Tag Archives: Jesus

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 15

16 Nov

Today I am thankful for: My mom!

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Growing up I never realized how amazing of a woman my mom was. I thought she was pretty embarrassing and dorky. She wasn’t concerned with the latest fashion trends or what kind of car she drove, quite the opposite; she cared what kind of mom she was.

It wasn’t until I turned 16 that I began to see her a new light. After multiple affairs and always coming and going, my dad left our family for the last time. She ran a daycare out of our house so she could be home with my sister and I. She finished high school, but that was her highest form of education. My dad was the “main bread-winner,” so I worried about how her life was going to change. I was afraid that she was not going to be able to provide for herself and that she would end up going back to him because that was all she ever knew. I under estimated this woman. I had no idea that behind a humble and modest outward image, lye a fierce, bold and courteous fighter inside. She was about to show me lessons in life, I will never forget.

When we lost our home and car, we were forced to move into my Grandparents house where the three of us shared a room. She was working three jobs making minimum wage, saving money for a new car and eventually her own apartment.  Nothing in life seemed fair or made any sense to me, but my mom never lost hope. She would constantly pray. She would find the good in a bad situation and everyday that she woke up, she was fighting. To me, she was fighting a battle I could not understand, but she did and that was enough to get her through some very dark days.

I can’t recall exactly how long after we moved in with my grandparents that she had saved up for her own apartment, but I wont forget that day. As she turned the key and opened the door to her one-bedroom apartment, she was beaming with gratefulness. Even though the journey that led her to that front door was paved with heartache, betrayal, suffering, loss and brokenness, she remained thankful and confident in the promise that God knew the plans He had for her. She put her faith in that promise and knew that somehow and someway, He was going to give her pain purpose.

Fast forward 15 years… Today my mom is a much different version of the woman she once was. She is a living breathing example of a what can happen to a person’s life when they choose victory over defeat, thankfulness over self-pity, and God’s will over their own. She taught me one the most important lessons a parent can teach a child; when you are going through hell… keep on going. 

My mom will never really know how much I admire and honor her. She is everything I want to be. She is not only strong but she is hilarious, beautiful, caring, generous, compassionate, loving, honest and enduring. She took a bad situation and allowed it to make her better. She is not one to wait for things to change… oh no, she just starts changing them. She makes the people around her, strive to be better themselves, simply by the way she lives her life.

Mom, thank you for never giving up. Thank you for being hard on me when I was chasing the ways of this world. Thank you for Every.Single.Prayer, sent up to heaven on my behalf. Thank you for seeing more in me than I was able to see in myself. Thank you for choosing to love me when there wasn’t even much to like. Thank you for loving Jesus more than anything and for showing me what a real mom looks like. You are my inspiration and I love you to the moon.

30 Days of Thankfulness- Day 7

8 Nov

Day 7- Today I am thankful for … God’s sense of humor… and Amazing Grace.

I hopped on my treadmill this evening and did what I always do… Crank up the speed, turned on a message from my favorite, Matt Chandler, and immediately started laughing. The title of the message was “Revenge and Love,” and God knew why I was laughing.

Just this morning I stood in my kitchen pouring my heart out to my sister about a very hard situation I am going through with a person who is causing pain to two very precious people in my life. I was brutally honest with her about how I wanted to go “Dexter style” on this human being. Now, if you don’t know who Dexter is… that is probably a good thing, and please don’t google the show, because you might look at me in a different light after you know…But hear me out. I simply want revenge. I want this person to hurt. I want them to lay in bed at night and ponder the hurtful things they are doing and WHO they are doing them to. I want God to just take them and shake them silly… I want them to suffer. Have you ever been there? Have you ever stood in your kitchen and just cried out for revenge? If you said “No” then you are SO lying 😉

A few days ago, I shared with you why I love my sister and the amazing influence she has had on my life. Well, this morning was no exception. After she “talked me off the ledge” she began to share with me her view on the situation and that my bitterness is only hurting everyone involved, even the ones that I am trying to protect. She reminded me that I am called to be different and that it was not that long ago, when I was the one, needing grace NOT revenge. With each word, my heart began to soften and I started to feel convicted. She was right. If not for God’s amazing grace and second chances, I would NOT be where I am. I am called to love my enemies. Even if the feelings are not there… I have to start somewhere.

