Monday, December 26, 2016

Brighter Days, Higher Hopes

"He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'..." - Job 37:6

**Photography by Melissa Talbot


When the time comes for Christmas to be celebrated, the world seems to take a pause. A rest. Living in this country of Canada affords incredible freedoms and privileges that enable a greater awareness of that pause. That for a short while, all hardship, fighting, and difficulties appear to cease.

Unfortunately, for those who don't know Jesus or living in dangerous places/situations, may find it very difficult to have hope. That taking a pause or knowing rest is a foreign concept.

As a Christian, Christmas is an incredible time because it brings to mind the wonder and blessing of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born in a stable, laid in a manger, under the bright star in Bethlehem.

For Christians, that single birth represents the hope, joy, peace, and spectacular reassurance of greater things to come. Like the promise of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.

For me, this time of year causes deep reflection on the past twelve months and things that have changed and grown, both inwardly and outwardly. Thoughts come of how God has worked in my life, heart, mind, and spirit in wonderful and unexpected ways.

How He has changed things for the better as my pursuit of Him quickens. How good and faithful He continues to be even during those times of heartbreak and struggle.

Which brings about other thoughts during reflection. Thoughts of another year without the manifestation of marriage. Of hopes and dreams dashed and unfulfilled even though God knows what desires lie deep within. God given desires.

Even though tears are shed and the pain of disappointment runs deep, God always brings other blessings along to over shadow the things that were wished for to be waiting in pretty wrapping under the tree.

Blessings like sharing tidings of the season with friends. Spending time with family around a buffet of home cooking. Being present in each moment of the blessing so as not to miss a single word, glance, or smile. Hugging those tightly who have only come for a short while, wishing they could stay longer. Sharing in the announcement and celebration of wonderful news.

Those are the things to hold on to because they will keep you hoping for the things yet to come. Greater things beyond imagination and comprehension. At least that is my hope and belief.

So choosing to soak in the happiness and joy of right now instead of being sorrowful for the things that still haven't happened is my posture right now. Every effort will be made to remain in that posture so that every day can be enjoyed. This, my friend, is my great hope for you as this Christmas season, once again, passes away and the dawn of a new year quickly approaches.

As the cone in this post's picture looks forward to new life in the coming spring, it is my hope that you will also look forward to the coming year. That the past would be left behind. That the present would be cherished, even in the tough times, and that the future would be something that invokes excitement.

Encouragement for the week:

As enjoyable and exciting as this time of year can be, it may also be overwhelming and stressful.

Expectations placed on us by others can, sometimes, place a damper on what we hoped Christmas would be.

May I just encourage you, this week, to take time by yourself to reflect on the past year. Think about the things you faced and overcame. About the changes that happened not only in you, for the better, but also in others or in your life situation.

In spite of the pain, hurt, or disappointment you may have incurred in the past year, a new year is about to dawn and the possibilities and opportunities for you are endless.

If you are a Christian reading this, you not only have the extraordinary joy of knowing your salvation is secured as you follow God and live your life for Him, but each day with Him is also an adventure. Yes, even in the ordinary, mundane, monotonous days.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can share in the great hope that I and others have within the personal relationship we share with God and Jesus Christ. A hope that will bring you peace, joy, contentment, and the excitement of greater things to come by knowing Jesus.



I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. For those who struggle during the holidays, I pray for great peace and comfort to wash over you. I pray for hope to fill you all as we approach a new year.

**The photo in this post is the debut of my photography. I hope you enjoy this picture and each one to come. Each photo has also been inspired by Scripture found in the Bible.**













Monday, December 19, 2016

Tis The Season


When someone I love is hurting, it's difficult and painful to stand by, being unable to do something to lessen their pain. Most times, it's hard to know what to say. Praying, for me, has been a way of helping.

At this time of year, our hearts should be filled with joy and excitement to spend time with friends and family. We should be looking forward to festive meals, relaxation, laughter, and reflection on the reason behind the season.

For the first time in a really long time, I have joy, peace, and excitement for this time of year. Being freed from things that used to burden and changing my mindset has made all the difference. A difference that has only happened through a relationship with Christ. I'm beyond grateful for the turnaround this year.

For decades, this season only meant loneliness, rejection, hurt, and without cause for celebration. So it's very easy to understand the plight of friends and family who struggle at Christmastime.

The reasons can be many behind not feeling all too merry or engaging in the meaning of this time of year. Some reasons that, recently and personally, resonate with me are someone who lost their home to the cruel and unbiased nature of fire. Another moved out of their marital home, facing divorce, with three small children.

My heart cries out, "This is so unfair. Why them? Why now? Why this time of year, or any time of year for that matter?" Though the questions go unanswered, it's hard to reconcile these things when hurt is the end product.

As a Christian, I have not only known great hurt, still do, but there is a source to help heal and restore a hurting heart. That source has been God and Jesus Christ. That's why this time of year holds so much more hope and joy than ever before. A hope and joy that remains a great desire, of mine, for others to know.

Along with a want to reach into the depths of another person's pain filled life to pull them into hope. Hope to live another day, to trudge ahead, to dream again. Hope to look beyond the brutal reality and see the absolute truth that things will get better and the fog will fade away with the rising sun.

Hope was the thing I was desperate for the most throughout life. When my son was taken from me, when the divorce papers were served, when the addictions took over. Hope would have really been good but there was very little to none most days.

When I became a Christian and things were changing within, the learned and experienced things of Jesus brought hope. A fuel laden, dynamite charged fire of hope that helped a broken heart to beat again.

So, as the days draw closer to Christmas and my reason for the season, Christ, hope stirs and rises as desires for others to experience that same hope does. Not just for those I know, but for everyone around the globe who don't yet know the promise and joy that hope in Jesus brings.

Encouragement for the week:

You are loved. In your loneliness, your broken relationship, the loss of your home, or whatever brokenness you are facing, you are loved. Beyond measure, beyond your own understanding. There is nothing you have to do to earn this love. It's yours for the asking.

I know you're hurting, especially this time of year, and I may not know the right words to say. I have been where you are, in that place of hurt, and sometimes a listening ear might be all you need but it's here for you. Whenever you need it.

I understand and care and desire that you know the same hope and joy I found, not only for this time of year, but all year round.

If you are a Christian reading this, it is my hope that you cling to the reason for this season, Jesus Christ and that His birth would bring fresh joy and hope into your heart.

If you are not a Christian reading this, it is my great hope that you would look for Jesus and reach out to Him to experience all the hope, joy, and peace that He desires you to enjoy.



I wish to thank all of my dedicated readers and followers for being a part of my blog success so far. May you all have a very Merry Christmas. Get caught up in the little things and do away with the trivial. Enjoy each moment because there are no do overs. Time is precious and the amount we each have on this earth is unknown, so enjoy your life.









Monday, December 12, 2016

Awestruck And Gobsmacked


In my singleness really-wish-it-was-over-already journey, I feel like I have been climbing the emotional and spiritual equivalent of Mount Everest.

I know that many people have tried to get to the top of this infamous mountain. Some were successful, others were not and had to return to the bottom. Some lost their lives trying to achieve their dream of reaching the summit.

