Thursday, December 25, 2008

Home for Christmas

For the last two weeks, I have been thinking that Justin was not going to make it home for Christmas. Then a few days ago, I learned that he would be here but it would be at the end of the day. So, thankful that I would at least have him home for a few days...and at the end of Christmas day, and disappointed that there would be no morning wake-up call in anticipation of the presents we would exchange...I went to bed, in prayer...asking God to keep my heart in check as it was not focused on the real reason for celebrating. I went to bed at 3:00 a.m.

After 3 hours of sleep, I recieved a phone call.

"Merry Christmas" said the voice on the other end of the line. It wasn't long in my foggy state of mind before I recognized that the voice was that of my own son.

"Justin, it's 4:00 am there, what are you doing up?" I responded.

"Oh, I'm excited about my trip home today and I couldn't sleep. So, I went out for a run and decided to give you a call and say, Merry Christmas!"

"Well," I said with my early morning cracking voice, "you are the first to wish me a Merry Christmas, today. Thank you. Now, I don't know about you, but I have only had 3 hours sleep so I'm going to go back to sleep."

"Okay, Mom, I'll call you when I get to the airport. I love you and Merry Christmas"

This is just a rough recollection of the actual conversation that took place this morning as my son was about to blow my mind. The plan was that I would go to the airport and pick him up Christmas night. It would be late when we got home and Christmas definitely would be different from those in the past when both kids would wake me up at six in the morning to get permission to open their stockings while I slept a little longer, then they would come in a little later and ask if they could open their gifts. We would not share Christmas dinner with Justin and there would be an emptiness in my heart.

This year is our last year in our home here in west TN as Tiff and I will be moving to Atlanta next summer. It was our last opportunity to be in our home for Christmas as a framily with Sue. It seemed as if my hopes of having a traditional framily Christmas were shot. So, on with the story...

I hung up the phone only to hear a knock at the door a few minutes later. I went to my daughter's room to ask if she knocked. She answered, "No, but I heard a knock."

By this time I started to feel a bit uneasy. The thought did cross my mind that perhaps it might be Justin but I quickly dismissed it. I went to the front door and called, "Who is it?"

The voice on the other side of the door replied, "It's Tim."

Tim is Justin's best friend who had stopped by to visit the day before. He was leaving to go out of town and would not be around to visit with Justin over the five dayse that he would be home. I assumed he had forgotten something. I did hope faintly that maybe he was going to surprise me with a special "Christmas present"..but it was only a faint hope.

I opened the door to see Tim standing there alone. There I was in my bed head, bad breath, and all the rest of my morning "glory", wondering why Tim was at my house so early on Christmas morning. At this point, I didn't believe that he had any kind of surprise. He said, "Merry Christmas Ms. Katrina!" Then I heard another voice that I instantly recognized say, "Merry Christmas Mom!"

It was still dark and I couldn't see more than a shadow moving towards me and I ran towards that shadow screaming at the top of my lungs and bawling! I wrapped my arms around him and kept saying, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" over and over!

You would think that somebody in my home would have come running with a baseball bat or something to save me. But, nooooooooo Sue and my daughter deemed it a safer place to stay in their rooms and let me deal with the "bad guys" that were "attacking" me (at least that is what they were thinking might be going on because of the screams they were hearing!)

Finally, Tiffany came out and eventually, so did Sue...all of us in our nasty morning garb, looking "like dump" as Tiff would put it...then, there was Justin, all dressed nice in his jeans and new shirt we had given to him in Chicago. He had been traveling all night, arrived in Nashville at midnight, had his friends pick him up, then went home with them to visit before coming to wake me up on Christmas morning!

Eighteen years ago, two weeks after my birthday, I received a special package from God. I named him Justin. I got a son for my birthday. I never thought about ever receiving him again in the future for a Christmas present too!

So, the tradition continued one final Christmas in our home as a framily together when my kids asked me if they could open their stockings. I went back to bed just long enough for them to come down a second time and ask me to get up to open gifts.

The only thing that was different was that this year, Justin had been up all night traveling and started dozing off while opening his gifts! THAT'S NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!

Later, the framily all worked together to prepare Christmas dinner. We picked up our former neighbor just like in years past (but she is in a nursing home now) and celebrated God's abundance as we shared in our Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner one final time. We wound down at the end of the night by attempting to watch the Nativity. Sue was the only one who stayed awake through the whole thing. I did wake up to see the most important part at the end...to bring Christmas home in the heart...the birth of my Savior, the King of Kings, our Lord who is Jesus Christ.

Thank You, Father for a very special last traditional framily Christmas together in our home.

It has been the most wonderful Christmas to remember!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Elf Yourself

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


LOL This was fun (just make sure you create an account first)! In this dance you'll see me and Katie, then Tiffany (Katie's daughter), our friend Ellen and my Ma. This cracked me up so bad! Have fun!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Seaman Blakely

This is a pic from my phone of Seaman Blakely and his mom. Katie is such a proud mom. You should have heard her yelling "That's my son! That's my son!" as we saw him leading his division at the Navy graduation ceremony.

There he was, out front, carrying a cutlass and leading Division 803. It was such a proud moment, and the moment that Justin had kept a secret from his mom. She had NO IDEA that he was chosen as Division Recruit Chief Petty Officer and that he was marching out ahead of the division as its esteemed leader!

We all got teary-eyed! It was awesome!

Now, on the 18th this month my nephew, Cory, will be graduating from Army Basic Training. What a month!

Thank you to all the brave young men and women willing to serve their country!
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

Well, it was another wonderful day with my future proxy family. We forfeited the movie and spent the day at the Mall. I got my hair trimmed. We started the day off taking one of the family to the subway station so she could get to the airport for her flight home. We were also waiting for another family member to meet us there and go off to the Mall for our 2nd annual Black Friday shopping adventure!

While we were waiting, Dave turned up the tunes and Marie jumped out of the back of the truck and started dancing with him in the parking lot. What fun! So, against my daughters wishes, I jumped out too and we had a street dance right there at the train station! It was awesome! I felt so free....free to be me...and nobody made fun of me...and others were dancing and being crazy with me! It was wonderful!!! We danced through several songs like, "whip it" LOL... until it was time to leave...without a care in the world....these are those unforgettable spontaneous moments I live for. I'm building new memories to cherish already...but, there are lingering memories of these types of spontaneous moments with my best friend and children that hover and make me long to relive some times in the past.

I know that nothing is guaranteed in this life...people come and go...and it doesn't matter how much you love them except for one thing: The more you love them, the more it hurts when the good times are merely distant, yet cherished memories.

Ultimately, there is One who will always love and never leave. I am counting on Him to get us through the framily break up. In all honesty, I think the only one who needs help with it is me... For whatever reason...I think I am the only framily member who wants to relive those beautiful lost days. Yes, this is bittersweet, and sometimes I wonder how I will ever get through... but I can do all things through Christ....and He is already working out the kinks.

Okay, enough depressing talk...now for the happy present...Last night, Tiff, Marie, and I were doing some Superman line dance thingy in the balcony. We laughed so hard I could hardly stand up. Then Dave blasted some Toby Mac this morning while we were all getting ready. It was recorded live in Texas. It ROCKED! We were all having a good time then. Man, is life always a party around here?

At the moment things are quite subdued as I am typing from Barnes and Noble still here in Atlanta. I think it would be inappropriate to dance here LOL. Besides, my dance partner is at home with her proxy baby sister. Tomorrow Tiff and I head back to TN. I feel homeless...or hometween. Humboldt doesn't seem quite like home anymore...and Atlanta isn't quite home yet. It's a very melancholic place to be...but also exciting at the same time. God is at work and I anticipate what He is going to do. I'm letting go of the plans I have made for me...losing control of my destiny...and giving it to the only One who knows what to do with it. I'm taking a leap of faith...diving in to the unknown. I know He is holding me. I'm not afraid...well maybe just a little. Man, I love how music ministers to me!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Picture Perfect

Things couldn't have gone smoother for Thanksgiving dinner. We put on our festive aprons and everyone had their part in preparing the meal. Jeanie fixed most of the feast and the rest of us were responsible for clean up duty. The table was dressed in full array with candles and autumn/Thanksgiving centerpieces and a variety of Thanksgiving china. The pinkish red holiday punch was served in beautiful wine glasses.

