Weak point.

Y’all! It’s late July in Louisiana. Hot. Muggy. Did I mention hot? Listen, I’m not talking about mildly, uncomfortable heat. The specific heat I am referring to here, is a heat so intense, you would think the devil himself was gonna appear any second. So hot, that your legs, not just stick to the seats, they have seat exteriors melted to them upon standing. Under brassiere sweat before 6 am, kind of hot. I would continue, but I don’t want to make anybody, anymore uncomfortable with these increasingly gross analogies.

Along with this insatiable July heat comes another pleasant bestowal. A wonderful package deal. Stupendous two for one. Glorious BOGO….Hurricane season. Yes folks, heat AND hurricanes. Yippee. And as you would have it, 44 days into the 2019 season, ole Louisiana draws the short straw. We get the 1st storm of the year! Whoooohooo Louisiana! Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Thank you hurricane Barry.

In the weeks leading up to Barry’s grand arrival (it in fact may have only been one week, not sure. All I do know is it seemed like forever) I, like many others, watched countless news reports. The dramatic, the sensational, the grandiose. Every station, every report, trying, desperately, to report the exact same story from a different angle.

Amidst all this repetitive clatter, one story did manage to catch my attention. Minutes after the winds had dwindled, a city official, in one of the small towns most severely impacted by Barry’s quake, was attempting to appease the media, by providing the interview every newscaster wants in the middle of an ongoing disaster. The one where the interviewee is at their lowest. Just been through one of the worst days of there lives. This was that exact interview. The official was blatantly fatigued, rain soaked, emotionally exhausted, answering question after question, when he said something so profound, I stopped in my tracks. “We haven’t seen a hurricane in our city in 10 years, it revealed our weak points, we have some work to do.”

It revealed our weak points.

We have some work to do.

God began speaking almost immediately. (And no not audibly, I am not looney toons)

This hardship. This difficult season. These day(s), week(s), month(s), year(s) that have entangled, entrapped, beaten, and made you feel as though you were sinking in mud. Suffocating.

They are not for not. They are not to destroy you. They are not to cause you pain. They are here for one purpose. They must reveal your weak points. Once your weak points are clear, they can be repaired, restored, fortified. The next storm, trial, hardship, will not be able to impact, let alone damage this area again.

Yes, the storm has battered, beat, torn, shredded, shattered, and ripped out. Yes, it is agonizing, painful, devastating, and crushing. No, it will not be easy to rebuild, to put back together, to replace. But it can be done.

We have some work to do.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Connecting the dots.

Do you remember when long car rides meant finding ways to entertain yourself without TVs, phones, or personal music devices? When car rides required that you engage the highest form of imagination you could muster, so that you wouldn’t die of boredom? I know for me, there was always a critical moment before leaving on any long road trip, that consisted of thoroughly planning the contents and then packing my car bag. Often this bag would include various items to keep me entertained. Items like dolls, or reading material, coloring books or word searches. Sometimes my mom would buy my brother and I these jumbo activity books and a pack of new crayons. Between the pages of the jumbo activity book would be pages of word searches, hangman games, color by number pages, tic tac toe, and connect the dots. Hours of entertainment without the need for a charger or app.

For a self proclaimed, A-type, OCD like person; connect the dots was one of my favorite ways to pass the endless miles of a road trip. Connecting the dots meant fixing what appeared to be a jumbled mess. It meant making sense of the vast sea of random dots, scattered seemingly crazed on the page. It meant that, all would be right, once I connected this dot to that dot. Following the predestined sequence of numbers, 1 goes to 2, so on a so forth. I could ease my overwhelming aggravation with the chaos of dots and create a cohesive picture.

As with most things, the connect the dot patterns included varying ranges of difficulty. As I got older, the pieces became more challenging. No longer as simple as connecting 1 to 50, and revealing a simple picture of a cute dog. The patterns began increasing in numbers, but also increasing was the margin for error. Now, some puzzles required significant critical thinking. Now, the dots excluded numbers, requiring you to figure out which dot could be next based on the trajectory of the previous lines. Planning and studying were now required and sometimes a line would be drawn to what I thought was the next point, only to find out 4 more steps in, my pattern was now off course. A simple erase and reroute would generally fix this short speed bump, and soon, the intended image would appear, once again satisfying my personality type.

