Thursday, September 30, 2010

Really, grace is for me too?

"Then the Criminal said, 'Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.' Jesus said, 'Don't worry, I will. Today you will join Me in paradise.'" Luke 23:4

We often say that grace is unmerited favour. A gift we do not deserve. A gift given in perfect love. So, why are we forever trying to earn it? God's grace isn't something we earn, it is a precious gift He gives along with mercy to move us to greater things and to fill us with all we need. You cannot separate grace and mercy. God's grace covers all. It is the ultimate gift. Grace is action. It is God coming to our side through those moments we think we are not going to be able to take another step. A more accurate definition of God's grace is the working of His life in us. James 4:6 "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." It is through grace that Christ moves in us and changes our hearts.

Our need for grace is different for each of us. On a particular day I might need an extra dose of grace to help me through the anger I feel. Through the loss I am facing. God does not bestow more grace upon one than He does another, but He gives the perfect grace to each of us. He is no respecter of persons. He does not love one more than another. He loves each of us as if we were His only child. 

I saw a question today in my devotional, "Good Morning Lord", by Sheila Walsh that asked, "In what ways are you still trying to measure up to God's gift of grace?" What a question to ponder. It is one I am taking great pause over. It is one I do not want to just think about for a minute and let go, I want to understand why I am forever trying to earn a grace that my Savior has given me.

Is it that I wonder why God would love this girl? Is it me wondering why would He want to forgive me of my past? Is it me just assuming again? Yes, yes, and yes! In me trying to earn God's grace I am taking all He is away from the gift. I am in turn making it all about me and not about Him! God created beauty in me. He created me with wonder. Psalm 139:14 "I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well."

God giving me grace has nothing to do with my abilities or what I can give Him. It's all about what He is willing to give me and what I am willing to accept. It's about life with possibility. 2 Corinthians 12:9 "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'" No matter what has touched my life, His grace is enough. He too can give me the peace when I cannot understand what is happening in my life. I can trust Him, knowing in every need, He is there. Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

I cannot save myself from this world. I am covered in sin and it is His blood that washes me clean. It is His grace that covers me in love and forgiveness. In me trying to work for that gift is making it less valuable. Grace is precious. There is nothing greater. No value can surpass it. Am I worthy? No, in my flesh I am not worthy to stand next to my Savior, but through Him, through His love, through His forgiveness and grace, He and only He makes me worthy to accept His precious gift. That is the wonder of it all. I am not worthy, but He makes me worthy. We often don't think God's grace can reach us because of our past, our failures and our imperfections. With grace we have the ability to overcome. We leave our past behind, forgiven and we find redemption in grace. We will never be perfect, but we can strive to find perfection in Christ, by allowing His life to shine through ours.

He has bestowed gifts upon me and each of us to use for His glory. They are not to be used to earn His love. There is nothing attached to His love, but Him giving Himself freely to a sinner in need of grace. See, in God's grace He is not expecting me to be something I am not. I accept His grace in knowing I can be all He has for me through Him and only Him. His love is enough. His grace is enough. Nothing more is needed.  It isn't my good deeds that saves me, but God's grace inviting me to His salvation. It is letting go of self, all control I think I have. Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself to me."
Romans 3:23-26 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifer of the one who has faith in Jesus."
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

No more am I living for me, but in accepting His grace I am making it all about Him. He makes it all about me! What a wonderful God we have. No matter what is happening in my life, He is forever without a doubt washing me with His grace and favour. So much in life just keeps changing. Life changes us. God is forever the same. His grace is the same grace that washes everyone who accepts Him.

Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." In God's grace we can find comfort. We can find that when we give Him everything, He will meet our needs, as unique as they are, He knows each one. There is nothing we must face alone in this world. Whatever is reaching your door today, you can be sure that when that door opens the Lord is going to be there greeting you with all you need to face not only today, but tomorrow.

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I can do this with God's grace. You know when you were a child and you just were not feeling good? What was it your mother did? She might have placed a warm blanket upon you, covering you, making you feel secure and safe. As she brought out that bowl of chicken noodle soup and gave you a soft drink, you knew without a doubt you were taken care of in love. Grace is that warm blanket that covers our fears, and the unknowns of the day. It is that love that brings us through and allows us to overcome.

Philippians 4:19 "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." We can be full knowing Christ is going to supply each need. Whether you are without a job today Christ is with you and will see you through. He will meet your needs. If you are facing a test today and waiting upon the answer, God is there to hold your hand and give you the strength to face the moments with assurance in His promises. If you are broken hearted, hurting, or just simply having a hard time making it through the day with all you are facing, God is there. Accept His grace. Simply open your heart and allow the grace to overflow..

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm hungry, are you?

So much is happening in my little world. I am finding myself so hungry and nothing is satisfying that pang that is aching in my stomach. You know that feeling of hunger? That one where nothing in this world is giving you what you want. The presentation is not pleasing to the eye what so ever, but you are still expected to eat what is on your plate. I am hungry my friends. This old world seems to want to devour us, piece by piece, spitting out the bones. When we are hungry we grow weak. We become unstable to where we can no longer stand. It's like the smallest thing causes us to turn to our bed and want to stay there until something is smelling good again. Filling the air with an aroma that overtakes all our senses.

I too am thirsty. My thirst is not being quenched by what I am seeing when I look out my window today. Oh, there is water there, enough to wet my tongue, but not enough to drench me. I just want to jump in fresh water. I want it to overflow and stream for miles. I want to float along and rest in the sun.

I want to be made new. I want to be refreshed. I want the sun to continue to shine, bringing with it an abundance of nourishment and refreshing water to quench this girl who feels as though she is in a drought. I am longing for so much more than what I am finding today.

Ever feel that way? We turn and look in every direction, but nothing is filling us anymore. Why? Am I basing my "filling" on the turnout of my circumstances? Yes, I am. I feel like I am simply stuck. I know where to go for nourishment. The Lord. I know He knows exactly what I need to fill me. I know where to go when I am thirsty. The Lord. He can quench my thirst to where I thirst no more. So, why am I not going there? Why is it that today I feel so empty? It's not that I do not see beauty around me. I do. It's not that I don't see laughter. I certainly do. I see the good things happening in my life, but I am at that point where I keep asking, "Why are the bad happening?" Is it going to get better, or is this as good as it gets for now?

