Mother’s Day

The second Sunday in May.  A holiday created by man to honor mothers.  It sounds great, doesn’t it?  The stores are stocked with cards, balloons, cakes, and flowers.  Signs in pink letters are everywhere you look.  You really can’t escape it or forget.  This one Sunday of the year should be perfect, right?  Wake to breakfast in bed, flowers on the table, a lovely church service, maybe a trip to the lake or a hike or picnic…. Family togetherness, honoring mom…

But what if it doesn’t work like that for you?  What if you desperately want to be a mom and you have not conceived yet, or have been told you can’t conceive?  That was me 16 years ago.  It tore my heart out.  I wanted so badly to be mom, but I was not.  Mother’s Day hurt. The world continued with its socially accepted commercialism.

A few years later, with the help of medical science, I became a mom, and a couple of years after that, again with the help of modern medicine, I became a mom again.  I felt so blessed.  I finally “fit in” to the Mother’s Day crowd.  But alas, that too was short lived.

My son, my 2nd born, was diagnosed with brain cancer on April 21, 2006.  He died on May 18, 2006.  Mother’s Day that year is one that is etched into my mind forever.  Well, at least the evening part.  I honestly cannot remember the day time part.  I wish I could.  Perhaps it was happy.  Perhaps it was fun.  Perhaps I smiled early in the day that year.  But that night, my son started fading fast.  He was lethargic, not eating, not keeping any fluids down and had signs of dehydration.  On May 14, 2006, Mother’s Day, we drove my baby boy to the hospital for the last time.  I walked in while my husband parked the car.  His tiny hands were wrapped around my neck and his head was rested on my shoulder.  I can still feel those tiny hands sometimes.  The nurses and triage receptionists looked at us as I walked through the door and immediately escorted us to a bed in the ER.  That sounds great, doesn’t it?  No check in, no waiting room…. but it’s not.  When they do that, you know your child is very ill.  The next few days brought a flurry of procedures, surgeries, chemo treatments, etc.  He faded a bit more each day.  On May 18, he left this earth and went home to be with Jesus while my husband and I held him in our arms.

So, Mother’s Day is difficult for me.  Not only am I missing my son terribly, but I have the aching reminder of bringing him to the hospital for the last time on Mother’s Day.  Every year I think I will be able to smile, celebrate, become part of the socially accepted “mom’s club”, and every year I fall short, in a puddle of tears.

It’s been 10 years now since we lost our son.  We have been blessed with another daughter who is 8 years old now and miraculously, I am expecting my 4th baby this coming September.  This baby is a blessed surprise.  No doctor appointments, procedures, shots, etc.  I woke one day and was pregnant!  I thought, once again, this year will be different.  I am so blessed with my girls and the new life inside my womb that I will smile.  I will celebrate and I will be able to let my family celebrate with me.  But I was mistaken again.

Feelings of the past, present, and future collided yesterday and I was a wreck.  I cried for my baby that I lost.  I cried for my baby who is not born yet.  I cried for my girls who are with me and I cannot even be happy with them on this day.  I cried for my friend Jenny who died in December.  I cried for her children and husband who are missing her terribly every time they look at a “Mother’s Day” sign or card.  I cried for the ache they are feeling that no one can soothe for them.

I skipped church.  I kept busy all day doing chores and projects in the house.  I couldn’t sit still or I would cry.  At the end of the night, while talking to my husband, I realized that I will never fit into this man-made, commercialized holiday.  But a part of me still wants to be able to spend a day with my family and get a little spoiled.  (What girl doesn’t?)  So, after tears, conversation, prayer, and thought, we decided that I do not have to celebrate Mother’s Day in May.  Who said I have to anyway?  We will celebrate Mother’s Day in our family in August.  A month when such feelings of grief are not raw and attached.  Will it work?  I have no idea, but we are going to plan a day in August and try it out.  My girls can spoil me, we will do something fun as a family, I am sure I will think of my boy, but hopefully, it will be a smile on my heart instead of the gut-wrenching reply of that Mother’s Day night 10 years ago.  If Mother’s Day is a man-made made holiday, then this lady is going to change it!  And perhaps, without the commercialized hype around me, and the socially accepted posts streaming our computers, we will enjoy a peaceful, lovely day with just us.

