Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's Christmas!!!

I know, I know.  When you read this you are going to ask me about finishing the last blog.  I will. I promise.  But it is Christmas.  It is that wonderful time of year that life just feels a little better, a little brighter and hope springs in the air. Christmas is the time for love, caring, family, friends, expecting, miracles and most of all giving. I am not sure why this season is so endearing to me but it seems that through out my life, for a brief magical moment my Mom was always able to push the cares of our world to the side and celebrate all the things we did have and did not concentrate one moment on what we didn't. She would have Christmas surround us through out the house and season. She had that twinkle in her eye as she shopped. She would sing, and boy did she love the Elvis Christmas album, while we decorated. When we were younger and would visit my family down south, we sang the entire four hour trip.

Decorating was a wonder of red, green, pine and anything Christmas.  Now, she did not go so far as to change the drapes, or put those covers on the toilet seats...but almost everything had something Christmas splashed on it.  She was full of joy in celebrating each other, our little family and most of all our God that had gotten us through another year.We struggled so many years but at Christmas the lines of worry had to go. There was no space for them because this season was the season of miracles and somehow we would make it the best ever.

For most of my life it was just the three of us. Mom, my sister and I. So, we would hang the lights outside wherever they would hang, we would shop until we dropped on Black Friday and we would saturate the tree with presents. And always a real tree.  Some of the best memories I have are of us three girls shopping the Black Friday sales until lunchtime and then having lunch.  My sister was always on a mission to get her kids every single thing on their list.

The most important job on Thanksgiving was not the meal. Mom burned it almost every year. But, the sales papers. My sisters job was to bring all the papers over and get the schedule together. We could not miss any sale. We all stood in the Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us line at 4:00 am usually freezing but mostly laughing, watching all the crazy people and just loving on each other. Our favorite used to be target. They would give you those survival packs with hot chocolate. That was so nice.  But most of all, we were all together. And when Dean came along he was the best.  He was the driver. He picked us up, dropped us off and carried all the packages.  Then, he would go home and sleep and let us finish our girl time together. 

I am not sure how my Mom did it. Our family never celebrated Thanksgiving the weekend before or after...we never celebrated Christmas the weekend before or was just understood that you were at her house for the holidays. And when you got married, it was understood that you would be home for the holidays as well. She did not split time with the inlaws much.  The in-laws got Thanksgiving dinner around Moms schedule and Christmas Day, defiantely not Christmas Eve. If you could make it to both places (which my sister would break her neck and do every year) great, if not, well, good luck with that. We just didn't question, ask or try to manage it any other way. She was our Mom and she only asked one be home for the holidays. Whether you were getting along with each other or not. Some how those were still the days we set aside our differences and tried to stop and remember what we had.  Did it always work out that way, no.  Did we always get along, definately not. But as I am older I realize so much more now of what my mother was trying to get us to see. Today, I treasure my sister. I love her for who she is and I am so proud of her. She has really grown into a beautiful woman. Throughout our younger years though, we definately did not see each other through those rose colored glasses. I doubt we would have even picked them up. We really had a love/hate relationship. I could go into the dysfunctional parents we had that contributed to the way we felt about each other but I am sure enough said. Do you know anyone that does not have a dysfunctional family anymore?

As a mom though, you see who your child is in their heart and you can see the final outcome more so than anyone else. You know that God is protecting, speaking and growing your child and that He has a plan for them for their good as well so your life is not just trusting in your wisdom but also the protecting arms of the Heavenly Father.  As a sibling, we cannot always see those aspects of beauty in our siblings when we are growing  up. We are way too young to see beyond ourselves. I told Olivia the other day that she may have the right answer but her heart behind the answer needed a lot of work. I can just see my Mom right now going, finally, you got it.  Just because one of us was right, did not make it right.  I miss you Mom. I tell Moms of teenagers all the time to try and remember that you know nothing now but at 25 you are the smartest person they will ever know.  I think, at your forties, your Mom must almost be in saint hood for the wisdom you wished you seen in them years earlier. It would have saved a lot of Christmases. 

