Tag Archive | Life lessons

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.

 

Fabulous Friday & Link Up

God Keeps Opening Doors For Me by Cheryl Bardwell

We have all heard the expression “When one door closes another will open!” right?  I want to challenge you, the next time you hear that expression picture God holding open that next door just for you.  How awesome is that visual picture!

That our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He is holding open the door beckoning us to go through! Motioning and pointing us the way He wants us to go. Yet at times we are so hung up on the door that closed, we fail to see the open door and our Father.  What if we miss the gift that God has for us because we fail to follow and trust Him?

I have done this more times than I can count! At times I am so focused on what I believe is right for me that I forget to ask Him what He wants for me! I forget to trust my Father to know what’s best for me, His child. We ask our children to trust us as parents when they can’t see we are trying to protect them from things they are not yet ready for, but can we do the same for God? Can we trust Him and follow his lead?

“So I say to you; Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; and the door will be opened to you” ~Luke 11:9

 

NOW FOR OUR LINK UP PARTY:  Please join us by linking up your blog with us today.  Whatever is encouraging to women is the only guideline!

 

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Script Changes

How has the script of your life changed?

As soon as I read that question I laughed, seriously!  Why laugh because it would be easier to answer what part of your script is still intact?

The script of my life changed at 5 years old when I was first abused.  However I endured childhood and my teen years by imaging how wonderful my life would be once I got married and had children ~ THEN my real life would begin, my life was going to be everything I dreamed it would be, what my childhood should have been, it was going to be Brady Bunch perfect!

Needless to say that didn’t happen ~ not even close!  My life is nothing like I imagined it would be and most days I can look around and say “it doesn’t matter” but at times and seasons it hurts and I want to yell at God and say “haven’t I endured enough?  Really?  Don’t I deserve some peace and carefree days?  I endured a childhood filled with abuse, violence, chaos and nightmare filled sleep and now I have endured 22 years of stress, chaos, tantrums and violent rages from my son.  When will it end?”

And right now I am in that season, I have been in this season for almost 18 months and it’s hard to see the goodness of God, it’s hard to remember He is working, it’s hard to know that He has a purpose, it’s hard to see another one of my dreams die.  I thought by this point I would no longer be a full-time 24/7 parent.  I thought at this point my husband and I would get to be a married couple without children for the first time in 20 years of marriage.  Instead we are full-time parents to a very angry, very emotional, high maintenance autistic son who also has a life threatening illness.

Our nights are not filled with rediscovering each and doing the things we dreamed.  Our nights are filled with tension, our son screaming and yelling at us, throwing things, combative arguing and out right disrespect.  Our nights are about how to just get through one more night.  To be honest there are nights when I want to walk out the door and never look back.

The script changed.  When our son was little I could endure it because there seemed to be meaning and purpose – to raise him to adulthood and give him a better life.  But now my spirit is broke.  I can find no meaning or purpose in living this way for 22 years with no end in sight.  All the life has been sucked out of me and my role as his mother seems meaningless and pointless.

At times and seasons I want to question God “how is this being good?  How is this your best for me?”  And then I am reminded of the Israelite who wandered for 40 years because they couldn’t trust God completely when life didn’t go their way.  I need to change my category of thinking.  I need to allow my pain and suffering to press me deeper into God.  I need to be like Abraham and Sarah who believed God was working in their life….all the time, even when they couldn’t see it.  They had hearts of hope even through their circumstances.

I also need to change my praying and remember the purpose of prayer is not to get our prayers answered but to grow into a deeper relationship with God.  Instead of praying for my dreams to be restored I need to pray for eyes of faith so that I can fully trust God and welcome all the script changes in my life.  I don’t want to be like the Pharisees who closed the mind to Jesus because it wasn’t going how they planned.  I want to open my mind and heart to a new way of thinking.  I want to turn to Jesus and turn away from my circumstances.

I read this and knew that this was a balm for my aching heart:

Like a skillful potter, God can remold my identity into the grace-filled shape He has intended for all eternity.  Best of all, He will give me new life that isn’t based on getting my prayers answered or having life go the way I think it should but on my relationship with Him.

