June 26, 2015

Are things looking dark and hopeless?

I've written another post for Beulah Girl!  Let me encourage you to click on the image below and read it.  I attempt to answer this question: What should we do when things look dark and hopeless? 

After you read the title of the post, you'll know exactly what I think we should do...

I'm specifically referring to those times in life when the wind and the waves seemingly attempt to overtake us.  In moments like that, we cry out, "Lord! What should I do?!"

Peter had such a moment in Matthew 14:22-33.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

So, what should we do when things look dark and hopeless?  Well, the above passage shows us what NOT to do.  Do not doubt your Savior.  He has a plan! He is in control!

Trust in Jesus!

Please click on the image above or the link below to read more about why we should trust in Jesus and how this is manifested in my life.  My prayer, always, is that you will read what I have written and be encouraged!

Today's forget-me-not: Why I Trust in God When Things Look Hopeless

June 12, 2015

my story about a Precious kitty

In the summer of the year 2000, a certain black cat, about two years of age, adopted our back porch as her new home.

My black kitty on the right, obviously, and the kitty we got a year later on the left.
This picture shows the sliding glass door to the porch where I first found this sweet cat.
I had just gotten married a year earlier and moved to Georgia from Indiana. The move was emotionally harder than I expected, and I was still battling homesickness. Back in the Midwest, I had left behind a cat I was particularly fond of. It was one of many things I was missing after moving south with my new husband.  So when this black cat made her entrance into my life, it felt good to have a feline available to hold and pet and cuddle again.  She made me smile with her sweet demeanor. She made me feel a little less lonely. It was amazing how friendly she was!

I began to spend a good bit of time out on the back porch where she would hop into my lap and purr while I stroked her ebony fur.  I would whisper to her, "You are just so precious! Oh, so precious!"

I became very attached to her, and I wanted desperately to make her our indoor kitty. I was afraid something awful would happen to her the longer she remained outdoors. Unfortunately, the contract of the town home we were renting specifically stated, "No animals."

Despite this obstacle, I begged my husband to call the landlord and ask him if he wouldn't mind making an exception for us. I just knew this would work. It had to! I was certain God wanted me to have this cat. So, reluctantly, hubby called the property owner.  And, surprisingly, he said we could take in the stray cat!

Upon hearing this great news, we took in the most precious black cat anyone could ever meet.  In fact, that's what my husband suggested we name her, Precious, since every time I looked at her that word would escape my lips.

Loving her was so easy because she loved us back twofold. For fifteen years, she was a beautiful addition to our family.

Sadly, on Thursday, June 4th, we had to make the decision to put Precious to rest as she most likely had some type of cancer which was evidenced by a big tumor near her throat.  She was obviously in pain, and we couldn't let that go on.  Although it grieved me greatly, it was the least I could do for this precious kitty who had brought me such comfort when I was hurting. Now, it was my turn to provide relief to pain as she had done for me so many years ago.

And when I said my goodbye as I held her in my arms, I said, "Thank you."  Those two words, I uttered them over and over again as I stared into her calm eyes while listening to her purr. I think she heard me. I think she understood.  It was as if her purpose in this life had been accomplished.

Thank you, Lord, for sending me this angel in my hour of need.  I look forward to seeing her again one day.

Today's forget-me-not: my Precious

June 5, 2015

Footprints on the Heart

Last Saturday, I ran in another 5K for pregnancy and infant loss awareness (PAIL).

The organization that put together this event is called Footprints on the Heart and is located in Euharlee, Georgia. 

Created in 2012, this organization's "goal is to raise awareness, and education, for pregnancy and infant loss in [the] local community."  At some point, the ladies who created Footprints on the Heart "hope to create a non-profit organization that offers various services/resources to those who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss."  And I have no doubt they will be successful in their endeavors!

This 5K run and 1M walk event in Euharlee was fantastic!  You could tell they really put their hearts and souls into creating an occasion where baby loss moms could come together to remember and to honor their lost children. I was proud to wear my remembrance t-shirt and run for Angel and babies lost too soon at this event.

