Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Remembering To Be Grateful





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.

In Grace,
Marie

Monday, January 6, 2014

NO ONE STANDS ALONE



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.

In Grace,
Marie


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.

In Grace,
Marie


Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Only Way To Stand


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.

In Grace,
Marie





Saturday, December 8, 2012

How Fast the Time Goes



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.

In Grace,
Marie
  

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Blessings Continue



So much has happened since my last post.  I am always amazed at how quickly time passes.  As a child, it seemed like days were long and passed slowly.  I could wile away the hours with books, music, family get togethers, and a host of church activities that would occupy almost every free moment.  Oh, what a wonderful life it was.  My childhood memories are well preserved in heart and mind and I would have those days again. 

Still, filling my days now as an adult, I find myself yearning for new memories and for new experiences with my family and trusted friends.  Second only to the presence of God Himself, family is the best thing we have and the greatest blessing God gives.  I love time spent with my family.

Having recently come through a diagnosis of colon cancer, and surviving two surgeries to remove the cancerous growth, seeing my brother, Dan, was at the top of my list.  How grateful I was to see his face, hear his strong voice, and listen to his laughter as we shared stories of our childhood and my grandsons' latest escapades.  I cannot thank God enough for the blessing of having him with me.  He looked so good and, if I had not seen the scars for myself, it would have been difficult to believe that he had come through such a horrendous ordeal.  God is so good.

Of course seeing my son, John, and his lovely girlfriend, Sarah, was a highlight of my trip.  As I listened to my son speak about his job, his college classes, and his family, I became very aware that he has become a man I am so very proud of.  John is strong, independent, and has a great sense of humor.  He will never know that in the dark days of my life, he saved me from total despair.  John is my only son and I could never find the words to tell how much I love my son.

My youngest brother, Dwight, just makes my day.  I was 15 when Dwight was born and I thought he was all mine.  I spoiled him unmercifully and delighted in his every achievement.  I am so proud of him and love him so much.

I guess I have described my family in such detail because I don't see them very often and they are never very far from my thoughts.  I am so grateful.  My parents raised all of us to love God first, family second and to never underestimate the love a family can provide.  I am thankful for that bedrock of teaching that runs through us all.  It is the tie that bind us together.

Yet, the memories are what are so precious.  Memories of love, sharing, and laughter can quickly come to mind to comfort and sustain me in my darkest moments.  Recalling a funny story, a loving moment, or a special celebration can fill me with joy.  I am a blessed woman.

So, as the grandchildren and great grandchildren begin making their own memories, we "older children" will add our stories as we go along.  The telling never ends---nor do the blessings.  It is the joy of life to remember that God is ever present and never leaves or fails.  I am so grateful for that abiding presence in my life and the lives of those I love.  There is nothing that can take His place, no love greater than that of our precious Father God.  To be loved by God is the greatest privilege of life and the greatest blessing I have received.

The blessings continue and I give Him praise.

In Grace,

Marie

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Going Home


As most of you who follow my blog will know, my family lives several states away.  I am originally from Ohio but am now living in North Carolina.  My daughter and her sweet family live about an hour away but the rest of my immediate family remains in Ohio.  Tomorrow I will be flying home to see them all and I am so EXCITED!!  I am particularly longing to see my brother, Dan, who recently fought colon cancer so bravely.  Praise to the Most High, he is currently cancer free.

As I was thinking of the joy of seeing those I love, I was reminded of the blessing of having a loving family.  What a joy it is to see their faces and to hear the sound of their voices.  I am eager to hear Daddy's booming voice and feel his loving embrace.  I am equally yearning for my Mother's sweet touch and to see her precious face.  My brothers, Dan and Dwight, and my wonderful son, John, complete the reunion.  How blessed I am to be part of such a wonderful family.

There are times in life when you realize just how blessed you are.  I have lost two of my four brothers---they both left this world way too young, with many left behind to mourn their loss.  My family's recent struggle with my brother Dan's health again brought a clear perspective to what is really important in life.  It is not the acquisition of things that creates a life.  It is not the accolades of man or the accomplishments of life, neither is it titles or recognition that bring us joy.  It is the presence of God and the blessings He gives that makes life worth living.  The blessing of family cannot be underestimated when we remind ourselves of what is truly valuable.

I am aware that not everyone has this blessing.  I know that I was, and am, blessed beyond measure with the family I have.  I do so wish that everyone could share in such a blessing.  I cannot thank God enough, or find the words to describe, the joy my family brings to me.  My life has not been an easy one at times but it has always been undergirded by the knowledge that there were those who loved me standing near and always supporting me and caring for me.  I love them all so dearly.

Going home is such a thrill for me.  I am sure that there will be a day when I will return to the familiar place I have always called home.  It will not be the same as it was in days gone by, but the memories will remain and the family members who also remain will still love and care for each other.  My desire is to leave behind a way of life for my children and grandchildren to carry into the future.  It would give me tremendous pleasure to know that love of family and the ties that bind a family together will remain intact long after I am gone.

Home for me is to be surrounded by all of my family---parents, brothers, children and grandchildren.  Second only to God Himself, they are the greatest joy of life.  There is nothing that is more precious than spending time with those whose love and presence has been so sustaining through all of life's ups and downs.  It is, indeed, a true joy.  And that, my friends, is why I'm going home.

Blessings to each of you today.

In Grace,
Marie