Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Season of Remembering

A Season of Remembering

The wonder of the birth of Christ that will save us from ourselves. What a mystery God created with the birth of Christ. How many people really knew that Mary was carrying the child of God? We always picture that of course everyone knew and accepted that she was. I am sure that Mary and Joseph were both overwhelmed with what God was doing. He told them first of course. When the Holy Spirit shadowed Mary and the Angel appeared to Joseph, to them there was no question it was God working in their lives.

 When God first speaks to you, isn’t it glorious! You stand in awe of the moment and you just “know” all this is from Him. I remember when we were trying to have a child, how discouraged I was at first because we just could not get pregnant and we had two miscarriages. How devastated I was. I will never forget the hour that God told me to trust Him. In that moment, I knew that God would bless us somehow with a child.

After the blush of the Holy Spirit and the Angel, appearing to Joseph, life settled into a routine. The glory of that moment seemed to fade as it became more apparent to everyone Mary was with child and yet not married. Can you imagine what they had to deal with? Can you imagine the jeering, the gossip, and the whispers as they both tried to walk through what God had called on them to do? The judgment from God’s own people that did not recognize the gift He was about to give to us. The gift that would cost Him so much. These two people were burdened and blessed.

Did Mary unburden her heart to anyone? Did she suffer quietly? She had answered the call of God on her life and yet, she was set aside. She was doing exactly what God asked of her but, the people of God could not see what God was about to do. She lived here on earth with people that were blind to the Spiritual things that God was trying to accomplish.

Does it sound familiar? Maybe God has put something on your heart, or called you to do something that in the earthly world does not measure up. Maybe it will cost you your reputation; your material things or maybe it will cost you your family because that can’t see the spiritual realm that God has shown you? Whatever it is, the cost is worth it. The cost of going deeper with God is more valuable than you know. Walking with Him not matter the cost took me through a life that would tear everything I knew apart. What God handed back to me, a life that I would not ever exchange. The journey hurt. The journey was painful. The reward was great! My relationship with God is so much stronger than even I knew I could have.

After my heart was truly broken, spilled out before Him I could see a new life that would call me to a much deeper spiritual calling than I had ever known before. A calling to a life that was not just a passive acknowledgement of God and His works, but participating in His work. A call to love God’s people the way He did, through His eyes. To see their hurts, burdens and pain as a place to help them grow, learn to love deeper and to walk on with a God that loves them so much because I had been there. I can feel that pain even when it is not spoken. Because I have experienced that pain. Because I have been there through tragedies and moments of crisis, I know God holds us all tightly in His hand.

We always see this time of year as Mary and Joseph head to Bethlehem  and the birth of Jesus as some tender, sweet journey through two Godly people. Which they were God’s chosen parents to take care of His son. What an awesome statement of their faith. However, the journey he sent them out on was not easy and would last for 33 years. I am sure they had years that were not as hard but Jesus was God’s son. Just like Jesus, they suffered from the judgment of their peers. Their calling was now participating in God’s work. His plan that was the ultimate gift of Jesus. However, most did not understand His plan. Nevertheless, they pressed on. As Jesus died and rose again, can you imagine how Mary must have felt. The testimony she would give of her son. Because, she was His mother. Her heartbeat was with His. She loved Him so very much. That was her calling and she walked through every heartache and every comment with pride knowing she was following God.

When God blesses He also provides. Before God ever blessed Mary with Jesus, He had already made a way for her to be able to withstand the judgment of this world. He knew the heart of His own people and what Mary would endure. He knew that not everyone would accept his plan for salvation and not all would understand who Jesus was going to be in their life. He knew that their eyes were blind to the gift that would enter this world.

God knew that Mary would need strength to endure it all. That she would need Joseph to stand behind her. She would need Joseph to be her strength when she could stand it no more. When God calls you, He also provides. Each step is already been walked before you by God. He goes before us and is our rear guard.

This Christmas I remember the birth of Christ but also remember the “call” on Mary’s life. The blessing she was to raise Jesus. To teach Him and help Him along the way as He grew into the man and son of God. The bible says she pondered those things in her heart. I am so sure she did.

As I remember the walk Mary took, I look at Olivia. No, not the same story, but a calling nonetheless. The calling to take the road less traveled. A road that we have walked so many years now and is painful. God entrusted us as parents to raise her to know Him and love Him through all her pain. He entrusted us to grow and know Him on a deeper level so that we might bring Honor to Him. The stories of faith, of lives changed, of miracles in our lives and others has truly been nothing short of miracles along the way. We have fallen short many times but every time we have gotten back up, scraped the dirt off and walked on because of greatness of who God is in our lives. This year as I remember the birth of Christ I realize the true gift of being able to walk “boldly into the throne of grace” and God listening. He listens as we pray. He loves us as we pray. He stands with us as we “ask and pray.” All because Jesus chose to be born into this world and was raised from the Dead. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A Season of Wonder

Well, I have struggled all week about what to write. It just seems that this time of year is about the wonder of God and not a Bible Study. The season helps us remember what God has done for us and not what we have lost. So I made the decision to take the next few weeks and write about this season. This season seems to be a great time that we all reflect on what we have had, where we have been and where we are going. Some of us have great memories that have turned sad, some still have great memories and more to be made, and some have a mixed bag of blessings and heartache at this time of year.

This time of year brings all of those memories to me as well. I have a mixed bag of blessings and sadness. But through it all, above it all, I can see the blessings far outweigh the hurt, pain, struggles and strife. The joy and wonder of Christmas is the best blessing of all. Because the wonder of life, miracles, healing,  and love have been poured out to me by a God and Father that loves me more than I can ever understand or contain in just that one word,love. The wonder and honor of His love is greater than anything we can imagine. It seems that Christmas, like Easter, reflects and demonstrates His ultimate love for us.

When I hear the word wonder I always picture this little girl in her warm mittens, scarf, and hat bundled up and turning around and around as the snow is falling to the ground. I just see the twinkle in her eye and the smile on her face and the snow seems like love surrounding her. She has no idea where the snow really comes from and she doesn’t care. She doesn’t  care that it is cold because she is bundled and enjoying the moment. She is completely abandoned to her moment of wonder. I think it is the innocence and the pure joy of experiencing that wonder that shows me how God has provided for me.

My moment of wonder has been the start of the holiday season. My tree is up and decorated. The lights are going up in our yard and we are starting to continue some of our family traditions. I look around at all that is being accomplished and I am like that little girl with the twinkle in her eye, amazed at the “wonder” of the blessings of God. Hers was snow, but mine is the blessings and miracles God has provided in my life.