Even though I have never attempted the climb, I think I may have a sense of what those, who tackled the real mountain, experienced.

In this season of my singleness, I don't think I was fully prepared for what was going to be required to make this journey. I know I was not ready for the length of it and it often felt like my season was ALWAYS winter with blizzard after blizzard.

Each subsequent step upward seemed to take more effort than the last. At times, it became hard to breathe and I would have to camp in one spot for hours, sometimes days because the storm just became too much.

Often, there was exhaustion, impatience, pleading, frustration, and discouragement ruling every part of me. It took everything I had to want to continue up the daunting mountain.

There was even that voice inside that said I would never get to the top. That I would never overcome the doubt and fear that plagued me.

This might seem a bit dramatic, but I felt like I would die on that mountain of singleness. Never realizing the sweet taste of victory over the misery my status often brought.

Yet, something inside of me kept telling me to hold on, fight through the tears, and resume the climb. Keep on toward the summit of marriage that, I believe, God has in store for me.

Interestingly enough, after nine and a half years of climbing, I stumbled upon a hidden pre-summit this past week. Frankly, it was like a five star cup of hot chocolate, with mini marshmallows, suddenly appearing to warm and thaw this woman-sicle.

As I drank carefully but desperately, I could feel joy and contentment filling me. Almost to overflowing. The more I drank, the more hot chocolate came.

My heart burst with gratitude as this spiritual beverage filled every longing crevasse. The experience left me awestruck and gobsmacked to say the least.

There is a man in the Bible by the name of Paul. I guess you could say that he, spiritually, climbed Mount Everest too. He would talk about his experiences of telling people about Jesus and the opposition he encountered.

He was beaten, flogged, shipwrecked, threatened, and so much more. You would think he'd pack it in early on in his climb.

As much misfortune that came his way, Paul kept climbing and he kept an optimism that few could muster, myself included. In fact, he delighted in pointing out that in spite of everything that was done to him and all he had to go through, he had joy and contentment.

I'm thankful to say that after all these years of climbing and struggling that I can, honestly and finally, relate to how Paul is feeling and it is so incredible. It almost makes the climb, thus far, worth it...almost.

I have to say that I am looking forward, more and more, to reaching the top of my Mount Everest. To stand at the top in complete awe after this long and arduous climb.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my hot chocolate, with mini marshmallows, all the way to the top.

Encouragement for the week:

Do you feel like you are climbing Mount Everest? You are not alone, my friend.

Though the way is difficult and the journey is taking all you've got, take a break but keep going. You'll reach your summit if you persevere.

If you are a Christian reading this, keep looking up, into the eyes of God and don't take them off Him for ANYTHING. You're going to make it if you don't give up.

If you are not a Christian reading this, God knows your every heartache and cares for you. He and Jesus want a relationship with you. They love you beyond measure. Look for them and you will find them.

Time for more hot chocolate.








Monday, December 5, 2016

Making Something Out Of Nothing?


I think it's fair to say that we all have scars. Some are external and noticeable. Others are hidden deep within us.

Whether superficial or long and deep, scars are permanent. Permanent marks that may have come as a result of a traumatic time in our lives.

Marks that appear because of something someone did or said to hurt us. Or maybe it was something someone didn't say or do that caused the damage.

No matter what the situation or person, scars develop and they sting. The physical scars can be seen and may remind us of something we long to forget.

The deep scars, those of the heart, might even torment us, causing us to set ourselves on a course we were never meant to plot. On a journey we were never meant to take.

I have scars. I have one on the top of my left hand that a family dog left when I was really young. It always makes me chuckle when I look at the scar and know exactly what caused it. It's amazing what the mind remembers.

Then there are the deeper scars. The ones I allowed to shape me into someone I was never meant to become. Someone who allowed the marks to slowly destroy herself.

Scars made of cutting words and abusive actions that wore me down and kept me in a place of anger, rejection, and self-hatred. The combination of these which made it easy to immerse myself in alcohol, drug and sexual addictions.

It's all I knew at the time to get through each day, to get through life. Even life became a struggle to want to live and I, often, contemplated suicide, attempting it many times.

When I became a Christian in May of 2007, the scars were still very much there but God began to change my understanding about those scars. Over the years He has been helping me to see them no longer as scars but as building blocks.

Building blocks to make something good out of something very real and very painful. Construction pieces of hurt turned into healing, immorality into integrity, and rage into restoration.

God began healing the very things I had been using to destroy myself and others. He was taking all of my anger and transforming it into love, empathy and compassion for others.

Turning my self-hatred, insecurity and insignificance into respect, understanding and forgiveness for myself and others.

God is still healing my innermost scars today. Scars I wasn't fully aware of. It's beautiful, to me, how God has never left me where I'm at and only loves me to a better place I never thought I could reach within.

Such an instance occurred yesterday when I heard a powerful message on the force that feelings of a broken heart and rejection can have. Feelings such as anger, being easily offended, and having a controlling/manipulative nature.

I was caught off guard with my mouth gaping wide as the words from the message reached deeper and deeper into me.

As hard as it was to hear the pastor speak on the topic, I couldn't deny that I felt as though he was speaking directly to me. Which was a good thing because those were feelings I had been fighting against for many years.

It was through the message and God's love and grace for me that I felt healed of my issues with rejection and all the feelings I had been carrying, associated with it.

Becoming a Christian doesn't guarantee a painless journey filled with lollipops and kittens (not to sound lame). It does guarantee that we will always be in a time of change and I have come to know and experience that change is good even when it might seem bad at the time.

God wants us to become better because of His love for you and me. He's not going to stop at good. He's aiming for getting us to our very best, but only if we're willing.

For me, I am beyond thankful and grateful that my scars won't be for nothing. Instead, they will all be used to build something. Something really good and so will yours.

Encouragement for the week:

I know you have scars. I know there are some you would rather forget. Don't let those scars define you. Don't let them destroy you.

God doesn't make junk, that includes you. Whether you are a Christian or not.

You are more than the scars you have incurred. God wants to take those scars and turn them into building blocks for something very good.

Something far beyond your own imagination.

If you are a Christian reading this, God wants to heal you using those scars to build you up, not send you crumbling to the ground. I pray you let Him.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can know Jesus for yourself if you look for Him and let Him and God take you and turn you into what I KNOW is beautiful.

Let the building begin.














Monday, November 28, 2016

In The Eye Of The Storm


It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than one month away!

I have no idea where the time went!

For me, Christmas brings peace, hope and joy because of what happened at that time over two thousand years ago, the arrival of a Savior, Jesus Christ.

However, this time of year doesn't bring peace or joy for a lot of people.

It seems our world is in greater turmoil than ever before.

People are more anxious, worried, and depressed.

Sometimes the circumstances and difficulties in our lives can take us to a very dark place.

I recently read a story on Facebook about a beautiful mother who took her life as a result of post-partum depression.

This is a form of depression brought on after the birth of a baby.

I can't even imagine the loss felt but I do know the pain that woman was enduring and how it took everything to live when I was fighting PPD as a new mom.