For all of those who struggle on Mother’s Day, my prayers are with you.  There are so many out there that are silent.  That feel paralyzed.  That cry behind closed doors.  Remember that you are not alone.  God is always with you.  And you don’t have to have a May Mother’s Day or a Mother’s Day at all.  You are allowed to change the rules.  To those living without their moms, to those living without their wives, and to those living without a child or children, may God’s peace find you and wrap you up.  May He catch each tear and hold it in the palm of His hand.  May He enable you to celebrate in your own way and time, not according this this world, but according to what your heart needs.

And for all of you who still have your moms, children, and spouses – you are blessed.  Don’t ever forget how blessed you are.  Thank God for them every single day, not just on Mother’s Day.

 

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The Peace that Passes Our Understanding

Prayerlessness.  This obstacle finds so many of us.  Why do you think we do not pray? Do not pray often?  Do not pray sincerely?   I can only speak from my own experiences.  I didn’t know how.  I felt inadequate.  I didn’t think I was good enough to offer up a feeble prayer to the Lord, the creator of the universe!

I tried.  Believe me, I tried!  I didn’t try often enough, it was mostly when life was hard I would find myself crying out to God for help.  Occasionally I would offer up a prayer of gratitude.  But in those deep, dark places of my soul, when I felt so alone and I had no one else to talk to, no one that would understand, that is when I really prayed.  I prayed through tears, through anguish, through frustration, through helplessness and hopelessness.  This went on for years.

And then…. something clicked in my soul.  I realized that God just wants me to talk to Him.  He wants a relationship with me.  He isn’t looking for eloquent or scripted, educated or rehearsed prayer.  He is looking for my heart, open and honest and every day.  I began this prayer journey with a new frame of mind.  I began praying all the time!  In the car, as I made lunches, at the grocery store, cleaning, doing laundry, etc.  Whatever it was that I was doing, if I was by myself, I prayed.  I just talked to God.  I told him what I was thankful for that day. I shared my anxieties and fears and gave them over to Him.  I prayed for my family and shared their worries with Him as well.  It didn’t matter what the words were or how they came out, I was talking to God.

Well, a curious thing began to happen to me.  I became peaceful, from the inside.  I am more patient.  I have less fear and less anxiety.  My faith is stronger and still growing.  The moment I realized that these changes were taking place was on May 18, the anniversary of my son’s death.  For the first time in 9 years, I was ok.  I wasn’t crying.  I didn’t have an anxiety attack.  I felt a peace inside me that I cannot explain.  I was actually confused!  I had become so used to wallowing in misery on this day and even the days leading up to it, that I did not know what to do with myself!  Another huge realization occurred just a few days ago, on Thanksgiving night.  I began to pull out all the Christmas decorations and boxes and I started to decorate at 8 pm on Thanksgiving!   My 13 year old daughter said to me, “I don’t remember you ever wanting to decorate for Christmas, and especially not this early.  We usually have to pull teeth to get you to take the decorations out.”  She is exactly correct.  I was deep in grief and I was not deep in prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to give me peace.

I can’t explain it, but I couldn’t wait to decorate for Christmas!  It is our Savior’s birth!  What a glorious and exciting time! Again, I am experiencing a peace that I cannot explain.  I am not dreading the birthday of my son, who is with Jesus.  I am relishing in the birthday of Jesus.

God tells us in the Bible that we will have trouble in this world.  He tells us that Satan is a real force of evil and He will do whatever He can to stop the flow of peace and love between God and us.  Prayer is the strongest weapon we have against Satan.  Use it and use it daily.  You will begin to feel a peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.”

My prayer for all of you is that you find your peace through prayer.  May God be with you on this journey and may He bless you daily as you pray.

Where is God?

I gave up facebook almost a year ago and I am so glad that I did.  As I scroll with my husband on his account, I am reminded of what a broken, disgraceful, self-absorbed, messy world we live in.  I see headlines and posts about the attacks on Paris, Muslims, Syrian Refugees coming to the USA, liberalism, common core education, starbucks cups without snowflakes, political correctness, bashing our president, and so much more.  Not to mention all the personal posts about how life is grand, or life sucks, or look at what we have, etc, etc, etc.  I am sure you get the idea of what is out there, you may even be reading it in your own scroll.