One blessing seems small but is huge for us. This year Olivia was able to help me decorate the Christmas tree. In the past few years her strength and endurance was just not enough to help. T his year we laughed as we spun the lights around the tree, we groaned as the ornaments would not go exactly where we wanted and we watched Christmas movies and giggled and talked through two evenings of decorating. I stopped myself several times to remind me to take a memory picture of this moment. This moment of pure joy and wonder of a Christmas, I was never even able to see coming.

We have a tradition of going to see different lights around our little city of Buford. We usually go out once an evening for about 30 minutes. These last few years Olivia has stayed home more than she could go to the point we stopped going. This year, we have been able to do it! We sing along to Christmas songs on the radio as we talk about each house that is decorated or not. We get ideas for our yard or for next year, we laugh and talk about the people that may live there. They must have kids; they are older and cannot do much etc. In fact, there are several places we go every year just to see what they have done this year. I always want to leave a card in their box to say how much we appreciate their effort, LOL. Not sure what they would make of that but hey, we do love it.

This may not seem like much to you but to me, it is a miracle and I am so thankful that God would allow me to have more time with my daughter. I am so thankful that God would allow me to marry a man that would endure so much heartache through this crisis (for eleven years and counting) and come out the other side a stronger, more caring, more loving man. That we would be able to withstand so much in our marriage and still be able to say “I love you” and not have walked away from something that became very precious. That the material things of this world have become so much less than the eternal things that matter. The wonder that God would know where we needed to walk each and every day to come to know Him on an even deeper and stronger level. The wonder of a God that knows each of us so personally and so honestly that we trust Him to know what is best for us can be so very hard and yet so very freeing. We have lost much and we have gained much.

As I have been thinking about this Advent season that is upon us, I remember. I remember many Christmas’s holding on to God’s hand, praying we would get through one more. I remember a God that would stand by me, call people to pray to hold my arms up one more time, and help us as we got through one more tough Christmas season.

I also remember that Jesus chose to be born here on earth so that He could save us from the death and destruction of this earth. Without His sacrifice I could not have walked into the throne room of God and lay on altar and ask Him to protect, love and care for my daughter, my marriage, my family as we all suffered. The ones I have lost along the way, I know they are in a far better place and have the love of an incredible Heavenly Father. Though I miss them terribly, I know their days are filled with joy. The wonder of heaven.

This Christmas for me is about the wonder of miracles. The miracle of healing that Olivia is experiencing right now. The many, many miracles that God has allowed us to see along the way. We would have never made it this far without God going before us and coming behind us. We would not have made it this far without the friends, prayer warriors, and family that have held us up and found a way when it seemed there was no way.

So this Christmas there are many wonders…many miracles…many blessings. One of the biggest blessings is you. That is the incredible “wonder” of God that knits hearts and lives together to help hold each other up as they struggle through their crisis so that they can experience the incredible love of God.

Blessings on this Advent Season. I will be remembering you in my prayers!

In His Grip


Monday, November 14, 2011

"Man of His Word"--Commitments

Right now I am in the middle of “spring cleaning”. Why now? Because I have not had this much time at home in three years and it feels good to get things in order. Finally, I have decided to take care of my neglected baseboards, cluttered closets, and baggage galore from going back and forth to the hospital. I am working like crazy because order takes time. Cleaning is messy and rewarding. It takes all my effort to get dirty so it can be cleaned.

I was working in the kitchen and could not believe how messy my cabinets were down near the floor. Obviously, no one gets down on the floor and looks there but it was like a sore thumb to me. It was grimy. Things had built up, like the cleaner in the crevices, grease that was not cleaned up and so one. Slowly I made it to each cabinet and each place on the floor and was rewarded with a nice clean floor and cabinets. Once I surveyed the land, it felt good. I committed myself to the task and finished. Woohoo!

That was a choice. I could have pretended it was not there and eventually it would have been obvious to everyone. Or I could commit myself to the task and feel like I accomplished something. Choices. We have choices each day. Some of those choices get harder and harder to stand behind. The cleaning process starts and we get messy. God starts cleaning and we can get overwhelmed. I remember asking Him to do it but in the process we see things we never wanted to see. We start seeing the fruit if our choices and the changes in our heart.

The biggest change is the commitment. The commitment to press in and go deeper with God. When we start moving that luggage out so we can get closer to God, the process can get messy. We might have to deal with things that make us uncomfortable. The process can leave us wanting to throw in the towel, pack that luggage right back in the closet and move on. Simple, easy and we never even have to get messy. There are days that we are excited and happy to see the change but other times we are loaded down with our circumstances and choices that the luggage just will not even budge. We finally decided to pull out a piece of that luggage in the closet and thought better of it. The door is open and it will all start falling out.

Is the choice to throw it back in the closet? Or is the choice to finally get rid of junk inside this one suitcase? Do we want more or less? How many choices will we have to make to get that luggage cleaned out and put away? We have a choice to live with the hurt and pains of our past or we can choose to let them go with forgiveness and pressing in to God. In pressing in to God we seem to gain more than we ever set out with on that journey. The first step to walking on with God and growing to trust, love and believe in Him begins with commitment. The test of all love is commitment.

Remember Hannah. Hannah had a lot of baggage she was carrying up that hill to the temple. But this time she was committed.  She was committed to God, she was committed to her faith, and she was committed to whatever God would ask of her.

I think great things come from a pure passion of commitment. We have forgotten in our culture the value of our name. Men used to take pledges on their word. A man’s word was almost as good as a legal contract. His word, was his commitment.

Today, why don’t we look at one piece of luggage in that closet. That one piece may even have the word commitment on it. Just pull it out, slam the door closed quickly, lest any others fall. Read back on 1Samuel and see what God may be speaking to you this week. Just commit to one piece of baggage. You never know how easy it may be to just let It go.

But if you are struggling, call a friend, find someone you can talk to and see what God has for you. God does say seek wise counsel. I encourage you do so. Keep it all in perspective and balance.

Blessings, praying for you this week. Praying many, many blessings on your life.

In His Grip


Sunday, November 06, 2011

The journey is long, but the blessings are huge

We are continuing on with Hannah this week in 1Samuel 1. I hope you are seeing Hannah as a real person.  A woman hungering after God and the blessings she was lavished with by God. One of things I know God honors is a heart hungry after Him.  I am praying for you this week to hunger and thirst for the God.  To see Him in a new light.  A new perspective. So let's read on and see if God will show you something you might need to start this week.

