Goodbye Summer

Summer was such a sweet season for our family. I’m sad to see it go. It was a season mixed with downtime, travel, and exciting adventures. We braved the Florida heat and visited Disney World with friends and family. I cleaned out my kids’ rooms, yes, I was almost as excited about this as one … Continue reading “Goodbye Summer”

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Summer was such a sweet season for our family. I’m sad to see it go.

It was a season mixed with downtime, travel, and exciting adventures.

We braved the Florida heat and visited Disney World with friends and family.

I cleaned out my kids’ rooms, yes, I was almost as excited about this as one of our summer adventures!

 

We enjoyed the outdoors and tried new adventures.

 

We savored lazy summer mornings.

My husband and I helped out my in-laws’ family restaurant; this took me back to our days of being engaged where we worked together.

We started a small group in our home for young adults. They keep us young and teach us a lot.

 

I served at our church youth camp and youth conference.

This summer was good for my soul. It was incredible for our family.

img_1538And now we say goodbye to summer.

School is back in session, and my full-time job outside our home begins again.

As I reflect on this season, I remember how opposite I felt when school let out a few months before. I was exhausted, burned-out, and lonely.

I went into the last school year with my own set of expectations; which is never a good idea. I had high hopes for myself and others. Most of which I didn’t even realize.

I thought because last year was my second year at the same job I’d have more things figured out, but I still had quite a bit of learning to do.

I expected my eighth-grader to have a smoother year than his past two in middle school. But, he had similar academic challenges and struggled with responsibility. I wasn’t prepared for his group of friends shrinking and seeing him on the outside of his friend group.

I was entirely caught off guard when my third grader, who never has a rough day at school, began having quite a few rough days at home. His time at home became filled with emotional outbursts, sadness, and anxiety. I couldn’t comprehend how our bright and sweet boy was growing sad and stressed.

I was ill-equipped to handle my daughter going into school crying because she didn’t like her hair, her uniform, or the fact that her best friend yesterday wasn’t speaking to her this week. She was in kindergarten.

Maybe it’s my age, perhaps its selective memory, but I don’t remember middle school, third grade, or kindergarten being this difficult! We did survive the 2018-19 school year, and all grew in many ways. But I welcomed summer break like never before.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:”        Ecclesiastes 3:1

There was also the challenge of carving out time with my husband amidst our opposite schedules. I had to accept the heartache of dwindling relationships with friends and family without understanding why.

What I did know was: I didn’t feel like I was enough, in any area of my life, and that felt awful!

It was at the end of “my rope” that God began to refresh me with His Word, with friendships that were growing, with sweet time early in the morning sitting at His feet.

And I mean early.

Groggily, I’d peek at my phone to check the time. Most mornings, I’d pray/beg the Lord to let me sleep a little longer. After tossing and turning I’d realize that wasn’t an option. I’d head out to the living room and find my cozy spot on the couch. I’d open my bible or devotion book and wait for the Lord to reveal something.

I’d long for Him to remind me:

· I am not alone.

· Your plans are good, even if I don’t feel like they are.

· I can keep going.

Most days throughout the past school year, I did start my day in my bible. I listened to worship music on my way to work. I enjoyed sweet conversations with my kids (most of the time). I was grateful for the many blessings in my life. But I still felt this heaviness and sadness that weighed me down. I became so physically exhausted; I ended up going to my doctor. I found out I have something wrong with my thyroid, nothing serious at this time, but it is something to watch.

I also realized I had something wrong, spiritually. I was going through the motions and not being filled with Jesus. I was trying, in my strength and my set of expectations to take care of everything/everyone in this season. I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.

 I don’t have to be Jesus; I have to lean on Jesus.

I began changing my thinking and reminding myself:

o God is always with me, ‘I’m never alone. Deut 31:8

o I trust Your good plans for my family and me. Jer 29:11

o I don’t have to keep going in my strength; I can persevere with Jesus. Phil 4:13

1280x1280-1I also began realizing Jesus wanted me to know Him as my friend. I sang many times in church, “I’m a friend of God.” I never fully grasped this.  If I hadn’t felt so isolated this past year, I would’ve missed out on knowing my Savior in a new way.

