Friday, October 31

"You will never be the same again..."

"You will never be the same again. Your kids will never be the same again. You have all changed." These words were spoken to my husband and I by our christian counsellor Mary. I have come to love Mary and see how she is such a gift to us. Truly, a gift. In our last visit with Mary, she mentioned those words to us. I told her that just that day, as I was driving back to my work place, I was wondering if I looked different to staff, if it appeared like I was different, because I knew I was. So, as we sat in Mary's living room, and heard these words as part of our counselling session... it was a very true and real affirmation of something we knew in our hearts was true. We would never be the same again. We had changed. All of us.

My husband and I have also spent time talking about this, and exactly some of the ways we felt we had changed. My daughter (Leah) and I went to see a movie, and as we were walking out Leah talked about how seeing that type of ending, would have made her cry before, but now it was different. We have changed.

Since this is my blog, I will share how I have changed. While I don't think I ever took the life of my grandson "for granted" - perhaps I did. But, I will definitley walk through the future pregnancies in our family in the same way. While I prayed daily - I will pray "differently". While I smiled and loved the tumbling movements of the Jay as he developed inside of Leah, in the future, I will cherish those sommersaults even more! I will wake up each morning, and thank God for the breath of a new day. As I walk, it seems the smell of fall is more obvious, as creation dies and goes into a winter hibernation with the promise of new life in Spring. I will touch my animals more, thankful for the attention that they beg of me, and the excitement that my dog Orea greets me with when he knows I am going for a walk. As I relax in my house, I will thank God for the abilities of my husband, who not only built the home we live in, but maintains it (and my car, and the jobs I need done at my workplace, and... ) I will look for the opportunities to give a cup of coffee to the person in the drivethru behind me. I will thank God for the blessings that he has given to us, which allow us to bless the one who begs on the corner by the lights, or the one who passes me with his hands out, when I walk down the streets of downtown. I will continue to pray with more fervor, with more expectation, with more thanksgiving. I will look for the moments when I can just crawl onto the lap of my FATHER GOD, and put my head against his heart and feel the beat. I will laugh till my sides hurt... I will cry unashamedly, I will listen to more people, and try (Lord, help me) TRY to talk less. I will be thankful for my friends who hug, wipe tears, and put in pot roasts to serve us even when their lives are so full. I will enjoy the aroma of my favorite fragrance, knowing that my prayers are a fragrance to God. Those are just some of the ways that I have changed.

It feels like the last three months have changed me, and I know that I often have to be tolerant even if what I hear from other's mouths seems to be insensitive or frivolous, or even just plain stupid. I realize that I have changed, but everyone else hasn't and they may not until they experience growth that comes from walking through the fire! I realize that the lens that I look through, no longer is rose colored... instead it seems to magnify pain, and sorrow on one hand, and great love and joy on the other. I realize I have changed. I look at the picture of myself and my husband taken a week ago, and I see the change even in my eyes. Perhaps only I see it, but somehow it has affected every single part of my life.
I will never be the same again.

Jesus, Lord of all - take the pieces of my life and please Lord, please bring them together. I ask you to continue to make me aware of your presence in my life, aware of the way you carry me through all of it. Lord, I ask you to, inspite of my pain, cause me to look past myself, to others of my family, my friends and those I come in contact with. Jesus, I will never be the same again. You continue to do a work in me... even in all this pain... Lord, I need you. O God, I need you. May you be in all of the change, ultimately may it bring you glory one day. One day...

Friday, October 24

Come Away with me.....

The song "Come Away with Me".... can't remember WHO wrote it, but the line is running through my mind. I am sitting in the dining area of our little suite at THE MARK CENTER, in Abbotsford, BC. Alvin and I are here, and what a gift from God. Thank you Lord for this quiet retreat space... to get away with YOU, with each other, and to be able to listen for your voice.

