Thursday, March 24, 2011

“God can change the composition of a human heart. He can. God can transform a hateful heart into a loving heart. God can transform an apathetic heart into a strongly caring heart. God can bring passionate inclusivity into a heart that has only known passionate exclusivity.” (Pursuing Spiritual Transformation)

I’ve been thinking a lot about life… the fragility of it, the way our lives interconnect with one another, the impacts made, how our words and lives have the power to build up or tear down. So much is happening in the world, many lives have been lost. And a lot is happening in the lives of those around us. People are hurting and don’t feel as though they can share because of how others might respond. There is fear about the uncertainties, worries over health issues, and wanting to protect those we love from whatever pain we can. I’ve realized that some people are able to hand worries over or dismiss them easily, while others seem to get hung up in the intricacies of the “what ifs” and “why now”. We’re shaped by our pasts, by the rejection as well the successes. We’re molded by the experiences we’ve had and the lessons we’ve learned. The scars we have are reminders of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. Sometimes we’re able to look back in humility and see that God has walked with us through some of the darkest and hardest times. Others we struggle to remember what He has done… the blessings He has provided, the people He has put in our path and the perfect words said at the precise moment they needed to be heard. We forget the hands that have provided comfort and helped to guide us, the arms that have held us and provided security. Hurt has a way of making one focused on the wrong things, the immediate emotion and feeling. It can be all consuming… mind numbing, disabling. God has given us freedom from it, but it’s a learned process to hand it over to Him. We have to be willing to give up the control we don’t actually have and trust Him with it all. Nothing is beyond His grasp or His reach… no health condition, no broken heart, no world crisis. He governs the same today as He did on that first day. He knows each of us in a way that no one here ever will - the way we think, the way we talk, the things that make us smile and the things the overflow our hearts. I’ve struggling a long time with being as sensitive as I am… the fact that something seemingly insignificant can hurt my feelings and cause tears to fall. He knows all the things that break my heart, and the things I wish I could change about me. But I think that same sensitivity helps me to love others better. It helps me to see things from someone else’s perspective, makes me want to prevent that same hurt that I have felt, and I think it helps me to love deeper. I have so far to go, so many things to learn. But I am thankful that He has given me a tender heart that really cares about other people, and that He has given me a strong desire to make sure that people know they are special and loved. We aren’t guaranteed any time on this earth, not tomorrow or even the next second. Make sure that you tell people how much they mean to you, pick your battles and don’t let the small stuff get in the way of the important stuff. God created us for fellowship and relationships… to walk through this life with other people and enjoy the blessings of His perfect timing and provision. Let’s encourage one another – stand alongside those we care about and hold fast when they can’t. Let’s be FOR each other. Let’s pray for one another like we won’t get another opportunity to. Let’s say the things that reinforce love and hold our tongues when no good can come from it. Let’s love like there’s not tomorrow. Let’s have no regret… make sure those in your life know how much you love them today and every day, don’t allow the important words to remain left unsaid. May God change our hearts to simply love in all its capacities and let go of the rest. And may these familiar words from 1 Corinthians find new and renewed meaning. They can know us by our love….

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

If my mom were still here, she would be turning 61 today. I can’t believe it’s been 3 ½ years since she went to Heaven… or that we’ve been able to make it that long without her. The loss of her in my life felt as though it would kill me. I didn’t know how to move forward without her next to me – without her giving me daily encouragement, without the peace she put in my heart, or just knowing that she was no longer here. Today I desperately want to celebrate the life she lived, but I’m struggling to see past the fact that she didn’t get to live it long enough… that I didn’t get to have her long enough.

