A4821D0F-284A-445D-B6B3-756D831B945FOkay, so you all know how much I love music and most of my feelings come from the songs I hear on the radio, mainly, Way FM, sometimes Klove. I was recently in the car and heard “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns and the song literally made me cry. I didn’t realize how much I hold in and internalize at times because I take on other’s people’s burdens, along with carrying my own!

This past year has made my entire being weary! Not in a bad way because all things are good and all situations are meant as a life lesson.

As we all know, my prodigal daughter came home last April and it’s been a whirlwind of activity and a flurry of emotions on any given day!! She returned “home” so to speak and in May my husband was ordained so he could perform the wedding of Olivia and Nick. Then in July Olivia was having some issues and had surgery, then in August Olivia announced she was expecting her first baby! In December, I “retired” from a job I adored and we (my husband and I) helped Olivia and Nick buy a home. Around the first of 2017 Olivia was experiencing some complications with her pregnancy and after a small scare of “her leukemia may be back” we found she has multi-factorial anemia and will seek treatment lifelong. Thank God it is something we can maintain – but the months and treatments that followed were a bit scary. She had one bad reaction to the iron – which sent a team of nurses running her way – and I was shocked at how calm I remained during this episode. In April, our Little Man (as I call him) arrived and I am over the moon with the love I feel for these three kids – along with my wonderful husband. And, in all this activity, my parents and I have take HUGE steps in reconciling our relationship. All good things, and all wonderful joys of life.

So why doI feel weary and worry? Why do I feel physically drained and almost empty at times? All through Olivia’s turmoil I was continuing to take care of my house, my husband, finish up my two year Bible course on Monday nights, Bible Study with the ladies on Tuesday morning, lunches with friends, trying to establish a new career for myself….I was feeling completely exhausted, couldn’t really focus on anything.  I went to the doctor in April as I felt maybe my auto-immune disorder was manifesting itself into ANOTHER auto-immune disorder – as these diseases tend to do.  It was during these tests and doc visits I learned I need to slow down.

I graduated from my two-year Discipleship Class in May and the day after that class was over (or at least one day during that week) I slept almost all day. Just exhausted.  And then I just stopped.

In the last six weeks I began to wonder as I felt my spiritual life was suffering from all the stress, commotion, joys – just life in general if I was becoming someone I didn’t want to be. Was I letting God down, and I was almost embarrassed to ask my accountability partners about this situation I felt. Instead of asking anyone, I began the countdown to my Annual Beach Babes Vacation of 2017!!! This vacation would be the renewal I needed. The time to Rest, Reflect, Renew!!

Then, the guilt started to kick in. My husband is awesome, my kids are doing well, Little Man is completely adorable! Why do I need to get away? Why am I wanting to escape? Then it all hit me like a ton of bricks. The reasons – if I am to be honest – fear of Olivia and Nick walking away from me because they “don’t like something I say or do”, maybe messing up and my husband wanting a divorce, losing friends because I’m not good enough, just giving up because of something from my past creeping in and Satan creating doubt! (It’s a daily cross I pick up). Being “there” for everyone and everything, never wanting to tell anyone “no”…it’s exhausting at times and taking a toll on my mental state!

I get worried, weary, fearful, I may quit reading my Bible, or doing a Bible study, but I keep listening to my music and praying – sometimes hourly, sometimes, moment to moment. I pray for strength, comfort, guidance, patience, empathy, heart softening, discernment, self-control, etc. On one of my many traveling sessions from here to there to everywhere, I heard this song…

Oh, my soul, Oh, how you worry (daily)
Oh, how you’re weary, from fearing you lost control (have I lost it yet??)
This was the one thing, you didn’t see coming
And no one would blame you, though
If you cried in private (in the shower always), if you tried to hide it away, so no one knows (my husband always does know)
No one will see, if you stop believing (my heart will know though)

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know (I’m so glad for HIM!)
One more day, He will make a way (He always leads my way!)
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down (and not pick it up again?)
‘Cause you’re not alone

Here and now
You can be honest
I won’t try to promise that someday it all works out
‘Cause this is the valley
And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones
And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone
This much I know
(thank you for this promise of renewal)

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
I’m not strong enough, I can’t take anymore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
And my shipwrecked faith will never get me to shore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
Can He find me here
Can He keep me from going under

Oh, my soul
You’re not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone
Oh, my soul, you’re not alone

I have a hard time, even now, remembering I’m not alone. Even in my prayer corner I’m not alone. He is always with me. Such a comfort to know that God knows when I’ve been worrying, anxious, stubborn, ungrateful, too emotional to get out of bed at times.

In the weeks since my beach vacation, I haven’t had a day of rest yet, I am plugging along meeting the demands of life but, I’m learning even when I am feeling this way, and beating up on myself, first and foremost God sees me and knows my heart. My heart is always with Him first, my husband second, and everyone else comes in third, fourth, fifth, etc. I don’t need to feel guilty for feeling tired, for feeling weary, for worrying.   So I take a deep breath, pray for strength and keep moving.  And when I look at photos of the Little Man, or read the note my husband leaves on the fridge every morning, I am refreshed.  I don’t feel so weary.  I know I have a future with a husband who loves me, and a chance to be a great Mom and Mimsey to the kids.  I get to see a better part of me for who God gave me to bless.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you; don’t be anxious, because I am your God. I keep on strengthening you; I’m truly helping you. I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.

