He Sees You

Today I washed and folded laundry. No one applauded.

Today I cleaned the kitchen and all the floors. No one cheered.

Today I made breakfast AND dinner. No one shouted accolades of praise.

Today I picked kids up from school. No one gave me a standing ovation.

Today I did office work for our business. No one patted my back.

Today I comforted teenage girls in their time of emotional distress. No one broadcasted my compassion and patience.

Today I taught my kids to repay evil with good and to love God and love people. No one shouts my name from a stage.

Today I cleaned the litter box and fed all the animals. No one sang a song of glee.

Today I helped with College Algebra, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry and College Writing. No one gave me an “atta, girl.”

Today I paid college apartment rent, auto insurance premiums, and bought the hundredth pair of pointe shoes. Not one person requested an interview to declare my amazing, selfless acts.

Today and every day…day in and day out…I clean, I fold, I wash, I sweep, I comfort, I cook, I love, I give.

Today and every day…day in and day out…I care for and keep human beings alive and thriving.

Where’s my praise? Where’s my public display of adoration? Where’s my grand gesture of thanks?

Nothing but silence.

Then I hear my Father say, “I love you immensely, I think about you all the time, and I see you and know who you are, where you are. When you do all these tasks that seem to go unnoticed, I see. You are not doing these things for others, but for Me. Well done, my daughter. Thank you for caring for who I have given you, with what I have given you.”

Mothers, wives, grandmothers…don’t give up, don’t be discouraged. You are loved and appreciated by your Creator. Keep doing what you do as unto the Lord. The Father delights in you as you bathe your baby and wash those dishes. God rejoices over you as you teach your children about His Son. His banner over you is pure love as you tenderly care for and support your family. He rewards you in special ways that touch only your heart.

Let David’s words from Psalm 139 be your prayer and song each day.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Why is This Happening?

“Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do people that we love suffer? Why do mothers, fathers, children get sick and die? Why is there rape, murder, racism, anger and so much hatred everywhere you turn? If there is a God, why does He allow these things to happen?”

So many awful things have happened this year. It seems that we are completely surrounded by sadness and despair. In my own life throughout this year, I’ve experienced tremendous losses, insurmountable stress, tragedy, fear and sadness.

For instance…I share these things with you to demonstrate that we all have situations to overcome or deal with in our lives. I speak from experience, not from a perfect life. Some may say, “Easy for you to say, Susie. You haven’t had bad things happen in your life like I have.” So on that note…

One of my closest friends was diagnosed with colon cancer (and thankfully has recovered 100%).

My grandfather passed away during the initial COVID quarantine.

Working in healthcare during this pandemic was so awful…I recently “retired.” Unless you work in healthcare, you can’t imagine what I’m speaking of.

A dear friend died suddenly from complications of COVID…a coworker. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.

Several people I know are battling with cancer…young women. A high school classmate died from breast cancer this year.

My sister was in a head-on collision with a truck and suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken foot and neck and hip injury. She is on the long road to recovery.

My dad fell down the basement steps and mangled his elbow, which required extensive surgery. He is also on the long road to recovery.

My girls’ education has been disjointed and disorganized. Lily is having trouble getting everything together to apply to colleges because of all the delays and cancellations of everything. Nathan’s football season in his first year of college football was canceled. Who cares, you may say? Well, he’s there on a football scholarship, so… Schools are doing the best they can, but it’s a lot of stress for these kids and the parents.

This election season has been completely ridiculous. The way people are acting towards one another…there are no words. It grieves my heart.

I could go on and on…I’m sure you have a list as well.

I can easily fall into the trap of asking, “Why?”

I don’t know.

But, this is what I know. God is sovereign and He is good. I don’t always understand His plans and His thoughts, but I know He is good.

I know that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to pay the price for all our sins, all our sickness and diseases.

I know that there are things that happen here on earth that I don’t understand now, but when I see Jesus face to face, it will all make sense.

I know that this world has been corrupted by evil and sometimes we must suffer because of that. But God, our Abba Father, has given us a Hope, a Rescuer, a Defender in Jesus.

I understand that the trials, sickness, and heartache of this earth are just for a little while. This is a temporary situation.

I know that my God is full of grace to help me through whatever I face in life. He walks with me through every situation I find myself in. He is close to me when my heart is broken, when I am depressed and when I am afraid. I trust Him with my whole heart.

I know that he sees each tear I cry when I am sad, lonely, overwhelmed or worried.

I know that He makes everything beautiful in His time.

I know that He uses every situation for good in some way, even when I can’t understand and or see it.

I know that God loves my family and my friends more perfectly than I ever can and I place them in His hands. His will be done in their lives.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can point you to the One who does. God’s Word comforts me and encourages me. I pray for His grace each day to help me face whatever comes. The Bible says His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great.

He is who I turn to. He is who I cling to. He is all I know.

