I must admit that there are times when loving life is a challenge. How easy it is to be gracious and grateful when all is going well but how difficult it can be to remain thankful and feel blessed when all around us life is falling apart.
It is during these times of heartache and despair, when emotional pain and physical exhaustion take over our lives, that we learn just how very near God is. In fact, it is the midst of these times that we can feel Him closer, rest in His comfort, and enjoy His presence in a way that we cannot know when life is going smoothly.
Heartache is never planned, disaster is often not expected. When we do experience these things, we are often hit so hard that it feels as if our minds are numb and our heart struggles to beat. It is not easy to work our way out of this emotional turmoil and to even think of what to do next.
This is where God's love and mercy reveal themselves in such a magnificent way. To know God is to experience His great love and to understand that He is, as the great King David said, "...an ever present help in time of trouble.". How wonderful to know that we have a God who cares so deeply for us that, even when a time of sorrow and despair had descended upon us, He eases the burden by His whisper, "I am here. Don't be afraid---you are not alone."
In the book of II Corinthians 1:3-4, the apostle Paul wrote such beautiful words regarding comfort:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (NIV)
How this thrills me to know that not only will I be comforted during my times of difficulty but, after I have experienced the comfort of the Lord, I will be able to comfort others who are suffering or hurting. Oh, to be able to help others and to encourage them with the love and comfort of our great Father-God. When life becomes so overwhelming and nearly unbearable it is such a blessing to be able to provide comfort and encouragement to others.
So, do I love life? Oh, yes. Do I always love life experiences? No. Oh, but I am so grateful for the experiences I have had that have enabled me to know the comfort of my Heavenly Father. I value those moments when His love has covered me, His comfort has reassured me, and His mercy has followed me.
Be encouraged today, my friends. God is not unmindful of us and is watching over every aspect of our lives. He will make every test and trial bearable. He will comfort you and sustain you. He will give you the opportunity to extend His comfort to others. He will always be there. Above all, He will help us love life. He really will.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I have never found it difficult to speak in front of a crowd. Whether speaking to one or a thousand, it has always been easy for me. I love the interaction of the crowd and I especially love it when I see someone's face just light up when they understand and relate to my topic. It is, indeed, a thrill.
Most of the things I speak about are personal experiences that have worked themselves out in a way that brings glory and honor to the Saviour I love so well. To be able to share the heartaches and despairs, and to then share the glorious way God turns everything into tremendous victory and triumph is, to me, a glorious calling.
One of my favorite topics is the faithfulness of our great God. He is the ever faithful, never failing, ever present source of strength and help in time of trouble. He is never far away, hears every cry, sees every tear-stained face and then draws us close to Him where we hear the heartbeat of God and are comforted. What a mighty God we serve!
I recently lost a dear, dear friend. Bridgette was a young woman who captured my heart from the time I first met her. We had an immediate connection and she became my dearest friend. Bridgette was not only beautiful outside but she had a shining spirit that allowed her to see the positive in every situation, to bear every cross with joy, and to convince others of their need for Christ. She encouraged my every endeavor and became my strongest supporter. I loved her dearly. We were inseparable for three years. She was my room mate during that time and I enjoyed her presence in my life.
In time, however, a series of personal tragedies brought Bridgette to the brink of despair. Though her faith in God never wavered, her choices during that awful time were not the best. She moved from my home in North Carolina to a small town in Virginia and started her life over. She was constantly writing to me, calling me, and sending me messages on Facebook letting me know how much she loved and appreciated all I had done and been to her. She still had that beautiful spirit and never failed to encourage me each time we talked.
On January 27 of this year, Bridgette passed away. I could hardly believe the news when it came to me and my heart was truly broken. So many precious memories came to mind and I ached for the sound of her voice. Each room in my home had small treasures that Bridgette had given me over the years and each one broke my heart anew. I shed many tears at the unexpected and tragic loss of my friend.
A few days following Bridgette's funeral, I reached for a book that she had given me. One of my favorite authors had written the book and Bridgette had given it to me for Christmas. In the front of the book was an inscription Bridgette had written. As the tears streamed down my face, I read her words and the sound of her voice came ringing back. The last line she wrote was this, "God will remain faithful."