I ran a great race, and I finished at just above 35 minutes. I was fourth in my age group out of nine.
Footprints on the Heart is really a great endeavor! One of the things this organization does is create infant gowns for stillborn babies out of donated wedding dresses. 

I plan on donating my dress at some point!
If you can support this organization in any way, shape, or form, let me encourage you to do so!  They work tirelessly to spread awareness for PAIL and to create opportunities for us to remember our children.  For example, at this recent event, they had a list of over 500 names of those babies lost too soon, and they honored them by reading each and every name aloud before having a balloon release!

The long list of names is hanging on the wall.
I can't tell you how choked up I got upon hearing Angel's name read aloud...

Angel is number 299.
For the balloon release, I wrote Angel's name on the balloon, and then the names of those babies whose mommas I somehow know personally, I wrote those on an attached card.

There's just something so emotional about a balloon release to honor those lost to us. When I let go of Angel's balloon and watched it fly away, a flood of emotions overwhelmed me. I couldn't help but shed tears as I thought of the day she "flew" from me and into the arms of my Heavenly Father.  And as I watched her balloon go up amidst the others released that day, I thanked God for the short time I had with her and felt assured I would be with her again one day.  

A priceless moment I will always treasure in my heart.
Pregnancy and infant loss awareness is an important cause!  Across the developed world, the statistics are startling:
  • An estimated 500,000 miscarriages happen each year
  • 1 in every 148 babies are stillborn
  • 3 in every 1000 babies die shortly after birth
And behind each of these losses is a hurting mom. A grieving father.  Heartbroken siblings and extended family members.  What do you do when someone you know has lost a baby? I wrote a post about that not too long ago, but let me encourage you to consider supporting organizations like Footprints on the Heart.  They can help answer that question of how to respond when someone you know experiences a loss, and if you are the one who has endured a loss, they can help you grieve and remember that precious baby.  

Today's forget-me-not: our babies lost too soon

May 29, 2015

An Inspired Teacher

I am once again linking up with blogger and author of Spiritual Whitespace Bonnie Gray to respond to another of her weekly writing prompts. Here is the question she poses this week:  What inspires you?

Beloved Brews Linkup

When I looked up the word "inspired," I found this definition: "Inspired - aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, as if by supernatural or divine influence."

So, if something inspires, if it is a true inspiration, it should animate you and move you to act.

Now, the question is, what inspires ME? The answer is simple, really. I am inspired by whatever the Holy Spirit brings to my attention or lays on my heart. Because of this reality, I am inspired by my many things as the Holy Spirit lives in me, and we are in constant communication.  As a result, I draw inspiration from a wide variety of undertakings  - so long as they are prompted by Him.  

Right now, I'm packing up my classroom at the only school I've ever taught at. For twelve years, I delivered instruction to over 1,500 students at this institution.  But in the past few years, I began to feel uninspired - stagnate. If I were a car, it would appear that I had stalled out and needed either a new battery or some gas in the tank.  

Something wasn't right.  

But then, I received what I believe to have been an inspired idea from the Spirit, Himself: I should change schools.  I should teach at the local high school closest to my family and my friends - the school in my local community. I should go and invest in those lives.  

This plan made perfect sense!  In an instant, I was inspired.  Excited, I put in for a transfer, and after two years, God opened a door.  And here I am - inspired - packing up my classroom with a renewed sense of direction and vigor for teaching.

What inspires me?  The Holy Spirit does.  He arouses my passion and animates my soul.  He moves me to act in ways I would not expect - in ways that, although they may be scary and difficult - will benefit me and mine and many more than if I had not been inspired to act. 

I know some of my colleagues think I'm crazy, but I would say, just call me inspired.  

And as I sit in my empty classroom reflecting on the twelve years I invested in this school, I find myself looking forward to the next twelve (God willing) and to what the Spirit has planned for me at my new location. #inspired

Today's forget-me-not:  

May 22, 2015

Cancer Sucks! Here's How to Make it Suck a Little Less

Have you ever heard of Multiple Myeloma?