We all took turns from oldest to youngest, sharing the things we are especially thankful for this year. It was such a blessing. Jeanie was so happy to have her entire family and closest friends gathered around the Thanksgiving table. I could only have been more blessed if Justin had been here.

After the meal, the transition from Thanksgiving takes place as we vote on the Christmas classic to watch and we all begin cleaning up to Christmas music. However, we had a bit of a twist as Dave put in the Johnny Cash band and we listened to songs like "Ring of Fire"...that didn't have quite the same effect as the Christmas music...but it was still fun. Eventually the Christmas music came on. So we were cleaning up Thanksgiving dinner and listening to Christmas. The transition began taking place.

After the dishes were finished, we all got into our Christmas pajamas and sat down in front of the fire with our coffee/tea/eggnog. Jeanie knitted and I crochetted as we all watched Miracle on 34th Street. The Christmas season is now in full swing as today is black friday and we are taking our 2nd annual trip to the Mall of Georgia for shopping adventures, lunch in the food court, winding up the day with a movie. This year's feature is Australia. (I heard it's a great movie...thanks for the critique, Sooby!)

Well, there you have it in a nutshell... oh oh ohhhhhhh!!!! speaking of nuts...

This morning, I awakened in my beautiful room overlooking the lake and tree tops. I watched as two squirrels worked diligently on their nest. It was quite entertaining watching them chew off branches and run up and down the trees, taking the branches to their nest. I was entertained as the larger squirrel seemed to be doing the biggest part of the work. I even laughed out loud once as the larger squirrel struggled to get this HUGE branch through the other branches and the little one just kept running around him and climbing over him. Later on, I saw the little squirrel carrying a rather large branch of leaves up to the nest. I think he got in trouble. LOL.

Speaking of trouble.........

I thought I was in trouble last night because I spilled my tea on the white carpet. But Jeanie was so kind and said, "that's okay we have the carpet protected. I'm sure this will clean right up" and it did! Woohoooo! OH oh and salt... LOL... this one is not just funny but 2x funny!

When we made our coffee/tea last night, Jeanie had switched canisters and moved the sugar to a larger canister while putting salt in the smaller one. I was unaware of this. Soooooooooo

When young David spit coffee (all over the carpet) from taking the first big gulp of his salted drink, I couldn't figure out how salt ended up in his coffee. How dumb is that? LOL. Then later that night when I fixed a new cup of tea (after spilling mine), I also got duped. Took my first big gulp and ...well thank goodness I was standing by the sink and not the white carpet that had already been annointed twice!!!!

It was a great day....we all had so many laughs.

Oh one last thing...this is really funny (but you had to be here). There is a bad chair at the dinette table in the kitchen. Dave, Marie, and I were having breakfast. Tiffany came to sit down and sat in the bad chair. Everything was fine until she moved..LOLOL I am cracking up as I type this...the chair leg gave out and Tiffany crashed into the table. She wasn't hurt and quite embarrassed and we all laughed our ends off! LOLOLOL.

Okay, gotta go get my make up on so I can be ready to participate in the busiest shopping day of the year! Thanks to all the dedicated retail workers for all your hard work and dedication on this day full of crazy, whacked people like me who enjoy participating in the mad rush of holiday frenzy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mashed Potatoes

I am eating mashed potatoes right now, in honor of the gentleman pictured with me almost twenty years ago. I only have a couple of pics of grandpa on the puter, so I went with the one that included me, even though I look little like that anymore! LOL

I loved Thanksgiving meals with my family. We alternated whose house the meal would be served in, sometimes at our house and sometimes at my grandparent's, but I liked it best at Grandma and Grandpa Prince's.

When I was home in Ohio last month and looking at old pictures, it was interesting to note how many feasts we really had at their house. Their dining room table was always filled up with great food, but my favorite has always been the mashed potatoes. I love a table with a giant bowl of smashed tators on it!

Grandpa was always amazed at how much of those mashed potatoes I could put away and would tease me by telling me they were gonna grow hair on my chest! LOL

I miss Grandpa and watching him nap in his recliner after a big meal. Oh, and I can still hear my Grandma's voice and the way she would say my name. Precious memories for me this Thanksgiving Day.

Now for seconds on the tators!

Thanksgiving in Atlanta

Well, we arrived in Atlanta safe and sound! Thanks to all those who prayed for us. It was a bit difficult to stay awake the last hour but we made it.

As we got out of the car, Tiff and I could hear Marie cheering loudly as she celebrated our arrival. Right away, I recieved a blessing...felt..wanted and loved in that very expression of joy. But then, I was greeted with a huge hug from Jeanie and the nostalgic smell of Pumpkin pie. The table was already set last night for tonight's dinner. It really felt like Thanksgiving had arrived. Then, when I got upstairs to my room, my towels were on my bed Jeanie style with a Christmas present wrapped on top.

I slept very well once I finally made it to bed (around 2:00 am). When I first awakened, my eyes were still closed. Then the thought came into my head, "You are not home, you are waking up in Atlanta and the sun is coming up over the lake...quick, look out the window!" So, I sat up and turned to my left (the bed is sitting up against the window overlooking the lake) and sure enough, the sun was just beginning to light up the tree tops. The lake was like glass with a crisp, clear reflection of the beautiful trees, blue sky, and soft, puffy white clouds. It was so beautiful! It's easy to praise God when you wake up to that!

Today, I announced to my precious friends here, who have shown so much love to may family over the years, that I will accept their proposal to temporarily move in with them next summer and begin a new life here in Atlanta. I presented them with a gift and a card. In the card I announced my decision. I listened and watched as it was read aloud. I watched the excitement build on each of their faces as they began to realize what I was telling them. Then I listened to their cheers as they celebrated our decision.

I would like to thank God this Thanksgiving for family, friends, restoration, healing, this place, and new beginnings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

God is Alive and Active

I wrote a post once about being older and wiser and some of the things I hate about that. You can read that post here. I was inspired to write that post because it is difficult to watch someone you love and care about rebel against God. It is difficult to watch them throw away potential and blessings for the things of this world.

Today I am rejoicing because the subject of that post has turned back to God! God never stops wooing His chosen. HE IS SO MERCIFUL!

That post was written almost three years ago and I can tell you that my heart has broken for that person and those caught in similar circumstances. I never stopped praying and thanks to MySpace and Facebook, I was able to keep tabs on some of the goings on in that person's life, even though it disturbed me at times, it also gave me the sense of urgency I needed to continue praying.

Not too long ago contact was reestablished, and yesterday we met for lunch. I have tears welling up now as I recall the experience of hearing her share about her life and what God is doing in it. She even confessed that she has kept tabs on me! LOL She said she always kept things I have said, or Katie has said to her, in the back of her mind. Finally she relented to the conviction of the Holy Spirit! Praise God!

Prayers need to continue so that God will surround her with Godly role models who can walk with her through this spiritual journey. I am praying that God sends to her and her husband a couple wise in the ways of God, that they would help the both of them grow in the Word and in Christ. I am so excited at the possibilities here!

I just can't stop smiling! I am basking in His love today and enjoying the wonder of His unfailing mercy, endless forgiveness and infinite patience.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

When Christians Get Dirty

Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:10-17)
While reading Hidden In Plain Sight: The Secret of More by Mark Buchanan, the author helped me to gain insight into the "foot washing" principle.Hidden in Plain Sight

When we accept Christ as Savior...He saves us for God and from God and washes us clean. In God's sight, we are blemish free because He sees us through the sinlessness of His Son, Jesus who stands in our place.