When you are in the eye of the storm of pain, it's hard to find hope, joy or peace.

It takes everything you have to make it through the next five minutes, then the next five, then the next five.

It breaks my heart to hear of so many people in our world be in pain.

Within my own difficulties, it's hard not to let the pain be a crutch even though I want it to stop.

Often stopping it means going for a walk, talking to a friend, asking for prayer, or listening to music.

Music...

There is something about music and its words that are transformational.

I have had difficult circumstances change in an instant because of a song.

I mean THAT song. The one that is like a hand pulling you out of the emotional quicksand you, somehow, stepped into.

I think there is something to be said for the billion dollar music industry.

Music has the power to soothe, shake and save.

For me, Christian music and the hope the lyrics possess save me every time even when they may bring me to tears.

There is a song that has been playing on the radio almost every time I get into my car.

I call that a God-incident because I don't believe in coincidence.

It's a song that reminds me of how far I have come and who I am.

It also reminds me of the One, God, who saved my life.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning with some of the lyrics playing in my head!

I'd like to share some of those lyrics:

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm 


Encouragement for the week:

I know you're hurting and that it feels like the pain won't stop.

Can I encourage you to find that one song...you know the one, that changes things when you listen to it.

That changes you, for the better.

That makes your heart feel lighter and pretty soon you are singing along even though tears are streaming down your face.

Whether it is a mainstream song or Christian song.

Play it. Play it LOUD. Play it again and again and again until the hurt subsides and you feel some relief.

Let it surround you and immerse you in peace.

You are loved.

Monday, November 21, 2016

This Is Risky Business


This past week, I have been pondering the risks of believing.

Believing in something strongly or in yourself.

Believing beyond what you see in front of you.

Believing things that reside firmly in your heart.

And how these beliefs can bring challenges...opposition.

Opposition can manifest itself in many ways.

From an inner self-doubt to an external, judgemental attitude from a close friend.

Either one can be defeating and cause you to give up on what you really, truly believe in.

Whether it's a desire to pursue a completely different career, knowing it's going to take a lot of hard work to get there.

Or to stand up for something you believe in despite what others close to you say against it.

Or to believe in yourself to achieve things that are scary.

When I first became a Christian in 2007, it was easy for me to believe God and in God.

Experiencing His deep love, peace, and acceptance for me was so powerful and real, I was changed in dramatic ways.

So dramatic that I lost friends.

Even in my brokenness of loss, I still believed that believing in God and Jesus would have risks worth taking.

Risks like going to Uganda for two weeks alone to help at an orphanage even when people thought I was nuts to do so.

Risks like giving up everything, even my car, to follow God to Costa Rica for five months, or maybe forever.

Risks like choosing to follow God over my deep love for another person.

Risks like choosing to believe and trust God for my future even when my greatest heart's desire continues to go unmet.

Even moreso, believing and trusting in the midst of doubt and fear.

Some may say that believing in and following God is equal to gambling...risky business.

Betting against the odds with your entire life's savings.

For me, I have only known God to be one thing.

A sure thing.

Someone to believe in and bet all I have on, and come out with no regrets.

Someone who has kept me believing in the face of all the risks, sacrifices, and heart breaks.

Encouragement for this week:

What do you believe in?

What is stopping you from believing in yourself to achieve anything, even what you think is impossible?

Are you willing to risk believing beyond the opposition?

As Christians and Non-Christians, we have all experienced opposition in our lives.

We have also struggled to believe in something or ourselves.

You are stronger than the opposition. Push through!

There is a great encouragement in the Bible that helps me to keep going when I feel like I have hit a wall.

When I feel like I have nothing left and struggle to believe.

It says: "...suffering (difficulty) produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Book of Romans, Chapter 5, Verse 3 and 4)

Don't give up! Keep persevering!

Even though your difficulty may be bringing you hurt, that hurt is transforming you into someone incredible!

Someone ready to achieve the unimaginable!


















Monday, November 14, 2016

What You See Is What You Get


For the past week, I have been filled with a deep, indescribable peace.

A peace that has brought me restful sleep without being woken by doubt and anxiety.

The eviction notice worked! The squatters (self-defeating thoughts) are gone! I choose to keep it that way!

The peace is a welcome reprieve and I know God is behind it.

It's amazing how different things are now that I have peace.

I have clear and rational thought patterns and I'm not ruled by feelings and emotions...as much.

The inner calm has also enabled me to hear more clearly from God and what He wants me to do. That is to trust Him. *gulp*

I have shared in the past that I have trust issues.

Since becoming a Christian, I know that one of the key components of maturing in faith is to trust God implicitly.

To let go of my own control and let God, with whom I have shared a very close relationship, take care of things. All things.

Much easier said than done.

There are still days that I believe I can do a better job with my life than God. When will I ever learn?

I think it's because I have forgotten the mess I made when I took over so I think I can do better if given another chance.

Wrong!!!

However, with this peace so strong within me, giving up control has definitely become easier.

Yet it still comes with speed bumps.

One of the major bumps being trusting God for my future.

Moreso, trusting Him for the continued desire and longing for marriage.

Trusting Him to make things happen without seeing anything materialize until the time is perfect.

Trusting Him to know what I need and when I need it.

In all honesty, waiting for something this BIG to happen without any outward encouragement sucks.

One of my top three love languages is words of encouragement. In this case, I need it to be acts of encouragement.

I want a sign, a text, a billboard from God telling me when all this is going to go down.

When God is going to pull the theoretical trigger on my greatest desire.

The unknown can be an exciting place to be. I've experienced it.

However, this kind of unknown is not exciting. It's heart breaking and frustrating.

Don't get me wrong, I have had times of calmness and contentment while single, as I wait.

Just not all that often.

So, what I am seeing is what I get.

A blank canvas I am waiting on God to paint.

A desert I am walking through in hopes of coming across that oasis of food, drink, and merriment.

So, in order to get over my trust issues, whether with myself and/or God, I have to make a decision.

Do I want to be more than who I am in God right now? Yes!

Do I want to do the work required to be greater than my doubts, fears, and anxieties? Heck ya!!

Then that leaves me one option...one route. To trust God. To trust Jesus.

I just know, that I know, that I can trust the One who died for me. So can you.

Here goes nothin'!!!!

Encouragement for today:

Pain is universal and inevitable in the world we live in.

Whatever pain or heart break you are going through, you are not alone.

While it seems very unpleasant right now, something will come out of this. Something beautiful.

Your pain will not be in vain and it will make you stronger than before the tragedy crossed your path.

I know there are days it gets hard to breathe and it takes everything you have to get out of bed in the morning.

Get up. Don't give up!

If you know Jesus, you know there is peace and calm in this storm. You can trust Him.

If you don't know Jesus, look for Him and you will find Him and you will find peace.

I pray wherever you are, whatever you are going through, that you would know it will be okay. YOU will be okay.









Monday, November 7, 2016

When All Avenues Have Been Exhausted


I'm exhausted. Spritually, physically, and emotionally.

This past week has become a dead end for everything in me with the exception of my mind.

For some reason, the others didn't give the exhaustion memo to my brain.