I read those words, written in Bridgette's hand, and remembered the times that she and I had discussed the faithfulness of God. I recalled that we had shared many conversations about our great God and that we had always come to the conclusion that no one could be as faithful as God. No matter what the situation, no matter how fierce the pain, how deep the betrayal, God remained faithful. We agreed that though we were the best of friends and loved each other dearly, there would be the time when we would not be there when needed or that a word of encouragement would not be spoken when needed. We agreed that there was no way we, as weak and frail humanity, could ever be as faithful and true as our Heavenly Father.
"God will remain faithful". When we don't understand---He is faithful. When we stand alone---He is faithful. When death comes---He is faithful. When all is well---He is faithful. No matter what the circumstance or the difficulty, in sorrow or in joy, God will remain faithful. He will never, ever leave us or forsake us. He will be with us always, even unto the end of the world. How faithful is that!
I will never forget Bridgette. She lives in my heart and mind and will always be remembered. When I stand speaking on my favorite subject, the faithfulness of God, Bridgette will be with me. When I speak words of encouragement, faith, and hope, the conversations we had will be a loving reminder that God remains faithful.
My friends, I have no idea what you are going through today. I do not know if life is bringing you low with adversity or if you are soaring through clouds of joy. But I do know this---no matter where you are in life or what you are facing now or will face in the future, God will remain faithful. He will be there to pick you up,, hold you close, and help you start again. Faithfulness is what God does---faithful is who He is. It's just that simple. I believe it because my friend told me so and because God has proven Himself faithful unto me. Only a God who loves me so could speak from the grave of a beloved friend and remind me of who He is. You can trust Him---you really can. God will remain faithful.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
I don't think that people mean to be ungrateful Life is so very busy and ever changing that, some days, we feel good about just making it through the day. Our to-do list seems unending and we fall into bed each evening ready for the precious hours of sleep we are able to gain until the next morning when we start all over again. For those who have never felt this sense of rush or experienced the endless tasks that remain unfinished at the end of the day, then these words may not be for you. If, on the other hand, you are painfully familiar with the busyness of life, then perhaps you will identify with me when I say that, rather than take everything for granted as I rush through the day, I pray that God will grant me the grace to remember to be grateful.
As I write these words, I am sitting at the dining room table in my mother's lovely home. Mother and Daddy are watching our favorite baseball team, my brother has just cut the grass and I am smelling its freshness come through the screen door. I am free of chores, tasks, and obligations which allow me time for reflection and writing. I listen to Mother and daddy talk about the game and the sound of their voices are so precious to me. I find myself thinking how grateful I am for them and for all the things they have taught me about life and faith. They have been such wonderful parents to me and my four brothers.
Being grateful, though, is not just being grateful for what we have---it is being grateful for the ability to live life to its fullest. Each new day offers us choices and grants us opportunities to capture the moments of life with awe and breathless anticipation of what will happen next. To be grateful is to look at life, the good and the bad, and know that we have come through it all for a purpose. Every heartache, every moment of despair, every sorrow, every weary moment, has helped mold us and develop strength of character that only comes to those who endure. These difficult times of life make the good times all the sweeter. Enduring hardship prepares us for moments of sheer joy that could never be fully appreciated unless preceded by deep sorrow.
How do I know this? I have been in those moments of life where I felt no joy, no happiness, no anticipation for another day. I have lain in my bed and watched the sunlight begin to filter through my window and I have thought to myself, "Another day to struggle through. Another day to feel my broken heart---another day to cry." I have wept until I had no more tears to weep and could only sit in despair and sorrow, wondering what was the use of living. I hurt so badly and no one could help me.
Gradually, though, I came to realize that, though I had much pain and sorrow, I also had small things that broke through that sorrow. I learned the healing power of my grandson's arms wrapped around my neck. I discovered that a cup of tea with a friend was like the healing balm of Gilead. My father's booming voice telling me how much he loved me brought tears of joy to my troubled mind. Mother telling me that she was keeping me in prayer allowed me the peace to sleep through the night.