Jesus taught the disciples that once He makes us clean, we are cleeeaaan, totally clean...but now and then, we may get a little "dirt" on our feet, or in our lives. In other words, Christians may get a little "dirty" simply by living in this world and all Christians have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters to help wipe away that "dirt".

Jesus said "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." What He is saying is that He washed us clean, but things in this world will tarnish us...it can creep into our lives and make us dirty.

Consider that slow driver that was "in your way" on the day you were running a bit late for work...what were your thoughts? Were they Godly?

Consider the television programs or movies you watch...would you watch them if Jesus were your guest this evening? Would He approve?

How about the music you have been listening to lately? Does it glorify God?

Have you been poking around Internet sites that are totally inappropriate?

Are you harboring any grudges against anyone?

Taken the Lord's name in vain? Ever say "Oh My God!" when surprised/startled?

PigpenThere are many many ways that the world's crud affixes itself to us. We may not even notice the dirt on us piling up, and we won't notice because like Pigpen, we won't be bothered by "girls or mosquitos". In fact, if we aren't noticing it, we may be worshiping the lord of this earth, rather than the One True God. Jesus tells us to help one another wash this crud away in our lives. We are responsible to one another to do this. We should help one another get rid of the dirt that infects our lives! We sometimes refer to this as accountability.

The word accountability often brings to mind a person holding another person accountable for some grievous sin. Jesus wasn't talking to his disciples here about horrific sin, but about simple, small and sometime unnoticeable things that could subtly cause harm to His children and hinder a relationship with Him. He was warning us in a way, to watch out for the small stuff.

We are to be holy, and set apart from the world. The world is dirty, and we must count on our brothers and sisters to help us brush off the dirt that gets on our feet every day.


Reposted from August 2007

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

Katie is cleaning out the refrigerator and she said "It's funny how you think you have food until you clean out the refrigerator and then you realize all you have is bacteria and ferns."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chuck's Blogging!

Chuck finally has a blog: Northbrook Church Blog

Go read, go encourage, go comment, just go see it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunlight Burning at Midnight

You might think I'm weird, but the foliage in my back yard is at its beautiful peak right now. I have a golden umbrella over a large portion of my yard and two dogwood trees with red leaves. Then in the distance all the other trees in the neighborhood are changing too. Leaves are everywhere and my back yard is covered with them. At dusk on this crisp fall evening, I couldn't stop myself...I put my Frenchesca Battistelli music on and went out back to dance and praise God under the golden umbrella of foliage. One of the lines in the song, "Beautiful" is about God's love being like sunlight burning at midnight making my life something so Beautiful Beautiful. I Looked up through the trees and I could see spots of the blue sky and a few stars peaking out. I thought about stars and how they are like sunlight burning at midnight. It was one of those moments when I received a small taste of heaven on earth!

Harvesting

Harvesting

I am harvesting blessings amongst my trials. Justin is so far away and I miss him so much. Here, I have to deal with the aftermath of a terrible car accident and a traumatized daughter. The blessings....

Justin is doing so well and I am so incredibly proud of him. So many from friends and church members are writing and sharing letters with me that they have written back and forth. Tiffany and I have been surrounded by a plethora of love and support from our church family. They have rallied around us and there are a few who are trying to help me get going with another vehicle...and get Tiffany driving again. So far I have not been able to coax her to get back behind the wheel.

I took her to a progressive dinner tonight. It is an annual youth event with our church. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this; it is when the youth group travels from home to home to eat 1 course of a 4 course meal at each stop. They go to one home for appetizers, then the main course, then the desserts, then cocoa/coffee/tea/cider. This year they combined the last two in one house. That was the house where I volunteered to serve. It was such a sweet time of fellowship.

So, I started the day with a nice warm bath. Then, I met my best friend and daughter for lunch. Then, I came home and found lots of energy through the crisp, blustery fall weather. So, I finished cleaning and organizing Justin's room. It looks like a new place!

I wrapped up the day with the progressive dinner. We had dessert, cider, and hot cocoa, a cozy fireplace, great piano music (furnished by one of our youth), and lots of fun conversation.

Then, as I was leaving, I walked out the door to the smell of fireplaces burning...beautiful colored leaves, and a cool crisp fall breeze. It was perfect. I thanked God for my harvest of blessings!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Seattle's Best

Katie and I went to Seattle's Best today and I decided I wanted a cinnamon roll from Cinnabon. I got a "mini" roll because the last time I had a full sized cinnamon roll it sat in my stomach like a concrete brick all day. It was not pleasurable at all.

I really enjoy going there for coffee almost daily. I do wish however that Seattle's Best was designed more as a coffee house, instead it is basically a Subway with a window at one end to buy Seattle's Best coffee.

It was a lot better when we could sit outside during the warm summer months because inside they usually have two dualing tvs blaring. They are never on the same station. It's chaotic and it's a shame.

Seattle's Best is also good for simple coffee drinkers like me. If you like frou frou it probably isn't for you because the drinks don't seem to be made correctly, as least not from the point of view of the people I've gone there with.

But, I still love Seattle's Best coffee!
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Friday, November 07, 2008

From Death to Life

Hebrews 2: 14- Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

I have just come out of a place in my life filled with fear, pain, and sorrow. I was enslaved to pride, selfishness, self-pity, self loathing, fear of loss, fear of lonliness, fear of rejection. I wondered how a woman of faith could ever come to be in this position. I doubted my own salvation. I kept trying to fix things, trying to handle situations that God repeatedly told me to let go of and let Him handle. But I thought I knew better.

I am guilty of trying to control and manipulate situations (make no mistake about it...it was situations...not people) that I should have left to God. I just kept making a bigger mess by trying to "do the right thing" when the only right thing was to surrender to Him. I held on to things that were not for me to hold on to. When I don't let go of what I have, I miss out on so much more that He has for me. I know this now.

I am so thankful for my Savior who became human so he could experience death in order to conquer it once and for all. He never had to do that. I don't deserve it and never will. Oh how He loves me! Oh how He loves us! He died to break the power of the devil...who I recently gave some authority in my life. I have been believing lies that He has been pouring into my brain on a daily basis. I gradually became weaker and weaker as I surrendered to emotions and oppression instead of surrendering to my Lord who never left me alone for one second. He stayed there, reaching out to me, waiting...waiting...waiting....for me to surrender all to Him. It is what He died for. He broke the power of death and I felt as if I was dying spiritually...and I must confess, there were a lot of moments where I wanted to die physically. He died to set me free from this but, I just couldn't see it. I couldn't let go. I didn't trust Him or anyone else.

He stepped in at my lowest point. When I was ready and prayed to see Truth (even if I didn't like it), He showed me that I needed to stop looking at others and letting my joy depend on people. I needed to stop pointing my finger at others' flaws and start investigating my own. I needed to stop being a victim of my own selfishness, fear and pride and start trusting Him with the things that seemed to be killing me.

I reached the point of total brokenness and surrender. I finally gave it all over to Him....and He set me free and yes I am free indeed! He embraced the cross he bore for me...and all mankind...so I must embrace my own cross that causes me to die to myself in order that I might experience the same victory over death that Christ did....and life in Him.

I have been resurrected in a sense...just like the day I got saved. I have died to my old self again. God saved me once..but every time I die to things that need to be gone..I experience new life again. I have died to who I was a few weeks ago and God has brought me to life as a new creation once again. I am changed. I am growing.

I prayed for Him to empty me this year. He told me I was going to go through a season of letting go as a result. I had NOOOO clue what was about to take place. It blindsided me. It was overwhelming and I was NOT prepared for what He was about to do....but He did it. He emptied me....and now has filled me again...with Himself...in ways He could not before because other things were in the way. I have been restored to grace. I have been born again again...and baptized in the Holy Spirit! I am alive, alive, alive....hallelujah! All praise be to the Lord my God...the King of glory!!!! He loves me...and that IS more than enough!!!!!!