Where is that job for my husband? There is no paycheck each week. Ever had to borrow money? Now that is a humbling experience. When I look at my husband, I am not seeing that sparkle in his eye today. I am seeing a man who is hurting and confused. I see a man who has worked his whole life, given and sacrificed beyond all measure. I see a man with a love for his family and God like no other. But I see pain there. I see a man who only wants to work. I see a humble man before me. When a man at the age of fifty walks in for a job, he is left wondering, "Are they not hiring me because I am fifty?" This is a man that is highly qualified in the area that he works in. How is it that a family can go from making an awesome income  six years ago to making absolutely nothing today? We heard on the news Sunday that the recession is over. Really? Are you kidding me? I would like to meet these people taking these polls. I would like to introduce them to the people I know. The recession is not over. Those jobs that were there six years ago are simply just not there any longer. If they are, for a fifty year old man, do you know what he hears? "You are over qualified!" Who cares, just give me a job and let me care for my family!

You know, we all have dreams. I use to have dreams of traveling the world. Now? My dreams have changed. I dream of having food on the table and having a paycheck each week. I dream of having our needs met enough we can help others meet their needs. Is that really asking for too much? Is wanting your family taken care of really too much? To have insurance and to go to  the doctor?

Believe me, I have searched God. I have asked all the questions. Did we do something? Is this a consequence for a sinful action? Is God teaching us something valuable? When trials come you begin to search your heart and ask God the whats and whys. I have been flat on my face, crying out to him, wanting Him to show me.

Oh, I have learned. I am more humble. I am more compassionate. I look to my husband with more respect and honor than ever before. I know life is not in my control. My tears fall at the drop of a hat. You know what? I think I am home sick. Yes, this girl is longing for heaven more and more. The more I see our struggle, the more other's struggles are brought to light to me. I see people losing their homes and scraping money together for medication and trying to put a meal of just basic food on the table.

So, what do I do? All I know to do is trust Jesus. Give Him everything I have. Give Him my weakness to turn into His mighty strength. I seriously don't think we would be making it without our faith. I know we wouldn't. Can things be worse? Oh, they can always be worse. There are struggles of all kinds. Others are hurting more than us and in different ways, but it doesn't make our trial any less important. He tells me, He is sufficient. All I know to do is trust Jesus. He is all I need. Am I just not trusting enough? Is my faith just not strong enough? I want it to be. I want my soul to only seek higher ground with Him. I don't want the things of this world any longer. I just want to see a smile on my husband's face again. I want to look into his eyes and see that man who knows his worth and thinks his life has meaning. I cannot begin to imagine how he feels as a man. I can only know by looking into his eyes and his walk. He too is searching. Our son is watching all this happen. I want to be that example to him. Showing him through all we can trust Jesus. I want him to know hope, faith and love. I want him to see the Lord do a work in our family through prayer.

I have learned after all I was taking things for granite. We take for granite everything. If we say we don't we are not being honest with ourselves. We take each sunrise and sunset for granite. We think it will just be there tomorrow. We leave our home without saying goodbye thinking we will see each other again in just a bit. We spend all we have thinking next week more will be there. We waste what we have. We simply waste the moment we have away wanting more for the next. Why? Why can we just not be satisfied with today, with right now?

Even being a Christian I have been living for myself and my wants for too long now. I get stuck in thinking this or that will make me happy. I am learning the material things of this world do not bring lasting joy. Sure, they quench that midnight craving, but in a few hours you are hungry again.

Somewhere along the way we stop thinking of others and we just concentrate on ourselves. We stop reaching out, we stop giving and in that process people lose hope. Not so much in Christ, but in other people. Where is that Christian love? Where is the simple caring of another? We see so many in need and we just pass them by. I think somewhere we begin to look for others to satisfy our needs that only Christ can. No one else can fill that God spot inside us. We must stop looking for others to meet our wants and look to Christ for all our needs. He knows each need and He knows how to cultivate the greatest blessings to bring us the most out of life, giving us life abundant.

I know through all this the Lord is still teaching me. I must really be a slow learner, but I too know that my walk with Him is one in that I can learn everyday if I will allow myself to see past myself and all He has for me.  I know when I was young I was that spoiled little daddies girl. Yes, I simply had to hold out my hand and say, "I want." Daddy would give me that credit card and I would be a happy girl, until that purchase got old and I needed another. We can become addicted to want of any kind. I am learning my wants go  much deeper than that. I am not being fed. That is no ones fault but mine. I simply need to soak myself in God's word. I need to stay there until I hear from Him. I need to drink in His word until I am of thirst no more. I need to turn off everything and shut the door and simply wait on Him. I am waking up each day just expecting life to be handed to me on a pretty platter, ready to serve. All I must do is reach in and grab the best parts. Ouch! You too? We tend to want to throw those that don't look so pretty back for someone else. Someone else much stronger than we who can handle it, right? We want to take the easy route. We want to go up to that buffet and just do a tasting test. If it doesn't taste good we simply move on. Life is not like that. We must be willing to take the bad just as willing as we are the good. See, what doesn't always look good has more nourishment. Water simply looks boring, but nothing can quench your thirst like fresh, cold water. Jesus knows just what we need when we need it.

I must learn to wait on Him. I cannot expect things to appear just when I snap my finger. I must stop looking for each day to meet my needs and begin to meet the needs of each day. Things may not appear to be moving forward right now, but God is working behind the scenes making things happen in His time. It is in His time that the best of the best of blessings appear to us.

What if life was a big box of chocolate? Me, I reach in that box and pick one up thinking it's what I want, but end up putting it back for someone else, because it just didn't fit my taste. We seem to leave what we don't want and take all we do. That my friend is living for self. I am still learning to die to self. Maybe, just maybe this is the lesson the Lord is forever trying to teach this slow girl. To follow Him I have to be willing to give up everything. In giving up everything God comes in and fills my life with more than I could ever imagine.

I have to stop wanting right now to happen and just rely on Him and His time. I must say, even though things are hard, we are still here. We are making it through this storm. He aren't going under and if we do, the Lord will throw out that life preserver and bring us back in. He isn't letting go. I must remember no matter what He is here. Job or no job Jesus isn't going anywhere. It is His presence that has kept us going and not just going, but striving for more through Him. There is always hope. Hope fills us when all else seems impossible.

I ask you to pray for me and my family. Pray that we allow God to be our Rock and Corner Stone. He is our foundation. I don't want to move away from that. I want to seek Him daily with a new attitude and a refreshed soul for Him. I want His word to be what I am seeking with great effort. Pray my husband receives that perfect job I know the Lord has for him. Pray our marriage strengthens and our family grows even closer. Pray God uses this trial as a testimony to bring Him honor and glory. This valley is taking a little longer to walk through than we expected, but I know through the walk, God will open our eyes to things we would have never had the opportunity to see unless we were right where He has us.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; stuck down, but not destroyed."

