Monday, December 27, 2010

Unexpected Christmas

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

"Do we not continually pass by blessings innumerable without notice, and instead fix our eyes on what we feel to be our trials and our losses, and think and talk about these until our whole horizon is filled with them, and we almost begin to think we have no blessings at all?" Hannah Whitall Smith

How was your Christmas? I hope you received all that you had hoped for. I hope you were surrounded by love and family and that you ended your day of celebrating Jesus' birth with full tummies and hearts. I can almost be certain that some of you who are reading this did not have the Christmas you had been dreaming about. I know mine did not go exactly as I had planned--in fact it went pretty much exactly the opposite of the way I had it planned and there were moments when I thought it was completely ruined. I wanted to cry or scream or both. It's my own fault. I paint the pictures in my head with too vivid of colors. I forget that when real people are involved the colors will mix together and overlap and the picture will at times be muted and at times be blurred and at other times look like a Jackson Pollock original.

My husband and I woke up really early to drive the hour to pick up my Mother and then drive the two hours to my youngest son's home. His house was already filled with so many that I love--both my sons, their wives, my granddaughter and new grandson. My daughter was on her way. As the house filled with the smells of the Christmas feast we were about to have and the area around the tree exploded with gifts to be opened I looked around with such contentment. Maybe the picture wasn't exactly what I had imagined, but it was pretty close. We ate our meal. Gift opening would come next and I could imagine the happy faces as each opened presents that had been picked out intentionally and with love for each one. Then I heard a fearful voice coming from the restroom. My mother was screaming for me to come help her. I entered to find blood everywhere and my 82 year old mother shaking violently. Isn't it strange that when we are confronted by things like this so often the Lord just seems to slow our hearts down and helps us to remain calm? Well, He does that for me anyway. I'm always calm when calamity strikes and then when it's over, I usually fall apart. When I say there was blood everywhere, I mean there was a LOT of blood. She had told us earlier that when she woke up that morning there was a lot of blood on her pillow and that her nurse's aide where she lives said it was a nose bleed. Her nose was bleeding again, but not like any nose bleed I had ever seen. My daughter came into the restroom and panicked. My son who's house it was immediately thought she would die right there in his home on Christmas morning. My husband, the voice of reason, said it's a bad nose bleed, let's apply pressure and stop the bleeding and she'll be o.k. I could see that the kids were too afraid so I said I thought we better take her to the hospital. We did. We spent hours in the emergency room on Christmas Day in New York City.

By the time we reached the hospital the bleeding had indeed stopped as the voice of reason had said but because she had so much blood on her and because she is elderly, they put her in a wheelchair and wheeled her right in. She was seen very quickly and the doctor confirmed it was just a bloody nose probably caused by her heater drying out the air in her apartment this time of year. He decided he would check out her blood to see if it was too thin or if she had lost too much so the two kids who had accompanied us went back to the festivities and my husband and I waited. As my daughter left she took a picture of her grandmother and put it on Facebook with the caption "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer!".

I am ashamed to say that at that moment my thoughts were not God's thoughts. I felt resentment that I was in the emergency room of a New York City hospital on Christmas instead of celebrating with my family. I wanted the doctors and the lab technicians to hurry--I felt robbed of precious moments and invaluable time. I almost felt panicked that I was loosing seconds that I would never be able to get back and I needed each one of those seconds--I really, really needed them! This was one holiday that my empty nest was going to be full again, when my quiet life would be filled with noise and laughter again and I was missing it all to care for the mother who was seldom there when I was a child to care for me.

I've cared for my mother since my father died--21 years ago. At first, it was just taking care of paying her bills because my father always did that. Through the years she needed more and more care until finally she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she had to move in with us. My whole life the role of mother and child had been reversed. She never seemed to grow up and I had to grow up too quickly. We were never close, never bonded, never got along for any length of time. Despite that, rarely a day has gone by that I have not called her to make sure she was all right. I made sure that my children were around her as much as possible--they have always adored her. I accepted the responsibility of taking care of her because I knew it was expected of me. Somewhere along the journey of taking care of this woman who really only invoked anger in me because of her neglect, I began to see her through the Lord's eyes. I began to enjoy hearing the stories of the past that Alzheimer's had made so vivid to her. I began to excuse the things that in the past I had found inexcusable in her. She started telling strangers that I was her best friend and I thought, o.k., I can handle being her friend and caring for her as unto the Lord. The amazing thing was that in learning to care for her the Lord began healing me of the hurts and bitterness of the past.