Here is a little bit about this second most common blood cancer from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) website:

The disease starts in the plasma cells in bone marrow. When the plasma cells become malignant, they create a defective protein that can grow out of control and crowd out the normal cells that help fight infection and disease. When the bad protein cells move into bone, they cause tumors. If the malignant cells form a tumor, it is called myeloma. If multiple tumors are formed, the disease is called multiple myeloma. 

Cancer sucks! But it sucks most when it directly affects you or your loved ones. My friend Jaimee's mom lives with Multiple Myeloma, so she can attest to this. 

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you've heard me mention Jaimee before. She's one of my besties and my running buddy. So when Jaimee found out the MMRF hosts an annual 5K to raise funds for research and honor those with Multiple Myeloma, we signed up! 

The first time we ran this race together was back in October of 2013. If they had one in 2014, we were not aware of it, but I got a flyer in the mail about the one for this year, so I was quick to let Jaimee know about it. We made plans to run it in honor of her mom - Diana - who battles this cancer every day. I was excited to run this one again with my friend!

It was a beautiful day! 
There was a good crowd gathered to run. Before the race began, everyone had an opportunity to sign a board honoring the person or persons they were running for.  Jaimee got to sign her mom's name to the board.

This is a great 5K! It was run very well, and things went off without a hitch. I was able to run it in 35:30, and I felt great afterwards!  The best part about this 5K was being there to support Jaimee and run in honor of her mom.

As my friend said after upon looking at our post race pic, "This ain't pretty but neither is cancer!"
Readers, if you have a friend/family member battling cancer or if you have a friend who has a family member with this disease (like I do), let me ask you to find a way to encourage him or her. Find a way to show your support.  Run a race, complete a walk, or donate money to cancer research.  Or something!  In this way, you can make cancer suck a little less by just letting these heroes know they are not alone.  

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity" (Proverbs 17:17).

Cancer does suck, but cancer sufferers, survivors, and those that love them, you rock!  You are an inspiration - Diana and Jaimee!

Today's forget-me-not: Those living with the reality of cancer.

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May 15, 2015

Making Time for Unfinished Business

This week, I'm participating in a linkup with blogger and author Bonnie Gray.

I've written a couple posts where I talk about the impact Bonnie's book, Spiritual Whitespace, has had in my life.  It is a MUST read for every Christian lady!

In her book, Bonnie talks about the importance of resting in Jesus:

"Rest is not a lifestyle. Rest is a living journey - a relationship - into 
our most vulnerable places. With Jesus."

Bonnie teaches her readers to look at rest from a variety of angels.  In other words, resting in Jesus can look like many things! I wrote a blog post not too long ago about how spending time with our Lord can take on a variety of shapes.  Resting in Jesus is also like this.

In her book, Bonnie talks about four ways we can rest in Jesus - what she calls whitespace "drinks":

Enjoy a Creative Cappuccino. Feed your soul with a delicious espresso of creative whitespace poured into the artistic you, etching artful patterns of rest onto your soul.

Enjoy an Adventure Latte. Feed your soul with a generous shot of God’s rest steamed with his presence, sweetened with your pick of adventure for added flavor.

Enjoy a Friendship Mocha. Feed your soul with a sweet treat of friendship is mixed in with soothing relational rest, topped with the whipped cream topping of an open heart.

Enjoy a Soul-Care Espresso. Feed your soul with a freshly ground espresso shot of intimate rest, hand-pulled by the heart of Jesus, just for you.

For this week's linkup on Bonnie's blog, she asks her readers to write in response to the following question:

Which of the four elements of spiritual whitespace is your soul craving the most today: creativity, adventure, community, or soul care?

Me? Right now? I am craving a creative cappuccino.  Specifically, I need time to paint.

Every year, I paint a ceramic piece to placed in my Christmas village.

Each piece represents a year my husband and I have spent a Christmas together.  But there was one year out of our now fifteen years of marriage that I neglected to paint a piece.  It was the year of my miscarriage; the year we lost Angel.

For the longest time, I told myself that was fitting.  It was a year of loss, so it made sense that the year of 2010 would lose representation in my village scene.  The missing piece would be a symbol of the terrible loss we experienced that year.

