Every moment

The Lord is always blessing us…in every moment!!!  Sometimes it takes a little longer to see the blessings but they are there! We just need to take the time to see it and take it in and thank Him for it!

The Lord has truly been blessing me daily.  Even when I didn’t want to talk to Him or seek whatever it is He has for me, He was blessing me.  He was ordering my steps and the steps of those around me.

Today I gave some special people their Christmas present from me.  I made it and it says “Thankful for every moment”  I remember telling Timothy that on the phone.  My exact words to him were: “I thank God for every moment He has given me with you.”  Today I am even more thankful not only for those moments but that I took the time to tell him.  The Lord knew what was coming and He gave me extra time with Timothy.  He allowed me say everything I needed to say him. He opened up our hearts to each other in a special way and I am so grateful.  I’m thankful that I have no regrets. I’m thankful for the testimony I have.  I am thankful for the lives that have been touched seeing all those prayers answered along the way.  Even if the ending wasn’t what anyone expected, we all still saw the Power of the Lord and the kind of changes that only He can make!

This morning as I drove to work, the tears flowed down my cheeks as I talked to the Lord.  I thanked Him in advance for whatever He had in store for me today.  I told Him I wanted whatever it was that He wanted for me.  I wanted His desires to be my desires.  I told Him I was sorry for standing in His way and for letting my grief hold me back.  The holidays will be hard but the Lord continues to bless me with great friends that take care of me, encourage me, hug me, cry with me, and so much more.  I am amazed at how many wonderful people the Lord has put in my life.  I am so blessed!  My God amazes me daily and looks out for me daily.  He whispers to me, He holds me, He comforts me, He sends me exactly what I need exactly when I need it ALWAYS!!!

I do not know what the future holds.  I do not know why there has been so much heartbreak, sadness, and loss. I do know that in the midst of it all, there has also been so much joy, so much love in my life, so many blessings and I truly am THANKFUL FOR EVERY MOMENT!

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Faith

I have struggled with when to write this blog for months.  I have struggled with the title of it and how much I would share.  And I have struggled with my FAITH.

For a second time in my life, the man I love has been taken suddenly.  Like on the phone for hours one night and the very next day, a heart attack would take him from this world into the next.  The man who has been my best friend, my voice of reason, the calm in my storms, and so much more for the last eleven years.  The man who would buy all my tennis shoes and send me chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s every year.  He would open all my doors for me, take my coat on and off me, walk on the outside of me to keep me protected, and would always send me things I needed or wanted but would never get for myself.

Timothy is who would bring me closer to the Lord without even knowing it.  After being together for ten years, he called things off between us.  When he retired from the Marines, he moved to my city partly because of me and partly for a job.  This happened when I was the busiest I had ever been with my girls.  Between my busyness and his transition, he would eventually become so unhappy we split.  This happened when I found out about my daddy having cancer and my oldest leaving for college for the first time.  I really didn’t know what to do but the Lord pulled me outside to walk the very next day and I spent the next year walking and praying for him.  Praying that the Lord would be whatever he needed Him to be.  I prayed for his happiness and his peace.  I prayed that if it were God’s will, he would restore our relationship.  The Lord would put him so heavy on my heart daily that I knew I was to pray for him without ceasing. Slowly but surely the Lord would start answering my prayers.  I mean even the smallest of prayers.  In my praying for Timothy, the Lord would reveal to me other areas of my life where I needed work, where I needed changing, where I needed to give Him control!

And then we started spending more time together and talking more and more each day. Timothy only lived 5 minutes away from me.  I felt like the Lord was truly writing our love story.  That our relationship was going to be a testimony for Him.  I even thanked Timothy for calling things off when he did because the Lord used it to show me what I had become and He used it to show me who I was meant to be.

I did everything the Lord told me to do and not just where Timothy was concerned.  I learned patience and how to truly pray fervently for someone.  I knew that the Lord was going to show up for us in a big way and I began thanking Him for it in advance.  And then he was gone.  I was so very angry with God.  I did not understand why He would be in the process of restoring our relationship if He was just going to call him home.  I’ve been down this road before.  My husband left me for 6 months and I prayed and asked God to bring him home.  A year after he came home, he was in a fatal car accident. Taken so suddenly from me and here I am facing the exact same, long, hard road ahead.  The same road of grief.  The same road of anxiety and heartbreak.  I’m already dreading the first holidays.  I wake up dreading each day knowing I won’t hear from him or see him.  This road is not one I thought I would be traveling again so soon.  I did not expect this story to be exactly like the last one.