It keeps reeling with thoughts that don't want to shut off or shut up until I go to sleep at night.

Sometimes, I wake up in the morning immediately riddled with thoughts and anxiety.

I've been told I have a tendency to over think things.

That I will read into things that are just not there. 

Guilty as charged. I'm not sure how I got here. I blame the Google maps of my mind.

For misdirecting me from the path, I thought, I was doing a great job at following. 

Not so much, apparently.

Lately, I have had doubt and anxiety about many things. Things that have, literally, woken me from peaceful slumber.

Some of them are:
  • My future (Do I even have one? Is it as a married woman?)
  • My gifts and talents given to me by God
  • My ability to make a living from my passions

There are more self-deprecating thoughts but I think you know what I am talking about.

We all have doubts about ourselves. We all have fears that might even prevent us from reaching our full potential.

Some of those things might even keep us up at night, stealing our sleep and peace of mind.

They've been stealing mine.

So what do I do? Allow all of it to consume me? To keep me in a hole that I never wanted to dig in the first place?

Everything we do, I do, involves a choice.

Will I allow my head to dictate to the rest of me that I am not stronger than the lies swimming in it?

Will I give anxiety and doubt free living space in my head?

As exhausted as I am, right now, I choose to say, "HECK NO!!!"

I choose, right now, to look at the Cross, where Jesus died FOR ME, to be freed from doubt and anxiety.

I choose to let go of all the useless stuff floating in my brain, taking up valuable space.

I choose to lay everything down and let God deal with it so that I can rest in the peace Christ died to give me.

I choose to serve an eviction notice, today, to all the thoughts that have been squatting in my head. Get out and don't come back!

I also choose to say, out loud, things that I am thankful for. Even the silly things like organic butter and pumpkin french toast.

I may still feel exhausted but these avenues, this dead end, are places where I can rest, assured of God's love and peace.

Encouragement for today: For all of you out there who battle with the enemies of doubt and anxiety, please know that you are greater and more valuable than the sum of your thoughts.

You are stronger than any of the crud that's swimming around in your head.

I pray that you would know true peace and victory in pushing aside those thoughts and that you would find rest.

For those of you who know Jesus, you know the incredible and indescribable peace that can come from knowing Him. Fight your way back to that.

For those of you who don't know Jesus, I can attest that there is no greater peace and rest that comes from knowing Jesus through a personal relationship with Him. 








Monday, October 31, 2016

Sow & Reap



I REALLY enjoy exercising! Whether walking or weightlifting, exercise has been my best therapy for decades.

If I'm angry, I exercise. If I'm frustrated, I exercise. If I'm stressed out, I exercise. If I'm...well, you get the idea.

Even in the frustration and sorrow of my singleness, I exercise by walking.

For some reason, when I am having a particularly difficult day in accepting my single status, walking brings calmness.

A calm I can't quite explain but welcome because, in all reality, I have no idea when I will no longer be single.

Of course while I walk out my struggle I also vent.

Lately I have noticed something, however, that isn't good.

There is a place in the Bible that talks about sowing and reaping. That is, planting seeds that will bring about a harvest.

Like farmers, we as humans can plant seeds (feelings, thoughts, emotions) in our soil (hearts and minds).

These seeds can bring about a crop (result) of weeds (negativity) or bushels of wheat (goodness).

It's up to us to decide how that crop is going to turn out depending on the kind of fertilizer (information) we choose.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but my fertilizer has been a weed grower.

I have been taking my eyes off the ball (God) and gotten myself onto an island, population: 1.

I have been harboring feelings of anger, resentment, and self-pity about my singleness.

Whining about the very status that I said last week I was trusting God with. Did I not??? *sigh*

Luckily, God wasn't really keen on letting me have a pity party and getting lost in my emotions.

Interestingly enough, I started to hear messages about sowing and reaping.

That if I sow bad thoughts and feelings of resentment or anger, soon they will manifest into other things.

Like bitterness, unforgiveness, and animosity.

Woah.

That was enough to stop me in my tracks and I broke down, sobbing.

I didn't want to be a person who held anything against anyone even though I never really knew who I was holding these things against.

Myself? God? Married people?

Yesterday, in coming to this realization, I went for a really long walk in the sunshine and talked (prayed) to God.

I mean I REALLY laid it out. Fully aware of who I had slowly become and QUICKLY wanting to get rid of her.

I started confessing all the things I was holding in my heart that, I knew, shouldn't be there.

You know what happened? They stopped.

The negative feelings, the self-pity...stopped.

Instead, I felt calm and at peace. As soon as I switched my fertilizer from bad to good, it made my heart (the soil) feel better.

I even had peace, without any worry, about my single status and I felt like I could really breathe for the first time in a long time.

I couldn't help but thank God for helping me go through that experience.

Showing me that even though I'm not happy about being single, I can be okay with it for now. That I can even have peace with it.

I want to sow good things into my heart and life so that I'm not walking around in misery while I'm waiting.

I want to encourage you today that if you are in the waiting room of singleness, you are not alone.

For some, it's been a really long wait.

I know it's not easy waiting. I'm sorry and I understand.

I'm waiting with you and am here for you. The negativity will come sometimes but fight to hold on to positivity.

Go for a walk if you need to. Throw a fit if you have to but, please, don't stay there.

Start each day by looking for something good, even if it's something small.

Sometimes I start the day with something I am thankful for.

Whatever you need to take the edge off.

Be good to yourself and say some kind words to yourself.

You're worth it.












Monday, October 24, 2016

Contentment

con·tent·ment
noun
  1. a state of happiness and satisfaction.



Last week was a big one for me. I shared something I never thought I would share on paper, never mind on a public platform.

I shared my dislike...no, hatred for being single.

I have never gone to singles sites or speed dated.

So you would think that because I hate being single so much that I would put myself out there.

That I would dangle personal information on as many 'reputable' dating sites as possible...right?

Well, that's just not me. I'm a pretty private person which becomes debunked as soon as you look at my blog! Hahaha

Now that I got that out of the way, the truth is that I have entrusted my future spouse to God.

Of course that was after I gave God my short list of attributes my husband had to have.

Things like making me laugh, being weird like me, and having mesmerizing blue eyes. Just to name a few.

He also had to love God and want a simple, quiet life.

So, what did it mean when I gave that list to God and trusted Him with the details?

WAITING! A LOT OF WAITING! Still waiting! Obviously.

It also means that if I am trusting God, I am also having to adhere to His timetable in bringing my husband to my front door, sorta speak.

THAT then means I have to be content to wait. To be happy and satisfied as the definition of contentment implies.

I can't do that. I already tried. I only get frustrated and impatient!

Is it that contentment is a state of mind? A decision to be at peace with my singleness nemesis until it's TIME?

I don't know when that time is. Knowing that sobering reality kind of, well, sucks.

Maybe contentment comes in different forms.

Like being comfortable and confident in my own skin which I think, for the most part, I am.

Or maybe it is deciding to enjoy my singleness while I'm still single. What does that entail?

Maybe it even means talking to married couples to get a closer, more in depth perspective of what married life can REALLY look like.