But now we were in the emergency room and the images of being a child and having my own nose bleeds and only my father to comfort me and take care of me. The resentment stirred up because I could not be with my own children that I had tried to nurture in all of the ways that she had failed to nurture me. Why God? Just as the tears started to run over the brim of my eyes He literally opened my eyes. Here I was in a hospital on Christmas day surrounded by nurses, doctors, technicians, janitors and aides who were not home with their loved ones. They had been cheerful to us from the moment we got there. They had served my mother without a thought of their own losses. She was a stranger that needed their help and they were giving their best gift of care to her. I took another look at my mother laying on the hospital bed and asked the Lord to please forgive me and change my heart; to please help me to minister to her with love and patience and to show the people at this hospital His love through me. I knew at that point that He would give us the time we needed to all be together; that He would work it all for our good and that was enough--more then enough to bring me peace.

Shortly after that prayer the doctor returned to tell us all was well with her blood and shortly after that she was dismissed. As we left the hospital we were able to wish all of the workers a Merry Christmas with real joy in our hearts. By the time we eventually got my mother back to her home my heart was thankful for each moment we all shared, each kiss, each hug, each joy-filled laugh. I could not tell you what each person received for a Christmas gift--I don't even care--this Christmas will always be precious to me because God shook my perfect Christmas up like a snow globe. He shook up the control I was unknowingly trying to exert to make Christmas fit into my box, he shook up feelings I thought I had long ago conquered but were still under the surface making me sick and sad. He let the snow come (figuratively and literally) and settle on my life and the scene that was left after all the shaking up was so much prettier then the scene He could see in me before.

If your Christmas wasn't exactly what you had hoped for. If relationships were difficult or hurtful. If all you feel is empty or angry or resentful when you know that you should feel peaceful and loving and thankful please remember that God knows what you are feeling and He cares. Sometimes He even has to show us what we are feeling and He'll do that for you because He loves you and He really, really wants to heal you. As He reminds us in John 14:18, even if our earthly parents are not here for us for whatever reason, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Miracles Happen!

As I was praying about what I would write in this blog today, I kept feeling like I needed to write about miracles. After all, it is the season to celebrate miracles--the miracle of our Savior's birth being the entire reason for the season. But as I began typing about the past God kept bringing me back to now. Do you ever miss seeing His miracles in your life because you are so caught up in just living your life? I know I have been guilty of that so often.

Gloria Gaither said, "I could go through this day oblivious to the miracles all around me or I could tune in and "enjoy"." So I decided to tune in. I decided to quit thinking about the grand celebration we will be having in three days to celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus, to quit thinking about being surrounded by my miraculous children and grand children and look around on this day. You know what I see? Wouldn't it be charming if I could just automatically name off several miracles right now? But I can't. What I see is a bedroom filled with wrapping paper that needs to be put away for another year, a carpet that needs vacuuming, meals that need to be cooked, relationships that need to be tended to. I see people in my life who need jobs, homes and hope. I see people in my life that don't know my Savior after so many years of my prayers. I see a country that appears to be falling apart.

So in the midst of  all of these things, how do I get to a place where I can see all of the miraculous things that God is doing? I think the answer is the simplest little thing. Most of us learned it in kindergarten--stop, look and listen! Stop seeing things through our day to day occurrences, look through the eyes of Jesus at both people and events, and listen to His interpretation of miracles!