While this blog will not be long this time, I do want to share a quote that Steve Klassen shared with me this morning, a quote that they use in their literature for THE MARK CENTER....
"The sooner we stop thinking that we are the energetic operators of religion and discover that God is at work, as the Aggressor, the Invader, the Initiator, so much the sooner do we discover that our task is to call people to be still and know, listen, hearken in quiet invitation to the promptings of the Divine. our task is to encourage others first to let go, to cease striving, to give over this fevered effort of the self-sufficient religionist trying to please an external deity. Count on God knowing on the doors of time. God is the Seeker, and not we alone...I am persuaded that religious people do not with sufficient seriousness count on God as an active factor in the affairs of the world. "Behold I stand at the door and knock," but too many well-intentioned people are so preoccupied with the clatter of effort to do something for God that they don't hear Him asking that He might do something through them." (From Thomas Kelly's "A Testament of Devotion" pg. 59)

Wednesday, October 22

Words from my Son... Live for the Moment

The other day I had the joy of having coffee with my daughters at Mountain Bean, and then Josh came by to join us. We sat there and talked over our latte's. I love it when my kids are around. I love it how they challenge my thinking. I love it when they say things just to see my reaction. I love watching Josh and Ashley bug each other just like they did when they were young! (without the screaming and tattling though!) And when we were getting ready to leave, my son said, "Mom I have two things to say...Live for the Moment and Delegate!!"

Fast forward a day, and there we were again, only this time all four were together. We were talking about involvements, and once again my son was the one to speak up and say, "no mom, you shouldn't be in the christmas choir"... Later, he gave me a hug, and said "sorry, mom, I've been a little hard on you!" Thing is, I love it that my son/my kids all actually, care enough about me, in the midst of their own stuff, to help me evaluate where I spend my time. I love it that when I am struggling to figure out my boundaries between work and home.... that they help me do that. I love it that my son dares to challenge me, and that my kids all care about what I do, and when, and how... and I realize that I am so blessed! SO BLESSED.

So, Live for the Moment.... I think that I want to live for the moment in this way... I want to see the color in each fall leaf... I want to take time to talk to our dog, and to rub the cats behind their ears, and feel the warmth of their little bodies as they sit on my lap. I want to enjoy the smell of coffee that my husband puts on in the morning. I want to choose NOT to answer the phone and let it pick up on voice mail. I want to take more time just resting in the presence of God. I want to memorize scripture more. I want to drink coffee with friends, take long walks with my husband and laugh together until the tears run down our cheeks. (we do that often actually). I want to fret less. I want to enjoy the sound of music, and laughter.... to sit by a river or lake and watch the water...I want to live for the moment, with a heart that is totally abandoned to Jesus!!

I want to live fully in the moment, but I also want to dream about the future... about the times when there will be more than 6 of us sitting around our table...and when are arms will be holding more grandbabies... I want to dream about when we live closer to our kids, and spend less time driving in our car. I want to take care of myself now, in the moment, so that I can be the best grandma around, and able to live fully in the future, and run and dance with my grandbabies!

It is my prayer O Lord, that I will first of all, have a heart that is totally committed to you... total commitment. I pray Jesus, that you would ruin me for the ordinary! I pray that you would continue to make me the woman, mom, wife, friend, aunt, daughter, that you have created me to be. As I live in this moment, may you make me more like you Lord. Help me to enjoy each moment that will lead to our life ahead. Still praying for the miracles God!! Your will be done. Help me to keep believing and trusting you! Thank you for my kids... for the way they speak into my life... for the way they love me and encourage me! O Lord, thank you for what you are going to do. Help me to live each moment... continue to give me the strength, to give ALL of us the strength, and the hope that "this moment will turn into something amazing!" Lord, we are choosing to trust! amen and amen.

Monday, October 20

...a whisper.....

Sometimes I get this strong sense, I call it a God-thing... and today was one of those moments, when I had a strong sense that God was telling me that he had things under control, and I had a sense I didn't need to be "petitioning" him so strongly in some areas...
And of course, the devil, well, he would hate for anyone to have peace right? So he is throwing in the doubt (are you sure that was God?)
As I write this, I keep hearing His, my Heavenly Father's, whisper to me...."Be still and know that I am God"

That is one of his trademark expressions in my life, and I have sometimes written it over and over, so that I can get the impact of WHO GOD IS... and What He wants to do in my life...
Sometimes I write it like this:
Be still and know that I am GOD
Be still and know that I AM
Be still and KNOW

So Good Night Father.... as I get ready to go to sleep, and as the house is quiet, help me to be still and know that YOU are MY GOD.
Continue to make me aware of your voice and your presence in my life. Thank you in advance for all things, and Lord, thank you in advance for joy!
Help me to be still, Help me to know... Help me to love you with a full heart.
You are my Lord and My God. amen

Saturday, October 18

BrOkEn for Him...