I only have numerous online articles and less than casual exchanges to hold as 'marriage prep' information.

I want to be content while I'm waiting in limbo for marriage but struggle to be in the waiting room.

What does contentment mean to you? I want to hear from you! Let's talk!




Monday, October 17, 2016

Confession Time


Last week I wrote a post in line with Thanksgiving Day and expressing several of the things in my life that I am thankful for.

Since that post, I have felt like God wants me to go so much more deeper and talk about something that I am scared to talk about.

So, I have a confession to make. Remember one of the things I mentioned I was thankful for was singleness?

Well, I'm not thankful for my singleness. I don't like being single. At times, I hate being single.

If you would have asked me ten or fifteen years ago if I ever wanted to be married again, I would have loudly laughed in your face while fervently saying, "No freakin' way!"

I was living life 'freely' without consequence and with quite a bit of malice while enjoying my many freedoms of being single.

I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, I never had to answer to ANYONE, and I never had to get permission to do what I wanted. It was nirvana, even though I'm not a Buddhist. Hahahaha

I was pretty confident that my hard heart and selfish ways were a strong confirmation that I was meant to be single and fancy free and I was more than okay with that.

Well, when I came to know God and Jesus Christ within a personal relationship, nine and a half years ago, things quickly began to change.

The biggest change happened in my heart and the hardness of it was being chipped away to reveal a heart I never knew existed.

Along with discovering I was a very emotional woman with the capacity to love BIG on people, I was also coming into a knowledge that my attitude toward my status was being transformed.

I went from coveting my single status to disliking it and wanting to do away with it as quickly as possible.

Thing is, it didn't cause me to set up profiles in a myriad of dating sites. I never went speed dating.

I actually didn't do much to move into the dating scene at all even though several people were telling me I should.

I'm not completely sure why but a part of me was suggesting caution. Thinking back to that time, I'm pretty sure it was God cautioning me.

After all, this was new to me and the feelings and emotions tied into no longer wanting to be single were strong and steady and it scared me.

It scared me to think about marriage. It scared me to think that my heart was now desiring marriage, not singleness.

It still amazes me today to think that only a couple months after becoming a Christian, I wanted marriage and I was more and more sure of that each day.

So, not only do I feel that God wants me to go deeper with my blog, but He also wants me to go into my confession...my struggle with singleness, deeper.

I don't know what that means for the weeks ahead but there it is. Out loud, on paper, and COMPLETELY vulnerable about my unwanted status.

Perhaps by processing this out loud, to you, I'll gain a greater understanding of my status. Maybe I'll eventually be at peace with it until marriage.

I really don't know but what I do know, right now, is that I need to find contentment in where I am or I'll never be content.

So, to be continued! Thanks for reading! I'd like to hear from you, whether single or married! Let's talk!








Monday, October 10, 2016

Thanks! Gracias! Merci!



It only seems fitting that my post today be about thankfulness. Even though I am thankful, daily, this particular day causes me to pause, take a step back, and truly reflect on the many things I am thankful for.

I'm thankful that I have God in my life for He has brought me peace, hope, and a love for other people. I trust Him for everything in my life.

I'm thankful for my family and friends, here and around the world, and the many daughters I have 'adopted' over the years.

I'm thankful for my senses and that they are all working and healthy.

I'm thankful, that even though still unemployed, I know that I will eventually have a career and it will be perfect for me.

I'm thankful for my singleness. Really? Should I be thankful for something I really dislike?

Being thankful for my singleness means I can know that even though my heart greatly desires marriage, God also knows and thanking Him for it means I trust Him to, eventually, bring me marriage.

I'm thankful for my women's Bible study and the opportunity to connect with other women of different ages and backgrounds to glean wisdom from.

I'm thankful for living in the country, where I know my heart truly belongs and thrives.

I'm thankful for having a heart of love and the ability to give of love freely, selflessly, sacrificially, and unconditionally.

I'm thankful for a reliable car that gets me from point A to point B every time. I never truly appreciated what the blessing of a car was.

I'm thankful for people who show compassion and empathy to those who hurt and are in pain. It makes this world better.

I'm thankful for living in a country that has afforded me so many freedoms that, I hope, I never take for granted.

I'm thankful for each subsequent day that I get to live.

I'm thankful that I am healthy and have access to medical care that will help me when I'm not.

Being thankful doesn't mean my circumstances are ideal. Not at all.

There is, however, something that happens in me...in my heart, when I am thankful, that diverts my attention away from my struggles, trials and disappointments in life.

Being thankful allows me to have a heart posture that says,"I don't know what today holds and my circumstances are still difficult, but I am thankful in the midst of the pain and sorrow."

Smiling or being thankful isn't easy when life seems to throw curve balls all the time but saying the two small words, 'Thank You' can lift the heart and disposition in a way that can bring refreshment.

What are you thankful for today? I want to hear from you! Let's talk!!




Monday, October 3, 2016

The Calming Effect



After a time of hellish difficulty, what do you do to bring a calming effect? Whether it be a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual difficulty.

Does the effect come in the way of a cup of your favorite tea? A good cry? A cozy fire? Maybe a walk in a quiet place?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a time of intense torment in my life. A time when I was in my own personal hell quite fearful that I would not see the end of it any time soon.

However, after four days time, I did see an end but it wasn't until every ounce of strength I had was drained from me through crying, screaming, and praying. 

I reached the end of the dark tunnel, breaking through into the light of a saving hope that I was fighting, tooth and nail, to reach.

I still recall that time, like it was yesterday, and the torment I was battling. I remember being so desperate for it to end yet only able to bring relief by weeping.

The interesting thing, now, is that I have found my calming effect through reflecting on what I went through and knowing that I was never alone in the fight even though it felt that way at the time.

The great retrospect of having the hand of God on and over me as I called out for relief and help, thinking there was no one to hear me.

Yes, recalling and reflecting on that week of hell has brought me to a place of incredible calm and renewed strength. 

A place of deep gratitude to God for not just saving me from further torment after those four initial days were over but also walking with me through it all, in spite of my skewed perspective that God was absent and didn't care.

A knowledge of being changed, profoundly and richly, as a Christian woman.

A realization that the bowels in which I resided for that short time was actually the refining fire I needed to go through to reach a spiritual place I had been praying to get to. For a long time.

It may sound crazy, even insane to some. To pray that God would remove all the things in me I hated is, well...idiotic. Isn't it?

I'm saying this knowing I am the one who prayed the prayer. I just didn't know how it would play out or when.

It did and as horrible as it was, I am so incredibly thankful that not only it finally happened but that it was as intense as it was.

For me, I truly believe it had to happen that way because now, I have an inward calm, strength, and confidence that I didn't have before. 

Even the overwhelming loneliness I used to battle on a daily basis, that was physically painful at times, has lessened. At times, I don't even feel lonely even though I'm alone.

It's perplexing and unbelievable especially if you are reading this and don't believe in God. Maybe you ARE a believer and are equally perplexed.

I'm certainly perplexed and in a state of disbelief at the results of a time I would never wish on my worst enemy.