If I stop and take a second look at the carpet and the bedroom I can be so thankful for a nice warm home and I can ask God to give the homeless the miracle of a warm dwelling place this year. When I stress about the meals, I can take a second look in my pantry and refrigerator and I can be thankful for all of the amazing food He has supplied us with and I can prayerfully ask Him to miraculously supply the hungry children and adults in this world with the nourishment they need. In fact, I can pray for miracles for all of the things I complain about regularly. Luke 1:37 says, "For nothing will be impossible with God."  I believe it.

Then the Lord brought to mind another scripture--John 14:12

"I assure you" The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father."

Oh no, I believe that too! I had to listen. Maybe if you and I are to see and celebrate some miracles today, we need to be involved in the work of the miracle. I'm not saying that God won't answer our prayers when we ask Him for the miracles. I'm saying maybe He has said He will use us to help bring about some of those miracles. If we ask God for a miracle for someone we love, how blessed we would be if He in turn asked us to help in the work of giving them that miracle. If I'm looking for the miracle of homes for the homeless, wouldn't it be just like our Lord to show me a ministry that could use my help in building homes for the homeless; food for the hungry; salvation for the loss. Maybe we don't see the miracles because we are not stopping our everyday routines, looking through Jesus' eyes, and listening to His word as He encourages us to join Him in His work on earth.

"Here lies the tremendous mystery--that God should be all-powerful, yet refuse to coerce. He summons us to cooperation. We are honored in being given the opportunity to participate in His good deeds. Remember how He asked for help in performing His miracles: Fill the water pots, stretch out your hand, distribute the loaves." Eizabeth Elliot

I want to wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases--the best celebration of the miraculous birth of our Savior--and I want to ask the Lord to help each of us in the new year, this new decade, to open our eyes and our hearts to see His miracles around us and to open our ears to hear His calling to join Him in accomplishing them. As He does, please feel free to post comments about the every day miracles He allows you to see and even participate in this year. If there are ministries that you participate in now that you would like to comment about, please tell us all about them. Maybe God will use you to help others to stop, look and listen! God bless you all!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I think I just ordered the last Christmas present today. It's the perfect gift for my perfect husband and when I pressed the "enter" key to send all of the information necessary to purchase the gift and get it on it's way to arrive here before Christmas morning, I had the most wonderful sense of happiness. I could picture him opening it at our son's house. I could picture the look on his face because he would never imagine that I had purchased it for him. I could picture his joy and that brought me joy.

I think I get a little consumed with gifts at Christmas time. I make my lists, I think about what gift would please each name. Sometimes I panic because I can't think of a gift that will please or I don't have enough money to purchase the perfect one. I'm not saying that giving gifts is a bad thing. I believe we are called to be generous and called to be loving. I'm excited about giving my husband, children and grand children their presents this year. I can hardly wait!

As I finished buying that last gift, I joyfully thanked the Lord and He brought to my mind this scripture:

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." Romans 12:6-8 

I've been so busy obsessing about Christmas presents, but have I been diligent in giving to others the gift that God has given me? In His word God says He gave us all these gifts and He says we are to use them. Not just at Christmas, but throughout our lives. I can imagine when God created us that He took great joy in choosing just the right gift to give us. In a similar way that many thoughts went through my mind as I chose my husband's perfect Christmas gift, God thought of who you were, what your personality was, where you would live and work and play, the people that would surround you, the people you would love, the people who would hurt you. He knew the way you would think and the experiences you would endure in your lifetime and He said "this is the perfect gift for her".  Do you know what your gift is? Are you using it with joy?

I feel quite certain that my husband will enjoy his gift and use it for the purpose that it was made. I would be very disappointed if he didn't. Similarly God wants you to enjoy your gift. More then that He wants you to use it. Even more then that, He will allow things and people in your life so that you will have the opportunities to use your gift. Is He disappointed when we don't? I'm sure He isn't, after all He knows us. His love for us is unconditional. The gifts He gives us are not for Him to measure whether we are good enough or lovable enough. He knows that when we give to others we will be blessed and so will they. It brings us joy and happiness, a sense of purpose. It allows others to see God's love in a human. It may even be used to bring others to salvation.