I need to let go of my fears, God does tell me not to borrow trouble, I need to let it all go and rest in Him first. My thoughts need to be in Him and Him alone and all else will be revealed in His time. My life, my worries, my weariness, it’s all in His hands. Therefore, I am not alone and can pray my fears away. He’s got this. I can be weary.  He’s got me.   I can be renewed.  He is my Provider. I can be restored.  He is my Protector. He will always show me the way. Oh, my soul, I am not alone.

Matthew 28:20 …And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

What a difference a year makes! This time last year I was basking in the glow of celebrating my first New Year’s with my then fiancé. I was hoping for that phone call from my daughter and I was wishing my family could see they HURT people and apologize for specific things that had transpired over the 2014-2015 year.
Well, now I sit looking out my home office window and thinking about the past year. I was married in January of 2016 and it was the one of the most WONDERFUL days of my life. We had our closest friends and family there – minus my daughter – which was the only sadness to the day. My Matron of Honor – or Best Gal, as I prefer to call her – picked me up, we got out hair done, picked up lunch and got ready together watching the Hallmark channel. When we were both dressed, we stepped out onto the balcony of our room and watched people come to the mansion, the snow making a fresh blanket in the sunlight.
Our honeymoon in Colorado was awesome, and I enjoyed every moment of every day – fresh snow, the real fireplace, visiting the hot springs, the train ride to the top of a mountain with a picnic lunch in the snow, and lastly, a beautiful sleigh ride to a cabin in the woods with dinner and another sleigh ride back to the car.
We celebrated Easter together and one week the later, the most amazing phone call from my daughter and her then fiancé. Fast forward to one month later and I’m watching my daughter come down a staircase and marry her guy with my husband performing the ceremony.
Fast forward four months later and we find out we are going to be grandparents. Our grandson should be here in late April and I couldn’t be more excited to step into this new role as Mimsy and Opa (personally the names grandma and grandpa were ruined for me, so we looked for Scottish and German names for this honor).
Then, in July I took a trip to the beach with my Best Gal and it was awesome. I didn’t realize how tired I was, or emotionally spent, from the emotional roller coaster I had been on! We ate, slept, read, sat by the pool and floated in the pool, watched the Hallmark channel, and my favorite part was our dinners and walks on the beach every night -talking about our families, past, present and future! I had never taken a trip with a friend, and we agreed – this is a definite annual event! Our trip this year is in June!!!
Fast forward to our mission trip to the Dominican Republic and what a trip that was – my heart was not prepared for the whirlwind of emotions I would experience – while on the trip and since.
Six weeks later I left a job I had for 11.5 years and I’ve spent the past month sleeping, cleaning out closets, rearranging our home office and taking care of me for a while.
Now, here I am looking back over this past year and my heart feels like it could explode! I am blessed beyond belief with a husband, kids, three great friends and a future grandson I cannot wait to meet! I watch my daughter and her pregnant belly and she does things I did when I was pregnant, her mannerisms are so me, and I can’t help but smile that she is getting through her emotional roller coaster of past hurts and healing before her son gets here.
While this year has been full of happiness and wonderful blessings, it’s also been full of sadness at times. I recently talked to a friend and learned you can be full of joy but still sad.
I’m sad at times because I see other women don’t need or want good, Christian friends like I do. I would love more women friends to talk about life with – what’s going on in my marriage, with my kids, my family – when I was in a table group it was so nice to talk about life and have others validate how you feel, or question your motives. I see my daughter struggling – and a friend’s daughter struggling with the same issues. I wonder why we aren’t trying harder to bond.
I’m sad because I see my daughter and son-in-law struggling with issues I had as a young married person, and I wish I could solve their problems for them, but know I can’t. Their journey is their journey but I can certainly be here to love, support and listen.
I’m sad at times because sometimes I feel totally invisible to the universe. I’ve been gone from a volunteer program for three months and only one person has called to ask if I was o.k. No, I didn’t leave the program to see if anyone would call, I knew no one would, I left because I needed time to think, to grow myself and really take a spiritual break. I just think it’s weird you can be “so loved” and “needed” yet you are gone and no one notices.
So, I took these issues a Christian Sister and we talked and I learned I’m not the only one who feels this way! So, if we ARE the church and we are to BE the church, why oh why would people feel lonely?
At times, I think it’s because people are so wrapped up in their own “stuff” they do not take time to reach out. I know my own conscious is clear because I am a follow upper! If I know you are hurt, scared, ill, down, having a struggle I follow up with you – text, call or email and make sure life is okay!
I know no two people are exactly alike, and I know I am way more sensitive than most people. My friend told me I am “sensitive to the spirit” which makes me feel more deeply and it was okay to question the who, what, why and how’s of life.
So, I look to 2017 as a new opportunity waiting to grow me. I know I want to serve in different areas of church – ones that will grow me and give me an opportunity to meet new people and maybe make a new friend or two! My daughter, a mutual friend, and I are going to start a new adventure of attending a women’s Bible study at church and I’m excited about the people we may meet and the new friendships we all three may be blessed with. I am excited about my first wedding anniversary with my dear, sweet husband who shows me every day what true, Godly love is all about! I am excited to meet my grandson in April or May, whenever He decides the little guy needs to arrive, celebrating Mother’s Day with my daughter, celebrating the first wedding anniversary of her and her husband in May and I am so looking forward to the beach trip to relax, reflect and renew!
I am ending this year by letting go of the hurts of 2016 and taking what I have learned about different personalities, and the why’s of others and will use that knowledge to form new relationships!
I am ending this year by asking my Lord and Savior to lead me down the right path and be the wife, mother, friend He calls me to be through His word and with His hands guiding all I say and do.
I am ending this year being grateful and thankful to a Savior who loves me with mercy, grace, unconditionally and always reaches His arms to me when I am sad, or need a renewing of the spirit. I am ending this year thanking Him for the husband, kids and friends I have in my life who show me love, compassion, rejoice in the good times and support in the trying times.
I end this year being so full of love and blessings…
To my faithful wordpress readers and friends, I wish you all a blessed new year, thank you for your words of encouragement…

