Focus On What Is

What are you waiting for?

I am right here.

While you complain about your life I am right here.

I am blessing your family because I love your family. I am blessing your body because I love you. I am blessing your job because I want you to succeed. Yes, I am even blessing what is to come because your future matters to me too.

Stop focusing on what is not. Focus on what is. I am I am. Nothing is hidden from me. Your enemies are haughty and arrogant. Do not worry about them for I have prepared a great feast of victory for you. They will see your feast and wonder at the great joy you have.

But you must focus on what is, not on what is not. Get out of the griping habit. Get out of the rut of the enemy. Bitterness grabs hold of your feet there and will not let you go until you choose repentance, forgiveness and joy. What I desire for you is so much greater than you can imagine.

My heart is drawn to you. I only want your good. I want to see you succeed. I am your biggest fan. My voice is the loudest cheering you on. I am for you.

What are you waiting for?

I am right here.

– Jesus

An Epic Coloring Devotional

                       

I absolutely love Picturing Heaven: 40 Hope-Filled Devotions With Coloring Pages! The illustrations are by Lizzie Preston while the book was written by Randy Alcorn. One of the sweet surprises were the gold detail on the pages. Not only does this add a gentle detail but it enhances your own coloring of the pictures. 

The daily devotions are Randy Alcorn’s own thoughts and interpretations of the scriptures about heaven. I may not fully agree with every detail that he presents but it still is a fascinating study. The most important aspect of the book is that it is so full of hope. Not only did it affirm my longing for heaven but I found that I enjoyed imagining what my eternal home will be like while I was coloring the pages. I imagined walking with Jesus, having everything restored & being with family & friends who are already there. 

This is a fun devotional that adds further interaction from the artist or amateur. The other suggestion that I would have that would add to this book is to have a journal or reflection page where readers and artists could either draw a picture or write out thoughts. This addition is not necessary but while I was reading and coloring I wanted to add more to the picture as well as take time to journal. Heaven is so near yet it is still a mystery to those of us waiting to go home. 

God is preparing a place for us. He loves us. Picturing Heaven is a great reminder to us all to live for eternity even before we get there. We are just travelers passing through. There is so much to look forward to!

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers and these thoughts are my own.

The Treasure

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The past several weeks have not at all gone as I had originally planned. But I guess that is life, right? I am writing this with a smirk because I have begun to find joy in these simple hiccups in plans. God has little blessings and treasures even amidst those times as long as you are able to stop focusing so much on what did not happen!

The fatigue and health issues that I have been having, which I thought were simply from stress and grieving were indeed more than just that. Unbeknownst to me, I have actually had mono. The mono then led to a flare up of tonsillitis.  Because of my diagnosis, I realized just how much I needed to slow down, and not put such high expectations on myself to do everything that I wanted to do. This meant that I did not hand out any Christmas goodies or cards to many people that I originally planned on (sorry everyone). It also meant that I have been learning the art of pacing myself while enjoying every single moment possible to the fullest measure. When one’s energy is low and food puts pressure on an inflamed and swollen spleen, you learn to enjoy every bite because it could be your last for a couple of hours.

I am grateful for everyone who has put in extra effort to help carry loads for me since I am ordered not to do so for at least a month. I am grateful for a husband who helps do laundry, pick up the house, and cook for me while I lay down on the couch. For those who know me well, I am much like my Mom…  a stubborn go-getter, never letting pain and fatigue stop me from living. This is how I have been living my life. I did not realize how serious it was until my spleen was at risk of rupturing. I am thankful that God was protecting me and intervened through the prayers of my husband and my daughter.

Despite all of the physical disruptions to my plans, Christmas has been very full of blessings, sweet surprises, and moments filled with tears as well as laughter. The art of choosing joy is the best way to live life. Cherishing every moment and not getting hung up on how things are so painfully different is also important. What will your focus be on? I choose the positive things. Those people who are right in front of me. A daughter that needs me and wants to be a part of everything even if I am so tired that I feel like the couch is enveloping me.  My husband that chooses to work hard, provide, take care, encourage, and love me as well as our daughter with every fiber in his being blesses me daily. What greater treasure is there than that of the people whom love you and you love?

