Love One Another

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

This was a piece I originally posted in November 2015.  I am amazed at how much I have grown as a writer and I want to thank COMPEL (an online training program for writing which is part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries) in educating me as a writer and introducing me to an amazing group of people who give encouragement, edits, and suggestions in a loving and caring way.  I have gone back and done some minor editing on this piece and pray it speaks to those who need to hear it.  Blessings!

Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”*

In reading I Corinthians chapter 13, love is defined and revealed as to how we as humans should embrace and process this emotion.  We are so blessed to be able to feel the rush of euphoric passion for others and this is why a loved one’s death makes the heart and soul ache after the loss.  It is overwhelming to experience deep devotion for another human being and only now I recognize and acknowledge it since walking my grief journey.

In the sixteen years since starting my emotional wandering, each loss has been a learning and growth experience.  I know the separation is temporary and one day we will be reunited due to my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  But how do I endure it now?  I have experienced a few resolutions which have comforted me.

1) Focusing on others- there is so much pain and heartache on this earth, and I know The Truth and what better way to demonstrate it then help others.  One simple act is sending cards to those who are ill or have lost a loved one.  I remember how much it meant to me for someone to take a few minutes of their day and pen a note expressing their condolences or well wishes for me.

2) Giving unto others-My family frequently feeds the homeless.  Preparing a meal to share with those who are less fortunate warms my heart and the blessing I receive is in meeting and talking with the individuals.  Every person is unique and has a story, not constantly a glamorous tale, but their lives are as meaningful as any other.

3) Tending to others-My husband and I are part of an organization which supports families with critically ill children.  We check in with families who are assigned to us, pray for them, and support them as we can.  I am so blessed to have three healthy children and consider these families unsung heroes who make great sacrifices for their children.  Focusing on others has helped me realize my worries and situations are small compared to others who carry such huge burdens.

tweet-graphic-4

4) Praying for others-I pray throughout the day, driving, sitting at my desk, taking a shower, falling asleep at night, whenever someone pops into my head from my prayer list, I stop and pray.  Again, it takes the focus off of me and shines on a person who needs to be lifted up and feel the presence of the Lord.   I love the Lord and I want to testify to others there is hope in having faith in Our Father.

My life lesson learned is to be thankful for my loved ones now and embrace the feelings I have for family, relationships, and memories.  I know with my faith and hope in God and Jesus Christ, I will see my precious ones again and the emotions will swell into some type of exultation which I have not experienced here on earth.

My friends, this is why love is the greatest of all of these.  Show some love today!

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

 

Advertisements

Through A Mother’s Eyes

Through A Mother's Eyes.png

In 2004, I watched “The Passion of the Christ*” in the movie theater with some ladies from my church and let me set the stage.  I had been widowed for three years and my focus the entire time was my children and their mental and physical well-being.  I was hypersensitive emotionally and as a visual person allowed the entertainment to paint the picture.   When the movie started, I sat in a movie theater in Grapevine, Texas and for the next two and half hours, I was transported to Jerusalem over two thousand years ago.  I could feel the dry, dusty dirt on my body, the heat radiating off the sun and the immense hatred of the crowd who wanted Jesus crucified.  I could hear the men screaming and women wailing and watched the merciless beating of Jesus. What caught my eye was observing Mary, mother of Jesus, in the back of the crowd, gazing at her precious son and connecting with her as a mother.

I am not sure if it was the timing of this movie in my life or the intensity of the film, but I was extremely moved as a woman and a mother at Mary’s part in the final hours of Jesus on earth.  I have not lost a child nor am I comparing my children to Jesus, but I can relate to a woman who gave birth to a child, raised him, provided protection, and prayed for him.  I found myself in the theater sobbing and grieving right along with Mary as a Christian and as a mother.