As time has passed, I’ve been able to see even more so how special my mom was. She loved me in a way like no one else ever will be able to. I suppose she loved me as only a mother can love her own. She was my biggest advocate, and she believed in me. She never let my hurt or anger deter her from just loving me. She knew that above all else I just needed her to be there and to show me that she wouldn’t leave me – especially when I needed it most and often least deserved it. I miss being able to talk to her and having her walk through the tough times with my sisters and me. I think we’ve all learned in the past year just how much she really carried us and protected us in the storms. A few months ago I saw a mother goose extend her wing out and tuck her babies up underneath it. It was the perfect illustration of what a mom is – she shields, protects, and shelters her babies always. I miss having my mom to do that.

Mom – as I went to bed last night, I prayed that you would be celebrated in Heaven today. I am celebrating you in my heart and know that I am who I am today because of you. It’s because you loved me so much – you told me, you showed me, and you lived that love every day. You taught me how to be sensitive to other people and how to love them with my whole heart. You gave me strength when I couldn’t find my own, and you encouraged me when you couldn’t walk along my path with me. You always said you were the one who was blessed when God chose you to be our mom, but He really blessed us – your daughters. I hope that I make you proud in the way I live, and that I carry on the love you instilled in me. Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so much!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gifts and Grief

Sometimes it's so easy to look at our lives and see the abundance of blessings, and God's gentle guidance. Other times, it feels as though we diligently seek to see what His plans are, and in what ways He is trying to grow and strengthen us, and we come up short in response. Sometimes it feels like feast or famine. Thus the reason it is so important to remember that God is with us... to always trust in His plans and His provision in our lives, even when we cannot see it.

I feel that I have overcome a lot in my grief this year... that in some ways the pain has dulled a little and that I've learned to work through the different stages as they surface yet again. I have seen so completely that I am okay, and that I will be okay no matter what because my God is right by my side. But as Thanksgiving approached, my heart became a little more heavy, and it's following suit for Christmas. I just genuinely miss my mom. I miss our traditions of decorating the Christmas tree while listening to a particular Amy Grant Christmas cd. I miss having everyone together at her house. I miss the sound of her voice and her smile and laughter. I just miss her. I learned this year that God indeed knows the desires of my heart, and that He meets them in the most beautiful and special of ways. I know that despite feeling alone, I never really am. And I know that He sees the tears I cry, and that He keeps each one. Even knowing all of these amazing promises, and holding each one close to my heart, I still hurt. I sometimes feel as though my emotions are going to take over... that maybe it's not okay to cry but rather at this point I should be strong and not grieving anymore. It's been three years, but I'm still learning how to live without my mom.

My prayer tonight is that my heart will be filled with His love, and that Joy will overcome every other emotion I have right now. Our Savior left Heaven to come and rescue a sinner like me. We should celebrate His birth and all that it represents for us. Each circumstance and experience in our lives occur for a reason, and He'll use every one of them for good. I know that my mom's death is ultimately what brought me back to Jesus... and I wouldn't trade where I am with Him for anything in this world. He is my life, my strength, my very breath. And in every thing I will praise Him... with each remembrance of my mom I will thank Him for blessing me with someone so special for 26 years... with each smile from my nieces and nephews, I will praise Him for the innocence and unconditional love of a child... with every phone call from someone I love, and each message I get, I will praise Him for the ways He's so graciously blessed me and gifted me with love, friendship, and understanding. I know that so often I fall short in praising Him during the painful moments, but I'm so glad that He sees into my heart and knows that I want to even when I can't muster the strength to lift my hands.

Merry Christmas! May you be blessed with more love than your hearts can hold, and may you feel true peace that comes from knowing Jesus.

In Him~

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Twin

Each year it seems my appreciation grows for my twin sister. Growing up we never realized the significance, or uniqueness, of being an identical twin. We longed for our own identities, separation from our look alike… constantly seeking to find the differences and striving to be better than each other. In the last year I’ve been reminded so many times that other people still see our similarities, and marvel at how cool it must be to be a twin. Each time someone would say something I’d call Terra and tell her that people were asking my how “my” kids were, or that I just had a full conversation with someone that believed I was their insurance agent. It sounds funny, but those little thing are sweet reminders of how special He created us, and that it is cool being a twin.