Today has been a "working around the house" day again. One of those days when I start off in one corner of the house, take something to another room, and then see something there to clean up... you get the picture! Alvin worked in the shop, making a set of steps for someone. As I looked outside, and saw him there, I realized how good it feels to be at home. Seems that for a while, we were only home to sleep. Getting up early, coming home way to late. Too many meetings. Too many hours of renovation work. Too many late nights with no supper, or a fast food one at best. I realized today, when I felt so good to be home, that all those late nights, and meetings take its toll on me. So, I am glad to be taking some holidays.

But now the house is quiet again. There are bags around the house... full of stuff to either throw out or give away to Value Village. I realize again the excess that one accumulates over time, and wonder how we get back to living simply. (that had been a goal of our caregroup a few years ago, or should I say, we read the book about it being a goal!)

As I work, I think. Lately, I have thought of so much. I have also journalled page after page per day... and I have also blogged more. So many thoughts swirling around. Some take up space in my soul and just there, and I am letting God work through some of them too.

One of the things that I have been thinking of alot lately is being broken.
While sitting waiting for a friend, I journalled my thoughts on brokenness. Only God knows to what extent I and my family feel broken! Words can't describe the feeling of your heart being blown to bits! To me, that is the ultimate of brokenness. I had read a comment that said, "those people God uses most to bring glory to Himself are those who are completely broken..."
I asked God "Lord, am I broken enough?" Something within me feels like I am, but would hate to feel what it would be like to be even more broken.
I sure feel broken. And the brokenness has touched all areas of my life. No wonder I keep asking God to bring the pieces together. This brokenness hurts like I have never felt it hurt ever before.

I realized there are mnay thoughts about brokenness
- usually brokenness is seen in a negative light
- being broken means there are many pieces or cracks
- the contents spill out as a result
- usually the broken pieces is deemed useless. Have you ever wanted to invest money and buy something that is broken?
- often a broken piece can not be fixed, or if it can - there is always evidence

However... in God's eyes... brokenness is a positive!
- when I am broken for God, then He makes me new and whole, and better than before
- in God's eyes, being broken means I am usefull!!

Then I wondered.... God, if you can take my brokenness (which is what you want) and make me whole again, and even better than before - I can hardly imagine that. But I am so excited and hopeful at the thought. I am wondering if I will feel the pieces coming together. I believe I will. In fact, I believe he is bringing them together in His time.

I have also wondered where else I need to be broken. It is a scary thought really. Let's face it, no one wants to feel the pain. Even when you are WITH GOD... it is still a painful journey. I guess I will just keep walking with my FATHER... and keep clinging to Him and trust that he will bring healing, and wholeness and O God, that you would bring joy in the process!

These words from scripture brought me to tears the other day. God heard my prayers.
Psalm 84 selected verses.
2b "My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." 5b "...blessed are those whose strength is in they pass through the valley of Baca." 8 "Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty, listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah. (or think on these things) Look upon our shield, O God, look with favor on your anointed one." 11 "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you." NIV

O Jesus.... Lord God. Almight One. My heart cries out. You are the living God. In you do we trust. As we walk through this dark valley, O Lord, give us strength in all parts of our beings. O Lord, hear my prayer. And Lord, will you look with favor on us? I know that ultimately, we are to bring you honor and glory... and I believe that what you will do, will bring you the glory. So, I continue to ask boldly, knowing that you do bestow favor and honor. Lord, have mercy... hear my prayer. In your power, Lord, look with favor upon me and my family. To you O Lord, do we give thanks. Abba Father...

Texts, Emails, Phonecalls and Coffee Chats

Today is one of those days... actually, it is early Saturday morning, but I am still unwinding from Friday. I have had a hard time sleeping lately, so perhaps if I delay it a little, the night will be better. I am just thinking back to today, and how I was in contact with several amazing women in my life. My daughters Ashley and Leah... first texts, a phone call, a short visit, and a movie and dinner in that order. It was good to hug them, and visit with them, and go see a movie with Leah, since both of our guys are at work tonight. During the day, I heard by email from Judy - and I had the gift of a good cup of coffee and a chat with Jeannette at Starbucks. Later, a short visit at Ash and Mike's with Ellen. As I sit here and recount the women in my life TODAY... God, you are so good to me! Women of all ages, women that bring a breath of air into my life.

