God Did Something Great When He gave Us Pets…

One of my sweet, sweet kitties!

As I sit here, cuddling my cat in my arms, I think of this.

Most of the world has pets of some kind. Either domestic pets like cats and dogs that live in our house or outdoor animals to care for like horses, cows, chickens, goats, etc.

When God gave us charge of animals in Genesis Chapter 1, He knew exactly what He was doing.

Research has shown what animals do for us: calm us, offer up companionship and love, provide warmth, comfort, and compassion, give us something to cry on, something to hold onto, something to love…

They prolong our life by giving us something to live for. They are loyal. They protect us. They’ll take a bullet for us. Defend us if we need it. Kill mice that enter our home. Purr so the house is not so quiet.

I could go on and on…

Wild animals…

Seeing a bald eagle soar over the skies inbibes me with magic and majesty and a sense that this world is alright despite what you hear on the news.

Animals in nature are splendid. Gorgeous. Perfect. Doing what God created them to do. The perfect example of living for their basic needs in the present moment and no more. How we should live.

Out of all of God’s gifts to mankind, this has to rank near the top. Giving us something to live for outside of ourselves especially when we are old, alone, and sometimes forsaken…

This is why I believe all dogs (and cats) go to heaven…

God is great. God is good. God is omniscient, omnipotent, wonderful.

When you start to doubt anything about God, hug your pet. Guaranteed God is there with you…

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What to Expect This Summer…

Hey all!

BSF is over and for many of us that means the accumulation of dust on our Bibles begins!

Hence, I’ve been brainstorming what I can do to keep you and me in the Word (short of a full-blown Bible study as I need a break too!).

Here’s what to expect:

I will continue my devotionals on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays.  Like last year, these will be short and to the point, meant to be read and digested in a couple of minutes, leaving time for personal prayer and application on your life and circumstances.

My poetry contributor extraordinare, Lissette Trahan, has agreed to share short prayers with us that she has collected over many, many years.  These will appear on Tuesday and Thursday.  For those of you who struggle to know what to pray (I know I do!), I am praying these will give you a starting point!

Saturday will continue to be inspiring quotes on my heart at the moment.

Prayer requests will be on hiatus until the Fall but if you have something, please email it to me (atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com).  If I get enough response, I will post these once a month or so depending on volume.

Book reviews will appear as I get them done and when I find those worthy of recommending.

Finally, I am asking that you please pray about donating to my blog (the donation button is in the sidebar to the right).  I am only working part-time and would like to continue to do so in order to devote time to this forum, which I feel is an important endeavor and calling, and my other writings.  If you’ve been helped this year by my studies and if you’re led to give and are able, please consider doing so.  I would be eternally grateful.  If not, no worries!  I still love you all!!!

God bless, and I hope you have a fun, warm, and God-led summer!

New Year’s Resolutions!

Hey all!

Welcome to 2018!

I wanted to write about something we all think about come January 1st:  New Year’s Resolutions.

For many, it’s lose weight and eat healthier.

For some, it’s find the right career path.

Others, it’s grow closer to God.

Many have multiple goals/resolutions.

Resolution is by definition:  “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”

It is an act of will power.

This explains why so many people fall off the wagon after only 6 weeks and the New Year is long forgotten.

Our will power is limited.  We have to have help.  That’s where God comes in.

You also have to help yourself.

So here’s my suggestions for sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions year-long:

  1. Find an accountability partner.  Someone who will call you out when you cheat or take one step off the wagon.
  2. Enlist God’s help especially if it’s spiritual.  Only He can help you change.
  3. Help yourself i.e. quit sabotaging yourself.  For example, throw away all of your temptation food AND DON’T BUY IT!!!
  4. You have to want it.  You have to crave it.  You have to work towards it.  You have to have micro-goals within your macro-goals.  Every day you take one step towards your goals.  Over time, this will add up to change.
  5. Reward yourself for your progress.  Starbucks, chocolate (a small amount if you’re it’s a diet goal!), a new book, a trip to the mountains or the ocean–somewhere that’s nearby that will inspire you to keep at it.
  6. Don’t give up!  If you fall, pick yourself up the next day.  Don’t beat yourself up either.  Same principle.  We are not perfect.  Allow wiggle-room.