I realize in the movie there were added components to make it more dramatic, but I was curious what if anything was mentioned in the bible about Mary in Jerusalem.  In reading through the four gospels, I found it interesting only one mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus, specifically which is in the book of John.  In John 19:25-27 it reads, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciples whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”**  Jesus identifies his mother and the disciple mentioned in this passage as John who wrote the gospel.***  There is not a great amount of detail around Mary but it does put her at the cross where Jesus was crucified.  I also know from history women of this time were not considered as important as men, so it is a safe assumption they would not be near the crosses but in the background.  I find it fascinating Mary and a few other women, made it to the base of the cross and with His dying breaths, Jesus acknowledged and spoke to her and John.  Mary demonstrated even when her actions went against the norms of the day, what a mother will risk in order to be there for her child.

tweet-graphic-4

As a mother, I would want to try and deflect any type of pain, sorrow, embarrassment, or failure from my children.  I wish my children at a young age did not have to experience the death of their father.  I wanted to “fix” them with therapy, love, church, and praises.  I could not take this pain from them and they each had to go through the grief, grow into it, and accept it as a part of who they are.  Mary had to stand at a distance and watch her son ridiculed, mocked, beaten, tortured, and eventually hung on a cross to die.  We both could do nothing but be a witness to the pain and suffering of our children.  We are the mortal women who carry the burden of birthing, nurturing, protecting, loving and fearing for our children.

Easter is about the good news of Jesus and how he died and rose again for each of us.  I celebrate this joyous occasion and understand because of His sacrifice, I have a new everlasting life.  I additionally see Mary in a different light, as a mother, during this Easter season and have come to appreciate her role in the event which exhibited the sacrifice and true love for all of mankind.

*The Passion Of The Christ-A Mel Gibson Film-2004-Icon Productions

** The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

***Bible Hub 2016 and Berean.Bible-Benson Commentary John:25-27

 

Spreading My Wings

https-amensistablog.wordpress.com

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”-2 Corinthians 5:17-The Holy Bible, New International Version**

My husband and I raise butterflies.  Well, it may be a stretch, but we provide an environment for butterfly births.  Our dear friend taught us if we plant dill, parsley, or fennel, these types of plants will attract the Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes*) and females will lay their eggs.  The eggs incubate anywhere from four to nine days* and then the little green caterpillars hatch and start munching away on the plant.  I have not seen such tiny little creatures strip a plant so quickly and become large, plump, stuffed worms!  They tend to eat and grow from ten to thirty days*.  Once we have observed a bare plant, the caterpillars start slowing down and go into a “hooked”* position.  We will cut the stalks which they are clinging to and put them in a fish tank with pieces of wood and a lid.  We protect them from predators and give them options to move from the stalks to the wood for the final chrysalis stage which lasts around eighteen days*.

Eighteen days later, every morning we go out and see how many butterflies have emerged.  We try to get them out of the fish tank quickly so they can dry their wings in the sun.   Once they are dried and confident, they take off.  We love to release the Black Swallowtails into the air and imagine what direction is their destiny.  I have found comfort in watching butterflies while they glide about the plants and trees and exhibit their innocence and beauty.

My Christian walk has been like the metamorphosis of the tiny, hungry caterpillar to the birth of the beautiful and graceful butterfly.  Early on in my walk with Jesus, I was hungry for knowledge and truth.  I advanced in reading the bible and became bigger and bolder in my faith and it was evident to those in my circle.  Then the sudden loss of my husband was the transition into my cocoon phase where I had to rest in God and be restored and renewed.  Slowly, I came out of the chrysalis of grief and emerged as a beautiful and confident child of God.  This is the time where I have searched and understood my purpose and progressed in my growth as part of God’s plan.  I continue to move and glide through the garden of life and show my colors and share my testimony with others.  Constantly on the move:  from flower to flower, person to person.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not the scholarly Christian who can name scriptures and quote passages at the drop of a hat.  Those are not my strengths, but I work towards mastering this skill so I can confidently share with others someday.  My strength is my faith as I have lived it and want to share with people who are seeking their purpose.   Like a butterfly, I pray my colors will attract others who will want to get to know me, hear my testimony, and start flying around the garden of life to share their experience with others.

tweet-graphic-4

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papilio_polyxenes

** The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

FINDING PURPOSE

Finding Purpose

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.”-Romans 12:11-13

Early Saturday morning, my husband and I headed west to Lafayette, Louisiana.  It is the time of year where Ragan’s Hope, the non-profit where we are volunteers, delivers Easter baskets or totes to the families and hospitals we support.  Our mission is to help parents of children with serious ongoing medical conditions or injuries endure the initial impact and embrace the future, in the name of Christ.