I began to ponder the question so many ponder.  Where is God in all of this?  I am not a politician.  I am not versed in law, world affairs, government, political parties, etc.  But as I read about these events taking place in the world, as I see families being torn apart in my town by divorce, abuse, infidelity, and more, I can’t help but wonder what the heck is going on.

The only place I can and will go to find my answers is the Good Book, The Bible.  I happen to be studying Isaiah right now and oh my goodness!  It is almost as if God placed this book in my hands right when I would need answers to all that is happening in our world today.  The kings of Isaiah’s time all fell short.  Some to idolatry, some to prayerlessness, some to unbelief, legalism, pride (that’s a big one).  Each time these kings found themselves in troubled situations, God reached out to them.  Some accepted His hand and some refused it.  Those who accepted His hand were blessed.  Those who refused it were defeated.  This is a very simple, basic synopsis of what I’ve been reading about.  It goes deep and it is long.  But the principle remains the same.  God wants to help us.  Will we let Him?

Our fight in this world is not against terrorists.  It is not against  Muslims, Christians, Jews, Democrats, Republicans, Communists, etc.  It is not against our nasty neighbor, our abusive parent, our cheating spouse, or our dysfunctional school system.  Our fight is a spiritual war against the devil.  It is the devil who is causing all of these divisions in our world.  He is tempting everyone, using everything, and he is getting his way.  He has us fighting ourselves!

We sit here and wonder why is God not doing anything to help us, to save us from this suffering, to take this away from us.  But He is, He has, and He always will.  We are just not accepting the hand He is extending to us.  I am so thankful that God is so patient with us.  2Peter 3:9 tells us that “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand  slowness.  Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Don’t you see?  God is waiting patiently for all to repent!  He is giving us chance after chance after chance!  And when we repent, as individuals, as families, as neighborhoods, as cities, as states, as countries, WE WILL BE BLESSED!  The Lord wants to protect us and He wants to deliver us from this evil.  Our culture and our country is saying no, loud and clear.  Everywhere we go, God is being forced out and the devil is being invited in.  We are getting exactly what we have created.

Isaiah 61:1-4 promises the deliverance of those in bondage.
“The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

Our freedom is in Christ alone.  He is the deliverer!  He is the one who can release us from this world.  No political party or military plan will work without Christ.  It doesn’t matter if we accept or reject refugees, bind or release prisoners, secure our borders or keep them open.  Without Christ, we have nothing.  Our country needs to repent and praise God.  Until this happens, we will be under spiritual warfare.

I cannot wait for the return of Christ on the earth!  What a glorious and awesome day that will be!  But I am also so thankful for His patience in trying to reach all of His lost lambs.  He is waiting for us, all of us.

Instead of living in fear, let’s stand united in Christ.  Put on His armor.  He is our strength and our shield.  Let this political situation be an opportunity for us to stand together as one, not divided.  Let us minister to these refugee families as they come into our country.  Let us share Jesus with them.  These kids will be in our schools, they will live in our neighborhoods.  Let us not be fearful.  Cry out to God for His strength, His words, His direction.  Let us show these people what a peaceful nation can look like.  Take down the signs of hatred, the political party labels, the denomination disagreements.  Let us be ONE in Christ!  Let us welcome all who come to us and let us be humbled with the opportunity that Christ has given us to share His love with them.

Are you up for the challenge?

Jenny Original

My friend Jenny used to make these absolutely beautiful baby slings.  She gave me one 7 years ago when my youngest daughter was born.  After that, every time I needed a baby gift, I ordered a Jenny Original baby sling and gave it to the expectant mother.  It was always a favorite gift!  I told Jenny years ago that one day people would see a sling and say, “Is that  a Jenny Original?”

My family lived in Richmond for 6 1/2 years.  During that time Jenny was an important part of my life.  Our time together in the Family Room at church will always be treasured.  It was here that we met, spoke of our babies with Jesus, and cried together.  We spent many more days in that family room.  I’m not sure if Jenny realized what that time meant to me, but her kind and loving words carried me through my darkest days.