All afternoon I ponder her words. I shared my feelings with the Lord and asked that He would soften my heart and let me see this person the way he does. I asked Him to help me and show me what I can do differently. It did not take Him long to answer… “Revenge and Love” came on and that is why I said I am thankful for God’s sense of humor! Here is what Matt had to say (or God through Matt… to my ears)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you maybe sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

“What Jesus has just demanded of his people (remember, this is a superseding righteousness that Christ is creating in our hearts) is that we would love our enemies and pray for them. He even says there is a reward for loving your enemies and praying for your enemies that is not present when you love those who love you. If you love somebody who loves you, there is reciprocity there. Are you tracking me? There is no reward. They love you; you love them. How easy is that? But if you love those who hate you, if you love your enemies, then the reward that is… don’t lose me here… possible is that you might bring peace to where there is strife and you might see an enemy come under the same saving grace you were able to come under.”

Yes, I laughed out loud. Then as he went on, I got mad, I growled and almost spit… then I cried. I got it. I knew that God was showing me something pretty big. I have been so focused on ME, and what I want done to this person, that I have conveniently forgotten what was DONE for ME. I was given grace and forgiveness by a God to whom I was once an enemy. Then I stopped and thought … How can I love this enemy of mine in a way that is good for them, helpful for them, and in the end gives the best opportunity for them to sense, see, and enjoy the grace that has been so richly lavished upon me?

Although I don’t have all the answers to those questions I DO know that the grace I have been given, I did not deserve. And that alone is humbling and makes me stop and say, “Okay God, your grace is AMAZING, I am not, and thanks for having a sense of humor. Appreciate that.”

I have changed my prayer for this person moving forward, but I have asked that God will not just change them, but change ME. That he will transform this revengeful heart to one that loves and see’s the good, just like he did with me.

Many Blessings ~ Summer

I’m Not Waving; I’m Drowning

20 Sep

“I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.”

These are the words of a British Poet named Stevie Smith. Her most famous poem lent its title to a collection she published in 1957, simply tilted “Not Waving but Drowning.”

Her brief, twelve-line poem pictures a dying man thrashing about in the surf, gesturing wildly, yet unable to attract the help of people passing by on the shore. The passersby see him, but they think he is waving. Some walk on, and some even wave back… leaving him to drown.

Have you ever been there in your life? I sure have and more than once. I recall a very specific time where my arms were flailing all around and people would nod and wave because that is what they thought they saw me doing, little did they know, I was not waving; I was drowning and about to go completely under.

The funny thing is that a wave does not always mean that someone is saying,”Hello” sometimes it means they are saying,”Help.”This was my reality when my entire world was crumbling right before my eyes. All the things that I thought had value or gave me value, had disappeared and I was left with a brokenness that made every part of my being ache.

I don’t think people knew how bad off I was. I think that I had become so good at wearing “masks” to cover the “real” me, that when I wanted someone to see my wave as a cry for help, they saw a hello.

But, God saw me. He saw me struggling to keep my head above the water. He saw the turmoil in the very pit of my soul. He saw the pain, emptiness and very deep-rooted wounds that had created such brokenness.

In this book, the author talks about a gift that her son gave her one year for her birthday. He saw an advertisement in a magazine for a stepping stone kit. In the magazine they showed a picture of the finished product and it was beautiful. The boy was very disappointed when the kit arrived and inside was, as he described, “A box of broken things.” His father had to explain to him that he would use the pieces to create his own pattern and make a unique, one-of-a-kind gift for his mom. Once he understood this, he went to work, and she said that stepping stone was perfect. All the pieces were arranged in the very order he had placed them, and what she loved most was that he had scribbled in the concrete, “I love you, Mom” with his finger. That special stepping stone is in her back yard and every morning when she goes outside to drink her coffee, she sees that stone… that gift, that means so much to her, but was once just “a box of broken things.”