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Those people are my God given treasure. They remind me just how much God loves me.

I could have chosen the other route. It would have been easy to sink into the misery of what my body has been feeling for over a month and allow that to overtake my thoughts and feelings. I am stubborn.

I choose joy. I choose to be thankful. I want to be the type of woman that has grit! I want to be tough as well as sweet and gracious. I want to be like Jesus whose life was not always full of great circumstances yet he knew whom his Father was and why he needed to choose his ways. Life is not about us. Life is about love and choosing that love above all else. Life is about pointing others to the source of our joy. Life is showing others why we choose the way of living lovingly and joyfully. Life is full of twists and turns with blessings and treasures at every single one of them if we take the time to see them.

Life is beautiful!

God is the source and he is good.

 

 

Letting Go is Powerful

 

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With my own journey of grieving I have learned that letting go is a crucial part of living life abundantly. Sometimes letting go can be really hard. It can feel horrible, almost as if a part of you is going away. I have learned that God uses the process to bring about a better blessing. When this process happens I have realized how much God wanted me to be free from bondage and unhealthy perspectives. I would never have understood this unless I was open to letting go no matter how much it hurt.


 

Too often we hold on when we just need to release our grasp and fall to the ground in surrender to God. The greatest thing about God is that he understands this process is painful for us.  It is crucial we let go otherwise we will remain stuck, get sluggish, apathetic, or even become bitter. Sometimes we place too much of our time looking back when God wants us to strain forward and press on to our goal. The goal is in front of us, not behind. I am not saying that you should never reminisce or never remember fondly the things of the past. There is a time for proper reflection and honor of what the past has taught us while anticipating all that God has for us in the present.


 

God is so beautiful and so are his ways. He understands that this is a process for us. His timing is perfect and he knows just how much we can handle. He is also very gracious, giving us time to work through everything mentally, spiritually and even in the physical sense. Every action of letting go is powerful!


 

There are times when it feels like letting go is just too much, the weight too heavy, and the memory too deep. But from experience, anytime I have let go when it hurt beyond description, the freedom and grace brought about new wind to my aching wings in flight. Even though the tears flowed, relief came a few days later. Letting go is crucial for growth to happen, for fluid momentum to continue moving forward.


 

Letting go is a powerful action. It speaks of grace, of trust in God and understanding that it is the strength that comes from God that enables true release, true freedom. After all, it is in his strength that we find joy.


 

Letting go is a beautiful process. It reminds me that in the mess of us, God is there and loves us still.

Life Is Simply Beautiful With God

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Today is Mom’s birthday.


This year I actually was looking forward to the day because of what the Lord has been doing in my heart. It is hard to describe but the best word I can use is FREEDOM.


With the death of my Mom, God has used it to bring peace and healing to so many different parts of my heart. He still is working amazing healing in me. I know that my Mom is incredibly happy and proud, especially since in Heaven truth comes to light and all things hidden or murky are revealed. I am so thankful she knows and is proud of me!


There is no greater feeling than to have things reconciled within your own heart despite the unreconciled circumstances surrounding you. That is the beautiful thing about God. His peace and healing is unlike anything in the entire world.

There are still days where the void seems much too large and I crawl into the arms of God just to weep. I know this will be a continual process but there is also beauty along the journey.


Life is simply beautiful with God.

“Always Hope No Matter How Much It Hurts”

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Reconciliation has been what is on my heart, especially as the year mark has been occurring in pieces. Tomorrow marks the year that we had the celebration of life service for my Mom. Naturally when someone passes some people feel like making changes to reconcile relationships. Others remain constantly waiting for a friendship to begin as they slowly reach out.


 

Forgiveness is the first step. And as reconciliation does not occur, forgiveness becomes a daily process. Many have wanted nothing more than for reconciliation to occur in order for a friendship to blossom and grow.  Several have opened up to me asking for guidance. The constant question is, “How do you deal with this when there is no closure, when there is hope for reconciliation and a relationship but constant rejection is what I get?”


 

To you who have asked this of me, and are asking this yourself, the answer God has given me for my own personal journey is,


 

“Always hope no matter how much it hurts.”