One of the most extraordinary things I think happened on that day that Hannah "fell" on the altar was a new depth of understanding of  God's love.  Not only was she ready to receive God's love, she was ready to give it. This process of that final day on the altar took years.  Hannah had been tormented and tormented herself for years before she became broken and spilled out before the Lord.  Her journey was a long and painful one.  But the one thing that held her from becoming bitter , angry and despondent was her love for God.  I am sure that was an attraction for Elkannah as well. There is nothing more beautiful than a heart for God.  But those  years all Hannah saw was a worthless rag doll of a woman. How much more was being created in her heart than she ever knew.

Some days that is how my life feels, long and hard. Every day is a new challenge, a new test of my strength. I look over at other women that have time (and money) to just get their haircut and shaped. I have to fight off the despondency.  There are days that all I long  to just be able to get exercise in  and a schedule. My days consist of "Olivia" and then everything else. Please do not hear me complaining. I recognize the grace and gift of each and every day.  But some days, you do tend to wonder and want what others have. That is the human side of our nature. That is some of the imperfections that God always wants to work out in our life.

Elkannah's second wife is a great example of never allowing God to work through those inadequacies of life.  She was jealous, angry and bitter towards Hannah because she recognized something she did not have, Elkannah's heart. She did not turn her ways toward the Lord to allow Him to protect her from that hardness. She just became angry and bitter. I know that her heart was quite unattractive to Elkannah. 

Since Hannah's heart was turned toward the Lord. He protected her heart. He saw her hurt and pain and patiently waited for her to turn it all over to Him. As a parent, God knew how important it was for Hannah to reach out to Him. That she would learn to trust Him. In that process, she would develop a strong foundation and a heart of love that would birth a mighty leader, Samuel. She also created a bond of love for Samuel so strong that he did not resent her for leaving him at the temple but anticipated her arrival each year. Only someone who knows love can give that kind of love that surpasses our earthly flesh into a spiritual realm.

God delivered on His promise and Samuel was born.  But no longer did Hannah have that ache of hurt and shame.  She was walking with renewed purpose.  She could have doubted that God would not give her a child but honestly I think from that moment on, she really did not care.  The promise she received on the altar was a love that was unconditional, overwhelming, everlasting.

When she became pregnant, Hannah more than recognized the miracle inside of her. She saw Samuel as the fulfillment of a promise but I think that promise was also one to her, about her.  The love of her Abba Father. She promised to dedicate her child to him.  That dedication, that ability of a mother  to let go of her one and only son at the time.  That one promise she gave back so freely to the Lord by sending Samuel to the temple to be raised as a priest.  What a demonstration of love and sacrifice on her part. But because she was first loved…she was able to give love.  The miracle that she wanted in one child became the leader of a nation.   The journey of one woman being broken and spilled out, led to a voice of God to the nation of Israel.  A huge miracle.  God breathed and destined.

Wow.  We really never know what God has planned once we start walking towards him.  I am sure Hannah never knew God's intent was to birth Samuel as the leader of the nation.  She just wanted a child.  The reasons don't matter anymore, the journey does.  The journey led to so many other miracles. 

In our day, I wonder what Billy Graham's mother thought when she saw him speaking to the world about Christ. Did she have any idea that he would be such a strong voice for the gospel? I was able to meet Max Lucado at one time.  He was so different than what I expected.  I was expecting a very quite unassuming man.  He was full of personality and charismatic. He was funny, lots of energy, and completely about his family. I wonder if his mom had any idea that he would speak so eloquently about Christ through his writings. Those writings are profoundly penetrating to the heart of the matter.

 I have no idea what their parents were like but I know this, God has truly exemplified His love for His people through the word of God and in our day, through these men as well. Yes, there are many, many others, but when I think of love, God's love for His people, these are the men that come to mind.

Who comes to mind for you? Who shaped your love for God to allow you to hunger and thirst to know God more? 

Has God showed you something important about your child that  you need to nurture?  Has He shown you a character trait that the Holy Spirit reminds you to foster at times?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

When I look in the mirror what do I truly see?

We left last week about Forgiving ourselves. This week we are going to look at our ability to receive love. Is there a hindrance in your life holding you back from receiving. Let’s take a look at Hannah in 1Samuel 1:1-8.Ask God to open your heart to hear if there is anything holding you back.

Our first impression of love comes from our parents. How they nurture us, care for us, and are passionate about us starts the process of that small seed growing where we develop the idea of who we are as a person. That process also starts helping us understand how to receive love. If you have ever read the book "The Five Love Languages" you know that naturally God has instilled in us certain ways we receive love. In our growing years, those languages can be messed up a bit if our parents do not lay a solid foundation for us.

Some of us have grown up with incredible parents that have done nothing but love us unconditionally. They have walked through hard times with us and still given all they have to help us find our way. We learned to respect their hand of love in many different areas of our life. The foundation for us to receive love is strong. Our mistakes may be the culprit that hinders us.

Sadly, some of us may have not seen such love and grace from our parents. We have only seen the result of their inability to love and have grace. We have seen them lash out and hurt those around them because of their pain or unforgiveness. The toll this takes on our lives not only affects us, but those around us. Our view of a heavenly loving Father that is passionate about us seems unreachable, unattainable.

In the bible God specifically talks about the role parenting has in a child's life. The impact of their decisions directly affects a child's view of their world. Their ability to reach out and be in the family God created for them. Jesus said let the little children come unto to me. So He could love them. He knew their precious hearts were open to hear a word of love and receive it. In those tender years, we are sponges that absorb everything around us.

That love for a child is where we start with Hannah. Let's open up in prayer here and open our Bibles to 1Samuel 1:1 Hannah desperately wanted a child. She wanted to feel life growing in her like her counterpart, Elkannah's second wife. She dreamed of the day that she could see her child playing with the other children. When she could bath them, nurse them, kiss their hurt and soothe their pain. Her heart yearned for that day. One other note we should make here is that in Hannah's culture, if a wife did not produce children she was worthless and usually put away. Back then, women were more property than considered an individual person of value. A little more than slaves.

The first thing that stands out to me is in verse 1. The first statement in verse 1 is defining Elkannah's heritage, not Hannah's. Her lineage does not matter as much as Elkannah's. The first few verses define her husband more than Hannah. I find it interesting because it is Hannah's devotion that leads to greatness. Nevertheless, it also gives us insight into how Hannah may have been feeling about herself. Can you imagine being one of two wives? Then, the other wife is able to establish herself more than you because the only reason you are in the relationship with your husband is to produce children and yet, you can't. But, wait, the bible clearly states that Hannah was given double portions of everything because her husband loved her the most. He is trying so hard to show his undying devotion to her. As if to say, I know she gives me children but you give me love. 