I believe that God sees our brokenness… but also sees the final product, what only HE can make from that it. When we come to him in pieces, lost and needing to be “repaired,” He gets to work. He begins to strategically place all the pieces of our brokenness and make something that becomes a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

I love Isaiah 43:19, which says:

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

So many times we feel like we are going to drown but that is because we are too busy looking behind us, and not ahead. We let our past become the focus of our future. You cannot drive a car if you are looking in the rearview mirror. You have to look through the windshield, and I truly believe there is a reason the windshield is MUCH bigger than the rearview mirror. That mirror has been strategically placed over the windshield so our eyes can catch a glance of what is behind us, before we return our gaze on what is ahead of us.

I am so thankful for the redemption I found in the cross. Without the cross, and what Jesus did on it, I am a HOT MESS. I believe with all that I am, God is asking us to leave everything behind, and follow Him, because he has something brand-new in store of each of us, just as he promised in Isaiah. He knows if we are waving “Hello” or “Help.”

So in closing, I pray that if look at the state of your life right now as “a box of broken things,” that you will make a decision to not let it stay that way. I am so glad that I finally gave up and surrendered everything to the Lord. I allowed Him to grab my hand, and drag me to the shore.

I am looking forward to Chapter 2… The title alone already has me excited and I pray that each of these entries will encourage you, just as they are me!

So, until tomorrow… Many Blessings~ Summer

God loves broken people (and those who pretend they’re not)

19 Sep

Yesterday was the kick off for the fall session of “Women of Faith,”  which is a women’s Bible study group at my church.

Last week, after not really being sure which study I wanted to do, I ended up choosing,“God loves broken people. (And those who pretend they’re not.) I think it was the title that caught my attention, but it was the description of the book and study that kept it.

If there is one word I use to describe my past, it is BROKEN.

Many of you reading this know my story, but for those of you who don’t, let me just say that is by God’s grace and mercy that I am here today.

As I was outside this morning, sipping on my extra strong coffee, and reading through chapter 1 of this book, I decided that I would blog as I go through this study. In the first chapter alone, I think I had 5 “Ahh haaa” moments. I can already tell that this book, is exactly what I need and I know God is going to continue to restore this once very broken life.

So, later this evening, when the babies go down for the count, I will begin writing about this journey I am on. I will go chapter by chapter and pray that God uses it to help you, no matter where you are in life, or how “unbroken” you think you are! 😉

Eeekkk, okay, I am excited. Now, time to get in “mommy” mode and feed the girls lunch!

Until tonight, have a great day!!!

Many Blessings~ Summer

Choosing a love that lasts!

30 Aug

I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office this morning, when I spotted the cutest couple I have ever seen. They were sitting across for me holding hands as they both read different magazines. The lady looked up and sweetly smiled at me and said hello. I said hello back and somehow we started talking. After a few minutes I asked them how long they have been married. The gentlemen, smiled, squeezed his wife’s hand and said, “We are newlyweds, of 62 years.” My heart melted. Then he said, “My bride is more beautiful today than the day I married her.” Okay seriously, can you get any more adorable? No, I didn’t think so. I am pretty sure the receptionist and I swooned at the same time. I knew the nurse was probably going to call them soon, so I had to ask what their secret was. How have they made it last for 62 years? The man looked at me and said, “Everyday I wake up, I chose to love my wife. When we have a bad day, I choose to love her. When we have a good day, I choose to love her” And then the best of all…”Even when she burns my supper, I chose to love her.” 

I left the doctor’s office, thankful I had met that couple and even though our paths may never cross again, what he said to me will not be forgotten. Love is a choice. The Bible’s premier “love” passage or very definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13 :4-8, it says; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” I love that in this  description Jesus gave of what love is and what it’s not, everything requires action.

For many years I viewed love as an emotion or a feeling you have for someone else, but now that I am married, I realize that emotions are not something to base a marriage on, but simply something to start a marriage with. Marriage is hard work and if you are relying on the emotional connection with someone to carry you through for the rest of your life (like I once was) you will quickly be disappointed. Because the very definition of love is not an emotion. It requires action and actions are a direct result of… choices.

I think this sweet little man understood this. He knew that life was going to be good and it was also going to be bad. He knew that some days his wife would make the best dinner and other days she would burn it, but most of all he knew that in order to make it through those times, he was going to have to wake up every morning and choose to love her, even when he didn’t feel like it. I love their story and what’s great is that this can be our story too. If we simply choose to love our spouse no matter what, we will be able to sit and after 62 years of marriage tell someone of a younger generation… this is how to make love last.

