Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone! My thoughts on “what am I thankful for” are a little different this year. As you may know, a lot of people have been posting their list of “thankfulness” on Facebook. A dear friend of mine got my wheels turning. There are seasons that we find ourselves grateful for things we may not have put on a list in that category before. Maybe we were always grateful but there are times where that gratitude has newness to it.

My friend posted that she was grateful for years of infertility. It may sound crazy because that kind of news is not something that any of us want. She said she learned a lot about herself, her marriage and God.  She stands on the other side with two beautiful miracles.

I look at a season of God taking me out of the state and city that I loved and moved us to an itty-bitty town in northern Oklahoma. It was a time of stretching and seeing God’s incredible faithfulness. My heart grew….there were families and a group of teenagers that hold a piece of my heart. I know that that is a piece I will never get back. For that, I am grateful!

I am grateful for every teenager (some are now adults) whose life I am SOOOO blessed to have been a part of.

I am grateful for close friends and that distance, while being a crappy thing doesn’t change anything (I’m looking at you Wrangell, Alaska, Georgia and the friends abroad)!

This past month and a half has made me grateful for moments and pictures. For the first time in my life, I lost a close family member. There was a moment when Sophia went straight to Kevin with a big ol’ smile. That is not always Sophia. I love that I got that moment in a picture. I now know that moment was God’s gift to me.

I am grateful for this incredible journey that God has us on. For the husband God has beyond blessed me with…I must say, he is the best! For my kids and everything about them, I grow because of them daily. We look back and see everything that God has done. Every step has been full…full of preparation, joy, tears and lessons learned.

Doing this….I also realize we really need a new family picture!

I am grateful for more than what I can put in a blog post but hope that this Thanksgiving, gratitude overwhelms us. It all points back to the “One who promised, He is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23)!

Don’t You See It?!

There is one question that I never want for God to ask me. I have pondered this quite a bit. After conversation with a friend this weekend, I wanted to share that question. No, it’s not the “will you go here?” or “will you give up that?” questions. While those are important things and I am not minimizing their importance, there is one question. That question stems from Isaiah 43:18-19. The question is in verse 19. I love this in the Message translation…so here it is…

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?

The children of Israel are being told that something new is coming, it’s happening, then the question DON’T YOU SEE IT? That is the question I never want God to ask me!

Circumstance/situations…good and bad, they happen. What I have noticed, is that if it is good, we want to go back and recreate it. If it was bad, we spend time being upset/bitter about it. I know that doing nothing may not be intentional but it still happens. The result of both…we do nothing. Both of those are dangerous!

Maybe, just maybe, God is doing something. Just maybe we are too busy looking at the past…maybe we are too busy being upset about the present…maybe we are stuck in the way we have done things forever and the thoughts of looking forward are scary. Maybe you aren’t looking back but the unknown scares you like no other. Just maybe….we need to get over it. Maybe we need to deal with the good and the bad and recognize…”be alert and present” because God is doing something new!

Don’t you see it?

Let the words of YOUR mouth…

A funny thing happened to me today…this is only one of several. I have also said “those are not pants, that is my jacket “and “don’t roll that down the hallway, it is an apple not a ball”. It has been a day where I get to be the “joy of the Lord” to all who hear (you are welcome Addy Esco). I have been teaching my son Psalm 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight. Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Today, after a long morning of reminding him to watch the words of his mouth, I had him go over this scripture in the car. It went something like this…

Me – Ok Cephas, repeat after me “let the words of my mouth”

Cephas – “Let the words of YOUR mouth”

Me – no no no, “let the words of MY mouth”

Cephas – “Let the words of YOUR mouth”…

I’m not exaggerating on emphasis. You can see where this was going. Eventually we did get through the verse several times the right way. It was kind of funny but I wasn’t going to let that one word slip because that one word made a lot of difference. While the words that come out of my mouth are important, I didn’t want him to think for a second that the words coming out of his mouth were any less important…and between the two of us, that is a lot of words.

This got me thinking about how many times we miss it with our words. I’m not going into tearing each other down and speaking kindly…while those are important, they should be a given (though, I know that that seems to be lost on many people). I am talking about when we are missing the point…much like with the verse and the “let the words of YOUR mouth”. Sometimes we aren’t listening enough to hear the heart of the matter.

Jesus spoke in parables…a lot. Understanding culture at that time, today helps us understand what point he was trying to make (while some are still a mystery and some we continue to gain more and more insight). In that culture, the disciples were hearing what Jesus was saying and they often missed the point (who can’t relate to that…). I love in John 4:31-33. The disciples tell Jesus to eat. He says “I have food to eat of which you do not know”. The disciples say to each other “Has anyone brought him anything to eat”? The disciples, while having good intentions, they missed the heart of the matter.

So today, I’m gonna “let the words of MY mouth”…pay attention to what I say, make sure my son knows that his words matter and listen.

Life and Rest Part 2

Today, I sit and write about rest while sitting in McDonald’s play place while my kids play. Not the quietest place on earth but for today, it will do. Before I had the time to write this next sentence, my daughter informed me she had to pee and about a minute later, I was packing up my lap top, son and daughter who had soaking wet pants. Life! There truly is rarely a dull moment. You should see me at the grocery store…life stays interesting. At least I can make others laugh…

I love the wonderful reminders that God puts in our path of who He is. I love that often, those reminders, while some may be in a sunset, ocean or mountains, we find those reminders through other people. He has such a purpose for his people…it is others that remind me of who God is and invite me to rest.

