Friday, August 22
Thursday, August 21
I will delightfully pass these on to other amazing bloggers, who bless me on a regular basis. However, I will do it separately and after I return from my vacation. I hope you understand. There is an awful lot to do in the final day of preparation, and I have to focus on getting my family (and the house) ready to go. In the meantime, please check out these other fantastic blogs. You just may find that they bless you too!
Thank you to Nancie, at her More Than Conquerors blog, for awarding me with two special blog awards. Nancie is always so encouraging in her comments and blog posts and she blesses me with her words regularly.
The first is the “Sharing the Love Award”. This lovely award was created by Crystal @ Memoirs of a Mommy in honor of Noah and the donor of his sweet little heart who ENCOURAGES us to SHARE THE LOVE! Thanks Crystal! (Click on Memoirs of a Mommy to learn and read this special love story!) The rules for this award are to pass it along to some people whose blogs you love. They make you laugh, smile, leave encouraging comments on your blog. You would like to share some love with them because they have uplifted, inspired, encouraged or prayed for you. Please include this paragraph with the link to Memoirs of a Mommy so that everyone knows where this award originated from.
The second is the “Friendship Award”. This sweet award was created by LS and Happy @ Serendipity Park to be given to friends, fellow bloggers who leave you kind or uplifting comments and those whose blogs inspire, encourage or motivate you.
Thank you to Lori, at her Persevere blog, for awarding me with the most recent blog award. Lori has become a wonderful friend and source of encouragement. She has a great grasp of the Bible and her blog posts are always overflowing with Word and Wisdom. She granted me the “Awesome Site Award”. I’m not sure where the award originated, but I’m awfully happy to have received it.
I have been looking forward to the end of this week for some time now. We are leaving for vacation on Saturday. After the last couple of weeks, I’m looking forward to it even more. So, this week I’m thankful for:
~ A great vacation destination – Lake Tahoe.
~ A solid and comfortable vehicle to travel in.
~ Time spent in relaxation and enjoyment with my favorite people – Jeff and Reagan.
~ Somewhat lower gas prices.
~ Cooler temperatures and fun activities, along with beautiful surroundings.
And on another subject, I’m thankful for the comfort, support and prayers I’ve received from this wonderful blogging community, in relation to my miscarriage on Monday. I’m especially thankful to the Lord for the comfort, love and peace He has lavished on me.
Wednesday, August 20
It really connects with my post yesterday. No matter what the storm in my life is, I know God has a purpose and plan specific for me that will be fulfilled in His timing, not mine. Sometimes His plans and mine line up, sometimes they don’t, but regardless I trust in Him. I cry out to Him in my time of need and He is there for me. Always. Once again, I take comfort in the song “Held” by Natalie Grant.
Tuesday, August 19
How was he able to respond so well and continue on in the face of such tragedy? Only through the grace of God. He knew God as his Father, Lord, Comforter and Hope. His faith in God was built on the solid rock of Jesus, not the soft sand of circumstance. He and his wife made it through the darkest of days and had three other children, two girls and one boy. Sadly, this boy too died. In 1881 the Spafford family moved to Jerusalem and helped found the American Colony, whose mission it was to serve the poor. They remained there the rest of their days, fulfilling this mission.
I’m grateful to say I haven’t experienced this much loss in my life. Like all of us though, I have experienced my own losses. “It is Well with My Soul” came to mind this morning, while I was reflecting on my latest loss.
Yesterday I experienced my second miscarriage. Though I suspected I was, I hadn’t been sure I was pregnant, so there wasn’t time to get attached or make plans or fall in love. And yet, somehow I did love. I grieve now for what I’m missing, for what could have been. But I grieve with faith and hope. I know that though I may not know them here and now, I will know my unborn babies someday, in heaven. And I know that my Father, the best Daddy ever, is caring for them better than I even could. I know they will never know pain, sickness, sorrow or death. This comforts me.
For those of you who may wonder, yes I did know for sure that I was having a miscarriage. Having experienced this before, I knew what was happening. For the sake of privacy and propriety, I’ll spare the details.