I AM BACK PEOPLE! Wooohoooooo!!!!!!

Chosen

Yay! The photo I took while in Las Vegas last year was chosen for inclusion by Schmap Tourguide Company. Go see my pic and more on the Las Vegas - Hiking & Climbing page.

How fun!

No, no money for it, just credit for the pic, but still, how fun!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thank You

For all of you who have been lifting me up in prayer...THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I truly believe I have been delivered from a very long and difficult time in the desert! God has moved in my life over the last week and it hasn't been fun, let me tell you. But, I have finally let go of some thing I needed to let go of and accepted some things I couldn't accept. I have learned from mistakes along the way and I am at peace with God. I know who I am in Him and I know Whose I am. I know the truth about me and the Truth that lives in me...and that is what is at the top of my list of important things in the world! I have been restored to fellowship with my Lord. I have received a new beginning. Please continue to pray as the process is not complete...I have grown so much but I still have some things in my life that need to change...and some 40 year old habits that need to be modified. Praise be to the One who leads me by the still waters where He restores my soul.

Justin's New Address

SR Blakely, Justin, P.
Ship 9 Div. 803
RTC
3415 Sailor Drive
Great Lakes, IL 60088-3415

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Over

I am thankful the election is soon to be over and that God is still sovereign.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mom and Me at Whipp's Ledges

It snowed the day mom and I hiked Whipp's Ledges in Hinckley, OH. As you can see, I am now wimply because I live in the South and bundled up for the cold weather. Mom handled it like a Northerner!

I love this pic!

My Visit to Ohio

I had a great visit to Ohio. I got to spend time at home with Mom and Dad, visited with friends, some that I haven't seen in almost ten years. I also spent time with Ellen and my mom exploring Whipp's Ledges in Hinckley, OH. I grew up in Hinckley so I was familiar with the Ledges, but it was my friend Ellen who totally soaked in the beauty of the place and also the fact that it snowed. I couldn't believe it snowed!



In this picture set mostly you will see the beauty of Hinckley Park, and a few of Lake Erie. Interspersed are pics of family and friends.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Be Still

Be still doesn't mean do nothing. It means have peace while trusting Christ. I have lost any sense of peace. Sometimes I find it for a moment. I have hope...but it doesn't last. What is wrong with me?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Manipulator

I have always been one to be transparent so here it is. I am falling from Grace. I have fought the battle and I have lost. This journey is over.

God Tested

God tested me today. He blessed me then tested me. I failed miserably.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bail out?

Today's Headline: "Markets in tailspin"

Okay, could somebody please explain to me the benefits of the great "bail out"?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Write To a Sailor

We've received word from Justin at Navy Basic Training. He is doing well and says he has the most difficult drill chief...I think every new recruit probably thinks that they have the toughest one! LOL

Anyway, he'd love to hear from you, so here is his addy:

SR Blakely, Justin, P
Div 803 Ship 09
USS John F. Kennedy
3415 Sailor Dr.
Great lakes, IL 60088

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Breaking

God is dealing with me on things.

One person said to me yesterday, "Sue, I think God is breaking you."

Another asked me, "Do you pray for brokenness?"

I wonder, does it matter if I pray for it or not? If God is dealing with me, or breaking me, do I need to pray for it? Will He not accomplish breaking me whether or not I pray for it?

I keep getting things coming at me from all directions. There are thoughts and feelings going on in me that I just keep to myself, maybe because there are no words. Maybe because I am denying them. Maybe I am rebelling.

Mostly God is dealing with me in the area of my critical spirit, my judgmental attitude, my murmuring. Unfortunately, in the process it seems like it has intensified and my heart is unsettled, making me even more irritable.

Someone gave me a spiritual excercise to do when I feel the criticism welling inside me. It is not easy. It might actually be more difficult than enduring physical therapy, which anyone that knows me understands that is a HUGE statement.

When I feel the judgmental attitude stirred I am supposed to STOP! and then immediately ask God to realign my heart. I am to look at that situation and thank God for some aspect of it. The example given to me was if a driver runs the red light at an intersection and nearly hits me, as soon as I start thinking "That jerk! blah blah blah!" I'm to stop, ask God to realign my heart and thank Him for protecting me from an accident.

It is so much easier said than done.

One of the reasons Katie thinks we aren't getting along is because God has given her the responsibility of holding me accountable. She is helping me with this exercise and points out to me when my attitude needs realigned.

Do you know how many times this is? LOL It is a lot! Unfortunately. As a result, I get "snippy". She really shouldn't take it personally though, because it is difficult to have sin pointed out. I'm really feeling like filthy rags these days.

Just on our way to and from dinner she pointed things out. I get frustrated with myself. I really don't think I realized how bad my attitude had gotten!

I will get through this. God is breaking me and on the other side, He will be glorified.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How's This for Transparency?

I have a confession. The Sisters are no longer who we were when this site was created. Seeking to glorify God in all we do as sisters in Christ is no longer how we live together. So much has changed and I fear that if our focus does not get where it needs to be soon, that we may not even be able to call one another best friends anymore. I feel sad when I read our blog now and I reminisce of how things used to be. Times change. People change. God brings people into our lives for a season..and he takes them out. So, is one season ending and another beginning? Only God has that answer. I know I don't want it to. The last 8 years, in spite of the difficulties, have been the best years and I am thankful for the beautiful memories that I will always cherish! I don't know what God is doing, but I want us to respond appropriately. He is definitely moving and changing things...and it hurts. Please pray for us as we are in a time of difficult transitions (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically).

I Am

I am not who I claim to be on this blog.

This blog is a lie.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hug a Sailor

I have always wanted to hug a sailor. I never imagined I'd actually get to. In a couple months I am going to hug a sailor and that sailor will be MY SON! WOOOHOOOOO! I CAN NOT WAIT!

I Won I Won I Won!

The women of All Access
are awarding me with the book "Five Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter" for winning the caption contest they had here.

I won I won I won!


But I don't have a daughter. LOL

I won I won I won!

Winning is the important thing. I'm sure I can find a friend with a daughter...oh wait...there is one right here in my house!

I won I won I won!

Oh my winning caption: "High and Lifted Up"

I won I won I won!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Transparency

This sight was designed when two sisters were best friends seeking to glorify God in all they do. Here's the truth, Sue and I have had a slipping away in our friendship and I have been fighting to keep things together. But, her heart isn't in it like it used to be. Tome moves on and I think God is taking us both

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brokenness

Brokenness.Broken Vessel

Brokenness is something I am not experiencing.

Dare I say it is something I want to?

Brokenness is a staple of true maturity in the faith, and when embraced is a most freeing experience. The process of being broken isn't necessary pleasant, and in fact can be very painful, but once embraced, the faithful can prosper in ways that are undescribable.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control can never be acheived on human strength alone. These are fruits of the Spirit and only by embracing brokenness can one totally turn themselves over to God. In turning over ourselves, we allow God to do His work in us. In brokenness, like soil being turned, we become fertile ground in which a seed can sprout and fruit can grow and prosper.

Bucking HorseA wild horse bucks the rider off it's bareback, frenzied with fury of unbridled energy, yet once saddled, tamed and ridden, or broken, that beast's energy becomes focused and the horse becomes a useful force. An energized, wild, though immature Christian is less effective in His Kingdom than an energized, mature, focused and broken Christian.

In brokenness we become as clay, soft and ready to be molded into what The Artist intends to create.

I was there once. I was clay. I was a ball of energy focused and determined to please God. I was fertile soil and fruit was growing.

What has happened?