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

2 Corinthians 12:9 "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'"

Philippians 3:7-14 'But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Still remembering part 2

As I write about my father's death there is just so much more to say. There is much more to share. As I opened my heart and shared with you I carried anger for years. I must tell you it was the grace of God that took that anger and turned it into peace. It was His comfort that healed this girl's hurting heart.

There is not a day that goes by still today that I do not think about my dad, but in these days my heart is not broken any longer. It is filled with new blessings of hope. Each day the Lord shines His love upon me. That empty feeling I carried for years is now filled with a husband who lights my day with laughter and children who warm me with smiles. Friends who share in this journey along with me and renewed family that has been lost but are now found in a closer relationship than ever before. The Lord continues to bless through everything.

To recover from loss is not easy. There is no time line for healing. For me healing came by letting go of the anger and bitterness and picking up the Lord's love and forgiveness. His grace seems to cover all. The more I learned about Christ and the more I grew with Him the more I was able to release of my past to make room for my new future with Him.

Just as the leaves in the Autumn fall, leaving the trees bare, that is how I felt after losing my dad. But Spring gives life again to those trees and they begin to bud again, bringing new life where life was not dead, but lying dormant for a time. Healing takes time.

Still today, all it takes is a smell. A man who looks like my dad to make me turn my head. Just a breeze can blow by or a rustle of noise to make me listen a little closer. But, I no longer take these moments as pain, but smiles from heaven. It is like a little glimmer of sunshine, filling my heart with a moment in time that is no longer here, but I can be taken back in just a moments flair for a time bringing a tug of love to my heart once again.

Pain is not forever. I know I can never go back. I know time cannot change, but in today, this day, I can make a beautiful statement as my feet walk and my mouth moves to bring joy to this old earth and the people of it. This is not my home. I am on my way to a place much greater than this. I know my dad will be there, along with many others.

I was wrong to think that hospital floor contained to hope. There is always hope. Hope for today and tomorrow. As long as we have Jesus Christ alive in our hearts we have nothing to fear about death. It is just one more stop before we reach heaven. And isn't that our destination? My dad just happened to reach heaven's doors before me. I now can think upon that and smile. He is not hurting any longer.
There is no sickness to overtake him. Only peace and joy.

This girl turned out okay. The pain I thought would last forever subsided as more beauty entered my life. Life is hard at times. There are times we have no idea why such pain has to happen, but I promise, God has a plan and purpose. He can use the worse of our pain and weakness to show His mighty strength and healing. He did a work in my heart and I know He too can do one in yours. He is the God of miracles. He did bring healing to my dad, just not the kind I was hoping for, but He had a better plan for healing than me. Through my dad's death my life changed forever. Through his sickness is taught this girl compassion and what mercy is all about. God restored my heart. He gave me life that I didn't know existed.

Through my dad's death, through having to move and just life, I ended up moving to an area and meeting the man of my dreams. The man that would one day teach me about Jesus. The Savior my father knew before he passed from this life to the next. My vision is so short sighted, but God sees the distance. He sees beyond what I am uncapable of seeing.

I now know I don't have to be strong. I can find my strength in the God above. I don't have to hide my tears. I can let them flow and be honest and real. God healed my broken heart. With my dad that was a broken road I wish I didn't have to walk, but I did. I made it and all that praise goes to the God of heaven for all the love He placed in my heart.

Pain comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes all through our lives. It is something we just don't welcome with open arms. But it is through all the brokenness in my life that God has brought me closer to Him. I have become this humble girl who knows my life is all because of Him.

When my heart is hurting I know just where to turn. I crawl up in the lap of Jesus and stay there until I am refreshed and ready to move forward. If you are hurting, know that your pain is real and the Lord sees your tears and feels your confusion. It is through Jesus you can find peace. You can find the road the healing. He will take you through the valley and set you atop the mountain. One day you will be able to look back and see He was there with you all along, wiping your tears and holding your hand. Each day is a day we move closer to healing with the presence of God. It may seem as though we are moving slow, but if we are moving toward Christ then we are headed in the right direction.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Psalms 27:14 "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!"

Psalms 18:1-2 "I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now, hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Romans 8:24-27 "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees" But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession fo rus with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the herats knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I still remember

I had to be at work in the evening of this bright, sunny day. I thought I would lay out in the sun before I took off to go do hair for six hours and close the shop. Gave my mom a call to check on my dad. She had been staying at the hospital with him for three weeks now. I was at home doing all the chores and taking care of home stuff.

My dad had been fighting lung cancer for a year now. My parents never told me how bad it really was. They hid that from me. Maybe I was just ignoring it all. No one thinks their dad will never be there, right? I was expecting my dad home that next day. My brother in law was to come out and bring a bed for him and move my parents room around. So, I was expecting to see him, but not on this day.

Here I am laying out in my bikini getting a sun tan. Just relaxing. At nineteen you seem to think everything is going to be great and work out. You never think of the worse in things. You see the best in others and you know each day is going to bring a new excitement to your life in some way shape or form.

I was that girl who liked to party. I was that girl who never stayed at home. I was out with my boyfriend and I was doing things that only made me happy. I wasn't a bad kid, I just knew how to have fun. Maybe that is a trait I get from my dad. He loved to have a good time.

It was summer. It was the month of April, and it was unusually hot. Now, I had called to check on my dad and mom said he was doing great. I was planning on going to the hospital before work. Little did I know he would be gone by the time I was ready to go.

My brother in law pulls in the drive way with my nephews. I sit up and smile at him. I am thinking he is here to make room for the new bed and move things around. I smile at my nephews and they quietly smile back. Something is just not right with this picture. There is no bed to bring in. My brother in law looks at me with all the love and compassion he could have and tells me my dad is gone. I am wondering, "Gone where? He is suppose to come home." I don't cry. I can't cry. I tell him I will get dressed and he tells me he is driving me to the hospital. I move in the house as though I am lost.  I  pick up the phone calling my boyfriend at work. I hear his voice and the tears begin to fall. He knows before I say a word. See, he and my dad were close. They fished together. I think he was that son my dad never had.