The Goodness of God

When was the last time you experienced the goodness of God?  This was the question I was asked. To be honest, I had to sit and think about it, it took me longer than I liked to come up with the answer and then the answer wasn’t from today, last week, last month or last year.  As I sat and realized that I couldn’t answer that question with an experience recently I wondered why.

The answer came with the next question:  God is good……all the time!  How does that statement make you feel?  I thought back through the last year that frankly has been a year of hell – one that I have lived through for the most of the last 22 years.  And my first thought was “yeah God is good all the time, that’s why my life is full of chaos.”  I then felt mad and wondered when will I feel that goodness in this situation ~ it’s been 22 years!!

Oh but then I was asked what is something that makes you stop and notice God?  I immediately listed dozens of things.

  • A beautiful sunrise
  • the house being still in the early morning hours
  • the birds singing
  • the sun shining through on a cloudy day
  • a cup of coffee in the stillness before the day begins
  • when I gaze at our Christmas tree and see the memories of a lifetime ~ the story of our family

And all the sudden I realize, I experience God’s goodness – everyday!!

Do you need to be reconnected with God?  I know I definitely do!  Why did I forget all those small daily glimpses of goodness and say I haven’t experienced it recently?  Because I believe as humans when we don’t get our way exactly as we want we are conditioned to feel punished and then we start focusing on our circumstances.  I know for me in the midst of my storm ~ the chaos, the toxic environment, the erosion of our family foundation.  I try to fix it through me instead of clinging to Him.  I try to fix it by telling myself “you just need to be a better wife and mother.”  Then I tell my husband “here is your script to make our family better, here is how to talk to the kids and what you should do with them”  I give my daughter her script. Then I tell my son “if you would just listen to me and follow along instead of questioning everything in complete anger we will be fine.”

Oh if I just clung to Him and searched out His goodness.  If I just clung to His promises.  Oh if I just wait expectantly for His goodness.  Oh if I just had eyes of faith, instead of focusing on my storm.

Where are your eyes looking ~ His promises or your storm?

 

Dear LORD, I come before You with a heavy heart.  Full of sadness, uncertainty, despair, weariness, fear, failure, resentment, bitterness, anger and so much regret.  You are the Master Healer, please heal my ragged heavy heart with Your touch, reconnect me to You.  My head knows that You are good….all the time, show my heart to know that too LORD.  Remove all the heaviness of my heart and fill it with You!

“Oh LORD, open my eyes, that I may see” as You did for Elisha’s servant.  Give me eyes of faith so that I may know and see Your goodness….all the time, no matter what storm is swirling around me.  In the midst of my storm strengthen me just enough to utter “God, be with me.  Come and be beside me.”  Strengthen me just enough to praise You through the storm and to cling to You through my eyes of faith.

Thank You LORD for marking me with Your indelible seal through my baptism.  Thank You that through one holy couple, one holy family, one holy tribe, one holy nation, one holy kingdom, and one holy people You adopted me into Your family and that Jesus’ story is also my story of salvation.

Thank You for loving and caring for me personally and for Your goodness….all the time.  In Jesus Name ~~ AMEN!

~*Patience*~

Patience – that is the word that has been coming to me all day.  It started with me waking up extremely late.  When I went to bed I was thinking it was Tuesday, when I woke up I realized my horrible mistake – it was Thursday and I had Eucharistic Adoration at 4:00 a.m.  I felt horrible, wondered what the person waiting on me would think or say to me next week.  I felt Jesus say to me – Be Patient with Yourself.  That got me to thinking….

If you knew me you would know that I have very little patience and almost none with myself. It is something I have always struggled with all my life but I have noticed lately it has gotten worse.  As I thought on this I was wondering what has changed that made me even less patient than normal. 

As I questioned myself and life events I stopped to get fuel in my car.  Went inside to pay and guess what God thought I needed some practice in patience – the lady in front of my was taking forever ~ 12 minutes to pay for her soda. I was getting irritable and edgy.  Jesus whispered to me PATIENCE.  Okay…..

As I waited I texted someone and was getting really irritated that this person didn’t text me right back.  I called my husband and of course he didn’t answer his phone.  AND that got my attention….