At the end of it all, while I can't fully explain things now, I only know the peace I have that is unlike anything before. 

I have a hope for the future that I didn't conceive of before the hell got fueled. 

I also have a greater trust of God that I never thought I would ever have.

So the difficulty, for me, was needed. I never knew I wanted it until I took the time to reflect on what has happened now as a result of what happened then.

What brings you a calming effect after a time of hardship? I want to hear from you. Let's talk!












Monday, September 26, 2016

How Are You?



No. Really. How are you? Please know that I am not asking out of obligation but of a genuine interest in how you are doing! I really want to know.

I've noticed, more and more, that our society seems to operate at an arm's length. That some people, while having the best intentions, ask the above question not really wanting an answer. A real answer.

The kind of real answer that could be messy or uncomfortable for the person who asked the question in the first place.

An answer wrought with pain, hurt, isolation, rejection, or loneliness that may even cause fear in the questioner because it's now becoming a commitment.

A commitment to sit down and listen to someone who feels like their life is falling apart. Someone who might see you as their only source of hope, empathy and compassion.

Their only lifeline to getting through the pain and another day. So why do so many people ask the question if they are afraid of the answer? Why are people so afraid to ask the question in the first place?

In the Bible, there is a verse that talks about being in the trenches with another person during difficult times. It talks about weeping with those who weep, mourning with those who mourn but also rejoicing with those who rejoice or celebrate.

To have compassion and empathy. To walk in the other person's shoes, telling them that you are there for them. Truly there.

While their hurt may not be similar to anything that you have experienced, being hurt is universal. Shouldn't care and compassion be universal too?

Unfortunately, it isn't and there are many who choose to remain at arm's length. I am not one of those persons.

I know what it's like to hurt beyond the ability to describe the intensity and excruciating nature of the hurt.

I also know what it's like to be walked past by others who never ask how I am. That hurts too but I don't judge or condemn anyone who may not want to ask the question.

Instead, I make a conscious effort to seek out the lonely, the hurting, the rejected. I choose to stand in the trenches with those who are feeling pain beyond anything they've experienced before.

I choose to be there with them and pray for them when words fail me or my words fail to comfort them and, instead, I sit with them sharing in a dark piece of their world.

I choose to be a compassionate, empathetic, and caring woman because, for me, it's the right thing to do.

At one time, I was a child who loved to play in the mud. Okay, even as an adult, I still love to play in the mud. I don't mind being in the muck or getting dirty.

I don't run or shy away from the messy or the uncomfortable because I've been in the mud of life experiences and the hurt that can erupt out of some of those experiences.

Long ago, I used to be a very off-putting, cold-hearted, and evil-minded woman. Never again. By the grace and love of a good God, I have been saved from that.

As a result of that change, I want to walk alongside those who feel hopeless and frayed. I want to be someone who is never afraid to ask the question...how are you?

So, how are you, really? I want to know. I want to hear from you. Let's talk!


Monday, September 19, 2016

To Hell And Back


Growing up, I knew there was a God and Satan. Good and evil. Heaven and hell.

When I became a Christian, later on in life, I came into a greater understanding of the above and what it all really meant.

When I accepted Jesus into my heart and life, and began a personal relationship with Him and God, my perspective exploded.

Not only did I know and experience evil around me but I knew it wasn't the individual committing evil. It was the heart behind the individual.

As a result of wrong doings committed by Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, everyone born after them would have a heart prone to do wrong rather than right. This wrong is also known as sin.

However, a belief and acceptance of Jesus and all He did, an asking for forgiveness for our wrong doing, and asking Jesus to come into our hearts and lives to help us, would change us to want to do good.

I believe, deep within each of us, is a  desire to do what is good and I believe that there is good in each person even though they might do what is evil or wrong.

God never created evil. God did create each of us and gave us the gift of free will.

Free will would be our tool to choose between what is good and what is wrong or evil.

I used to enjoy doing evil until I came to know Jesus and develop a relationship with Him.

Once I got to know Him and God, I realized that they were good, loving, merciful, gracious, patient, and so much more.

However, I also realized that while I was cultivating this relationship, there was also someone very strong and determined to do everything in his power to stop me from getting closer to God. That someone being Satan or the devil.

Satan used to be good. In fact, he used to be one of God's favored angels until he got prideful and arrogant about his position and wanted, instead, to be God.

As a consequence of the evil or wrong held in Satan's heart, he fell from heaven and ceased to be a member of God's army. So, he forged his own army and became bent on attacking people. Especially those who chose God over himself.

Last week I was attacked. Viciously and relentlessly, for four days. It was hell.

It wasn't an attack on my physical self like assault, rape, or robbery which are equally hellish for anyone who has been a victim of these crimes. The attack, while very personal, was also very real to me. It was an attack on my mind and heart.

One of the things Satan is 'famous' for is being the father of lies. He likes to mess with our heads and hearts to beat us down.

In the Bible, Satan is described as a lion that prowls around looking for someone to devour (destroy). He does this subtly and, often, without our full awareness.

We may think what is happening in us is just a bad day or a foul mood but it's actually Satan working in our minds to think and believe failure, inadequacy, doubt, fear, loneliness, and more.

Working in our hearts to have bitterness, anger, resentment, gossip, grudges, hatred and more toward others.

Often his tactics work. They did on me. I was completely unprepared. So when a small change happened within a situation I was in, I unknowingly opened the door to feelings of rejection and, next thing I knew, my mind and heart became a battleground. My own personal hell.

A hell that Satan used to remind me of all my deep insecurities and fill me with feelings of inadequacy, fear, pity, resentment, anger, and more. For several days, Satan used my weaknesses against me and I became a pool of tears who was barely able to pray.

It took a close friend, who came to my aid, reminding me that because I am a Christian and a follower of Jesus, that Satan wants to stop me from having great things. Great things that God has planned for me.

That Satan will try to stop me any way he can, whether in making me believe I have innumerable faults or that I'm to have ill will in my heart toward myself and others.

I've never been in such excruciating pain like this and I had never felt so alone in my life, while trying to fight against the lies I was struggling not to believe.

As my good friend continued, I became reminded of many things I had forgotten in those days of hell. That God was my strength and my help, that He loved me, that He is good and that He has the very best for me.

In absorbing those words, no truths, I fell to my knees and wept harder than I ever had in my life while praying equally hard for the hell to end and asking God to help me.

It was in those most painful moments and feeling so alone and so abandoned that I suddenly felt the presence of God.

A presence that came in the form of peace and quiet inside of me. A presence that enveloped me in love and said that I would be okay. I felt held.

In my loneliness and darkness, I felt God and Jesus with me and I cried even harder because not only did my girlfriend care enough to help me but God and Jesus, my Creator and His Son, cared even more.

I had been in my own personal hell but God reached down and brought me out of that hell. He loved me and helped me.

This is why I can't and won't go back to my old life. I didn't have help back then. I just kept drowning. I needed help.

Whereas last week, even though I felt like I was drowning, a helping hand reached down and saved me. The hand of God.

I need God, all the time. I can't get through a day without Him. In my loneliness, fear or hurt God is with me and saves me every time.