This day just seems really slow. Everything is in slow motion. The sun is bright. I squint my eyes from the glare in the window. At this point I don't even know if I am crying. I enter the hospital again. Walking through the familiar doors and onto the floor where my dad was. This floor smelled like death. It was a floor that seemed to hold no hope. No hope for the ones there in the beds and for those sitting next to them. I not only watched my dad wither away, but my mom too. I am not sure she ever recovered from this day. From this whole year.

The last time I saw my dad was the day before. It was Easter Sunday. My uncles had brought him fried fish for dinner and he ate and had a lovely day. I remember this day, because it was the last time I saw my dad. I sat by his bed many days. I slept on the floor in his room many nights just listening to his breathing. Wondering if it was his last, and hoping he would just get up and come home. Before I left for home this day my dad looks to me and says, "Rob, you take care of your mom." I made a promise to him that I always would. But then I told him, "You will take care of her yourself when you get out of this bed and come home."

My dad called me Rob. It was a name that just seemed to stick. Those people who love me the most call me Rob still today. It is a name I carry with a humble heart, remembering just how my dad said it. I wish I could hear him say it again just once more.

So, I enter the floor where my dad is and see family standing around with tears falling freely. I see my mom, and hear a nurse say, "There is his daughter." They were waiting for me. What a strange thing to be waiting on. I am the last to get there. I don't think my brother in law was really in any hurry to get me there. I don't think I wanted to be there anymore than he did. I look and I see my boyfriend. It is his face that brings me comfort. But I know what I must do. I must enter in his room. I didn't have to, but I knew somehow this is what I was to do next. My aunt offered to go in with me. I don't know where my strength came from, but I knew I had to do it alone. Maybe another attribute from my dad. He seemed to be the strongest man I ever knew.

My aunt walks me to the door. I turn the knob and walk through the quietness of the room. Silence is deafening, but somehow healing. I am not even sure that makes sense. I go to my dad's bed and see him. Now the tears are there. Nothing is stopping them. It is as if reality has hit me in the gut. The princess wants her king to come home. She wants him out of this bed and out in his boat. She wants her mom cooking the fried catfish he brought home and hearing the football game on. I want to see his boots sitting by the front door. I want to hear the dog bark again when he knows my dad has pulled in the drive way. It's funny how we seem to take all these little moments for granite, never realizing there will be a last time.

All the tubes are left hanging free. No oxygen turned up high. No muffled sounds of breath. No television to drown out the silence. Only me and my dad. My thoughts and empty heart. God? I knew there was a God, but I sure didn't know where He was. I didn't think He was in this room. I did not carry the deep faith in Christ Jesus then as I do today. I held anger and resentment. I was mad at the world. Why? Why did my dad have to die in this way? Why did he have to go at such a young age?

Those were questions I sat and said through my tears. I touched his hand. I kissed his forehead and remembered the dad that was. I remembered him strong. I remembered his huge arms that scared boys away. I remember his cowboy boots and endless amounts of shirts. He liked to dress that is for sure.
As this girl sat beside his bed I felt like a little girl all over again. I was confused and hurt. Why didn't someone tell me? Why didn't someone prepare me? I thought he was coming home. I thought he was fine. I knew he was sick, but no one was ever honest with me. We just never talked about it. But, then again, can you really prepare to lose your father?

I spoke to my dad and told him thank you. I told him how much I loved him and how proud I was of him. I told him all the things I didn't when I had the time. Maybe that is where part of my hurt was from. We didn't have a family that shared. I walked out of that room without ever turning my back to my dad and gave him a thumbs up. I never said good bye. Just that I would always and forever remember. I stayed until they took my dad away. There was no funeral. He was cremated. No tombstone to visit. Only ashes.

Little did I know then, but before my dad died he accepted Christ as His Savior. A family member had a pastor come and visit my dad. He accepted the Savior that I would find later in my life. Now, I know why good bye words didn't seem to fit. We were not saying good bye, but see you again one day.
Sometimes hurt comes in our lives and we just don't know what to do with it. We think we protect others by not talking about it, but we are wrong. We think by not saying anything somehow it covers up the pain, but all silence does is open it up bare. I look back now and wonder, "Could anything have really made that day better?" I am not sure how to answer that. I think no matter what I would have been mad. I think anger would have taken over no matter what.

That night I went home and after my mom crawled into bed I crawled into my dad's boat. I spent hours in that boat just thinking. Just letting the tears flow. See, I had to be strong for my mom. I could not let any other see my cry. I couldn't show any weakness at all. But inside, I was dying. I didn't open up to anyone. I closed up. No one was getting close to my heart again, because I wasn't losing anyone again.

It took me years to let go of my anger and pain. Today if I let my flesh get to me I can still draw from that anger. I still miss him. I still remember like it was yesterday. After the memorial service I took my dad's ashes and walked down to the river. I opened them with great care and I remember even praying. Praying what I don't know. With tears I let his ashes slip through my hands into the wind, blowing into the river where he spent his evenings and weekends.

Even though I didn't know the Lord then, He knew me. I have no doubt in my mind He was in that room that day with me and my dad. The Lord was watching over me even when I didn't know Him. That is how great His love is. Where my earthly father is no longer here, my heavenly Father is. There is one thing about Him. He is never leaving me. Nothing can tear Him away from me. Not the sin of this world or the evil in it.

Why share this story with you? I know many are hurting with loss of all kinds. Through my dad's death I learned much. Through that journey I learned to love again. I learned to open my heart. I learned to say, "I love you and I am sorry." I learned never to take one day of life for granite. Through that journey I learned my weakness' and my strengths. The Lord is my strength today. I know with Him I can face anything. Just as this girl sat in front of her daddy and faced my fears, I can face today and tomorrow knowing my Savior is near. He was near that day and He walks with me daily now.

If pain is in your home, talk to your children. Talk to your family. Don't hold back truth. Be honest in those deepest struggles and move through the journey's together in love and faith. We don't have to walk through anything alone, we can reach out to others. Ask for help when you can no longer stand. Reach out for others to meet your needs. Don't worry about the right words. Just put your arms around each other and lean on the Lord. He will meet your greatest needs. Don't let your fears keep you from healing and living again.

I have kept my promise to my dad. I pray he can see me from heavens gates and look at me with pride. I know he is cheering me on. Oh, how I wish he were here. I would love to walk this journey of faith with him. One day we will sit together at the feet of Jesus and you know, just that makes it all worth it in the end. I don't have all the answers. I can't even begin to figure it all out. But, I know the One who can. I know He has a plan much bigger than I can see. He can take those hurts and turn them into healing. He can take our anger and turn it into peace. He can take our confusion and give us hope. Hope eternal.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Do you feel the burn?