I also have more women who speak into my life, like my sisters, my close friends - especially Josie, and Kim, who call often throughout the week. And of course there are others. Too many to name.... God, how blessed I am! And then, there is the latest gift to me, in the form of our counsellor Mary. I never knew how important she would become in our lives, helping us work through our grief.

Today as I spoke with Jeannette over our large cups of coffee, we talked about where God is at in our lives. We shared insights that we have learned lately. We laughed. We cried. We talked about our kids (who are just recently married to one another!). Jeannette told me how I was an answer to her prayer today. Imagine that!

I realize alot through my friends. They make me laugh, they allow me to cry. They pray with me. Sometimes they just listen and say nothing. I realize that my friends affirm who I am, sometimes challenge what I do, or how much I do something.
I realize that just when I am feeling down, my friends seem to know when to call. I realize that my friends dare to step into the uncomfortable zones, especially lately since my little grandson was born silently. (12 weeks ago yesterday).

I realize that sometimes I take my friends for granted. Sometimes I say things that may be hurtful. Sometimes it seems, especially lately that my "filters" have come off! I realize that if a person doesn't have friends, they would be very lonely.
One of my friends Josie, has been my best friend for 40 years. I think over the times that we have spent together, and the crisis that we have supported one another through over the years. Amazing. 40 years!! That is 4/5ths of my life!! It was Josie who came with me to pick out the flannel for the little quilt I made for my grandson Jay, the one that he was wrapped in. Josie helped me pick out the combination of "blue" flannel, and showed me how to cut the squares, and figure out how to make the first quilt of this kind for me!

I also realize that God has been able to use me in my friends lives as well. Today Jeannette and I were talking about when we were able to visit and pray together years ago, before we even became good friends! I realize that in those times when I visited Judy as she was struggling through chemo, that her friendship blessed me in so many ways... and I always thought I was going to take God's blessing to her!! I realize that Kim has been there for me in many ways over the last 30 years of so... but I will never forget those times when she and Linda cared for me, came and did laundry and made supper, when I was too sick to even hardly get off the couch! I realize how the women in my care group have been very practical in their outreach to me and Alvin through all of our crisises. I thank God for my friend Jeanne, who dares to ask questions that perhaps others only think but never ask. Jeanne makes me laugh alot... and she also shares my love for chocolate!! Then there is my sister in law Corinna, who I have come to know in a totally new way since Jay died, as she has shown me that even though it is hard, it is so worth it to put yourself out there, and walk alongside of a grieving person! How often I open up my email to find an email from her, just asking how I am. Like I said before, there are way to many good friends to mention, and I hope that if one of you reads this, and doesn't see your name, you aren't offended... time just doesn't allow me to say something about each one!

Friends are one of the greatest gifts a person can have. Blessings that God gives to us. God, thank you for each friend that you have given to me... each person that has enhanced my life in ways that are too numerous to recount. May you give me strength Lord, to be the type of friend that you want me to be. To love unconditionally, and to be there when I am needed. Give me grace, give me understanding, show me O Lord, when to just listen, and when to speak. Lord, please also show me when I need to apologize for being insensitive.. that happens with friends too unfortunatley. And please Lord, help me to bring my friends before your throne as you lay them on my heart. Thank you Father God... for friends and family - all ages, all types, all gifts. Amen.

Thursday, October 16

Re-commit to taking care of my "temple"

It is no secret, that for years, I have struggled with the stronghold of weight. In fact "struggle" doesn't describe it. I have often "given" it to God, only to take it back - why do I think I can do a better job? Is that why we continue to take things back? Gotta wonder.

I realize over and over again, that HE wants the best for me. He also wants the best for my body, which is the "temple" of the HOLY SPIRIT. So often, I just don't put the two things together, and continue to struggle.... SO...
I have decided to re-commit. Actually, after seeing some pictures from Thanksgiving, that was the "encouragement" that I needed. I know my kids always tell me that I am way more critical of myself than I need to/ or should be.
However, pictures don't lie do they?

So, I have decided to get back onto eating in a balanced way - actually it (FirstLine Therapy plan) is suggested to me by a naturapathic doctor, who sent me to an amazing nurse Flori, who also happens to be a believer!! BONUS!!
She has seen me through the great loss of my little Grandson Jay... and has been an encouragement. But, I need to make the decision... but it is only with God's strength and totally submitting it all to him... surrendering...
I just know that this weight thing has kept me in bondage of its own kind, and sometimes it feels like a spiritual battle, and I think it is.
It is about being broken... about surrendering....