I am truly blessed my three children have not endured a medical crisis, but recently it has hit close to home.  In December, my eleven-year-old nephew was diagnosed with B-ALL Leukemia.  An innocent child who’s little life is turned upside down, along with his family.  There is no more “normal” and life’s priorities have changed for all, including the siblings.  I don’t live it every day like my brother and sister in law and I wish I could help out more but unfortunately, I reside in a different state.  I pray daily for his healing and am comforted in how God reassures me all is well, because of my connection with Ragan’s Hope.

We have been supporting families with different medical issues for a couple of years in Louisiana.  Within the last two years, there have been three families, who have been battling ALL Leukemia.  All three are boys ranging in age from seven to thirteen, and in a different stage of the treatment protocol.  They are all farther along in the process than my nephew and it is like I can see into the future for my nephew’s journey.  God has been showing me what to expect and has offered me hope in the healing of my nephew.

Sin, disease, and death are part of our world.  It is easy to contemplate the worst case scenarios when faced with the loss of a loved one or a fearful diagnosis.  If we are open to it, God uses the opportunities to show us our strengths and the ability to sharpen our weaknesses.   I struggle with impatience and when I first heard about my nephew’s diagnosis, all I could think about is how much time it would take and what he would be missing out on his childhood.  God has placed these three families in my life to show me this time would not be wasted and there is hope of complete healing.  Sometimes we need to slow down and reevaluate our priorities to fully understand and travel the journey before us.

God has also exposed the strength in people.  He revealed the genius of the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who deal with leukemia diagnosis’s daily and have the wisdom and for thought to develop treatment protocols to save young lives.  He showed the courage of the patients in dealing with the procedures needed in order to complete the treatment plan.  God also unfolded the determination of the family who rallies around their child and became the health advocates.  I witnessed the courage and tenacity in the families I have supported over the years.  There are times when they needed spiritual, financial, or emotional support and then I can step in and offer what I can in the name of Jesus.  Like the scripture says in Romans 12, share with God’s people who are in need.  God speaks to me and awakens the desire to help others and complete His works.

My husband and I were so honored this weekend to meet up with the families dealing with a health crisis and offer Easter totes, hugs, and prayers.  We drove almost four hundred miles and spent six hours being the hands and feet of Jesus.  God is sharpening my weaknesses and highlighting my strengths in order to guide others through their circumstances.  I feel so connected to Him and understand my purpose as I continue to serve others for Him.  Through it all, I have a renewed hope in the future of all the children I encounter with the Ragan’s Hope ministry, and especially my dear sweet nephew.  God’s got this, AGAIN.  Blessings!

If you would like more information on Ragan’s Hope, please check out their website.  We pray and reach out to families all over the country!   https://raganshope.org/

No More Normal

No More Normal

I originally wrote this post last year and God asked me to share again.  I believe this blog is meant for someone out there and my prayer is it will bring hope to you in the midst of your grief journey.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,  and I will give you rest.   Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,  for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”-Matthew 11:28-29         

In September 2000, I gave birth to our third child.  My husband, Scott, and I were so elated.  We had our three children, lived in a nice house in a friendly neighborhood, and found an awesome church.  God and life were good.  My beautiful, perfect, normal world crumbled the night of February 3, 2001.  Scott had left earlier in the evening to go to his indoor soccer game. Let me tell you, Scott played on more recreational teams- softball, soccer, and of course the inexpensive game of golf!  The two older kiddos were downstairs watching television and I was upstairs feeding the baby.  I heard the phone ring and my daughter answered it (she was eleven).   The next moment she is in my doorway with a ghost white face, and murmurs,  “Mommy, he wants to talk to you”.  I take the phone and all I can recall is certain words; your husband, collapsed, cardiac arrest, the hospital, and I need to get there right away.  At this point, I have handed the baby to my daughter, and both she and my seven-year-old son are following me around the house like puppies. I am trying to get away so I can process what the voice on the other end is saying.  Plus I have a million questions, first of which is, are you sure you have the right family?  My husband is athletic and fit, and he plays all kinds of different sports. Surely, this is not the man you are describing to me over the phone?  How dare you interrupt our quiet little evening with such a horrific set of circumstances?