What if though….What if, when the numbers stopped in the pattern, I stopped working the puzzle? What if, I chose to just stare blankly at the puzzle, becoming increasingly frustrated by the polka dot fiasco? Perhaps frozen by the fear of failing or having to backtrack and erase? Circling around the same dot mindlessly. Reminiscing the previous moves forward. Choosing to stop would leave me with countless puzzles, left unsolved. Several beautiful pictures left without viewing, because the dots were left unconnected. The puzzle left unsolved.

Faith is a lot like this connect the dots. Faith is taking the leap to the next dot, even though the point is not numbered. It sometimes means going back and correcting the trajectory, but not stopping the process in spite of the not knowing. Faith requires pushing into the unknown to complete the final picture. It is looking at a jumbled plot of dots, believing they are perfectly placed to ultimately create a designated purpose.

Consider your jumbled plot of dots. What is keeping you stuck on your last move? What is restraining you from drawing the next line? Enough is enough! Crumble up and throw away the list of excuses you Just spit out in rapid succession. Do it! Today is the day. Now is the time. Take a deep breath and grab you a handful of faith, two if your feeling cowardly. Move forward, progress to the next dot. Whatever it is. Just have faith. Just take a step already.

Pour Out.

Have you ever heard a song, with lyrics so smooth, they flowed through your soul, like wind bustles over a field of wheat? Each word prancing over areas of your insides, bobbing and weaving, moving, nudging you in ways you never knew words could? Perhaps you were in the midst of a devastating breakup, or struggling with significant loss, with which you grieved heavily, and suddenly, lyrics reached you when no other soothing technique had worked.

When I was a teenager, a good friend and I were fighting over a very dashing boy. Important to note here, he was not at all dashing, now that I look back on this situation. Anyhow, this 16 year old boy single handedly managed to disengage our friendship, playing us against one other like chess pieces on a marble board. This teenage 90’s version of the bachelor, took place in the height of the Bryan McKnight era. His latest hit, “Back-at One” played on every station hourly, and even more readily on repeat on my Ford Escort CD player. To save you from the tedious, embarrassing details of this soap opera, I will fast forward to the part where teenage Bachelor chooses my ex-best friend over me. I was utterly devastated, shell shocked. Months of mental strategy, stress, puppy love, were now over. During the peek of my heartbreak, over what I swore was the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life, I some how managed to cleverly generate new lyrics to Mr. McKnights Number 1 hit. I did his song, absolutely no justice, however; these twisted, childish, petty lyrics, seemed to perform a miracle. They allowed healing to flood over my very first ever broken heart. They allowed me to laugh a little and ease my mind of the constant soundtrack heartbreak creates. I teetered back and forth on wether I’d share these ingenious lyrics with you. I shall not. Really you’re missing nothing.

What I will share are the lyrics that sparked this thought.

“You give life, You are love

You bring light to the darkness

You give hope, You restore

Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord.

It’s Your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise

We pour out our praise

It’s your breath in our lungs

So we pour out our praise.”

It’s Your breath in my lungs…As I sang these lyrics this morning in church, as the truth spilled from my lips, I suddenly came alive with the factuality of these words. This breath that fills my lungs, every second of every day does not belong to me. It is not mine. I am here for a purpose that is not found in a job, or paying bills, or making money. My purpose is not in any of these mindless tasks. I am here to pour out praise. To pour out abundant praise in everything that I do. In my actions, my thoughts, my words, my movements. Every single thing that I do should pour out praise to my creator! It is His breath in my lungs. As I mother my children, it should be to the glory of Him. As I approve invoices or load the dishwasher, I should be doing it to praise Him.

Life is so full of events, timelines, plans, that is becomes so easy to lose sight of what matters. To become distracted. We get caught up in cycles, routines, lies that cloud our vision until we can no longer see what really matters. Heartbreak, loss, hurt, life issues it’s bumps and bruises and over time they desensitize us to the beauty of our purpose. He intended so much more and it begins by the realization of we are made of. We are made up of the breath of God.

Sister, use your breath to pour out praise. Be who He fashioned you to be.

Headphones.

What an enjoyable, unexpected way to spend a weekday night. I literally can think of only a few things better. Here I sit. Sweats, ratty tee shirt, hair in a crazy pineapple thing. Headphones in, old school jams blaring, working like a washing machine. Swishing, twisting, scrubbing out the negative banter, that creeps in and is so eager to play on repeat. Chatter like a bad elevator soundtrack. I feel them moving out now. Quickly.