Yesterday, I was reading about being broken, and from Psalm 51 (hope I get that one right) where it talks about God wanting "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" and I just know that I am such a broken vessel, and this is the last piece that needs to be shattered for JESUS!!

So Lord, help me to live for you... to surrender and die to self - in all areas of my life, including this big one!! Holy Spirit, keep me focused. Help me to live fully and to go to God for all things, and not to get into emotional pain and run to food. This is my prayer. I know that Scripture says that with you God, I can "scale a mountain". So, please Lord, help me to claim victory because of your power and strength in my life. May you ultimately get the glory. Amen

Monday, October 13

Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good...His love endures forever!

Here I sit at the end of Thanksgiving Day.... and it has been a good day, or should I say days, with our kids at the cottage. It is the first time we have been at the cottage this late in the season. We don't use it in the winter, mainly because it was not intended for winter use, they shut the water off this weekend on the main line, and well, it would just be COLD and impossible. Some things just are easier with running water.
Anyhow, back to this weekend. After church obligations yesterday, Alvin and I headed out to the cottage, and once we got there, put our new pellet stove to the big test. To warm up the cottage before the kids got there. Josh and Leah came for supper, and Ashley and Mike got home from a wedding in Toronto, and then drove out, so that they could wake up at the cottage!! This was the first time they slept at the cottage in the same bed! :) (their room was the only room without a baseboard heater in it, and well, as Alvin said, they would have to snuggle, and being newlyweds, we didn't think this was something they would have to be told to do! )

Anyhow, we celebrated with a turkey dinner, in a small way, with my sister and brother in law. Normally a big event for our families (extended) this year, we just needed to spend it more low key. It was good to be there with our kids. The only thing that would have completed our ideal thanksgiving, would have been to have our little Jay with us. In the midst of the day, without saying much, I knew that we were all thinking that Jay would have really changed our day in such an amazing way.
And again, sorrow was mixed in, and my heart was so sad...
We said grace before the meal, actually Josh did.
This weekend, I was remeinded again of GRATITUDE - the virture we are teaching the kids at church. And, I have been thinking alot of their memory verse, which is the title of today's blog. And, I need to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good - his love endures forever.
Sometimes it is hard to be thankful.... I know that first hand.
Sometimes it is hard to sing praise.... I have felt that, and yet, when I have chosen to praise you God, my heart is lifted!

So today, before I go to bed.... and join my husband who hit the sack about an hour ago, just as I was getting my second wind... I have decided that today, I am going to take this time to list what I am thankful for.
So God, thank you....
1) for your son Jesus who died for my sin. I am forgiven!
2) for my husband, who has loved me since we were 16. He keeps making me laugh! I love him too. Thank you God.
3) for my kids ..... Josh and Leah, Ashley and Michael. God, I am sooooo blessed as a mom.
4) for my firstborn grandson Jay Benjamin, who taught me more about life in the short time we had him. Thank you Jay for teaching me about love, and about caring, and thank you God, for making me a Granny!

Thank you God for...
5) future babies.... need I say more. Thank you God in advance.... God, hear our prayer.
6) for friends and extended family. So many. For my close ones who call almost daily.... what a gift.
7) for our jobs. Lord, help us not to take them for granted. Thank you for the opportunities to serve you through our jobs.
8) music... which soothes my soul
9) for quiet times - thank you for speaking to me Lord!
10) for life!! God thank you, and help me to live it to the fullest....

God, we are thankful, because in the midst of all the sorrow, we still know that you are GOD. May you hear our prayers, and answer. O Lord, great is your faithfulness. Help us to trust you with all things.... with ALL things. Lord, thank you for the miracles!

Saturday, October 11

Blessed by my friend "L"

I've thought alot lately about the time my husband and I (and a team from our church) spent in Thailand, visiting and working alongside of some missionaries that our church helps to support.
And tonight, I have just come home from a wonderful evening spent with our team that went out and did some mission work in Thailand, with an amazing team there. My heart is overflowing with so many thoughts on the greatness of God. This week has been amazing too, as I spent time with L. (my friend who is part of the team serving in Thailand).... we spent time at a little Mexican restaurant. I talked and she listened. I listened and she talked. It was so good, and I came away so blessed, much more than my friend L. will ever know I am sure. She has walked through some similar grief, and God knew that He would use her as a healing salve to my broken heart. I thank God for the time we were able to spend together talking!