Hannah, could not accept that love. Her heart was so hurt by not giving her husband the one thing that she thought he needed, a child. The other wife attacked worth daily and her society told her she had no value. All those things played over and over in her mind. So much that she could not see a true picture of her situation.

In reality, her husband was showing her for a very long time that all he needed was her. He gave her liberties as a wife she should not have had. He did these things because he loved her. He went as far as to give her double portions. His love and devotion was so obvious that the second wife was extremely jealous of Hannah. She was so jealous she taunted her.

But Hannah's pain did not allow her to see Elkannah's heart.  Her heart was in so much pain, rejection and lacked self worth that she could not truly see his love for her. She definitely could not receive it. Hannah's pain was finally to much to bear.

I believe when she laid on the altar that last time, she gave it all up to God. She drug her suitcase through those halls. I can see her lugging it behind her. Each step, as it bangs against another step. Her last bit of strength gone from the heaviness in her heart. But, she finally takes that last step and just throws herself on the altar. Her weeping and moaning are so intense the priest believes she is drunk.

This day though, Hannah will not be daunted.  She will not leave this place with all that baggage. She is ready for the hurting and the pain to stop.  She is taking all she has and throwing it on the altar, busted and broken. That luggage is not going anywhere but here today. Here on the altar to be placed before her God. She is finally asking Him to help rebuild the fractures of her heart. Those remote places that need a healing hand that only he can heal. A place to re-paint the picture of her life through His eyes and not her own. As she stood to talk with the priest she felt just a bit lighter. She was much more confident. She had more love than when she walked up those steps. This day, she had called on her God to hear her heart and He did. He overwhelmed her with His love. The kind of love that cast out fear, that heals the brokenness and frees us from the chains of our past, our guilt, and our unforgiveness. He took her heart and gave her all the love she needed. This day, after that long journey, Hannah could finally receive it.

Today, why don't we take a moment and just get quiet with God. See if He has anything He wants to show us. We might not be weeping now, we may even be in a place that we know all of this but, let's just take a moment and hear. Let's open up our heart's and let the Holy Spirit speak.
When Samuel was born, I am sure that the love Hannah had for him was overwhelming. She loved him with all her heart. She gave all she was as a mother to give him a foundation that would serve him well as a leader of a nation. Hannah had endured some heart wrenching moments in her life but those moments were lessons to show her what love was truly all about.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Forgiving ourselves is the hardest thing we ever have to do!

While I have been sitting here on my back porch the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to decide what to do with In His Grip.  Over the last several years it has been a great outlet for me to express the things I have been learning from the Lord while walking through this huge valley of Olivia’s second transplant.  But now, it seems life is turning to a new and wonderful place in life and what would I do with this place.  In His Grip is very close to my heart.

Well, the Lord reminded me that I have been writing Bible Studies these last few months.  I would just get inspired by a character or an event I was reading about and start writing them.  So, if you will indulge me, I think I am going to put parts of them here.  The great thing is that I have written a lot.  The bad thing, well, they can exceed that 500 word limit that lose people’s attention.  But, I guess if God is a part of it and you are gleaning something from it you will read on.  So, let me know what you think.  I am going to be able to do it at least once a week and if you like it I actually have enough to go twice a week.  Drop me a comment if it you want to journey with me.  I just like to affirm that I am hearing correctly from the Lord.

Forgiving ourselves is the hardest thing we ever have to do!

What does it feel like when you feel love for the first time?  That moment when you finally know that someone loves you beyond the moment, the imperfections, how you see yourself, and they love you with all your mistakes.  They even love you enough to help you forgive yourself for not making all the right choices.  What a day that is.  The most beautiful part is God loves you even more than that.  Even the best of love here on earth carries only a tenth of the love of God.

Forgiving is a huge step towards receiving love. There are times in our lives when having that ability is so hard.  We have to really work at it.  There is our past, our past hurts, our past mistakes that are huge hurdles for allowing someone that close into our heart.   Sometimes, forgiving ourselves seems to be the cornerstone of not receiving love.  Our expectations and our mistakes are the keys that stand in the way of truly receiving love. When you finally release all that unforgiveness the overflow that you feel is a sense of cleansing.  That old things have past and new things are possible. Love can feel like freedom, the freedom to be ourselves, the freedom to live unhindered by our past mistakes. Love can feel like forgiveness and overwhelming amounts of grace.

Forgiving yourself just might be the culprit standing in the way of receiving. It can be one huge piece of baggage.

 As I sit here on my porch reflecting on all my years of struggle I am so happy where I am today. The heart that God has formed in me overflows with compassion and grace.  But that took some mighty work and heavy lifting on my part and God’s.  I had a huge pile of luggage that I liked to drag around with me.  A lot of it had been around so long it was battered, dented and the rollers had fallen off so I had to truly drag it with me.

The key, which does not come with the instructions to our baggage, is to let Jesus in all the way. We have been so proud of our luggage that we have yet to allow Him in our hearts (or luggage) for fear of what He might see.  We are sure if He saw it, He really wouldn't love us as much. Our feelings of guilt and worth start playing with our mind and we cannot seem to let it go. The reality is, He already knows what’s in it. If we never open it for him it doesn't matter. Remember love sees all and loves us anyway.  In the end, the tighter we hang on we may never realize the forgiveness we have been extended and the love that He has for us. We may never really allow that forgiveness to free us.

In time, we put that baggage away with all the "stuff" in it.  It becomes like the linen closet.  You know no one will ever see it so you just keep piling blankets in there, stuffing them in until you are afraid of what might happen when you open the door.  But, as long as you just keep walking by it, everything is safely inside. Hidden from view and really just a little tug in the back of your mind that one day you are going to get in there and deal with that closet.  It might be cluttered and you might be scared to open the door.  But all is safe. There sits that luggage of unforgiveness in our hearts.  Nicely tucked away in a "safe" place that at times you don't even remember it's there. We have taken painstaking efforts to hide it.

We all have seen this reflected in so many different areas of our life. It could have been in our past. It could be something unintentional, or it could be feeling like we failed someone or even failed our own expectations for ourselves. Guilt and unforgiveness is a powerful tool that is used to keep us bound and a huge chasm that gives way to not truly receiving all the love of a Holy precious Father. Dare I say it even builds a wall around being able to receive love from a wonderful spouse, unconditional love of a parent and even children?  It also hinders our ability to give love freely. If we don't know how to fully receive love then we don't always understand the full extent of giving free, unconditional love to someone else. 