Most of you don’t know me personally and don’t know how difficult the journey to having a family has been. It took a year and a half to get pregnant the first time, which ended in the first miscarriage. It then took eight months to get pregnant again. We were so happy when our precious little Reagan was born. We wanted to have another one, so we began trying right away. Because of our ages, we’re both 39, we knew we couldn’t wait. We agreed to the deadline of turning 40 (which is December for both of us) to be the point in which we stop trying to conceive.
As that time draws near, I realize that our family may be just the three of us. We know we are incredibly blessed to have Reagan and love her as much as we possibly can. We trust the Lord and His plan for our lives. If that includes another child, we will happily welcome it into our arms. If not, we will focus on the amazing one He’s already given us and be content with her. I know He understands my heaviness of heart, and He is with me always.
Still, I’m left with questions there are no answers too. Why is it so hard for us, when we have so much to offer and want it so badly? Why is it so easy for those who abuse what they are given? Why, why, why?! I know there are no answers for these, and the many other questions I have, this side of heaven. Maybe someday I’ll know the answers. Maybe someday it won’t matter. Though I do long for another child, right now, I’m thankful for the wonderful husband and daughter I have. I know I am a Blessed One.
It is Well with My Soul (first verse and chorus)
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
By Horatio Spafford
Monday, August 18
So now I'm feeling much more like my old self, but still won't be around as much as I'd like. I have a lot of catching up to do (especially around the house) and I'm going to be getting us ready to go on vacation. Beginning this weekend, I won't be around at all, until after Labor Day. So for those of you who faithfully read my posts, I'm sorry this is such a dry period. I know I haven't moved forward with my "Choose Life" series, but as I said, mentally (and spiritually) I just couldn't get it together. I expect to come back refreshed and full of lots to say! I will post a bit this week, but because I have so much to catch up on, I still don't have a lot of time. Thanks for understanding and know that I really miss this!
Thursday, August 14
This week I’m keeping it short and simple. With the Olympics going on, and being held in Beijing, I want to give thanks for:
~ The freedom I have to worship the Lord in the manner which I choose, without worrying about persecution from the government.
~ An abundance of food that isn’t fried crickets, scorpions, silkworms and such. (Ewwww!)
~ Building codes and safety regulations that are so stringent (thinking back to the devastation of the earthquake a few months back in the Sichuan province and all of the people, esp. children who were killed in destroyed buildings).
~ National pride and patriotism for the good old USA.
~ Tivo, which allows me to easily record and watch the events I’m interested in when I’m unable to be in front of the TV.
Ok, so these are not really deeply spiritual things, but I’m thankful for them anyway!
Wednesday, August 13
I used to try to avoid “that woman” – you know the perfect one from Proverbs 31. Now though, as I’ve gotten older and (hopefully) wiser, I find myself being drawn to her more and more. Thank you Lord, for showing me the wisdom she offers by example, and the Grace to cover me when I fail. Amen
Tuesday, August 12
So the question remains, how do I come up with these beautiful pictures? Well, I found a great website for this that has lots of templates and tons of click and drag elements to make things easy. You can add test boxes, “stickers”, backgrounds and your own pictures. Basically, it’s digital scrapbooking. The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to do. What is this fantastic website? It’s http://www.scrapblog.com/. So, if you’d like to try your hand at it, go for it! One thing though. I like to keep things simple, so for me it’s easiest to export the picture as a jpeg and download to my computer. But there’s lots of other options as well. Have fun and make lots of pretties!
Monday, August 11
To help you understand why choosing life is so important to me, I have to share a bit of my background. I grew up in dysfunction and poverty. I never knew my father and my mother was emotionally absent. I grew up witnessing physical abuse and experiencing neglect and sexual abuse. In many ways, I was always the “adult” of the family – even as a child. My immediate, and extended, family is plagued by depression, pessimism, substance abuse, poverty and a thoroughly victim mentality. There is no sense of hope, optimism, motivation, joy, peace or life. To say they are oppressed would be an understatement. It’s like they live death.
From the time that I was very young, I was dissatisfied with life as I knew it and believed there had to be a better way. I started to look beyond my own family to see how others lived, worked and played. I started to see opportunities to make change. I saw that there were choices out there, and if I wanted something different than what I had, I could choose differently. I didn’t know then that this was Biblical, and to be honest, I probably couldn’t have explained the concept of choices, even though that’s what I was striving for. The most important choice I made was to accept Jesus as my own personal Savior and live according to the Word of God. This however, didn’t happen until I was 30.