I remember seeing the Stevens Family walk into church before I knew them.  Jenny was pregnant with James.  I watched them each week in anticipation of the baby being born.  I was still raw from losing my own baby.  When James was born, I could not take my eyes off of him.  I was drawn to him.  A little peach fuzz, blonde boy, very much like my own little boy.  It was shortly after that I met the Stevens Family.

We became close.  We shared a small group together.  Our daughters went to Scouts together, choir together, and even coop together for a time!  Jenny and her girls spent endless hours helping my family with fundraisers for brain cancer, painting little Christmas ornaments, collecting toys for the hospital, and so much more.  Some of my fondest memories are sitting at my dining room table and painting those ornaments that would be given to those who donated toys for the hospital.  We painted for hours and just chatted!

Four years ago, we moved again.  I have not seen Jenny in quite a long time.  I think of her often and the impact she has made in my life.  She is a friend who has changed my heart.

Jenny did not only make original baby slings.  Jenny is original in her heart.  She reaches out just a little bit farther.  She gives just a little bit more.  She hugs just a little bit tighter.  She cares just a little bit deeper.  She lives and breathes Jesus in everything she does.  I cannot think of a better example of someone who others can see Christ through.

I love you Jenny.  You have impacted my heart and that will leave an impression forever.  My heart aches that you are battling right now.  I just want you to know that you have taught so many people so much.  You have touched the world.

Thank you for being so original, Jenny.  There is no other like you!  May you find peace and strength through God on this journey.  I will continue my prayers for you and for your family.  I love you all.

Jason Crabb – He Knows What He’s Doing

Dear Jesus,
Jenny needs you.  Her family needs you.  Wrap your love around them and don’t let go.  Let your peace and strength invade their inner souls.  Shower them with your Spirit and surround them with the support they need now and in the future.  The journey is long and tiresome, but this is not our home.  We are but here temporarily, on our way to your arms, where we will all rejoice with you in eternity!
Amen

Daylight Savings – From the Eyes of a 7 Year Old

This morning, as we were getting ready for school, my youngest daughter asked me, “Well, did everyone change their clocks?”  I told her simply, yes.  She was not satisfied with this answer, but at this time, I did not realize this.  She pondered this habit, this tradition, this bizarre occurrence in her mind as we got into the car and began our travel of first driving my eldest daughter to school, then driving little Emma to school.  It was just as we were approaching Emma’s school that she brought up this subject again.  She asked me why we change the clocks.  I tried my best, in my feeble attempt, to explain that we don’t like driving to school in the dark, so when it begins to stay dark longer in the mornings, we change the clocks so that we will be able to drive to school in the daylight.  I also explained that the sun will set earlier now, so it will also rise earlier.  She thought about this and then asked why can’t we just go to school after the sun rises.  Why do we have to change our clocks.

Wow!

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

My mind was blown.  I sat quietly as I drove to capture my thoughts and form words she might understand.  This is what I came up with.

I told Emma just how smart she was for thinking this way and I also told her she was not wrong.  God created our world with a big, beautiful sun.  And the sun gives us different amounts of light as the seasons change.  God intended for people to wake and rise with the sun, do their work for the day, and go to bed when it got dark.  But, people got too busy.  People started having too much to do and needed to make sure they could get it all done. So, they created clocks, which of course are based upon the sun.  The difference is that as the seasons change, clocks do not change, so people have to change them to keep up with God’s amazing creation, the sun.

See, people think that we need more, need to do more, need better technology, better ways to accomplish things, etc, etc, etc.  This list can truly go on forever!  If we stepped back and looked at what God has already put in place for us, we might just see that His creation is all we ever need!

Perhaps we are burnt out, stressed out, overworked, and exhausted because of those darn clocks!  Maybe we should rise with the sun, have a nice breakfast and make our way to work.  Then, head on home as the sun begins setting for a hearty meal.  Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

All of these years I have taken Daylight Savings for granted.  It took my 7 year old to jolt me back to reality.  Faith like a child, Jesus says.  I hope Emma never loses her insight and her faith.  She teaches me things everyday!