So this year I started early and  I have climbed into that small storage room, that when you walk into it you have to duck and keep your head slightly bent to pull out the Christmas boxes.  As I pulled them out and dragged them up the stairs to start the decorations I pull out a memory. In every box, in every ornament, in every piece of China lies a story, a memory or a moment. I have looked back over the years and seen where I have been, where Dean and I have walked and where we have been as a family. We have had so many hard, miraculous Christmases through out the years and yet they all have had fun, exciting memories that we treasure. We have made traditions that flow through the house like a warm blanket and hot cocoa on a cold wintery day. We have been able to keep the "wintery cold day" outside as we snuggle and love on each other inside. Our joy is in the wonderment of the decorations, the miracles that God has accomplished in our lives and the love that surrounds this small family of three. I know at Olivia's age I did not have that in my family but now we all do. All three of us and it allows us to open our hearts to so many that do not have it. The joy of the Lord really has been our strength, our stronghold and our ever present Father.

Growing up for me wasn't easy. Really quite hard. There are so many days that I look at my life and know the saving grace of God's Hand in my life. If it were not for God I know who I would have been because I see it all the time in the hopeless eyes of so many. And at Christmas I look for those "eyes". Because for just a brief moment someone will set aside their pride at Christmas, they will set aside their selfishness at Christmas, their hearts seem to be more open and waiting for that miracle because it just might happen for them. I might not have much but I do have a Father in Heaven that can let me know that if a ear needs to listen, an eye needs to see, or a heart needs to know would make a small difference then "Lord Here am I send me."

And for our family. There is not room enough on this blog to tell you the miracles that have played our just this year in our lives. There are so many of  you that have heard, seen and listened to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and helped us carry a very heavy load. As I look in those boxes of memories I see each and every one of you. Your family, your face, your caring and your love and words on a page will never express the heart felt gratitude that I have that you are a part of our lives. Some for a season, some for a lifetime. The song "Thank You" never gets old. So, "thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that has been changed!" It may have been a prayer, a card, a call, a visit, a meal, or a financial gift. Each and every one has brought hope to my heart and to Deam and Olivia. We have struggled so much this year with Olivia's health but also her emotional health.  I have been able to use each and every one of you to let her know that though her body is weak God is a big God and see the friends and Christian family He has surrounded us with to help us carry each and every day. So though, she is have been the heart of God to help get stronger without even knowimg it.

If you made it this far....thank you so much for continuing to read. I just could not stop the flow of writing this morning. I truly hope I have not rattled on :)

In His Forever Grip and a Very Merry Christmas

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who,what, where, why and how, Part 1

Don't you hate it!  You have several wonderful weeks with your family, with your friends and most of all with God. You are basking in this great relationship that has been deepened by an intimate quiet word with your Father. You have really discovered this new strength and wisdom in an attribute of God that you have never seen before. You feel on top of a mountain.  You are at peace and all is right with the world. 

Then out of blue, or so it feels,wham! You run into this huge brick wall. You ran because the path was clear, the stones were moved away and you were listening to some great music on your i-pod. Remember, all was right in your world right now. You are running the race, on fire for God. Then WHAM! you are on the ground, you are bleeding, wondering what happened. You look up to see the tallest wall you have ever seen.  Where did that wall come from and how did it get in your way and why is it standing there anyway?  Then just as you are asking the questions and getting up, brushing off the dust of the ground, and checking all body parts for broken bones and blood you realize you never saw that coming. This very tall, very fortified brick obstacle standing in your way.

So where did the wall come from?  What is the wall made up of? And how do we either move the wall or get to the other side? And most of all "God, I saw the vision....I got the concept....I was riding the wave so to speak,what happened?"...and  you know, I think God has a little chuckle at those words. I think He looks at me, like I look at Olivia when she is confused about something that is so plain and wonders "how did she miss what I was saying?" and somethng along the lines of " that hard head of hers is going to hurt a bit when the light comes one!"

Moving a wall, a fortress, is always one brick at a time. We have to tear that wall down to really keep walking on the path ahead of us.  If we try to "cheat" and walk around it...well, did you really think that was going to happen?"  When God is perfecting something in us, his will is going to be accomplished. So, we may think we skirted the wall but, guess what, there will be another circumstance and another wall that we will have to deal with.