Corrie ten Boom said, "The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration but its donation." Maybe this Christmas while we wrap each present to place under our trees, we should ask ourselves, "what is the gift that God gave me and how am I using it--not just at Christmas but for all of my life?"

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the special gift you gave me when you created me. Thank you for being the only One that knows me completely. Thank you for placing me in my family, in this home, in this church, in this state, in this country. Thank you for each person that you bring into my life. Help me please to really see them, to see their need for my gift. Please give me the courage to step out in faith and share the gift and to do it with joy and love so that others will see You in me. I give you all of the glory and I give you all of the honor and praise.

In Jesus name,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Baby Changes Everything

I've been going through the motions of preparing for Christmas. I put away the Thanksgiving decorations. I looked at the boxes my husband brought out of storage and sat in the middle of our living room floor and I wondered why am I doing this? Our family will all be going to our youngest son's home for our Christmas celebration. We are empty nesters. There are no children to be delighted by the finished tree when the lights are turned on, no one to tell the Christmas story to as we set up the Nativity scene. I had talked myself into putting up the bare minimum and calling it a Christmas.

Then, a text message from my daughter--"Amanda is having her baby, welcome to the world Penny!".  That message brought the picture in my head to a day so many years ago when my daughter stayed home from third grade sick. There was a knock on our door. I opened it and there stood a little Amanda with a piece of construction paper in her hand. She told me she was one of my daughter's friends from school and asked if she could see her. I showed her to my daughter's room and she gave her the paper which had two figures on it, one Amanda and one Ashley. At the top read "get well soon, I miss you".  Thus started a friendship that has lasted over two decades; endured sleep overs, growing pains, teenage angst, separations from our moves, boys, men, family problems, colleges and careers. Amanda has been in our daughter's life and in ours it seems forever. Today she becomes a Mommy--a Mommy to Penny--Penny from heaven! I am feeling so much excitement and joy over this news.

The feelings her news brought into my life made me start wondering during my quiet time. Shouldn't that same excitement, that same joy be in me as Christmas approaches? Shouldn't I really be feeling even more of these emotions? We celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of another baby. THE baby, Jesus my Savior, is the reason for the celebration. Yet until this morning, I had become guilty of making the season about my losses--children who had grown and moved away, family so far away, an empty feeling house, spending so much money on presents, the extra work, blah, blah, bah, bah humbug! Then, as the song says, "a baby changes everything". My thoughts of Amanda and Penny turned to thoughts of Mary and Jesus. Just as we had been looking forward to her birth for nine months, the world had waited for a Savior for generations. Just as this new Mommy had been preparing a place in her heart for her precious one, I needed to prepare a place in my heart all over again for a celebration of thanksgiving to God for His precious Son.

Yes, the decorations I will complete in our home are reminders of happy times when the house was full of noise and children, but it's not the reason for the decorations. The presents I'll wrap and place under the tree are for the one's I love but they are not the reason we buy them. The food we'll prepare and the "feast" we'll all share will be a meal of love but we do not prepare it every year at this time just to have a reason to eat together. Jesus, as the saying goes, is the reason for not just the season but for all that we do to make it a festive time. The birth of Amanda's daughter has revived my excitement about Christmas because it has reminded me of the joy and freedom that our Savior's birth brought into this world. The news of this new precious baby brought my attention away from me and caused me to focus once again on Him. Have you needed to re-focus on Jesus as you've scurried to get things accomplished this Christmas? If so, please join me in praying for little Penny and as you picture her bundled up in a safe, clean hospital in Texas, please shift your focus to the birth of Jesus--no hospital room, a dirty, smelly stable--a King come to earth as man. Just as we pray that Penny will grow through the years and serve a purpose in her life, Jesus grew up to serve the purpose that His Father in heaven sent Him here to accomplish. We pray Penny will live a full and happy life and have a million blessings; Jesus lived a life of servitude as an example to us of obedience to God, He died a death that He did not deserve so that we might have a forever life in Heaven that we cannot earn. His life brings us forgiveness of our sins if we only ask Him, only receive Him as our Savior. If you've never done that, never prayed for Jesus to forgive you your sins, for Jesus to become your Savior, please use this time as you look at the beautiful decorations, as you admire each twinkling light, as you shop for each of your loved ones; to reflect on why you do these things. If you pray for that forgiveness today you, like all of us who know Jesus as our Savior, will understand that a baby truly does change everything.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