There are times now when I’m hurt, upset, or scared that I stop and pray instead of picking up the phone to call a friend. God has also shown me the importance of having friends in my life to ask to pray and speak into my life.

He’s challenged me to make time for intentional moments with friends. I need to be surrounded by women who have the freedom to speak truth into my life during this season. Because of my busy schedule working full-time, I don’t have as many friendships as other seasons. But I do have deeper friendships during this season. One of the sweetest times since being back at work is the lunch breaks I’ve scheduled with friends. They have been life-giving to me. I’ve learned I’m not alone and to extend the benefit of the doubt; we are all walking through something.

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One reason I felt so alone is that I was focusing on my difficulties and believing no-one else was struggling. That’s not true, this is a fallen world filled with broken people, and we all need Jesus.

I’ve sensed God refreshing me this summer. He is reviving me with His Word. Jesus has brought reconciliation to strained relationships, which are stronger than before. He is renewing my relationships with my kids and leading me as I meet them in their seasons. He’s restoring our marriage as we navigate this busy season. I feel like I’ve been through a renovation this past year. I see “new” rising in many areas of my life. Newness I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t walked a lonely road of being overwhelmed for a season.

1280x1280Jesus continues to meet me in my expectations, emotions, stubbornness, and weaknesses. And He will meet you too. I’m thankful for this crazy, challenging, blessed life and the undeserving grace of Jesus that gets me through.

Embracing the NEW

 

img_9404Hello & Happy New Year!

I hope you had a Merry Christmas spent with loved ones celebrating the birth of our Savior.

We had a wonderfully busy Christmas season all the way through December 25th. Our break began on December 26th, in the wee hours of the morning as we headed to the mountains of North Carolina. We left the warm sunshine for significantly colder weather and a much-appreciated change of scenery. This was our second year heading to the mountains to experience a little winter fun. Our minivan was packed full with the six of us, lots of luggage, loads of excitement, and anticipation!

This feeling of expectancy was one I’d hoped to hold on to as we headed into 2019 a week later. We were on our way home and headed down the mountain for a stop in Charlotte, NC. On the way up the mountain we completed our trip in one day, but decided to take our time heading home. It had been a fantastic week, filled with snowy adventures, board games, exploring a new city, and only a few squabbles between our three kiddos.  Our pace slowed as we adapted to mountain time, creating time to breathe and enjoy the slow pace of this small ski town.

Only for one fleeting moment did I miss the hurried pace of home; when I ordered a coffee for my mom and the wait was extremely long. All of the customers were being served, but at a much slower pace than I’m used to. The employees were kind and that definitely helped make the wait time easier.

As New Year’s Day arrived I felt a heaviness I couldn’t shake. A heaviness I didn’t want to embrace. I was heading into 2019 with a few things I didn’t want to be facing:

The weight of unanswered prayers and areas of my life where I felt God had been silent in 2018.

The weight of parenting challenges that I hoped to be on the other side of this year.

The weight of changing seasons which has led to changes in relationships.

The weight of hurt and disappointments I thought I was “over” and didn’t want to drag into another year.

But in order to go forward, and embrace the “NEW,” my word for 2019, I was beginning to realize a digging up of old pains and hardened areas of my heart must occur. Then the new could take place. I’ve been listening to a song by Hillsong entitled, New Wine. There’s a part of the song I can’t get out of my head –

“In the crushing –  in the pressing – You are making New wine
In the soil, I Now surrender You are breaking New ground”

I was excited for the new things in 2019, but wasn’t prepared for the necessary surrendering of the old.

Nearly a week later the heaviness finally started to lift. A week of praying, reading my bible, asking God to allow the heaviness to lighten. I asked my husband and a couple of close friends to pray for me. I also trusted that this would pass, even when it didn’t feel like it would.