Looking back, I see how many opportunities were presented to me, once I wanted to see them. I used to believe it was because of God’s grace and love for me, and I still believe that to a point. But I know that God is no respecter of persons and everyone receives as many opportunities to make change in their own lives as I do. I’ve only risen above the circumstances my family continues to live in, because I started choosing the things that would produce or lead to life, rather than the things that produce or lead to death. The opportunities are there for all of us, however we have to not just say we want better, but decide we really want it enough to put action behind it, and that starts with choice.
Because of my own personal history, I am passionate about the power, and responsibility, of choice. And it’s easy for me to get frustrated with others who consistently make poor choices, but then complain about where they are in life. In fact, I have to admit that I really have no patience or mercy for those who don’t accept personal responsibility for the choices they make. We cannot choose what happens to us in life, but we can choose how we handle these things and we can choose to learn from them. This is not to say that I always make the right choice (because I don’t) or that I’m totally where I want to be (because I’m not), but I do make an effort to choose life and fortunately, I hit the target more than I miss. I’ve definately made my fair share of mistakes and some of them have been real doozies, but I press on.
The good news is God’s mercy is new every day. We can start fresh every day. It matters not where we start, but rather where we finish. God wants us to have a good life with blessings, rather than a dismal life with curses. And He has provided that for us, but we have to be active participants in this, by choosing life every day. And when we mess up and make the wrong choice, we need to then admit it and take responsibility for our choice, correct in any way we can and move on. Mistakes don’t defeat us unless we allow them too. We can fall down by staying down when we stumble, or we can fall up by rising each time we fall. We can allow adversity to keep us down and defeated or we can use it to propel us upward into victory. It’s our choice. Making the right choice is not always easy, but honestly the best things in life rarely are. In closing, I’d like to leave you today with this:
Attitude leads to thoughts. Thoughts lead to words. Words lead to actions. Actions lead to habits. Habits lead to character. Character leads to destiny.
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” ~ Deut. 30:19
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jer. 29:11
You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1). I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2). I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3). Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31). For you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27). In me you live and move and have your being (Acts 17:28). For you are my offspring (Acts 17:28). I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5) and I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12). You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book (Psalm 139:15-16). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I knit you together in your mother's womb (Psalm 139:13) and brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6). I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me (John 8:41-44). I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16) and it is my desire to lavish my love on you (1 John 3:1) simply because you are my child and I am your Father (1 John 3:1). I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11) for I am the perfect Father (Matthew 5:48). Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17). I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33). My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11) because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18) and I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40) because you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5). I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32:41) and I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3). If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29). Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). It is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13). I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20). For I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1"3-4). When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18). As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11). One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes (Revelation 21:3-4) and I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4). I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus (John 17:23). For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26). He is the exact representation of my being (Hebrews 1:3). He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31) and to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10). I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32). If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23) and nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39). Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7). I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15). My question is will you be my child (John 1:12-13)? I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32).
Your Father, Almighty God
Friday, August 8
Thursday, August 7
~ ~ ~
Sophia looked at the little girl sitting across from her. They were in a diner, the fun, old-fashioned kind with black and white checker floors and loud oldies music playing in the background. She was glad she brought her here. Heaven knows the child could use some fun.
“Aunt Sophie” said Jenny.
“Yes, Jenny.” Sophia smiled and looked into the big, brown eyes that were fixed on her. They were eyes that seemed much older than a mere six years. They were eyes that had seen too much, and held too much pain for one that young.
“I’m really coming to live with you? For always?” Jenny looked unsure, as if she were ready to be disappointed again.
“Yes, Jenny. You’re coming to live with me now and you won’t have to live anywhere else from now on.”
“I’m glad. I like it at your house.” Jenny went back to eating her fries.
Sophia was glad too. It would be nice to have her niece living with her. Nice for her, but it would be lifesaving for Jenny. Such a beautiful child, she thought, and the spitting image of Natalie, at that age. Natalie was Sophia’s younger sister and Jenny’s mom. She had finally agreed to sign over custody of Jenny to Sophia.