"Failure is one of life's most powerful teachers. How we handle our failures determines whether we're going to simply 'get by' in life or 'press on'." Beth Moore

I have had way too many failures to count--how about you? When I was in my twenties someone I really loved and respected called me a "quitter".  It was a cruel thing to say, but looking back now, I understand why he thought that of me. I was a quitter. I didn't want to deal with problems, emotions, difficult situations. I thought that starting over was easier then "dealing". I was in the middle of one of those starting overs when I met Jesus.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Music to my ears--I thought! Little did I know that meeting Him meant that my days of choosing to start over in difficult situations were over. The old that the scripture is talking about is the old way I handled things. The new creation that had come was the Holy Spirit in me who would show me how to "deal" in a different way. My "old" nature still chooses what seems to be the easy path--quit, start over--but the new in me shows me a different path. I can still choose the path, and many times I still choose the wrong path; but if I follow His leading my choice is to persevere in any circumstances trusting Him to somehow work them out for my good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

I know that I love Him. I know that He called me and that He has a purpose for my life that goes beyond the dreams and hopes I might be able to conceive and I know from this scripture that He says "ALL things". What I don't know sometimes when I'm in the middle of a difficult situation is how in the world He is going to work it out for my good. That's when I get tempted to run, to hide, to manipulate. When my flesh starts getting anxious and I don't feel comfortable in my circumstances or if those circumstances have been going on for so long and I don't see Him doing anything about them--when it just isn't fair, when it feels like I'm going to break...what do I do Lord?

"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Luke 22:42

O.K., so maybe I really do want my will at first. Then I start to remember all of the times in my past when I got my will; times when it didn't line up with God's will at all. Those were the times that do not bless me or anyone I love--those are the times I regret, times I grieve, times I am ashamed. When I recall those times I can then come humbly before the Lord and really mean Luke 22:42--I can really trust Him to bring about the good in even the worst situations.

I don't want to be that quitter I was. God gave me the last completely new start I really needed the day He came into my heart. He gave me the only example I'll ever need of completing the job despite it's difficulties when He died on that cross. Our Savior finished what he began! Despite His suffering and despite His shame on the cross, Jesus was faithful. His Spirit in me gives me the power to stay the course, to finish the race, to persevere!

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fear Not

"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

One of my prayers for this blog is that it will bring women closer together and closer to the Lord and I believe He is already beginning to answer that. After my last post there were two comments. One from a cousin close in age to me who loves the Lord with all of her heart and her comment was an encouragement to draw closer to the Lord. The other was from another cousin quite a bit younger then me and her's was an open and honest comment of where she is in her life. How wonderful!

My mother came from a family of fourteen brothers and sisters. I have so many cousins I really can't count them any more. I am the oldest cousin and I grew up close to several other cousins but then there are this vast number that I see once a year for a very brief time at our family reunions. We hug, we smile, we sometimes ask how are you, but that's about as deep as it goes. It's not that we don't care about each other, it's just that there are too many and just not enough time. I think somewhere in our lives that's how a lot of our relationships are--at the office, at our churches, sometimes even in our homes. Maybe here, in this blog, we can settle for a moment and speak truth about our lives and learn to care about the worlds that each of us is living in at this moment in time. I hope so.

When I read my younger cousin's post I thought, how brave of her to let me into her life in this way. I thought how brave some of her decisions were for the way she was leading her life and the steps of faith she has taken with the Lord in her marriage. It also made me reflect on just how much fear can paralyze our world and prevent us from receiving all of the blessings that God has for us. My cousin was honest in describing where fear had almost stopped her from doing the very things that God was going to bless her most in and then she shared that those very decisions to overcome fear had allowed her to see God at work in her life and His hand in her marriage. Reading things like that help me to reflect on my own life and helps me to seek out and "unearth" areas where fear may be paralyzing me today. How about you--are you ready for reflection? If so, let's seek Him together so that He can deliver us from those fears and move us onto the next blessing He has waiting!