New Year’s Resolutions (like Mother’s Day) should occur more than once a year.  Slow and steady does win the race when it’s a marathon.  And that’s what you’re running.  So breathe.  Prepare.  And take off!  Good luck!!

End-of-Year Giving…

Hey all!

Christmas is such a time of joy and celebration.  It’s a time of reflection and family and quality time together.

However, this is also a depressing time of year for many.  Loss of a loved one or downtrodden financially or health issues amongst other reasons make the end of year hard.

In this time of need, I’d like to encourage you to give to the needy in your community.  We as Americans are so very blessed to live in this country at this time.  All those in the developed world are blessed.  All around us are needs that are often unspoken and unnoticed.

I would just like to encourage you to remember to make the most of your end of year giving.  Whether it’s to the local animal shelter, the homeless, your church, your neighbor, your colleague, your family, etc.  We are all blessed to have breath in our bodies, to have God in our hearts, to have His mission and purpose guiding us, to lead the lives we are leading.

On that note, I would appreciate any donations as well to my blog.  It keeps me doing what I do and helps my family as well.  Just use the donation button on my sidebar.  I thank you in advance.

I know a lot of us do struggle with finances.  But there’s always something we can do.  Everything counts.  Everything matters.  No matter how little.  Consider giving your time and energy instead of money.  Often times a smiling face and a kind word are all someone needs to make it through the day.

God bless you all.  I’m so grateful you are in my life.  I hope you all remain so.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I Am SO Grateful…

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

Wow!  What an amazing year it’s been!

I want to say with all my heart how grateful I am for each and every one of you.  When I started this blog eight years ago, I never dreamed it would become what it has.  I hope it has touched you all in some small way, stimulated your thinking, offered up advice, and enlightened you in your journey on this side of heaven as you prepare for the other side of heaven.

There’s been ups and down but with perseverance as Paul has said comes growth and hope and character. You all have stuck with me and supported me both by visiting my blog and by donating on my sidebar.  I truly can’t thank you enough.  There have been many times I’ve asked myself why I keep doing this and the answer has always come around to you all.  You hold me accountable as much as I hold you accountable.

I’ve finally found what I’ve been seeking:  a home-based business that provides me with the lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of AND given me the freedom to still be there for my kids.  Passions that I can’t live without (BSF, CrossFit, coffee!).  A husband that loves and supports me in everything.  Kids who are good-hearted and kind to others (although not always to each other).  Family that is there in emergencies.  Animals to care for who fill me with love and compassion and restfulness I dearly need.  And God whose hand is always holding mine and leading me every step of every day.

And you all!  Each comment you leave enriches me beyond words.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy-ness to share here and be authentic and open and loving.  Your thoughts, passions, and advice is greatly appreciative as are your corrections as well.  You share a small portion of your life here and in turn I have blossomed because of it.

I’m grateful for Lissette Trahan.  Lissette’s amazing poetry as such a blessing in my life (and I hope yours).  She’s come on as a contributor and shared her heart, and I sincerely hope you are enjoying her words as much as I am.  Check out her work under “Lissette’s Lyrics” either on the top menu or the sidebar.  She has an amazing gift that she’s sharing with all of you.

I’m right where God has placed me (and so are you).  Everything He has done has led to this moment and to the next moment and so forth.  He will continue to lead me.  Everything in my life is for His good.  Everything in your life is for His good.

Beginning next week, I’ll start a new segment entitled “Saturday’s Snippets” where I’ll share little thoughts from what I’m learning in my life.  Sometimes Biblically based.  Sometimes not.  Little nuggets to grasp onto when sometimes that’s what we desperately need.  Similar to my summer devotions, they will be pithy and crisp.

On this amazing and beautiful day of Thanksgiving, my hope and prayer is for you all to live life to the fullest, following God’s plan for your life, living in the present, creating an amazing future, filing the past where it belongs, and living consciously, not unconsciously.  Life is too short to do otherwise.

God bless you on this day of Thanksgiving–a day for Him and by Him.  Grateful for all you have and all you don’t have.  Grateful for all that is coming.  Grateful for Him to be in control.  Grateful for Him to bring us home.