Happy New Year…
In His love and grace,
Teresa
Romans 5:1-5

Today was day one of being a warrior for God in the DR. We traveled to a school and played with the kids. What was great was hearing and seeing the kids yell hola, hola…the teachers didn’t seem thrilled we were there but the kids, they were amazing!!…one girl saw the cross tattoo on my arm and the drawing began. I must have drawn 60 of them in all shapes, sizes and color. We ate lunch at camp, practiced our skit and headed to the church for our princess camp. When we pulled up to the church, there was an older gentleman standing in his doorway and waved and shouted “hola, dios te ama”!! I waved and said it back to him…We had 32 girls and some of their moms stayed. We played a game “juegos” had a historia biblical and started our boxes. What I noticed most is that the moms seemed just as thrilled as the kids. The moms wanted to play the games and listened intently to our skit and lesson.

The language barrier is slightly annoying. The kids – well you can’t tell if they speak English or not. But a sweet girl named Natalie speaks English well and wants to be a doctor. It’s pretty awesome so far, especially having her interpret and teach Spanish to me.

Day 2 was rough. We visited a hospital and the conditions are sad. When you go to the hospital you take your own linens, towels, toilet paper, and if you need it, blood. There is no air conditioning and no ceiling fans. We visited with several families and I was blessed to pray for a young man with dengue virus, a whole room full of ill men and their families. Each man was happy we were there to pray. One of our leaders was praying for a man whose wife was in surgery and he, in turn, started praying for us! What’s truly awesome about the Dominicans is that they truly have a heart for Jesus…more heart then what I’ve personally witnessed in America.

Day 3
What makes me sad, is that it seems, the women here are so repressed. We saw a 14 year old girl who was married with two kids. The women seem to have one job in most of the villages…raising their kids and sweeping. I wonder how many of these young girls had dreams of something more. Or is this the life they are completely happy with? Would I be happy raising kids and grandkids…if that was all I knew would I wish for something more? I’m not 100% sure. Everyone here seems so happy and they care for each other like a “Leave it Beaver” society. I adore it. I definitely want to expand my Spanish so I can have a better, non broken type of conversation!!!

Day 4

Today we visited the children’s hospital. While there is no air conditioning there are ceiling fans. There are 6-8 beds in every room. Again, the same, you bring your own linens, towels, blood…no hospital gowns in either hospital.

I got to pray with Ganiel broken leg surgery today. Had a car accident and broke his leg below the knee. Mother and father with him.
Met a young girl named Elliana with a broken leg due to boy at school pushing her down.
Met a man whose son Mike was in a car accident with his baby. His baby died. Mike critical.
Met another young girl in a car accident and hurt her leg, shoulder and arm.
Yosayiti is 7 with leukemia. Needs bone marrow transplant. Been three months since she found out she needs the transplant. Hoping to come to America, but has to apply for a visa, then figure out if she will go to Miami or Boston. Her parents bought her blood, but it went bad, so they bought more. Transplant from her sister. While I was observing and listening to other stories, there was a lady looking in our room holding a young girl, maybe 9 months old. She motioned for me to come over. I asked me, just to be sure and she vehemently shook her head yes. I walked over and she started speaking, I said, “lo siento no ha lo espanol”. She waved her hands and shook her head and put her hands together in prayer and bowed her head. I spoke and put my hands together and said “you want me to pray?” “Si,Si”. She said. So I took her hand and put my hand on her child and prayed. After I gave her some color sheets and crayons and asked if I could look at her daughters x-ray to see if I could “entender” and she said “Si” so I looked and I see that her daughter has a blockages not her intestines. I told her I would pray from America. She squeezed my hand. I turned and let the tears roll. No language barrier when you go to Dios in love and prayer.

