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! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  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.ย  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!

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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! โค 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.ย  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.ย  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. โค

 

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,

 

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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.

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ย ย ย ย  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.

ย ย ย ย  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,

 

 

 


Planted to Prosper

Sunday We started a new Women’s Sunday School class this weekend where we will be studying some of the Psalms. First up: Psalm 1, with the study question for discussion: “Do you feel a gap (or chasm!) between “real life” (work, school, family) and your prayer life? Explain. Ask God to help you begin to make prayer a part of your life.”

Wow! Where do I start my list… Just last year I was a part of a wonderful Bible Study with some of these very same women. I worked hard at committing to having a stronger more fervent prayer life. For a good period of time, I did. But, then summer arrived with all its activities and busyness and I fell short. Really short. I was too busy…

Correction, I allowed myself to say I was too busy.

I’m ashamed to say, that beyond reading my daily devotional, I just didn’t make, or allow the time to spend even a quiet moment with the One who gives me breath.

So I am excited for this SS class, and the opportunity to study once again with these women. I really enjoyed this opening paragraph from our new book:

“Psalm 1 is the biblical preparation for a life of prayer. Step by step it detaches us from activities and words that distract us from God so that we can be attentive before him. Most of us can’t step immediately from the noisy, high-stimulus world into the quiet concentration of prayer. We need a way of transition. Psalm 1 provides a kind of entryway into the place of prayer.” (Introducing the Psalms)

I don’t know about you, but life continues to be crazy; it is obviously just the nature of the beast. Because, even with only one child to be directly responsible to, it seems that I have less time with that one child, than I did when I had all four kiddos still under one roof. As a mom, especially as a Christian mom, I want to make sure that I am modeling for my children what I expect of them as people (who I want them to be) as they step out into this crazy and unpredictable world.

Verse 3 really spoke to a lot of us, myself included:Psalm_1_3m

How firmly am I planted? Which in turn leads to additional questions like: How well am I feeding myself so that I can grow and yield good fruits? Am I strong enough to prosper in the depths of a storm or adversity?

Many of you who know me, or have followed this and my previous blog, know that life has not been an easy path for me. I have been tossed around in the wind, to say the least. Yet, because I learned to trust in the living God, I have been able to survive it all. Even with the few visible scars, I continue to move forward. I have learned how to prosper. Then, over the course of the last four years, our family had some moments where the trials were a little bigger that any of us could have ever planned.

June 2012, just one month before her wedding, my eldest daughter was fighting for her life and we were uncertain if she would even walk down the isle. Through much prayer and God’s gracious and healing hand… she did.

May 2015, just days after completing her first year of college, my middle daughter was in a near fatal car accident and survived. Once again, prayer and God’s grace brought us through this terrible storm.

Through each event, I watched our family grow in our trust in the Lord, creating an even more firmly planted foundation. I watched as both my daughters turned to God, in prayer; doing so with me, as well as individually; trusting Him, as they walked through each of these unthinkable storms. These incidents were overwhelming examples (to me) of not only the mighty power of prayer, but that God indeed hears our cries, and that He cares for us in each and every moment of our lives.

Which takes me back to verse 3.grow-bible_-tree_

When we stay firmly planted in the truth of His Word, when we spend purposeful quiet time with Him, we will then have all that is necessary to grow and prosper. He wants us to do just that. He wants us to do so much more. As we learn to trust that He is always with us, and when we spend those even brief, daily moments with Him; it strengthens us unlike anything we can imagine. We may be thrown into the biggest storm, with monumental winds tossing us to and fro… Yet, because we have a firm foundation in the living God, we are able to weather the storm.

Two of my three older kiddos were home for a short visit this weekend and I am still so amazed at the remarkable adults they (as well as their older sister) are becoming. They continue to care about others and make deliberate and sound decisions in most everything they do. All my children learned growing up in our single parent home, that it takes hard work to get where you are going. They also learned that it takes trusting in and loving a God who, “through all things is possible”. They never had it easy, they earned most everything they received. They watched and saw my trust in God; and over time, each one of my children has developed their own trust, their own relationship with the God who gives us breath.

That is my fruit… watching each of my children as they firmly grow in the Lord.

What a joy it has been watching my two older daughters find such wonderful, loving, and Godly men to share their lives with. I also hope and pray… that my son too will find a women who loves the Lord like he does. And a few years down the road, I wish the same for my youngest daughter.

My fruit is also found in my writing and being able to share it with others. When we spoke Sunday morning, we talked about what we enjoyed most about watching movies, or reading a book or poem. Why do we enjoy these sorts of activities? Because the majority of us want to step outside our own world and experience something different. We want to feel happiness when we are sad, to momentarily forget that we are angry or upset. We also want to, perhaps, learn from someone who has experienced something we can not imagine. Or to see that we are not alone, to see that someone else has experienced something similar and they too came through that same storm.

Which is why I write–I write to share my experiences, even the hard ones; the ones that may have left less visible scars. Because not only is it therapeutic to me… but maybe, just maybe it will help someone survive their own storm. Perhaps when I write, I can share the hope He gives me, even in my everyday life. I know that God guides my words and I pray that he will continue to do so as I reach out to share with family and friends, one moment at a time. I pray that I will continue doing so, while firmly planted in His truth and love.

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Until the next moment,