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“Look at Mo!” several voices called out around me. I steadied myself on our boat and turned around to see our small white-haired Bichon Poo swimming frantically through the water towards me. His head was barely above water and the waves lapped over his face, but he was the most determined little dog-paddler I had ever seen.
Minutes before, my husband and a boat full of kids had pulled into the beach area. As kids piled off to give turns to the next group, I kicked off my flipflops on the beach and grabbed a towel for the next ride. I proceeded to wade the distance out to where the boat was anchored, not noticing our little puff ball of a dog whining and pacing on the beach where I had left him in the commotion of all the people getting in and out of the water.
I had reached the boat and was climbing aboard when Mo started swimming.
There are two things about Mo that you should know.
One, he has NEVER voluntarily swam in the water anywhere anytime (most likely because he fell off the back of a fast moving speed boat when he was just a wee pup and was under water much longer than he probably liked).
Two, he loves me more than I can even imagine.
It was the combination of these two facts that made the event so amazing. Mo, who most likely watched me in total anxiety as I left him alone on the beach to get on the boat, decided to overcome his great fear of the water out of sheer love. He was going to swim to me no matter what the cost.
I turned to my friend on the boat as we watched Mo paddle towards us and shook my head, “Mo loves me more than he is afraid of the water.”
Love casts out fear.
Fear holds us back from so very much.
Love overcomes fear, diminishes it, loosens its grip on our lives:
~It is the wife who continues to trust even when trust has been broken because she loves her husband more than the fear of betrayal.
~It is the mother who lets her child soar with her dreams even though she wants more than anything to just keep that child home, safe.
~It’s the neighbor who loves sharing God with others, because he knows what it has done in his life, more than the fear of being rejected.
~It is love of freedom that helps overcome the fear of letting that addiction go. ~It is love of restoration and healing that allows us to swallow our pride (and the fear attached, of losing or not being right) ~ It is the love of pursuing our dreams that overcomes the fear of failure
Its you and me, loving God more than the fear of what life holds, and choosing to trust and walk with him even in the most desperate and uncertain of circumstances.
That day a little dog created a picture for me that I will carry forward. I can push through my fears with love as my motivator.
What, friends, are we afraid of? Loss? Rejection? Betrayal? Death? Failure?
Whatever that fear, find what you love MORE and lean into it. Let it become more powerful than anything else.
Try this: I love _________________more than I fear ________________.
There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. The Message, 1 John 4:18
And where do we find the strength to do that? We fix our eyes on Jesus. The one who gives strength, miraculous peace, healing, power, hope, and confidence to our fearful souls.
As Mo reached the back of the boat, his little eyes that were filled with terror fixed on me. His mom. The one thing that he lives for (pathetic but true). I reached down and pulled his wet soggy body out of the water, wrapped him in a towel and held him close. He didn’t care where we were going, or how long we would be on the boat. It didn’t matter. His fear was gone. His love had conquered the distance between he and his mama.
Happy Valentines Day!
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Do you remember when we were growing up and used to play four-square at recess? There were so many times where I’d do a double bounce and yet because we were all having so much fun someone would say, “Do over!” Or when I served a ball that clearly landed outside the boundary and a kind friend would say, “Do over!” I loved those moments. The ones that kept me in the game even when I deserved to be kicked out.
As I reflect on the past year, I could certainly use a “do over” in different areas–parenting, marriage, even my blogging and design work. There are always mistakes made, but there also somehow seems to be grace in the mix, and I think I feel it the most this time of year–when in the new year I get to shake the dust off my boots (especially the cute ones I just got for Christmas) and receive another chance to do better.
The idea of new beginnings is not new. God set this into the framework of time and space-through the seasons (Earth’s tilt), the new year (Earth’s travel around the sun), and the new day (Earth’s rotation). His word says that he has new mercies waiting for us each and every morning.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Don’t you just love that? Whatever it is that holds us back, that weighs us down, that we wish we had done differently….we get a second chance, and a third, and a fourth. Just like the trees that get the chance to grow taller and stronger with each passing spring, so do we.