I keep wondering what I learned from.this trip. First and foremost, i didn’t come thinking I would be a blessing, I came knowing I’d be blessed. The girls in our princess camp were awesome but the moms even more so. Doing the skits and lessons and watching the moms and grandmas I wonder if anyone ever told them of their worth. I saw the looks on their faces and the tears in their eyes…they certainly know Jesus and His love for them. But do their husbands treat them like Christ does? From what I observed, no.
The girls in the hospital with babies…no older then 18, some as young as 14. Their life is now raising children, cooking, sweeping and caring for their family. The hospital is over populated with doctors and nurses, what is their other option for work?
The government here tells you where to live and can take your property at any time. The police don’t seem fair or to care if something is stolen.
The families in the hospital will break your heart. They take their own linens, blood, toilet paper and there is no hospital gown. The one family with their father, who was probably dying, touched my heart. The daughter with big tears in her eyes, well, you don’t always see love like that. And that is huge with the Dominican people…the love they have for one another. Not only for their family, but for each other. The love is huge. And extended to us daily. Americans can learn a lot about love for one another.
Americans have so much stuff, but do we always have love!? Not just love for Christ love for one another. In my own family I know the answer is no, because most of my family is self serving and care only about their feelings.
My little Berleny not only wanted to do crafts for herself, but also for her sisters. My sister only thinks about herself and how things effect her. Certainly not Christ-like.
This trip was 14 months in the making. I was honored I was asked to go in the midst of huge heartache. I was blessed to be a part of a team of women to love on these young girls and the family…I was blessed to sing “He’s got the whole world in His Hands” in English yet the motions to the song had no difference. The girls understood, the mothers even more and the last night singing I looked at my leader with tears streaming down my face and our eyes met and our hearts knew what the other was thinking…Our lives have been blessed beyond measure, our lives have been changed by crafts, songs, skits and a lesson about God’s love for us. It doesn’t matter if we are rich, poor, fat, thin, ugly, beautiful…God loves us for us. He made us to show His love! Not just to those whose language we speak, but love from hearts.
My life has been changed. A huge piece of my heart is staying in this country I may never see again. My heart has been turned upside down by the kids at the schools, hospitals, and churches we visited. My thoughts are full of the stories from each place and I’ll wonder daily how the people are. I’ll picture their smiling faces every hour, and my heart will beat for them every minute.
I’m headed back to the states now, to see my family, to love on my animals and to fall back into the routine of work and home. It’s not easy to leave, I’ll wander every day if the people I encountered will think of me. If they do, I hope they know, I’m thinking of them, praying them up, and loving them from here.
In the weeks since I’ve been home, I haven’t shared my thoughts about this trip with very many people, mainly because no one has really asked, and it’s not something I feel I should just say “hey, let me tell you about this trip I went on”. That isn’t really my personality. I’ve found my girls on facebook and I’m having fun fun talking to them. I’m learning more and more Spanish by talking to them, and I miss all of them. I especially miss the evening worship service with my husband and our evenings talking about the day. I miss the hourly focus on Christ and Christ alone. I miss the Dominican people and the team work they always display. Can Americans ever be this way?
So, I’m loving 9 girls from afar and praying for them daily. I am waiting for God to answer the question…should I go back to the DR? And I’m watching my girls on Facebook and reminding them they are God’s, I am God’s, and we will someday be together again…always joined in this life by heart and spirit…

I’m so confused (I stay confused at times)
I know I heard you loud and clear (I hear God speaking, and I know what I am supposed to do…)
So, I followed through (I pray, go to church, stay in His word, build my relationship with HIM)
Somehow I ended up here (so, why at times in my life have I ended up not knowing how I ended up where I was…)

I don’t wanna think, I may never understand, that my broken heart is a part of your plan (But then I remember your heart hurts when I hurt)
When I try to pray, all I’ve got is hurt and these four words
(sometimes four words is truly all we need to say, thank you for hearing what we cannot speak)

Thy will be done. Thy will be done! Thy will be done!!

I know you’re good, but this don’t feel good right now
(when I hurt, when I am at a loss for words, when nothing comforts, when I lost a child, when my child was diagnosed with disease, when I divorced, when my daughter ran away, when my family slammed doors…)
And I know you think, of things I could never think about
(you are all powerful, all knowing, and understand all…you give, you take away, you know what’s best for us and when it is best)

It’s hard to count it all joy
(I should rejoice in pain, in sorrow, when I am in the deepest despair)

Distracted by the noise, just trying to make sense, of all your promises
(you did not promise me life would be easy, you promised you’d be with me in the storms)

Sometimes I gotta stop, remember that you’re God, and I am not
(no, I am not God, I am not all powerful, all knowing, I can’t even tie my shoes without your strength giving me the power and knowledge to breath!)

So, Thy will be done, Thy will be done, Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
They Will be done…
I know you see me, I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me, goodness you have in store

So I promised a blog about this song, and it is a very powerful song, one I keep singing over and over again, as I see those around me struggling, hurting, trying to find you in them midst of pain…it’s an acknowledgment to our Lord no matter what we want for us, HIS will is always better…always best…HIS will is the only will we need to think about.

This song makes me think about my soft-hearted, kind, loving son-in-law and the wounds he has felt from a very young age. Wounds from his parents, his friends, his siblings (I see your pain, I understand your pain, I will walk you through this storm my son) I pray God will give him the answers he needs, the answers his heart longs to hear, and I know God’s will and God’s time is the best…my prayers are heard. God’s will be done.

I think about my beautiful daughter and the wounds in her heart. Wounds I have caused and acknowledged and for which I have apologized. I think about the restoration and acknowledgment she wants and needs in her life, for her heart to be softened and I pray knowing what she wishes, but know that God’s will and timing is best. I know she sees and feels my apologies, my validation of her feelings at all times. I know my prayers are heard. God’s will be done.

I think about my friends who have struggled for years with infertility, who lost a pregnancy and now who are awaiting their first children. Their strength, their acknowledgement that God’s will is what they long for, and they will raise their children knowing who gave them these precious gifts. God heard their prayers. His will be done.

I think about my beautiful friend and the singer in David and my wedding – who is currently at the hospital with her very ill husband. My wishes, as I am sure all our wishes, are for him to recover and wake up and say “thanks Becca for taking care of me” and go back to sleep and we will know God is healing him…of course, deep down, I know God is healing him, but will that healing be so he is on this earth for another 20-30 years, or will God call him home to live with him? I know my prayers are heard. **

I think about my own wishes for my own life. I think about my marriage, my children, my future grandchildren, my friends, my beautiful family in Christ and I know my wishes are heard, but it is certainly God’s will that will prevail over all.

I think about the wounds of my own life and how He has restored them in His way, not the way, I originally wished for them to be, but His will was done, and His will was WAY better than anything I could have wished or prayed…His answer to some relationships is for me to remain silent and continue to watch the actions and words of others. Those who believe they have never done wrong, those who stand in judgment of me, of my child, my husband, and I will remain in His will – staying silent.