I don't quite know how to explain it, this connection that we have, and I feel. Kind of like a kindred spirit. When I was in Thailand, and we were able to spend time over breakfast just before we left, that was the first time I felt life breathed into my situation. Already then, I knew I was learning from L. how to pray boldly before the throne of God. And at that time, I wasn't even having an inkling that my life would become so hard. I remember that day though, as I shared that I felt that God was doing something in my soul, in my heart and life... and there at the top of that little Thai restaurant, my friend L. prayed for me. Only God knew what this year would hold. I came back with a new wind in my sail....and a confidence that God had placed there, as a result of our conversation and prayer together.

This past week, as we talked for a few hours, and then as we prayed together, I could not help but thank God again for the way He puts friends into our life. I have learned alot from L. - alot about depending on God... a lot about letting the Holy Spirit lead, direct and fill your life. I have also learned alot about faith... and expecting great things, or as I have said for the past few weeks... having faith and expecting miracles.

We shared some tears together. I wish I had talked less and listened more. I loved hearing how God moves in such unexpected and surprising ways, and I came away from our time together wanting more of God and His surprises along the way.
Then, within a couple days, I got copied on an email from someone else within this same ministry team in Thailand. There before me, in print, was stories of God at work AGAIN in a mighty, mighty way - of signs and wonders. Of people coming to Christ, of people being healed... of miracles. And I just have to say again, God you are amazing!!

So tonight we all spent time again, our team together, listening, and then praying. Praying for God to do amazing things. Thanking him for what He is going to do with L. and her husband, and for their family and the team. I am still trying to figure it out, why we don't see more miracles - is it because we just don't think God will do them? I know you can LORD....
I want more of you Jesus. I want to see you lifted up - in my home, my community, my family. I want to fall hopelessly in love with you, and experience your extravagent love wash over me! Jesus, you are going to do something amazing. I just have this sense. And, when you do, may it bring you ALL the honor and glory, because it is ALL about YOU JESUS!! ALL about YOU!!

To God be the Glory!! amen.

Beginning to breathe again.....

It is absolutely quiet - except for the quiet hum of my clothes dryer. I can look outside and see the flag on our flagpole gently blowing in the wind. I love this feeling right now. And all that I can think of is that I am finally being able to breathe again. Funny how life does that to us. The eleven weeks have been a flurry of emotion, and exhaustion, as well as the depts of great sorrow to great excitement and often, if you can imagine, a combination of both extremes. Tossed in there, in the whole mix, is university. This past week, my thoughts were "Joy, what were you thinking when you signed up to begin taking courses!!" And, to think that originally I was thinking that I would take two courses to begin with. I had to ask myself if I was crazy?!

I think the reason I realize how quiet these moments are right now, is because I am just finally able to relax, even a little bit. While I was basking in the moment on Monday when I got my quiz back with an A on it... at the same time I was swetting/fretting as I had to have an essay done for Friday at 4:30.
My week was so full just with work stuff, I would start, but think I still had time. You have to know (if you don't know this already) that I "fly by the seat of my pants" at the best of times... really, I KNOW that I can get things done in limited time, but this essay was really REALLY putting me to the test, and I was hating it! So, armed with way more books than I needed from the library, I began, taking into consideration the tips that my girls gave to me. And what the heck was the CHICAGO STYLE of essay writing.... I had so much to learn in so little time!

Well, one day led to another, one night meeting to another, and finally at 11:30 or somewhere around there, I got home from a meeting, and got to work. I warned my husband that he may wake up with me not being in bed, but not to worry. I made myself a strong pot of coffee and got to work at the dining room table....
(thus the picture to celebrate the beginning of the essay in written form...) Well, a few cups of coffee later, I could hear my husband get up and look over the banister down into where I was and ask if I was almost done. To which I replied, "almost". Well, I got into bed about 5 am, knowing that I would get my daughter Ash to help me with the footnotes, etc.
She did, and I printed it off complete, on Thursday night. Then yesterday, I dropped it off in the hands of Professor Zerbe, and he actually looked like he was waiting for it. Perhaps, since I am obviously the oldest in the class, was he actually wondering if I would get it done? Or maybe I was the only one that he was waiting for. Regardless, he had a smile, and I had a smile.... and I began to BREATHE!!