 

To be perfectly honest with you, I have struggled with this answer. I have struggled with it because it means that I am open for constant pain and rejection. This may be something that you struggle with as well. The truth is that God always intended for reconciliation to be a part of everyone’s life but not everyone is obedient to his will. Everyone has a choice to submit to him.


 

For those of us who are waiting, hoping beyond all hope that reconciliation will happen sooner than later, keep holding on. Do not give up hope.  Our hope is in Jesus. That is the best reminder I can give anyone as well as for myself.


 

In this beautiful mess, this journey we all are on,


 

“Always hope no matter how much it hurts.”

 

Choosing Love Daily

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There is nothing quite like having a heart full of gratefulness despite difficult seasons. There is power in your personal testimony when you begin to honestly describe your journey, not to gain sympathy but to praise God for bringing you through it.


I have had several people ask me how I have been able to come through a year so difficult and hurtful and not be bitter. To be quite honest, bitterness only causes us more harm than good. I have written about letting go several times. This is why bitterness is not something that remains in my life. Even though there have been moments that I could have rightfully justified harboring anger and bitterness towards certain people from a human perspective, I chose God instead. I am not stating this to brag but only to display his goodness when we choose him.


When we choose God daily, the things that hold us down, slowly are revealed to us. It is at that time that we have a choice. Will we continue to hold onto these things and allow ugly bitterness to grow? Or will you choose God and allow him to turn all things into something beautiful? When you choose him, beauty will shine from within even if you feel like the darkness is shoving you down.


This reminds me often of marriage. God has shown me so much of himself through my relationship with my husband. A huge part of this has to do with the fact that my husband chooses God daily and chooses me daily as well. When two people become one and follow Gods leading, there is nothing quite like it. When two hearts choose each other and follow God, the adventures are never ending. Love is also never ending.


There have been moments in our lives when so many things were up against us. In other people’s perspectives, we could have easily let it separate us because of the pain. Instead, we chose to listen to each other. We would hear and see the pain that we needed to let go. Through that, we allowed each other to have a part in the healing journey. We were two people unified through Christ learning what love was and what it continues to be. There have been countless moments that we would just sit and listen. Some of these moments were difficult but at the end our hearts were never so intertwined.


We still choose each other daily. I know that this makes God smile.


When you choose God that is what life is like. Even though it may be difficult, working through the hard things is completely worth it. It is worth it because your heart will become further intertwined with Gods own heart. When you heart becomes more intertwined with his own, bitterness is unable to take root. Love will grow deeper in your heart and gratefulness will make your heart want to sing.


When my husband chooses me and holds me during my most difficult moments, he is showing me Gods love. When we have both hurt each other and he chooses to love me rather than reject me, he is showing me Gods love. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. Letting go of anything that hinders us is crucial. Loving like it is our last day on earth is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. The enemy would like nothing more than to split up marriages and families because it distorts what Gods love for us looks like. Together, we have learned that our marriage must come first after placing God in the center of everything. When we have a successful marriage, we will have a successful life. The success is all because we place God in the center of our lives. He is our foundation.


I owe so much of my own journey this past year to my amazing husband choosing God first and then choosing me daily. I have done the same in return. Choose God first every single day. Choose love. Let go of what hinders you. Be free. Live full of joy!


You can still choose God through the grief. The Holy Spirit will come to comfort you through every step. He is there holding you as you cry. But do not harbor bitterness. Let him hold you through it all and allow his beauty to take root from the pain. He is worth it.


Let us all choose God every day. Let us let go of anything that hinders us from loving God and loving others. After all, without love, this life would not be worth anything we go through. God is love. Choose him.


He is worth it!


Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Gods Love Never Fails. The Year Mark

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I have found myself smiling and laughing a lot more these days. Life is a beautiful journey. Words cannot begin to adequately express the gratitude within my heart that God has answered so many prayers in this new journey that we are on. We persevered through a very hard, tumultuous season and it was worth it all.


The year mark has begun. Before I go on further, let me first say how good God has been and continues to be. He has carried us and given us strength. He has helped us through all of the heartache and given us many times full of joy. His joy is our strength and because of his strength, we have joy.