I think about the future and what His will is…I know what doors He has closed and told me to rest easy, He would take care of opening those doors in His time, I can rest, and know I’ve done my part.

I think about my sisters in Christ Jesus and why He brought them to my life and how His will has empowered me with friends, family and relationships in His name.

I find myself on my knees, wondering what His will is, praying for healing, restoration, and I find myself at a loss for words in times of sadness, sorrow…and I know all I need to know and say is “your will be done Lord” and my prayer is answered.

I hope when others look into my life and hear my story, and learn what areas of my life I asked for God for His will to be done, and sat and waited for His will and what God did in my life, well, I hope it helps. I hope they see the mistakes, the faith, the waiting, the hope and know God’s will is for us to be happy, and He has not left us when we make a mistake, when we are wounded, He carries us, He feels our pain, I understand now my mistakes, my hurt, my wounds, my sorrow, were a way to bring me closer to God, to be vulnerable and give HIM my life, not my parents, my ex’s, not my child. But God. He had my life from the very moment He knit me together. Now I understand, His promises, I understand I have to stop and remember HE is GOD…I need to remember HE is in control. I need to remember HIS WILL will always be done, and the sooner we succumb, the sooner we give ourself to HIM we will experience a joy, a goodness, only HE has in store for us…it’s always, always, always better God’s way. He will give you what you need at just the right time. I can definitely attest to this goodness.

Are you ready to to give your life to Him?
Are you ready for His will to be done in your heart?
Are you like a child on your knees?
Are you ready for the joy and goodness He has for your life?
Do you understand His plans are always for YOU?

I encourage you, no matter what your life is like right now, no matter your walk with others or with Christ, no matter the mistakes, the hurt, the sorrow, the joys…get on your knees, and just say the four words…Thy Will Be Done. Say them over and over again, share your story of faith and hope…His will be done…

Romans 8:1-5

**As of the this posting, my friend’s husband passed away. One more son has gone to sleep, to rest in the Father’s arms, until we all meet in heaven to rejoice.

Have you ever seen the sign for a one-way street? Ever wondered what it would be like if you only took one-way streets and never a two-way? I have learned over the past 18 months, a lot of people only travel one-way streets. Some people travel two way streets and thank God for this because my daughter called!!! Yes, folks, that’s right, the Prodigal Daughter has returned and I keep driving to her and her to me! (A two-way street!)

It’s been a whirlwind of activity, stress, love, stress, new beginnings, stress and learning who my daughter is again! She’s great…she’s really great and I have learned not all told to me was exactly accurate, but that’s okay. Like I told her, communicating through others is NOT a relationship, only face to face and phone connections will heal us – and it is healing, and growing, and it’s wonderful. It’s a two-way street!

Her weddings plans at the church she was attending fell through, so my husband and I scrambled to find a venue, food, photographer, etc., and it was truly a beautiful event. The kids as my husband to perform the ceremony, and while hesitant at first, he accepted and truly made the day special, memorable and I read what he wrote often – not only to remind Olivia during difficult marital situations, but to remind myself of what a wonderful, Christian, loving man I have in my life.

But I digress and get off the subject of streets…there is so much to convey, relay, and rejoice about right now, and I have no clue where to begin, but I feel the one-way/two-way street is a beginning. It brought joy to my heart to hear Olivia had been following my blog and so she knew how I was feeling for some time. It would have been nice, I’ve told her, if she would have clued me in at all, so I could know what was on her mind, but we have the rest of my life to explore her thoughts and feelings. I have been told people read my bog and ask Olivia to interpret my feelings. That’s a one-way street – call ME if you want to know how I feel – my child cannot answer for me, as I cannot answer for her, but whatever, like I said, some cars only travel one-way streets.

I have been informed the book I gave my parents to read at our counseling session, that completely changed my life, was given to someone at their church to read and interpret for them. So much for my parents asking me why the book changed my life – how it changed my life – what I learned from reading it – how it grew me, saved me, comforted me. The man who read it doesn’t even know me, nor has he called to ask how, what, why, when about the book…again, there is a perfect example of a one-way street.

So, in the weeks leading to the wedding, we had many small side streets to travel, traffic lights that were only red and highways leading to nowhere – venue, food, photographers and several people dropped out of the wedding for their “Christian” values and morals. My husband and I kept telling the kids, “where is grace?” and explaining to them what we meant by grace. Olivia had some relatives that were supposed to participate in the wedding, but due to my attendance and participation, they dropped out of their duties and/or threatened not to come. My response was the same over and over again. “Olivia, I can, not attend your wedding if it is easier and less stressful to you and Nick”. Her response was the same x 100 “Mom, I want you there, if other people don’t want to come because of you, that’s their problem”. And so, we, not only hosted a wedding, but rejoiced in the union of Olivia and Nick. What gets me the most is the comment someone made to Olivia in the days before the wedding that went something to the effect of “your mom abandoned you and the entire family, it’ll be awkward to be with her”. SERIOUSLY? Thank you Olivia for setting THAT statement straight. I’m glad she had the guts to inform this person that she left me and that I was specifically told “not to contact anyone” in that particular person’s family.

Yes, I was completely overwhelmed the week of the wedding, but my husband I prayed every morning and every night and I had my family in Christ praying for us, the kids and the entire situation, and because of these prayers I knew, the day would be what the kids wanted it to be.