Ouch! Those chaturanga push ups are killers! Downward dog? Chair? Yes, I have been doing yoga mixed with Pilates for a while now. I had been doing it on a daily basis until my mom became ill, but now am back to doing it every day. I love it!
I had been looking for an exercise to fit me for such a long time. Walking? That is just boring for me. Running? Not this girl. Now a spin class? That would be awesome! But, in the country it is hard to find classes like that.

When you have Fibromyalgia any exercise seems to hurt about ten times worse than normal. But, I have realized when I do exercise, and push myself I feel so much better. I feel healthy. I feel strong and I have more energy at the end of the day. It's not to say I do not have to take pain medication. Because I do. And often. I pray I get to that point where I never have to take a pain pill again. Those days I feel good are becoming more and more. I might have to slow down a bit. I try my best not to let stress overtake me.

I am eating right. No white stuff at all! Especially no sugar, soda, or hydrogenated oils and high fructose syrup. I haven't become a vegetarian, but I am watching what I eat. Not to lose weight, but to stay healthy. I have those occasional snacks, but I watch what is in them. Water is becoming a friend to me. When I wake up in pain, I can think back on what I had to eat the day before and figure out what is causing some of my pain. I can tell you I have lost five pounds just in the last week by starting up exercising again.

This is the only body I am ever going to have. I want to take care of it. I don't want to turn 60 years old and wonder what happened to me. I don't want to have regrets as to wishing I would have done more to stay in shape and care about myself. The only excuse that holds me back is me and my laziness. I am learning to push through the pain. I am learning to stretch out that stress.

There are Christians who have a problem with yoga. I am not one of them. I am not doing yoga to pray to some god that is not there. I am not doing Pilates to get in touch with my inner self. I am simply using a technique that works for me and has worked for many people for years. For me, this has become the perfect exercise. I can take this time, sweat and all and reach into my soul and push myself like never before. I like a challenge and this certainly is. I can finish exercising and look in the mirror and feel proud that I did something today to help me grow and strengthen the body the Lord gave me.

We need to love ourselves enough to take care of our bodies. We take care of our minds by staying in God's word, by seeking Him daily, why are we not taking care of our very bodies He designed for us? Our mind is not going to stay fit very long if our body is not moving into shape too.

Having an illness stinks! Feeling bad stinks! I have to watch my back. It can go out just by bending over. My bones ache. My muscles hurt. I have muscle spasms at night and boy, do they hurt. But this girl refuses to give one more day over to pain alone. I want to enjoy life. I want to do everything I can to make my life healthier and more beautiful.

The funny thing is I have yet to purchase a mat! I think one is needed. lol I have calluses on my knees and elbows. But, you know, I look at them with a smile. They didn't get there from me falling. They got there from hard work and determination.

Share your journey with me. Are you exercising? Are you growing healthy? We have no excuse not to my friends. Let's travel this journey with joy and energy. We we are feeling our best, we can be motivated in Christ. I know if I feel bad, all I want to do is lay in bed and have myself a pity party. Migraines and Fibromyalgia have taken enough of my time. I am taking some back! Live, Life, Love! We can live life to the fullest and we can not only love ourselves, but thank the Lord who gave us this one life to live out for Him.

1 Corinthians 6:19 "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."

Shhhh, It's my move

In the small town barber shop an old man is sitting down to a checkerboard with a young boy. Today is the day he will teach him the love of playing checkers. He will show him how to set up the board, where he can move and the direction in which he can move. A smile washes over the young boy's face. He knows he is in for a treat. He thinks he already knows how to play and how to win. Little does he know, the old man has much wisdom to carry and teach this young boy, if only he is willing to learn. By the young boy's surprise, the old man wins not just the first game, but many more after that. Finally, after watching each move of the old man, learning his steps and realizing there is more to winning than gathering all the pieces. It's taking the time to think. It's pondering over each move and being able to walk away from the table with a smile no matter what. It's the enjoyment of the game. Now, the young boy is able to teach another all he knows and is still learning about the game.

Up the street at the library a grandfather is gathering the chess pieces, setting up the board and inviting his granddaughter to sit in front of him. She is sceptical about playing. She would rather be out shopping with her friends. She wants to make her grandfather smile today, so she sits before him, ready to play. But, she must learn first. She wants to hurry this game up and move on to something more exciting, like text her girlfriend letting her know how bored she is at the moment. Little does she know, her grandfather is about to teach her valuable lessons about life. He is teaching her much more than just checkmate. He is teaching her how to be still. He is teaching her how to think before she moves. She will learn that one fast move will make her wish she took her time. She will see there is more than talking, but listening, watching and waiting. It is in this still, quiet time that she will grow into more than just a player in the game, but a winner in the race of life.

My son and I use to play checkers all the time. For Christmas one year we purchased a chess game for him. It came with details on how to move, and what each move meant. Playing checkers took us from ten to twenty minutes a game, but chess? Now, that at times could take hours. We would leave the board, only to come back later to finish the game.

It is so hard for us to learn to be still. Harder yet to listen to the wisdom of others when we ourselves think we have it all figured out. I have learned, just about the time I think I have it all figured out is when I realize I really know nothing. The Lord is forever teaching me to be still.

Ever try putting your child in a time out? Ha! Why does it work? They don't want to sit and be quiet for long. All it takes is just a few minutes and they got it. But, before they know it they are right back in that chair for another time out. It usually takes us a few trips around until we finally figure it out.
There is a lesson in every move we make. Every move, every choice, just like in checkers or chess leads to another, and then yet another. Each move is connected to a loss or win. We just need to learn how to take our time, slow down and not be in such a rush to move. It is in those quiet times that we can hear the whisper of the Lord. We need His direction before making a choice of any kind. We always think of big decisions affecting our lives the most, but in fact it is those little, everyday decisions that change our lives. Just one wrong move can send us down the path of destruction. We can walk away from the board either knowing we have played well, gave it all we had, and smile just in the sheer joy of playing, or we can walk away with a deep frown, confused and ready to give up, never playing again. How sad would that be?

We can choose to sit across from wisdom and learn, or we can walk with fools and never gain the wisdom to use all the knowledge we have. In my life I have made many foolish mistakes, but as I grew I learned from them, never to repeat them again. I still struggle daily. This girl wants to move forward, leaving behind the past, but many times it is that very past that will teach us to walk forward with a new found wisdom of life. A new attitude, leaving the old man behind and allowing the Lord to lead each step, creating in us a new person.