To tear it down, one brick at a time, the easiest way is to ask questions.  The Who, What, Where, Why and How? questions. The ones you remember from writing a book report. In my case the Who, well it just happens to always be me. That wall may be around a circumstance. For instance, answers that I can't seem to get from the Doctor. I might say that wall is fortified with those people that are making my life really difficult but when I get alone with God, really alone so that the voices of my circumstances surrounding me are not screaming out their immediate demands, I ask God who is fortifying this well and when I truly listen He nevers says that it's my circumstance that is the problem or the mortar that is holding that wall together. In that still quiet voice He has, He reminds me that this is all about me. Because He is not dealing with their heart. He is dealing with mine.

Bummer, or not. Life is all about perspective. In that moment of quiet exchange I can see myself, see my circumstance and realize that the wall became a wall that I could now see.  Not because it wasn't there before....but because now I have the ability to see it and do something about it. Tear down that me that I do not want to be and draw closer to the woman of God that I so desire to be. In answering that first question, it allows God to show me the impurities in my heart but also, it allows Him to show me my need.

Our need is usually the "What". This last hospital visit, I really saw that for the first time. Right before we went to the hospital things had been really, really good at home. Olivia was doing so much better, emotionally and spiritually. Dean and I were hitting on all cyclinders and life was becoming some what "normal" for us. Life was planned, then WHAM! off to the hospital. And that new "Wall". The first realization I had that there was a wall was the way in which we left. Dean is wanting to wait it out, and obviously we had two different perspectives, I was packing the car. Being the woman I am, well, when it is down to the line...I win. I use the mother's intuition thing to throw it over the line.

My mindset is following along these lines: we get to the ER in the early morning, all those kids are in school...we get in and out because they are going to tell us she is fine like they always do and we will go home scratching our heads. What really happened : We sat in the ER for 12 hours, several tests and two Doctors later..they decide that she needs to be admitted. But really, just because her stats are dropping. Well, okay, I can deal with that and 21 days has changed dramatically.

I didn't realize that the wall was just looming there.  It was just so tall I missed it.If I tossed my head all the way back and looked up, yep, it was there. There was no ladder, no going around it, just one big block of bricks standing in my way.  It fortification just staring down at me as if to say, I am here, see me roar! And the roar was so loud because that giant was not made of soft stuff.  It almost you are on the edge of your it is...CONTROL.  That is it. The lesson that I "thought" I had learned was trust. But is it truly trust if it comes with "I will trust you, but just let me control the circumstances". Do I really have tell you the answer? You see, I am always in control until I am not. And I have the built in ability to find ways to control my circumstances.  Did you know that I know what every liver lab number looks like, what it should be, why it is out of range, and what to do about it when it goes out of range. That way I can control the outcome. If I know things are going south, because the numbers are saying so...I can prepare, I can prepare Olivia and Dean. I can line up what needs to be done at home, at the hospital, finances, bills, and have extreme focus. But you see, what happens when you are going into true liver failure....all your lab numbers suddenly start getting extremely better. It is a horrible, horrible trick to play on someone who is working on this control issue. One Doctor in the ER,that has no idea what is going on, looks at Olivia's numbers and says she is fine. Ready to send her home. Dr. Romero walks in and we are staying....WOW. So we started this admission with me off-balance so to speak because that new level of trust that I thought I had developed with God was going to be truly tested and tried in the fire. 

As I sat at the bottom of the wall, all skinned up from the fall, frustrated with why it was there and holding on to the things I knew....well, I finally heard God say..."it is well, with your soul!" . Listen and we will talk about it. We will get through this and you will be better for it. And I replied, for the first time in my life with all honesty...."Yes, Lord".