Luci Swindoll says, "Each of us has something broken in our lives; a broken promise, a broken dream, a broken marriage, a broken heart...and we must decide how we're going to deal with our brokenness. We can wallow in self-pity or regret, accomplishing nothing and having no fun or joy in our circumstances; or we can determine with our will to take a few risks, get out of our comfort zone, and see what God will do to bring unexpected delight in our time of need."

If truth be known, I think most of us have experienced most of those areas of brokenness and yes, I think it's human nature to wallow for awhile. I think one of the other bi-products of brokenness can also be fear; fear of entering back into relationships, back into living our lives the way that God wants us to live--free of fear, abandoned of caution, totally sold-out to following Him. If I had allowed fear to conquer me after my divorce I never would have allowed God to bring my amazing husband into my life. I would have missed all of the joy that God had for me in that marriage for the past twenty-one years. I would have missed all of the amazing adventures God had planned for me as my husband and I have served Him. If I had stayed in that place where the world and other people tried so hard to break me, I never would have experienced God's miraculous healing!

Yet isn't it funny, even after living all of those places of joy and delight that the Lord accomplished in me and through me, I still recognize that I allow fear to creep right back when there is new territory to walk in my life. Maybe the question is not will we fear, but what will we do with that fear? We're human, God acknowledges that we are going to fear--there are ample scriptures that prove that--but He knows how fear can cripple us and even make us ill and so He provides the way out of fear. What are some of your favorite scriptures when you have experienced fear and what were your blessings when God overcame that fear?

Last December, right before my birthday, I decided that for all of the birthdays that I have left I will do something--no matter how small or trivial--that has caused me fear and that I would turn those fears over to the Lord and watch Him work. What a great birthday gift right? To see the hand of God in my life in such a special and personal way on the day we celebrate my birth. I prayed about it and it seemed to be ice skating. I have always loved watching the ice skaters in NYC going gracefully around the rink but I've always been the spectator; sitting just beyond the glass with a cup of warm hot chocolate. Observing life but too fearful to participate. So I announced my decision to try ice skating to my family (so I wouldn't back down), my husband and I drove into the city, some of my children and a granddaughter joined us for a wonderful meal and a beautiful birthday cake and then we proceeded to the rink. This may all sound silly to you, but believe me the fear was an enormous weight upon my chest as I strapped on the skates. It was a very cold December night but I was sweating from fear. I stood up from lacing the skates and my ankles collapsed. I knew right then that the old me would have said forget it, this is a really dumb idea and backed out of the whole thing. Instead, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me break free of the fear (I also asked Him to not allow me to break anything else!). My son took me by the arm and led me onto the rink. He, with great patience, encouraged my baby steps. He also encouraged me to relax--I never quite accomplished that, but I did make it all the way around what seemed like the biggest ice skating rink in the world. I did not fall, I did not break anything. I did break free of the fear of ice skating. I was a participant, not just an observer. The memory I will always treasure was not the one I expected. I thought the sweet memory would be of skating and feeling the freedom of gliding across the ice. The real memory was of my sweet son and I taking baby steps across that frozen rink. Just as I had encouraged him and held onto his little chubby hands oh so many years ago as he began to walk, he held onto my (little chubby) hand now and made sure I did not fall and hurt myself. Thank you God for this sweet memory and precious blessing that I almost let fear rob me of!

If there are places in your life that you are allowing fear to cripple you in, maybe now is the time to seek the Lord and allow Him to deliver you. If you do, please feel free to post your experiences so that it will be an encouragement to others who may read it!

"God specializes in things fresh and firsthand. His plans for you this year may outshine those of the past. He's prepared to fill your days with reasons to give Him praise." Joni Eareckson Tada

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Things First

I opened my devotional today and read:

"When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased."  C.S. Lewis

God is good isn't He? I mean my intent for today was to post some of the problems I am having with being an empty nester and before I could even type one word God gave me the solution to all of those problems. It's really the solution to all of our cares and needs.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33. Of course sometimes the real problem is not not knowing the solution, it's how do I become so obedient to God's word that I live the solution and not the problem?