At first they wouldn’t budge. The thoughts, the worries, the cares of this world. Sitting like boulders, weighing on my brain matter like an elephant on a stool. What was just budging as a trickle, is now moving rapidly. With the beat of Nelly, in perfect rhythm, they march right out. LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT! Out with the work that consumes, stress that swallows, relational drama that drowns, and in with the carefree memories of the past.

Its funny, how it works. Like clock work, or like those characters from that cute Disney movie “Inside Out”, that move memories around in the brain. The first down beat of the melody and I am suddenly transported. Magically, taken back to a moment captured in time. I hear a certain late 90’s early 00’s song, snap, my mind immediately travels to one specific memory. Senior breakfast. Late spring morning in 2000. Windows down in an old school tracker, with friends, blaring Eminem. (You don’t judge my music and I won’t judge yours) Wind blowing through our hair as we spit the words like professional rappers, or at least back up singers to the famous rapper. Life was so carefree then. So much freedom, possibility. The whole world in front of us, not a care in the world.

You’ve got to have your own carefree Eminem moment. I, seriously cannot be the only one. My question is this…What happens to these moments? Why, as we get older, do they grow so infrequent? Why aren’t we silly? Stay up well into the night doing things we love? Why not do a Chinese fire drill (or in my feelings challenge), or dance until we can’t breathe? When is it that we are required to trade in our fun tickets for the predictable and safe counterfeits? I am realizing with every turn of the annual clock, I don’t want to die with regrets. I don’t want to get to old age and have “I wish I would have” breaths left in me. I long to be so full of “I DIDS”, that I literally cannot say it one more time.

So, do it! Girl please, let’s have countless 50 Cent rapping sessions in our living rooms. The kind that leave our kids speechless, staring, both amazed and mortified. Yet, don’t do it for them. Do it for the only audience of one that matters- YOU!

Do more things that make you happy and less that make you cry.

Here’s to 2019 you lovely beasts you!

The Message.

“You’ll miss it one day.”

I cannot even begin to count (or recant) the number of times some endearing, well meaning soul communicated these simple 5 words to me. Five words, not always communicated verbatim, nor recited in exact cantor, however; the intent of the words were always the same. The messages core intent, unwavering. The punch line never morphing. Yet I missed it.

The message was typically delivered after some tireless rant about current situations, that were at the moment, dramatically overwhelming and unfathomable. At least in my perspective, on that given day. No matter how different the days top story was though, the subject matter remained steadily the same. The drama, the muse, always my children. Ranting and raving about the taxiing them about or breaking up yet another quarrel. Blubbering over the to dos and not to dos. Right in the midst of the most well rehearsed attempt at sympathy, BAM….the message would be dropped like a bomb on my party pooper parade. “Yea well, you’re going to miss it one day.” Insert atomic bomb sound effect here. Yet I missed it.

Nothing will stop you dead in your tracks, like a reality wake up call such as this. Yet in the midst of the un-relinquishing turmoil that is a busy moms life, you never quite believe the messenger. You never quite grasp that it is feasible for any, sane person to miss the massive burden of responsibilities of a mother. You ask yourself, “how in God’s name, could anyone miss this? Yet I missed it.

Then one day it happens. One day your heart aches for the business, the craziness, the tediousness of past moments, of past days, of past schedules. And girl, that day started today. Today I got a glimpse at the “yeti” of a theory, that is…”missing it”. You see, before today, it was a hoax, an unbelievable story so large, it made the likelihood of a yeti seem possible. This day, as my children went in different directions. No rides required. Friends keeping them company. Not required to cook a meal. Not required to help with any hair. No fights to referee. No to dos, no taxiing. This day I had dreamt of since 2008, was unfolding before my eyes. It was happening today! It was right under my nose. It was so close I could grasp it. But, a chorus of alphabetical guru was looping wildly in my mind. Those 5 words in the message came flooding back. Strung together like a billboard for karma herself. The words, ringing loud in my ears. Bellowing, swarming, around and around in my head. On this day, when I thought I would be jollying in my solitude, I was wallowing in my sadness. Today, I didn’t miss it because it slapped me clear in the forehead.

