are you missing out on the moment?  Step back, take a look, and then jump in that race that God has placed before you.  Begin enjoying the journey.
I read those words in my morning devotional and something in my heart yelled, "AMEN!"  Then later that night while having dinner with my girlfriend, she proclaimed that this also was a New Year's Resolution she had:  slow down. Can you say, "Spiritual confirmation?!"

Look for the joy in the journey.  Enjoy the race.  We could all stand to do more of this, right? Let's remind each other of this, okay?


As you look back on 2014, what are some things YOU would like to change?  Any behaviors that need adjustment? Any perspectives that need alteration?

Do you want to set any goals? Achieve something? What would make you feel better about YOU?

Now, resolve to make it happen! Make a plan - be as specific as possible. Ask God to bless it.  And begin!

Don't feel as if you are being selfish in your new endeavors.  God wants you to be your best you, and He wants to help you!  He wants you to have life and have it abundantly!  He came so that you might live!

Now, go make those resolutions!!!

Happy New Year!

Today's forget-me-nots:  Strive to be better and to do more.  Jesus loves you, and He gave you life - live it.

Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son...
John 10:10 I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

December 19, 2014

What are your holiday traditions?

I haven't participated in a blog linkup in a long time. I'm not sure why. I really enjoy getting to know other bloggers, and a linkup provides a great way to "meet" fellow bloggers.  Anyway, I was excited to find this particular linkup on a running blog I follow: Darlene at My First 5K.


The "Friday Five" is sponsored by three blogs: Courtney from Eat Pray Run, DC and Mar from Mar on the Run and Cynthia from You signed up for WHAT?!

If you are interested in participating in future "Friday Five" linkups, here is what you do: first, write a post about five things (random things or things in line with the chosen theme for that week).  The theme for this week is holiday traditions.  In your post, you have to put the above pic and be sure to list and link to the blogs that sponsor the linkup.  Then all you have to do is go link your post on their pages.  There is an app that facilitates this.

So, enough "talk."  Let's get started!

Here are five of our family holiday (in our house, Christmas) traditions!

1. We have an Elf on the Shelf.  Our elf's name is George (Beth was on a Curious George kick when we got him).  Now, I realize that when it comes to the Elf on the Shelf concept everyone is in one of three different camps: team "I don't know what you are talking about!?" (#googleit) or team "We love our elf!" or team "I hate that thing; it's creepy!"  Whatever camp you find yourself in, just know this: our girls love Elf George.  They awake every morning to try to find him, and it is #sostinkincute

George returns every year on Thanksgiving night, and he always lands in the Christmas tree.
2.  Every year, the girls look forward to Back to Bethlehem at our church.  This is basically when the fellowship hall is transformed into the Bethlehem of Jesus' birth.  The kids get to walk through it and participate in a variety of activities while dodging the Roman soldiers. :-)

The angel with Mary and Joseph at Jesus' birth.

Listening to bible stories.
3. Every year before Christmas, we meet up with my husband's parents to eat and exchange gifts. It's a fun time for the girls.  They love their Nonna and Poppa!

ALWAYS ice cream for desert! 

4. We always make time to go see Santa at some point during the Christmas season!  Here are this year's pics of the girls with ol' Saint Nick.

Beth (7) - She wants a computer for Christmas.

Hannah (3) - What she wants changes every minute of every day.
5. And finally, every Christmas eve, the girls wake up to find that Elf George has brought them some early presents.  New pajamas are always included with the gifts.



There are more holiday traditions I could mention, but it's "Friday Five" and not "Friday Fifteen."

What are some of your holiday traditions?

Today's forget-me-not: Make memories.  Lots of them!

December 12, 2014

It's hard to understand why God loves me.

I know God loves me, but it's hard to understand why.

Sure, He created me, and everything He does is good and worthy of praise.  I know that.  But, there are so many evil things I've said and done and thought that make me wonder how He can see any redeeming qualities in me!  

I identify with bible verses like this one:
Isaiah 64:6  All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
The term "filthy rags" in the original Hebrew actually refers to the garments or rags a woman uses during her menstrual cycle.  I know! Gross, right?! So the above verse is saying that whatever we would consider our most righteous works, God would consider those acts disgusting garbage.

Now, that sounds right.  I at times feel that no matter what I do, it's wrong. Because I am wrong.  I am terribly flawed. I am garbage, filthy. 

How do you pull yourself out of the pit of negative self-talk when you feel as if you deserve nothing more than a regular non-verbal lashing?

The only thing that helps lift my spirits after I've talked myself down into a depression is to talk with Jesus.  Truly, whenever I find myself in the midst of a "I hate myself" mind-frame, I also find that I've gone without my quiet time with Jesus for, obviously, too long.

Because when a born again child of God spends time talking with Jesus, He doesn't call you a filthy rag.  He calls you righteous, a new creation, and redeemed.  He says you are reconciled, adopted, and chosen.  He refers to you as His friend and His bride.  

How do I know when I need to spend more quality time with my Jesus?  It is when I start thinking that I am not worthy of love. 

Jesus' death on the cross says otherwise. Don't belittle his sacrifice by proclaiming it as done in vain.

Today's forget-me-not: Regularly spend time with Jesus, and listen to what He has to say about you.  He will lift you up!

Psalm 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.


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