Lessons do not have to be learned the hard way. We can take joy in learning from others. We can take nuggets away from everything in life, leaving behind a legacy of wisdom for others to reach for and embrace.

Proverbs 13:1 "A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."

Proverbs 13:20 "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed."

Proverbs 19:20 "Listen to council and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days."

Psalm 25:4-5 "Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day."

Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

2 Timothy 2:15 "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

This world teaches us to hurry. In hurrying, that is where we make mistakes of misfortune. It is when we take our time, slow down and in the quietness of the room seeking the Lord that our paths will be made straight. He will forever light our way and never lead us wrong.

Wherever you are today my friend, stop and wait on the Lord. You may ask, "How long am I to wait?" We should wait until we hear from Him. It is in that waiting period that we learn so much about Christ and ourselves. Ever sit in a waiting room while one is in surgery? There is not much else to do besides sit and reflect on life. We pray and focus on the one before us. Just as in playing checkers and chess, we too can walk away with a knowledge greater than when we sat down, if we only allow ourselves the time to learn from those before us who have walked godly lives and look to the One who makes our paths possible.

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all you ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Friday, September 24, 2010

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Suzanne Woods Fisher

Wow! Look who came to visit the Nest! I am over the top tickled pink to have Suzanne here with us on this day. I am one of her biggest fans! I was blessed to read, "The Choice", for review and now I am about to open the pages of book two in that series, "The Waiting." Suzanne is one of those authors that not only writes with passion, but she pulls the reader in as though they too are in midst of the story unfolding.
I love having ladies visit who make a difference and stand out. Suzanne is one of those ladies for me. She is not puffed up and proud. She is talented, but she uses her gifts for the glory of the Lord. She is not out for her own gain. As an aspiring writer I admire her honesty and pure thought. From Suzanne I have learned to write because it is a joy. I think everyone would love to be published, but if I never make that route, I know right here, I can make a difference. I am doing what I love no matter if I am ever a best seller or just a blogger from a small town who wants to reach out and touch others with the love of Christ. If you have never picked up one of Suzanne's books you are missing out my friend. Sit back, grab yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy our chat.

(Robin) Suzanne, tell me a little about yourself

(Suzanne) In no particular order, I’m a wife and mother to four children, ages 18-27, plus one new son-in-law. And earlier this month…I have a grandchild! A little boy. I love studying the Bible, gardening and cooking, and puppies. I raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. It’s like eating a potato chip. You can’t stop after one.

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Suzanne) I think there is a constant struggle to have a proper focus on God—a daily struggle! It’s so easy to focus (put energy, effort, time) on the wrong thing—but what a difference when God becomes the focus! Everything else finds its place.

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Suzanne) Even though I have always been fascinated by the Amish and have studied them, it was while I was in Lancaster County to research “Amish Peace” that gave me a huge aha moment. I realized that the Amish (at their best) are close to the heart of Christ. We get distracted by the buggies and the bonnets…but they are trying to live the life that Christ exemplified—based on the Sermon on the Mount. That awareness gave me the perspective that is at the root of all of my books about the Amish—you don’t have to go Amish to incorporate their principles into your life.

(Robin)  Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Suzanne) Sounds so simple, but I love this one: “Emmanuel, God is with us.” It’s so simple, yet it is profound and foundational.

(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Suzanne) A margin of error! I love and admire people who forgive readily, who offer others the benefit of the doubt, who have humility in their outlook. It’s really quite rare! But what a lovely example to us all.

(Robin)  What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Suzanne) I love to read all kinds of books—Christian and secular, fiction and non-fiction. I get inspired as a writer by reading good books! I read using little post-it note tabs and stick them all through the book to observe an author’s skill.

A couple of authors I always feel comfortable recommending to others, depending on their interests: Philip Yancey (non-fiction), Timothy Keller (non-fiction), W. Dale Cramer (fiction), Lynn Austin (fiction).

(Robin)  When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Suzanne) See…that’s the good thing about having puppies in your house. You just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth!

(Robin)  What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Suzanne) I am a very, very hard worker. More hard working than talented!

(Robin)  What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Suzanne) My home—it’s simple and small but warm and appealing. My backyard—we’ve worked on it over the years and it looks like a park! A lot of redwood tress and cozy places. And my garden. Love, love, love my garden.

(Robin)  What are your deepest passions?
(Suzanne) Apart from my faith…I would say my family! They are the main focus of my life—my husband and children, my new grandchild, my siblings and their families, my parents, my husband’s family, my aunts and uncles. I really value them. And writing is truly a passion for me. Always has been, even as a child.

(Robin)  What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Suzanne) I think it’s something I discovered myself one day: “Take your writing seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.” That transformed the writing experience for me. You’re pretty exposed as a writer—reviews, speaking engagements, etc. It’s so important to not take yourself too seriously! Yet, take the craft of writing very seriously. Work, keep improving, set aside time for it.

(Robin)  In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Suzanne) Writing is my legacy. For me, it’s a way to express a love of God and His word. With every book or article, I hope readers get a sense of what faith really looks like in the daily grind. I hope they realize that life can be hard, but God is good, and never to confuse the two.

(Robin)  What are you currently working on?
(Suzanne) Just started the first in a three-book fiction series for Revell. It’s a series about three Amish sisters, at different ages, and each sister will take a turn being the main character. Their family doesn’t quite “fit the mold.” I’m having fun creating them!

(Robin)  How do you define success?
(Suzanne) That’s such a great question! I ask that of my students in writing classes—because it is important to have a realistic idea of what success will be for you as a writer. If you think you have to be a NY Times bestseller to be a success….you might have a very long, sad wait. But if you consider your readers—and hope to connect to them, to bring some inspiration in to their life, to encourage them to seek God,…well, that, to me, is success. Book by book!

I really enjoy connecting with readers. You can find me on-line at
 Also, I host a weekly radio show, “Amish Wisdom,” that can be heard live on Thursday afternoons (4pm CST) or whenever you have time to listen on-line or through podcasts downloaded on Itunes

 Hope you’ll tune in! I’ve had some fascinating guests.


Suzanne, thank you so much for stopping in to chat with me and my readers. What a precious soul you are. I pray the Lord continues to bless you and your work. You have blessed me today. Thank you for opening up your heart to us and sharing a piece of yourself that only makes us love you more.
I know Suzanne would love to hear from you. Leave her a comment and let her know what a sweet blessing she is to you.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Change? Really? Now?

