Mom and baby me

A special happy birthday and lots of thankfulness

Mom and baby me

Mom and baby me

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 (ESV)

Yesterday was a BIG day.

Two of my absolute favorite souls had a birthday yesterday.

My mother! And my doggie!

Each day God urges us to give thanks. It was so easy yesterday!

Well my thanksgiving is simple. I give thanks for the two bright spirits in my life.

Honor your father and mother. Matthew 19:19 (NLT). 

My mother has always been more like a best friend. A confidante. I can tell her anything. She has always stood by me and supported me with her whole soul.

She never stops believing in me and affirming my dreams – big and small.

And although the relationship is not perfect – no relationships are – it is a blessing. I am so thankful for her.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (ESV)

Mom and Marley

Mom and Marley – Birthday Buddies

And my sweet little dog, Marley, has given unconditional love that only a dog can do.

His little face lights up every time I come home. And he follows me throughout the house. He is my little shadow.

My life would be so empty without his spirit.

Our animal companions are truly a blessing.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise. Psalm 138:1 (ESV)

I encourage you to take a moment out of the day to be thankful for the special souls God has put in our lives.

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope

[I’m linking up with the following soul affirming communities. Please take a moment to check out their wonderful blogs.]

Fill Me Up

“Fill Me Up” – Oh Yes You Do Lord!

Ok, I promise that all of my posts will not be videos. However, this song is just blessing me so much right now. I was introduced to it on a beautiful woman’s blog called Living My Someday. I heard the song once and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Amazing! With a spirit so moving, and words that are truly my prayer, this song, “Fill Me Up” by Jesus Culture must be shared!

Fill Me Up

You provide the fire
I’ll provide the sacrifice
You provide the Spirit
And I will open up inside

Fill me up God
Fill me up God
Fill me up God
Fill me up

Love of God
Overflow
Permeate
All my soul

Blessings to you,

-Hope

My window

[Five Minute Friday] Join

My neighborhood window

My neighborhood window

[Today I’m joining the wonderful LisaJo of thegypsymama and a beautiful community of bloggers for the 5 minute Friday writing prompt. Today the word is JOIN.]

“In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 [NIV]

So, this past Tuesday I decided to go to the Reality SF Connect Group in my neighborhood. They are studying the Psalms. Oh how I love the Psalms.

I wanted to join a Connect Group because they are a wonderful way to meet other Christians and study the bible. I belonged to one in Los Angeles and really grew in my faith.

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20 [NASB]

Plus, I know hardly anyone in San Francisco and very few people in my neighborhood.

Besides, I need want to meet new people and make new friends. And I specifically wanted to make new Christian friends. I wanted to create a friendship circle in which Christ is put first.

And sometimes you can only go to a fellow Christian to talk about life’s struggles because only they understand life from your same perspective. Christians simply need other Christians.

And occasionally, I learn more in the Connect Group meetings than I do in church because the Lord just feels so personal there.

I love hearing how Christ affects the lives of others. I love seeing the faces of people light up as they share praise report. And I love praying for others – together.

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.”  James 5:16a (MSG)

I love seeing the power of Jesus.

It’s nice to find a community of believers especially that live really close to me. I’m imagining the Lord blessing and looking over my little neighborhood.

I just need to remember to draw myself out of my shell, so that I can make new friends and grow in Christ.

Do you belong to a community group based out of your church? What do you think of your group? How have you made new Christian friends? I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope

Five Minute Friday

Sunroom - Office Door

Meeting God in the Secret Place

Sunroom - Door to my prayer place

Sunroom – Door to my prayer place

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6 [NKJV]

This morning I awoke to Oswald Chambers thoughts on Prayer Choice and Prayer Conflict in his daily devotional entitled “My Utmost for His Highest.” [If you are not reading this blessed text, you should be. You can even read it free online.]

When I saw the title I immediately thought, I don’t have a prayer conflict. I love to pray. I do however need to get serious with my time committed to God each morning.

I’ve noticed that if I don’t stick to reading the Word first thing in the morning or allowing extra time in the morning to do so, the day just gets away. And I usually get around to reading the bible later in the day… but it’s risky.

Life always has a way of getting in the way. Emails. Phone calls. Or in my case last week, freak accidents and emergencies.

All of these “life reasons” make it even more critical to put God first. And for me, that means meeting with God in the secret place, first thing in the morning. And I believe meeting God first allows Him to order our day.

Chambers writes:

Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.

Amen. I don’t know about you all but I need God’s stamp on everything in my life. I need his stamp on my thoughts, words, and actions. I need God’s presence in my family, in my relationships, and even in my neighborhood.

Dave Lomas, the pastor of Reality SF, the church I’ve been attending recently, asked the congregation in his message “We are Theological”: “Are you individually allowing the ultimate reality of Jesus to shape your daily reality?” And he said we must be radically centered on God.

Being centered on God means meeting Him in secret prayer, private prayer. It means being disciplined, controlling our thoughts and emotions, and not allowing our minds to wander during this special time.

We focus our hearts and minds on God – so we hear Him.

