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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Move Me ~

Psalm 18:6   In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. NLT

I have a confession.  Sometimes, I have doubted the whole God thing.  You know...a virgin..a birth in a man died to forever save us from our sins.  It is such a simple concept that it can be hard to believe.  Do I believe because it was how I was raised or do I believe because I believe?  Well, let me tell you about 2016.  There were some rough patches, but my goodness, there were some miracles, too!!

In June, I was rocking my grandson; a rare occasion since he is seven.  He wanted me to tell him a bedtime story.  I remembered the stories I had told my children when they were little.  I told him a tale of Cody Cowboy, a little boy who lives on a ranch and has a pony named Baloney.  He loved it.  He said, “You should write a book, Mimi.”  So I did.  (Faith of a child)
It’s sold over 600 copies and there are 4 more to come in the series. God used me to help little children want to read.  Through those books, a whole new door has opened, allowing me to speak to children and encourage them to follow their dreams.  That’s all God right there.

In August, my sister’s husband felt bad on vacation.  They came home and he went to the doctor.  He was diagnosed with leukemia on August 26th and given maybe 10 days to live.  We began to pray for him.  If ever I needed to believe in God, it was then.  Toby’s journey has been nothing short of a series of miracles.  More than once, he has been “critical”.  I would reach out to my network of praying friends, and we would pray for Toby.  His fever would rage and storm.   As soon as we began to lift him up, God would calm the storms.  Through this journey, I thought that God was doing a great work in Toby, building his testimony.  Ha…..God was working on faith.  He was also working on one of those friends, who had pretty much stopped trying to pray.  Not only did God move Toby’s mountain, He moved a mountain for my friend’s husband.
He is there.  HE is real.

A few weeks ago, a young mother of two small children was “actively dying” from a rare form of kidney cancer.   Our community cried out to God and pleaded for a miracle for her. Last week, she and her husband enjoyed a beach retreat AND got news that her kidneys were functioning again.  James 5:15 (prayers prayed in faith)

I spent a season asking God to fill my heart up with Him.  Yesterday, I had a conversation with my best friend.  She said, “Well, for your heart to be full of Him, you have to empty your heart of YOU.”  Goodness.  Wow.  (I love my friends).  Maybe I have been in my way the whole time.

God, thank You for restoring so much faith in my heart in 2016. Thank You for putting so many Godly women in my path who have shown me such strong and unwavering faith!  Thank You for teaching me to “cry out to You” in both praise and in time of need. Thank YOU for moving this earthly me out of the way so a heavenly YOU could move in.

Friday, December 23, 2016

I Wasn't Alone ~

Psalm 139:16  You saw me before I was born.   Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  NLT

I have fought with all I have against this blog post, and yet it keeps coming up.  I know I’m supposed to tell you this story, and yet, even now, it is so tender, so raw, so heartbreaking, that I don’t want to share it.  But, as a friend told me today, if God says do it, you better, “‘cause you don’t want to get swallowed up by some fish and puked up 3 days later for not listening”.  (I love my friends.  See Jonah 1:17)

This may be long, so be patient.

When I was going through my divorce, someone gave me an orphan lamb.  Gosh, I loved that little lamb.  We named her Laura.  We loved her and bottle fed her and nurtured her.  She was so joyful.  I got her about 3 weeks before the Christmas season.  If you have been with me, you know that we had a terrible, vicious divorce and custody battle. I hated being alone. This little lamb helped me through the lonely weekends when my children would go to their dad’s

About 3 days before Christmas, Laura the lamb stopped eating.  I took her to the vet and was told, “sick sheep seldom survive”.  We took her home and loved her as best as we could.  I remember feeling so heartbroken and helpless as I watched this little animal grow weaker and weaker.  On Christmas Eve, I just knew the end was coming.  I remember that it was raining when my soon-to-be ex picked up our children to go to his house. I’m sure some bitter words were exchanged, as there always were.
Let me just insert right here….don’t do this to your children.  Ever.  If you hate their daddy, that’s YOUR problem.  If you love your child, then love them enough to NEVER let them know you hate their daddy.  Divorce is already so ugly and confusing for a child.  Don’t hurt them any more than they already are hurting.  Let them be little.