Blessings~ Summer

Today’s “To-Do” List

28 Aug

My life is busy and sometimes can be flat-out-chaotic. Between two 9-month olds who are now very mobile and two teenagers, there are moments I feel like 24 hours in a day is NOT ENOUGH. However, in the craziness of today I will do the following:

  • Tell my children I love them more.
  • Write my husband a love note.
  • Extend an extra dose of patience to someone I want to throw a shoe at. IE… my teenagers.
  • Vacuum less (Okay who am I kidding? That wont happen)
  • Smile more.
  • I will not be so hard on myself. Instead be the best I can be.
  • When I want to complain, I will thank God for something he has given me or done for me instead.
  • I will make today count. I may not be an important executive of a prestigious company or have a bunch of letters after my last name; but I am the CEO of the Elliott Household. I am a busy and important woman in my own little bubble, so today, I will not take that for granted.

Is it Contagious?

23 Aug

 

 

Contagious (adjective): tending to spread from person to person.

 

 

My husband I were laying in bed on what had to have been a very long day. I have absolutely no idea what was said or done but all of a sudden I started laughing. It was not just a regular, “that was funny” kind of laugh, it was a full belly, tears flowing, could not stop kind of laughter. Within seconds, I look over and he was laughing just as hard. This went on for several minutes  and finally as we both began to come off the “laughter train” I asked him why he was laughing. He looked at me and said, “Because you were.”

We all know that laughter is contagious. We don’t really know why, but it is. I also think that if we take this a step further, we realize that almost everything can be considered contagious, or as dictionary.com puts it, spread from person to person.  For example, I used to work with a lady who was very depressed. Whenever she was in the office she brought with her this gloom or negativity. It was amazing how fast the entire “vibe” in the office would change when she entered it. I also worked with another lady who has very positive, fun, happy and laughed a lot. When she was in the office the “vibe” was just like she was, positive.

Our attitude is contagious to those around us. Our kids, spouse, co-workers and friends,  are prone to catch what ever we are spreading around.  So the question than becomes, “What are people catching from me?” I know that we are not always going to be happy and in a good mood. Life just doesn’t work that way, but even in the times when things are not going great or we find ourselves in a “funk,” I believe we still have the ability to spread positivity by having an attitude that is uplifting and encouraging to those around us.

Now, go out there and “spread a little cheer.” 😉 (insert corniness here)

Blessings, Summer~

 

 

 

If you had to give up one vice, what would it be?

22 Aug

Vice (noun)- an immoral or evil habit or practice. Synonyms: fault, failing, foible,weakness.

  If I had to give up one vice/weakness, I would give up how much I worry AND I am sure my husband would be so thankful!

I worry about everything. Our finances, the kids, my family, health issues, if I have offended someone, where my future is going and how I will get there. I worry about my husband being happy and if my kids are going to turn out okay. If there is something to worry about, then I am sure I do. But as I sit here and acknowledge this, I have to wonder why. Why do I worry so much?

Perhaps it’s because I was a single mom for a long time, living pay check to pay check praying that ends would meet. Maybe it’s because as a teenager my father walked out on our family leaving my mom to support my sister and I, and she eventually lost everything.  Maybe it is because I feel that I need to control my environment and I find security in that; OR maybe it is very simple… I don’t trust God enough. Sadly, that is the answer. I have put my faith and hope in myself and what I can control rather than in a God who is so much bigger than me.

“Matthew 6:25 says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself.” Worrying robs us of today. I know this is true because there have been so many times that I have sat worrying about things that never happened, only to realize later that I wasted precious time.

So, I am setting a new goal (and Erik if you are reading this, you may find sticky notes around the house as a reminder… just a FYI) I am going to let God be God and Summer be Summer. Meaning, I am going to trust in Him more and in myself less. When I start to worry, I will remind myself of His promises and that He will take care of me and those I love. I am going to worry less, trust more and enjoy today.