So let’s take a deep breath as the new year approaches. In what areas do you want to grow taller and stronger in 2017?
Health? Spirituality? Relationships? Finances? Marriage? Parenting? Work?
Ask yourself some questions:
1. In what part of your life do you want a fresh start?
2. What went well last year that you want to continue?
3. What didn’t?
4. In what areas do you want a “do over”?
Invite God into this process. What work is He doing in you right now? What new adventures is He inviting you to take?
Maybe God is saying, “It’s okay, this is a journey. This will work itself out in time,” or maybe He has been gently convicting your heart for a while now that it’s time for you to take some steps in a better direction.
This process of reflection is so important if we are to move ahead in growth and maturity. Take some time today to write your thoughts down, or find some quiet time to just be still and think.
If you need some help, Michael Hyatt has put together a “Life Assessment” which is a short online questionnaire to help you identify areas of strength and weakness. I took it and it confirmed what I suspected but made it much more real to see it “scored.” I clearly see the areas where I need to set some new goals! There is not a follow up to this survey–the webinar he attached it to is no longer running–I just used it for my own personal assessment:
I love second chances because it means I don’t have to stay stuck. That my mistakes and flops and areas of partial growth do not have to be my only story. I get to write a new chapter this coming year. I get a do-over!
Have a good day my friend!
In my next post I will share some more concrete strategies on how to create New Year Resolutions that stick! (more…)
I shared in my last post about our house journey over the past year, and how unexpected so many pieces of it were, and not in a good way. There was disappointment and questioning and difficulty coming to grips with the fact that the story I had written for myself wasn’t the story that was actually happening.
Yet, in the end, it was the best story for us. Not because of how the chapters wrapped up, but because of what change occurred in me and our family in the middle of the book, when the ending was unclear. I am a different, better version of myself this year…more trusting in God and more faithful in my worship of Him. Two things that are priceless to me as I continue my journey in life.
What story is being written in your life right now? Is it different than the story you had mapped out for yourself?
Just like Jesus arriving in baby flesh and total dependence instead of pomp and circumstance and royal authority, we have a story that is often different than expected. But there are great gifts waiting if we choose to embrace the story (regardless how different) our heavenly author has written for us.
Gifts of maturity and faith and total dependence on something wiser and greater than ourselves~ultimately gifts of peace.
Maybe this is why Jesus’s birth was the perfect example of dependence. He was a helpless, vulnerable babe, accepting the story his Heavenly Father had written for him. Jesus has always lived out reality for us in human form, from the very straw and night and stars and mother’s kiss that welcomed his arrival.
This Christmas, when we are in the thick if a story we didn’t write, lets remember that we have a God who only writes perfect stories. And in His stories He cares deeply about us, and wants to draw us near Him as we learn to trust in His goodness and embrace our dependence on Him.
He will bring us peace and hope.
Have a blessed Christmas.
Hello! Today on the blog I am sharing a story I have been wanting to tell for months…but it just hasn’t seemed like the right timing. And then the Christmas season arrived and I began thinking about waiting– waiting for the celebration, anticipating the excitement of the season, and the waiting that happened for the generations of Israelites in anticipation of the birth of their King.
It reminded me of my story from the last year–one of anticipation but of much waiting. A true time of testing for me. You may want to snuggle in for the video which is a bit longer than I wanted–it is, after all, a story of waiting. But it is a message of hope and encouragement for those of us who are expectant of life to somehow work itself out differently than it seems, that there is One who knows us and sees us while we wait.
You may be in a time of waiting, and it may not be wrapped up neatly in a bow like ours was in the end. It may take a long, long time for the story to play out.
But please hear this–it is not how the story ends that is important…it is how God changes us in the midst of our waiting.
THIS is when he pulls up a chair to talk, because we are often ready to listen. Hear what he is whispering, lean in to his voice of love and grace and trust.