I am not finished here, I think I am going to break this up into three here is a taste of part one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

God is the God of Me

I never realized how much pressure a blog can be! I have sat down at this desk five times to write and then it just seemed to fall flat.I would look at the screen and just stare. I have a lot on my mind lately and trying to formulate one sentence to describe all that is going on seems like trying to grab a tornado by the tail. The strength to hold on seems to be overwhelming. Some days, just putting on "real" clothes to go outside the house can be a chore. But, I get up, put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  Because somewhere in the back of my mind I keep telling myself this is just a moment in time...things will get better and I will make it through the muck and the mire.

I can't fathom in my natural mind why God is allowing all of this to continue on. The stress of always wondering how we are going to survive this month with Dean still unemployed. Why Olivia has to be so sick all the time? Why I have to give up so much, sacrafice so much, be so strong, the rock...when really I want to fall in a puddle and have someoen else do the job. Why I had to lose my Mom to cancer when I really needed her the most.

But what I really did not realize was that not talking about it with Him could actually allow resentment . pain and hurt to build up. 

Have you ever felt that overwhelmed with life that you are not sure where to even start? You are strong because you have to be. You hold it in because you are really not sure if anyone could understand and help you walk it out. Someone comes up and asks you "How are you doing?", and you look at them with a huge answer but then you glance again and realize, really they are just saying hello. They really don't want to know "HOW"  you are doing, they just want to feel good that they asked. And when you look into their eyes you think, "Do I really know how to answer that question?".  So of course the answer is "great, things are are you and your kids?  and you walk away wondering if you really connected or if you will really connect with someone. Because as women, we need that.  We need to connect, to talk, to listen, to know that you may not have the answers but you have a friend to walk you through what God would want to say to you. Because sometimes, you can't do it alone.  Or maybe you have a dozen friends but the hard things, the deep things in your heart, you feel you can't share with them. They wouldn't understand. They couldn't understand. I know I walk in that place often. It just seems that my life is not just overwhelming for me but also for others. You start talking and you are waiting on them to pass out from the trauma of just listening. You just want someone to know and understand. My life can be overwhelming but so can yours.

Now that you have reflected in your own life and I have brought you way down. You are thinking, I might not say anything but I have been there. Let me tell you how cool God can be to help us start walking back up the moutain. Since I took a horrible roll down it.

God says that no one can know a man's heart but Him. That is so true. We don't even know our own heart. Several weeks ago I think my little family, all of us, were just so overwhelmed with life that we did not know where we were at emotionally, spiritually and even physically. I knew God was trying to get to the heart of the matter. I felt it all the time. He was whispering in my ear that I needed to go a little deeper. He even placed people in my life so that I could hear some truth to my already wharped perception. In obediance and nothing else, I went to a women's bible study. At first, I fought it, but then God had the leader call me to remind me and check to see if I was coming. Well, I had run out of excuses so off I went to an incredible Women's Bible study over the summer and it started the process of softening my heart. Every week, we would talk about things that were really hard, really deep and completely God. I had not been in such a God led group in so long that every week I would come home and vow not to talk the next week. It seemed God was welling so much up inside of me. Not what I had expected. I wasn't talking that much about me but I was sharing things that God had walked me through. WOW. In my few short years on this earth I have walked through so much and I was able to share, hopefully, the care, the kindness, the warmth, the majesty of God that was not only my God but my provider and my Dad. That allowed me to start listening. Hearing God again, for me. In a very real way. Because I was able to change my perspective. Remembering the things God has  done, not what work was still to be done. The trust was coming back, the healing was beginning and I felt I was really walking where God would have me. Wanting to help people. I have such compassion for people that it overwhelms me at times. Gets me in to trouble at times. And that led to this blog.

Then, I went to a Women's Conference that really opened my eyes. Though I knew most of the stories, the testimonies, God was talking to my heart in so many ways. Not with what was being said, but because God was wanting to talk...and loudly. Olivia had been exhibiting some very harsh, emotional attitudes lately that seemed to be from out of no where. She seemed to be so angry. I wanted her to go with me because I felt like God wanted to help us all through it. There did not seem to be a way for that to happen but then God worked it out. I am so thankful He did. It became a pivotal point in our lives that weekend. God started talking, things started changing, and He provided friends that had a fresh, true revelation about our lives.I did not really realize how oppressed we had become as a family. I did not realize the pain, the hurt and the struggle had pulled us into the trap of oppression.

