Photo Credits~

(owl:donaldthompson95 on flickr, luna:BillLepidoptera/ on flickr, willow/fence:trensamiro on flickr, all remaining: Merana Leigh)

Psalm 25:4-5

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (NIV)

Drench yourself in words unspoken, Live your life with arms wide open,

Today is where your book begins, The rest is still unwritten. ("Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield)

It matters not how long we live, but how!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Christ's Home

I'm an avid follower of CSI's and mostly NCIS. The one thing that has really struck me in watching those shows, is when the investigators go through the victim's house. Now, aside from how neat and tidy the home is (who lives like that?), I've stopped to ponder, 'Hmm, wonder if they have things tucked away in drawers that they'd be mortified to have someone find?' (not that it matters at that point, but you get my drift).

And that made me think even further . . . "Do I? Is there anything I have in my possession that would shock and embarrass my children to find if I were to die?" I remember when my grandaddy died, the whole family gathered around the bed in one room and went through the drawers of mementos and pictures he had saved. Oh the stories that we told as my aunts, uncles, parents, cousins, and I shared with one another the blessing of this man's impact in each of our lives. There was so much laughter and heartfelt love through our tears. Will I leave that kind of mark on those I leave behind? I'm striving for that!

I'm reminded of a wonderful little booklet by Robert Boyd Munger, entitled My Heart, Christ's Home, that I first read in college waaayyy back. In it, your life is referred to as a home, with different rooms signifying different things. One particular part talks about choosing things to read, listen to, or even watch on tv (and, of course, now that includes the Internet). Would you choose those things those things if Christ was sitting beside you, doing it with you? Well, really . . . He is! So, if we wouldn't, perhaps we should rid our homes of it . . . figuratively and literally.

I hope I'm here 'til a ripe old age, but if not . . . my kids will find only drawers filled with encouraging writings, plenty of heartfelt memories of schoolwork I swelled with pride at keeping, and tons of love too (well, ok . . .you got me . . .junk too!).

Hmm? I gotta run. I feel a cleaning spree coming on. Care to join me?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You are not lost

OH MY GOSH - is about all I can say! I heard a song on the radio streaming at my desk at work and looked up the title on Google to discover Michael Buble. WOW - what an incredible talent!!!Then I started looking through his videos on YouTube. And I heard this one. Spoke right to my heart ... just like it was God singing to us ... and then I realized, I believe He is, through this song from such a gifted voice. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tribute to a beautiful woman!

I offer this tribute to a wonderful woman, Letty. God graced my life by allowing me to be her daughter. She had a kind, loving, giving, beautiful spirit. As an adult now, I look back and realize the searching she did for her meaning, her purpose at the point in life where I find myself now. And truthfully, I see now, through my tears and heartache, the blessing that has come from her death. God DOES keep his promise of Romans 8:28. Had mom not gotten cancer and died, I wouldn't have been thrown into the pit of despair that took all my strength to get through each day. I wouldn't have left an verbally and emotionally abusive marriage. I wouldn't have taken the time to relearn who I even was anymore. I wouldn't have rededicated my life to the Lord with the fervor I have now (altho' admittedly, waning at times). And I would never have started writing all the things He gives me to say for Him (even so much as starting this blog) had I not gone through that terrible experience in order to get to this broken place in my life where the only place I had to look was up. I would never have gotten thru ANY of it, without God's precious grace...holding me close so I could let her go.

Now it is the time of smiles through tears (yes, they flow now as I type this)...the funny things she always did (like dancing around the room like a ballerina putting up the shades and singing "good morning, good morning, time to get up now").

My greatest regret is not having spent time in the kitchen with her. Once I learned to love to cook, I was 1/2 a country away and not able to physically cook with her. When I was home to visit, I was always running to and fro to see everyone and didn't eat at home often. And then it was too late. I have no idea how to make her delicious chicken pot pie...looked EVERYwhere and called family members for the recipe to no avail. It's one of those 'in your head' one's I suppose that is lost to us now.

