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 title...my 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?