My biggest insight to life has always been perspective. You know the old addage "Is the glass half full or half empty?" . I always want my glass to be half full. That there are so many things that could be wrong, that I am fortunate to be where I am. And that is true. But sometimes, life rolls right over  you. Not just  a little bit, but like those big machines you see paving the road with the huge wheel on the front that flattens.  And that is you...flattened like a puddle on the groud. Well, to visualize that cartoon character that stands up and is flat as a pancake might be how we feel. But feelings are not always truth. But their impact can make us follow a false truth. The truth is that God does not give us more than we can handle. That He is interested in us and wants the best for us.

So, at the conference I flew to the moutain top. I did not just run. I soared like an eagle. I wanted to be as close to his face as possible. I wanted to cry and tell Him, no more. I wanted to sit in His lap and ask if He knew what was going on?  I wanted to sit at his feet with that perfume bottle and feel the essence of the scent to surround me and Him and know that I am willing. Lord, send me, I will go. When you can't find one, I will be the one. I have always been that way with God. So passionate. So ready to go where ever He leads. And on the moutain top, I can do anything. Survive anything. Handle anything. When I came home, I was tested. I was tried and I was given a lot to work through. Circumstances had not miraculous changed while we were gone. But we were. 

Now, we are walking a little taller, a little stronger and a lot more real. I am trying to hear, listen and know that God is the "lifter of my head", "my ever present help in my time of need" and " my loving Father that holds everything in His hands.". 

God is the God of me and I realized that my story may help you walk a little taller and a little stronger in the Lord. So, today we are talking about perspective. We have to remember the things God has done when we feel life is rolling over us. Because those things are the alters, the places that He proves himself, the places that He shows us how much He really loves us....and the place we hold on to when we can't see the Trace of His Hand. 

So, if God is talking to you today, hang on, because He has told me to get real....and tell my story because my story is all about Him and there are so many people right now that need to know Him. Know that I am not the rock, He is. That I am not that strong but He is strong in me.

In His Grip always,

Friday, October 02, 2009

Skinned Knee

Have you ever dreamed?  Of course you have.  Have you ever wondered if those dreams will come true?   What happened? Did all your dreams come true?

When we are little we envision what we will be when we grow up. We see ourselves "saving the world", 'becoming president", "bringing peace to the world." All day we are playing out these dreams with our friends building straw castles, chasing dragons and being saved by our knight in shining armor. We conquer the world, we have all the answers (really, all we have to do is share everything) and "if I were president that is just what I would tell people they would have to do". We preach to the entire forest and they all get saved and love God. In that same forest we marry ,with the forest as a witness ,and we live happily ever after. We close our eyes at night, snuggle under the covers and slip into the dreams that all come true. You can't help but smile as you listen to the dreams that children have, so fun, so innocent and so very real. They never question how that might happen, it just will, and all is right in their world. 

As we get older, life seems to slip reality into those dreams and they get lost. The hurts of this world, the bad decisions we have made, the hurts we have inflicted, can take a toll on those wide eyed dreams and turn them into bitter disappointments. We keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping we will find hope, and yet it seems to elude us. Our dreams seem to be gone and hope of new dreams seem lost. We could allow the different broken dreams to lead us into that place of darkness and desolation or we can release all our dreams and hand them over to God.

And for most of us, somewhere in that world wind of decision making, we did find Jesus and do just that. Hand it all to God. The darkness that had surrounded us for so long, the emptiness and solitude we felt in our hearts is finally filled with light and a real knowledge of the one who loves us more than we can even know and understand. He came to save us from that world.  How precious is that and overwhelming that love can be.

What an awesome love that God bestows on us. Our heart changes , our desires seem to change, we have new dreams and hope bursts new. We start walking down that path that leads to our mountain and it is beautiful. Nothing can stand in our way. But then, something does happen. What happens first?