I learned a lot about brokenness while reading Embracing Brokenness: How God Refines Us Through Life's Disappointments, by Alan E. Nelson but possibly the most important thing I learned is that I am not living a life of brokenness. Not even close.

And I'm afraid to pray for it.

God's Love

God's love is amazing. His grace is truly sufficient. Today was a wonderful day! I only shed a brief tear one time this morning. I spent the day reorganizing Justin's room (something I have wanted to do for a very long time). It proved to be very therapeutic. I feel so much better. I am finding more pride than grief today. I hope Justin is doing okay.

Sue took me to see the Billy Graham movie today. I highly recommend it! It was a great movie! I don't know how much of it actually happened but it was still very inspiring. My sister has been a trooper for me through this whole ordeal. She will go to any length to see that I am happy. Today, she took me shopping for a toilet seat. Lots of interesting conversation can develop while shopping for toilet seats...especially with other customers. We had a few laughs...and bought an old, lumpy pumpkin!

God is with me. Whenever I cry out...he comforts me. Today, His power was felt in huge ways!

Beautiful Words From A Navy Mom Like Me

Dear Katrina,

This is a tuff time for moms..... every mom has felt as you do when their child leaves. You will be proud and when you seem him PIR. You will hold your head high,,,,shed your tears, and know that you too have survived... You Are a Navy Mom and the feelings you have are being shared by every mom standing beside you. You will know their fears and their tears and know that no one ever walks alone.... and guess what your sailor has learned the same thing... He never stood alone because his buddies will have been there for him...God goes with you and your son...Bless you and your prayer life. It is funny that we often forget that when our children are not with us that God sees them well, that the same moon shining over you is shining over them and when the sun comes up it is coming up over both of you... Send him a hug when it comes up and when it goes down....God will be with him

Night 2

I had a rough start to the day today. I work at a church so I was able to take some time out at the altar this morning. I cried out to God and asked Him for comfort and strength for me...and so much more for Justin. I do pray that somehow Justin hears me say goodnight and feels the prayers going up for him. I spent the first half of my lunch break crying, then I got out the scripture book for soldiers that a friend gave me. I must get a copy to send to Justin. It has scriptures on certain subjects, then a page to reflect for today to help tomorrow. It really helped me so much and my day turned around after lunch. I felt much more motivated to get things done. When I prayed I asked God to restore my joy (as this is the hardest of many heartaches this year). I have felt pretty good tonight. Oh, my heart still aches beyond anything I can put into words...but, I'm not crying and I haven't cried for hours. I think I might be getting past the shock and now I'm beginning to accept things. I know that as long as I don't get a phone call, Justin is doing well. I do trust that he's in good hands. He's in God's hands. I just miss him so much. I wonder what he's doing and if he's thinking about home at this moment. I can't wait to talk with him. I really think I will do so much better when I can communicate with him again. I just keep holding on for the moment when I will see my son in his uniform...a full fledged soldier. The last time he hugged me, he was wearing the shirt that will soon arrive in a box. The next time he hugs me, he will be in uniform...a sailor. I just don't know that I can imagine how proud I will be on that day.

Day 2

I'm still quite emotional but a little bit less than yesterday. I asked Justin to take out the trash this morning (out loud) just to hear my voice saying it. Tiffany and Sue just carried on without saying anything. The trash is still in the can though (not much different than when he was home LOL). I guess I'll take it out for myself after work today. I also open his bedroom door each night and tell him "Night, Justin, I love you". I hope he feels it when I say that.

Bootcamp Blues-Night 1

It was a tearfilled emotional day. I went grocery shopping and passed by his favorite foods that I won't be buying much anymore. I am thankful for the Navy for Moms website. I have made so many new friends and I am building a very much needed support system. I think one friend put it appropriately when she said I am still in "shock". I think she is right on target. Yesterday my son was my dependant. Today, I can't even communicate with him. I am completely cut off and there is nothing I can do to change it. I feel powerless...and hung out to dry. But, I know that this is for his good so I will tough it out with him...and pray my head off...and cry alot. Father, give Justin strength, wisdom, and peace. I pray he will sleep well tonight and be ready to meet the challenges that tomorrow will bring. Amen.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bootcamp Blues - Day 1

I have been a single mom for 8 years. I have prayed so much for God to place a call on my son's life. He answered that prayer. My son has always dreamed about being a warrior. Now he is one. Yesterday was day 1 of Navy boot camp for him and day one for me without him. It's bittersweet as my heart is swollen with pride...and pain. Things sure are different now. We miss him so much.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

From one Soldier to Another

Today at church, we welcomed a soldier back from Iraq. He was given a warm welcome and a standing ovation. Little did I know, that when this soldier left a year ago (a very tearful goodbye), my son would be sent off by him today. My first born leaves for Navy Basic training Tuesday morning. Today, Daniel offered him encouragment and then, as brothers and sisters in the faith gathered around, Daniel offered a special prayer for Justin. It was a beautiful, bittersweet time of tears of goodbye, joy and pride. This mom never knew how hard it was for loved ones to say goodbye as those dearest to their hearts left to sacrifice for our country. Today, I felt the pain that Daniel's wife felt a year ago. I didn't have a clue how heart breaking it would be. This has truly been a year of letting go. Father, I give Justin to you...be with him in my place.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pictures From the Framily Trip to Nashville

Justin is about to ship off with the Navy. In fact, he leaves us next week to begin his life's journey serving our country and we are so proud!

One day a few weeks ago, Katie and I were driving around Nashville, lost. We drove by TPAC, the theater in the city, and on the marquee was an advertisement for a Bill Cosby show. When we saw it we just knew we needed to have a framily day out for this show because Bill Cosby is one of Justin's favorite entertainers.

We surprised Justin this past weekend with a trip to Nashville to see one of his "heroes" and we had a great time. Here are some pictures from that day in the city. Most were taken at the memorial downtown for all sorts of servicemen and women. It was a fabulous day!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Psalm of the Lost

Try something different and read the 23rd Psalm in the "negative". Seems funny at first, but, then think of the reality of what it means to the lost.

It is no longer funny.
Psalm 23 revised:

The LORD is not my shepherd, I shall always be in want.
He does not make me lie down in green pastures,
he does not lead me beside quiet waters, he never restores my soul.
He does not guide me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will always fear evil, for you are not with me;
your rod and your staff, they do not comfort me.

You do not prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You do not anoint my head with oil; my cup is empty.
Surely goodness and love will be far from me
all the days of my life, and I will never dwell in the house of the LORD.




A psalm of the lost.

A Day Made Better

ADMB for Adoptaclassroom.org

I got to be one of the people surprising a teacher today! Woohooo!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Do You Ever Feel Holy?

I have had days that I have felt holy. Yes, holy. Me...I have felt holy.

It has been a long time since I have felt holy. I want to feel holy again.

I am not saying that I am holy. I am not holy. But, sometimes I have felt so close to God that I feel holy. It is not my holiness, it is His.

What does holy mean? Apparantly it has a number of meanings...the one that is closest to what I am trying to say I think is the meaning "consecrated: set apart for religious purposes" or "saintly: devoted to the service of God"

God called me into His service. He set me apart.

God is holy, that is, He is set apart. Set apart from all else to be worshipped and glorified. All He calls to Himself are set apart, and through Christ and His sacrifice we are made holy. It is God's holiness that sets us apart. It is God's holiness that I feel when I feel holy. It is when I am closest to Him that I feel set apart. Afterall, the Creator of the Universe knows me by name and knows the number of hairs on my head.

These days I have felt distant. I haven't felt that "holiness". Why? It is because I have forgotten that He set me apart. I have forgotten that He is holy and I should set Him apart in my life. God is holy and therefore I should set Him apart from my everyday activities and spend time with Him. Only Him, for he is holy. When I do that, He blesses me, for I am covered in His Holiness. When I spend time with God, praying and talking to Him alone, His holiness is overwhelming. I can feel His presence and know that He is with me, that He is my protector, my Father and the Lover of my soul.

