Archives

Happy Halloween

Farmer John’s Garden

Pumpkin Garden

This is from my 2009 Retreat – it always remind me how far God has brought me

Farmer John wandered back and when he reached
the pumpkin patch, began to speak he said
“the weather’s getting colder summer’s over
and it’s almost Halloween that’s the day,
the reason you were raised when everything
about your life will change

You will have eyes to see, and for that night,
you’ll be a bright lamp burning in the darkness but
remember that candle shines for only the
briefest time in a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

The pumpkins held a meeting then
some were very apprehensive and afraid
“Could this really happen to us?
what could be the meaning?” is what they were saying
“This is home, it’s all we’ve ever known”
then one bold, outspoken pumpkin spoke

He said “I don’t need eyes to see,it
sounds like a lie to me
I like it just fine here in John’s garden
And remember that candle shines for only the
briefest time In a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

There is much to ask and to ponder
in the pumpkin patch when imposing
old October shows up at last

Then a pumpkin from the farther end
who had been silent up till then
Over the commotion, said
“What would you rather have my friends
A chance to shine, or die here on the vine?
The better way seems very plain to me

You will have eyes to see, and for that night,
you’ll be a bright lamp burning
in the darkness
and maybe that candle shines
for only the briefest time
In a jack-o-lantern’s heart
Oh, but one goblin’s smile should
make it all well worth while
you know you might even see the starlight
and knowing that time is brief,
makes it that much more sweet
when you have a jack-o-lantern’s heart”

John’s Garden (Written & Performed by Peter Mayer, from the album Million Year Mind)

These was part of my retreat last year (2009). This really hit home to me because last year was
when Matthew’s health was so uncertain and many times I and the doctors were not sure he would live out the year.

When I went to the retreat I went for some rest (I had not slept in 8 months at this point) and some
quiet time with Our Lord. I needed to some find some peace inside my soul as far as Matt’s health.
When the very last paragraph was sung, I had a deep feeling inside me that Matt would not live out
the year but I was at peace because I took to heart with:

“A chance to shine, or die here on the vine” this statement made me realize that there is something very important about the quality of life and if Matthew was confined to a bed at 20 years old then he wasn’t doing much living.

“and knowing that time is brief, makes it that much more sweet” this statement made me realize that no matter what happened Matthew’s life was filled with a lot of purpose, teaching many people (including myself) through austism, asthma and CF what truly mattered in life.

After much rest and an improved outlook filled with peace, I realized that God was waiting for me to give up my control to Him so that He could heal Matthew.

To look back now 4 years later, I can’t tell you how right I was in realizing I needed to give up my control to God so He could work in my son’s life. God has done amazing things in my son’s life, but also for my daughter who faced a health crisis last year. When I think about how far God has brought my family, it brings me to tears – in thankfulness and joy.

This song is near and dear to my heart.

#SayWhat

Today is Blog Hop day over at Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies! I am writing about a time specific time God spoke to me and I had a “say what” moment.

My life has been full of searching for someone or something to fill a void I have had most of my life. I have searched for acceptance, valued and loved. As a child and a teenager, I didn’t feel accepted, valued or loved by my family. Now that I am older I know they did loved me – very much so – they just couldn’t love me in the way I needed.

I married and had children very young so that I would feel loved. What a surprise to me that marrying and having children didn’t fill that void. I blamed my children, my husband, and the things that happened to me as a child. I was mad at everyone around me, especially God, for the life I felt I deserved and didn’t have. I wanted a life full of happiness, peace and love.  I didn’t want the life I had that was filled with conflict, anxiety and stress.

As I entered my thirties I realized I needed to bury my past and get over myself. I began to rebuild my relationship with my dad, I quit being so angry and I started accepting my life. I began to go to church regularly and read my Bible. For the first time ever in my life I was feeling a sense of peace.

And then my world was shattered at 32 years old when I lost my mom very suddenly and unexpectedly. I felt like an orphan, even my dad and I had reestablished our relationship. Less than 5 months later, on my mom’s birthday the relationship with my dad ended. I was drowning in the feelings of worthlessness, feeling unloved and angry. It was too painful to open up and getting hurt repeatedly. I came upon this Scripture:

”And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…” ~Matthew 18:9

My life application study Bible notes said explained: We must remove stumbling blocks that cause us to sin. For the individual, any relationship, practice or activity that leads to sin should be stopped. “AHA – there it is right in the Bible. Any relationship – must be stopped.”