When God starts shining a light into your heart, it can really hurt. We might not recognize that the light is trying to shine at first. The situation seems so large and overwhelming. Maybe you married the man of your dreams to find that he is actually human. Maybe your not able to have children. Maybe you were college bound and got detoured because of a family crisis. Maybe some of your bad decisions had finally caught up with you and now instead of running you know you have to work them through. We run to the Bible and friends to get answers. We call our Pastor, our mentor, our Growth Group leaders, anyone that will listen. We want to do that right thing. We want to glorify God because we love him so much. But we are running so hard in other directions we neglect that true nature of the situation. Those circumstances, relationships, and hurts can be the catalyst to look at ourselves. To see inside our heart. I always say two things, "God is more interested in our character than our comfort" and "He loves us too much to leave us in the same place". Of course our first reaction is always to blame someone else or to look to someone else. We want to find the answer to fix the problem everywhere but inside us. That stubborn reaction happens all the time. But in reality, God wants us to look inside us first. To call into check our heart with him and with ourselves. Once we line up with him we can see our situation much more clearly. Yes, wise decisions are made in the wisdom of our mentors, pastors, teachers and Godly friends but, we first have the responsibility of taking it to God ourselves. Then seeking out help for the situation. Because sometimes trying to convey what is in your heart is hard. But if you take the time with God then He will help you articulate your problem so much better because His desire is for you to have the right answer.

I guess that forgiveness was God's first challenge for me. I had a very rough family life. On the outside it was beautiful, inside it was horrible. We called it the glass house. So I had a lot of trust issues. I had a lot of hurt and real pain. I had two parents that both had their abusive ways. I found that forgiveness was something I did not easily give or receive. I was running everywhere trying to find answers. I could justify my feelings and unforgiveness so easily. In a lot of my situations, from an earthly standpoint, I was justified in my feelings. You know, by earthly standards we can always justify. But when I finally exhausted everything else, I fell on my face at the alter and told God that I wanted and needed Peace. That peace that passes all understanding. I wanted to love Him and honor him in all my ways but it seemed that peace was eluding me on every corner. I was doing all the right things. I was at church every time the door opened. I was in the Bible everyday. I had all Christian friends now. I even worked at Chick-fil-A. Why could I not find the one new dream that I knew should be happening. Then even the final devastation, a friend at work looked at me one day and said, out of the blue, "Do you know there is no light in your eyes?". They just seem so cold and flat. How could that be? God, I love you. I am doing all the right things,. Of course I was. And now I had a new dream. I no longer wanted to save the world but I really wanted God to save me from myself.

Wow, I had no idea that forgiveness is what takes us to freedom and peace. I was racked in despair. I was running so fast that I finally, at that moment ran out of gas. When I ran out of gas, God could step in and show me the way. He was able to shine that light of His inside my heart and show me what was there. Because no longer was I able to do it, I had to allow Him to show me. He knew that I was seeking freedom. Freedom to trust, to love but most of all to forgive. There is such freedom in forgiveness. Does it happen all at once, no. Do you always feel it at first, no. And the list of forgiveness is so long at first. You start with the outside and work your way in. It might be a friend, then a sibling, then a parent…but eventually you get to yourself. Did you know that? Did you know that you have to forgive you? Remember those bad decisions, those hurts you inflicted? Now that you have the love of God inside you, you are the very first person you need to forgive. All else will fall into place.

I started there, and through the years have worked hard on that issue. You don't see everything at once. It is almost like an onion, you peel a layer off a bit at a time. I think God realizes we would be so overwhelmed we would never start. It takes years to work on the big stuff….now I keep short accounts. I want to fill my life with more joy and peace than anger and bitterness. So my accounts stay short and I lay it all at the Father's feet but honestly, it is not always the easiest task. At times I have been very hurt. I have had friends shatter my heart , people I love make decisions that have hurt people I love, Dean and I barely survived a church split and the biggest one, God. I have been upset with Him at times for all the pain and suffering I have seen my daughter, my Mom and some friends walk through. All those things leave their mark on you. So to say forgiveness is easy would be wrong. But to say that it is freeing and that God has so much more for you than the hurt and pain you feel is so true.

Take your time. Make sure you are right with God. And even if you forgive, the other person or the circumstance may not change. Know that….but know this! God will bring you through and you will have cleaned out a huge closet of stuff that was ready for the garbage can. And remember He loves us too much to leave us where we are and much more interested in our character than our comfort.