So, now I post these pix in tribute to this gift from God. I have my living room filled with her things that I took when she died. And this is now in my home what we grew up knowing as "the good room" - my brother and I would get in a water fight or something of that sort, and we'd run into the good room. It was a sanctuary, a haven - you didn't DARE bring food or drink or water pistols in there (altho' once I was in college she'd let me take a cup of coffee and homemade chocolate chip cookies to curl up on the couch in front of the tree reading all the Christmas stories and ideas in the December magazines she'd buy me every year)! Same goes now. My boys are not allowed to do ANYthing in there. They know and love and respect the treasures I have from their Grammy. They recognize the significance of those things in my life (and that I'm hoping they pick up on as something they will find of mine to treasure in their future).

Part of me wondered when I was putting all this stuff up in the house if it was some sick way of trying to hold on to the past. And then God's precious gentle whisper assured me, "What's wrong with that? It's part of what shaped you into the person you are. You're not dwelling in the past forlornly. You're not wallowing in your loss. You are enveloping yourself in the love you had -- a mother's undying, devoted love. So don't you worry about it at all. Treasure it!"

So, as I post this tribute, let me tell you ... if you have a loving, giving, caring mother (and, unmistakable, some are not I'm sorry to say), do NOT take it for granted. Stop to ponder exactly those things that you would love to do with your mom...AND DO THEM! Memories are precious things you take with you and that you leave behind for others. One of my favorite memories with Mom was when I visited the month before she died. She LOVED to do word search puzzles. I bought her a big book of them. We sent Dad on his way for awhile (needed some valuable girl time!), she had one page, I had the other, I laid my head on her shoulder and we did them together. Precious...precious gift from God. I thank you for the gift of life, and even her death...for I know we will be together again in our home you've prepared for us.

Cross stitch picture Mom made in 1984 that she gave me the month before she died. Pretty much says it all, doesn't it?!

Found this picture when we were going through pictures for the visitation. We all instantly viewed that as Mom's journey home to Jesus, through her beloved nature. A walk she had to make alone.

Mom loved collecting old keys. She made the above, and I took her keys I got and carried on her tradition (below)

This is a stitchery picture (set of two actually) that took her 3 years to make. (I can still smell her house in the fabric)

These are some decoupage pictures Mom made in 1975 that hang in my good room today

Mom LOVED this charcoal drawing (above), and I have the photograph of us giving it to her for Christmas 1974 (below). I remember the sheer joy I felt at that moment for the thrill it brought her. That embrace said it all! (Now that drawing hangs in my good room)

Us together in 1996

Me & Mom when I was 19, just goofin' around!

This pix shows mom with her two favorite things - her zinnia garden (nature), and the trains that went behind the house (her 'choo-choo boys that she would wave to from the window [and they looked for her to do that too!])

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blessed Peace

Isn’t it amazing how something comes out of your mouth before you fully recognize what you’re even saying? Now, I’m not talking about those Freudian slips or faux pas moments – or even those blatant “oh my gosh how could I say that?” hand-over-mouth moments. No, I’m referring to those times when the Holy Spirit guides you to say something that is just what someone needed to hear … be it for comfort, for peace, for encouragement, for inspiration, or to even discourage someone from a wrong decision. I feel so incredibly blessed when He uses me for that purpose … yes, even when I did it as one of those aforementioned “oh my gosh” moments!

I was recently talking with friends and one of them mentioned, “Well, what if I take a break - maybe the right situation, the one I’ve been working so hard for, passes me by?” My immediate response was, “Well, if God knows you need that break, and you’ve surrendered to doing His will in the situation, He’ll make it that everything about that situation takes that needed break too. Or maybe the rest of the situation needs to be developed further to match where you are about it now.” Boy, what an ‘a-ha’ moment that was…for my friend AND for me.

