Cherish the Moments

As I approach nearly a half-century of life on this earth, it should be noted that I have spent 25 of those years as a mom, and over 21 years on my own, in the adventitious life of single motherhood. I started this blog roughly three years ago and admittedly have not written as much as I intended or would have liked. All I can say about that is, I’m working on it! 😉  I started writing it because I was at a very pivotal time in my life as I was sending yet another child off to college, (the third in four years) and I was overwhelmed by the concept of having only one child at home… a nearly empty nest.

Today, I sit here still recovering from my very busy weekend, which included two, excuse me THREE college graduations; all on the same day! Truly epic moments in two of my three oldest children’s lives. I am somehow managing on adrenaline, caffeine, and the pride I feel for their accomplishments. I think back to months ago when we realized that my two oldest children would be graduating on the same day, at two different universities, three hours apart… I couldn’t imagine how I would make that sort of choice, which direction to travel, who might I be letting down. As their graduations grew closer, in these last couple months, I knew I had to make some sort of a choice; it was so unfair, but as I have tried to teach my children, life isn’t always fair and I did have to choose.

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Three years ago, a year ahead of schedule, my oldest daughter was graduating from college, receiving her Bachelors in Psychology. However, she was out of state, and I was unable to attend due to back problems I was having at the time and I was unable to make the trip because I could not travel. It broke my heart, and hers as well.  I believe it was that quiet heartbreak that perhaps led me to make the choice that I did to attend my daughters graduation. The thing that also made this decision bearable, is that I knew I could send his sisters to help celebrate my son on his own special day.

It had been crazy week at work and I was more than a little exhausted come Thursday afternoon, when it was time to get ready to make the two hour trip to my daughter’s apartment so that I could be there for her ceremony Friday morning. I’ll be honest, at one moment I almost changed my mind… my momma heart was breaking because I could not attend both and I was trying to find a way to do everything and be in both places at one time. It had been suggested to me that I could attend my son’s graduation and then the reception my daughter and son-in-law were having later that evening. It sounded all good and fine–but I knew my daughter would be heartbroken again, and I knew I couldn’t do that. I texted and talked to my son a few times and he was in good spirits, excited that his sisters were coming and that he would see me later in the day when he joined us for my son-in-laws ceremony in the afternoon. Then we could all celebrate together Friday night as a family.

The real craziness began when I had texted my daughter letting her know when I planned to leave so she could know when to expect me. Instead of texting me back she actually called, wanting to know if I could please come earlier. I told her how tired I was and that I hadn’t even started getting ready, but she was really persistent and I agreed to leave much earlier than planned. I was tired and a little frustrated when I climbed into my car for the two hour drive, yet, somewhere in the first ten minutes or so this sense of peace came over me (an answer to earlier prayer) and I was happy and looking forward to arriving and having a late dinner with my daughter and her husband.

I stopped for Starbucks and gas and continued down the interstate, singing along with My Bridge as I drove along. Every song just continued to lift my spirits and fill my once conflicted heart with peace and joy. As I entered Omaha, I was actually glad she had encouraged me to come early. It was just starting to get dark and I have terrible night blindness. I listened to my GPS as it told me which direction to go as she had asked me to meet her at a friends house. I was a bit unhappy at this, as I really wasn’t much in the mood to meet anyone and just wanted to eat and go to bed. As I arrive in what was a very nice neighborhood, I was perplexed, I couldn’t see her car, nor read the house numbers, so I was having trouble ensuring I was in the right place. Then I see her, she was waving her arms, so I stop. She tells me to park in the driveway and I do, happy to be able to get out and stretch my legs.

What happened next was one of the most exciting moments of my life as a mom. My daughter preceded to tell me that the home we were standing in front of was not her friends, but instead her own… they had bought a house!! It took a few seconds for it to sink in, but then I was so excited to see the entire house and really enjoy the moment!

carriedavidHouse

She then gave me a tour of their beautiful new home and I just couldn’t believe that one of my children had been able to reach a milestone in their life that I have yet to meet myself. My daughter and her husband are homeowners! I am still so in awe and just so very proud of their hard work and determination that has allowed them to keep reaching for the stars and achieving their dreams.