Peace in a Pandemic

What’s around us doesn’t have to get in us. -Joyce Meyer

I know that is hard, if not seemingly impossible, to achieve with everything that is going on in our world today. Fear and anxiety is the common thread of every news program, social media post and article that we are unrelentingly exposed to every day.  I freely admit, it is all WAY too much for me to handle on my own. Don’t you agree?

When I find myself becoming anxious, afraid and overwhelmed, this is what I’ve been doing. I pray these words, just like David did in Psalm 61:2.   When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.  That “Rock” is Jesus.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  He gives a peace that doesn’t make sense when you consider what is happening in the world right now.  The peace that passes all understanding.

Throughout the day, I meditate on these words, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  Dwelling in the secret place of God simply means that you spend time with Him daily through worship (thankfulness), prayer (talking to Him), and reading His Word (the Bible is the blueprint for our lives, it’s the way God speaks to us most easily). Being in the secret place is a time of intimacy between you and your Creator. A time to talk to Him and for Him to talk to you. When you enjoy this kind of relationship with God, you can count on His protection, His covering, His rest, His peace and His security. Psalm 91 says that He will even command His angels to protect you, defend you and guard you!

And why would God do these things? Why would He even care what we’re feeling or going through? Because He loves us. When we call on Him for help, He WILL answer. He gives us His Word. God promises to be with you, to walk with you and talk with you, even during a global pandemic. Don’t worry, He’s not too busy…You’re at the top of His priority list!

So, I encourage you today to do as the apostle Peter instructed us to do:  Humble yourself before God, admitting that you can’t deal with this crisis on your own. Then, cast all your cares (all your anxieties, all your worries and all your concerns, once and for all) because He cares about you (with deep affection and watches over you very carefully).

Reciting the above verses from the Bible every day will help you stay grounded and peaceful. As you spend time with God, share with me what He is speaking to you, if you’d like. I would love to hear all about it!

In the meantime, hang in there, friends, we’re going to make it! Here’s an awesome song to encourage you!

Change is Coming…You Can Count On It!

Last Tuesday was a bittersweet day for me and my girls. It was their last piano lesson with our piano teacher, who after 50 years of teaching, is retiring. I say “our” piano teacher because she was MINE also.  She has a mother and sister who she must look after, as well as several grandchildren who live in different states. It is time for her to hang up her teaching hat and enjoy spending time with her family. A new chapter for her and a new chapter for us, too.                                                          photo (7)

As she and Emma played their final duet piece together, “Sweet Dreams,” I was overcome with emotion. Tears burst uncontrollably out of my eyes as I tried desperately to swallow my emotion. The song they played was hauntingly beautiful and when they finished, Mrs. Orlando was also crying. That was it. We both cried on and off for the remaining hour as Emma finished her lessons and Lily played through hers. By the end of their lessons, as she was saying her final farewells, she was nearly sobbing, I was sobbing and Lily was crying  too. Mrs. Orlando loves my girls. My girls love her. As do I.IMG_2859

You see, Mrs. Orlando is more than just a piano teacher.  She taught me excellence, determination, grace, poise and confidence. There is a handful of people I can give credit to for the person I am today.  She’s on the list.  I am grateful that she had 5 years with my Lily and 4 with my Emma, but I am sad to see it come to an end.  Now I must carry on in her stead, be the teacher to my girls that she was to me.  It’s a huge task, but I’m up for it…I think…What an awesome opportunity to exercise my heart for teaching.

No one likes change, but it is inevitable.  Ecclesiastes chapter 3 talks about how there is a season for everything.   There’s a time to laugh and a time to cry…a time to be born and a time to die…a time to gain and a time to lose…There’s a time for everything!

“No one likes change except a baby with a dirty diaper!”   -Justin Argabright

diaper_baby

I am a person who thrives on routine.  Same thing day in and day out.  There is a certain amount of sanity that order brings to my helter-skelter mind.  But I have been learning over the past few years, that I need to embrace the change that is happening around me.  For instance, my children are growing!  That’s a major change.  They can’t stay babies and if I don’t learn to accept that change, I will continue treating them like so and their maturity and growth will be inhibited.  Another example is my husband’s work schedule.  He’s here for a week, gone for two.  An OCDer’s nightmare schedule!  But, I’ve learned to adapt and it is paying off for our family in many ways.  My husband is happy at his job and I am able to stay at home with the kids.

My point is…in order to move to the next step in our lives, the lives that we have placed in God’s hands, the lives that we pray for God’s will to be done in, the lives that we ask God to bless, the lives that we have said, “I Surrender All” about…we must embrace the change that He is orchestrating.  Each experience you’ve had, good or bad, is like the musicians or instruments in an orchestra.  God brings those experiences in to the picture at just the right time, on just the right beat, for just the right length of time.  He mixes the good with the bad, people from your past and present, hurts and happiness, to make beautiful, unique sounding melodies, harmonies and chords.  It is perfect and absolutely beautiful!  A song written by Him, orchestrated and directed by Him, specifically for YOU!                            SymphonyOrchestra_720x283

 God is the Author, the Orchestrator, and Conductor of the life that is surrendered to Him.