These are the moments. They are precious. Stop waiting for tomorrow, or next week, or when my kids grown up. Cherish the moments. All of them. Every single one girl! Cherish the instagram perfect moments and the trying to get of the car with your seatbelt still on moments too. Because yes, you will miss them.

Cheering.

I don’t know about you, but I am my biggest critic. Worse than one of those cheeky food critics, like the one humorously portrayed in Ratatoullie. I scrutinize every single detail of every conversation, action, creation, thought. The list of possible targets to my scrutiny is endlessly exhausting. Perfection is the never-obtainable goal. So, it should come as no surprise, I often lay in bed at night, in the quiet, while shutting off my brain…wondering, did I do enough today for my kids?

Did I hug them enough? Give them enough attention? Ask enough questions? Did I give them enough love? Did I tell them I’m proud? Was I engaged? Was I kind? Was it all enough?

Is it ever enough? Enough to combat the offense. Did I execute an adequate defense?

For you see, tomorrow they will get up and journey back into a world that reverberates to them, they aren’t enough. That they don’t have what it takes. That they don’t measure up. A world that pushes them for more. To be more. Do more. Give more.

So, I lie there, faking sleep, asking… was it all enough?

Maybe I’m not the only mom, plagued by this vexing fret. I most assuredly doubt that I am. And since I am not, today, as a mom, I come as your personal cheerleader! I have my pompoms and my cute outfit on. A big obnoxious bow strapped to my head and the biggest, cheesiest smile you have ever seen, slapped on my face! I am shouting…You’re doing a great job! You’re are successfully keeping the little (or big) humans alive. Yay!

Today, let’s stop stressing and take a minute for a deep breath. Remember, there is no operation manual for this job, and whoever wrote What to “Expect When You’re Expecting”, forgot A LOT OF CRITICAL INFORMATION!

Focus.

Blog

Scrolling through Pinterest, as I attempt to create some resemblance of “me time” (what is that anyway?); I stumble across this witty pin. I am quite infatuated with these, often comical, black and white message boards, maybe because they really remind me of Sunday school felt boards- can I get an AMEN or because they say the most brilliant things, and I wish I could think them up! I took a quick screen shot, saved the pin to my ever-clever board “show me a sign”, snort/laughed sarcastically under my breath and drifted off to quick slumber. So much for my “me time”!

A few days later, in a caffeine deprived, sleepy eyed state, I opened my bible to get me some Jesus! Completely oblivious to the WOW moment about to strike straight from heaven!  The scripture that day was of Mary and Martha; sisters, most likely best friends and even better friendemies. This emphasis added truth became very apparent to me as I read the juicy documented “brawl” recanted in the book of Mark. You see, in my mind, Mary is type B personality. Absolutely nothing ruffles her feathers, no deadlines drain her peace, she is simply happy. Happy being alive and it would take an atomic bomb kinda of day to cause even the tiniest wake. I know this personality type well, because my daughter is a classic B. I… on the other hand, am NOT. I, like Martha, am A type personality. EVERYTHING ruffles our feathers. Deadlines define our days, as soon as, our eyes open.  We are driven by an eternal fear of failure chasing us down, so we try to outperform, outwit, out do, everyone. Including ourselves.

In this story, we see these personalities on stage, showing us exactly why they cannot live in harmony. Martha and Mary both know Jesus is coming over to visit. Jesus! Like the real Jesus! He is coming to have dinner at their house, to eat off their dinnerware, to sit on their furniture, to eat their food. While they are both ecstatic (who wouldn’t be, it’s Jesus!)- a dramatic variation of subject focus occurs. After Jesus’ arrival, Mary… stays fixed on the excitement of the guest. She is zoomed in on gleaning every ounce, of every word, He will speak. She sits crisscross applesauce, at His feet, transfixed as unbeknownst to her, Martha’s blood boils. Martha peers from the hot kitchen, her focus pointed, obviously, on ALL that must be done. An immediate “to do” list took precedence, the second she was informed He would be visiting. And now, she spotlights what must be cleaned, what must be cooked, what must be served and the fact that her sister, is NOT HELPING HER! She is no longer focused on the splendor of Jesus, no longer worried about the honorary guest. Rather, she has allowed her heart to target the wrong object. Staring down the barrel of what must be completed, missing the mark entirely.