I am used to everything being so instantaneous, so now when I have to wait it is much harder to do. But I remember waiting in anticipation

  • for the mail to come each day wondering if there was a letter or card in the mail from someone special. 
  • Wondering if there would be a loved one’s voice on the answering machine when I got home. 
  • Dinner at the table with my family talking about everyone’s day and the great things that happened and even the things that weren’t great.  
  • Waiting in great anticipation for my friends to deliver their babies, wondering a boy or girl, wonder what names they will choose when they find out.

Now….

  • I dread all the junk mail that comes each day.
  • If I don’t answer my phone, they just keep calling over and over.
  • I am updated all through the day and dinner is just a meal now.
  • The sex of the baby is known very early and the parents start calling the baby by its name already…some of the suspense and excitement is gone.

We rarely look with anticipation anymore, now we look for instant gratification.  And if we don’t get it, we become moody, irritated and are grumpy to those around us ~ from our spouse, children, co-workers and cashiers at the grocery store.  We snap at people and give dirty looks to the mom with a cart full of groceries and a whole bunch of little ones, instead of blessing her we get mad because it takes her twice as long to empty her shopping cart.

I remember coming home from school, if it was my mom’s day off she would be sitting in the front yard sipping iced tea – that’s all, that’s how she spent her time.  Neighbors would stop by and talk and she had the time to talk – she didn’t ignore them, her day wasn’t jammed with thousands of to-dos.  She was able to enjoy her afternoon.  When was the last time you had time to just be?

Getting on Facebook during lunch this is what I came across:

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.  Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them ~ every day begin the task anew.  ~St. Francis de Sales.

A Confident Heart ~ Week 2…..thoughts

To write out everything that touched me in Chapter 2 would mean writing the whole chapter so I think I what I am going to do is write about last year’s retreat and what God has done for me in the short span of a year.  I will apologize right away, it’s rather long and will be broke into 2 posts. I can’t do short and sweet, besides this weekend was so amazing to me, I don’t want to leave out any important detail. And by the way, the picture at the top of my blog is from my favorite spot on the Retreat House grounds…it’s absolutely gorgeous there!

Last October as I said before I was very sad, miserable and lonely.  I felt my life was something just to be endured.  I went on my Annual Silent Retreat and this time instead of sleeping most of the time I had a real conversations with Jesus.  I knew it was time to quit hiding so in the middle of the labyrinth I had a talk with Jesus.  I poured my heart out to Him, never imagining the year that would be waiting for me.  As I poured my heart out, I asked for some godly women to come into my life to help me on my walk, to show me what it meant to live a Christian life in all areas, to support me and provide me with girlfriends.  I asked for direction in my job – I was miserable and wondered if it was time to move on after 16 years.  I pleaded with God to take away the emptiness that was consuming me – I wanted to feel again, even if it was painful.  I wanted a deeper, closer relationship with Jesus and I wanted to become the woman He created me to be.  I sat there pouring out my heart and I felt nothing.  I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel a peace inside – I just felt empty.  I cried out “You spoke to me once, I will never forget that day, could you please do so again, something, anything.”  Nothing!  I talked with one of the Sisters at the Retreat House.  I asked her “How do you really know its God talking or leading you to something instead of just your own wishes and you talk yourself into believing it’s God”  I can’t remember exactly what she said but I remember thinking “hmm, that helps”

One week later and work is really getting to me.  I pray “please Lord guide me, is it time to move on?”  During this time I had a FB friend that posted a note about a recent heart ache she had been going through and I sent her a message of encouragement and told her how much I missed hearing her on the radio.  For 2 years she was the best part of my drive to work.  She lived with so much joy and she laughed, it was contagious and I hadn’t laughed about anything in a long time.  So anyhow, I sent her a word of encouragement through a private message telling her I would pray for her and that I missed her on the radio and hoped her new endeavor would bring her lots of joy.  She posted a follow-up note about her heartache and how she was trusting in God and gave the control up to Him and even though it hurt she would do as He asked.  I remember thinking “wow, how remarkable it was to live like that and how did I learn to do that”

Two weeks have gone by since my retreat.  I am having my quiet time and I finally felt God’s presence so strong, that I actually look around the room because I know I am not alone.  I break down (as much as I can – b/c I still can’t let the tears go) and I say “I can’t do it anymore.  I can’t keep controlling everything in my life – I am screwing it all up.  I give everything to You.  Every part of my life, every area.  My marriage, my son, my daughter, my finances, my credit card debt (and seriously Lord could You take that!)”  I got down on my knees at 5:30 am and prayed and praised like I have never done before.  I gave Him my whole life.  That day was October 24, 2010.