I am not sure how the next thirty minutes played out.  My neighbors were over to take the kids and my mother in law (Scott’s mom) was picking me and we were driving to the hospital.  As we rushed down the highway, I could hear her talking to me, but could not comprehend what she was saying.  It was a dream, a bad dream, and all of the sudden, everything around me drowned out, lights, noise, and motion.  I heard a voice, but could not understand what it was saying.  In my mind, I said, “Okay God, I can’t do this.  I can choose to turn towards You or away from You.  I choose You because I can’t accept this situation.  HELP ME!”   All of the sudden, there was an aura of light around me and I felt all warm and peaceful.  No words were spoken but I knew;  He was there.  He continued to be there through the funeral, through the paperwork, through the tears, through the anger, through the pleading, and through the deepest- seated sorrow I have ever experienced.  God was also there in placing the right people in my life to help me survive, sustain, and subsist.  “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”- Isaiah 46:4

The first two years after Scott’s death were foggy and vague to me.  For me, it was all about existing and taking care of my children’s needs.  And God was there.  My prayers in the early days of my grief were short and simple, “Take away this pain, I can’t bear it anymore”, and it would subside: temporarily.  “Help me Lord, I can’t make this decision” and the answer would come clearly to me either in thought or from a friend.  I was able to meekly articulate the little prayers because I had a relationship with God.  He knew my heart and knew what I could and could not speak or handle.  He provided.  It was not necessarily a spoken word, but it was the clear answer when needed so I could move on down the grief path.  This season in my life was a little more one-sided, where I was at my most vulnerable, and He protected me.  God definitely protected me from Satan’s attacks and can only imagine the spiritual warfare that played out around me and my children.  God was faithful in moving me through my grief and assisting me in the realization grief is part of who I am.
Tweet: God was faithful in moving me through my grief and assisting me in the realization grief is part of who I am.

I look back at the last sixteen years and am in awe of God’s presence through it all.  This type of prayer was like a conversation between two friends.  I did not have the energy or the ability to wholeheartedly give my all to Him, and He understood.  I can say during this time in my life, I felt closer to God than any other time.  Because of this experience, I cherish my daily prayer time with Him.  I don’t use the word normal anymore because it died with Scott.  I do love my life the way it is today; different, rich, meaningful, and with purpose.  I am truly blessed by His love and compassion.

Please let me know if you have a prayer request.   I would love to pray for you!

A Prayer Prescription

A Prayer Prescription

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”-James 5:16

It finally happened.  I had invested in so many cleaning and disinfectant products I could open my own restoration cleaning service.  The little beast was not making its way into my abode, not without a fight.  We struggled and we fought hard, but lost.  Influenza made its ugly way into the front door and took over every square inch of our house.  Blame has to be laid somewhere, right?  I blame the school where it has bred and grown every day for weeks (the word on the street was there were hundreds of kids out with the flu) and I begged my sixteen-year-old, please wash your hands all day long!   I could have asked him to wear a mask and gloves because no one would have noticed or made fun of him, right?

We are all rarely ill in our family and so when we become sick, we are not good patients to ourselves or each other. The best course of action was to go to our three separate corners and fight through this by ourselves.  But in hindsight, I realized we were not alone.  God had our backs.

Even though I did little advertising we were all down for the count, people did check in on us and offered prayer.   I barely could whisper a “help me” to God and yet folks were reaching out.  You would think with all the hours of lying in bed, in and out of sleep, I could have spent ten minutes giving thanks for my circumstances (I could unload a list of diseases worse than the flu to have to fight for a much long time than a few days) and ask for healing, but instead I laid there, void of thought, other than feeling rotten.  It is nice to know others were praying for me during my time of need.