The day before the wedding, we didn’t have the bride, we had the groom and it was completely awesome. The morning of the wedding, my husband fixed him breakfast, we gave him a card, and were able to pray with him. As we were driving to the venue, I wondered how my daughter was feeling, and if she was nervous, we texted a bit, and when I arrived at the venue and found her, she was snippy, grumpy, jittery and looked at me and said “blah, blah, blah – just HUG me” and so I did.

My husband and I prayed the morning of the wedding the day would be exactly what the kids wanted it to be and I feel they did receive the wedding they wanted because at 9:15 p.m. on their wedding night they called from their hotel just to say “thank you” for their day. Of course, that made me cry because you want your daughter to have a beautiful wedding and I believe she did! And for gaining a son, I believe we gave him the best day possible too!

So, of course, at her wedding, I had to approach people first, of course no one would take a step towards me – some family members only gave me “the glare” (there’s the old one-way street again) and really, it’s fine. These people didn’t communicate one bit when Olivia was gone, so why worry with them now? The only people I cared about seeing were my parents, I said my “hi’s”, introduced my husband, and that’s that. I requested my table be set aside from others (mainly for their comfort, not mine), and Olivia agreed and we picked out my “family table” the night of rehearsal. I was surrounded by those who have walked with me through the darkest of times, rejoiced with me during my happy times, and it was such a joy to celebrate my daughter’s return and wedding with them – a beginning of new life for all of us…these people haven’t left my side through the good, the bad and the ugly. They do not judge, condemn, ignore, give books to others to read, question my motives, my sanity, or sit around and analyze me. They love, extend grace, show Christian love and help grow me. A beautiful, two-way street.

In the weeks since the wedding, the kids have been un-friended on Facebook (is this really a big deal, I think not…but…it still hurts at times…and fuels their anger), given ultimatums, been ignored, judged, and have shared their experiences over the past 18 months. It’s been stressful, relieving, insightful, sad, hurtful for them, and it’s hard to see them struggle with my past mistakes, their mistakes, being condemned for talking and forming a new relationship with me, and completely ignored by some. It’s good to know people sat around and discussed my mental state, my thoughts, my feelings, my mistakes, judged me, condemned me, discussed what type of counseling I needed and came to conclusions about my life, my life experiences, and how those experiences shaped me without asking me to participate. (You see the one-way street here?)

Am I surprised at any of this? Nope.
Am I shocked? Not really.
Am I hurt? Of course.
Does it really matter? Not in the way you would think.

The past 18 months have shown me who really cares and who will be there when the lights on the street turn dark. I’ve told the kids – don’t just keep those around who ride with you when you are happy and driving the freeway full of joy and no cares – remember the ones who traveled with you in the dark, dank, scary streets – those are the people who will cross every bridge with you.

Life isn’t perfect – I still have a bit of fear I will offend one of the kids and they will never be heard from again – but I have an understanding with myself – and it was given to me by God and that is this: God didn’t promise life would be perfect, He promised to walk with me through the storms – He promises to hold my hand and help guide my thoughts, words, and actions if I fully rely on Him. And, my husband tells me God has me first, he has me second, he has the kids third, so with that, and prayer – where can I go wrong?

So, I put my trust in those thoughts totally. I may offend the kids, (unintentionally – of course), I may make another mistake – but if I do, and they come to me and let me know, I can either fix it, apologize or both. Being in Christ isn’t a Sunday thing, not a volunteer here and there thing, a pick up my Bible and give it glance or two thing, it’s a daily thing, and knowing HE has me, and I have Him – well, that’s a two-way street with no exit ramp!

Recently I found out a member of my earthly family had a medical issue. So, my heart encouraged me to sen a small note of encouragement if you will. Granted this person had sent me a text on Christmas morning 2014 and told me to never contact her again, but please, I wanted her to know if she died, I at least cared and would pray.

That’s who I am ~ I love you even when you show me hate.

And speaking of communication, why is it so hard for people to ask you what’s on your heart? What’s in your mind? I went through a period of time where I didn’t talk too much I kept a lot of things bottled up inside, and then I started talking (in therapy) about life, decisions, experiences, expectations and now, at times you can’t shut me up. When I joined the Table Group I now co-lead last January, I talked even more because these people were Christian and listened and gave advice and lead me to scripture that helped heal…

I find it funny people I am acquainted with call others to find out what I’m doing, how I’m feeling or what’s going on in my life. Did I suddenly start speaking a foreign language when we talk? I also love how you tell someone something about you and they have to “check up” on you to verify the information. Really? Why ask me about my life then – go find your own “expert” on my life? But remember, you shut down communication, not me.

And speaking of communication, how many does it take to communicate? I always believed two. I talk, you listen, you talk, I listen – funny how it works that way, huh? I find if I don’t understand something I ask or repeat back to you. Is this “old fashioned”? Outdated?

I also have a hard time when communication is handled like this “you tell me about your life I will verify with my sources to make sure what you feel about your life and what’s going on in your life is correct.” I recently had a “friend” who called and stated “since my rich new husband paid off my car, where is her money for this, that or something else”. Well actually, my car isn’t paid off, it’s refinanced and would you like a copy of those papers? No, you don’t want a copy of the papers? You don’t want to speak to my husband? Why not? Afraid to hear the truth? Well, then don’t accuse me of something you know nothing about.

I also recently had a friend who told me I need to let my parents treat me however they want and talk to me however they want because they are old. Did you also call them and tell them to accept me for me and see how my life has changed? No? Then don’t ask me to do something you haven’t asked them to do.

I get told a lot I need to call my parents and ask them questions. Yeah, I tried that. I found they didn’t want to be honest and open, and I cannot deal with secrets anymore. Too many secrets for too long. Now that I’ve been revealed and God has had my life laid at His feet, forgiven me, renewed me, I have no desire to “hide”.