As I crawl under the cover at night. Lay my head on the pillow, fluffing it with intention. I curl up for a good nights sleep and what happens? I am awake. Sleep just does not want to come. I toss and turn and then, when all is silent and I am finally sleeping peacefully, what happens? I wake finding myself in a pool of sweat! Yes, hair glued to the back of my neck and I feel as though I have been out in the heat working up a sweat. Oh no!
Is it time for this, really? I think. Okay, I will be 44 in December. No, it can't be this time yet. I really don't think this could be happening yet. Then I begin to put pieces of this womanly puzzle together. The tears that stream from no where. The anger that appears at the blink of an eye and I have no idea why. I am just mad! My body is changing. My hair is getting thicker and curlier. Now, that one puzzles me. Oh, and there is more. Changes are coming out of left field.
Even my husband has noticed, but dare he say anything? That might be a little dangerous. So, while watching television one night what comes on? You got it. A commercial for Menopause. There is just something negative about that word. It just sounds mean, doesn't it? Really, can anything good come of it? This is a time where I could go into a chocolate induced coma. That's right. I am going through so many emotions, the only medication I need is chocolate and lots of it. I mean it could have been called, "Lets Pause for Chocolate." Anything, but Menopause. Come on! Are we really pausing from men? Maybe we need to. They just simply don't understand. Who knew you could have so many emotions at one time. My husband looks at me and then pauses to see if it's okay to enter into my world. Should he approach or should he just simply stay clear until the smoke clears. I can't even answer that because I have no idea when my mood is going to go from happy, to crying, to madder than a skunk. This is like an emotional meltdown.
I mean there are so many jokes about Menopause. I am thinking this is no joking matter. I dare anyone to joke with me right now. lol I mean, come on. We go through our teenage years and puberty which is bad enough with zits and now, here they are again at 43! Seriously, what woman wants to carry around a zit on her chin for ten years again?
After that we go through our 20s where we think we know everything and make the dumbest mistakes ever. Now we head into our 30s and have children and our bodies change drastically. Who knew a body could do that? Aw, and now the 40s. Do you know how many people have told me, "This is the best time of your life?" Really? I didn't think Menopause would hit until I was like 50 or 60. Maybe even 70. I am thinking Jesus should be back by then, right? One more reason to want Him to hurry up! I do not want to have a heat flash when the trumpet sounds!
And please, this is so hard to talk about. Who wants to call up her girlfriend and say, "Hey, you having hot flashes?" Wrinkles come, and things begin to dry out. Everything becomes dry! Am I wrong? My eye sockets feel as though there should be sand in there to cover the desert!  And let's talk about dessert, with that extra s! That piece of cake goes right to the hips ladies! No more big bowls of ice cream for this girl. This is something every woman goes through. Some have gone through it before me and those little women will go through it after me. I almost dread telling them what they are in for. It's kind of scary. It's one of those unknown things. Sure, we can read about it, but no one talks about it. Come to find out, I have quite a few girlfriends who are going through the same things right now. Don't worry, I am not gonna write your names down. But really, why are we afraid to talk about this? Are we ashamed? Are we fearful of admitting that we are getting older? My husband reminded me one day that I was middle aged. I thought, "No, I am most certainly not!! That is like 50, not 43!" But the more I thought, the more he was right. Please don't tell him that. He is right enough as it is. I think that is really it. We don't want to get older. We really think of this time as we are old, grey, and wrinkly. Oh, and angry.
It's not like we haven't heard enough about PMS, right? Now, we get to add on Menopause to our list of gifts. I mean really God, what were You thinking? I guess we could continue to blame Eve. If she just could have went on her business and ate the right kind of fruit. I mean did she have to take a bite? Couldn't she just smell it? Or say, "Hey, Adam, come on over here and taste this fruit for me."
Men, you just don't have to go through all the things women do. I think that makes us pretty special indeed. As my mom use to say, "Whatever doesn't kill you will only make you stronger." Ladies, if we can make it through childbirth and menopause we can make it through any war that comes our way. I mean when we are young we protect our children like a momma bear, and during menopause we have the strength and anger to fight off a bear with our own hands!
I think we should not be ashamed, but stand with the beauty and grace the Lord gave us. Ladies, we go through so much in life. Things a man will never understand. So, let's embrace these changes. There has to be a blessing, right? God has a plan, right? He wouldn't allow these things if there was not a perfect plan above. I think going through these changes makes us more sensitive to others needs. We begin to open our hearts more, and if anything, we begin to search God more.
As these crazy changes happen to us we need to embrace each other. We need to be there to share these emotions with our friends. My mom never talked about this stuff. No one ever told me what to expect. So, when these changes begin to creep up on you, you freak out. You want to hide out until it's all over. I mean, how long is this going to last girls?
Ten years ago I had to have a partial hysterectomy. My uterus had to go. Even though I had my tubes tide after our last son, I didn't want to. It was done for my health. At that time, it was so hard. I knew I could always reverse that tubal, but no uterus? You can't change that. No more babies was hard. I had wanted even more children. We would have a whole house full. We are blessed with amazing children and they are enough. They are all I need. I just loved being pregnant. I think that was my favorite time of life. So, to say good bye to that permanently was hard.
So, now as our home is almost at that empty nest, now this change too. I feel like everything is becoming empty. My womb has been empty and now my home too. I am not excited about having another empty room down the hall, nor am I happy about these new changes that are happening. But what do you do? You can't stop it, right? Now, if someone out there has a secret you need to let me know!
All I know to do is simply turn to God. Lean on my husband and surround myself with the grace and friendship of my girlfriends. God Himself is enough, but He doesn't leave it at that. He has graced my life with some amazing people to help light the way. If nothing else just to simply be there. We can walk the unknown together. If anything it is simply more to talk about. Now, there is a plus, right? Girlfriends always need more to share, besides all those prayer requests we love to share, right? You Baptist girls know what I am talking about. lol
We are not alone. There are many resources out there to guide us through this time and that alone is more than my mother had. It is simply a part of life, of growing older. I always say I am not afraid to grow old, maybe that is not so true. I think any change is scary. This one just happens to be a pretty big one. But aren't we always changing? The point is, through all these changes we need to like ourselves. We need to love ourselves. Take care of ourselves. I certainly like who I am today much more than when I was 20, even 30. The more by body changes, the more the Lord shows His favor and grace. May we not look to television and Hollywood for the characteristics of a woman, but may we search God and His word. Proverbs 31 gives us the picture of a godly woman. A woman who has her focus on God. That is the woman I want to be.
What about you? Do you have any advice to share? Any fears of your own? When our jeans don't fit like they used to and our hair doesn't quite do what we want any longer, do not fret. Simply go get yourself a chocolate bar and open the word of God. Read His love letter to you and know that you are His princess. You are priceless and a gift to all!!
Psalm 139:14 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well."