“Aunt Sophie, when I’m living with you, will I be in the way? Mommy said I was always in the way.” With that, Jenny took a big drink out of her chocolate shake.
Sophia could feel her own eyes brimming with tears. Lord, help me to comfort her. Help me to show her she’s wanted and safe now. “No Jenny, you won’t be in the way. I’m happy to be taking care of you. You know I love you very much, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I think so. Is that why Mommy didn’t love me, because I was in the way?” Jenny asked sadly, while picking up her burger. Sophia was struck by how simply and matter-of-factly Jenny spoke.
“Oh Jenny, your mommy loves you. She really does. She just, well, she just has problems and that’s why she’s letting you live with me.” She had no idea how to explain to the child the devastating affects that drugs had on a person, or how it could ruin lives.
Sophia had been so relieved when she talked Natalie into letting her have permanent custody. It hadn’t been easy. For some reason Natalie believed that giving up her child made her a bad mother, not the neglect and abuse. Sophia found she had to resort to manipulation to get Natalie to see that she would be the better caregiver. Natalie, if you don’t have to worry about Jenny, you can do what you want and come and go as you please. You won’t have to try to remember to get her up for school or get her to bed at night. She didn’t like to have to manipulate her sister, but it worked. In seeing how it would benefit her, Natalie finally agreed.
“Aunt Sophie, are you going to cook for me? ‘Cause sometimes Mommy would forget and I would be hungry, sometimes for days.” Jenny was finishing the last of her fries. The child never left anything on her plate. Just in case.
“Yes Jenny, I’m going to cook for you and I promise I won’t ever forget, ok? And on top of that, you and I are going to have a lot of fun too!” said Sophia. Jenny smiled and drank the rest of her shake.
As they were leaving the diner, she slipped her hand into Sophia’s. “I love you too, Aunt Sophie.”
When she heard that, Sophia knelt down and hugged her niece. “I’m so glad” she softly whispered.
They walked to the car holding hands and they both knew things would be different now. It was time to go home. As Jenny was climbing in, she asked, “Aunt Sophie, can I get a kitty?”
Sophia laughed, “We might be able to arrange that.” As she walked around the car, she thought, we’re going to be ok. It will take time and effort, but we’ll be ok. Thank you Lord, for this amazing child, please help me to care for her the way she deserves to be. Lord, help her to feel safe and secure and happy. Help her to laugh and be a child again.
As Sophia started driving away, she looked over at Jenny. “So Jenny, what kind of kitty do you want?”
This week I haven’t gotten much done with writing for my own blog or reading others. I didn’t even get the FaithWriters Writing Challenge finished. It seems as though there’s been a lot to distract me this week. The most significant of which is that my 10-month old little Sweet Pea has come down with her first cold. It’s just a cold, but she’s miserable and is requiring a lot of extra TLC from Mommy. So this week I am thankful for:
~ Facial tissue. Her poor little nose is running terribly.
~ Veggie Tales, which somewhat distracts her from how she is feeling.
~ Baby Tylenol, which is keeping down her fever.
~ Good health. I am soooo thankful that she has always been healthy and that this is a minor illness – I know it can be so much worse.
~ Good temperament. Even while being sick, she’s in pretty good spirits.
~ Being a SAHM. I realize how blessed I am to be able to stay at home with her always, but especially when she is sick. I know there are many who don’t have that option.
Wednesday, August 6
Monday, August 4
I really believe in the power of this subject. And I think God does too. In life, we all face many different tests and trials. Some we may see coming, like finals or mid-terms, others may be more like the dreaded pop-quiz, but all are open-book. And because of His great mercy and grace, He has given us the ultimate resource book for all of these tests – the Bible.
Everything we do, say, think, feel, believe, etc. either leads to life or to death. It says in Deut. 30:19, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Life happens all around us, and we can’t control the circumstances that confront us, for good or for bad. But we can control the way we react to those circumstances. We can control our attitude, and consequently our altitude. We get to choose whether we rise above our circumstances and soar like the eagle, or stay down in the dumps, wallowing in our circumstances like a pig that wallows in the slop of its environment.