I asked my husband “does this means I can walk away, having nothing to do with my family ever again?” He looked at me with sadness and concern asking “why does it matter?” I replied “I don’t like the person I become when I am around my family.  I get resentful and bitter.  I don’t want to hope and then be disappointed.” He asked again “why does this matter so much now, you have been hurt and disappointed before. Why does it matter so much this time?” Tears were running down my face, there was an empty hole in my heart.

Finally I had the answer I was searching for my whole life. And without thinking I blurted it out:

”I want just once, just once in my life to know that I matter, that I am the most important person to someone. Just once I want someone to love me enough to fight for me, to stand up for me.”

As the tears ran down my face, I heard clearly, distinctly and lovingly…..

“I do Veronica and I did”

I knew instantly I heard the voice of Jesus! I understood what He whispered to me:  I did matter to Him, I was important enough, and He did fight for me.  All that love was shown on the Cross. That day changed my life – that was my #saywhat moment and the day I decided to say yes to follow Him.

OBSBlogHop

Yes To God

Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study ~ “What Happens When Women Say to God” by Lysa TerKeurst

This weeks blog topic I choose was number 4. #yestoGod. Share a time you caught a “glimpse of eternity” as you said yes to what God was asking you to do.

I can totally relate to Lysa’s hesitation when God asked her to give her Bible away. I remember the day God asked me to give away something just as precious to me. As I was praying the Rosary for a dear friend who needed some serious prayers for her child, I had the sense God asking me to not just pray for her but to GIVE her my Rosary.

I argued with God saying “she’s not Catholic!” But the more I prayed for her the more I KNEW I was supposed to give it to her. So I finished praying, loving packaged the Rosary up to mail, all the while thinking “I have had this Rosary forever, it has been with me through every one of my son’s hospital stays; every prayer for my marriage, my children; it was a comfort to me as I grieved the death of my mom; every tear I cried over my son and the setbacks; it was a comfort to me during the times I prayed over the uncertain future of my son.”

I teared up as I handed it over the post office counter. Afterwards, I stopped into the Catholic store and bought me a new Rosary. Walking back to my office with my new Rosary in hand I thought “really God?” and then I heard a whisper “new Rosary – new chapter!” I paused to think about that and it was true, I was entering a new chapter. My son had not been hospitalized in over a year and even though he wasn’t able to live on his own, he had just moved into an independent living home and was doing remarkably well – all my prayers were being answered. As I thanked God for that, I heard another whisper “Your old Rosary was passed on to another mama who knows the heartaches and tears of an unknown future of her child.” I bowed my head in awe and thanked Him once again.

Who was I to argue with God and His plans? Whatever God says do, do it!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

 

OBSBlogHop

Prevailing Through God’s Plans

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. ~ Proverbs 19:21

My Plans

Oh I had all sorts of grand plans for when I grew up. I was going to marry prince charming, have four adorable and well-behaved children, own my own dream home with a white picket fence and a wrap around porch where I would sit in the afternoon admiring my children at play. Inside my home would always look like Martha Steward herself lived there. I would be a picture perfect mom and wife. Our home would be filled with the laughter and love of family and friends.

My Reality

I became a mom for the first time at 17. I married at 19 and had our second (and last) child at 20. Nowhere in my plans did I dream:

  • Raising a son with autism and cystic fibrosis
  • My daughter struggling to learn to read due to severe dyslexia
  • My husband and I working so very hard at our marriage
  • Our home being empty of family and friends, because we were just trying to survive the day
  • Only sleeping 2-3 hours each night for 22 years
  • Being very lonely, stressed and at times miserable
  • Fighting a public school system for my son’s right to be educated as he needed
  • Fighting with a different school that my daughter was in fact dyslexic
  • Having a daughter who would rather play basketball and baseball with her cousins instead of having pretty dresses and tea parties
  • Being broken, lost and isolated
  • Being a hands-on parent 24/7 for 23 years
  • Spending a life time in hospitals (both medical and psychological), thousands of doctor’s office and many ambulance rides

Fast Forward 23 Years

I could never have dreamed of the blessings that came with God’s plans for my family. Yes, I called all of that a blessing. Why?

  • Most marriages don’t make it through the kind of stuff we went through: married early, two small children, Marine Corps, special needs children, and life-threatening illnesses. But God knew exactly who would stick by my side through all of it, even if we didn’t like each other very much on some days. We will celebrate 22 years of marriage this year.
  • I questioned, ranted and raved asking God “why? why me?” Then one day I realized God was teaching me about unconditional love, patience and the bigger picture.
  • Because we didn’t have close friends we depended on each other very much and our dependence on God increased.
  • Because I didn’t have a girly girl my daughter opened up the world of sports to me. I look forward to going to basketball or baseball games.
  • I never thought our son would be able to move out. God knew though. Our son is flourishing in a new home learning daily life skills with the hope of one day moving into his own apartment.