In the last year, I’ve had the privilege of watching my sister become a mom for the 2nd time. I’ve seen her marriage thrive, my precious nephew grow, and met my niece. I’ve seen new characteristics in the person that is supposed to be so much like me. She has taken on new challenges, new perspectives, and sacrificed. I wish she could see herself as I see her… the amazing strength that I know she possesses, what an incredible mom she is, how much love and caring she gives to others. I love watching her with Noah and Madison - that despite how little sleep she’s had or how anxious she may feel, her love for them just pours forth. You can’t look at Terra with her kids and not see how much she loves them. I am so glad that my sister married the love of her life, and that they have such a sweet and beautiful family.

I know you’ve experienced some new things this last year, Ter, and that you’re in the midst of finding out just how strong you are. But I want you to know that I admire you for the person you are, and the person you’re becoming. I have so much faith in you, knowing that you’re going to come through this time of trial as more than a conqueror. I am thanking God for another year with you, to be close to you and your family, and that He’s reminded me so sweetly what special bond we have. I don’t know what it’s like to not be a twin, but I know that I love being your twin. You mean so much to me, Terra, and my prayer is that God will flood you with His peace, and that this year will be one of growth, that you will draw closer to Him, and that you’ll see yourself as He sees you. You’re beautiful and amazing - and I want you to see those traits in yourself. Happy Birthday my sweet sister - GBS TONS and TONS!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Love...

I have had the incredible privilege of being truly loved by my mom. I know that not everyone has gotten to have their mom in their life, or had a good relationship with her. I, however, had a mom that loved me as much as life, and told me so often. She was always loving on us, spending time with us, and telling us how special we were... she gave her daughters everything she had. She taught me how to love, the meaning of empathy, and the blessings that come from giving of yourself.

Even though today is bittersweet for me, I'm so thankful to our loving God for giving me such a wonderful mom. She shaped me in ways that I'm still learning, and she loved me in a way that only my own mom could. She gave me life, made me laugh, and taught me so many lasting things. He chose the perfect person to be my mom! I'm also thanking God for the amazing women He has put in my life. I am loved by many moms, many friends. He has provided for me with so many of you - the love you give, the acceptance you show, and friendships you provide. I am such a lucky girl!! :) Thank you for being a part of my life!

I wish each of you a very Happy Mother's Day! I'm so grateful to have each of you in my life, and for those of you with sweet babies - thank you for letting me share in their lives with you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Having God Means Peace....

I'm still going over the events of the past week in my mind... it was trying, sad, and difficult. By the end of it, I had allowed fear and anxiety to take hold of me - to question what the future holds and the path I'm on, to really think about what I want. I can say with certainty that my faith carried me this week... He carried me.

It seems like during times of stress, I miss my mom more. I dream about her, and she's always just out of reach - I can't actually touch her or have a conversation with her. It's painful, and always saddens me that things can't be right even in my dreams. This week was no different. When things are changing around me, I long to have her next to me... to hear her voice tell me that it's going to be okay, that I'll be okay. I just need her familiarity, and the comfort of my mom, the sound of her reassurance. She seemed to fill the cracks I get when I can no longer handle the pressure .

I have many things to be thankful for though, and I've been choosing daily to focus on those things. My life is "rich". I have much more to be thankful for than those for which I'm not. The biggest of those being my Savior, and all that He has done for me.

Having Christ in my life means I'm never alone. It means that although my circumstances may not be perfect, I can have peace in my heart and a calmness in my soul. I never have to question whether or not I'll be okay because I am always resting in His hands. When fear, doubt and loneliness seem to surround me, His presence becomes even more real in my life. He continually provides me with a love that covers it all. When I sacrifice it all to the One who gave his all for me, my eyes are opened to the purest and most enduring relationship I've ever experienced. Having Him means that I have freedom to love - love others, support them and encourage them, and by doing so draw closer to Him. He has commanded us to love others, and as we do He pours out his blessings upon us. Being able to live in that freedom is exhilarating.