All this leads me to thinking about past decisions I have made and what do I regret? I don’t know if regret is really the right word, there are certainly decisions I would change that could change the course of my current situation. Like, I wouldn’t have married the second time. There were certainly red flags everywhere, but I ignored them in search of something I didn’t quite understand myself. I would move to the town my daughter graduated from high school, but I wouldn’t have bought a house…renting would be good enough. I would still get my two dogs, and my daughter’s cat, but that would be it. I definitely wouldn’t have asked anyone to move in with us to help share expenses and life ~ that decision right there could change how my life is now.

There are so many issues, decisions and regrets my heart has healed from and it would be wonderful to tell my story to my family and have them hear how God has completely changed my life. I would share what I’ve learned from the Bible and how that opened my eyes to things I never knew. Of course, I gave them the book that changed my life and my mom told me she doesn’t like to read. If my dad read it, I would never know. He obviously doesn’t have the ability to dial a telephone or write a note and let me know. How said is that?

If I could communicate with some, I would share how my daughter walking out of my life changed my heart and opened my eyes to even more things I wasn’t seeing clearly. I would share how the church’s Freeway series showed me I was worth God’s love, mercy and grace – something I never felt or understood before. But, you can’t communicate with people who want to keep you in the past and who don’t want to hear how your life and heart has changed, what God did for you, and how you plan to move forward with your life. You just can’t.

And to me, it’s funny how these same people want to tell you how people in their own lives or churches have been changed through the power of prayer and/or God, but don’t want to hear about how their own family members have been changed. What’s with that? I would think the people you’d be most happy about having a significant life change and “AHA” God moments are your family!

You also cannot communicate with people who only want to determine what your life is about by talking to other people about your life. Whenever I want to know something, I go straight to that person and say, “Hey, how’s it going”, “what’s going on with you?” Doesn’t seem that hard does it?

Or, like with my earthy father’s best friend died and I sent a note saying, “I heard about your friend, sorry for you loss, hope you can keep his memory alive by making the crosses and boxes”, just like the family member who is having a heart procedure soon and I sent her a note stating “I was very sorry to hear about your recent health issues – I’m sure it’s been a little scary…my husband, in-laws and I will be praying for you and your recovery. From what I understand it should only be about a week to ten days before you’re up and running again! Good luck! Thoughts and prayers!!”

That was almost two weeks ago, and still no reply from that either – and people still want to tell me how I should handle everyone and that I should keep doing more and more and more and keep putting myself out there to be rejected and stomped on – I’m thinking God doesn’t want me to continue to be beat down – at least that’s what the New International Version of the Bible I read says… I come back to my all time favorite verses:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b]boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

ROMANS 5:1-11 NIV

So, my heart has taken a few twists and turns over the past year, and all for the good. All for the better and in so many ways, it has healed, but it’s still cracked from not having my child in my life and I am discovering it is a wound that will never heal. I’m glad my parents can be without me and not reach out, not send a note, a card, make a phone call and their hearts are fine – I have a hard time believing those people who say they miss me because their actions definitely say another, I’m glad my sister can not talk to me and her heart is great! I’m glad certain “friends” can find peace in talking to ex-friends and neighbors about my life and gossip about me, and they find comfort in their “truth”.

In the healing of hearts, I find myself amazed at people who tell me I’m doing great, I’ve come a long way, I have held my own during the darkest time of my life. And when asked what I wish my family would do, I find myself coming back again and again and again to the story of the prodigal son. Specifically, I was asked recently what will I say to Olivia if she ever calls – my answer was simple, the same thing I wish my parents would have said to me, the same thing the father of the Prodigal Son said to him, the same thing I know my Father in heaven says to me on a daily basis:

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:20-24

This father didn’t say “let me tell you every way you hurt me” he didn’t say “do you know what you put me through?” He didn’t say “do you know how wrong you were!” He opened his arms, hugged his child and said “welcome home”.

It’s funny how God does close doors of communication, but opens ones of full honesty, disclosure and acceptance. And, its amazing how this heals your life. I’m living proof. That seems to be my theme song “I’m living proof” and I am. I am proof a person can be so broken and God heals. I’m living proof that you can be scared and shamed by things in your life and God heals. I’m living proof when you surrond yourself with people who truly walk with Christ, you are enveloped in mercy and grace.

Yes, I am living proof of abuse, shame, bad decisions (a lot of good ones too!), trying hard to live as Christ would want you too and never quite getting it right. I’m so glad Christ came to walk amoung the sick, the wounded, the sinful – if he only came to walk with the just, healthy and righteous where would any of us be?

So, I do daily checks on my heart ~ is there anything I need to evaluate, anyone I need to talk too? I think about how I communicate and wonder have I left any stone unturned? Does my daughter know how I feel? Have I made myself clear to her that I love her and expect nothing from her? How many unanswered emails do I have to send before I give up? Have I fully rested, reflected, repented and done my best to reconcile? Do I feel the need to constantly put myself in the path of those who don’t love as Christ loves and to be berated, belittled and be the only one who takes responsility for actions? Is the weight of the entire world and every mistake ever made in every relationship my fault?