Receiving love allows us to understand our own imperfections.  It allows us to give grace, forgiveness, a helping hand and wise advice to help one another.  I may not have walked your path and I need that advice.  You may not have walked mine yet and could use an encouraging word.  Words that heal, give hope, and send love.

At times, we have allowed some love into our heart.  We have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we have dear friends, we love our spouse and children but only you know if the wall is up and surrounds you to keep them all at a bit of distance.  Just in case they may want to walk in and really know your heart. We only allow their love to go so deep in our hearts because we have still not allowed God in to wash away all that unforgiveness.

One of the most heart wrenching stories I have ever heard was in my own home.  My dear sweet husband came from another faith that believed that sin was the root of not receiving blessings. They were more in the "name it and claim it” idea of God and felt that if you did not receive what you claimed then you were in sin. In time as he grew spiritually, he decided that the denomination he was ordained through might not be the way God would have him lead.  So, in time, he changed to another denomination and another, deeper step with God.  It was after this change in his life that we met.

We were married and then after four years we had Olivia.   But, when she was three years old things started going horribly wrong for her.  At first she seemed to stay sick.  We had been through test after test being told she had a brain tumor to she only had a virus.  Then the day came when we were told she was in total organ failure.  Finally they revived her other organs but her liver.  Through all this time, both Dean and I struggled with what God would have us do.  How were we to take care of this precious gift?

But lurking in the back of my husband's mind this whole time, without one word to me, was what "sin" have I committed that God would bring his wrath on Olivia.  The pot kept getting stirred more and more as we walked through each day of more tests, a liver transplant, a horrible attempt to save the transplanted liver and on the story goes.  All through this time, my husband was silently suffering.  His guilt was overwhelming at times.  His ability to forgive himself was beyond words. Finally, one day he re-read the scripture about the boy that was blind.  The disciples asked Jesus, "Who sinned?  The mother or the Father that this boy is blind?"  Jesus answered and said "neither, his infliction was so the Glory of God could be shown"…..that was the first time Dean finally opened up to me and asked for forgiveness.  He had been angry at himself, at his friends that had told him it was about him and at God a bit because he did not know what to do.  But for me, my heart just broke to think that he had been tormented so long. Finally we were able to work through all of that and he is free from that unforgiveness and guilt but the years of torment were just agony for him.

Today we know that God has ordained our steps.  We would not trade one day of these last eleven years for a different life.  We have celebrated more miracles at God's hand than I can even count. The freedom of love and forgiveness is just one example of a miracle we can celebrate.  Believe me, we have had many.

Today is a great time to open up that luggage.  Just a little if that is all you can do.  Are there area's the Holy Spirit is talking to you about right now?  Is there anything you need to pull out of that luggage and get rid of?  Is there someone you need to talk to and ask for forgiveness?  Or do you just need to have a talk with God and yourself and forgive yourself? 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Live, Laugh and Love….Really? Hold on, In His Grip

One of my favorite sayings is Live, Laugh and Love.  If you stand in my kitchen you will see that saying right over the entrance of the archway into the kitchen.  Because that is what I picture in my kitchen. The smells of baking in the oven, my sweet husband sitting in his chair delivering his news from his day and of course Olivia interrupting about fifty times to get in her every single thought that she has ever had.  This is life evolving around us. Listening to life, laughing at our life and loving each other because we are in each other's life.  Living, laughing and loving each other.  Some of our greatest memories are made in the kitchen.  Honestly, a lot of weight is gained in that kitchen but we lived while we were in there.

 Living is hard these days for all of us.  Some days we are all doing well to put one step in front of the other.  I am amazed at the friends that surround me and how they survive life.  Between cancer, sickness, job loss, home loss, lives lost ,each day brings a day of truly living.  Not the fairytale but the realities of life.  Where we take that life, where we walk in that path of life, the decisions we make along the way and how we get through it is our testimony of living. 

My testimony touches those different facets of what we call life.  I have walked down some hard, difficult roads that have led me to greater heights than I can ever imagine.  I have walked through some valleys that I thought would never end.  This does not make me an expert in life it just gives me a testimony that might come alongside someone else and pick them up and help them keep walking.  My joy is to share my life so someone else may be a little stronger, a little happier and a little more closer to the God that has been ever faithful to me.

A friend reminded me this weekend that the model of prayer Jesus gave us was "Our"  Father in heaven.  She told me how God showed her that the "our" part joins us all together as a body.  In that joining, my testimony of life, may touch you…your testimony of life will touch me and someone else and so on.  So, if we want to really touch someone, we have to open our lives to others, we have to share our victories and failures and we have to be alone with God. That alone time leads us to hear Him and understand our journey so much more.  Really the saying should be Learn, Laugh and Love because in the love part is where we get to hold on to someone else's hand.  Giving them something they needed out of the abundance of what we have learned and been given.

So come join me in my quiet place .  On my back porch that overlooks the pool and my garden.   In my swing, with my coffee steaming and listening to the quiet of the morning I listen.  Come visit with me  and the Holy Spirit as we talk.  Yours will be your own conversation. Telling Him all the things that you need …all the things that hurt…all the things you love. On my porch swing I will be doing the same.  I will pour another  cup of coffee.  I want to tell you all about the God who loved me, laughed at me and with me, and more than I can imagine loves me.  So that when we meet maybe my story will help you and I know your story will help me. 

The scripture for my life is  Proverbs 3:4-5 "Love the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, and all they acknowledge  Him and He will direct your paths." I have found that to be true more than I can ever even discuss with you.

Unfortunately for me ,today is a one way dialogue. I have  been doing all the talking.  But if you knew me, personally, you would know the first question I would ask is " tell me about you. Tell me how you are doing?".  Because that is my heart.  To know you.  To be a part of your life.   Maybe, as the coffee starts to get cold you will hear from the Holy Spirit something that swells in your heart to make life just a little brighter today that you will share with me.  Living  can be one of the hardest things to ever learn. Sharing your life can be a milestone for you and yet, when we do, it is the closest I believe we can get to knowing God.