As you are all adjusting to the time change, take a moment to realize that this is not how it is supposed to be.  This is not the life God intended for us.  Thankfully, this is not our world!  We have a world of eternity waiting for us with Jesus, where there are not clocks to change and no deadlines to meet, and no more being late!  It will be a blessed place where time will not exist.  God’s glory will be the only thing we need to concern ourselves with in eternity!  That sounds good to me!

AMEN!

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.  Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you!  I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.  
-Psalms 63:1-4

This is how I feel often, like I cannot get enough of reading God’s Word and learning more about Him.  I look around me and see the broken world that I live in and it is difficult.  But then, I look within, I know that this is not my home!  I know that I am on a journey and this is just a small part of my journey to eternity!  I raise my eyes, lift my hands, and praise God for His grace and salvation!

I want others to feel this.  I want others to know Jesus.  I want others to feel this thirst that is described by David in Psalm 63.  I want others to know that the past is the past and Jesus holds no record of sins.  That His blood alone is atonement for the world’s sins forever!  That simply, through faith in the cross of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and redeemed!

I have had a lot of changes and transitions in my life over the past several months.  One of which was resigning my teaching job and being at home to support my family and be more available to them.  While this is a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful and blessed that we are financially able to support this family decision, I was nervous.  What am I going to do with myself while everyone is at work/school?  You see, I do not like to be alone.  My mind goes crazy sometimes and I think all sorts of things that are not good or healthy.  However, here I was waving goodbye to my family and finding myself in complete silence…

Some may say that sounds like blessed bliss!  I struggled for a while with finding my way in this new role.  I took to cooking every night, which I love (and so does my husband!)  I shuttle the girls here and there before and after school to various activities.  I now have a routine for laundry, cleaning, shopping, etc and all of this is done while everyone else is at school/work.  I even volunteer in schools a few days a week.  But I was still feeling empty.  I decided I needed direction, not from my husband or children, not from friends, but direction from God.  I needed to know where He wanted me and what He wanted to use me for.

I began to pray.

I participated in a Bible Study at my church.  It was a Beth Moore study called Stepping Up – a journey through the Psalms of Ascent.  This was a fantastic study and journey.  It helped me understand the journey of the Pilgrims as they traveled to Jerusalem each festival season.  It gave me a picture in my mind of life in those days and how these people felt many of the same feelings that we feel today; anguish, desperation, praise, disrespect, ridicule, protection, restoration, blessedness, persecution, promises, harmony, and blessings.  It also showed me how these people relied on God to help them through both the difficult times and the joyous times.

Through this study, I continued to pray.  I prayed for direction.  I prayed for a way to serve others.  I prayed God would lead me.  It was after the Extraordinary Women’s Conference a few weeks ago that I realized that I felt pulled to serve in my community somehow.  Now, for those of you who know me, I am not a people person!  I am not the person who will knock on doors or start conversations!  Going new places gives me a bit of anxiety!  So, this was an interesting pull that I was feeling!

I continued my prayers and asked God to show me what it was He would like me to do.  I do not know how to describe it, except to say that one day during my prayer time, it just came to me!  The WARM Shelter in my community just popped into my head.  WARM (Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry) is a temporary shelter for women and children who desire the opportunity to gain self-sufficiency and long term stability.  The home can host up to 7 families and assists these families in getting back on there feet, permanently.  In my prayer, I heard God telling me to offer a Bible Study for these women.

I immediately contacted them and shared my prayer.  I filled out a volunteer application and attended an interview.  They shared with me that they were also in prayer for someone to lead a Bible Study for these women who so desperately need it!  WOW!  Isn’t God amazing how He brought us together for His purpose?

I am humbled by this opportunity that I will be starting in early November.  I have been researching studies and thinking about a game plan.  Since the families live in the home for only a short time, up to 6 months, I wanted to make sure I chose studies that they could really fill their Spiritual Toolbox with.  Scripture based studies that would stay with them forever.  I also wanted to choose something I could reuse as a new group of women came in.  I have chosen Beth Moore’s Breaking Free and Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God.  Both of these studies are deep.  They will help these ladies to realize that they don’t have to be in bondage of their past and that God will protect and guide them wherever they go in the future.  It is my prayer that these women will be blessed by this time together and that they begin to grow a relationship with Jesus that they will take with them wherever they go in life.

