Ballerina

My choice of dolls revealed inner levels of desire and maturity. There were many bald diaper clad baby dolls with open mouths for insertion of bottles. I wrapped them in receiving blankets, pretending to feed and burp them. My parents gifts of doll cribs and carriages were places I bedded them down for naps or a good night’s sleep. I wanted to marry one day and be a real mommy.

Nannette was a large bride doll with big beautiful eyes and a head of curly brunette hair. Dressed in a white bridal gown she had no need of diapers or baby bottles. I was growing up and my choice of dolls revealed changes I did not even realize. I have a snapshot in my family album of my last doll. At the age of ten or eleven Mom & Dad filled my Christmas wish. I found a ballerina doll under our tree.

My ballerina was dressed in attire for a formal ballet. From head to toe, she was a dancer! Her hair was styled in a bun and she wore satin pink ballet shoes upon delicate feet. She was no dolly; no, she was a dream come true. I could pose her or twirl her around and proudly positioned her in the middle of my bed as a decoration in the bedroom.

David proudly and passionately danced unto the Lord. “And David was dancing before the Lord with all His might, and David was wearing a linen ephod (2 Samuel 6:14 NAS).” He moved his feet as instruments of praise and rejoicing. He could not stand still! There were no cheering crowds with shouts of Bravo. He heard his rapid heart beats instead,  Hosanna!

Appreciating the Simple Things

Today was a beautiful fall day and I spent some of it outside blowing bubbles with a two-year-old. I would blow the bubbles and he would chase them and try to catch them – giggling with delight the whole time. As I blew the bubbles again and again, I couldn’t help but reflect on the simplicity of that exercise. All it took was some liquid soap, a plastic bubble blower, and my own hot air. With those three simple ingredients, countless beautiful spheres were brought into being. They danced in the wind, reflecting small rainbows of light, until they floated off into the distance or were crushed by a young child’s eager hands.

It was one of those simple moments that are so easy to miss. I know that there were things I would have rather been doing. “Blowing bubbles” certainly wasn’t on my to-do list for today. And yet, I took the time to do it because a child wanted to and was richly rewarded.

Life is so busy today. It seems like there is always something to be done. Technology has made our lives easier but, as a result of those same innovations, our lives move at a much quicker pace. We are more productive than we have ever been, but the technology that was supposed to make our lives easier was also intended to give us more time. Time to do what? Enjoy the simple pleasures of life – spend time with our families and friends, go for a walk, work in the garden, enjoy a hobby, appreciate the gifts of God’s creation, etc.

Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Instead, we frequently use the “extra” time that technology saves us to interact with more technology. We surf the net, or watch television, or spend more time working just because we can and because there is always one more thing to be done. We frequently spend more time interacting with screens than we do interacting with real people or the world outside our front door.

I am not anti-technology – not at all. I’m blessed to be able to work from home because of it. I love that I can find the answer to almost any question my children might have when we are homeschooling with a few keystrokes. I enjoy connecting with my friends and work colleagues via social networks. Technology has opened up a world of possibility that simply didn’t exist a few years ago.

But, there needs to be a balance. We need to remember what is important and what is lasting in this world. Technology is a tool, but it is supposed to work for us, not the other way around. We need to unplug and take the time to appreciate the simple things, to play with a child, to smell a flower, to thank God for a beautiful sunset, or to marvel at dancing bubbles. The world is full of beauty – much of it fleeting. Children grow quickly, flowers bloom for only a brief period of time, sunrises and sunsets last mere moments. Our chances to value them are just as fleeting. We need to make a concerted effort to embrace at least some of those chances.

– Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com

Remedy for an Unhealthy Heart

I had assumed blockage and hardening of the arteries was a problem only for the elderly. Today we hear of the serious health threats of obesity in children. It puts a new spin on what goes unseen beneath the surface; if beauty is skin deep it has a lasting relationship with cholesterol and arteries under attack.

I am not fluent in medications jargon. Frequently someone with medical background will confidently unravel a string of drugs given as treatment for ailments and I smile as clueless as a tourist in a foreign country. As a young girl, a new word entered my vocabulary; Grandpa Ford took digitalis. He had heart problems, rested after lunch and followed his doctors’ orders.

There is another remedy for an unhealthy heart: Did-ya-tell-Jesus?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NAS).”  

Labor of Love

W-O-R-K is one four-letter word that is misconstrued. In our self-centered generation, we seek personal pleasure and comfort over labor. We are easily led to believe that work is a bad thing, that occupations are merely jobs to provide for our families; drudgery and grumbling are the norm, that fulfillment is for the few clinging to the highest lung on the ladder.

Adam anticipated each sunrise for the opportunity to work in the Garden of Eden. He filled his assigned role as grounds-keeper and took delight in picking the perfect names for all animals in his midst. Problems arose soon after in a moment of leisure; he yielded to his help-pate Eve’s influence. Adam ate of the forbidden fruit and God cursed the ground Adam walked on. Work would require sweat of the brow and back breaking labor.

We are God’s adopted children. Christ Jesus’ sacrificial death lifted our curse. He bore it for each of us on Calvary. We can have productive lives as men and women, fulfilling our God given tasks. Husbands are able to give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay and know they are caring for those they love to the best of their ability. Women can find guidance in balancing jobs they trained for and the most influential role of wife and mother. Stay at home moms can take pride in their prestigious role. Work can be wonderful!

