Month: August 2019

Community

A few days ago I wrote about a sunflower I saw on my bike ride. It is still one of my favorite things to look for each time I ride by, but yesterday I saw something that made me think. I have ridden my bike to the same spot many times, but yesterday I noticed a whole field of sunflowers. They were beautiful! I am guessing they may not have bloomed yet the last time I rode that way. Or, my vision could have been blocked by the ugly road construction sign posted right in front of the field. (Those construction signs are EVERYWHERE in Ohio right now!) I was so captured by the beauty, I left my bike on the trail, walked past the ugly sign and did an Insta live. The pictures velow do NOT give these flowers justice.

One thing I noticed about the beautiful field of sunflowers was how big they were. They were bold and colorful and all bowing toward the morning sun. The sunflower I took a picture of earlier in the week was beautiful and mighty growing amongst the other weeds, but the flowers in the field were larger and thriving! They were surrounded and supported by each other.

This made me think how much we need community in our lives. Yes, I still stand by everything I wrote the other day about taking steps and doing what is needed no matter how you were planted, but how much easier it is for us to do things when we are supported by community! Community is a place to belong, feel supported, and loved.

I am privileged to be part of a healthy community that I love and adore. I am accepted, loved, and encouraged daily. When we tackle things in our lives we are unsure about it is so helpful to have others around us. People like-minded working alongside us and having similar goals right there with us. Another place to find community is within church and specifically smaller groups within the church. We all want to belong and feel wanted and accepted for who we are. Each of us desire support when things are tough and have others celebrate with us in our victories.

I know I have thrived on my health journey because of the community established within the program. People who identify with where I am at and encourage me along the way. Mentors who challenge me to do and be more and help me see where I can grow and mature. Seriously, the best source of community I have ever been involved in. Even if I didn’t lose all my weight, what I have gained through this community has been life changing!

My morning devotional today was talking about friendship. The author talked about walking in a room and having the feeling of wanting to belong. Have you ever been there? I know I have! I can identify with walking in a room filled with groups of people having conversations and wondering where in the world I should go. You feel left out and unsure of where you fit in. You don’t want to bother people or interrupt their conversations, and you are worried that they don’t want you around. In the devotional the author then mentioned a circle that opened up and a friend that waved her over to join the group. She offered her a place to belong, feel wanted and accepted. Isn’t that what we all want?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10

When my family and I first moved to Ohio I was pretty lonely. I only knew my family, I didn’t know the area and I certainly didn’t have friends close by to call on. We started attending a church and slowly were trying to feel accepted and wanted. I attended bible studies and mom groups and was trying so hard to feel like I belonged somewhere. It was a really hard and lonely time and I know the community I have now would have been so nice to have at that time!

I will never forget the day I was walking to my car and I received a text. This girl (now one of my besties) texted me and just said hi. She asked how I was doing and said she would love to get together some time. That was the BEST text I probably have ever received. I hope she know this, it really was so wonderful. I just wanted community, I wanted to belong, feel loved, accepted and that I had a place amongst the field of flowers.

I truly hope I make decisions daily to be the one who opens the circle and allows others in. Community is so important and helps us thrive and I hope this helps you to look around and see who around you needs to belong. Will you open the circle and invite someone to join you in your field of sunflowers?

Loved.

A few days ago I read the parable in Luke 15 about the prodigal son and I was brought to tears. If you don’t know this passage, you can read it here. I love when the son is embraced by his father and how he is so excited that his son is safe and sound. He loved him so much and no matter what he chose to do, his father was so rejoiced to see him again. It is an amazing parallel of how truly our God loves us. No matter what we may have done, He loves us, He’s waiting for us, His arms were open wide and He is ready to shower us with His love. 

There are three characters in the parable, the father, and the older and younger son. We read about all the younger son has chosen to do and the mistakes and sinful desires he chose to live out. He used up all his inheritance and realized that he wasted all he had and was living with less than even the servants in his father’s home lived. Mistakes most of us would judge and lack compassion for. However, as a parent, I understand the compassion the father has for his younger son and can completely understand the father’s response to his return. He was so overwhelmed with joy, it didn’t matter what he did, he rejoiced because he was found. He loved him without judgement, without him being deserving, he just loved him.