In His Grip


Friday, September 09, 2011

The Word of our Testimony

The Word of our Testimony

Friday, September 09, 2011

3:32 PM

For the last several weeks I have been very quiet in my writing.  It seems that in the midst of trying to find "what" to write I got lost in the "why" should I write.  You see, to me, when you write you are writing with the knowledge of being an expert. That is the one thing  I am not . I am not an expert.  I am just one person trying to live life being sold out  being a follower of Christ.  That does  not make me an expert, just another person living life the best I know how.

This all started weeks ago with so much turmoil in my spirit.  I just wanted to give up and throw it all in my delete bucket. But something just would not let me do that. God wanted me to stretch myself into hearing Him so that when I did I would not turn back.  I would know it was Him and only Him.

It actually started on Wednesday night.  I am listening to our Bible Study but in my mind all the things I feel I am supposed to be doing in life start rolling around in there, you know that head of mine can't keep still.  I keep focusing back on the message and my brain keeps going back to my writing.  It was quite frustrating arguing with myself in my head.  Thank goodness Chuck did not call on me to answer a question because my answer may have not been on the subject he was teaching. I would catch a bit of a phrase it would take me all the way through the scenario in my head again. All this head space was taken up to find my  purpose in writing. So many other things should have been able to go in my brain but really that has been my focus, arguing with God about this whole writing issue.  

A friend challenged me in that area and because I know her, I knew she is right. I challenged myself.  Why does it matter? Why not just give up. There are so many people out there doing a great job at it. So on and on the argument went.  But in the end, why did it matter?  I have a lot of other things I can do, why keep pressing me about this?

Through the last few years I have been challenged with so many things in writing.  Things I did not know, things I did not understand and quite honestly people that have the ability to write eloquently and draw  you in to their reading is such a gift that I did not really see myself as a writer.  I happen to "feel" extremely insufficient to write. But something continually draws me in.  The Holy Spirit constantly whispers in my ear these words that just feel like they need to be on paper.  So, I kept hashing at it until finally I gave up. Until today.

God has been teaching me so much lately about making it less "me" and more Him.  As I started seeing that picture of God drawing me nearer  to Him, I saw more clearly what He was asking of me.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever thought, God you just don't get it?  Are you hearing me?  Then, in that quiet still moment the answer to that monumental problem seems to just appear.  Maybe it was in the shower as you were getting ready to go, or driving to work and you hear a particular song and it drifts your mind back to that problem and Wham! There is the answer.  Or even, sitting on your back porch in your favorite spot  the answer starts forming in your mind. 

As each day passed I got closer to seeing the picture and today I saw it the best.  I was at yet another Bible Study, I just love being out and about and learning, and I said to someone that God says " we overcome with the blood of the lamb and the WORD OF OUR TESTIMONY".  I was just talking but in my head I was saying THAT's IT.  No one has my testimony…no one has YOUR testimony.  I was so excited to tell my husband that I get it now.  God has shown me the reason to write.  Because maybe someone will be changed, encouraged, given strength, seen the love of God because I decided to share my testimony.  It isn't about me but it is about what God has done for me that it stands.

As I was processing that small piece of the puzzle, I got home and opened my email.  I had received a letter from a young girl that had read "Why Doesn't God Heal Me".  She told me how she cried, actually she said she started bawling which completely broke my heart for her , and had all the same questions as Olivia.  How much she felt she missed out on in her teenage years because she was sick.  Why doesn't God just heal her?  Then, after she shared her heart she just wanted to thank me for sharing mine through writing.  Wow.  Tears just would not stop as I read her letter.  That God touched her life, gave her hope and love that she so desperately needed and that He used her in my life.

I will thank her, because as the tears stained my face I realized how much God wanted to imprint on my heart that our testimonies matter.  They do help and impact people.  They do change lives and she will go on to help someone else because she is stronger and her faith has increased.  I also know that she will be on my daily prayer list as well.  There are no "chance" meetings. We don't always get to see the impact of what God is doing through us, through our life and through our testimony but He is using us each and ever day to impact someone in our life whether we realize it or not.

So…be strong…and share your testimony!  God has some mighty things He wants to do through you!  It may not be writing, that was my catalyst, but He has something that only you can do and say.  Your testimony is the one that will reach one…that will reach one…and reach one and can you imagine if all we all did that! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

9:32 AM

This past two weeks it seems so much has  hit our household.  We had two very different but also very close friends pass away.  Both were sudden and without warning.  So much threaded through the halls of my mind.   Some of those threads went into rooms that are closed and not used much anymore, just to be opened and re-examined.  Others opened new doors to rooms that I had not seen before.  But, through all the processing I was amazed at God's grace.

Our friend Jeff had a sudden massive heart attack.  Though all the details are a bit unknown as to why it all happened, his family and friends stood vigil by his bedside until he took his last breath.  I was honored to be one of those friends.  There to be strength for his wife and dear friend Beth and just to do whatever I was asked or needed to do. 

One of those things, Beth just wanted me to be there by her side.  Just standing.  Just being strong.  Just being a rock for her while the wind of change was blowing through that room.  Seeing her virile, precious, husband's life ebb into Jesus' arms.  Having to make some heart wrenching decisions about life support.  Having to watch her daughter just ache at the loss of her Dad.  To be honest, the day never seemed to end. But it pressed on and so did we as the night turned to morning and the final breaths were taken.

I will never want to even speak to what Beth was going through in those hours upon hours.  That is her  story, but for me so much was shown to me in just a small span of time that I thought that God was exploding through the room. 

For me , standing beside that bed and hearing the heart of a wife saying goodbye, hearing his daughter tell him all the things that she loved about him, and a Mom saying goodbye to her son but begging him not to go  had my heart wanting to run from the room.  But my Father in Heaven wanted me stand.  I am not sure that I was all that needed at the moment, there were more than enough friends by her side. But for some reason God wanted me there and just wanted me to stand.  When I realized that,  it was in that perfect moment that we started singing "Amazing Grace".  All of us around Jeff's bedside.  Not loud but definitely strong.  The peace, just like a river…surrounded that room.  Tears were already flowing down his cheek, along with everyone else and I know , at that moment , he knew how much he was loved. He felt love surround him.  He heard his family's cry and he also saw the Father waiting on Him.  Waiting on Him to finish his goodbyes.  In those long hours of holding on , love and grace were what flowed.

This week my friend Noran went home in her sleep.  This is a woman that lived life well. She loved with all her heart, she prayed with all her might and she walked every day with Jesus.  Though she went to sleep and did not wake up I know the Angels of Heaven walked her home in those wee hours of the morning.  What a blessing and a comfort of grace that she did not suffer.  She just woke up at home completely healed. But for us, one great prayer warrior has gone home. 