He’s got this.
Merry Christmas to you!
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Also, I am on Instagram @amyleehayes–would love to connect with you there too!
The last couple of weeks have been rich in connection for me.
Last weekend I attended a retreat at an adorable Bed and Breakfast for a leadership class. In the evening, after class had finished, we all sat in an ornately decorated dining room around a large dark wood table and played Apples to Apples and Four Corners and teased and joked as thirteen women at 11:00 pm will do. When we all headed to bed, I said good night to my roomie that I didn’t know very well. We turned out the lights, and then something sparked a conversation about our past teaching days. For a half an hour we laughed until our sides hurt telling really funny stories…it was priceless.
The next morning my college girlfriends were in town for a visit and picked me up from the retreat.
We spent the day in Estes Park paddleboarding (more laughing) and then heading to Boulder for dinner. Before dinner we drove by the house “on the Hill” where we all lived together in college, and saw there was a party going on. Only one of the girls in our group was sane and suggested we don’t go in, but the rest of us out-voted her and when a young man outside invited us in we just couldn’t resist the chance to see the inside of the house we lived in 25 years ago.
It was so interesting how the entire house cleared out when five forty-something moms walked in…Here we are being troublemakers…the house is behind us.
We giggled about that whole scene on the rooftop of a Mexican restaurant that evening. Along with sharing so much more about our kids and jobs and homes and lives.
The week before I met two friends for lunch–we gather three times a year to celebrate each of our birthdays. We have been doing this for years and have walked through so much together. We spent this whole lunch wrestling through some hard topics around faith and our lives…our time connecting was as rich and satisfying as the food we ate.
Then this past weekend, Jon and I invited our whole street (our new house sits in the middle of two culdesacs) over for a Fall Chili Dinner. We don’t know all of our new neighbors and wanted to connect. Over thirty adults and kids came and we stood and sat out back by the fire in the crisp evening air and just got to know each other.
All of this fills me up overflowing.
My guess is your life is full of dear people who you long to connect with, over coffee or a warm meal, in your home or theirs. Couples, friends, family, neighbors. To share your life and to know what is going on in theirs, so you can support and encourage and love each other.
We have a gravitational-like pull to be known, to connect.
I think it’s important to remember that all of these times, these connecting moments together, are an expression of God here on earth.
He created us to know and be known.
Adam was not at his best alone, so God created Eve. So they could be in each other’s lives and know each other.
Elizabeth and Mary, relatives and friends that helped and encouraged each other, as did Ruth and Naomi. Jesus and his disciples. They showed up in each other’s lives. They knew each other.
And at an even deeper, richer, more intimate level, God wants this know/known relationship with us.
He knows us. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. ~Psalm 139:13
He wants to be known. Be still and know I am God. ~Psalm 46:10
But Why? Because in the same way as I feel so loved and connected with my husband or children or friends when we have spent time sharing words and thoughts and feelings, God also provides us with love and connection when we know him.
He fills us up, satisfies our soul, causes all the shiny attractions of the world to fade away because we are completely, wholly, deeply known and understood by our Creator.
So the next time you are sipping Starbucks with a girlfriend, or sharing your day with your spouse, or just hugging your little one without saying any words at all, remember that this is a reflection of a God who has created us for relationship with each other and Him.
Questions to Consider:
- What is it that you love most about connecting with others?
- Do you have any hesitation to being known by others? Why do you think that may be?
- What do you think about being fully known by God?
- Who do you want to connect with this week? How can you make that happen?
Today, find time to connect, to know and be known.
COMING UP: This Wednesday I will be sharing the Ultimate Healthy Bundle on my site--this is AMAZING! You won’t believe all the products, courses, printables, etc. that you can get at a super-low price that will help you and your family live the most healthy life possible. Stay tuned…
It has been far too long since I’ve posted, a result of our life “derailing” from normal after selling our house two months ago. Since then our family of five has moved three times, lived in a friend’s basement and then a home we rented, and finally in to our new home three weeks ago.