In my day....

I am honored to teach the Trek class in our Awana program on Wednesday nights. I have the group between eleven and fourteen years old. This group of kids is going to bless me beyond words this year. I can already feel it. Last night we were able to begin our books. Our lesson was on why should we read the bible. If I have learned anything about this age is that you never stay on one subject for long.
We were soon talking about useless information and how much we carry in our brains. I had one student speak up and say, "We can have knowledge of all kinds, but without wisdom it is useless!!" Hello, he is twelve years old my friends. What a wise young man he is and what amazing parents he has to teach him such valuable wisdom at an early age.

Some of my kids are not so blessed. They have never been in church and they wonder, "Why do I really need to know what the bible says?" They don't have direction and they are missing those valuable people who need to influence their lives on a daily basis. Kids just simply want to understand. They have question after question and if we give them a chance we can learn much from them.

Last night while speaking on useless information one child speaks up and says, "Learning keyboarding is useless." Well of course now we were on our way to a new conversation. Again, they last about five minutes at a time. So, we talked about how keyboarding is important and a valuable tool. I began to share with the kids we didn't use keyboards when I was in seventh grade. We didn't have computers in our class rooms. We didn't have to worry about keyboarding on a laptop, we later had typing class on a manual typewriter. Oh my! We didn't have texting. You actually had to pick up a phone, and one that dialed on top of that. So, you actually had to know the number of the person, you just didn't click on their name. We didn't have the computer to look up valuable information. We had the dictionary and encyclopedia. Oh my, we didn't even have spell check! We too went to the library each week and used the card catalog to look up a book we wanted. We didn't have hundred dollar video games to choose from. We um, had pong!! Now there was an exciting game, right? One little ball, or dot, moving from side to side as you tried to hit it back over. I remember thinking this was the coolest thing ever! We didn't have Old Navy and Aeropostle. We had Sears and JC Penny's. You were either slim or if you were a boy, you could find yourself in the husky section! That would be wear my husband found himself.

Each year we got five new outfits for school and a new pair of shoes for the winter. Even got a new pair of tennis shoes for gym. A new coat for the winter and a back pack? Are you kidding me? We carried arm fulls of books everywhere we went. There were no cute bags to carry everything in.

Now, that next year I went to a Catholic high school, so clothes became uniforms and that was a whole new dilemma.

Things were just different. Things were simple, or so they seemed. So, I am now listening to myself speak to my kids and I am thinking, "Oh my gosh, I am now one of those old people who say, 'Well, in my day we...'" I stopped and laughed at myself. The look on the kid's faces was one of horror. "How did you survive?" Kids today never leave home without their phone and they have a laptop and all the easy conveniences that the modern world has to give.

That leaves me to think, "Are we really giving our kids more by giving them more?" It seems the more we give the more they want. The more they have the easier they want it. What happened to just old fashioned work for an allowance each week? What has happened to chores and if you do not do them you do not get to go anywhere this weekend? What happened to a curfew? What has happened to just saying, "NO?" I think we have begun to say yes way too much. In saying yes, we are not really helping our kids grow, we are holding them back from really experiencing what it means to work and respect yourself.

We no longer sit down to dinner together. We don't even play games anymore. My mom and I used to play Yahtzee on my snow days. Oh, and snow days? We went to school when there was snow on the ground. We went with chains on the tires and we plowed through that snow and cold weather and guess what? We made it!

I was blessed, but my parents new how to say no to me. I never had a phone in my room. Didn't have a television in my room. That was just not allowed and of course no computer. When I talked on the phone I got twenty minutes and I talked in the kitchen. Some may say, "Wow, your parents were strict." No, not really, I just had boundaries and I knew my limits. I knew when I crossed the line. When I did there was a punishment waiting for me. Do we even do that anymore?

What I am finding in teaching is that kids want direction. They want someone there to lead them. They want someone to care enough to say, "No." They want boundaries even if they say something different. They want parents at home at night. They want to eat dinner and watch a movie with their family.

We give way too much to compensate for the time we do not spend with our kids. We have such big to-do lists, we work 40-70 hours a week, and we are tired. Somewhere in there we must find a balance. Our kids must be our first priority. We must come to the point we decide what we can do without in order to spend more quality time with our kids.

They learn from us. They will have a family of their own one day and they too will find themselves saying, "Well, in my day we..." What is it that we want our kids to say? What values do we want them to walk away with? It is something to ponder.

I have seen children that have much, and in their heart they carry very little. I have seen kids who don't have much in material things, but in their heart, it is filled with a love that will carry them through life and lead them on to a more productive life, giving, loving and sharing.

I am grateful for how I grew up. I am now thankful for those kids who sit in front of me each Wednesday night making me smile and taking me back to a time in my life where I can look back and see where I was and just where the Lord has brought me today. A woman with a grateful heart and is humble before all others.


Wow! Intrigue/thriller/romance!! DiAnn Mills has written a book that will keep you turning page after page and leave you wanting more! I loved this book. There were so many twists and turns in this read it will keep you on the edge of your seat. A crime happens and three people are dead on Carr Sullivan's ranch. Special FBI agent, Bella Jordan, is sent out to investigate. There is a legend in West Texas filled with tales of gold and wealth. Carr has a past and Bella too is carrying her own demons that haunt her. Bella is from this area and carries a deep past here. Does she know more than she is willing to share? Sullivan is the top suspect in these murders, but soon, there are more and Sullivan is desperately trying to prove his innocence, while Bella is on the search. She is on the trail and she is close, but the murderer seems to always be one step ahead. Bella is discovering and uncovering much more than she ever imagined. Bella is pursuing justice in more than one area. The Lord is doing a work in Bella's heart and she is fighting Him every step of the way. Her past has hardened her heart, but Carr Sullivan is about to change all that. This book takes you deep into Texas where legends are alive and truth prevails. This is a winner in my collection and one that I will have to share with friends!

This book was a gift from Revell for it's review.

Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. DiAnn's first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books in print, which have sold more than a million and a half copies.
Six of her books have appeared on the CBA best-seller list. Six of her books have either won or placed in American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Award finalist for Lightning and Lace in 2008 and for Breach of Trust in 2010.
DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive; Romance Writers of America's Faith, Hope and Love chapter; and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.


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