Nevertheless, it was a week of pushing myself be present and appreciate each moment. We were still on our trip home and I didn’t want to miss out. I wasn’t going to let the heaviness consume me to the point that I couldn’t participate in the end of our winter break adventure. I have been through seasons of sitting out in the past; where hurt, grief, difficulties, disappointments, and physical illness kept me on the sidelines. But not this week!

Please take the time to see the ways you’ve grown in the middle of your difficulties. Appreciate every step forward on your journey, even the baby steps.

When we returned home, I had a few fun things planned with the kids and I wanted to continue being present. There were a couple of days scheduled with friends at the park and the beach. These outings were something I needed as much as they did. I also attended a charming baby shower and a fabulous lunch with some beautiful women that weekend. And I enjoyed them both! I knew God was renewing me in the midst of the heaviness. A heaviness that I couldn’t fully describe and couldn’t share with everyone. God was working, I needed to be still and continue walking in faith.

The last official day of our vacation, a Monday morning, the breakthrough began. I was up early and couldn’t wait for my devotion time. My time to delight in God’s Word and see just what He had for me that day. At the end of my time I began reading our next bible study book, “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way,” by Lysa Turkuerst. The verse from Revelation 21:5, And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” was weaved throughout the first couple of chapters. I knew God was speaking and moving on my behalf. An excitement and expectancy I’d desired was rising up.

I don’t know if you’re carrying anything heavy into 2019, but God does. Don’t lose heart!  Keep trusting; day by day, and even moment by moment. The digging up of the old feels painful, heavy and even unnecessary sometimes. However, in order to truly be made new, the old has to go! Matthew 9:17 says, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

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Breakthrough is coming!

I’m praying for the new God wants to do in you this year; especially the new He wants to bring about in areas you might think could never be made new. I’m Trusting God that it is no coincidence you’re reading this. The best gift of all is the abundant, undeserved, never-ending grace of Jesus. This amazing grace allows me to miss the mark day after day, still get up, and try again. It’s because of His grace upon grace that I get to share my story and continue being renewed day by day. I hope you embrace the gift of amazing grace poured out for you on the cross.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Surrender

Last month I wrote about embracing adventure. I even placed an exciting picture of a roller coaster at the top of the page. Surprisingly to me, this month feels more like I’m on a roller coaster, except it’s not by choice. I have no control over when the ride speeds up, slows down, loops, or drops! Have you ever been in a season when your days feel a little out of control? When you’re trying to be diligent and intentional with your time, but other things pop up that trump everything else. Do you spend days with your mind racing, over day-to-day concerns, anxious thoughts, and things that aren’t even true? I am able to surrender to my own thoughts and ideas, which can be harmful to myself and others, OR I choose to surrender unhealthy ideas and thoughts and replace the lies with the truth in God’s Word.

I have to choose to surrender…. download

I sometimes have to surrender my time and energy to care for a sick family member. I often times have to surrender to changes, at work, church, or in our family that are out of my control. I must surrender to new seasons with friends as moves happen, jobs change, and kids are born or leave the nest. I must surrender to others’ schedules, kid’s activities, church calendar, friends in need, work demands, family plans, and the list goes on and on. I’m sure there are times when you must surrender to plans and ideas that aren’t your own. For me, this can lead to questioning, doubting, or complaining. This is one reason it’s so important to surrender unhealthy thoughts and embrace TRUTH.

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans‬ ‭8:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When I choose to surrender my expectations and embrace: the season, plan, difficulty, forgiveness, my life is calmer. I have to decide to embrace surrender over and over. I’m not talking about the wave your white flag, give up, accept defeat kind of surrender. My preferred definition of the word surrender is; “agree to forgo especially in favor of another.” This definition of surrender is a verb, an action word. I must agree to forgo getting my own way, my plans, ideas, dreams, and schedule.

When I embrace surrender, I’m saying I will do this without complaining, not angrily, or bitterly. It shifts my perspective.  Although these “things” life throws at me are out of my control, I am in my control of how I react to them. I’m still trying to embrace this lesson, while teaching it to my kids. We are responsible for our reactions, even if it’s not your fault, it’s your siblings fault, or your friend was mean, or because life isn’t fair. You’re right, life isn’t fair!