Labor Day is our perfect opportunity to re-evaluate our work-a-day lives. “We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me (Colossians 1:28-29 HCS).” Paul took his work seriously. He looked for spiritual growth in those he influenced for Christ. He worked without wearing himself to a frazzle, relying on the supernatural strength of the Lord. He could truly say, Happy Labor Day!

He Loves Me!

I’m very easily excited.  My family will attest to this with a resounding “yes” and a dramatic head-nod.

The smallest things delight my heart.  And to me, they’re not so small.

Like when God painted a breath-taking heart in the sky right after my 3 year old whispered “I’m so happy Jesus lives in my heart” {unprompted} from the back seat of the car…

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{isn’t that just crazy gorgeous?}

Like the fact that garlic grows curly for a while before it straightens up and forms a bulb.

Or like the fact that pretty green leaves turn a ravishing red year after year after year.

Leaf

And like the fact that crusty crabs from the bottom of the ocean that wash up daily, get devoured by the seagulls and get trampled on my unnoticing feet…

could be so phenomenally beautiful.

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{pay no attention to unmanicured, dirty nail}

I don’t know about you, but these seemingly trivial things simply point to one thing.

How deeply, thoroughly, and outrageously well we are loved by our Creator.

Think about it for a minute.

He could have chosen to paint this world in shades of gray.

But he chose vivid color instead.

He could have made one type of flower…one species of animal…one form of boring, tasteless nourishment for our bodies {think sludge through a straw}.

But no.

We get to enjoy a plethora of colors, shapes, sizes, a myriad of scents, flavors, and textures.

Why?  Because he loves us with a radical, passionate, extravagant love.  And because he created us to appreciated beautiful things.

Garlic.  Clouds.  Leaves.  Crabs.

Yup…they spell L-O-V-E to me.

 

{and I haven’t even touched on the whole baby Jesus, God incarnate, gift of life thing yet.  Wow.  Now that’s love.  Lavish, outlandish love.}

 

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Be Content Where You Are

Why is it that we never seem to be content where we are? If we live in a small house we want a bigger one. If we live in a big house we can get overwhelmed or embarrassed that people think we have too much and want a smaller one.  If we have curly hair we want straight hair and vice versa.  If we are good at sewing we wish we could bake. If we live in the city we’d love to live in the mountains. If we travel all the time we wish we could stay home but those people who stay home long to travel.
 
Contentment. It seems so elusive at times and I think we have ourselves to blame.
 
Take writers for example.  I know writers who have a lot of deadlines to meet and would love to just be able to write when they want and about what they want.  Yet sometimes I long to have a steady paying column where I have a deadline!  It’s something I constantly struggle with – my real reason for writing.  Why do I do what I do? Do I do it to make money or do I do it to make a difference? 
 
I think our problem is that we are constantly comparing ourselves or looking at what other people are doing.  We take our eyes off of where we are at and look at where someone else is at.  Once we do that, we create a longing within ourselves and forget that maybe we were contented before we saw what someone else was doing out there. I know that’s happened to me and I’ve really been trying to focus on how God speaks to my own heart instead of comparing myself to what other people are good at or what roads in life they are going on. When I do that, I only feel “less than”.  You know? It creates a feeling of “I’m not good enough.”
 
Just recently I was battling those very thoughts.  I was seeing how other writers out there seemed to get so much accomplished. They had very successful blogs with lots of comments being left.  They had requests to write columns and I was struggling, wondering if I was reaching anyone with my words at all.  And then God sent me a special gift in the form of an email from a woman who touched my heart so deeply that there were tears in my eyes as I read her note. She told me that she admired me.  That my blog and ministry had impacted her life greatly and that I was anointed by the Lord to be doing what I was doing.  Wow. What a lesson from the Lord.
 
You see – I love helping others. I get so excited when I know that something I have written has encouraged or impacted someone in some way.  Yet I allow myself to look in on what other people are doing and it causes me to grow discontented. Kind of like a television commercial. We don’t know we need or want something until we are told we should have it – right? That’s like life. 
 
I am blessed – blessed – to be able to write and minister to women. I love doing it. I don’t tire of it and I always have ideas for new articles or blogs stirring in my head.  I just forget that true love and purpose sometimes because I get pulled into the real world. The world that thrives on popularity and success.  A world that I really would rather not get sucked into.
 
I am right where I am supposed to be. I am right where God wants me.
 
It’s so important for us to remember that when we let our eyes wander off of our road in life and onto someone else’s, that we need to be content where we are, no wishful thinking, because there is a reason we are where we are.
 
Whether you are living somewhere you’d rather not be living, or desiring something in your life that someone else has – it’s so important to know that you are not where you are by mistake. You haven’t been forgotten, neglected, or mislead by God. He knows and sees where you sit, stand, and walk each day. He sees your wishes and dreams and He knows every detail of your life.  Be content where you are. There are great riches and treasures to be found in your current “spot” in life if only you ask God for the eyes to see them with.  Maybe, in due time – He’ll move you on closer to where you think you should be, or maybe, just maybe He’ll take you somewhere else far better than what you thought you wanted for yourself.
 
I don’t know where God wants to take me in life.  But I do know that He showed me that I am being used right where I am. And for that, I am so grateful because I want to live a life of contentment. I just needed a little reminder of that.
 
 
Dionna Sanchez is the Founder of EmphasisOnMoms.com and writes a blog for moms to encourage them out of the lessons God daily teaches her. You can visit it at http://beautyinthestorm.blogspot.com