In His Grip,


Friday, September 25, 2009

It's All in the Attitude

My last post was a beginning, if you will, into that small window called "My Life". I have so many things I need to start talking about in that life. It seems the last few months the creative energy in my head has been put in high gear. I eat and sleep writing. Some say it is venting, some say it is a release, honestly...I say, it is God reviving in me the things He has been teaching me for so many years. Now, I have a place to put it down on paper to remember and share some of my struggles, miracles, and spiritual journey with my friends so hopefully they can see God is a different way. And in seeing Him, that they might be a little stronger, have more hope and believe more in this wonderful Father we call God.

How many of you read the old testament?  I personally, love it. I pick up those chapters and just breath in the Word. I walk into the chapters and they come to life in my head. I see the Israelites struggling in the desert. I see Abraham struggling with some of the choices he made. I feel the pain and desolation of being disconnected from God. And then I see the vast great pleasure of who my God really is.

In the old testament there are some powerful lessons.Lessons that take a lifetime to understand. And mountaintop lessons we may never understand. The biggest lesson, God loved his people enough not to leave them where they were at. So, he taught them how to completely and abandonly depend on him.And when the lesson was fulfilled he wanted them to remember, Neveer to forget. So much so that the Israelites  would stop and build an altar in rememberance of what battle they just won, what provision God made for them, anything of importance that God did for them. I love that. That is why I write. Because I want to remember, not the pain, but the Majesty, the Holiness, the incredible Dad I have in God.

What I have learned from this small concept is attitude. It is amazing what your attitude can do to your perspective. Maybe the bills are higher than the mountain, maybe your heart is so broken you think it will never mend, maybe you need answers but there are no answers to be found,. Whatever the circumstance, attitude is what is going to get you through. I am not saying you have to be perfect. I would be the last to say that. We do get mad, frustrated, angry, hurt, scared, unsure. We go through all those emotions at once sometimes. But, we start little by little and remember what God has done in the past. What miracles did he perform to help us walk to the next step. Then, as we remember our attitude changes,. And as our attitude changes, so does our perspective. And out of that, something that was lost is now found, hope.

Right now my life stays in a rollercoaster. I really have to spend time with God everyday to keep my perspective. And boy, I have to fight the enemy away that would love to steal my joy. When Olivia is hurting and there is not enough pain medicine. When neither one of us is sleeping because she is hurting. It really can take a toll on you. But, when I sit down and get quite, that still small voice reminds me of all that God has brought us through. How He is the physician for Olivia. That all of this is in His control. Not the Doctors, not my bill collectors, not my lack of sleep, and the one that really gets to me all the time....the frustration of not being smart enough to figure it out. That is the thorn in my side. I want to figure it out so I can have a place to control it. Wow, the lessons that are in that one statement. I hear you talking and the wheels turning already.  And after 40+ years, I am just now learning to let it go and let God handle it. That one lesson is a lifetime of learning and maybe not until we get to heaven will it be perfected. It is just too hard for our human brain to not want control. So back to attitude. Back to remembering what God has done through His awesome love and I can lay that control on his altar and ask forgivemess and be renewed in my heart. My attitude gets so much better overall. Towards Him, my friends and family and I have a new perspective and joy on life.

I hope I did not bore you today but thought I might write out some of my musings :) Have a wonderful weekend and as always

In His Grip

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In His Grip--starting the book

Has it really been 10 years already since that first day in the Doctor's office?

It’s a hot, muggy Atlanta day in July, and I’m standing at the kitchen window with my mid-morning cup of coffee. Peering out into the backyard, I can see the swarm of kids that have invaded our pool--laughing, splashing and making the most of the summer.

My dark-haired 12-year-old daughter Olivia is right in the middle of it, giggling and keeping up with all of her friends. The only sign that she isn’t just like them is her thin frame and the pale skin that doesn’t go away no matter how many days she spends outdoors.