Blessings, Summer~

The Value in Today

21 Aug

 

He kissed his wife and 3 month old son goodbye and headed out the door for a fishing trip with one of his friends. He has been going to the same lake in Oregon since he was a boy. He knew the in’s and out’s of that place like it was nothing.It was in an instant that everything changed and somehow on the way in, the boat he was capsized into the really cold waters leaving him and his friend to fight for their lives. Sadly, his body was consumed with hypothermia and as hard as he fought, he didn’t win. He died doing something he had done over and over again.

 

I heard this young man’s story as I was on one of my evening runs. My eyes were filled with tears because sitting at home were my babies and big girls and it got me thinking… I run this particular route almost everyday. It is a 4 mile loop around where I live and I could probably run it in my sleep. When I lace up my shoes, put on my earphones and head out to the street, I never think… “I may not come back from this run.” No, I think, “Ahhhh, 30 to 35 minutes of ME time.” I am sure that young man did not kiss his wife that day thinking it would be the last time he ever saw her face. He assumed, like we all do, I will be back soon, life will go on and I will live to see tomorrow.

Every single one of us has an invisible clock over our head. It is counting down the days that we have left here on this earth and not one of us knows then that clock will stop ticking. So, what are we doing with each moment we have here? More importantly, are we making valuable deposits into the lives of our spouse, children, family members and friends?

I am learning that it’s never to late to start. As I continued to listen to the message they spoke of his memorial service and one after one, people got up and told stories of how this ONE man had made an impact on their life. This is my hearts desire. If something was to happen to me tomorrow… I want my husband to know that he was my dream come true and since meeting him, I have become a better person. I want my 4 daughter to know that they are my treasure. I cherish them for the life they have given to this once lifeless soul. I want my mom and sister to know that there are NO words to explain my love and appreciation for putting up with me and for all the amazing memories we have. I want all my family and Erik’s family to know that they mean everything to me.

We are not guaranteed tomorrow, although most of us will wake up and have a “tomorrow” but we need to value and cherish today. We need to love the ones who love us and pray for those who don’t. Go, kiss your husband or wife and thank them for all they do for you. Tell them just how much you love them. Grab your kids, young or old, and hug them, letting them know how proud they have made you. Call your mom or dad and let them know how lucky you are to have had them as parents. If you cannot do that because they are no longer here, than simply thank God for allowing them to be in your life.

There is so much value in TODAY! Go out and find it.

Blessings ~ Summer

Goodness I have 8th graders

20 Aug

 I can close my eyes and picture the day I took these two too preschool for the first time. They had on denim little dresses with ruffled socks. They didn’t have much hair, but what I could work with was put into pig tails with bows. They had different backpacks because I let them pick them out themselves, so one chose a dog backpack and the other chose something with princesses. They sat on the bottom stairs in our Florida condo and posed for a ton of pictures I took with a disposable camera. Remember those things? Yea, not many do. But I took as many pictures as I could which was probably about 25 in all. I fought back the tears as we got into the car and drove to “big girl” school. Now here I am several years later, fighting off the tears because my “little girls” are no longer little and this stings my heart just a bit.

8th grade… the last year of middle school and year before high school. It is a sobering thought for me because I honestly just felt really old. (insert BIG sigh). I like to think that I am one of the “cool mom’s.” I mean, I have tattoos, listen to good music, dress pretty trendy, and I don’t drive a station wagon or a mini-van (no offense to those who do, I just remember my mom picked me up in a purple station wagon… NOT COOL). But even with all that in my favor, I am still Mom and I know that very soon they are going to think being seen out with me is public humiliation or social suicide.

Life for teenagers now is so different then it was for many of us. We didn’t have Iphones, Ipods or anything with an “I” before it. We had to actually remember phone numbers or at least had an address book handy if we wanted to call someone. We didn’t have social media what-so-ever. We had actual conversations with our friends and although the desire to fit in and be accepted was there, I don’t think that it was at the caliber that is for the youth today. Although the ways of the world have defiantly changed over the years, I pray that, morals, values and character haven’t. I pray that everyday my girls walk onto that campus, they know WHOSE they are and that they will never find their worth in this world. I pray that being “different” is a badge of honor for them and that they are “lights” in a school filled with darkness. And I pray they never compromise what they know is right in order to fit in with the wrong.

So, with all that being said, cheers to the last year of middle school and may it be fun!

 

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