As I witnessed my friends going into the arms of Jesus this week, I was struck by the amount of grace God has extended to me.  You see, Dean has had three heart attacks and well, we all know Olivia's amazing story. I came home and loved on my family and I have a new appreciation of love and grace. Every moment in our life is designed by God.  He is the only one that knows the hour and the day that we will go home to be with Him. I have seen my Mom and Dean's parents and sister welcomed home to be with Jesus and the Father.  I know, in those moments of passing that they would not want to come back for anything.  My sweet friend Noran and Jeff walked into Jesus' waiting arms this week.  The celebration must be huge in heaven.  But for those left behind, life is fragile and a gift.  Each and every day is a gift to those of us that have been touched by the amazing people God has placed in our lives.

So this week I think I am going to be just a little quieter to hear what my friends and family are really saying and not just  the words.  I want to hear their heartbeat and their struggles.  I want to understand their needs.  I want to be thankful for every minute God has placed them in my life to help me, make me just a little better, and loved just a little more because they were in my life.  Because for me, that is the grace of God. Prayerfully, I can also be that same person for them.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

How do we lose our way?

Last night I rode home with Dean so I could bring my car back to the hospital. Typically I never even leave Olivia's room but over the last year I have come to realize that I have to get away and let my mind breath, refresh, reboot so to speak. I have to keep my head clear if I want to survive this and help her survive it well.

It is a hot, humid, summer night here in Atlanta but it is just me and the car. I love that solitude of the car.  No interruptions, no interacting.....just driving.  Those are the moments I find that small quiet time, well maybe not so quiet, to talk with God.  Sometimes I yell, sometimes I cry, sometimes I sit and just enjoy the beauty of feeling close to Him.  But it is our own special time to really communicate. 

As I leave I realize  I have about 45 minutes to ride to the hospital. Just enough time to get all the yelling and the screaming and the crying in before  I get there!  I crank up the stereo and the songs are the only thing that can be heard. I have cranked it up loud, on purpose.  I want the music to fill the car and my head. I want to hear God speak to my heart!  And loudly.

Because the thing I need most right now are not words on a page but that deep river of wisdom that only comes from God.  I need to feel the deep heart of God that reaches down and gives me that peace that passes understanding.  My mind has been going in twenty directions and this last episode with Olivia caught us all off guard.

You see the problem don't you?  I didn't  until that ride to the hospital. Because for the past few months I have been trying to put the pieces of my puzzle back together.  I have been trying to get our life back on track to where it was before all this happened.  But, you know what happened, the harder I tried the worse it seemed to get. 

My picture looked like this "  Transplant and Olivia is better and getting her friends back, life back and  happy....the drastic bills are paid off so we can start fresh....Olivia and I have time to get school back in line and we all walk off into the sunset praising God for His wonderful miracle!"

Now, I am not complaining.  God forbid I be like the Israelites coming out of Egypt but it seems I did lose my way.  I had my picture all ready to be put together. I kept trying to put those pieces into one another and it was just not working! 

The life picture is ...Olivia keeps fighting to get well.  She has had more bad days than good..I lost my job when I needed it the most....Olivia has not felt well enough to get a lot of school work done and no time to really spend with friends and just as we were thinking she could...she started getting sick again. Oh did I mention that perfect marriage seemed to be all about arguing lately!

I just kept pressing in.  Tenacity seems to be the one trait in my character that is tried and true.  I just don't have it within me to give up.  I would sit on my back porch swing and just shake my head...God, I just don't get it. Really, don't we deserve a break.  Can't you just let us have some sweet precious time of not worrying, not struggling, not preparing for the worst?"  then, the tears would just flow like rivers.  Trying to wash away the struggles ,the sorrow and the quilt.  I have friends in much more dire circumstances than we have right now.  But still I kept fighting.  I wanted my puzzle pieces to work.

On the way to the hospital, in those sweet precious moments God reached down and whispered to me that " Trusting, believing and loving have to do with my picture, not yours."  You see, I have been writing my book and talking about those particular things, repeating those things, but listening to what God is leading me to write is very different. You see, God knows me and He knows my heart. It may sound trite to you but to me my whole life needs to reflect God. He has been the true constant in my life.  The truth of real love in my life.  So, I really needed an attitude adjustment.  I needed to see the picture through His eyes  unless I do start sounding like those dang Israelites and have to wander in the desert.

So, the real picture looks much like this "  Olivia's life is spared and she is getting better but will always have challenges. The challenges helps her character be more and more like Jesus. She is able to see those in pain and sympathize and empathize with her peers at a level of maturity that is beyond her years.  She realizes that God is the provider of everything we have and so she knows we can lean on Him and trust Him.  Then, God brought a community of people together to be the hands and feet of His gospel to surround us with so many prayers, love and support that we were able to survive all of this craziness.  Hopefully that same community was able to see God's hand at work. Our family is stronger than it has every been and we are able to communitcate more than ever before. When the glass is half full, the picture looks so different.   I had a friend tell me one time "Count your many blessings name them one by one"  great hymn and great reminder.

To me, when I remember to look back the miracles are enourmous! Life is not always about rest. Sometimes, well most of the time it is about the journey and how we walk through it.  Life does not stop or slow down.  Many lives are being changed everyday forever.  We all feel that we wish we could get off the merry-go-round for just a moment....but, lest we forget that joy of being on the merry-go-round.  It is all in our perspective.

So through this hot July night I am singing at the top of my lungs.  Worship is where I start.  Worship allows me to see God and see myself in his laver.  That mirror of honesty that brings all the sin and the joy to the top. I can get rid of all the things that have hindered me from hearing His voice and allows me to hear His heart. I hear Margaret Becker in the chorus " Look me in the eye, tell me if you see traces of yourself growing here in me.?"  and that is my heart cry. That is what I am called to do and so it puts the last few days back into the right perspective of my life!

I lost my way but now I am on firmer ground again.

In His Grip

Driving down the road I can see all these moments over the past months reflecting back at me. In the process I realize I have lost my way, not from the trauma but from the routine.  Wow, imagine that. The easy stuff  is what gets us caught up in the wrong things.  Trauma pushes us closer to what is important.  I have been so concentrated on getting life back in order that I lost the reason that life exists.  I bow my head, in my mind, and repent.  I sit and hear Margeret Becker sing "Find Me" and

It has been almost a year since Olivia's transplant.  It amazes me how much we all have changed since that time.  We have not been able to fully recover yet, we have hit several bumps in the road, but she is getting stronger and stronger.  We are currently back in the hospital and having some pretty ugly issues but she is stronger and working hard getting through it all.