When our son moved out in April 2011 and our daughter was in her own apartment at college I thought “finally smooth sailing – it’s been a very long 22 years!” I thought surely we have faced and conquered enough obstacles to last three lifetimes…….

God Had Other Plans

Six weeks ago our 20-year-old daughter was diagnosed with seizures. As we look back over the years we realize now that what we thought were migraines were seizures. This is a pivotal time in her college education – Spring semester of her junior year. Her life has changed. She needs other people to drive her. She has to ask for help and that bothers her greatly. I have to once again rely completely on God.

Do I still say all of this is a blessing? Yes – a thousand times over yes!!! The one central unchanged theme in my life has been I have needed God at all times, in all circumstances! Each time I thought “whew, that’s behind us, it should be easy peasy from here.” I would find myself on my knees asking God to see us through.

If I would have had my dreams come true, I wouldn’t have needed God for anything. His plans require that I need Him minute by minute. I have lived through hell, been broken and had my dreams crushed but through it all God has been and will continue to be my Refuge, my Rock and my Shield. Yes, His plans are always better than my dreams.

By the way – I absolutely married my prince charming.

 

Prayers for my friend…

Today I was honored to have my friend Tracy Steel from One Degree Ministries guest post.  I absolutely love when I get to read Tracy’s writing.  I learn so much from her, she inspires me and I leave feeling closer to God.

At the end of today’s post I asked all my readers to prayer for Tracy’s family as her mom was in hospice.  At approximately 1:25 this afternoon, Tracy’s mom, Roxie Davis won her fight against breast cancer and was welcomed into the arms of our LORD.  I am positive when Roxie arrived she heard the words most of us long to hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

She leaves a legacy for her children, grandchildren and all who knew her – even those, like me that only met her through her daughter Tracy.  Please keep this family in your prayers in the days ahead.

In Memory

May 2012: As I was leaving, my mom waved me down saying, “We didn’t take a picture with my pink bat!” so without hesitating I stopped and snapped the pics. We all gave her that bat in 2007 when the cancer came back to signify we were her biggest fans and to keep fighting.

The Me I am Supposed to Be ~ Guest Post

Welcome a new friend of mine, Michelle Axton Kelly.

Hello, friends!! I’m Michelle and I write over at Teagan’s Travels. My blog covers my family, friends and faith. I pray my site provides daily encouragement to women in good times and bad through God’s love. I’d love for you to come visit. It is always an adventure being the wife of an Irish husband, mom to pre-schooler Teagan and baby Isla. I’m so excited to be writing here today! Thanks for letting me visit…and share with you how God helped me become The Me I’m Supposed To Be.

Have you ever had a champion in your life that made you feel special? Someone who provided you with a chance that changed the course of your life forever? I’ve been blessed to have women in my life who have been this for me in the form of mother, manager, boss, mentor and friends.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this came during college. I must admit, I used to be a terrrrrrrrrrrrrible waitress. It’s true! There is a level of multi-tasking required in this occupation that I just don’t seem to have within me naturally.  I would get flustered.  Forget to bring ketchup…even after more than three requests. I forget to place orders, became flustered organizing drinks and appetizer timing? That was a nightmare in and of itself! I have had more than one customer storm out without any inclination of leaving a tip.

Um hmm. I was THAT girl. And if I ever waited on you back in those days, I apologize. Luck of the draw and all… But none of this mattered to me because the best gig in our college town was a job at Chili’s and I needed dinero. I finally got in after hounding the manager for three months to give me just one chance. Sadly, after just a week he called me into his office to inform me that I was “not Chili’s material.”

I was stunned. Um, excuse me? Could you just repeat that again?

I’m…not…Chili’s….material???

Do you KNOW sweet reader how much this rocked my world? It has become kind of a family joke now but I called my mother sobbing. This was, quite possibly, the worst news in the world according to my 19 year old self. I felt like an utter failure with a capital “F”.

Flash forward a few months. I may not have been Chili’s material but TGI Friday’s had decided to give me a go. Each shift we gathered for a team meeting. The extra-special-shift-leader-who-could-do-no-wrong was usually a Top Ten server according to sales and comment cards. This person would kick off our shift and hand out pins to those who did an amazing job. I would hang in the back of the crowd, not getting pins, not leading. Invisible but happily employed.