I can walk in full confidence that He is in control and watching over me. I can enjoy His presence as He intended me to and I can feel holy.

Repost from October 23, 2003

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just a Quick Blurb

This is an update for all who have been following me through this difficult journey I have been traveling. God is merciful and it is to Him that I give all the glory. Something inside me has been changed. Although my heart is still broken, the darkness, and heaviness is nothing but a faint memory. It's just like it was when I had my children. I remember feeling bad, but as time goes on, the recollection of the pain is fading. It's almost like I have been born again...again. I am not the same as I was and things that used to bother me before have become of less concern. I let go...finally. My burden is light because God is carrying the load now. I praise Him. He is my Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in prayer during this difficult time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are We Who We Are Online?

How does one look beyond a public persona?

I am not a person who is in the public eye at all, thank God. But, still, anytime someone sees me outside of my home, I am "in public". So, what does a person see and determine about me by simply seeing me? or watching me? What impression does a person get by reading my blog? Seeing me work? Watching me with friends? Observing me at church? Walmart? The bank?

One thing about these "public forums" and such things in the "age of information" and/or "communication" is that we, people in general, basically communicate only tiny tidbits of information through pixels on an LCD screen. These "writings" convey little about the character/personality of the writer, although some writers do reveal deep personal thoughts and/or feelings, it isn't the whole story. Often in today's world we conclude what a person is like through a few Instant Messages, comments on a forum, and/or a blog post. These things are minimal and in no way encompass the entire being of a person. I wish we would remember that.

It is hard enough sometimes to understand a person we have been acquainted with for years, so why do we feel like we can know "who" a person is by a few simple writings. Writings in pixels...NOT handwriting, where you can sometimes see the intensity or gentleness of a certain stroke that may reveal a degree of accuracy in portraying a real thought or emotion. We can't detect inflection or the tone of a voice through pixels, like we can when actually speaking to people. We can't see facial expressions through pixels.

A carefully crafted word or punctuation does have power. Power to offend, to hurt, to encourage, to inspire. Words typed and displayed on a screen can reveal things about a person, but it is limited. What we read is not WHO that person is. We shouldn't jump to conclusions and assume we know a person when we have had very limited engagement with them.

I'm sometimes amazed at how much we miscommunicate in this era of communication.

I'm sometimes amazed at how ill informed we are in this age of information.

Things aren't always as they seem.

"I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think you think I am."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Freedom

God is alive and He is concerned with every aspect of every life. I can feel Him again. I have been emptied. I have let go...and now I do believe I feel His filling. It's so late and I am so tired that I can't write it all down. But, I have finally been able to let go of the things I have been holding on to..things God told me months ago that He would ask me to let go of. I had to humble myself and ask for forgiveness. When I did...something inside changed. I felt lighter and I began to breathe easier. He told me that freedom would come when I let go and that I needed to trust Him but I couldn't. So, He emptied me so completely until I had no other thing to do but relinquish what I held so dear. In doing so, I am finding myself free from the bondage I alone got myself into.

So much is so clear to me now. I feel life and breath and the things that were hurting me so bad don't hurt anymore. The problems that were there are still there...but they just aren't a problem for me. I realize that I can't change my circumstances. I can't change others. I can only change me and how I respond to the circumstances. I didn't know how to change myself or how to stop responding the way I was. But I kept praying and so many prayer warriors have been carrying me through this. I felt so alone even though I knew I wasn't..and I wasn't. So many have been praying and last night was an incredible time of prayer. Somebody has been doing battle through intercession on my behalf and I want to praise God for you right now. Keep praying. The battle isn't over but I can say this...I feel much stronger and able to fight harder now than before.

I felt like I had lost everything but when I realized I couldn't save it...I accepted the loss. Then, all of a sudden, it just didn't matter anymore. I thought I was losing my best friend for life. Now, it's okay. Because I am focused...and I can only lose what the Father takes from me. It all belongs to Him anyhow.

Now, I am ready to surrender to what He wants instead of what I think I deserve. I have a ways to go but I think I will get there. I have tossed the idols. I can see my Father's face and I can see my reflection in His eyes. I have hope now.

I will go home soon. My prayer now is that I won't lose focus in the midst of my every day life. I want this testimony of God to live on.

Lord, help me to fulfill the committments I have made today...the committment to love you and to love others and put self on a shelf.

Father, show me Your glory!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

He Loves Me

God sent me an angel tonight. Her name is Patti. She understands. She has been in her own dark night of the soul...she knows. She knows exactly where I am. She does not condemn. She does not judge. She heard my hearts cry. She has walked through the darkness in her own life against her own will...but has willingly chosen to walk with me through mine. She told me exactly how I was feeling because she truly understands. She prayed with me. Now..I just need to breathe in the Spirit of Life...and breath out the lies, the hurt, the anger, the anxiety and everything that encompasses the darkness that has been consuming my world. God bless you Patti. She told me that God is underneath me...holding me up...that He is not angry with me, He is not disappointed, and He is healing.

There is so much more but I am so tired. I need to sleep now.

Scents of Joy

I am so blessed in this very moment and I am beginning to feel hope again. God is sending people to me...the least likely people to reach out and show compassion and understanding. Funny, when the ones you always are able to go to aren't there for you anymore...He uses the least likely.

I spoke with a sister in Christ earlier today. She called about a commitment I had made. I told her I had to back out and gave her a brief rundown. I was transparent...and she accepted that. She was so supportive.

Then, I came down stairs to the scents of pumkin muffins baking in the oven. Jeanie was in her typical dinner apron. Pots were steaming with fresh corn on the cob and green beans. Tonight I will enjoy a home cooked family dinner. The smell of the muffins caused a warmth and joy to bubble up inside me that surprised me. It was a level of joy I haven't felt for a long time....muffins. It wasn't just the scent that moved in my heart so much as the heart behind the scent. Somebody who cares is cooking a home cooked meal for me and expects nothing in return....a meal...for me...for me. Although Dave is out of town today...we will still have a family dinner tonight. Me, Jeanie, David, and Marie.

I am sitting on the deck out back as I write this. The air is cool and crisp. My heart is calm and I feel at peace. I pray that this moment will last. I actually feel that some healing is beginning to take place.....muffins. God uses the strangest things. Right now, I am praising God for a nose that works right!

Sorting out the Chaos

I've had some good talks with my friend, Jeanie, here in Atlanta. Sometimes we just talk about stuff and sometimes we talk about my struggles. The good thing about Jeanie is that she doesn't force me to talk about the issue when she thinks I should. She just invites me to have tea on the dock by the lake (which is her back yard...literally). We watch the ducks and turtles and just chat about life in general. Then as it comes up, I start to work through some things...try to dig deeper and discover solutions. We talk about faith and the struggles that come there. During our talks, she is always very careful to reassure me that I am quite normal and my reaction to these circumstances are quite normal. She has helped me to see that I am not being irrational about some things. I thought I was misinterpreting circumstances or making them out to be worse than they are. But, she told me that given the same circumstances, she would have reacted the same way. I think that's what has drawn me to Jeanie. She has a way of making me feel like a respectable human being no matter how messed up I might think I am.

Jeanie has given me some great books to read (to add to my pile of about 20 that I'm reading already). She is so gentle in spirit...calm...soft spoken...and understanding. I wish I could be more like that.

I realize that I am in transition. Transition is hard. There so much unknown and it has all happened so fast. I have enjoyed several years of stability. I have had a home, a framily, and a best friend. We had routines, connections, struggles, blessings....and no matter what came at us...our framily stood through it. My best friendship was solid. Now, all of that stability is being threatened as my son leaves to the Navy Special Forces in a couple weeks. I will be mothering one now. Next May, I will graduate and very likely move to a new location. I am losing my framily...and my home...and other things that are too personal to mention.