As I began to heal and recover, I found myself giving thanks for the small things. I began to read the Psalms, I listened to instrumental music, I sat outside on my porch swing and felt the breeze on my face. Most importantly, I purposed that at the end of each day, I would find something to be grateful for. Giving God thanks for the small pleasures of my life helped me find my way back to living that life. Was it easy? NO! Was it emotionally exhausting? YES! Was it worth it? YES, YES, a thousand times yes. Life is always worth the effort.
Since that awful time, I have continued to give God thanks and to be grateful for the small things. Things like the smell of a fresh pot of coffee, the spritz of my favorite perfume, the pink of the sky as the sun sets, the softness of the pillow beneath my head at night, the comfort of a friend's presence and, most of all, the knowledge that no matter where I go God is with me. I have a small journal that I use to list the things for which I am grateful Each day I try to add something new to the list. It keeps me from sinking back into despair when life is painful and keeps me mindful of the daily blessings God bestows upon me.
I pray that God will keep us grateful. I pray that we will look around at life and realize that, even in our busiest moments, He is there blessing us with small favors that make life rich and full. I love the praise and worship song that simply says, "I'm forever grateful to you". My desire is to never forget where He brought me from and to remember to be grateful for the small, daily joys that fill my life. I yearn to always remember to be grateful---always.
Monday, January 6, 2014
It is not yet daybreak and I am sitting here with my morning coffee thinking about the day ahead. Today is Monday, the first day of a new work week and I am already planning how to approach the day. Sometimes I just need to be in the present moment and not think too far ahead.
As I sit here in the quiet with no TV, no music playing, no voices heard, I ponder how lonely life can be when it is not shared with another. Being single and alone is many times a sad place to be. As these thoughts flood my mind, I am reminded of a song from my youth, "No One Stands Alone". The song has beautiful words that lift my spirit and encourage me greatly as it reminds me that, with God, I am never alone. The chorus of the song is my prayer today:
"Hold my hand all the way, every hour, every day.
From here to the great unknown.
Take my hand, let me stand
Where no one stands alone."
We are never truly alone when we are sheltered by a loving Heavenly Father. He is the friend that is ever faithful, the companion who never leaves or forsakes, the one whose love is constant and true. I could not endure the adversities of life without knowing that He is ever near.
I realize that there are those who doubt His existence, who have never trusted Him or believed in Him. That is their choice. However, I cannot imagine a life without God in it. His love has covered me and held me secure from the days of my childhood. When life has been at its bleakest, He has been there. When death has come to those I loved and I have been left behind, He was there. Every morning that I awaken, seeking His guidance, He is there. I am never really alone.
I have no clue as to what the year ahead has in store. I can tell you this, though, wherever life finds me it will find my sweet Lord. I live each day knowing that He will never leave me---knowing that I have a friend who is closer than a brother. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and knows me by name. I am never really alone.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
The Way Back
It has been such a very long time since I have written on my blog. I have followed so many of you and read some wonderful posts but have been unable to devote much time to writing my own. Some issues with my heart and a serious family situation have occupied much of my time. Still, in the midst of all of this, I continue to say that God is so so good.
I have learned that no situation is too difficult for God to handle, that it is possible to have incredible joy in the midst of adversity, and that God never ever leaves us alone. He is ever present, waiting to comfort us and carry us when we feel we are so unable to take another step. His love is so constant and His grace so amazing. How awesome is our God!
One of my favorite songs is "How Great Is Our God". This song has comforted me and encouraged me in the days when things were so dark and life so overwhelming. When I was in the emergency room and no one was with me, I felt His presence. As a cardiac nurse, I watched the heart monitor with full knowledge of how serious my irregular hear rate and rhythm were. I was so terribly frightened and thought I would surely die. In the midst of all of this, I realized the truth of the words of this great song. I realized that my God was, indeed, truly great and able to care for me when I could not care for myself. Thankfully, there was no damage or injury to my heart. The doctors determined that extreme stress and fatigue had created the irregularity. I remain very grateful for all that God has done.