One of the hardest things for me about embracing surrender, is surrendering to the unknown.

If I could understand the direction I’m supposed to go, the easiest way to get there, and the instructions to follow along the way that’d be great!

Navigating life doesn’t always come with the Waze app. I use the Waze app almost every morning on my way to work. We have multiple ways to get to school and I want to know the quickest route based on the circumstances of traffic each day. I know in this day and age I can’t use my Waze app mentality in my relationships. Relationships don’t usually work that way; they take time, grace, forgiveness, and love; and they aren’t predictable.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8rod-long-974346-unsplash

I’m learning to share things in a more loving way.  I’m learning to surrender my ideas for how and when difficult conversations are necessary. I’m trying to forgo my own feelings and share things that are difficult in a healthy way. I’m a fixer, I want to fix the problem and move on as quickly as possible! However, I can unintentionally end up doing the exact opposite, making the situation worse instead of better. I don’t always take time to think through conversations and how it might affect the other person. I desire to share truth, that needs to be heard, but with love and grace. I absolutely have to surrender my feelings, my timing, and “fixing it” ideas to accomplish that. Although I still speak without thinking and say things harshly, I am becoming more aware of these times. I’m working on surrendering the need to say things right away with-out avoiding them so much nothing changes. I’m working to surrender my need to say things immediately,  instead saying them in love and grace after prayer. Hopefully then issues are not ignored but actually improved.jude-beck-552165-unsplash

I’m recognizing I choose surrender, it’s just a matter of who and/or what I’m surrendering to. I unmistakably embrace surrendering to fear, insecurity, and unhealthy thoughts. Do you have something negative in your life that you’ve been surrendering to, maybe even unintentionally?

It’s a challenge to continually embrace surrender and I will never be perfect!

You will never be perfect, isn’t that freeing!

Thankfully we don’t have to be perfect. Jesus is the ultimate example of surrender. Because of His surrender I can walk in freedom. I’m grateful for the grace and mercy I receive daily, whether I blow it by saying too much or shut down and avoid communicating at all. I’m loved by my Heavenly Father whether I embrace healthy surrender or fail to and instead throw my hands in the air. BUT I want to keep embracing surrender, adventure, growth, strength, heartache, and whatever else the Lord is showing me in this season. It makes my life fuller and allows me to show the love of Jesus to others.

As we step closer to the end of 2018 and enjoy the fall season, may we take time to be thankful for what we have. Embracing the fall season is difficult where I live, it’s basically summer all year with a few cooler days. I’ve had to surrender the idea of crisp autumn air and sweaters coming out in Fall. I am however, embracing Fall in my neck of the woods, a season filled with iced pumpkin spice lattes and autumn decor while we still enjoy the pool.

May we embrace surrendering things that didn’t go as planned this year. I’m praying you’re able to surrender those things which weigh you down and keep you from embracing God’s best for you. Happy Fall!

Be{YOU}tiful

We’ve been talking a lot about feelings in our home lately. As we say good-bye to February it seems the perfect time to have a heart-to-heart about processing our feelings and emotions. February displays a special time of year when the world tells us we’re to be in love and spoil those we love. Although as Christians we should do all things in love, Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14. image

In my home we’re working on speaking with love. Many times when one person doesn’t get their way it results in throwing a tantrum or reacting unlovingly. A therapist comes to our home once a week to work with my three year old daughter. She has given us somewhat of a script to say when our sweet girl is having trouble voicing her emotions. It says-

  1. When you…. (Be specific) 
  2. I feel… (How you feel inside / not”you make me feel”)
  3. And I wish you would try…. (How you hope they’ll treat you)