Her unbridled exuberance as she cannonballs into the pool makes me laugh. Nothing is stopping her today. She is going to be the last man standing by sheer willpower. I see it in the way she is trying to race her friends, and how they gather by the edge of the pool, daring each other to try the next crazy dive.

There’s so much life in those eyes of hers, even rimmed with dark circles. They’re full of determination as she stands by the pool edge ready to take off yet again--this is her "normal" day and no one and nothing will take it away from her.

She has so much fire for life. I had a friend say one time that Olivia squeezes more out of sixty seconds of life than one person gets in a whole day. It makes me laugh. Bless her--she is so much like her mother.

But when the last guest leaves, this energetic almost-teenager will fall like a heap in her bed and not move for days. No one would believe it, she was going so fast. How could she be sick? But they have just never met Olivia--that real girl.

It’s so easy for the tears to start flowing. Words can’t describe how much I love my little girl, who is already becoming a young lady with her long legs and crazy style. What a treasure she is to me. And the miracle that God has allowed her to stay in my life this long keeps the tears coming, because each and every day is an irreplaceable moment.

They say that a life can change on a dime and I know this to be true. Ten years ago, our lives changed in a second, in a doctor’s office in Nashville, Tennessee. We walked in as a whole family with a little two-year-old cherub-faced toddler who seemed to just keep getting sick. We walked out broken, fractured, and scared. Afraid to quite look into the eyes of a lifetime illness, treatable but not curable.

No longer just our daughter, Olivia, but, our daughter Olivia, who has Cystic Fibrosis.

What’s a mother to do? Sometimes I think this might be the hidden treasure for Moms. We helplessly watch our kids go through all the "stuff" that engulfs their lives, but stand beside them, and walk with them through it a step at a time. We can’t live it for them, as much as we’d like to take their pain away—whether it is a broken bone or a broken heart.

In those times, we drown in every emotion we have inside of us. It can be overwhelming.

You know, when we set out on this journey called life, we are just not sure what to pack. We don't get the list of things to bring to make sure we have everything we need. Hiking shoes, check. Energy bars, check. Tissues, check. Bandages, check.

And just to keep things interesting, not only do we not know how to dress and what to bring, but we also don't get the map or to be the navigator. It’s like a surprise birthday gone wrong, where you show up blindfolded in a slinky black dress and heels, only to pull off the mask and find out you’re going to climb a mountain.

The only thing I know for sure we have in our pocket is a compass called the Holy Spirit and a loving Father to guide us. We never know where the road is leading. All we can do is to take our Father God's hand, taking each step with a blind trust. He knows the path--the obstacles, the heart aches, the treasures, the mountains and the valleys we will face. We just hope those stilettos will hold up and the blisters will be bearable, and start walking.

I slide into a chair at the kitchen table with a pile of medical bills to attack and my battered checkbook in hand. What could seem like an insurmountable task instead gives me a moment to reflect.

In the laundry list of tests and hospital stays, I see the path that has now been cleared with a lot of hard work. The mountains I have climbed with a lot of effort, skinned knees, twisted ankles and lots and lots of training. The times that I have gotten lost along the way looking for that small glow to light my path. But eventually I always get back on the path and keep going until I reach the top. Giving up isn’t an option. You can see where Olivia gets her fight.

How I savor the moment that I reach the top. The light on my face, the breeze--and the view is now so much clearer. I can look down and wonder how I strayed off the path. It all seems so obvious now.

And then the walk back down begins. Down into the valleys, that seem to be so deep and never-ending. In the valley I can't even help but think I may never make it out--and then comes the sunshine on the mountain top. My spirit is renewed and refreshed as I take those last steps digging my way out. All the while, fervently praying I will never have to see that valley again.

And I won't. But there will be another valley, rest assured. Because standing on the mountain top always leads to walking down the other side.

So as I start this new journey, in writing this book, my thoughts go to my Heavenly Father and why He would have you pick up this book. What is His desire for you as you read?

I think that getting through this journey called life, sometimes we need a friend that can give us a hand up to the next step. Someone that has been there and can say with all integrity, I want to help because my heart breaks that you are walking through this.

Because I remember that skinned knee. Do you want to see my scar?