So now I invite you to join me on this new journey to see how we can choose life and blessings over death and curses in our daily lives. This is not some New Age or humanistic philosophy, but rather it’s what the Lord teaches us through His Word. God not only created us, but He has given us free-will, which is the power of choice. He desires for us to live with the fullness of life and blessings that He has to offer, but ultimately it is our choice.
Unlike the Fruit of the Spirit series, which had a predetermined number of posts based on the named Fruits, the Choose Life series is more open-ended. Some of the topics will be based on words, thoughts, emotions, attitudes, relationships and actions, with the possibility of more being added, as the Lord leads. I am eager to see where this journey will take me, and I hope you are too. Thank you for continuing to read and support my blog and thoughts.
Saturday, August 2
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
I truly love this bit of Scripture because it is a reminder that God created me specifically the way He wants me to be. When I am feeling down or insecure about myself, this is what I think of and it brings me great comfort. I am a special and unique individual, created by the God of the universe, and He treasures me as His child. The same goes for you too! How wonderful is that?
Friday, August 1
“It’s too late. I always thought I’d have more time. I didn’t realize how precious it was, till now. It’s so easy to spend, fill and waste, but it’s limited. I never realized that”, Abigail said to her sister Alanna on the phone. She was completely stunned as she sat there looking out the window of her tiny apartment. There was so much yet that she wanted to do. To do, not accomplish or excel at, but do. “I want to get married, have a family, travel, learn to dance and go skydiving, I want to… There’s just so much!” she cried into the phone, tears falling down her face.
Alanna was equally stunned. “Are you sure? I mean doctors can make mistakes, have you gotten a second opinion?” She was trying to control the fear and trembling she felt.
“Yes, a second and a third. They all say the same thing – six months at best. Of course we can pray, but I’ve been doing that all along and I still got the same prognosis. I just want more time! I’ve been working so hard to get where I am. I wanted to be the youngest woman to make partner. I’ve given up so much to achieve that. Oh sure, the money is great, but I just never realized the cost. I haven’t dated, traveled, bought a home, or anything else I wanted to do. I don’t even own a cat, for pity’s sake! I just thought I’d have more time!”
“Abigail, I don’t know what to say! How can this be happening? How can I lose my sister?” Alanna was openly crying now, overwhelmed by the sorrow she felt. I have to get control of myself and be strong for Abby, she thought. “What can I do for you? I mean of course I’ll pray, but is there anything else I can do to help? I love you and I’ll do anything for you,” she said, taking a big breath.
“I don’t know. I’m leaving the firm immediately. Money’s not an object, that’s the one thing I have plenty of. I guess now it’s just a matter of time. Time, there’s that word again! I’m through waiting! Doesn’t the Bible say something about ‘redeem the time’? Well, I’m not going to just lie down and feel sorry for myself and wait for the end. I may not have long to live, but I will LIVE the time that I have! I know I’m ready to meet my Savior, but I’m not ready to leave this life, to leave you and mom and dad. Oh, I can’t bear telling them!”
“When are you going to tell them?” asked Alanna, still trying to control her tears. “I wish I were closer so I could be with you. I wish I could spend more time with you.”
“I need to tell them right away. This is going to hurt them so badly. They’re going to need to lean on you. Help them to see that God has a plan. And Alanna, I need you. I’m going to start living before I die. Will you join me? I have plenty of money to pay for both of us, but I want to do things and go places. I’m sure Steven won’t mind. Can we go away for a while? Just the two of us?”
“Oh Abby, I wish I could. It’s not Steven, of course he wouldn’t mind. It’s just I can’t leave the ministry. This place would really fall apart without me. I can only get away for a week or so. But you can come here and visit me and we can spend time together when I’m not working. Besides you should rest now. Keep your strength up, so that you’ll have more time with us. Please understand.”
“Of course. I have to call Mom and Dad.” Abigail responded, hanging up. She realized Alanna’s work in the ministry was just like her work at the firm – all-consuming. She never took time away from it to actually enjoy the life God had given her. Sadly, Abigail prayed, Oh Lord, help her to see that there is so much more to life than work, even if that work is for You. Help her to realize that her time here is limited and You came to give us life more abundantly, not just work. Open her eyes Lord, so she doesn’t make the same mistake I did.