Who pulls you out of the darkest times of your life, when it feels like hell? Did you know that in addition to being loving, that God is also our helper? I'd like to hear from you! Let's talk!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire!



The truth hurts. Lies hurt even more. So why is it easier to tell a lie than it is the truth? And why is it easier to believe a lie than it is the truth?

It's been my understanding and experience that lies are negative, hurtful, and destructive. Whereas the truth, when spoken with a heart of love, while sometimes painful, is actually beneficial and often a source of relief for those who speak and receive truth.

Truth, in its definition is that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. Yet it seems to be much more acceptable, these days, to spout lies. A lot of them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect. For years, I used to make a career of lying, manipulating, and controlling.

I lied so much that I had to stack lies in order to cover up the previous lies I forgot I told. My life was a train wreck, my heart was as black as coal and cold as ice. I was a good liar. The greatest oxymoron.

So when did the line between truth and lying become so blurred? When did it become permissible to lie through our teeth instead of 'tell no lies'?

I'd honestly like to know. The person I was, a liar, had no integrity. There wasn't an ounce of honesty, humility, or sincerity. I lied to get ahead, ridicule others, and cover up my mistakes.

It was a horrible cycle and my own soul suffered for it. There was a point when I believed that there was no way I could change my ways.

I had gone too far. Pushed the limits and gone past the point of no return too many times. I was hooped, or so I thought.

However, nine and a half years ago I met God face to face and my lying ways stopped, my record expunged and I was set free.

In God, I gained a new lease on life and I didn't look back. My years of lying, manipulation and control were over and I became a woman who wouldn't compromise telling the truth for anything.

My heart filled with a great desire to be a woman of integrity, character, and humility. Now I live each day striving to be that woman, more and more.

Like I said before, I'm not perfect and I am prone to make mistakes but my relationship with Jesus compels me to be humble enough to own my mistakes and be truthful about my imperfections and mess ups.

Being truthful, whether to myself or others in a spirit of love, has brought incredible freedom and a peace I've never before experienced. Those kinds of highs I can handle!

Though the truth may hurt sometimes, I won't shatter when being told the truth by others and I won't shy away from speaking the truth, in love, to someone.

Truth is good. VERY good. Lies are not and as much as we may think they won't catch up with us, they will. They always will. I can attest to that.

So, own up to the lies and make a decision, today, to speak truth because it will set you free and it will set you up for success and set you apart from a world that appears to accept lies more readily than the truth.

Nowadays, I have a zero tolerance for lying. Whether in relationships, business or otherwise. For me, lying is a deal breaker. Always will be.

How do you feel about lying? Is it a deal breaker for you too? I'd like to hear from you! Let's talk!


Monday, September 5, 2016

I Have A Dream



You may know this statement as part of the famous speech made by Martin Luther King Jr., an American civil rights activist, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. His speech was for an end to racism in the US and called for civil and economic rights. He delivered his speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is considered a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. (Wikipedia)

I wonder how long this speech was a dream in his heart before becoming his destiny to deliver the message, changing the course of history. I wonder if he doubted the dream of this message within him. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I think it's safe to say that we all have dreams that reside in our hearts. Some have been there for a long time. For me, I have a couple dreams that have made a home in my heart. One for over 9 years and another for 19 years. The longing I have for these dreams to be fulfilled has been crippling at times and completely consumed my every thought.

There is a story in the Bible about a man named Abram and his wife, Sarai. They were both up in years, okay a nice way of saying old, and had a dream of having a baby but Sarai was barren. Barrenness, in that time, was considered shameful because of the important social status of both bearing and raising children. God, the giver of the Bible, visited Abram one day telling him that he and Sarai would have a son. Not just any son but a child from which nations would be established.

This news excited them! Understandably so. To be told this kind of news would be, at the very least, mind-blowing information in light of their circumstances. After all, as I mentioned, these folks were old and WAY beyond having children. But they held on to that dream, thinking and hoping I'm sure, that it would happen right away. I would have thought the very same but it didn't. I can't even imagine the sadness, disappointment, and disbelief they felt as time kept passing them by and no child. I feel their pain.

When you have a dream that feels so real and strong in you and your heart, it's hard to let it go. At times, I've had to let go of my dreams because the pain of waiting to see them fulfilled was, often, more than I could bear. I tried to forget them, tuck them away, stop hoping, and move forward without them.

As much as I tried to forget and dismiss them, the dreams remained deep within me. To this day, they still remain, after all these years. There appears to be something greater in me that won't let those dreams go. I believe that something is God. That He keeps cheering me on to keep my dreams alive, wanting my heart to beat with them and with hope that the dreams will become reality. Sooner rather than later would be nice.

Well, 25 years later, Abram and Sarai's dream DID come true and it was such an incredible fulfillment that God changed their names. They became Abraham and Sarah who gave birth to a son named Isaac. Of course, this happy ending didn't come without struggles. Namely that they went off track in their waiting and tried to make the dream happen by their own unsuccessful methods. I understand that, completely, as I have tried the same only to have it bite me in the butt.

So, I'm back to waiting and believing that because I still have these dreams in my heart after all this time, that they will be fulfilled. It's just a matter of when. Now I have a dream that my dreams will be fulfilled when the time is right. Um, today would be good. I'd be fine with today for the dreams to be reality. No pressure. None. Did I mention that today works for me? Hahaha

What are your dreams? Do you find it painful to dream? Let me encourage you to keep dreaming and let your heart beat with those dreams. I want to hear from you and what your dreams are. Private message me if you prefer. Let's talk!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Brought To My Knees



Some of the toughest men and women can be brought to their knees through a dramatic or tragic change in their life circumstances. The sudden death of a spouse, divorce, or the death of a child are just some of the most severe and heart stopping situations that can cause the 'toughest of the tough' to crumble and weep like a child.

I recently viewed a program that highlighted a group of Jewish children who experienced and survived one of the most horrific events of our time, the Holocaust. Of course, these children are no longer children. Today they make up an elderly population of just under 200,000 in the country of Israel. Most, if not all of them, are living below the poverty line.

As a few of them shared their stories, I watched as the events of so long ago, became real to them again. They remembered watching their parents and siblings perish while they, somehow, survived. I believe it was to tell their stories, even though brutal, to the rest of us. That we would not only be educated on something that most of us wouldn't even give a second thought to, but also to know that it really did happen.

I couldn't deny that it happened as I watched people tell their stories, shaking and crying, some showing pictures of their families and describing how they died. One man cut off a third of a piece of bread to give a visual reference of what the daily bread ration was for the prisoners. I wept for them and wondered how often their circumstances brought them to their knees. Watching as they played old videos of the conditions of those camps during the program, made me realize that sheer physical weakness would have, easily, brought me to my knees. Not to mention the desperation to see those conditions end, whether by means of liberation or death.

In my own life, I have faced times when I didn't have strength to stand and be strong and came crashing to my knees. Sometimes I would kneel in silence, while other times I wept bitterly like a small child. For moments, at times hours, I would cry not understanding what had just happened in my life that, now, brought me to my knees. Heartbreak, loneliness, and frustration were just some of the things that made me crumble. They still do.