Today, July 27th marks the day that Mom had her stroke. My Dad had sent me a message on Facebook asking for us to pray for them as he thought that Mom had a stroke in their hotel room. I remember telling my younger brother and my sis in love what had happened, since they were over at our house for lunch. Instantly, we stopped what we were doing. It was a time of devastation. A time that we all had dreaded might come someday, yet it felt too soon. I can recall my sis in love come around us and say a few words. I cannot recall what she said. I can only remember that I was impressed by her and was thankful that she was there. We agreed to get a hold of family members as a team. And we prayed.


This time last year we were anxiously awaiting word on how things were going. Our only form of communication was Facebook messenger. This time last year marked a beginning of sleepless nights, checking our phones for any news and updates and praying unceasingly. We had to wait hours and hours before getting our next update. This was incredibly difficult for me. I am assuming it was for everyone else. Sleep was hard to come by and I was worried I would not hear my phone beep with the next update.


Looking back, I am thankful that I was able to see God’s hand working out special details just for us, while things were happening. My younger brother just happened to be over at our house when I got the message. God knew we needed to be in person with each other for that news.  It was a miracle that Dad was able to get Mom back into the states since the doctor’s on the island did not want to send her further than the neighboring island. He had to convince the doctors on the island that Lupus was real and how serious it was. They did not even have her on the proper medication to help with the pain she experienced before her stroke, so her body was going through a lot of trauma. Our Dad fought a battle for her. He was persistent. I am thankful that God gave him the strength to be able to do this. I am thankful that the last moments that Mom was aware of things that they were able to communicate last words of love for each other and for us, even though she was unable to speak. Love does not need words.


I am thankful for the ones that helped pay for all of our flight tickets within hours of finding out that the doctor in Florida had told our Dad to get the family there as soon as possible. I am thankful for the church family that helped our Dad in Florida, especially when we could not be there. I am thankful for a sis in love who let us use her credit card so that we could get our tickets and then pay her back later. Then after we had been making payments, my other sis in love had helped pitch in money as well. I am thankful for the other people who also contributed to the rest of the family to fly out and have money for food. When a crisis like this hits, and there is no human way of things working out, and God uses others to help, neither words nor actions are adequate enough to show our gratefulness.


I am thankful that because Mom was flown to Florida, each of us was able to make it to her side. We were also able to be in person for a time with our incredible Dad who went through the first couple of days alone without any belongings on him. It was hard to leave him there for the last several days before Mom passed. I like to believe that God wanted special moments with our Dad even though in my mind, it was brutally hard to know that we could not be there to support him.


The hardest part now is working through the first year mark, which has presented itself to be difficult as expected. I know that everyone grieves differently. Because I have a tendency to be a perfectionist I can look at my own journey and feel like I am not doing it well enough. As I write this I can laugh at how ridiculous this is. The past year has been filled with much loss, much change, unfair expectations weeks after burying my Mom, betrayal from those who were supposed to support us, disappointment that a death of someone so close would not cause reconciliation, death of a family unit, death of who we once were, new family, church merge, job change, and a move to name a few.


As I reflect I realize how ridiculous it is to put expectations on myself that I should not be struggling right now. A lot has gone on. God is still healing me. I am thankful to say that I harbor no anger or ill feelings from the past year. I struggle more with trusting people. I struggle to trust that when someone tells me something loving and supportive that they actually mean it and will not go back on their word. But God is helping me with this. I am certainly not perfect. God’s goodness and love never changes. He is trustworthy.


Through it all, Gods love has overwhelmed us. As each wave crashed over us, his love consumed our hearts. He loves us so much.


He loves you! Our Mom, died giving everything within her so that others would know how much God loves them. It is my belief that the prayers she prayed for so many are being answered still today.


God is for you. He loves you! No matter what happens in our lives Gods love never fails.


Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Encouragers

 

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It is an amazing feeling to walk out of discouragement into encouragement!


 

When I began this blog I was determined to be as open about the grieving process that I was going through. It has been healing for me. I wanted to help others through my honesty. I wanted to send a message that grieving is not wrong, but that it is a part of life and that we must support one another through the different stages.