Chambers writes:

When we live in the secret place it becomes impossible for us to doubt God, we become more sure of Him than of anything else.

I’m seeking to live in the secret place where my faith is so strong and unwavering that I never doubt God. With steadfast faith, God will become the center of our lives.

Then, we become a people centered around Jesus, and live lives centered on Jesus. God is ordering our day. With God, we will have renewed strength to meet all of life’s challenges.

Those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. Isaiah 40:31 [AMP]

Will you join me in the morning and meet with God in the secret place? Do you have any advice for keeping this morning appointment? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,

-Hope

[I’m linking up with the following soul affirming communities. Please take a moment to check out their wonderful blogs.]

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Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

[She Reads Truth] Proverbs 13:3 Careful Words Make for a Careful Life

Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

So, I have a mini confession. I love reality television. It is my guilty pleasure. I like everything from the Kardashians to the Real Housewives series to the latest Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. My absolute favorite is the Tia and Tamera show, which is honestly pretty positive.

I think a part of my fascination with the shows is that they provide a window into the lives of other people in a different way then the usual made-up fiction on television. I know you are saying outloud or perhaps yelling at the computer screen as you read this — reality tv isn’t real!

Yes, I know it is not real. I have friends who work as producers for several shows – but the storylines, although pumped up and exaggerated for ratings, are based off the lives of real people. I like that part of it.

It’s also just fun to watch really pretty people talk about silly things. It’s a distraction from the “real” things that are occuring in my life where pretty hair and makeup doesn’t fix everything. And it also may be me just missing my pretty Los Angeles too.

The strange thing I discovered as I was watching a Love & Hip Hop Atlanta episode yesterday is how ugly and vulgar the ladies sounded. Almost every word included the “f” word or calling another woman a “B”. And for the first time in a long time, the show left me feeling really disturbed. The emotions were there, bare for all to see. And the words were so hurtful.

You see, over the past week, I’ve been really working on my own speech and my emotional communications, as I discussed earlier. God has spoken to my heart and into my life in this area. He’s trying to clean it up.

In addition to showing me how my words can harm more than they heal the one I love, He is now showing me the ugliness of these types of words and interactions in modern day society. It is simply all around us – from the shows on television to the music on the radio. And this “ugliness” of words goes relatively unnoticed.

Wow, the Lord has been really working on me.

For the She Reads Truth bible study, we’ve been reading and meditating on Proverbs. I am still constantly amazed at how His Word speaks to me amidst all the parables.

And although I am playing a little catch up from falling behind due to my experience with Marley this week, I realized that God’s Word to me is always on time.

Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything. Proverbs 13:3. [MSG]

As I was re-reading Proverbs 13 this morning, I was struck by several passages. Warnings about careless and irresponsible talk and the impact that it has on its life.

Irresponsible talk makes real mess of things, but a reliable reporter is a healing presence. Proverbs 13:7 [MSG]

So I read my study bible a little closer and discovered notes on self-control. For Proverbs 13:3, it states that “You have not mastered self-control if you do not control what you say. Words can cut and destroy. James recognized this truth when he stated, ‘The tongue is a little member and boasts general things’ (James 3:5). If you want to be self-controlled, begin with your tongue. Stop and think before you react or speak. If you can control this small but powerful member, you can control the rest of your body.”

But I began asking the Lord, but what about emotions? What about anger and sadness? 

And then I turned to my favorite daily bible, Jesus Calling, as I read through Proverbs 12 and 13. It had a whole section on Self-Control. [Yes, the Lord always answers my questions through his Word.]

The bible pointed me to Ephesians 4:26-27. [NKJV]

“Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”

And then it pointed me to …

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29. [NKJV]

For many schooled Christians these passages may already be well known, but for me, they were the perfect words for a glimpse into understanding the connection between anger, words, emotions generally, and self-control. They are all connected.

My Jesus Calling bible further assisted with a message to ask the Holy Spirit to help me whenever I speak. So, in addition to being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, I should call on the Holy Spirit before using this powerful ability to verbalize – recklessly. I love it.

“So then my beloved brethen, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 [NKJV]

As for the reality television guilty pleasure, I’m not sure that it will go away anytime soon. They aren’t all bad. Hey, I’m just being honest. It is, however, losing some of its appeal, as I continue to work on having my words draw people closer and bless them instead of harming them. This is my prayer Lord.

I’d love to hear what you think. Please drop me an email or comment.

Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,

-Hope

SheReadsTruth

Linking up with Ann too!

Marley at 3 Months Old

Good people are good to their animals & God is simply good

Good people are good to their animals” Proverbs 12:10 [MSG]

Marley Home Safe

Marley is home safe!

Have you ever felt like you were living in “The Twilight Zone”? You remember that show, don’t you? Perhaps I’m telling my age. Well, growing up,  I used to watch the reruns on Nickelodeon.