I’d love to say that the rest of us have our emotions in check and speak gently each and every day, but that would be completely false. Not only are we using this method with our three year old to minimize tantrums and to help her voice her emotions, but we’re also using it with our strong-willed six year old son who just doesn’t like the word, “NO.” In fact, it’s even useful with our ten year old who’s rapidly entering his pre-teen world and always has something to say. But it’s not just for the kids. It works for me similarly, when I’m at my wit’s end and am simply exhausted from repeating myself. Don’t get me wrong all three of my children are amazing, and as much as they have their difficulties, they have even more incredible qualities. But let’s be honest, they’re fleshly and want their way – all the time! And if we’re being honest as adults – don’t we?
It’s important that my children learn to go kindly to the person who hurt their feelings and let the person know how and what hurt them.  I desire for my children to learn to easily forgive and not hold onto unecessary anger or hurt. And it’s great to see that we are seeing improvements by doing this with our kiddos. But I got to thinking how much easier life would be if we would use this as adults! If we just kindly told the person – our spouse, kids, co-worker, family member, or friend, when a hurt happened. Now I realize sometimes small offenses come and we should immediately let them go. We may realize it was us over reacting. Or we realize they are going through something right now and need extra grace . Nonetheless most times, if you’re like me, we just hold onto the hurt.
We may pray about it and desire to let it go, but there it remains.
Lately, the Lord has been challenging me to face the hurts I hold onto. I need to pinpoint what exactly wounded, upset, angered, or offended me. Write it down and own it! Be honest about the feelings the offense is bringing up in me. And they aren’t usually pretty: anger, jealousy, judgment, un-forgiveness, etc. Then I pray for my own reaction to the offense, as well as the person who offended me. After that I see if it’s truly necessary for me to confront the person or if it something I can work out individually with the Lord. This seems to be where I can get “stuck.” I hang out in the area of holding onto an offense instead of letting it go. “Let it Go”, by the way, is the song I loudly sing to my kiddos when they are letting the little things bug them. And sometimes I should loudly sing it to myself! Please understand I am referring to little offenses that we let turn into BIG things. I’m not referring to deep hurts that require profound healing and often take time to overcome. These little offenses we hold onto affect our moods, our relationships, and keep us down.
Recently I was helping my husband’s parents pack and move. Now when you move there seems to be three piles of stuff. A pile of stuff to KEEP, a pile to GIVE AWAY, and a pile to THROW AWAY. I got to thinking there should be piles for our thoughts: ones to KEEP, GIVE AWAY, and THROW AWAY. We should keep the thoughts that inspire us and give away thoughts that encourage others. And definitely throw away the ones that bring us down. So often we mix-up the thoughts rolling around in our head; holding onto the garbage and giving away our short remarks and unkind words. It’s so important to hold onto God’s Word and His promises. Every day He gives us a fresh start to begin anew with Him. The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease; For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23.
I think if I could clean out the thoughts in my head I could live a lot more peacefully and have a lot more joy to give away. I even find myself dwelling on offenses that may or may not have even occurred. Wondering if the comment someone said at work was meant negatively. Focusing on when one of my children said – “You’re the worst mom ever!” I spend time trying to decipher the “tone” my husband was thinking when he text me something I took as unkind during the day. Or replaying a conversation with a friend that day because a comment was made and I think it was hurtful. YES, I’m a DWELLER! And I’m not always dwelling on the things I should be.
Maybe you’ve been struggling not with something that was said, but with something that wasn’t. An invitation you didn’t receive that you thought you would. A new policy at work that you are last to know about (and you’re always the last to know about all sorts of things). Or you’re feeling out of the loop in a conversation with other people at school or at church. You desperately desire to be part of the team, group, or even your family. But it seems like you never completely fit in. image

