Posted in Circle of Friends, Circle of Life, Experiences, Generations, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, Miracles, My Journey, Prayer, Prayers, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Resiliency and Growth Over Time…

today, tomorrow & every day  – THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.  Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Here are my continued thoughts on this amazing book I received as a gift.

She hadn’t always been this way.                                                                                                                         She hadn’t always been as strong and resilient and brave and joyful.

Like any garden or work of art, it had taken her a long time to make things the way there were.   To learn.                                                                                                                                                                                  To arrange.                                                                                                                                                                    To rearrange.

Sometimes, she grew as such in one year as others do in five.                                                                                      It showed in her spirit.                                                                                                                                                                 In her laugh.                                                                                                                                                                          It looked and it sounded like wisdom.                                                                                                                         And she liked it that way.

 53 years.  I’ve come along way. The change really started noticeably happening when I turned 50.  But seeds were planted long before that.  Life events that required me to be strong and resilient and brave… and joyful…regardless.

At times I stayed the same for many years.  Other times I grew more quickly.  I can look back now and see those moments in time.

  • Moving away from everyone and everything I knew and loved, to teach in California at the ripe old age of 23!
  • Moving back home to WA to pursue a job near family and not having success… back to CA I went!
  • Living alone in a strange house during a large earthquake.
  • Getting married at the age of 34… step-parenting with an ex that hated me!
  • Moving to a new city in CA and getting a new job… starting over.
  • Caring for my step daughter as she recovered from a horrific accident and a traumatic brain injury. (This one made me brave and strong and resilient and selfless)
  • Divorce… everything I ever believed about myself was challenged and questioned.
  • Sold my condo and moved back to WA.
  • New job… again.
  • Bought a house on my own.
  • Married the love of my life… step parent to three young children.
  • Lost both parents and one of my sisters.
  • Turned 50 and said, “The hell with it! I’m done trying to please everyone!”

Now I continue on this journey to live a brave and real and gorgeous life!  I’ve got a lot of scars and old wounds to heal, as well as many wonderful memories to hold on to! I’ve listened to many people who have shared wisdom and counsel with me. I’ve shared my experiences with many… passing along the same. I’ve also talked less and listened more. I was recently told by someone very special to me that talking to me brought her peace. That must be what wisdom looks and sounds like. Jesus in skin.

How have you changed over time? What has happened your life to make you strong and resilient?

Posted in Circle of Friends, Grace, Hope, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, Uncategorized

Standing in the Gap…

I love to pray.  I love when people reach out for prayer and I can intercede on their behalf. I don’t take prayer lightly.  When I say I will pray for someone, I pray.  I stand in the gap for them.

A friend recently asked me what I meant by “stand in the gap.” She had her idea of what it meant, but she wanted to know what I meant by it.

I once heard “standing in the gap” used and I liked it.  It was a different way to say I’m praying for you. It originates from the Bible verse in Ezekiel 22:30.

I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.  (NLT)

The wall in this verse refers to people united in there efforts to resist evil. It was unsuccessful because it was built on religious rituals and messages not founded on God’s will. The people were crying out for spiritual reconstruction. (Taken from NIV Life Application Bible Commentary)

When someone is hurting and in need of prayer, I like to stand before God in that space where the enemy resides as he tries to intervene and destroy.  Cries for prayer send the enemy into action. He slips into that gap between the person and God.  I like to stand in that gap and keep the enemy out, calling on God on their behalf.

When I’m reaching out for prayer, I’m not always at my strongest spiritually.  I love knowing that I can reach out to others to stand in that gap and keeping that space holy and sacred… keeping the enemy out.

Standing in the gap…

When we pray for someone we are doing just that. It’s not a fancy version of praying or better than praying.  It IS praying.  We all do it when we reach out and pray for another soul. This brings me great comfort.