I have ordered the materials and books for Breaking Free already and I am so excited!  While there is not a budget in place for Bible Study at WARM, I know that God has called me to do this.  I have faith that others will see the importance of sharing Jesus’ Word to help these families in transition and want to help.  I know God will bless this study and future studies as well.  I can only praise God for answering my prayers and giving me this opportunity to minister to women in my community!

Thank you Jesus for guiding me to this task for you.  Let my words speak of your goodness and grace and be present with me Lord as I minister to these women and their children.  Give me the courage to speak your messages in bold confidence.  Let these women see you in me.  Thank you Jesus!

If you would like to make a donation to Bible Study books and materials to be used at WARM, please click the link below.  Thank you in advance!  God bless!

https://www.youcaring.com/waynesboro-area-refuge-ministry-warm-456750

Blow Your Ram’s Horn

I spent my weekend in Roanoke with my daughter at The Extraordinary Women’s Conference.  What an experience!  We laughed and cried, were excited and exhausted, and had such a great time together!  The line up of speakers and performers was unbelievable!  Tim Hawkins and Mercy Me took the stage Friday night and blew us away!  Oh how I love Mercy Me.  There music speaks to my heart.  Their new song Flawless is just beautiful and so true.  If you have not heard it, check it out.

Some of the best moments came when we were engaged and listening to the speakers.  Max Lucado discussed Joshua’s victory over Jericho and his deliverance into the Promised Land.  Joshua’s priests blew the ram’s horn, before a battle had even begun.  I never knew this, but in those days, the blowing of the ram’s horn signified victory AFTER a battle.  Yet, God told Joshua to blow the ram’s horn at the start.  Do you realize what this means?  God won the battle before it even began, he won it for Joshua and he won it for you and me!

What is your Jericho?  What has a stronghold on your heart?  For me, it is fear and anxiety.  I’ve been battling these since my son died in 2006.  Every time my husband leaves the house, for work, band practice, Bible study, a bike ride, I fear he will not return to me.  Every time I drop my girls off at school, or at a friend’s house, I fear they will not return to me.  I know this fear because of the loss of my baby boy.  Life was great.  We were happy, we had everything going for us, so we thought.  One day, out of the blue, my son had cancer.  30 days later he was gone.  It was this moment, this turning point, that drew me to God.  It was this event in my life that made me realize I knew God as a concept only, not a reality.

Do you view God as a concept or do you  have a deep relationship with God and know he is a reality?  Kasey Van Norman described this so well at the conference.  She said most of us live somewhere in the middle.  Before my son got sick, God was definitely a concept to me.  He was there, somewhere.  When I needed something, I pulled out my God card and said a quick prayer.  When life was good, I rarely thought about him.  Until my world crashed.  Until my security blanket got pulled out from under me.  Until I was left with nothing but raw emotion and fear and anger and sorrow.  Until I needed God in reality, not in concept.

I began my journey at the lowest point in my life.  I had only one place to look and it was up.  I started the slow and steady climb to learn more about the God who loves me, to dig deeper into his Word and digest the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  I couldn’t get enough of learning about God.  I still can’t.  The more I learn, the more I know, the more I realize I have so much to learn and the more I realize I know nothing!  God is so immense.  He is so AWEsome.  He is so complex.  How can you learn all there is to know about him?  There is always more!

At one point during the conference, Angie Smith shared her story of losing her baby Audrey.  Her words resonated with me.  Her feelings were my feelings.  Her fears were my fears.  I felt her pain and my pain all over again.  Her loss took her on a journey into Women’s Ministry.  It took her on a journey into the spotlight to speak to and write for women all over the world.  She is blessed to be able to do this for women.  But she herself said, couldn’t God have found another way to move me in this direction?  Couldn’t he let me keep my baby?  I feel that everyday.