As I trek through the passage, I am absolutely appalled! The nerve of this woman! How did she not realize the importance of this moment? How could she not see? Then just like that, like a fluorescent arrow at a road side stop, blinking, clicking, begging for me to stop, I remember the screen shot from the night before. While the simple sign is still quite hilarious, it offers a stinging blow. Magically, it had transformed and was now a mirror (like the ones in the Target dressing rooms, where you can see EVERYTHING, from EVERY angle) and I could clearly see, the reflection of Martha staring back at me.

Right on cue, in perfect timing, the sweet nudge of Holy Spirit, softly reminds me how often my focus is amiss. Like Martha, I too allow the distraction of “important” to drown the blessing of “most important.” The vexing tug of to-do lists, deadlines, perfection snatching my attention from what really matters. Then the words of Jesus, drop as a thud, into my heart, “Martha (Candace), Martha (Candace), you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and I will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41”

The Event.

Ever notice, how you struggle with a thing for a season, (maybe a much longer season than we’d like to admit) and so you work on it. I mean you put forth valiant effort. You pray about it, read all the self-help books, do the 101 steps to smashing your obstacle, and FINALLY… get to the point where you’re like yea, I got this thing u-n-d-e-r c-o-n-t-r-o-l and then BAM! Like your bathing suit on the first day of summer…it hits your square in the forehead…like NOPE…. I’MMMMM BAAACCCKKKK!

Yesterday, I was curled up in my favorite spot, reading my bible and feeling bona fide spiritual. Studying various scriptures about self-control, writing in my prayer journal, quite comfortable up on my spiritual unicorn, when “the event” occurred. I have cleverly chosen this title, due to the fact, that; in my imagination, when I hear the word “event”, I visualize the scene of a boxing match. Actually, I am envisioning the highlight reel flashed on ESPN, following the epic heavy weight battle. The clip where the final blows are delivered, and what in reality- took a few seconds, is now slowed down to such drastic proportions, the ripples in the opponents’ cheek shift like waves in an ocean. It is this slow-motion effect, that caused the selection of “event”, as it perfectly portrays yesterday’s incident.

As you recall, I am on my spiritual unicorn of self-righteous self-control now. I hear the faint click of the thermostat, triggering the air conditioner to come on, however; rather than the sound of the blissfully blowing cold air, I am met with an annoying hum and absolutely, no blissfully cold air…whatsoever. It is summer in Louisiana…and this humming sets in motion the next sequence of actions, labeled the event.  Not only do I dismount my unicorn of self-control, I spin into a panicked frenzy, coupled with rage and anger, that in a matter of seconds, transforms into mass hysteria. No joke. What was a simple, level 1 situation, took off like a rocket, into a level 26 emergency. In my mind, the ac issue escalated quickly as follows… 1. Needing an entire new unit that will cost $7,000 (I googled it and the internet does not lie), 2. Our family budget is mortally flawed, 3. I am a terrible money manager, 4. EVERYTHING happens when my husband is gone to work, 5. I am all alone, and finally the climax 6. Poor, poor pitiful me. Like a starving actress at her first audition, desperate to get noticed, I depleted the entire spectrum of emotions inside my body, in 7 seconds flat. Now galloping around on a unicorn of a different name…called flesh.

As I laid sleepless, in the heat, the Holy Spirit brought to my memory the apostle Paul. I like to imagine, he too, was in a moment of complete failure when he spoke this of himself, “Listen, I can’t explain my actions. Here’s why: I am not able to do the things I want; and at the same time, I do the things I despise. I know that in me, that is, in my fallen human nature, there is nothing good. I can will myself to do something good, but that does not help me carry it out. I can determine that I am going to do good, but I don’t do it; instead, I end up living out the evil that I decided not to do.” (Romans 7:15, 18-19) Whaaaaaaat???? The apostle Paul! He goes on to provide a prospect of hope by saying “I am thankful to God for the freedom that comes through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!” (Romans 7:25) Meaning, that, in myself alone, I ain’t got this… but in Him- I am free from the burden of having to try in my own strength, because I can fully rely on Him and His strength!

Maybe, just maybe, you have experienced an episode like mine once or twice in your life. And maybe, just maybe, the climax of your epic event, fostered the same feelings of failure, hopelessness and embarrassment. The crazy train to flesh, left you exhausted and disgusted. Amid the aftershock, I am here to announce, there is hope and it is Jesus Christ! He desires to be EVERYTHING you need, in EVERY circumstance of your life! Through every “event” no matter how giant or minuscule. He’s got this, if you will only trust Him.