My lesson had revealed itself to me as I was on the mend.  My friends told me they would pray for me to feel better, heal quickly, and get back to feeling right with the world.  I was able to experience all of these steps and I believe it happened because they kept their word.  When I offer to someone I will pray for their circumstances, my intentions are to make it happen.  I try to pray immediately for their needs and also put their request in my journal so I can continue to pray over them.  I want those who ask for prayer to feel my appeal to God for them and know I care.  Prayer for others is a way to be the hands and feet of Jesus and demonstrate my commitment to raising their needs to Him.
Tweet: Prayer for others is a way to be the hands and feet of Jesus and demonstrate my commitment to raising their needs to Him.

As I get my house back in order, (can you smell the bleach?) I am relaxed with a certain peace in my heart.  I had several activities which were planned last week and they were not completed.  I am not stressed or panicked and I am able to re-schedule items which were neglected.  I think someone must have prayed for me to experience grace as well because, under my normal way of conducting activities, I would be in full freak out mode.  Not this time.  So thank you for the prayers last week for me and my family, you helped a sista out more than you know!  Let me know if I can pray for you.  Blessings.

God, Why Fire Ants?

country ants

Psalm 8:6-9  “You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet:  all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

There was a perfect balance of cool breeze running by me as the sun warmed my skin.  We were spending a few days at my mom’s place in Brenham, Texas and there were chores to be completed.  I jumped on the mower to clean up a couple of acres and enjoyed the alone time in nature to think.  The bluebonnets were about to make their debut so this would be the only time to cut the entire area.  As I surveyed the yard, I saw several black mounds rising above the ground.  I could not believe how many were in front of me and I thought to myself, “Well this will be fun-mowing ‘em down!”  FIRE ANT HILLS.  If you are not familiar with this creature, may I enlighten you?  In the south, this little booger has been a menace to both country and suburban folk.  It is astounding where they can build their mounds and mount stealth-like attacks on the innocent.  I can’t count how many times I have been stung by this little pest and I looked forward to creating havoc on their homes.  As the mower lurched to the first settlement, I silently asked the question, “God, why fire ants?  I can’t see any benefit from the existence of these mean little creatures which bring pain and anguish to those in their destructive path. “   As I was running over the fourth mound, I heard a whisper, “Learn about them”.

A few days later, I started researching fire ants on the internet.  I learned how they were introduced to this country back in the 1930’s from South America through the port in Mobile, Alabama and have spread over 260 million acres of land and in nine states!  The fire ants continue to move westward and will eventually make it to California[i].  In the area of Brenham, the ground is called Blackland soil or black gumbo.  It is thick clay which is difficult to dig down and plant any type of crop[ii].  The fire ants have no problem building above and tunneling below ground which helps aerate the soil.  I continued to investigate into their little pesky world and found they are beneficial in feeding on harmful insects which infest crops and in return, help in the reduction of using insecticides.  In suburbia, they feed on cockroach eggs, ticks, and other home invaders (can I get an Amen)!

After my educational quest to learn more on the fire ant I have come to the conclusion of what God was revealing to me; the ants are a part of His plan. I may have believed the fire ant is worthless and has no business being on this earth, but it does.  All it took was opening my eyes to a different perspective on the matter.

God created all.  He gave humans the ability to learn and understand the lower creatures and to maintain good stewardship over His land and take care of and respect the animals and insects.   God also gave us a brain to ask questions and solve complex problems.  I believe God welcomes my desire to unfold the mystery and questions about life as He holds the answers. If I slow down and be still, in turn, I can listen and hear His response.

Tweet: I believe God welcomes my desire to unfold the mystery and questions about life as He holds the answers.

I won’t be adopting fire ants as pets anytime soon, but the next time I question the existence of a creature or why some events happen, I should realize it is handled and God’s in control.  On the beautiful sunny country day, I was encouraged to educate myself and see a situation through a different viewpoint.  Now, I am working on my next question for God.

[i] http://fireant.tamu.edu/

[ii] Gardenguides.com