Now for graduation!!

What a day it was! Her husband, David, made us an early breakfast as we had to arrive at the event center an hour before the ceremony began. Thank goodness for technology, as we were able to text and Snap Chat with her leading up to moments before the ceremony began. This same technology also allowed me to stay in touch with her sisters as they were celebrating with their brother as he prepared for his own ceremony.

 

It is also with this wonderful technology that I was able to watch the live stream of my son’s graduation ceremony, 165 miles in the opposite direction. It worked perfectly, shortly after Carrie’s name was called and she received her diploma, her brother received his and I got to see them both! ❤ It was about this time that we left for lunch and Guy and his youngest sister got in his car to make the three hour drive to join us for my son-in-law’s ceremony.  They arrived just in time and we were able to watch as David received his diploma as well. Shortly after his name was called Carrie and I, along with her siblings, headed back to their new house to finish preparing for the reception and awaited the arrival of family and friends. Kayleigh was able to make it after returning to work for part of the afternoon and I was able to meet some of Carrie’s friends and co-workers.  I was even able to talk the graduates into putting on their caps and gowns for a group picture… making my momma heart smile.

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Jess and I would drive home so that we could head back east to help my son move into his new apartment. Our only cargo… the family cat (who will be 18 this July), who somewhere along the way adopted Guy as his human and their lives forever changed. He was in some of my son’s senior pictures four years ago and was noticeably sadder when Guy went away to college. They both cherished the times he was home and I knew all to well that the day would come when Gonzo would no longer live with me. He tolerated the trip quite well and was instantly thrilled when he saw his boy when we got out of the car! He wasn’t to sure about the apartment until we started moving in the boxes, many were from the basement and it was almost comical to watch him sniffing them and realizing all was well in his world. A boy and his cat reunited. ❤

 

This weekend was more than eventful… it was unforgettable, and I am so glad it went exactly the way that it did. With every worry that I had before it began, I can’t imagine it not happening just as it did. Which only reminds me of what the Bible tells us in Psalm 139; that He knows us from before our beginning, He knows what we will say or do… long before we do. He has already written our story, we just need to spend time with Him, listening to His direction and following where He leads us.

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So don’t let the worries of how a moment will or won’t happen keep you from really enjoying that moment, from cherishing the memory that it will become. Live in those moments, share them with the ones you love and hold on tight to each and everyone. Because life changes too quickly and you wouldn’t want to miss it along the way.

 

Until the next moment,

 

Find Your Zeal

I’ve been silent again. Too silent. Lost in a dark and lonely solitude of my own making. A silence that is not easily explained, or even identified for that matter. A silence that tonight was reawakened by one simple word. A word that in today’s world of instant this and immediate that, just isn’t spoken. A single word that could have only been placed on my heart and in my mind by the Spirit that lies deep within myself; the Spirit He placed with in me, within us all that believe.

ZEAL

What is zeal? Webster defines it as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Its synonyms include: passion, fire, devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, and intensity. With antonyms that include apathy and indifference. In my silence, I had lost; correction, have lost my zeal.

So as I set in the quaint setting of an old barn tonight, sharing in fellowship, with a sisterhood of women who like myself, love the Lord; I was reminded, as perhaps some of them were, that my life was missing a vital piece of God’s armor; the Cloak of Zeal.

Many of us are familiar with the Armor of God. Ephesians 6 reminds us that this armor includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the word of God). Tonight it was also revealed to us that there is one more vital piece of armor that no soldier should take the battlefield without, the mysterious cloak of zeal.

woman-armor

     To learn of this lesser know part of His armor, we must venture back to the Old Testament, to the book of Isaiah. Chapter 59, verse 17 states: He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (NIV) The New Living Translations reads: and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.

Zeal. Passion.

     He wants us to wrap ourselves in this attribute, to be entirely protected by His armor, allowing the final piece, the cloak of zeal to cover all the other pieces, further protecting us from the enemy. We must remember to put on each piece of this armor, each morning as we prepare to face the day. Allowing us to be properly equipped to take on anything the enemy may bring our way.