I have been hit with many things that I don't want to go into, but all in all I feel like the world that God blessed my family with has been shaken up and is beginning to look more like a pile of rubble. The idea of rebuilding yet again is overwhelming. It took so long and so much work to get this far. Now I find that I need God to restore beauty to these ashes...but I can't seem to get to the place of resting in Him and waiting with Him. My heart has been so broken in the process of all of this. So, my goal is to get to a place of acceptance. I can't change what is so I have to find a way to deal with it or let it kill me. That is what I am trying to do.

The weight is still heavy and I still can't shake the feeling of emptiness and darkness. I read this morning that faith is what keeps us sane and at peace. I have lost my faith...and in the process...I feel as if I am losing my mind and there is no presence of peace. So, I think the first and most important step I need to take is to find my faith again.

For now, I am not making a plan for my future as I am tempted to do. The Holy Spirit is hovering over this darkness, void, emptiness, chaos....just as He did before the world began. He is at peace, waiting for the right moment to create beauty from it all. I need to find my resting place where I can wait in peace with Him. That is what I need to focus on before I can do anything with the rest of this mess. It will truly take a miracle.

That is where I need to be prayed for the most at this time. I truly believe that once I get to this place...everything else will fall in place after that. I have a long way to go. Your prayers will carry me. I think that the prayers of the saints have brought me to this place and they will help me to find hope again.

Confessions and Lamentations II

My world is very dark right now. I have gone on retreat in a desperate attempt to find my place in Christ before I run every single person I love right out of my life. I have suffered losses that nobody...NOBODYcan fathom or understand and I know that more is to come. My peaceful world is in upheaval...an earthquake...a big one. Everything is crumbling around me. I am wounded with little hope of healing these days. I don't need anymore advice. I have heard it all. I have spent the last year plus listening to all the people I care about telling me everything that is wrong with me....my church, my family, and even my closest friends. I have heard about how in equipped I am, insensitive, selfish...all the while making my focus on loving God and loving others. How ironic. I think I missed something. Then, in hopes to balance things out I suppose, they tell me I am such a strong woman of faith. Right. Am I supposed to feel better now? I need to find God's love in all of this. I need His obvious presence in me. I can't find Him. When I do, it's only for a moment, perhaps just enough to give me hope enough to keep hanging on.

"Chin up! Make up your mind to be positive! Cut your losses and move on!" That's what everyone tells me. Easy for people who have deep friendships, spouses, nice homes, and a strong family.

"You are making yourself look pathetic. You have to make up your mind to be strong and have some self respect. You deserve better than that!"

Okay! I am strong now! I am smiling! I am moving forward and cutting my losses! I am going to speak positive! I am going to wear a mask!

Why can't somebody just come into my darkness and grieve with me? Is there anyone? Is there anyone willing to walk with me through this? Any human on the face of the earth who will just hold me and bind my wounds without giving me pointless advice?

It's like when you go to a funeral and try to say the right thing to somebody who has lost a loved one. Just about anything you say is going to make things worse. It's best not to say anything and just let the person cry and grieve. Let them say anything they want...whatever it takes to get the heaviness to lift. Just support them. Love them. Hold them...and don't abandon them.

I am grieving. No, a person didn't die...but relationships have. My life as I knew it is over. Everything has changed and I had no warnings. I am angry at the world and in turn...I have made them all angry and frustrated with me.

I am on retreat. I am praying for a miracle...for God's intervention. So far..not a whole lot has happened. I feel like I am able to think things through more clearly. I feel like I know what I need to do. I know I need to cut my losses...but I am still in the process of losing....a lot. So, I can't cut the losses if they are still in the process of happening. Wounds are still being inflicted.

I see no light at the end of this tunnel. I am weak. I am in the flesh and can't find my way out. I keep reaching for God...only to grasp him for a moment and slip away. I am ineffective in my work, as a mom, and as a student, and worst of all, as a Christian in my current state.

So, I am making myself look pathetic. Well, I feel pretty pathetic. I am just being real. I am being transparent...and as usual...that is unacceptable. I am supposed to paint on a smile and pretend that I have it together when I don't. Sorry, I think that is a very wrong, unhealthy and ungodly idea. I think it's why so many people are on medication these days...including Christians. It's what I have been doing for quite some time now...and why I have found myself in this place of darkness. Yes Ellen, I am in the dark night of the soul.

God save me.

I write all of this in hopes that anyone who reads it will cry out to God in my behalf. I can't fix things. I have to accept them and at this time, I find my heart broken in several pieces and bleeding profusely. I have no strength. When I begin to feel healing...another wound is inflicted. I have nothing left in me that will allow me to accept my circumstances. I am unhealthy and I know it. I need a miracle. I need love, not judgment and condemnation. I know I am wrong. I have confessed that. I just don't have the capacity at this time to figure out how to get from where I am to where I need to be. Please pray for me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Transparency and Magic Tape

I used to believe in transparency. Now, I live in fear of it. I have always been an open and trusting person. Now, I struggle to remain that way. I feel myself falling from grace as a result. The thoughts in my head are rarely pleasant anymore. The once optomistic, happy go lucky, spirit-filled me is fading and an empty shell is all that is left. I pray that this season will soon be over. I pray diligently for God to move. I wait and hope with what little faith remains.

The tape in my head (the parts I'm willing to reveal) is a recording of church members, friends, family...loved ones....LOVED ones. Over and over, as I battle with scripture and the positive things I can get out, over and over, as I praise God and worship and continue to try to live an obedient life in spite of all that is happening to me, I battle thoughts, memories, and work to bind wounds that continue to be injured. I have never been so broken in my life. I suppose I can praise God for this too.

Day after day I am being pummelled with continuous rejection that only gets worse as I slip deeper into despair. Who would want to be around me now? I know I don't want to be. But as I have said to others recently, I don't want to be around myself. I keep trying to get away from me, but everywhere I go...I AM THERE!

This year has been especially difficult for me...I don

Monday, September 08, 2008

Confession and Lamentation

God days are a rarity for me these days. I guess that's why the Sisters have become a solo act. I am struggling through a time in the desert. I am a proud mom who has seen many successes over the last several years and in a few weeks I will see my firstborn off to the Navy Special Forces. I should be on top of the clouds! But, instead I find myself being swallowed up with darkness. Warfare is on and lately, I feel like I am losing the battle. I am just thankful that I know the war has already been won and this season will pass as all the others. I have been overcome with selfishness and lonliness. God wants me to let go of things I hold so dear and I can't. I can't trust Him...if only I had the faith of a mustard seed right now.

I have suffered much heartbreak this year and it just keeps coming. This I know is a time of emptying before the filling. I am praying that this trial will be like the others...like birthpains that will soon be a faded memory once the blessing arrives. Sometimes, I worry that this time there won't be a blessing...but, God has never let me down in the past and I know He is in the eye of this hurricane in my life. I need to be like Peter. I need to stop thinking so I can stop sinking. I need to focus on the Lover of my soul and just run to Him. I need to be so focused that I will walk across the stormy waves as if they were solid ground....but lately...I just think and sink.

Today started out as a wonderful day in the Lord. I felt the heaviness of depression lift from me if only for a brief time. As I felt light and hope again...the test came and I failed miserably. Will I ever get over myself enough to testify to God's grace again? Where is my witness now? Where is my testimony? How will I ever get through this? What is wrong with me?

I called a friend tonight who has put up with all my emotional garbage faithfully for the last 8 years. God has a huge reward waiting for this friend who has done nothing but deal with my grief...and done it so lovingly. I wish there was some way I could repay her for all her kindness.

She told me to go home (I was up to no good lol). And to write down anything I could think of to praise God for in my journal. She didn't say it couldn't be a public journal. So, you get to journey with me as I seek God's presence in the power of praise...so here it goes...