I thought about this type of love during our worship time on Sunday. We sang the song. Forever Reign by Hillsong with the chorus that says “Oh, I’m running to Your arms, I’m running to Your arms, the riches of your love, will always be enough. Nothing compares to Your embrace, Light of the world forever reign.” Just like a young child runs to meet his mom or dad when they return home, we are able to run to our father the same way. Run into His loving arms. Run to the ONE who paid the ultimate price for us. Open arms of love, compassion, joy and forgiveness.

At the end of the passage when the older son approached his father and I again teared up. He went to his father and was just completely angry and hurt that his younger brother who didn’t fall all the rules was now being celebrated. So often I can understand the older son’s point of view. I’ve always been someone that tries to do the best I can and follow the rules and sometimes, it feels as if following the rules doesn’t pay off. Yes, I have a good conscience most of the time, but I see those around me making unwise choices, yet seem to prosper in my eyes. Don’t we all do that at some times? We think we are deserving of love or attention or praise, but really we are not. Yes, we are called to listen and obey and I truly believe the rewards in heaven we will receive will be far greater than the rewards and praise we will receive here on earth. We don’t deserve anything, but our God lovingly will give to us in ways we don’t even know.

Th last two verses in the passage is when the tears hit again. Read it below.

31 “My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

Did you catch that? The father said to his son, “you are always with me.” The older son thought he was being overlooked, but the father knew he was right there. He knew he could count on him. He knew that his older son would do all he could do to serve and do as he should. He didn’t have to worry about the older son because he was making choices that were good, right and obedient.

So, for those of us that are striving to do what is right, you are loved. You are seen and noticed and appreciated. You may not see the recognition or praise, but you are appreciated, loved and allowing room for those who need that extra love and forgiveness to receive what they need. Our father knows our heart, he knows our motives and He knows our love. Rest in HIS amazing love and be comforted that you are seen and you are loved.

Standing Out

Yesterday I took a bike ride and noticed the sunflowers pictured above. I love riding my bike on the trail near our house and see the butterflies, birds, chipmunks, and what I think are ground hogs that gather around the trail.

The sunflowers stood out to me because for quite awhile on the trail everything is just green. The weeds are large and are in various sizes and shapes and shades of green, but somehow all look beautiful in their own way. It is definitely the evidence of summer.

The reason the sunflowers caught my eye was not only the bold yellow against the green, but also how they were standing tall amongst the weeds. These two little sunflowers were all alone on the path away from any others like them. Being they were near other weeds, I am guessing the seed was dropped there by a bird or animal at one point. They grew where they were placed without hesitation. They received the right amount of soil and water to do their thing and grew right where they were placed.

This made me think about us and how we so often stunt our bloom because we don’t think we are in the right place or our timing was not quite right. Over the last year or so I have learned that taking steps toward growth, despite the obstacles that come my way, is so worth it. If I had waited until everything was just right to take my health into priority, I may not be where I am today. Had those before me not bloomed where they were planted when the time arose, I may not be where I am today.

Sometimes in life we are looking for the perfect situations to begin something. However, I have found that most of the time the perfect situation never is really here. Stepping out in faith to make a change, take a risk, move ahead, is just that, a step. You are not expected to be perfect and do everything perfect, but the step is what counts. Growing where you are planted and doing the steps needed to succeed.

I know the sunflowers on the path are not perfect, but they still have grown. Maybe they would have grown faster if they were surrounded by other sunflowers or were harvested on purpose where they were planted, but the point is, they did grow. They put aside whatever obstacles could have been in their way and just grew.

So, the challenge is this, what are you waiting to do, that you just need to step out in faith and do?

Will you be the sunflower standing among the weeds, or the seed that are waiting for the right and perfect conditions?