It means that no matter what else is happening in my life - He is unchanging, constant, a strong tower and safe place to rest. When I relinquished all the things I'd been harboring and carrying, I was freed up to focus on the now and not the things I can't change. I woke up yesterday feeling refreshed, and alive in Him. I was able to simple "be", and enjoy the beauty of the day and the people that I got to spend time with. The way God works never ceases to humble me and amaze me. I'm always filled with an overflowing amount of gratitude for the things He chooses to do. One of the things our pastor said in his sermon this morning was that when we choose to be thankful, it helps put things in the correct perspective. That's exactly what it did for me this weekend! I chose to be thankful for the things I DO have, and all that He has done for me - and seemingly the other things started to shift down in my mind. I am, and will continue, to focus on the good things. I know that my present and my future are resting in His hands -- what does that leave me to worry about? Not a whole lot... :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Replacing Rejection With Worth...

Do you ever feel like God is speaking directly to you? As though He wants you to grasp something so badly that He continually pushes a point until you relinquish control and accept His promise? I feel as though that’s exactly how He’s been communicating with me lately… like it’s a final big push to let go of the things that I’ve been carrying around and lay them down for Him – from conversations with different people, to my devotional, His word, and yes, even today’s sermon. It humbles me that He knows my heart so completely, that He knows the things I’ve hidden away and tried to forget, and that He wants those to be offered as a sacrifice with everything else.

I’ve learned that the people we believe we can place our trust in may let us down and hurt us; That God will place the right people in your life during the seasons when you will need them the most; and that after accepting Christ, you will NEVER walk alone. I’ve learned that carrying the burden of your pain alone is not conducive to letting it go, and that tremendous relief follows after sharing your scars with someone close to you. God did not intend for us to shoulder our sin for all of eternity… He chose to take it for us that we may walk lighter, and share of His unending grace and mercy. So why do we hold onto it? Letting it go doesn’t forgive it, but it gives one the freedom to move forward and grow from the experiences, to learn how to lean into God and find shelter under his mighty wings.

Psalms 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I can attest to the fact that He indeed heals those who are brokenhearted… when you feel as though you don’t have the strength to take another breath or go through another day, He will carry you! And as we allow Him to heal the broken places, He will begin a work in our hearts and start to build us up in Him. The words spoken that have hung like shackles around you will begin to loosen, and God’s Words will be put in place of them. Only God can change the way we think and feel… with the small stipulation that we have to let Him.

I seem to struggle with is my true worth… having the confidence to do things because it’s for Him and not for people. I have allowed others’ words hurt me, kept them buried deep inside, and allowed them to direct my path. When I want to step out and try something new, they rise up and stop me. When I sense rejection on the horizon, I believe that I’m just not good enough, or that I can’t love enough. I received so much love growing up… words of encouragement and praise. And yet the negative things I heard seem to trump the good, leaving me doubtful of my abilities and my self esteem diminished. In Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only, Beth Moore writes, “When we accept our real value to God, we don’t have anything left to prove. We can be real because we are of great value to the only True Judge. Believing our great value to God frees us from unnecessary fear.” Could it be that it truly doesn’t matter what other people think? That God’s acceptance alone is the only thing worth striving for? I am learning that if someone really loves me, they are going to love me for who I am, not who I pretend to be. I will be received for the things that I can offer, not those I can’t, and that even if I’m not accepted by someone, I have worth and value because I belong to Him. This is a time of growth for me…. And I know that when I come out of the Refiner’s Fire, I’m going to be stronger and more confident. I’m thankful for the other paths that have crossed mine, for the special friends that I can share with, and for God’s patience while I work toward walking in real freedom. Our God is so good. My prayer is that each of us sees our true worth and value… how He sees us and not as we view ourselves. We’re priceless and precious to Him, let’s live like it!