Stayed tuned for part 2….

A Confident Heart ~ Week 2, Day 4

Today’s Assignment (Thursday 9/29/11):  Answer questions 5-7, Visit Melissa’s blog and conference call #1 will be held today 🙂

5.  Has anything ever happened that caused you to distance yourself from God or other people?  How does it make you feel to know Jesus understands, and He is still there with you in every moment of every day?  When do you need HIs assurance and presence most?

My whole life I have distanced myself from other people – I never felt like I fit in anywhere.  I really didn’t think all that much about God, He was left in Church I never really knew that God should be a part of your everyday life.  There have been many “things” that caused me to distance myself.  I have distanced myself from some of my family members right now, it hurts not to have them in my life but it hurt to have them in my life too.

It reassures me to know that Jesus is with me everyday and every moment.  I know that regardless of what is happening He has His hand on me and even though I may hurt and have a heavy heart, I know I will be okay.

I need His assurance and presence the most when I feel lonely, unwanted and insecure, when the demands and pressures get to be too much and when I start to seek the approval of others.

6.  Reread Sam’s story in John 4, asking Jesus to meet you there and show you things in your heart that need His repair.  Is there part of my story or Sam’s story that you relate to most?

Jesus met Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day.  Jesus met me there too several times ~ this is about the first time.  I remember it clearly, well maybe not so very clear but..I remember when I grabbed a hold and held on.  January 26, 2003.  It’s a day I will never forget.  It’s a day that haunts me and it’s a day that Jesus met me in my pain.

Superbowl Sunday ~ my mom’s favorite day of the year!  Seriously she thought it should be a national holiday, much to her dismay I hated football and never could understand it.  What was so great about a game that should last 1 hour but goes for 4 to 5 hours?

Anyhow, by this date my mom and I were barely speaking.  A couple of years before we flew to CA for Thanksgiving and one night I did the unthinkable, I stood up to my mom.  She had been drinking heavily (yes, both parents are alcoholics) and started yelling and screaming in the living room where my kids were.  I always swore I would NEVER have my kids wake up to drunken yelling and fighting EVER.  I asked her to calm down and maybe go to bed.   Let’s say it didn’t end well and I packed up my family at 2:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.

On September 11, 2001 I decided I needed to be with my family, so we left MO for CA on September 12th.  Not only did I need to be with my family but my kids missed their meemaw and poppa, especially my daughter.  My mom and her had a special bond as my daughter was the only girl on both sides of the family.  It started good and I have a picture I will always cherish from that time.  It didn’t end well, we left 2 days early.  We tried to patched it up but the drinking was more important. It came down to only talking on special occasions.  Christmas Day 2002, our talk didn’t go so great, she got mad and hung up on me, that was the first time EVER we didn’t say I love you when hanging up (yes, lots more of a story there).

January 26, 2003 Superbowl Sunday ~ Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay.  My mom was  huge raiders fan.  Half time – phone rang and I figured it was my mom to talk to my husband (he always picked the other team).  I told him, “I don’t want to talk, she will be drunk).  He answered the phone and immediately hung up.  He said to me “come here” and took me to a spare bedroom.  I just knew, I absolutely knew my dad had died and we had just repaired our relationship, I was devastated.

He looked at me and said “your mom died” I can still remember everything about that moment that was the moment I became an orphan and my heart finally broke in two.  I remember calling my dad and telling him and saying “I always thought it would end like this with you and me, never with mom”

I remember driving to CA and being on the road in the middle of the night and thinking:  my mom’s first night not on this earth, the first night she doesn’t get into her pjs and crawl into bed, the first night that I can’t make amends.  My mom was 49 years old.

On January 26, 2003 ~ Superbowl Sunday ~ my mom’s favorite day, that’s the day I began my journey with Jesus.