I literally can’t breathe some days.  I spent days in bed binging on Netflix to try and keep my mind off things.  I drove by his house checking on it daily until his family came to collect his things. I still cry thinking about him never walking through my door again.  Never calling me “Little One” again.  Never opening my door.  Never being my voice of reason.  Never taking my bad day and turning it around by the mere sound of his voice.  I started working out for me but he kept me motivated to keep pushing myself more.  He encouraged me daily to take my training farther than I ever had before and afterwards I didn’t even want to walk much less run.  I was scared to get out there by myself and hear what the Lord had to say to me because I felt like He didn’t hold up His end of the bargain.  He didn’t answer my prayer the way I thought He would.  I was prepared for a yes or a no.  I was not prepared for this.

I yelled and screamed til my throat hurt asking God WHY ME??  WHY AGAIN??  WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS??  WHY WOULD YOU ANSWER ALL THOSE PRAYERS TO JUST TAKE HIM AWAY??  WHY HAVE ME WALKING AND PRAYING FOR HIM EVERY SINGLE DAY IF YOU WERE JUST GOING TO TAKE HIM AWAY???  WHY MUST I TRAVEL THIS ROAD AGAIN? WHY CAN’T I BE HAPPY??

And you know what? It was ok for me to be mad….my God is a big God and He can take it.  Being a child of God does not mean I won’t have heartache.  It doesn’t mean my life will make sense.  It doesn’t mean I won’t experience loss.  What it does mean is that when I do, the Lord will be there with open arms waiting for me.  He is waiting to give me strength.  He is waiting to comfort me and help me find my peace again.  He wants to carry me through those days that are still coming where I won’t think I can make it through the day.  He is waiting to hold my right hand and walk beside me on this road to healing.  He is waiting for me to get back out there to walk and talk with Him.  I have to trust Him and know that He has me in the palm of His hands and He will carry me through.  He still has a plan for my life.  He will never leave me or abandoned me….He is waiting.  Right now I feel so lost.  I feel like my world has been turned upside down again.  I’m not ready to get out there and cry it out in the streets with the Lord.  I do know He is waiting…..And when I am ready, I will run to Him!  I hear Him whisper, “I will make beauty from these ashes.”  I know He is not only waiting for me to come to Him but He hasn’t left my side through this all.  I feel His comfort even when I’m not asking for it.  I feel the prayers of all my friends who have been standing in the gap for me.  I am so thankful and blessed for those that knew when I needed to be left alone and knew when it was time to push me out of my bedroom, out of my house, back into the streets to at least run if I wouldn’t walk.  My running partner made me get out there and run and she held me up when I couldn’t breath from crying out with the pain and grief afterwards.  My girls made sure I ate everyday in those first few weeks of grief.  They never let me leave the house by myself even though I would only leave to go to the gas station for a Diet Dr. Pepper.  One of them went with me every single time.  I am so thankful my oldest was with me when I found out.  She held me and cried with me and then drove me to his house so that I could get the box that had been delivered on his front porch.  The Lord has taken care of me every step of the way.  Even in my anger I was always thankful for that.  Thankful that He continued to show up for me even when I didn’t want it.  Thankful for every moment and memory I still had of Timothy.  Thankful that He gave me closure when I didn’t think I would get any.  Through the tears, I am thankful!

Timothy was always encouraging me to forge a better relationship with my biological mom and three months after I lost him, she passed away from cancer.  She lived in Chicago and I hadn’t seen her in many years.  We didn’t have the best relationship but this is one of those areas that over the last year the Lord had been dealing with me about.  I began to call her more and answer all her phone calls.  I began to pray for her.  I knew she was going through so much with her cancer and that the pain was more than she could bear some days.  I had just found a place of peace with Timothy when I got the call about my mom.  The next few weeks would be incredibly hard dealing with the things that came along with her passing.  I wasn’t able to carry out her final wishes, I wasn’t able to tell her goodbye, and I felt like the Lord was giving me more than I could handle.

My daddy had his final chemo treatment in September only to have to start again November 6 after spending a week in the hospital.  He was feeling like himself again only to find himself unable to breathe from fluid in his lungs which would lead to testing that would show his mantle cell lymphoma active again so soon!  I am so tired.  I have days I don’t want to get up out of bed.  I know this is all more than I can handle even though others would remind me that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle but I disagree.  I believe He does at times give us more than we can handle but He will never give us more than He can handle.  Doesn’t the Lord tell us His power is made perfect in our weakness?  It is my lack of strength and my inability to handle all this that will keep me near to Him.  I cannot do this on my own.  It is too much.  I want to be like Paul and be happy to boast of my weakness so that the Lord’s power will shine through me.