Those are heavy questions – and, for the longest time, I would answer “YES” to all of them. Now that I know Christ, and what He asks us each to do, I can say,

-Yes there are people I need to speak too (Olivia, Nick???)
-No I haven’t left any stone unturned. I will keep turning stones until Olivia is back.
-Yes, Olivia should have a clear picture of the fact that I just want a relationship with her, I expect nothing, and that I am sorry for WHATEVER I have done to cause her heart to hate.
-I’ll send a gazillon emails before I give up.
-Yes, I have done the Four R’s.
-No I do not feel the need to put myself in the path of anyone who feels the need to berate, belittle and not take responsibility for their actions.
-No, the weight of the world and every mistake ever made is certainly not my fault.

It took a long time to realize these things and to come with terms with the fact that I am loved so dearly and deeply by God. It took a shorter amount of time to realize when you surround yourself with those who walk with Christ, you’ll be able to accept the love and grace showered upon you ~ God gave me a great gift when my heart opened and I heard the truth spoken and I saw the love coming down.

So, I’ll leave you with these thoughts…

Check your heart – how’s it beating? Is there someone you need to call? Someone you need to write? Someone you need to talk to because you’ve only listened to gossip? Someone you’ve gossiped about that you may need to apologize too? Someone you may have spoken harshly too and maybe you should ask forgiveness of? Hebrews 8:12 says: For I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more.

Do a heart check people. Forgive, make that call. It may change the life of someone else, but better yet, it may change yours…

Hannah Kerr – I Stand Here –
“My desperate feet Come running to you from shaky ground facing defeat I am holding onto Your promise now raise me up on eagle’s wrings give my soul your bigger dreams breathe your life into me a battle cry is in my lungs singing out “Your kingdom come” fall in us pour out your love I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me And as your child claiming peace Oh give this heart your victory I stand here, I stand here…

My weary bones they come alive with the sound of you restoring hope in my anxious spirit forever new raise me up on eagle’s wrings give my soul your bigger dreams breathe your life into me a battle cry is in my lungs singing out “Your kingdom come” fall in us pour out your love…I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me and as your child claiming peace oh give this heart your victory I stand here, I stand here…

Away from brokenness into your promises Lord I’m standing, i’m standing here Away from brokenness into your promises Lord I’m standing, i’m standing here
I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me and as your child claiming peace oh give this heart your victory I stand here I stand here, oh Lord I stand here”

Funny, I was just speaking to my husband last night about fear and love. I told him I truly realize for the first time in my life I’m not afraid of someone. He knows all my “junk” and doesn’t hold it against me, or bring it up in conversation, I’m the only one who does that, and that’s when I let Satan have control of my thoughts. I’m learning how to stop those thoughts, though, and first it’s with prayer, and second by telling myself, “I’m standing before God and HE sees my heart and my life, I fear no evil” I repeat this process about 100 times a day, if not more.

I realize after reading 1 John, specifically,

1 John 4:18 “there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”.

WOW…I grew up in fear and knew if I did one thing wrong the love would be taken away and it was proven to me over and over again – if my family’s love was perfect I would have them today. This carried into my marriages, friendships and sometimes other personal relationships – and everyone has proven this to be true – love was used to gain something from me, they knew if I felt the threat of the love going away, I would be under their control. If I am fearing, however, that is not love.

Now I know the difference between real, perfect love and imperfect love. Now I understand why I spent years searching for love and acceptance for no reason,and a lot of time in the wrong places with the wrong people. Last year, I had an epiphany of sorts, I had a realization, I gained knowledge and took a deep look at my life and what was wrong with it…what I was striving for, and not only was I hurting myself, I was hurting others in the process. I had someone tell me to be completely honest with them at all times, and I finally found the honesty, and thought I was living fearfully, but I soon learned that being honest and stating how you see the world, how you see your life, how you see their life, was not going to work with someone who wasn’t living in and with Christ. Now I truly understand that love, and started to embrace it last April, when I was baptized I made a promise to myself to never go back to what broke me, and I’m not. I see God’s love, I feel God’s love and all I can continue to say is how great is His love? How great is my relationship with Him? How great is knowing I am made new, perfect and He sees me as flawless.

It is funny to me that I met and knew my husband was the one for me in less than two weeks, I know he felt the same because not only was he walking with God, he was searching for a woman growing and seeking God’s heart. It wasn’t that we “fell in love” as people say, I’ve learned through my marriage class through my church people who “fall in love” will also “fall out of love” and this too has proven to be true. If you can’t share you love and knowledge of God in relationships, they will not work. They won’t. No matter how hard we try. It’s broken from the start and it can only be healed through God’s grace and mercy.

So yes, this love thing is new for me…the perfect, fearless love. I don’t fear anyone or anything anymore and when I do, my husband reminds me, the evil one will try to steal our joy and make us feel less than that perfect love, but I stand here before God every morning and know I have to lay down the fear because if I don’t, I’m not letting love win. I have come to realize people use threats, chaos, past mistakes you have made, and their own assumptions to cast fear in your path and to bring you back to the person you once were before you found your life in Christ. I have found people don’t see the transformation you have made, the caterpillar becoming the butterfly and hold you captive in their cocoon of anger, hurt, and they feel justified in what they are doing because they refuse to see. Last night, after our night of worship at church, I had several of my husband’s friends tell me to stay strong and don’t let anyone rob my joy, God’s got it all, and I can rest in their prayers and God’s promises…I also realize now I need to pray for these people who try to attack, for they are not experiencing perfect, fearless love. I have a cloud of witnesses surrounding me and bringing peace and fearless love…

I will continue to claim peace as God’s child and I will continue to stand before God and let all fear go, I am not broken, He breathes His life into me, I am continuing to exclaim, “your kingdom come”, I am His Child He surrounds me, He protects me, He gave me victory.

Romans 5:1-5