Wasn’t there another way?  Maybe and maybe not.  2Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  It is.  I can testify to that.  In my weakness of being a mother who no longer needed a diaper bag, of being a mother who had no baby to tuck into a crib at night, of being a mother whose arms were empty of the son she loves, God’s strength pulled me through and continues to do so every single day.  I know God today in a way I never would have known him otherwise.  I wish the events of my life would have unfolded differently, but they didn’t.  I don’t know why.  But I am blessed by God’s strength.  I am blessed to know he will not forsake me.

In my prayers daily, I pray for safety for my husband and my girls.  I pray they will come home to me each day whole and healthy.  These are good prayers and help me get up, get through my day, and be ok.  But…. I am a daughter of the King.  I am an heir to his throne.  I deserve more than a day of relief from my fear.  Why am I not praying for God to take away my fears and anxieties all together?  (Because I accepted it.  I never thought it was possible!)  Why do I settle for less than the power of God?

Today, I will blow my ram’s horn.  The battle is won before the fight!  God has the power to take your stronghold.  I am laying down my fears, my anxieties.  I am praying the prayer I should have prayed years ago.  Jesus, take my fears.  Take my anxieties.  Leave me with a peaceful heart and the comfort to know that whatever lies ahead of me and my family, you will be by my side to help us through it.  Amen.

Happy New Year 2015

Are you too busy for your resolutions?  Millions of people make resolutions each end of December, with the hopes of keeping them and making a better life for themselves.  How does that work out?  Honestly, most people can’t get past the middle of January with their resolution lists.  Those that do make it a little farther, but very few make it for the year.

Do you know how long it takes to make something a habit?  Research shows that a new habit takes form somewhere between 21 and 28 days.  (That is just one month into the new year. )  I’ve been thinking about why resolutions fail.  Here are some of my thoughts.

–  Resolution lists are too long and challenging.  People have high hopes and big goals, but they are often not realistic.
–  There is no plan in place.  How can you expect a change if you don’t make a plan to implement that change?
–  What are you going to do differently to accommodate your new life-style? If you are resolving to exercise daily for 30 minutes, where are those 30 minutes coming from?  You need to change other areas of your life to fit your new goals in.
–  Big changes require a support system.  You can’t quit smoking or drinking without a good support system.  You can’t decide to change eating habits and eat more healthy without a support system.  You can’t decide to carve out time for yourself with a hobby without a support system to take care of your family while you are out.  Most resolutions you cannot complete on your own.
–  Have you set up a scaffolding system to reach your goal or are you jumping in with both feet?  Usually, if you set up a scaffolding system, you are more likely to find success and keep going.  If you jump in with both feet, you are more likely to fail and quit.
–  Have you asked God to help you achieve your goals?

With all of that being said, I don’t do resolutions.  At least not in the traditional way.  You see, it doesn’t need to be December 31 for me to decide that I need a change.  That can happen any day of the year.  Also, I am a bigger picture kind of girl.  I try to think of a way I want to live in all situations.  I know many people who also try to do this.  For me, it is a more powerful and realistic way to make a change in your life.

One way to do this and succeed is to choose one word.  One word to live by each day in all situations.  This will be my 3rd year choosing one word.  My first word was INTENTION.  Last year was UNDERSTANDING.  Living the entire year with one word in mind really helped to shape the person I am becoming.  And do you know what?  The “words” stick!  They stick throughout the year and into the next year!  It is an amazing transformation that is only possible through God.

Over the last two years, God has helped me become more patient, kind, and loving.  He has helped me focus on what I need to focus on and let go of things that are occupying my time but not producing fruit.  He has shown me a path that He wants me on.  He has helped me be a better wife, mother, and teacher.  He has done all of this a little at a time by giving me a word to focus on and pray about each day.

For this year, 2015, I think my word will be RELATIONSHIPS.  I’d like to try to work on building some good, solid relationships.  This scares me terribly, but sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone is where God can mold you best!  I have decided to let go of some social media because this gives a false sense of relationship.  I will be diligent in trying to nurture relationships in my life.  I have some interesting ideas on how I am going to do this and I am sure God will show me some more ways to work on this throughout the year!