There may be some people out there that spend over twenty years of their lives raising children, serving children, caring for their every need, praying, driving, feeding, laughing, crying, arguing, embracing, loving children and then, when those children leave, feel relief and joy at their new found freedoms. I didn't feel that way. I was one of those women who always wanted children; when I was little I used to say I wanted a hundred! I ended up with three gorgeous, brilliant, funny out-spoken kids that I absolutely adore. Although I worked when the two oldest were born and served in ministries throughout most of their growing up, they were my "career". They left for wonderful lives, which I am thrilled to acknowledge. The "career" has ended--I guess I'm retired; now what? Am I alone? Do any of you feel that way?

I know I have a lot of years left--Lord willing--and I know all of the things I am supposed to be happily doing with all of my "free" time now that my nest is empty; I even want to be doing those things--sometimes. It's just that it doesn't feel right or good or real. My children left, my health crashed, I slowed down and the world kept going fast and I got lost. Anyone else? My father-in-law got sick and moved in with us only to get sicker and die. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, moved in with us and got sicker and I had to make the horrible decision to move her into an assisted living facility. Just as everyone left our home, my husband took a job that involves traveling nearly 99% of the time. The nest is empty and for a while now I have been empty too. Anyone?

All I have known to do is cry out to the Lord and you know what? He has heard my cries.  Elizabeth Elliot wrote, "It is when we come to the Lord in our nothingness, our powerlessness and our helplessness that He then enables us to love in a way which, without Him, would be absolutely impossible." Maybe it's good to be empty, maybe it's good not to be comfortable, not to have control, not to be able to help how you feel and what you are able to do. Maybe it's at those times that you can finally sit quietly and begin to hear the Spirit within you minister to you and encourage you and equip you for the new life that you have no choice but to live. Maybe it's at those times, when the house is too quiet and too clean, when there is no one you need to drive or feed or pay attention to that you truly can be totally still and KNOW that He is God and you can fall deeply in love with Him again. Maybe after I finish my rant to Him about the loneliness and the fear of not knowing what to do now, maybe then when I have reached the point of seeking Him above my yearnings for the past I will understand the scriptures when they say, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths." Proverbs 3:5-6.

If any of you are in the place that I am in, I hope you'll join me on this journey of trust. I can't wait to see where He is going to guide us!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


My first posting! There are a few things you should know about this blog. First, the oldest son calls me Ma, the other two call me Mom, my daughters-in-love and my husband's daughter that I will not call "step" call me Susan (so far) and, of course, my grandchildren who can speak call me Grandma. I sign all my correspondence to them this way so I thought that it would be an appropriate title to identify me on a blog. I am married and totally in love with my husband of twenty-one years who is hardly ever home because he travels with his job. He is the most "Godly" man I have ever known and he accepts and loves me unconditionally. Which brings me to another thing you should know--I am a born again Christian which will become very apparent in my writing. I love Jesus. I have experienced so much that I hope will help you to relate to me and the things I will be writing about. I attended but did not complete college in my teens. In my twenties I was a career woman and a mother of three--two boys and a girl, a divorcee in my thirties, a single mom for a few years, a wife and mother in a blended family and ministry leader throughout my forties and now a woman in her fifties who stuggles with being an empty-nester. I hope that through this blog I will make some new relationships with other women who are living in any of those ages. I hope we can encourage each other and "mentor" each other through our experiences. I've learned a lot through the years that I would love to share and I need to learn a lot for the next years that I am sure some of you would love to teach. I really hope that you will join me--ask all sorts of questions, leave random remarks, encourage each other, pray for each other.

I mentioned before that I was struggling with being an empty-nester. I'll probably write more about this tomorrow, but maybe that's a good way for us to get started--a way for us to begin seeing into each other's worlds and hearts--what are you struggling with?