All this was planned, thought out, and expected (although much of the process had unexpected twists), so it surprised me how challenging it was for me personally to “get through” these past few months with a positive attitude.
During this interim time our family of five lived out of seven blue tubs we had packed with clothes and personal items. We existed on dinners of Chipotle and Kraft Mac and Cheese because of limited kitchen space and and stretched thin mom who wouldn’t love cooking even in ideal conditions. Our family felt disjointed not having our “normal” routines and space, and the rainy cold spring added to the unrest. Our dogs found their own form of crazy (one of them peeing indoors and barking neurotically, challenging at one’s own house but really fun when it’s at your best friend’s house).
For a while I thought I was struggling to stay positive because there was no end in sight–we were having an extremely difficult time finding a new house after we sold ours. But then, we found a great house, and had a closing date and everything, but my restlessness grew as our familiar “more comfortable” life seemed just a reach away.
Why was it so important for me to find normal again?
I asked myself many times, “Why is this so difficult? God has blessed us with wonderful friends to house us temporarily, we know we will find a home eventually, our kids are healthy and handling this transition better that expected. So why the discomfort?
The answer came to me once again, as it has over and over in all the unknowns over the last year with our moving story.
Our strengthening comes in the discomfort.
This time has felt like “how to keep a positive attitude boot camp,” and I know that like the true military boot camp, with the purpose of strengthening physical muscles and endurance, this time for me has been an emotional and spiritual strengthening.
I have been forced to release my grip on managing everything the way I want it to go. I have had to let go of normal, which involves me having a lot of control over my life.
And that is good.
God is stretching and teaching me to let go, to again, trust him. To again, remember that the little daily comforts and order I am used to need not to be taken for granted. To believe that he has a purpose for every difficult time we go through–to decrease our self-sufficiency and increase our God-sufficiency.
One of the largest parts of “me” that I have had to release in the past couple of months is writing this blog. I think about it every day, but feel like I have been in survival mode for so long that it takes sitting in a hotel room with my family sleeping to find head and heart space to finally write.
We did move into our new house three weeks ago and it is so very good. I am so grateful for the little things like a desk to work at and some of the homey decorations we had packed away. And the big things, like our family re-connecting and bonding over settling into our new space.
But normal is still to come. In a few hours our family is about to get on a plane to Haiti to serve with a Healing Haiti team in the poorest part of the world. Here is an excerpt from a woman who returned a few months ago from this trip as she relays vignettes of people she met:
Hello. My name is Mardy. I am 23 years old. I’ve been living in front of the hospital for a while. A few months ago I got raped and now I am pregnant. I’ve had a stroke and I am in the hospital now. I can’t move my left arm but that’s not the worse part. I am all alone; with no one to help me. I don’t know how I will take care of my baby once it’s born and where I’ll go and how we will survive.
This experience we are about to have, the conditions and desperation we are about to encounter will feel as far from normal as we have probably ever known.
But we can’t wait. If there is anything I have learned recently is that God shows up when I feel helpless and out of control. It is during these times I have eyes that more clearly see Him at work. I have a heart open to what he needs to speak into it.
So I ask you, where is your normal being challenged?
Where can you find God’s hand in your story right now?
What is he teaching you?
Whether your lack of “normal” was a choice (like ours) or unexpectedly happened to you, I hope that you can find some peace as you wrestle through this time. Whether it is temporary or permanent, I pray that you will see God’s handiwork in the plan of changing your heart to rely more on Him and less on you. These are certainly the lessons He has taught me.
God bless you,
Thanks for joining me here! For those of you who are new to this site, you have stumbled upon the official launch of my new blog. I have been blogging for several years, but last year I felt it was time to begin something new–new design, new content, a new chapter–so here goes. Feel free to visit my old blog anytime, but I will be posting here going forward.