Orchestra-Maze2

So here’s the deal when unexpected change arises…

My piano teacher has retired.  I am sad.  My girls are sad.  I want her to teach forever.  But alas, that is impossible.  So I thank God for the time we had under her patient instruction.  I recognize what must happen next.  God has given me the opportunity to practice what I’ve been created to do.  I embrace it and look forward to what He has planned for my future.  Now, I will trust Him to give me the strength, patience and wisdom to follow through.

If you’ve surrendered your life to your Creator, you can be sure that uncomfortable change is a comin.’  That’s His way of getting you to the place where you can fulfill your destiny.  Learn to roll with the punches.  Rest in the fact that God’s in control, He has your back.  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! il_570xN.493477028_3slt

And remember, His plans for you are more awesome and greater than you could EVER imagine for yourself!

Isaiah 55:9

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

 

 1912e46e3bda472c4cd26b077362f3b3

Who Are You?

Have you ever got up in the morning, looked in the mirror and asked yourself, “Who in the world is that person looking back at me? Who am I?”

Some days I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like, “Yikes!” The Susie I know in my mind doesn’t have a double chin or wrinkles around her eyes or between her brows. And what about that gray hair sticking straight off my head like a rooster’s?

Now, I’m just being a little silly, but…The change in our physical appearance is simply an illustration of what happens inside of us sometimes. An identity crisis, if you will.

There are at least two distinct times in my life when I experienced a complete loss of my identity. The first, when I left the religious denomination in which I was raised. The second was during the divorce. Two life-changing, identity crisis-invoking situations.

I was raised in a legalistic, works-based religion. For those of you who may not understand what I mean by “works-based,” it means that I was taught that salvation through belief in Jesus Christ was not enough to gain entrance into heaven. Salvation was a 3 step process, not just a confession of faith in Jesus. A lengthy list of rules or “standards” in order to obtain holiness and favor with God was expected. The guilt and fear associated with this kind of teaching became a stronghold in my life. I never felt like I could measure up to what God expected of me, but I sure did try my hardest! I found myself lost and insecure when I was no longer told exactly what to do in life. I completely lost who I was, or who I thought I was.

One night, as I prayed for direction for my life, God revealed to me who I am in Christ. How He sees me. This is what He said…

You are holy and without blame before me in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

You are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

You are forgiven of all your sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

You are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

The encounter I had with God that night changed the entire course of my life, forever. I have never been the same since. To hear and understand what He thinks about me has changed the way I view myself and others, the way I treat myself and others. God is not sitting up in heaven waiting to beat me over the head or send me to hell any second of the day if I don’t “measure up” to every rule and regulation. This knowledge has given me the permission to lay down my own gavel. I am many things for my Lord, but judge, I am not.

The divorce. If you’ve been through it, you are going to be able to relate 100%. Activities within my marriage by my spouse had caused a great decline in my self-esteem, as well as my basic worth as a human being. I had to ask my self the question, “Who is Susie without ___?” It’s been Susie and __ for so many years, now what? I spiraled down a self-destructive thought process. I was angry with God and the world for what I was going through. I basically felt like a big ole’ piece of crap…yes, I said it. Discarded, worthless crap. I was afraid of what would come next. I was worried about being alone and all that goes with being a single mom. But God, in His infinite love and grace, has a way of reaching down into the pit that we are in and pulling us out. These are the sweet, healing words He spoke to me during the most difficult time in my life…

You have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

You have no lack for your God supplies all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).

You are a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

You are more than a conqueror through Him Who loves you (Romans 8:37).

You are an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony (Revelation 12:11).

You are part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

You are the head and not the tail; You are above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13).

You are greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

For God has not given you a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

You have given, and it is given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

My banner over you is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

You the apple of My eye; you are hidden under the shadow of My wings. (Psalm 17:8)

You are My elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).

Where are in you in your life? Are you lost? Are you confused? Are you insecure? Are you listening to those people around you, speaking destruction into your life? Are you allowing the circumstances of your life to define you, to categorize you, to put you in a box?

God knows where you are. And, He knows WHO you are. Don’t listen to what the world and your insecurities say about you…you’re not worthless, stupid, ugly, no good…Listen to the One who created you. Know His truth about you. He knows your name. He really knows YOU. He’ll hear you when you call out to Him. Ask Him, “Who am I?” He’ll tell you. Just like He did me. The words He has spoken to me are true for you, too.

Here are the lyrics to a song by Matthew West that perfectly describe who we are…

“Hello, My Name Is”

Hello, my name is regret

I’m pretty sure we have met

Every single day of your life

I’m the whisper inside

That won’t let you forget
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
Oh, these are the voices. Oh, these are the lies
And I have believed them for the very last time
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life
What love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King!
And here’s one by Tenth Avenue North…
“You Are More”
There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide
She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”
But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight
She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try
But don’t you know who you are?
‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.