When you look back at life it is so easy to see the mistakes, the heartaches, and the pain.  You naturally see the hard stuff.  It quickly comes to the surface of your mind.  So, it does take a moment to remember the victories, the moutain top experiences and the joy that God has allowed us to enjoy over the year.
But here are the thongs that I am most thankful for that I have learned over the last year.

I am very thankful for God. He has been the one rock that I could count on no matter what.  He has provided so many miracles for me and my family that I am  in awe of His power and might.  In fact, recently there has been some discussion around my house about some spiritual aspects about God lately and really at the end of the day, all that matters is that God is God.  No more and no less.  He gives, loves and extends his heart beyond the recesses of what our minds can fathom.  I have been humbled and amazed at friendships that have not only endured miles, but years and mistakes.  I have been blessed beyond measure with the outpouring of love and concern for me and my family. I am so very thankful for each and everyday that God allows me to bewith Dean and Olivia.  They are the picture in my life of who God is.  How He loves, how He blesses and how He is so wise.

When I look back at the full year, in context, this is where I end.  But there are many middle parts that have changed my heart and outlook.  There have been many days that I had to face reality and realize that my will and God's will may be different.  And if there were different, how would I handle that.  I am sure you can read between the lines here.  Also, I have wept with several mothers that did not have another day with their child. The disease had taken its toll on their poor child's body and walking through that has brought an ache and scar that I pray will never heal.  It gives me that hesitation that life is more important than cleaning the house.  It gives me that understanding that friendships are so much more than just a FB quote.  It reminds me that the hunger and passion I have for God will always be strong and fervent.  I stand in His presence broken and spilled out.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Life is beautiful

Life is Beautiful!

You know what I am doing?  I am sitting bawling my eyes out over a movie. One of the saddest movies I have seen in a while and it caught me by surprise. I thought it was this nice sweet movie and then the turn happened and I thought it would never end.

As I was watched the story unfold, I felt I was getting hit with a shotgun full of memories.  Those memories I try to ignore.  Memories of pain that I never want to see again. I know you have seen those movies that bring memories flooding back and you want to run out but for some reason you are transfixed to endure it all to the end.  Well, that was the moment I was having.

At first, this poor guy…this very perfect guy falls in love with a deaf girl that has never found love because her Mom has suffocated her trying to protect her.   He helps her find her place in the world and to stand on her own feet.  As the story unfolds you find out her Dad has died and his Mom died of cancer.  Sad, right!  But then, she goes back to her Mom out of duty and has to give him up because her Mom does not see past that fact he is a waiter. She finally stands up for him and they are getting back together and well, he ends up in the hospital with advanced brain cancer.  Yep…the rest of the movie is all about him dying. But throughout the movie he is the most positive, hopeful, guy that only sees the beauty around him.  What a statement.

Why did all this affect me so much?  Because, at first all I could see was "how could all this happen to one guy?".  Such a nice guy, loved with all he had and lost it all. My mind obviously went to losing my Mom, so many times almost losing Olivia, times Dean and I just were not connecting and it almost spiraled for me into this horrible pity party.  Then the worst of it is that sometimes I feel horribly guilty.  Guilty because my girl lived.  Is that not awful.  But so many Moms I know, did not get that opportunity to have their kids and see them get better, not here anyway. 

And somewhere in the middle of it all.  The pity party, the reflection, the story in the movie I pulled from who I know best, God, and knew that the part of the movie that was crucial was not the sadness but the beauty.  The  beauty of the relationships that have held together through these horrible ordeals in my life.  So many have held my heart, my prayers and my strength by standing with me. What a blessing that will never be forgotten. 

The beauty of my marriage that has been rocked with all kinds of trials and tribulations.  The amazing truth is that when you put two people together, God has to be the third person in your marriage.  Sometimes, though not theologically sound, I think that is why we have the trinity. It is a picture that it does take three strands to stand strong.  Just two of us would never have made it this far.  But through love, friendship, forgiveness and God we have held on stronger and stronger through the years.  I never thought that would be possible.  But only beauty can come from the ashes of dying to yourself. The beauty of love as it unfolds, not in moments, not in the honeymoon, not in falling in love but from selfless acts over the years that transform us to be better people and better friends. To me, that is the beauty of love. 

Then of course Olivia. The beauty of her personality. The kindness of her heart.  The fact that she is a  spontaneous giver. The morals that have already been established in her heart that she owns. These are traits that are unfolding like a rose.  Slowly, her personality is starting to blossom again and I was not sure what it would look like.  She had been so angry and upset for so long.  But now, she embraces life. She soaks up every moment with as much enthusiasm as she can.  She still gets mad because she gets sick so easily but nothing like before. The rose is slowly opening as her heart is starting to embrace life again and I love being there for each moment.  That is the beauty of love.  Seeing through someone to their heart and loving them unconditionally. So, that when it is a season for the rose in their heart to blossom you can see those velvety, beautiful petals.

The most important part of beauty is seeing life through His eyes, His ears, His heart.  We can never even come close to being able to fully do that but we can try.  We can look into someone's eyes and ask God to help us see them as He does.  When words are spoken in anger, ask God to allow us to hear what they are really saying. When someone is hurting and wounded we can ask God to allow us to see their heart so that we know how to comfort them.  When we start looking around life is beautiful. 

So for me, my pity party turned into a celebration of sorts.  Thankful for the beauty that is all around me. Special friends, wonderful family, wonderful husband and daughter. I lost my Mom but I still have my Step Mom. She has given me so much love and support that I needed.  And if by chance my sister ever gets this far in reading my blog she might see how much I appreciate who she is in my life as well. My friends has sustained me through so much and loved me unconditionally. My husband, well, words cannot express all that he has endured personally and endured with me and still stood.  That is beautiful love that makes us all very rich people. I may not have two pennies to rub together, like my Grandfather would say but I have more love than can fill the Mississippi river.  And if you have ever seen the Mississippi river you would know how beautiful that is too.

 The rest may fall. Jobs come and go…material things can go away but love and beauty will always last. I lost my job, life isn't that easy right now but I can do what I know how to do and that is live like God would have me live and trust Him with the rest by focusing on the beauty around me and not the worries that the world would try to put on my shoulders.  Not that we should not do our very best to do all we can do but when we have truly done our best….letting God carry the rest. Focusing on the beauty allows us to be grateful for all that we do have and not want what we don't really need.