I cannot count the times I have been told that I will be ok because of my strength and my faith.  I know people look to me as a strong woman and I worried that I let people down when all this started happening.  I wanted to say I got up the next day and went for a walk with the Lord like I did a year ago.  I wanted to say I didn’t have to go to the doctor and get help to make it through the drowning grief and anxiety that would make it hard for me to even be at work around so many people but I couldn’t.  I was holding onto that blanket of grief.  It was like it comforted me and kept me close to the ones I loved and had lost.  Even now I know there will always be days like today when everything will make me think of Timothy or even my mom.  There will be days like today when I can’t seem to turn off the tears.  I also know that I will be ok…in fact, I will be more than ok but not because of who I am and my strength, but because of who I belong to and His.  That I will always have FAITH in!

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Simple prayers

I am not an expert on prayer.  I am just a woman who prays.

In my journey, the Lord has not only answered my prayers but He has answered them in the order that I have prayed them.  I didn’t even realize that until one of my prayer warriors pointed it out to me.  He has been so faithful to me.  The Lord has continuously shown me what to pray but I hit a wall this week.  The Lord revealed something to me and I didn’t know what to do with it.  It kind of rocked my world for a second even though I had prayed for it (Ever heard that saying, “Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it”???).  The more I thought about it, the more confused and lost I felt.  I did not know exactly how to pray about it.  This has bothered me so much this week because the Lord has always shown me what to do next.  He has always guided me in every situation and I was stumped.  I wanted the answer to be so clear to me like so many other things have been.  I wanted to know right away what I needed to do (guess I still need some work in the patience department!)

Yesterday I ran, then walked and prayed.  I was literally bawling in the streets crying out to God to show me the way.  Praying what I thought I was supposed to pray.  I have been so specific in my prayers and the Lord has answered so many of them that I felt I still needed to be specific and I still needed to come to Him with big, bold prayers.  I thought I felt peace about what I prayed last night.  This morning I still felt a little off and unsure of myself.  I’m not used to not knowing how to feel.  I’m not used to feeling this detached.  I’m usually at peace after I pray over things.

I sat at my desk this morning and read my devotion from Jesus Calling.  It said to thank Him for our problems which I do daily because I know they are growing my faith and dependency on Him.  It said to ask Him to show me the way to handle the situation.  It said that together we would deal with the situation, either head-on or putting it aside for later consideration.  That sometimes it’s not even today’s concern.  He will lift the problem out of today and put it in the future, where it will be veiled from my eyes.  And for some reason in that moment, I prayed, “Lord, I ask You to do what needs to be done and I trust You to do it.”  Nothing more and nothing less than that.  My brothers and sisters, that is the prayer He has been waiting for me to pray. I had such peace and felt so much freedom in the surrender.  I don’t know the outcome of it yet since I just prayed it but I trust Him so completely that I do not need to know right now.  The Lord will again show me in His perfect timing!

I do believe we are to come to Him with big, bold prayers and wait expectantly for Him to answer, but sometimes it is the simple prayer of our hearts that relinquishes complete control to Him that is needed most!

Everything changes….

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…when I say “Thank you!”  I love this song by Anthony Evans. I listen to it every day as soon as I get in the car and head to work.  In fact, I love his whole “Back to Life” album!  You have to get it!

There is so much truth in this one statement though.  I have truly been thanking God daily for so many things.  He has been so faithful to me on this journey.  Every single time I am about to give up, He shows up!  Every single time I am at my weakest, He gives me the strength I need to persevere.  Every single time I feel hopeless, He’s given me hope!  Every….single…..time!!! My God is a right on time God and I am truly thankful!

I have started thanking Him as if my prayers are already answered! This keeps me focused on Him and it keeps me patient and secure in His promises! Our God is so amazing! He continues to show up for me exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or think!!  (Ephesians 3:20…..I love this one! I use it a lot if you haven’t noticed.)

Before I even finished this post, I got news that my daddy’s clinical trial did not work. My daddy has mantle cell lymphoma and it’s been a hard journey for everyone.  It is hard to see someone you love go through so much.  I will admit yesterday I was a mess!  I never once questioned God but I did cry most of the day.  I ran harder than ever yesterday during my work out and then I walked and prayed.  I was so drained that by the time I went to bed I could hardly keep my eyes open. The Lord gave me rest and woke me up today and I am so thankful!  This morning as I was driving to work and praying I chose to give glory to God and thanks to Him for every day He allows me to have with my daddy.  He is still here and we are still fighting this knowing that none of us are promised tomorrow.  We know that every day we have is a gift from God and we should thank Him for it!