Maybe I am crazy.... and yet, amidst the deep sorrow of grief over my grandson, and the deep joy of Ashley and Michael's wedding - I am finding that university is exhilerating!! And each class, each assignment, I am closer to that degree that I will graduate with about 7 years from now. And, I am learning in the process!
God, thank you for your Word, but mostly for your tangible presence during each moment of my life. I think you must also smie with me during these times.... and I know that you continue to be my strength!

Monday, October 6

Hearing HIM

The other day, I was journalling. A devotional had inspired much thinking around hearing God's voice. And in my journal I wrote "God, how do I hear/follow the quiet whisper (of your voice) when the roar from the sidelines is so great?" Right now I am struggling with that - with trying to silence that roar from around me - to get the time to just be with God.

I love the bible verses that talk about when the LORD appears to Elijah. I Kings 19: 9 an on....there is Elijah, standing on the mountain waiting for the Lord to pass by. A wind came, or actually it sounds like an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the quake. Then a fire came, and the Lord was not in the fire. But then there came a gentle whisper...

I love how God speaks. To this day, I get goosebumps when I remember on that early early morning, when I heard God speak so audibly that my tears stopped and my eyes flew open expecting to see HIM standing right in front of me. While I have never heard him speak so loudly since, I have heard him speak often. I love that about my FATHER!! He loves to talk to us! But I am sure I am missing alot of the conversation because often, I come to him babbling, and don't always stop to listen.

I also know that when God speaks, we need to listen. I have experienced that often. And I know that obedience is always the best thing!! I also know that often we need to wait on him. I don't find that as easy to do. Waiting is never easy.

Right now, that is where I am at. I am trying to shut out the distractions from the outside - the too full schedules, all well and good, but too full. I am trying to shut out the distractions that may come from well meaning people - I have come to realize that I am not all things to all people, and don't have to even try to be - even in the capacity that I work in, in ministry. Only God is all things to all people. Sometimes I feel pulled in a million ways. I am asking God to help me work through that too. There have been times lately when I know that I just need "to be" but don't take the time. I am looking forward to Wednesday, as it is a planned SPIRITUAL RETREAT day... me and God. Looking forward to it.

Listening to God means that I have to be in His presence and in a position to listen. I need to clear junk out of my head and most of all, my heart. It also means walking with boldness - sometimes not knowing but trusting.
I realize that right now I am in a position of listening...and being bold...and waiting...and trusting: on my behalf, as well as in interceding for my family.
It is interesting, a few weeks before my grandson's birth and death, I had been sharing with someone how when you have experienced God, and his power, might and faithfulness - that it makes it easy to trust him on things, and easier to take steps of faith. That was just before Jay was born. And then man alive, did I strugggle.... with the why? with whether God was faithful or not. I struggled with the part that I said, that it was easy to trust him. I realize that loving Jesus, since I gave my heart to him at the age of 7 - never ever have I had to struggle so hard to trust with my whole heart! But, regardless, I DO. because I know He is true and faithful and that He is going to do something amazing! I am having faith and expecting miracles. Thank you Jesus in advance for what you are going to do in my life, and in the lives of my family!

Psalm 89 selected verses NIV translation:
"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever. With my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings. O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you."

Thursday, October 2

Withdrawing a while....

Today is a new day. I love that about God. He continues to give me new days. No matter how badly I mess up, or how much I neglect Him, or whatever, He continues to give me a fresh start each new morning. I am reminded of that each time I turn off my driveway onto Springfield Road (picture above) .... the road that has soaked up many of my tears, and has had many prayers prayed as I kicked up the gravel. Hmmm just realize I haven't seen any of the little yellow and brown fuzzy caterpillars lately when I walked. (those were/are one of the kisses God has given me, but that is fodder for another blog entry.)

That being said, today being a new day and all - I am realizing that I am feeling a little bit like I am in a pit again. Funny how that happens. Life seems to be a mixture of downs and ups - of valleys and mountains. It feels like lately though, without the brief mountain top experience that we just had celebrating Ash and Mike's wedding - if feels like I am in a valley again.