I remember watching my children leave my home, excited to be with their dad, but not wanting me to know because it would hurt me. I remember feeling so lost and helpless.  I remember sitting in the grass, in the rain, holding that lamb as she died.  I remember crying out to God.  I remember thinking that my heart would never heal.  I was alone. I was afraid.  And I had lost something else that I loved.  I don’t think I have ever experienced a lower point in my life.  Even now, it hurts so much to remember.

Hey God, I’m not sure why I need to tell this story.  I’m sure that You do, though.  This is the first year that I have remembered this story and realized that where I was then is not where I am now.  I made it.  I am not alone.  I am not afraid. I was not lost.  So many mommies are going to face that first Christmas alone this year. I’m pretty sure that none of them will be standing in the rain, holding a dying lamb, but I am sure that there will be many who feel that they are, themselves, dying inside.  I pray that as their child drives away, that you will give them an extra helping of grace.  And for the ones who feel that they are so heartbroken and alone, I pray that they will feel Your love and know that You already have their future written in Your book.  Help them to know that this heartbreaking time in their lives will pass, that one day, they, too will look back and realize that You already knew that they would be ok.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Be Kind ~

Proverbs 11:17  Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.  NIV

My neighbor and I have the best relationship. We can see each other often or rarely, but our friendship stays solid.  I can go sit on her sofa and cry or fuss or cuss, or laugh and be silly, and she still loves me ...or tolerates me.  She is kind.

Last night,  we were chatting about my photography business. I made some photos for a very prominent family in our community. They asked me not to watermark the pictures because they are associated with other photographers in their line of work.  At first I thought, “seriously?”.  But, then, after talking through it with my friend, getting a little snarky and judgmental, I had a conviction myself. What would it hurt to protect another person’s feelings?  I got paid.  I made beautiful pictures.  Sure, I’d love to tell the world that I made those images because, wouldn’t you know it?  They were some of the prettiest I’ve made in a long time!

I think we, as women, are very territorial like that. Whether we are hairdressers, in sales, design, wedding planners, teachers, or whatever, we don’t like to ever hear that someone else provided a service to “our people”.  It hurts our feelings and attacks us right in the insecurities.  But, since they were not my regular clients, didn’t I just do the same thing?  

Hey God, guess who.  Just me again thanking you for another life lesson learned a hard way.  Thank you for putting a new family in my life who showed me the value of protecting feelings of others.  I have come a long way in this attitude makeover You decided that I needed, and I’m finding out that I’m nowhere near the end.  Thank You for showing me how important it is to be kind.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Create In Me ~

Psalm 51:10  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”

I’m not good with the Christmas season.  I’m “one of those” people who would just rather skip the whole month.  Now, I love the story of Jesus being born, the “real” Christmas.  I just am not all about the rest.  Let me tell you why.  I love my family.  I love my grandchildren.  But, we usually sit at home alone on Christmas Day because my kids have so many places to be over the holidays.  It has turned into a stress-filled marathon for them.  And, I refuse to fall into the “buy the best gift” debt trap for my grandchildren.  You can’t buy love.  You just can’t.  

So many people have let this commercialized mess get out of hand.  What has happened to us?  How many of you moms are so darn stressed out because you can’t find the one thing your child really wants this year so they can have something they really don’t even want because it’s what their friends are getting?  How many of you mom’s who are my age want what no amount of money in the world could buy…..time with your family…?

God, I’m struggling today.  It’s time to put up a tree and decorate the house.  It’s time for me to put aside my sadness and focus on the treasures You have given me.  Time is time.  It’s been a good lesson for me.  I want my children to spend time with me.  You want Your children to spend time with You.  Create in me, God.  Create in me the joy of remembering the birth of Your Son, the true meaning of Christmas.