When things happen that make me cry, I now go for a walk and thank God for them.  I’ve said before that one of my first prayers of the day is “Dear Heavenly Father, You are in charge of everything that will happen to me today- whether it be good or bad, positive or negative.  I will be thankful for everything that happens to me today.” I changed the please make me thankful to I will be thankful. When things don’t go as planned, I remind myself that this was how I started my day.  I told Him I would be thankful for everything that happens so I get out there and thank Him.  I know that the Lord can and will change even bad things around for my good!

So today I encourage you to just be thankful!  Thankful when things go as planned and thankful when they don’t.  Thankful for the big things but also thankful for the little things.  Thankful in the laughter and thankful in the tears.  A thankful heart will bring you freedom from whatever strongholds you have.  A thankful heart will bring you peace in the midst of your storms.  A thankful heart will change how you look at your day.  A thankful heart will bring about answered prayers!  I am a living testimony of this and I am so thankful to the creator of the universe who takes the time for me every single day!!!!

Thank you Jesus…

for Your healing

for Your love

for Your mercy and Your grace

for Your strength

for Your protection

for Your peace

for Your Word

for Your rest

for Your hope and Your promises

for Your timing

for Your presence

for Your forgiveness

for Your miracles

for building my character

for teaching me Patience

for showing me what I had become and who I’m meant to be

for creating in me something new

for guiding my every step

for increasing my FAITH

for blessing me far more than I deserve

for my storm

for fighting my battles

for the mountains You have moved

for carrying me through

for everything that happens to me TODAY

for being ALL I need!

I just want to thank you Lord!

God’s presence in the present

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How many of us truly take our storms, our lives, our everything one day at a time?  I know I tend to be the queen of worrying especially about what will happen tomorrow.  This is something that the Lord is truly working on in me right now.  (I know the list of what He is working on is long!) God has even brought a stranger into my life to tell me not to worry.  To show me that even though it is human nature to worry, if I continue to worry over something that I have given to God, then I am sinning.  I do not want my worry to get in the way of the work that God is doing.  Letting worry creep in means I am giving my situation over to a spirit of fear and God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7)

In my research and studying I found where a pastor prayed this everyday, “Dear Heavenly Father, You are in charge of everything that will happen to me today- whether it be good or bad, positive or negative.  Please make me thankful for everything that happens to me today.  Amen”  I have started praying this myself in the morning and it really does change my attitude for the day.  I have added to it that the Lord makes me watchful and shows me His miracles daily; that He truly helps me take my life one day at a time.  Like most people I tend to worry about tomorrow and how my circumstances will play out. When will the waiting be over? When will I have an answer from God? Will it be this year?? Next??  I find when I am in this mindset, my circumstances consume me more and more and I start to lose sight of God and what He has for me TODAY!  He truly has something for me every single day if I would just be still, listen, and be watchful!

Remember how He is teaching me patience??  I am more patient when I focus on what the Lord has for me today.  It is in my worrying about tomorrow and how this story will end that I grow impatient.  I’m not saying that I won’t stumble or that I will never worry again but I am truly trying to let the Lord guide me as He molds me every day to be more like Jesus. I am learning to trust completely in Him and to cast all my cares on Him.  I have to do it daily but that’s part of taking this journey one day at a time.

I don’t know if this blog is helping anyone but I can say that it is helping me.  God has truly taught me so much over the last 6 months and when I write about them, he teaches me even more.  Some lessons he’s been trying to teach me since day 1 and I’m just now getting them.  Did I mention I can be stubborn and hard headed???  My God is patient with me and I thank Him each and every day for that.  The stranger I was referring to earlier has a lot to do with me learning some of these lessons.  God brought Jesse to me a few weeks ago and I cannot thank Him enough!  We are no longer strangers but true and honest friends.  He prays for me and with me.  He asks me the hard questions that I need to answer for myself. He helps me to see things through the eyes of the Lord.  Some of what he says to me my friends and prayer warriors have been telling me all along, but when the Lord brings a perfect stranger into your life saying the same things, you tend to sit up and listen.  Isn’t it amazing the lengths the Lord will go to for us???

So today I will focus on God’s presence in the present. I do not have to worry about what my future holds because God is already there preparing the way. He walks beside me TODAY, holding my hand TODAY, and He will continue to be present in my TODAY if I just put my focus on Him and leave the uncertainty of tomorrow to the One who knows the outcome already!