Posted in Circle of Friends, Gifts, Grace, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Prayers, Uncategorized

The Mix of Life’s Emotions…

Social media is changing the way we live. The way we view life. The way we view people around us. We all want to present well. We generally don’t tweet or post the ugly stuff in our lives. We post the good stuff. The happy times. That one photograph that can make everyone think we’ve got it all together. I don’t think most of us do this intentionally. It comes naturally. We want people to see the good in our lives, not the struggles.

Everyone has a story. We all carry joys and burdens around with us each day. Some with greater joy and less heartache. Others with more heartache than joy. Some of us have the ability to keep that heartache tucked away neatly so others may not see it. Some buried so deeply they themselves don’t even see it. Others wear their hearts on their shirtsleeves, walking around transparent to those around them.

Life is hard. Life is amazing. Life is scary. Life is exciting. Life is full of hurt. Life is full of love. Life is difficult relationships. Life is incredible relationships.

It’s nearly impossible to always live as if life if great, grand and glorious! To wear that smile and attitude as if we’ve got everything in control is a burden in itself.

The flip side of that is that it’s exhausting to live with the hurts and trials of life dominating our world. Walking around with the glass half empty.

Our lives are a mix of struggles and joy. We’ve got to embrace them as they come and not try to hide or bury them. Exposing our heart a little more can allow not only ourselves to embrace the journey, but let others join us, so together WE can walk the path.

Life is full of emotions that collide in the moment. This can be a beautiful thing if we let them.

Sadness and gratitude.
Grief and grace.
Pain and beauty.

One without the other can be overwhelming. Finding gratitude amidst sadness brings hope. Receiving and extending grace as we grieve is healing. Finding beauty in our pain strengthens our endurance.

We must live an authentic life. People want to see our true hearts and struggles, not just our best FB world! We are called to reach out to others in our time of need and in theirs. Isolation is lonely. Fellowship is glorious and healing. Finding a community of people to come alongside and share this journey we are on. This journey that is full sadness and gratitude… grief and grace… pain and beauty.

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Posted in Circle of Friends, Fun, Grace, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Prayers, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized, Vacation, Wordless Blog

Summer 2013…

The summer of 2013 has come to an end … too much to write about and too complex to summarize in words.  Ups, downs, joys, sorrows, laughs, friends, milestones, celebrations, growth, tears, healing, sunshine, family, loss … I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

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Posted in Circle of Friends, Healing, Prayers, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey

Lord I Need You…

If you read my previous blog, you know that I admitted to my struggle with anxiety.  I have also reached out to some dear friends to stand in the gap for me as I walk through this difficult time.  I have received so much encouragement from people that I’m not alone.  Anxiety has been a nemesis in many lives.  As I am crying out to Jesus for help, my friends are also, on my behalf.  Some sweet moments and encouragements have come and I wanted to share a few of them.  Maybe, just maybe, someone reading this that knows me or is a complete stranger can find some encouragement in the words and songs shared with me.

Lord, I come, I confess… bowing here, I find my rest…without you, I fall apart… You’re the One that guides my heart… Lord I need you… Oh, I need you…Every hour I need you…My one defense… my righteousness… Oh, God, how I need you…Where sin runs deep, your grace is more… where grace is found is where you are…Where you are, Lord, I am FREE… Holiness in Christ in me… Lord I need YOU… Oh, I need YOU… every hour I need YOU…       (Lord I Need You – Matt Maher)   

Lord, you hear your daughters’ cry and love her so much.  Above everything else I pray she will know and FEEL your love for her.  You who have up your life to suffer a horrible death that she might experience not just a breakthrough.  And might I add she is not responsible to make herself better, but all health rests on your loving shoulders.  You know the intricacies of her.  You formed her and put her together.  It will be you that heals her Lord.  I pray she can rest in the timing of that knowledge.  That you have everything under control.  I am so thankful you know her intimately.  I pray healing over her past, present and future.  You Lord, are in all and above all.  Nothing surprises you.  You are fighting for your daughter even now in this dark night of the soul.  You are present and fighting for she who is precious to you.  May this be short lived.  I pray for breakthrough not just for her life, but that your plan for her far surpasses herself.  Hold her close.  Deal with anything that is hurting your daughter including any shame, the enemy of us all.  Let your love flood her even now.  may she rise from the ashes secure in your love.  Never ever needing to earn a thing from you.  Tear down the walls of deception and rebuild the ruins that you desire to rebuild.  A knowledge of your deep fatherly love and motherly love that can never be taken away.  Bless my friend now with peace that goes past all human understanding… in the darkness you are with her.