Well, these past few days I had the craziest and scariest experience. A Twilight Zone worthy moment.  Late Thursday afternoon, during a normal walk to the park, I experienced the worst day of my life. You see, I took my two dogs for a “potty” walk. My little 6 pound Maltese, Marley, was on the leash, when a giant standard poodle, which was not on a leash, just ran into his lease. The poodle got stuck in the leash and kept running, which caused my little dog to be whipped around and flown through the air. He landed with a thud and didn’t move for minutes.

This image and moment is now permanently imprinted in my mind.

I honestly thought my little baby was dead. Although he finally opened his eyes minutes later, his body remained lifeless and I thought surely he was paralyzed. And strangely, Marley’s nose was bleeding and his eyes wouldn’t stay open. I gathered every ounce of courage and hope for his life I could muscle and picked him carefully to take him to the emergency veterinarian.

Thankfully my significant other was able to leave work immediately, send me the address of the closest veternarian, and meet me at the hospital.

I don’t know how I drove there with my doggie in my lap, but I did. I remember the vet technician taking my limp, lifeless dog from me to examine him, while I completed the paperwork.

Marley and Me - Marley only 3 Months Old

Marley and Me – Marley only 3 Months Old

I was in a haze and couldn’t even believe this was happening, and especially not now. Marley and I have been together the entire time I’ve lived in California. In fact, we’ve been everywhere together for almost 7 years. He has been with me through failed relationships, graduate school, law school, multiple houses, a summer associate position in Indianapolis, a law clerk position in Philadelphia, and trips to Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, and Ohio to name a few. He was my travel partner and my study buddy.

We’ve been everywhere and done everything together.

I was incredulous that a freak accident could take him away from me….. And leave me all alone… especially in a new city, San Francisco, with no two friends, no extended family, and little support [besides my significant other].

Marley has been my family, my unconditional support….

And then I realized that I had Jesus.

I know it sounds a bit cliche, yes, even to me. But it is the truth.

I had to lean on Jesus. I had to believe that he could make Marley all better. The veterinary doctors certainly did not want to give me false hope.

In fact, their first words involved choices regarding money and paying for the treatments that Marley would need to even assess whether he would be okay. Just to get him past this initial dark stage. IVs and medicine to reduce the swelling in his brain. Radiology. Overnight stays.

I was told that he may not see in his right eye – the side his little body landed on. I was warned that he may be permanently paralyzed on his left side of the body. And he might have irreversible brain damage. And of course, there was nothing they could know for sure. Of course…

So, faced with the possiblity of no life with Marley, I turned… no I ran to Jesus. And I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

I called on my family and friends to pray for him. And my prayer was specific. I wanted Marley to have a full health recovery!

The first night in the vet hospital, I received a call that he’d had a seizure and been administered valium. And I was told the next morning that seizures were not a good sign.

The next day, Friday, I visited him in the hospital and he was still limp and lifeless. And more importantly, he was not moving his arm and leg on the left side. Friday night, he had another seizure.

I couldn’t sleep most nights, so I just prayed. I prayed for his health. I prayed for no seizures. And I prayed that the image of the accident, and his little limp body, would leave my mind’s eye…even if just for a second.

I prayed to be a better protector of him in the future. And since there was no one really to blame [well besides the other dog that was not on a leash], I turned the blame on myself and started second guessing everything. If I’d just taken him out earlier… not taken him out at all… if I hadn’t been worried about my other dog having a chance to play… if I’d taken him off leash… If I… If I…

My mind went on like this for hours…

And then Jesus would hear my prayers, and allow me peace enough to go to sleep – even if for a few hours.

And then Saturday came. The day where my hope in Marley’s ability to walk was restored. During my visit, I was able to get him to stand on his own and walk 2 baby steps toward me.

I saw enough to believe… that Marley would be fully restored.

And that night, the phone did not ring with news of a seizure. And I really began to hope that Jesus had made him better.

And then Sunday came, and the dreaded meeting with the neurologist for his report. Poor Marley had seen specialists from almost every medical area. The neurologist was suprisingly upbeat and positive about Marley’s recovery. In fact, he said that he was shocked at his progress between Thursday evening and Sunday morning.

I wasn’t shocked…I was relieved and thankful that Jesus healed my little baby Marley. Only God could have restored him, and so quickly.

Although Marley is not out of the woods completely yet, he is now safely on the other side. And he is home.

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2. [NIV]

He is no longer on meds, attached to IVs, and under a seizure watch. He’s home with his family. And he’s walking around on all fours and seeing out of both eyes. He responds to his name. And he is almost like new.

I am so, so, so thankful.

I was very fortunate to have the financial support of my significant other, which enabled Marley to receive the best medical care possible. And unlike me, he was strong and rational and brave enough to ask the tough questions, while I was just a ball of tears. Thankfully, my significant other loves Marley too.

I am thankful to my love, and I am very thankful to Jesus.

“Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” Psalm 30: 11-12 [NIV].

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope

[I’m giving thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever! I’m just beginning to list my thousand gifts.]

  1. Thanks to the Lord,
  2. Prayers from family and friends
  3. Health of my doggie, Marley
  4. The love and support of my significant other
  5. Capable veterinarians
  6. More than enough of food, clothes, financial resources, and grace