Rejoice, be patient, and pray always

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We are to stand on scripture when we pray.  The Lord loves to hear us speak His words to Him.  I always have a scripture to back up whatever it is I’m praying about.  I have verses that calm my anxieties (Philippians 4:6-7), verses that keep me from being afraid (2 Timothy 1:7), verses that remind me to persevere (James 1:4), and that remind me what FAITH can do (Matthew 17:20).  These are written on my bathroom mirror, my microwave, my dresser mirror, and on sticky notes everywhere.  I need God’s word to get through my day and to help keep my focus on Him.  His word is filled with His promises to us.  I hold tight to those promises each and every day.

Growing up Philippians 4:13 was always my favorite verse and it’s still a very important one to me now.  This verse has seen me through many ups and downs.  It is the verse I even quoted as I stood before a church filled with people on the day of my husband’s funeral almost 15 years ago. It was the first scripture I went to in the beginning of this journey as well but now there are so many bible verses that speak to me.   I have a spiral that I write them in and reread daily.

I could list all the scriptures that I have written down and stood on but I won’t.  There are so many good ones and the ones that speak to me might not speak to you in the same way depending on where you are in your own journey. I will share that the one that speaks to me the most right now is Romans 12:12.  It says, “Rejoicing in hope; be patient in tribulation; be constant in prayer.”  My close friend and prayer warrior, Sandi (We were destined to be great friends having the same name!!), gave me this scripture months ago. She sent me the exact picture above and said as soon as she saw it, she knew it was for me.  I saved it and would read it from time to time.  My friends, this is the scripture that I have come to live by!

God has been answering so many of my prayers.  It has amazed more than just me! In answering even some of my smallest prayers He has given me hope and encouragement that He is working on the big ones too!  I am truly REJOICING IN MY HOPE on a daily basis!  Sometimes when I call Sandi in tears about something, she will ask me, “Are you rejoicing in your hope?” and that will automatically shift my thinking and my emotions because she is right!  There is too much to rejoice in for me to be thinking and worrying over the one thing that didn’t go right that day!

The second part of this verse, BE PATIENT IN TRIBULATION, is the one I’m really working on. Honestly I can persevere with the best of them.  I’ve never been one to give up easily no matter how long and hard the road ahead is because I know what my God can do and He continues to carry me through!  Patience on the other hand……well, let’s just say I’ve been pretty impatient at times especially when God starts answering my prayers.  I have had to ask forgiveness for my impatience and selfishness because I get caught up wanting it all right now!  I’m reminded daily that I need to be patient even by my prayer warriors. I know it is all in God’s timing!  I know I will get there when I’m meant to get there and not one moment sooner!  I’m always wondering and asking God what “work” do I need to do and I’ve realized that my waiting does not mean I’m not doing anything.  It means I’m PATIENT while my faith is doing something! Sometimes my sense of urgency can get in the way of what God is doing.  I need to be patient and not try to force anything. Patience is not only the ability to wait but how you act during the wait. A waiting person is a PATIENT person….see all this PATIENCE!!! I honestly thought I was a patient person but God has shown me differently.  Most of the time if I am having a bad day, it really is because of my impatience.  I’m a work in progress and I am thankful that God is teaching me to BE PATIENT DURING MY TIME OF TRIBULATION.

CONSTANT IN PRAYER is my favorite part of this scripture because I know communication is key in any relationship and I desire to grow in my relationship with the Lord.  I can always find peace and joy in Him.  I know the Bible says to go to your room and close the door to pray (Matthew 6:6) but I believe we cannot be CONSTANT IN PRAYER if that is the only time we are praying! I agree that I need to set aside time to pray like this so that there are absolutely no distractions and I do but it is not the only place that I pray.  I also pray in my car. Sometimes I go to the bathroom at work to pray.  I pray at my kitchen table and of course on my walks!  I have always believed in the power of prayer and my prayer life has grown so much over the last six months.  I’ve learned how to truly pray fervently.  I’ve learned to worship the Lord in my prayers and not just come to Him with a list of petitions.  I know there is still much for me to learn so I am trying to be still so that I can hear what God is saying to me and teaching me.  Prayer is just as much about listening to what God has to say as it is talking to Him.

All the answers you will ever need can be found in the Word of God. I am so thankful for all the scriptures that the Lord has given me but Romans 12:12 has become the verse of my heart! It captures everything to me during this season of my life.  Rejoice, be patient, and pray always my friends!!