When we’ve completely surrendered to God, He will make all the timetables work in tune for everyone and everything involved. Perhaps it’s personal relationships, business decisions, medical care decisions, or simply unresolved issues. Whatever we must face, if we have committed it to the Lord, it becomes a matter of surrender and trust. But who among us likes to surrender? In our mindset, isn’t that admitting defeat? “What, you want me to give up control?” we think. I know with me personally, being a single parent, the idea of giving up control goes completely contrary to how I have to live my life in making decisions that not only affect me, but my children as well. I’m the one in control. Or am I?

I, for one, can fully admit that the surrendering process is a long one – typically with very hard lessons learned along the way. C.S. Lewis said, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right then, have it your way’.” But I always imagine Him finishing that statement with “And I’ll be right here to pick up the pieces and help you with it when you’re ready.” He’s not offended. He understands our nature…our need for control. But He also already knows how that decision to go our own way is going to end. And more than anything, He loves us. Therefore, He’ll wait for us to make the inevitable mistake we’re going to make, then come back to Him broken from choosing our own course. But the amazing part of it is that He will take the broken pieces and make something beautiful … rather like broken pieces of glass make a beautiful display in a kaleidoscope.

If we really surrender, then that involves laying ourselves bare and vulnerable before God. There’s the trust issue. Do we really trust God? Not lip service, but letting go everything concerning a situation (and life in general) and handing it over to Him. And that handing over to Him means no worrying. I read recently that worry is opposite of trusting God. If we worry about something we’ve surrendered, then really we’re still holding on to it. If we’ve surrendered it, we’re trusting God for the best outcome for everyone involved. End of story! Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He can’t work it for the good if we want to control it. It’s according to His purpose, not ours.

There is such peace once you’ve made the decision to surrender. Don’t get me wrong, there will be turmoil almost immediately – even if only in the form of temptation to try to regain control. Trust me … Satan will be sure of that. He wants control of you and if you’re truly surrendered to Christ, Satan loses another one. But, even amidst the turmoil, there is such deep down, unrelenting blessed peace. The kind where you can say “I just don’t really care. I’m really not worried about it anymore because I trust the Lord to make it work out best for everyone concerned.”

It is so vital to know God’s word. Yes, He can put any thought in your head to voice to someone else. But, it carries so much power when you can say, “Scripture says…” so they will know that this isn’t something you’re saying. Now, I’m not even going to sit here and say that I can quote exactly which verse says what. I can’t. I do have some memorized, but that is only because I pray them as a prayer every day, or because I’ve had to cling to them for solace and comfort. I told another friend recently, “I don’t think God expects us to spout off one verse or another to someone. I believe He expects us to tell others what Scripture says, without having to say exactly what verse it is. Because the remarkable thing then takes place, the seed of the Word you planted causes that person to do an Internet search to find what you just said, so they can look it up for themselves. Then they may dig deeper in His Word to find that which they seek, and He’s reaching them right where they need.”

I’ll share with you now those Scriptures that guide me, that I tell to anyone who will listen (…so listen!!). I pray every day, several times a day, Psalm 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” And my favorite, Jeremiah 6:16, “This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”, which goes perfectly with Isaiah 48:17-18, “This is what the Lord says…"I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea."” And when I faced one of the greatest challenges in my life, I fasted and begged God to help me with the decision I had to make. I got nothing. And just as the gentle whisper breathes in Scripture to Elijah, the Holy Spirit shared with me, “If you have no peace about it, it’s not from me.” And I was immediately reminded of Jesus’ words to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you.” (Yes, I had to do an Internet search to look up exactly which verse that was. [John 14:27 by the way]) The decision was clear…immediately clear. And I had such a peace come over me…mmm, warms me now just to remember it!

So, back to the beginning of this post. That moment when God recently put something on my heart to say that plopped out of my mouth without even thinking? Well, there were several blessings that occurred … 1) it’s just what she needed to hear for encouragement, 2) it reconfirmed for me the things that I face are indeed going to be just fine, and 3) it inspired me to write this post to reach each of you in whatever you’re struggling with right now. I don’t know what you need. But God does. And I count it a true blessing that He’s using me to touch you right now. There is beauty and peace, and rest in the light…the light of the world, Jesus (see John 8:12).

Isn’t He the most awesome God?