You know how when someone we love is sick or hurting or in the hospital and we have that helpless feeling? We stand by their bed and all we can do is pray. We don’t know the outcome, we can’t offer words of advice or encouragement or alter their circumstances. I had a picture today in my head with you laying in a bed, surrounded by all of us…but at the foot of the bed was Jesus…calm, collecting and in control. You were at peace in the midst of the suffering because you knew and saw that the healing you needed was at your side…you only had to wait for his Word to take effect in your life. I guess what I take that to mean, is that I believe God is going to heal you, he is standing with you, and is in control even though you feel so out of control. So continue to embrace His presence and know the Truth and the Truth will set you free. Until then, you are not alone…ever.    

Amen to all the above…and as she seeks you, I pray your presence and energy and peace is immediately felt. Surround her with angels and defeat the enemy…you are in control, Father, it is not her burden to bare so help her release it to you.      

Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!   Joshua 1:9

Lord, we stand together and hold up our sister. Lord be with her, give her that sense of peace that comes only from you. Hold her and provide her strength, bless her and let her sense your presence.         

There is hope for you!  Here are some of those truths:

“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.  Open your mouth and I will feed you.” Psalm 81:10

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your holy one see decay.” Psalm 16:9-10

“I remember You while I’m lying in bed; I think about You through the night.  You are my help, because of Your protection I sing.  I stay close to you; you support me with your right hand.” Psalm 63:6-8

“You will not fear any danger by night or an arrow during the day.  You will not be afraid of diseases that come in the dark or sickness that strikes at noon.” Psalm 91:5-6

When You Want To Give Up (this was a very powerful thing to do)

There will be moments when you’ve had enough and it’s all too much. When you feel that way…Give up.

You heard me right. Stand and raise your hands as high as you can. Then turn your open palms toward heaven and tell God you’re done. You’re handing it all over to Him. Giving up.

Then ask Him what He wants to give you in return. Take hold of what He offers with both hands and bring it back to your heart.

– Devotional excerpt by Holley Gerth, from her blog Heart to Heart with Holley.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6

I hope you took the time to read through all of these truths and words of encouragement and healing.  I’m thankful for social media so I can refer to them often.  The comfort I feel as I’m reminded that I’m not alone, is what is keeping me moving forward.  I hope that if you have even doubt for one second that you are loved or cared about; or if you are struggling with anxiety or depression, that you will find one of these treasures to encourage you.  May the grace of Jesus fill us all in our hour of weakness.  Let it be done… let it be so.

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Posted in Circle of Friends

A Walk Down Memory Lane…

At the age of 13, my world was turned upside down… never to be the same again.  After many months of noticing things were not “normal,” I was informed that my parents were divorcing AND we would be moving from the home I’d been born and raised in.  Seventh grade is difficult enough, but then to add two major life changes in was devastating.  We packed up our home and moved 5 miles away to a much smaller house on a quiet little street.  I was two houses into different school boundaries and would also be starting 8th grade at a new school.  More change…

First day at our “new” house (it was much older and smaller than my childhood home), I was forlorn and sad.  I sat on the front porch in search of a new beginning.  Little did I know, this short little block held many years of memories to come and relationships that would be vital to my teenage years.  Out of the house across the street came two girls that would soon become dear, lifelong friends and my refuge during many a stormy times.  Their house soon became a place I loved to be.  More kids from around the block came around and soon we were an unstoppable group of young teens enjoying friendships and adventures!