Yesterday at university, we had a guest professor speak to us on the Psalms. It was like a balm to my soul. He talked about "the dark night of the soul" that the psalmist must have experienced at times. I think I have too. And while I don't necessarily feel like I am still there, in that dark night, it just feels like I have been down in the valley a long time. My doctor doesn't think it is depression. She thinks it is all just the whole grief thing. I would agree. Needless to say, it just feels awful.

I have come to realize that my precious times are when I can just curl up on the lap of the FATHER, and rest, or talk, or just think and often to cry. I do that alot.
Cry. I read something today that mentioned that in order to grow in grace, we must spend a lot of time in quiet solitude. Hmmmm I must be growing :)
All I know is, my soul is ready for a miracle - it is ready for a few splashes of joy - it is ready to breathe again. And then the next moment, it is feeling lonely and desolate and torn. Guess that is how we grow. God, help me to grow through this all. Not bitter - that really could be too easy. Not cynical - that could be easy too. Certainly not judgmental - just because I am going through something so deep doesn't mean everyone is, nor does it mean they should understand, or even care. Help me to just let some things go....

God, help me to grow - to take what I am learning and care more deeply for those who are hurting. Help me to be the one to give the first hug, or wipe a tear that is rolling off a cheek. help me to be there for the one who finds it hard to put thoughts into words. Help me God to care deeply, as you have taught me to care through my own deep pain. Help me not to judge or get angry or cynical. Forgive me for those times that seemed to come without warning.

God, in this desert, help me to grow. To take off my sandals and acknowlege you as the great I AM. Help me to be able to just "be" -
Andrew Bonar said, "It is in the desert that the dw is freshest and the air is most pure." O Lord, help me to breathe. Help me to breathe!!

Come with me by yourselves and rest awhile,
I know you're weary of the stress and throng
Wipe from your brow the sweat and dust of toil,
And in My quiet strength again be strong.

Come now aside from all the world holds dear
For fellowship the world has never known
Alone with Me, and with My Fatehr here,
with Me and with My Father, not alone.

Come, tell Me all that you have said and done,
Your victories and failures, hopes and fears
I kow how hardened hearts are wooed and won
My choicest wreaths are always wet with tears.

Come now and rest; the journey is too great,
And you will faint beside the way and sink;
The bread of life is here for you to eat,
And here for you the wine of love to drink.

Then from fellowship with your Lord return,
And work till daylight softens into even
Those brief hours are not lost in which you learn
More of your Master and His rest in Heaven.

from Streams in the Desert, L.B. Cowman, October 2 devotional

Wednesday, October 1

A new month - only God knows what it holds!

Today, as I sat down at my dining room table with a huge cup of coffee (Mountain Bean beans that were ground here at home... ummm :) I realized as I put the date on my journal pages, that today, TODAY is October 1st. Interesting thing is, I had to start a new journal today. I think it is volume number 6. Hmmmm

Anyhow, I had a nice QT with God this morning - I love that! The Father and I. I needed that again this morning. God knows I needed to experience HIM. As part of my quiet time, I was directed to Psalm 53. Directed because it seemed God laid it on my heart, so I turned there.

There were a couple verses that spoke to me, or should I say, caused a response. One of them was vs 2, that said that "God looks down from heaven on the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand - any who see God." and then vs 6 "Oh that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad."

The thing that seemed to impress on me, and forgive me if I am taking it totally out of context, but, I just couldn't help but think that "Father, please restore the fortunes" whatever that really means for me, and my husband and our kids.
Makes me think of what we would consider a fortune. Today, I asked the Lord that this journal would be one of joy! Time will tell. I have also thought that part of the restoring of fortunes, would include some of the miracles that I am also petitioning God for. Still struggling with that - the petitioning part. I have realized that asking God is the easy part. Believing He can do miracles is also easy. For me, the hard part is praying without trying to "coerce" God - I realize that isn't what I am doing, but I am trying to figure out how to pray with boldness and then just live in trust!

Anyhow, back to the fortune part - or restoring fortune - in Psalm 53 it talks about "when" God does it - and this is what I am believing - and WHEN He does the miracles - it will bring HIM the glory and the honor that only God is so worthy of.

Have faith - expect miracles. God, to you goes all the praise and glory, and thanks for all you are going to do! I love you Jesus.