 

Too often, our current culture does not allow time to grieve, or even support and acknowledge that people are. I know that part of this stems from our busy lives we all carry. For those who have not been touched by the loss, they often can forget that an individual is still processing through the loss and separation of their loved one. Because they forget, they begin to question why someone may be tired, sad or discouraged. People can come across very insensitive. Because of these people, it highlights those who are very encouraging. The “encouragers” are the ones that give you permission to grieve. They cry with you. They will hug you. They will listen. I am thankful for these people!


 

I am the type of person that does not want to stuff issues down. I have intentionally been working on dealing with the grieving process head on as best as I have been able to in certain environments. I am thankful to be in a place full of love, and incredible encouragement. It has allowed me time to breathe. Dreams begin to resurface in a place of love and encouragement. Hope grows. One is able to break free from penetrating sadness that can often come and go as grief hits. Freedom reigns.


 

If I could give any sort of advice to anyone trying to support someone who has lost a loved one, it would be this: Give the other person permission to grieve when you are around him or her.


 

God does this for each of us. He acknowledges how hard it is. He sympathizes with us and gives us grace. He holds us, carries us and cries with us. He does not say, “Suck it up. Stop crying. You need to work harder to be happy. You really need to pray more since this shows you have sin in your life…” I could go on further but I will not.


 

Instead this is what God says, “My child, I love you. You will make it through this. The pain you feel reveals a heart that loves deeply. Sin caused this separation. I did not design you to experience this separation. It is why you struggle so much. Let me heal you, guide you and renew life to your aching soul. I will continue to listen to you, encourage you, and give you grace as you learn a new life. I understand your loss. It is hard. But you are stronger than you feel. I am holding you. I will pour my spirit into you to renew your soul. I love you.”


 

We all need to be more like God. We all need to extend mercy and grace to each other no matter what. We all need to encourage and love one another. Romans 12 describes very clearly how a true Christian is to live. Love should be greater than anything else. Love should permeate everything that we do, even when we might not understand what someone else is going through.


 

Romans 12:9-15

Marks of the True Christian

“9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” ESV (read the rest of this chapter. It is so good!)


 

Since my last post, I have been blessed by so many who have prayed for me, loved me and sent encouraging notes. Thank you fellow encouragers!

 

The Calm And The Sunshine

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I have to admit that I was in rebellion against my own process of working through grieving since I last wrote. Each time I would start to write I just felt a little frustrated that I was struggling the way that I was. Instead of writing I chose to pack or unpack. This transition in our lives has been more difficult than I expected even though it has been one of the greatest changes for us.


 

Every time that I have moved I always had my Mom to help organize my kitchen. Each time I went to unpack I had feelings of extreme sadness, and frustration. I know that it has only been 10 months since she passed but there is a part in me that feels like I should be feeling happier and not still be breaking down in tears. To be perfectly honest though, my heart has hurt more this past month than it has for the past several months. It feels as if her death just happened. Because of this, I can often feel inadequate. I know that this is a lie but to feel such sadness makes me feel a sense of guilt. I know that Mom is in Heaven. I know that I will see her someday. This makes me feel like that truth should outweigh my sadness.


 

But I truly miss my Mom so much that it hurts. So much change has occurred in the past several months. These changes are all very good, but growing pains certainly have hit. Everything that seemed to be of some kind of discouraging opposition has shown itself to make us better. Because of our recent move, we are now able to focus on certain details of our lives that we were unable to do before. As this happens, the growing pains have increased. God is purifying the gunk that has occurred in previous months. I pray daily that I am obedient. I want to allow God to uproot anything within me that should not be buried in my heart. This can be painful at times as well.


 

The past year has been very hard. It has been full of much pain. But it is this pain that God has used to mold us, shape us, make us stronger and prepare us for the things ahead that are much bigger and greater than we ever would have been able to imagine on our own.


 

So far, we have been overcome with such love from our new church family. We have walked into a family who has made it clear that they will love and support us for who we are. When one has lived through a storm, experienced much opposition, and then that changes to sunshine and encouragement, it almost feels like a dream. We are still processing this. We are so thankful!


 

It does not matter what you are going through. God is for you. No matter the storm, and  no matter your struggle, God is for you. He is protecting you. He is holding you. Remember, the storm does not last forever. He still calms the waves, and brings forth the sun.


 

Psalm 118:1 (ESV)

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!