I am convinced that all things, good and bad, do work together for our good. In the midst of all the events of life, God remains truly great. I love Him so dearly and cannot imagine my life without Him in it. He is helping me find my way back to the things I love---writing, singing, and, most of all, living. I remain a blessed woman living a blessed life. I cannot ask for more than that.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
|The cover of the CD of the movie|
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love the movie "Courageous". I first saw the movie when I ordered it from my local cable's movies on demand. I watched it 4 times within the next 24 hours and eventually purchased my own copy of the movie. I was fascinated by the story of 5 men who made a resolution to live their lives by the Word of God. In a formal ceremony, each of them took a pledge to be a better father, a better husband, a better man. Each man was eventually tested to the limit of his resolve---the outcome is phenomenal. It is a awesome movie.
One of the songs from the soundtrack of the movie, "Sing Your Song to Me" (sung by Third Day), became a favorite with me. I purchased the soundtrack and I listen to it frequently. Just this past week, I was just as struck by the words of the title song, also titled "Courageous". The last line of the chorus says this: "The only way we'll ever stand, is on our knees with lifted hands."
It seems an odd comment to make---that we must stand by kneeling, but if you think about it from a spiritual standpoint, it makes perfect sense. When we kneel before the Lord, we are receiving strength, courage, direction. We are recognizing that we cannot be what He needs us to be by attempting it on our own. We need the Lord and we need His strength if we are to stand.
I must confess that as I listened to these words, I was reminded of own, dear father. I have written many times about my father and the tremendous impact he has had on my life. If I close my eyes and travel back in time, I can hear his booming voice calling my name in prayer---I can feel his hand patting my cheek---and I can hear him whisper in my ear, "Daddy's girl". I can see him kneeling by his bed with his hands raised high as he prayed for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. I have witnessed him stand true to his beliefs when others faltered and failed. His influence on my life cannot be described.
Oh, how we need men of honor and integrity---men of courage and principle---men who stand in the face of all opposition---who will not break in the face of adversity. How we need Godly fathers and husbands who will teach their sons to honor God, respect authority, and treasure their families. We so desperately need men who are unashamed to kneel before the Lord and to raise their hands in prayer.
I, too, pray to be courageous. I pray to be woman of faith and integrity--- a woman of honor---a woman who will remain unafraid to take a stand for what she believes. I pray to leave a legacy of faith and trust in a God who cannot fail. My desire is for my children and grandchildren to remember me as a woman of prayer and a woman who willingly raised her hands in praise to God. I pray to stand on bended knees and lifted hands. Oh, how I pray to stand.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Time can only be controlled to a certain degree. How quickly it passes we cannot control. How we pass the time is what truly matters.
Since my last post, I have been dividing my time between work, church, and home. I have found myself busier than I thought I could ever be and, up until a week ago was really enjoying my activities. However, overdoing has quickly caught up with this physical body of mine and now I am under doctor's orders to rest. Having depleted my immune system, I am finding such rest a welcome change.
Since my Christmas decor was already in place and my home reflected the season I love the most, my imposed rest allowed me the time to reflect upon its true meaning. I find myself rereading the scripture's account of the precious Savior's birth with a sense of awe at our Father God's orchestration of events. A virgin mother, an aged foster father, an angelic chorus, humble shepherds, and wise men from afar, make an account that only the Most High could put in place. How perfectly each character was chosen---how unexpected were the Father's choices.
Luke tells us that Mary received the angel's message with complete submission, "Be it unto me according to thy word". Matthew tells us that Joseph, "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.". Luke continues his account by telling of the angelic host appearing to lowly shepherds with a song only angels could sing. Wise men, bearing expensive gifts, challenged an ungodly ruler to pay tribute to the infant King of Kings. What a story--what a birth---what a night!!!!
Sometimes, we forget, not that He was born, but the magnificence of His birth. The wonder of the season can get lost in the festivities and the baby in the manger fades away in the frenzy. We do not do this intentionally, but it is an undesirable "side effect" of the season.
King David once said, "He maketh me lie down in green pastures". I am not saying my illness came from God---but I am saying that a time of inactivity can force one to focus on the details of life that often get overlooked when one fills every hour with activity and duty. I have come to believe that, as quickly as time passes, we must make every effort to guard against filling it with so much of ourselves that we leave little time for "Him".
A dear friend of my father's once said, "Only one life it will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last". Time is all we have to use for Him---everything else is secondary. Let us purpose to use our time for His glory because we all know how fast the time goes.