However, as a Christian, I have had a recourse in my life that brought comfort in the moments I didn't have the strength to stand up and face life. That recourse was and is prayer. During the year of 2011, I came into a very clear understanding that I was to be a woman of prayer. I took hold of that understanding and have been praying for myself and others even when I went through times of struggling to pray. I have even experienced times when I doubted the power of prayer.

Nevertheless, there was always something in me that kept me praying during those times of doubt and uncertainty. I think that the Jewish people in those concentration camps during the Holocaust would have prayed. Even those who had never prayed in their lives prior to their imprisonment. For me, there is something about prayer that brings peace and comfort. It has been life saving in a way and a source of hope when I felt hopeless. A way to mourn and grieve the things in my life that I didn't have the courage to share with another person.

Prayer has been my conduit to get beyond the pain and hurt and to reach the other side of a dark chasm that felt bottomless. It wasn't until I got through a time of desperation, on my knees in prayer, that I felt so lifted up. Prayer does matter and it is powerful. Even if you have never prayed before, it can make a difference in your life and someone else's.

What are the things that bring you to your knees? What gives you the strength to get back up and be stronger than before? I really want to hear from you. Let's talk! You can also private message me on Facebook to share in confidence.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hope


Hope is defined many ways. I came across a definition of hope that was kind of all encompassing and applicable to my own life: 'To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future'. There are things we hope for. A sick friend to get well, a job to be found, world peace, and a future.

My older sister is visiting me for a couple days right now and as we spent time together in conversation, I posed to her the question, "What do you hope for?" She replied, "A hope for peace of mind and heart and happiness." Those were great answers. Then she began to draw from her past about a greater hope.

In January of 2002, she sustained a spontaneous spinal cord injury. There was no cause or reason for it to happen. It just did. She was 7 months pregnant with her second child when the injury happened. The spinal cord injury caused numbness in her body from her nipple line down.

Emergency surgery was performed to first extract her premature baby of 2 months before being turned over to have a blood clot removed that was compressing her spine, causing the paralysis. Even though she was able to wiggle her toes 4 days following the surgeries, the doctors told her that she wouldn't walk again.

As she continued to recall the events in her mind to me of that time, she said that it was hope that kept her going. She refused the doctor's diagnosis and through months of determination and perseverance, it was her hope of walking again that made the difference.


Nine weeks after the injury, she was released from the hospital, wheelchair bound, but her hope and determination to walk never waned. The more progress she saw, the more determined she became. Seven months after leaving the hospital she walked on her own, unassisted. She shattered the grim diagnosis given to her by the doctors and defied all the odds of a spinal cord injury all because of a hope to walk again and her two children.

In my own life, I've had hope for many things that seem to continue to be deferred: A hope to have a relationship with my son, a hope to be married again, and a hope to be a successful blogger and public speaker. Of course I have many more hopes like salvation for my family and friends, contentment, and that I'm moving in the right direction for my life.

Have I ever lost hope? Yes. Many times. The crazy thing about losing hope is that I've always found it because hope, I believe, is something that is inherent in all of us. A natural part of who we are even when we don't understand it. Hope is something that has kept me going in the darkest and most difficult times in my life. It was what kept my sister going when others said walking wasn't possible and all the odds were stacked against her.

Hope is something we can hold on to when everything else is gone. I choose hope. I need hope. I embrace hope. Some days it's all I have when I'm praying and all that keeps me going. Hope can change everything within our circumstances when we're staring into the face of all that tries to defeat us. Never. Lose. Hope.

What do you hope for? Have you lost your hope for something? I want to hear from you! Let's talk!





Monday, August 15, 2016

Just...Breathe


Busyness, schedules, obligations, responsibilities. Family life, job life, everyday life. Do more, give more, be more. These are just some of the characteristics of a stressful and, sometimes, chaotic life. For me, my stress and chaos came from living in a city 7.5 years longer than I wanted to. Of course I thought it was the greatest idea to move to a big city in the beginning. The pulse, excitement, money, and opportunities were at the forefront of my mind and, honestly, my heart. I thought I had it made but then things started to change. I started to change and the fast paced craziness I once enjoyed was no longer appealing. The excitement soon changed to dread. It seemed like I was always in a hurry to get somewhere that took me, what felt like forever, to get to. As each year passed, I felt more drained, hurried, and stressed.

It was only after I moved from the city into the country, two years ago, that I gained a perspective of just how stressed I was. For 11 years, living in the city, stress had taken a hold of me. At first it was subtle, benign, almost undetectable. Only a few years after being in the city, the stress was no longer undetectable. It was obvious, painfully obvious. It was affecting every part of me. My mood, behavior, and body. I was easily irritated, frustrated, and I had a lot of body pain and muscle tension. There were even times I remember driving in the city that I would become so infuriated with other drivers that I was contemplating doing things I wouldn't normally.

I read an online article posted by the Mayo Clinic that addressed the issue of stress and how destructive it can be to our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If stress isn't properly managed, it can lead to major health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

The article went on to list several other effects of stress. They included: headache, chest pain, sleep problems, anxiety, irritability or anger, feeling overwhelmed, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol abuse, social withdrawal, and the list goes on and on! I was taken back by how many of the effects I recall having in the years of city living.

The Mayo Clinic article also offered stress management strategies to help offset the negative impact of stress. They are: regular physical activity, deep breathing, getting a massage, keeping a sense of humor, socializing, and having hobbies. They also suggest getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet along with seeking medical help if you experience symptoms that may be associated with stress or if your efforts to manage your stress have become unsuccessful. Seeking help can equip you with coping skills to better tackle and manage the stress you are facing.

While it was a long time before I was able to properly manage my stress, the greater relief was when I came into a personal relationship with God and Jesus. The peace and contentment I have come to know in them, even in the midst of chaos, equipped me to live in a crazy city and a crazy world without completely losing my cheese! Hahahaha It also helped me to stay sane until my desire to be in the country, happened. I can honestly say that now I'm in the peace and quiet I longed for, I wouldn't trade it for anything!!

There is a story in the Bible, in the book of Luke, that talks of stress in everyday life and how we can lose sight of the things that are truly important when we allow stress to take over. That story is about two sisters, Mary and Martha, who lived together and received an unexpected visitor one day...Jesus. They were both excited and Martha started busying herself with preparing a feast. She soon became stressed and annoyed that her sister wasn't helping. Meanwhile, Mary was so overtaken by Jesus' presence that she immediately dropped everything and sat at His feet. Resting. Breathing. Taking in the moment.

The video I included as part of my blog speaks to this breathing. That being and choosing to turn from the chaos brings peace, quiet, and a time of refreshing. As one line of the song says, "Chaos calls but all you really need is to just breathe."

How true this has become in my own life. Sure I could allow the pressures of the world around me to dictate my reactions and increase my stress levels but I choose not to and opt for peace and deep breathing. To be in the moment, to be present, and to just breathe.

What stresses and chaos exist in your life? What are the things taking precedence over your own well being and stress management? Do you take time to just be? I want to hear from you! Let's talk!