Father,

I praise you for your forgiveness and mercy more than anything right now. I am so undeserving of my position at the right hand of God in Christ. I praise You because you died and gave me the opportunity to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. You live in me. Because of the shed blood of Your One and Only, I am called the righteousness of God. I praise you because I complain and fail constantly but you just keep loving me. I praise you because you never leave me and even though it seems you are so far away...and even sometimes that you don't care at all, I know that's a lie because you promise to never leave nor forsake me. Your word says that You loved me first! You knew me and loved me even before you knit me in my mother's womb and I am created in your image! I want everyone to see that image. I have a place above the angels you send to protect me. Oh Father, I have no right to ask you for anything more, yet you hear my cries and gather my tears. I make idols out of the gifts you give me and you stand with open arms waiting for this prodigal to return to you. You celebrate and lavish more blessings upon me that I do nothing to earn or deserve.

I praise you, Lord for people like Dave Gushee who has never failed to be an encourager. I praise you for the phone call today from a lady I hardly know who called just to tell me that you have laid me on her heart to pray for me. Then you led her to call me and tell me that. Why? Why did she call me? Why now?

I praise you for the church in Franklin that has been so amazing during this time of trial, the messages you have been giving and the connections you have made. I praise you for the work you are doing at the church where I work. I praise you for pastor Steve and Marsha and the messages they have been getting to me. I praise you that I got to meet pastor and his wife last week and tell them how much you are ministering and speaking to me through the messages. Christ in me...the hope of glory. Lord, I want to understand...to fully grasp Christ in me the way that you intend for me to. I don't want to miss it...not one little bit.

Father, the hardest thing to praise you for right now is this time of emptying. I think this has been the most difficult time of growth ever...but I praise you because even though my faith is so weak right now...even though darkness surrounds me. I know you are hiding somewhere on the other side of that cloak...with treasures I can't comprehend..to be lavished at just the right time...when YOU think I'm ready to have them. I know I'm far from being there. I know I am not empty yet. I still have so much of self keeping me away from the filling that awaits. I have to be completely empty. I want to be (did I really say that?). I don't want you to fill me until me is completely out of the way. I want no part of self to take away from the glory that Christ is in me. I keep pushing Christ aside and reaching for other idols.

I praise You because you don't give up on me. I praise you that even at this very moment, as I sense darts of doubt, lonliness, pain, jealousy, envy, depression and confusion flying at me...you still stand strong and firm. You have such a hold on my heart. Everything is a lesser thing compared to you so how is it I ever worship anything above you? How is it I ever want to take my eyes off of You?

What is wrong with me? You made it known to me today that You have not abandoned me and I rejoiced...then in the first moment of the first trial I turn from you. I push you aside and placed my biggest idol on the throne...me. If you are not angry with me. If you are not hurt that I have abandoned my first love...then what right do I ever have to be angry or hurt by anyone who hurts, or turns away from me? How can I ever feel alone or empty if I am filled with and abiding in You? I can't! That's how I know I am not allowing the fullness of Christ to consume me and I am not abiding.

Father, I praise You because You are Lord over my emotions. I give them to you. I can't do this without You. I can't let go of anything or anyone. I can't do anything apart from the vine. I can't even abide in You without You abiding in me. Help me to abide. Father, show me Your glory. Reveal to me all Your hidden treasures that I might see how truly blessed I am. I am in such bondage...to things that are not of You. I want to be in bondage only to You. But I can do nothing on my own. Oh, Father help me to surrender once and for all...all of it. Please take it from me and help me to find peace and rest in You.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Video: Toe Fungus Foot Soak

Katie just had to get this moment on her camera phone and created a video.

As a food phobic I am quite grossed out by many of the smells this framily creates while cooking. Today, Justin treated himself to something with quite a lot of garlic and/or cheese or whatever that horrid concoction was.

This was payback!

The stink may linger for days! Basically I bring to a boil apple cider vinegar and add the herbs in as it cools. The vinegar is pretty potent! LOL

Anyway, I ended up with a minor toe fungus at some point last year. Yeah, I know, too much information! But, when the podiatrist said "we'll take off the nail and see what grows back in" I decided that there must be a better way.

A friend from church told me about Long Creek Herbs and the Nail Fungus Soak. I started treatment in May and this fungus is clearing up. I ran out of the soak and had to cook some more. This video is what transpired this evening.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cookies Gone Wrong

My friend had been given a gift awhile back and passed it along to me the other day. She didn't think she would ever do anything with it. It is dry cookie batter in a Peanuts collector's bowl. The illustration on the bowl appears below and it isn't it cute?

That's just too funny! LOL

So, last night I made the cookies. It was a disaster. I mistakenly added two eggs when it was supposed to be one. But, no problem, I caught that before I mixed all the ingredients together, so there I was scooping out the egg yolk, which went ok. Then I failed miserably at scooping out all the albumen, I mean, how do you "measure" that? I went ahead and mixed everything up and enjoyed some of the batter. That was delish! So then, Katrina puts the cookies on a cookie sheet and placed them in the oven. I said "I don't know if they will turn out".

So, about 15 minutes later we get them out. Justin was excited. I tried one first. It was horrid! LOL Really spongy! LOL *gag* *sputter* *gag*

So Justin tried one too and said "I've had pound cake in an MRE that was better!" LOLOL

We laughed and waited for Tif to come home. When she did Katrina said "shhhhhh, let her have one". So, as expected, as soon as she saw the freshly baked cookies still cooling on the top of the stove, she grabbed and ate. We all paused and waited for her reaction.

She crinkled up her face and declared "these are repulsive!" LOL

I got a great bowl out of the deal though!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Janeway Name Plate

Yay! Today the UPS man delivered my "Janeway" license name plate.

This is what I purchased for myself with my gift money.

I immediately installed it in the appropriate place and I believe it looks pretty good!

"Janeway" is the name I gave my new Honda Civic. Kind of "star trekish" and I always liked Captain Janeway, so it fits I think.

Anyway, there you go...not the greatest pic because it was taken with a phone camera, but it works.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

About Ma

On a Merry-go-round is a blog I have been following lately. Donna writes about everyday observations of life and often can bring to the surface things that a person can easily overlook and dismiss without much thought. Her style of writing sometimes requires more than one read through because she packs many thoughts into a small space, but usually they can put a smile on my face.

One of her recent posts, Laughter, bettern' snuff, sparked some comments from me about my sister and my mom. I want to share about my mom here. In a comment reply Donna said "You want to know how to get to know things about someone right away? Ask questions of the person about his or her mother...". I had to reply with this: (and it's not even Mother's Day!)

When I grow up I want to be like my mom.

She always tells me everything will be okay. She has always told me this, and she has always been right. She has this quality about her that makes all my friends want to call her when they are down because she can just make you feel better no matter what. It's a gift.

She has patience like I can only imagine having.

She beat cancer, not once, but twice, and really never let us see her sweat. I was way more a wimp through that ordeal! She has more strength and fortitude than some of the Olympians people have been admiring this week.

She loves to laugh and to give me big hugs.

She sacrifices so much time and effort for other people it is amazing. She housesits, dog sits, babysits, and even went once a week to a jail visit a friend who was wrongly accused and falsely imprisoned for a year. She visited my grandmother, her mother in law, daily for years until her death. She loves as unconditionally as any human can.

Yes, when I grow up I want to be like my mom.

I hope I get home to visit her soon. I miss my mom.

We will laugh!

I really hope that I have learned and aquired some of the character of my mom. She is a beacon of optimism (well, I don't so much have that going on), has a natural love for people (I think I have some of that) and has a servant's heart (I can do this, but there is room for improvement). She is one of the hardest working people I know, and that is AFTER retirement! (I have a good work ethic as well, so I guess I have learned in some ways to be like mom!)

I am so blessed and can not fathom why God gave me the mom and dad He did! He's just showing He loves me! It bloggles the mind!