THEN….(this is the cool part, ya’ll)….a manager from another store came to visit! Yeah! She eyed me for a few days. And one day, she started our shift and announced Michelle was the shift lead. Silence. Michelle? All eyes slowly turned to look at a bewildered girl who had never led anything. And I stepped up…and had the most awesome time! The next shift? I led again!

With that single action the manager changed my world and how I saw myself. Suddenly, I began talking like a Top 10 server, selling fried cheese and cheesecake like there was no tomorrow! I got pins, or flare as it was called in the day, I got the best shifts and sections. People rained praise through comment cards. And one day? I did become a Top Ten server! Ta Da!!! Take that, Chili’s!!

My point is, God made each of us uniquely special. And sometimes He places people in our lives to embrace us, to encourage our hearts and lift us up to be who He created us to be. A belief in someone is at times all it takes to make a huge difference and impact in this world. That is one reason we sponsor children through Compassion International. Our sponsorship tells these children that there is someone in this world who cares for them, who prays for them daily and that they are special, not forgotten.

Today, can you think of someone who needs a champion in their lives? Is there an opportunity or encouragement you can give to a heart that may change the way they see themselves? 

I’d love to hear from you, who has been this champion in your life?

Blessings, Michelle

For more encouragement, visit Michelle Axton Kelly at her blog, http://teaganstravels.blogspot.com , where she provides encouragement and inspiration for women seeking a personal relationship with Christ.

__________________________________________________________

Thank you Michelle!  The beginning of your story had me chuckling.  I started waiting tables in high school and continued for the next 12 years.  I didn’t work at a Chili’s or TGI Fridays.  I worked at waiting on tables long before those places were the standard. I worked in diners and restaurants right off major freeways.  The busiest one being I15 in the middle of Las Vegas and LA.  I was a Top Ten Server before there was such a thing – I could out sell the day girls in OJ sales on the night shift.  Your post brought back lots of memories 🙂

 

Blind Spots ~ Guest Post

Meet another one of my lovely and awesome She Speak Sisters, Lee Merrill also known as LeeBird 🙂  I just love the encouragement I get from Lee and her gift of prayer.  Thank you my friend for standing in for me today. 

My middle son is itching for his driver’s license. Every chance he gets, he commandeers the keys to my Mamaw car and adjusts the seat, steering wheel, and mirrors to his personal specifications. Truth be told, he’s turning into a good little driver. He’s careful and considerate of other drivers and doesn’t drive too fast like his big brother does.

The other night, Logan eased into the middle lane of the freeway and asked, “Mom, am I in that car to the right’s blind spot?”

“Hmm, I don’t know, Logan, but it’s always smart to be careful. Just keep an eye out for the cars around you.”

When I drive, I try to be mindful of my blind spots, but I’ve never really thought about being in someone else’s.

Makes me wonder…how often does God shake things up in our relationships to reveal the blind spots.

  • One minute, you’re married for life, and the next, your husband threatens to pack up and leave.
  • A friendship worthy of BFF status suddenly becomes strained, awkward, and downright sad.
  • No matter how hard you’re working, your boss seems suspicious of your every move.
  • The loss of a parent brings out all the ugly in a family dynamic.

What do we do when God sheds light on things about our relationships that need to change?

  • Calloused attitudes, ingrained and ignored
  • Selfish motives, justified as pursuing a dream
  • Gossipy conversations, disguised as venting
  • Kindred spirits, morphed into co-dependency
  • Buried wounds, unhealed and concealed

It all boils down to this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).

The Lord wants our earthly relationships to reflect the beauty of a vibrant relationship with Him.

For that to happen, our commitment to Him must be priority number one.

God will turn us on our heads and shake out every ounce of pride and selfishness hidden in our pockets.

God will shake the foundation of any earthly relationship competing for the throne of our hearts.

God will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV).

Lord, thank you for all the shaking up going on in me. As much as it hurts to deal with heart hurts and relationship woes, I understand the purpose for the pain. I want You to reign in me. I want to crave You like a desert dweller craves a cool drink. I want my relationships to have Your fingerprints all over them. Carry on, Lord. All for Your glory and the good of Your people. AMEN

 __________________________________________________________

 To connect with Lee you can find her at:

Thank you so much Lee, it always amazes me when I can say thank you to God for the pain I am in, knowing it will bring me closer to Him.  Leave Lee a comment thanking her for her thoughts today and her beautiful prayer.  Be sure to check out her Prayer Gifts website.