I wish you all a blessed new year and I will pray that you find peace in your goals.  If you decide to live by a word, I’d love to hear what your word is and how you plan to do it if you know.  Feel free to share in my comments or email me.

Blessings,

Erin

Baseball – For my Dad

My dad, after reading my blog, asked me why I can’t write about something fun and light, like baseball?  So dad, this is for you!

My dad is a New York Mets fan.  I grew up loving baseball, cheering for the Mets from our living room couch and on occasion, from Shea Stadium, sitting next to my dad.  I loved to keep score in the “official score book” when we went to games.  I felt important and smart that I knew what to write in those tiny boxes!  

Each Christmas for about 6 years, from middle school into high school, my dad would give me the Topps Baseball Card Set.  (I still have them).  I loved those cards!  I truly thought they would make me rich one day and I would never have to work or do anything but trade cards!  Ha Ha!  

Looking back, I think what I loved most about baseball was that it was something special I got do with my dad.  The game was fun, but it was more about the company.  As I grew older and drifted away from baseball and drifted away from spending time with my dad, those memories remained.  

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”  (Tommy Lasorda)

Life has its ups and downs..  It is filled with home-runs and strike-outs, no hitters and pitching changes.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  It is what you do each moment, each day that will pave the way for your season.  Joshua 1:8 tell us “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  Like baseball, we must know the book of rules, we must follow the rules and practice daily to be successful.  With this book, God’s Word, we have the promise of everlasting life, our World Series Championship!

However, as we are all aware of, sometimes life changes pitchers, or throws in a pinch hitter and we don’t know what to do.  It wasn’t our plan.  We are lost and confused and are asking why.  Things were going so well before the change of players.  We must remember these words of Jesus from the book of John.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (chapter 16:33)

Jesus died for us.  He died for our transgressions.  All we can do is be grateful to Him and to live our lives for His glory.  We will not be perfect.  We will continue to mess up and disappoint.  We will make mistakes and everyday we will face temptations.  However, we need to do our very best to live a glorifying life for God.  It won’t be perfect, but it will be out best.  Tom Seaver stated so nicely, “In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.”  He is exactly right.  Strive for consistency in your life.  Be a good example to your children and to  your neighbors and to your co-workers.  Don’t get hung up on the mistake you made at work last week or the hurtful words that came out to a friend at the PTA meeting last night.  Ask God for forgiveness and look at the bigger picture.  In the end, God’s Word will direct your life in a way that is good.  The numbers will be there!  

 

“You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too. “  (Roy Campanella)  

I do believe Roy Campanella’s statement above.  Without the spark and excitement of a child, you will lose the heart of the game.  Many major leaguers have lost this spark, but the ones who haven’t are the great ones!  Relating this to our faith, 1Corinthians states, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (1Corinthians 13:11 & 14:20)

God wants us to grow in our faith into mature adults, men and women alike.  However, as our faith matures, our temptations increase.  In the same manner of maturing our faith with God, He asks us to regard sin, evil and temptation as if we were infants.  Infants do not know of these worldly things.  All they know is their basic needs, food, love and dependence.  God wants us to have a mature faith as adults, but rely on Him completely for all of our needs, and do not take part in sin, evil and temptations.  Play like a man, but keep the little boy in your heart too.  It’s a great way to remember our role that God has laid out for us.

Finally, as I wrap up my baseball blog, I encourage everyone to learn more.  Babe Ruth said, “Don’t be afraid to take advice.  There’s always something new to learn.”  Seek out the truth in the bible, in church, in small groups, in friends, neighbors, book studies, etc.  Life is not easy.  It can be enjoyable but it can also be terribly difficult.  Lean on God and use the people and resources He has placed around you to grow in your faith.  There is always more to learn, there is always more to do and there is always more ways to grow.  Don’t get stuck being content.  Stretch your spiritual limits.  Point your bat to the far wall of the outfield and them aim for the home-run!  You may make it or you may fall short.  Just do it and you won’t be disappointed!

Dad, I hope you enjoyed this blog about baseball!  Although I am now wearing a Yankee hat since my husband is a Yankee fan, my heart is still with the Mets of 1986!  I love you!