But then I found this piece - an unpainted bridge.

When I saw it, I felt God's Spirit move within me.  I felt as if He was saying that this piece should be my 2010 village piece; this piece should be Angel's piece.

Bridges symbolize transition and change.  They represent transformation and rebirth.

Angel was that for me.  Her brief life forever changed me (read more on that in this post: "Because Angel Lived"), and that change should be marked, should be respected and acknowledged, by something in my Christmas village.  And that something will be this bridge.

And right now, every time I see that unfinished arch , I yearn for time to paint it!  My soul screams out to make time to acknowledge what God did in my life through Angel by painting this memento and ensuring it holds a place in this Christmas' village scene.

I need to make space in my life to complete this project.  Spiritual whitespace where I paint and praise Jesus for the little life that was my Angel.

It is time to make time!  No more excuses!  As Bonnie says, "Give yourself permission to enjoy rest.  Not because you have to - but because you want to. And God wants it for you too."

Today's forget-me-not: It is important to make time for rest - ALL kinds of rest.

"Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their [the Israelites'] example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11).

May 8, 2015

Beth's Rebirth Day

Dear Beth,

I'm writing you this letter because Sunday, April 26th, is a day you will want to remember. However, because you are so young (8), you will most likely forget the details of today, so I'm writing them down for you.  The day started off as any normal Sunday would for us, with church, but it is what you told me after church that ended up making this day so special...

I had just finished teaching Sunday school, and I went to check on you: your Sunday school class was staying after church to plant flowers around the grounds, and you were staying to help.

I found you in your regular classroom, and you spotted me peeking in at you.  When you saw me, you quickly ran to me and pulled me aside - your eyes were all aglow and you had a huge smile on your face.  You said, "Momma, I have to tell you something. I asked Jesus into my heart today!"

Shock. Joy. Wonder.  All these things suddenly flooded my soul.  I responded, "Really?!" I hugged you, offered congratulations, and said, "When I get done with my VBS meeting, you'll have to tell me all about it." You nodded, still smiling from ear to ear, as you went back to your class.

As I walked upstairs to my meeting, my thoughts were all about your smile and that look in your eyes. I could swear I saw something there that hadn't been there before.  Joy? Wisdom? Pride?  All of the above?  It was like you had a spiritual light-bulb moment that day!  And your first thought when you saw me was to share it with me.

At the VBS meeting, I spoke with our children's pastor.  He told me that during children's worship, you and a friend went forward to pray. He said that you approached an adult who was nearby and told him that you wanted to ask Jesus into your heart. That children's worker lead you in prayer, and he told our children's pastor what you did.

When I picked you up later that day, I took you out to a swing overlooking the nearby reservoir.  As we sat swinging and looking out at the water, I asked you to tell me what had happened in children's church. You told me your story which matched what I had been told by our children's pastor, so in an effort to try to determine if you really knew what you had just done, I asked you a variety of questions:

Why did you ask Jesus into your heart? So I could go to heaven some day.  Did you need to do this? Yes. Why? Because Jesus died for our sins. Are you a sinner? Yes. Where is Jesus now? In my heart.

I asked you some other questions that I can't quite remember, but I recall thinking that you seemed to understand the magnitude of what you had just done.  I tried to express to you how important this decision was. I told you to write down the date so you would always remember when you had given your life to Jesus. So that afternoon, you went to the store with your daddy and got a journal.  You wrote down what you did, and you also wrote down what you had learned in Sunday school that day.

My dear, Beth. On Sunday, April 26, 2015, you made a decision in faith for Jesus.  I'm so proud of you! Your life will be so much better for having put your trust in our Lord. I pray you grow in your relationship with Jesus.  Remember, keep your eyes on Him! You'll have times in your life when you get distracted, you will stumble, and you will sin, but know, He will never leave you nor forsake you.  He is yours, and you are His. Run the race of life with Him, my oldest daughter.  This is a decision you will never regret!

Today's forget-me-not: April 26, 2015 - Beth's Rebirth Day    
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