Life as a teenager can be confusing and difficult.  Add in a mom who was devastated and hurt by betrayal, and you’ve got painful times.  I became the peacemaker and tried to keep our now much smaller family together.  The first six kids had all moved into their adult lives and it was just my little brother, my mom, and me left to pick up the pieces.  My new friends became the salve and grace that my hurting heart needed.  We spent the next 5 years or so sharing adventures, junior high and high school craziness, and building friendships that would last, even when years pass in between visits.  You see, the relationships you develop with people in different times of your life either come and go, or last for a lifetime … never to be broken.  The latter is how I feel about my friends I met that summer on Audubon.

Yesterday, I had the joy of reconnecting with these friends.  One special lady was home visiting from Florida and we were all able to gather in the old neighborhood for a visit.  The home that I so loved to be at as a teenager, is still inhabited by the wonderful people that became second parents to me that summer.  We walked around the old neighborhood, visited several neighbors and friends that still live there, and had banana popsicles!  Eldon was our popsicle supplier in our younger days, and he helped us relive a cherished memory together!

This morning as I sit here and contemplate the memories that were stirred yesterday, I’m overwhelmed by the journey I’ve been on.  Many years have passed since our days playing Hide-n-Go Seek and Kick the Can… enduring a week inside together due to the fallout of Mt St Helens… conning rides to school from our sweet neighbor, Skip… and the list goes on!   Being together yesterday uncovered a time and place in my life that I could consider a true wilderness experience… tumultuous, painful, ever-changing… and the best thing to ever happen to me!  My sweet world on our short little block expanded when I started at the new junior high school.  I developed another circle of friends that are still friends today.  When I take time to look back on my life, it is these amazing people that I met that fateful summer of upheaval in my youth, that were foundational in me becoming the person I am today.  I’m so grateful for the door of these precious memories being opened once again.  We can get so lost in what is right in front of us and where we hope to go, that we can easily forget where we came from.  Yesterday, I was reminded that God has always had His hand on my life and each journey is key to where He has me today.  I look forward to more time with these dear friends to spend a bit more time remembering the journey we all took together!

Posted in Circle of Friends

The FB Connection…

I have recently spent time contemplating FB and whether or not I should continue.  I’ve cut down on the amount of time I spend and the things I do when on.  I update my status less and less.  There are only a handful of people who  seem to comment on things I post.  I waiver on how and when I comment.  At times I actively participate in people’s lives and other times I am more of a stalker!

There have been some recent changes that I don’t care for, like when strangers comment on my photo’s because they are friends of people I tag.  I worry about security issues and my life becoming too public (not that I have anything to hide!).  I have every privacy setting in full swing.  I don’t care to see all of the games that people are playing and don’t care to be invited to play.  I love to see friends’ pictures!  I feel honored and blessed to share in people’s lives.  I laugh when people post what they are doing… when really what they are doing is posting on FB!  Dinner menu’s intrigue me.  I don’t care for political posts.  Reading about the mileage from runs and bike rides that people take should motivate me (emphasis on “should”).  I get bummed when I post and  NO ONE comments or everyone just LIKES it and does not use their words!

Occasionally I look through my friend list and try to clean house.  That is so difficult for me.  I usually talk myself into keeping everyone!  I have friends from my school days, college, my 20 years in CA, family, church, and my profession.  While I don’t communicate with most of these people, there is a connection.  At any moment I can bring one of them up on my screen and visit their life or make contact.  I can rejoice with them as they celebrate or pray for them as they share a loss.  I have “friends” far and wide and may never see most of them again in my lifetime.  The thought of unfriending or giving it up altogether would be like cutting myself off from a lifeline.  That may sound strange, but it makes me feel sad to think about suddenly not having the ability to connect with people.  I’m connected with parts of my life that I will never get back.  I think about all of the amazing people who I said goodbye to after 20 years in CA.  I love that I still have a path on which to walk with them… even if it is only on FB.  It is such a quick and easy way to be connected with folks.

Hmmmmmm…. I think I have my answer!