Figuring Out Life at Starbucks…

Rain+Coffee+Book=Heaven

Yesterday, it was rainy and cold and blah.

My part-time job takes about 3-4 hours during the morning.  Then I’m free till it’s time to pick up the kids from school.

So Starbucks has become my hang out.  It’s close to my kids’ school and they have, of course, the life-sustaining beverage of choice–coffee!

The last few weeks I’ve been trying to figure things out in my life.  Ya know, the usual, what to do, where does God want me, etc.

I know I need to write.  But what?

I know I need to find a different job.  But what?

I know I need to change my diet.  (Finally figured this one out last night after weeks of wishy-washy-ness).

Well, at least I know some things.

And, luckily for me, God knows the rest.  I just need to trust in Him to put my footsteps where they need to fall.

Thank God, right?

The Beautiful Life I Live…

Twenty years ago I was in London when the world got the news Princess Diana died.  Six days later I was standing on Pall Mall when the royal family walked by, following Lady Di’s casket, everyone around me leaking tears.  I didn’t understand then.  I was a 20 year old American studying abroad.  To me, this was more of a news event than an actual funeral.  I didn’t understand the grief of my English friends.

Princess Di and her Kids

I do now.  I completely understand now.

I can’t imagine being taken from this world at the age of 36, leaving two children behind who need a mother more than they need their own life.  I can’t imagine the shock this must have been to all who knew her.  The devastation. The hole.

You don’t have to be famous to leave that hole.  I hole is left inside of someone (even inside of God if you have no family) when you die.  One day you are alive.  Living.  Breathing.  Then the next you are gone.  Food for the tiny creatures God created to return your body to dust.

That day I had big dreams.  Of a life of travel around the world.  Earning tons of money.  Doing something grand and important in this world.  Making a big impact in the business world.  Perhaps even having my own name written about in some major publication.

Fast forward 20 years.

Here I am.  I’m sitting inside a Panera Bread.  Waiting for my two oldest children’s school to let out so I can go and pick them up.  Then one will go to Cross Country practice.  The other has Swim Team practice.  One is in high school. The other middle school.  On the drive there, they both will compete for my attention as they tell about their lives at school.  Which teacher was boring.  What homework they have.  What funny thing a boy said in class.  How they both wish Christmas were here already.

Once I drop them off, I’ll head home.  Make sure my youngest, my baby boy, made it home from school on his bike. See what he needs.  Start dinner.  Check the mail.  Drag in the trash cans from the street.

I’ll wash some dishes.  Start some laundry.  Go and pick up my girls from practice.  Go home.  See if anyone needs help with homework.  And then attend a local board meeting of which I am a part of that meets once a month.

Then home.  To pet my cats and dogs.  To gaze at my fish the kids recently sold lemonade to acquire.  Unwind with my husband.  Check my emails.  Plan the next day.  Go to bed.

A very ordinary life.  A far cry from what I had envisioned 20 years ago.  But one I would not trade for the world. A very beautiful life in a very beautiful planet earth (of which the eclipse reminded all of us is such a gift from God). One Princess Diana vanished from when her life ended tragically.

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years.  It went by so fast.  Luckily for me, it passed in such a beautiful way.

I need to remember this when the little things in this world threaten to pull me away.  When plans change that I want to get angry at but which I know will work out for the better.  When the future threatens to pull me from the present moment.

Today I went for a lunch time walk with my husband.  A rarity indeed.  He’s currently unemployed, having quit his job which was going nowhere for him.  He is searching for another.  And he has many opportunities.  And I am thanking God for this reprieve from the hub-bub so we can re-connect and be together.  Before he is taken away again.

Every moment is precious.  With friends.  With family.  With animals. With God.  Cherish it.  Embrace it.  Stay here. For as long as possible.  Hug your kids.  Kiss your spouse.  Remember one day all too soon you will be gone.  Don’t dwell on that fact.  Instead use it to power and fuel your life.  Fulfill your life’s purpose.  God’s intended purpose for your life.

If you do, I promise your life will be insanely beautiful.

A beautiful life