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6-8

Lantern.

A decade chock-full of atrocious decisions is where I will begin today. My poor decision making all stemmed from a failure to love myself, yet more importantly, my inability to grasp just how much God loved me. This emotional deprivation fueled a treacherous scavenger hunt of seeking love by those who could never provide it. My soul search broadcast like a daytime soap, granting everyone close to me viewing access. Bad decision plastered on top of bad decision, quickly modifying the trajectory of my once picturesque life. It is these dreadful decisions that bred consequence, that ultimately produced scars; and despite being forgiven, rapidly became the objects to smother and be ashamed of. Shame…it is a precarious foe. It has the power to torment and bind in captivity even the strongest victim. It took me several years to realize that shame was a hand-me-down from the enemy. An aftereffect of my past, but not one I was obligated to own. Once free from the snare of shame, I was capable of grasping what God had planned for my previous short comings.

Imagine if you can a dark so dark, you literally, cannot see your hand in front of your face. In 2016, our home and many of our neighbor’s homes flooded after days of torrential rain. Once the water began rising, the electric company came and shut off the power to the entire street. It was then, that I could truly comprehend, the meaning of the kind of darkness I asked you to imagine. The only light we were afforded, was what generated from the stars and moon. I remember, during this 11-day period of pilgrim-hood, my husband would light an old oil lantern at the end of every day, so that, we may maneuver our way throughout our home.  All 8 of us crowded around a minuscule, yet abundantly significant device, so that we could get where we needed to go.

A lantern. A device, that in the absence of darkness, sits on a shelf, in a closet, seemingly useless, until, suddenly… it becomes the most critical tool. The same holds true for our “past”. Our past decisions, our past short comings, our past failures. These pasts can serve as lanterns, to help lost souls find their way, when they are lost in the darkest of dark. If we will pull off the blanket of shame, guilt and defeat blinding us, God intends to do something miraculous and beautiful. The shadows and depths of travail you’ve suffered, that the enemy intended for destruction; isn’t to shackle; but is to be a guide for another struggling in the darkness of a similar battle.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 MSG

Enough.

Stretched back, shades situated, sunscreen lathered, floating my cares away down the longest lazy river, I have ever chanced. The “Tasmanian devil” type whirlwind that perfectly depicts my previous 4 days at Disney World, now being drowned in numerous gallons of chlorine and who knows what else. The perfect climax to a memorable vacation.

As I begin my 3rd trip around the adult paradise, I suddenly noticed the vast amount of tropical foliage positioned robustly along both sides of the rivers edge. Three bouts around this route now awarded me an experts awareness to the lay of the land. Realizing in awe, no 2 plants were the same. Infinite shades of green and robust bursts of vibrant color splattered the vegetation like an artists paint brush set loose on a canvas. A closer look revealed detailed lines, angles and edges on leaves and stems. Colors were not singular, rather plural, as what was pastel pink at the base, streaked into the most elaborate electric orange you’ve ever seen. Vines and shrubs and flowering bushes, one after another. Many so close in proximity, without a closer inspection, you’d miss they were not one in the same.

A curious mind and split-second searching capability revealed that there are more than 13,000 species of plants at Disney World. (The state of Florida only has 4,700 native species.) Even more mind blowing than this is that worldwide, there are more than 391,000 different species of plants!

The beauty that snagged my attention this careless day on the lazy river, joyously reminded me of a brilliant truth. The same God, who on the 3rd day, spoke a word and created 391,000 varying species of plants. Plants that are not just intricate and beautiful to the eye, but serve to sustain life on this planet in complex methods. This is the same God, who on the 6th day, breathed his very breath into you and me. Not only did he create us, the bible says we were created in His image! That before we were formed in the womb, he knew us and set us apart. It says that we are uniquely and wonderfully made. What amazing truths!

Today, I challenge you to halt the lies that are on constant repeat in your mind. The ones that started when you were too young, whispering your short comings. The falsehood that you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, good enough or just enough. The slander, tall tales, forgery, deceit, woven into the very fabric of your heart. Today, I challenge you to replace those distortions with the truth that the creator of heaven and earth has spoken about you! The truth of your exquisite beauty. The truth that He shaped you in His image with detailed craftsmanship. He made no mistake, no flaw, no defect. He made you perfect.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5