The speaker asked us, what are you passionate about? I instantly thought about my desire to write, to share my thoughts and revelations. To share what He has done and continues to do in my life. My passion to share how with His love and direction, you can overcome anything. That with Christ in your life, you can accomplish anything that is a part of His will for you. I know that with His guidance, I have so much to say, so much to share… that my voice, directed by Him, just might have the ability to change a life.

I have previously shared brief glimpses into some of the darkness that was my former life, my life before I learned to trust Jesus Christ as my Savior; trusting Him to get me through the hardships that had been all to often placed before me. I have battled depression for decades and sometimes, even with the truth and understanding, and the hope He brings; the darkness can creep in and with it the silence that eventually engulfs me. It sneaks in slowly, quietly… sometimes I notice it, but it is just so comfortable, so familiar, that I don’t stop and think about it being harmful for me. Forgetting how much it will hinder the progress I have made in my growing relationship with the Son of the living God.

So here I am, smack dab in the middle of another bought of silence, brought on by the stress of life, the fear of the unknown, and simply listening to the enemy repeat the familiar old lies of why I will never be more than I am, why I will never succeed in my life. I know better, Christ has brought so much more to my life than I could have ever imagined. Yet, with life gets tough, when there are too many unknowns; it is all too easy to believe those old recordings, to look in the mirror and see who I used to be, instead who He has helped me to become. It’s difficult to have passion, to live with zeal, when your life seems to be nothing more than a black and white movie that lacks even the possibility of a remotely happy ending.

As I listened tonight, to our speaker, a woman whom I love and am blessed to call my friend, I was/am reminded that I am responsible for my own zeal. I am in control of what I am (or am not) passionate about in my life. If I want to be able to share what He has done in my life, I need to be spending time with Him,so that He can continue working in my life. I am disheartened to admit that my time with the Lord has been minimal. My time in His word, even less. I pray, occasionally, and the only time I open my bible is on Sunday morning as I sit with the rest of the congregation while our pastor leads us through His Word. Tonight I was gently reminded that this is not enough. Not even close. He needs and wants more from us, He deserves more from us. As our faith grows, we learn to call him friend, companion, even father. These names signify a relationship and we should be nurturing this relationship, allowing it to become stronger every day.

I can often find myself complaining about being tired or not having enough time to get certain things (like the dishes) done. Yet, I can stay up late, watching one more episode of my favorite show on Netflix, or playing a game on the computer. Or take my weekend off and spend it nearly motionless on my couch, instead of catching up on one of the many things that could be done. Most every morning I hit the snooze multiple times instead of simply getting out of the bed and hitting my knees and spending five or ten quiet minutes starting my day in prayer. Its a conscience choice, one that I have been making poorly for a few months now.

So, my zeal has been renewed. I once again have a fervent urging to find time, no, to make time to spend in prayer and more importantly in His word. Utilizing even the smallest of moments to help strengthen my faith, but better yet my relationship with Him, the One who never stops wooing me. And He doesn’t, He is always pursuing us, all of us, even when we stop pursuing Him.

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So I leave you with a few questions, including the question that was asked of me tonight… what are you passionate about? Are you lacking zeal? Do you take the time to arm yourself every day with the Armor of God? In closing I also encourage you to find that passion and give it to God… allow Him to direct you and how you can best serve Him with your passion. Go to Him in prayer, and in those quiet moments, be reminded of all He has, can and will do for you… if you only let Him.

 

Until the next moment,

 

 

 


Fighting the Darkness with His Light

I have been silent again these past few weeks, not intentionally; it has once again been more often than not, nearly impossible to beat the dark pull that keeps me nearly motionless on those days that I don’t have to walk out the door for work. It’s hard to explain, this odd battle I still have with depression. How the darkness can surround me and act like an anchor, leaving me immovable. It has been like this for as long as I can remember. As long as I am busy with work or activities, I can move and function. But when I have nothing to do, or let me rephrase… nothing outside of my home to do; I just don’t. I don’t do a single thing. I make these grand plans, create projects; but it is rare that I am able to follow through.