Psalm 5:12 – For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor you will surround him as with a shield.

I love that imagery! Our pastor says this verse often and I love it. This verse took on more meaning about a year ago.

I have watched those dear to me lose loved ones and I watched this verse in action. I watched God surround them as with a shield…while I know that He was their comfort and their peace, I watched Him surround them with people with His heart. I didn’t say those with the perfect words because often there aren’t any. Simply those with His heart. This invites the hurting to rest.

When my pregnant body reminded me I wasn’t “super woman”. A dear friend (who has been my voice of reason since I’ve known her) told me that while I wasn’t “super woman”, I was a super woman. Ha! No super powers necessary, just that reminder of where my dependency should be and it invited me to rest.

After finishing reading “Lioness Arising” by Lisa Bevere, I was even more challenged and encouraged….ready to conquer purpose, defend, protect and speak freedom. That desire grew to invite others to do the same. We invite others to something….our very actions can make other anxious or invite them to the life giving “rest” that can only be found in Christ. What are we inviting others into???

I am challenged by my own question…

Have a happy Friday everyone!

Life and Rest…

I thought it would be beautifully ironic to make my first post (that isn’t a catch up) in November, about rest. This is the time of year where life really begins the holiday cycle of madness for a lot of people. We are no exception. However, the Ortiz family has plans of staying home this Christmas.

Like I said in my last post, October was insane. Coffee was my friend. My eye just stopped twitching after weeks of its sporadic fluttering. It tends to do that when emotions, nerves and my feet are at a constant. Something that I have learned over the years (yes, I know I am young and still have much to learn) is the necessity of rest. I have learned this by trial and error…a lot of error. While pregnant with both of my kids, I had a moment where my body was done due to lack of rest and my body got my attention. Through that, God got my attention. Where was my dependency, what was I trying to prove by not slowing down? The things I was doing weren’t bad things…but in the middle of those things, I had lost sight of something important. I love this verse, The Message says it beautifully.

Matthew 11:28-31 – Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Being at rest doesn’t mean lazy. I am still learning what it means and looks like. I love the occasional lazy day but life doesn’t allow that kind of rest often. I do know that there is a peace and rest that comes when we take heed and walk in the previously stated scripture. No matter what seems to be going on, no matter how uncomfortable life may be…we can find rest. I think of what being at rest says to those around us…I am grateful for the wisdom of others that has shown me what it means to be at rest…

As I am writing, a bunch of ideas go running through my head. I will make the next post about rest as well…. and I’m excited to get writing.

Happy day everyone!

October is OVER! A summary…

October is over! I am not sad to see it gone. It was quite a month. I have missed blogging these last couple of weeks but life was so very constant that I couldn’t grasp a thought long enough to write it. I was also away from my computer for a whole 5 days while spending some much needed time with my family in GA. After these last few weeks, it didn’t seem write to post something new without an update from the last few weeks. I’ll be posting again in the next day or two.

So, to summarize….

October started with our church’s annual Women’s Conference. This year was incredible. It just keeps getting better and better. When worship started that first night, I was overwhelmed. Totally amazed at how God moves. Love seeing a room full of women together to worship.

The confusion from my husband after being in for most of the conference did make me laugh a little bit. He is more convinced than ever that we are indeed the more complex of the two genders.

A week after the conference, I posted a prayer request for my cousin Kevin. I am grateful for all the prayers. On Thursday, October 14th, Kevin went to be with the Lord. Even though he wasn’t suddenly sick, losing him still seemed sudden. I know he had been in a lot of pain and he is in pain no longer. My heart, prayers, thoughts and tears were with my family in GA. My own heart hurt. I couldn’t have possibly gotten to them soon enough. Last week, Sophia and I flew into Atlanta to be with them. It was a great time. I needed to hug necks and process. I am so grateful to have been able to get there. While Kevin will be missed, I am so grateful for every memory I have…and there are a lot of them. The sound of his voice calling me ‘Chantilly’, his nicknames he gave, playing drums, his sarcasm, his jokes, seeing him with Hanna…the list could go on and on.

During all of this, my husband had been reading “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die” by David Crowder. After a few nights of reading it over his shoulder, I am convinced that I should have been reading it instead. The book was written after the sudden death of their pastor and friend. He ends the book with this…

“Typically we only get to sing in the face of death once a year, Easter. We sing at Easter and I’m always surprised at the magnitude of my emotions. Once a year I stand and sing in the knowledge that death doesn’t win. That it is not the ultimate negative outcome. That it is not the ultimate calamity. And I stand and sing in defiance, and the magnitude of things turning in my chest surprise me.  That night, in Greenville, NC, after staring at a mound of flowers covering the pile of dirt that covered the casket that held my friend, I stood in front of a room full of people whom I didn’t know and asked them “so is that it? Does death win? Is death the final outcome of things? Do we believe there is more?” They were real questions. I wasn’t sure. And as I opened my chest to these people I didn’t know, the answer grew and grew and grew, and the room filled with noise of enormity, growing to a level of defiance I have not felt before. And I don’t know how long I’ll stand here in this defiance, but for now I have found a deeper part of the soul to sing from. I am here, naked, exposed, angry, brought down at the knees and I am singing at the top of my lungs that WE WIN!”