When it gets really bad, when the darkness is most suffocating, I also loose my ability to spend those quiet moments with the Lord. On the days that I do… the days that I do spend time in His Word, spend time in conversation with Him; on those days the darkness looses its hold and my day is a whole lot more eventful. It’s a battle, a daily battle that I am afraid I don’t fight to win nearly as much as I should. I allow the darkness win and just fall deeper into the pit.

My years in recovery reminds me: One Day at a Time

So, this morning I opened my devotion notebook. I was deeply saddened that it had been two weeks since I had written in it, since I had opened my Jesus Calling devotion and studied the passages at the end of the page. Two weeks since I had spent more than 2-3 minutes in prayer that didn’t take place before my feet even hit the floor.

Last night I attended a Ladies Supper at our church with my daughter. We were blessed to hear from a young woman who grew up in our church and is now a missionary working in Africa. She has been home for a few months of furlough and was sharing with the woman of our church her life in the mission field. She will soon be returning to the mission field, to her little village; once again living among people who live in real darkness because they do not understand the Light of Jesus.

Choose to live in the Light

It made me think, made me remember the joy I find when I sit at my kitchen table and allow myself to get lost in the Word, allowing His love and light to fill my spirit and give me the strength to get through another day. Encouraging me, empowering me… making me a better me. Giving me the strength to be the best example I can be to me to my daughter, to all my children. To be a good mom, teaching her the simple things that are important in our lives. To do what needs to be done, and to do so with a loving and joyful spirit. Most importantly, getting my lazy self up off the couch and doing what needs to be done, even when I don’t want to do it.

But the silence is so loud…

I have to admit that this summer has been harder than any before. It has been much more quiet that previous summers…too quiet. My oldest and her husband are busy with work and school. For the first summer ever, my middle children stayed in their perspective college towns; my son taking some summer classes and working a bit. My daughter is working full time at a job she really loves. I miss them and the busyness that comes from having them home. The laughter and conversations. The late night movie marathons or binging on our fave TV show via Netflix. I am trying to adjust, to really get used to my nearly empty nest, but there are days when that is so much more difficult to do. Sometimes, I  wish they were all little again. Those days when I would be running around in circles trying to get it all done. Running from one event or activity to another. Piles (and piles) of laundry, tripping over toys, books, clothes… I miss those crazy moments of our lives. Yet, in the same instance I am so insanely proud of the adults they have become. The direction they are heading in their lives… the love and respect they have and show to others on a daily basis.

In less than six months it will mark the 20th year I have been a single mother. I think that is why this whole “empty nest” thing is so much harder. Because in roughly five years my nest really is going to be empty. Even now, as my youngest daughter is older and continues to become more involved in things that will take her out of the house to pursue her own dreams; I perceive the impending quiet, sense the void as it is slowly being created by the absence of the four people who have brought me the greatest joy in my life.

I have made many career changes in my life, never really knowing what I was meant to do, who I was meant to be in this world. Yet, after my initial doubts those early years in my adjusting to single motherhood… I know with all my heart and soul. I believe with every ounce of my being that I am meant to be a mother. Not just any mother, but the mother to the four children that God so graciously gave to me to care for on this earth, for this moment in time. These four amazing and inspiring children, who love me unconditionally even through all our struggles and failures. The four beautiful children He gave just to me. If I never accomplish anything else, I will have accomplished more than I could have dreamed; as I watch them grow and succeed on their own in this world. Stepping out in faith and trusting God to guide them along the way. Seeing this, knowing this, allows my mama heart to be full… no, it allows my heart to burst with joy!

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

The darkness will always be a part of my life, of all our lives.. because the darkness is real and surrounds us all. The difference will be, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to fall into the inviting and temporary warmth that darkness sometimes creates? Or will I turn to the light, His Light and allow the deepest parts of me to be surrounded by His love and warmth? Will I hear, listen for, his wee small voice and allow it to comfort me through the hard times, through those dark moments. As I was reading and writing this this morning, I felt that comfort; His comfort as my soul was refreshed with His light and the joy that it brings.

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I also found encouragement in Psalm 51

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice. (vs8)    

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (vs12)

Until the next moment,