One thing I know for sure is you “fit in” with God. Not only does He love you, but He created you to be uniquely YOU! Also, God actually calls us to be different – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2.
What negative thoughts are you carrying around? What comments are you dwelling on and trying to decide if they’re meant to hurt you? Even worse, what lies have you began believing about yourself because someone else said something. May we remember to dwell on how lovely and cherished we are in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. Isaiah 43:4. Our creator loves us and we are precious to Him!
This should be what matters most to us. But we allow others opinions to take precedence. I was recently listening to a message by Pastor Levi Lusko where he said, “When you know who you are it doesn’t matter who you are not.” Oh how I love this and want to be free in this area of my life. I am praying each of you will be free too! Free to see yourself as God sees you. Free to forgive those who’ve hurt you, left you out, or constantly have a negative comment to share. Free to dwell on how much your Heavenly Father loves you! image
Heavenly Father, thank you for each person reading this. Thank you for how you love us, even when we are stuck in our negative thoughts. Lord, cleanse our minds and renew us with confidence only in You. Forgive us for the times we react in our flesh. Forgive us for dwelling on offenses and hurts that are not from you and help us focus on Your great love for us. Help us to remember we are all going through “stuff.” Fill us with your kindness so we may share it with others.

What’s Your Perspective?

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 NKJV

Last month we held a wedding in our backyard. My “cousin” said “I Do” to her high school sweet heart. My husband was privileged to officiate their ceremony. My mom was honored to walk her down the aisle, and her sister and I were grateful to be responsible for the décor. They had plans for an outdoor wedding on a much larger scale, but after my “cousin’s” fiancé became ill, wedding plans were cancelled. They were going to head to the courthouse when my wonderful mother said – “No, we will have your wedding.” This meant a month to put together a wedding! Of course, my family was up for the challenge! We are known for taking on more than we should, which can be a good thing, but sometimes we must slow down. This is one of those things we all knew we needed to do! AN3B5518

Like any good story, there is a back story…

My “cousin” is not related by blood at all. She is much more, she is family by choice. Our hippie dads left Illinois and headed to Florida in the 1970’s. They both eventually got married and settled in South Florida. Unless one of us was traveling to Illinois to visit family, we celebrated every holiday together, and spent most weekends together. Our moms became best friends and were as different as night and day. They learned from each other and leaned on each other. Neither of our moms had any family close by. My cousin’s older sister and I grew up inseparable and are still best of friends today. Her sister and I each have 2 boys who are very close in age. AN3B5339 1They are cousins, best buds, and partners in crime. We were delighted to see them participate in the wedding, along with my sweet girl. AN3B5942They had a blast and thought they were very important, which they totally were!! My cousin and my younger brother also grew up inseparable. As a matter of fact, my brother introduced my cousin to her husband back in high school.

Basically we became family! There for each other in the good times and bad. We laughed together, cried together, enjoyed many celebrations, and most of my child hood memories involve all or part of the 8 of us. Fast forward to the wedding planning; our “family” has been through some deep loss and pain. This time was bitter sweet for all of us, filled with laughter and tears.

In 2002, my cousin’s mom lost her battle with cancer, only a few months after being diagnosed. This left a husband without his wife; two girls, one in college and one in high school at the time, with-out a mom. My mom lost her best friend and me and my brother lost our aunt. Our family unit was shaken, to say the least. Their dad struggled each day living without the love of his life. He became ill and moved back to Illinois to live with his brother and passed away in 2008. Thankfully, he accepted Jesus in a hospital bed and said the prayer with his oldest daughter. My parents took on a new role in these girls’ lives and embraced them even more like their own. They were Grammy and Grandpa from day one to my cousin’s older sister’s (my other cousin) sweet boys. I shared previously about the loss of my brother who was killed in 2010 by a drunk driver. Our family again experiencing shock and awe loss, banded together and walked on through overwhelming grief. My dad was also battling cancer during this time, which he fought for over 5 years. My dad went home to be with the Lord in 2013 and my cousins were there with all of our “family.” Very few were actually blood related, but all family nonetheless! As you can see our family unit has been cut in half. There are 4 of us women left to carry on traditions, share stories of growing up, and do life together.

One can definitely see why wedding planning was filled with lots of tears; we missed some very important people. We shared many moments that were beautiful, special, and just plain sad. We could have allowed the deep scars of grief to keep us from enjoying that beautiful day, but we didn’t. I am extremely thankful that we 4 ladies have each other. But I’m also thankful that we have lots of other “family” around us too. There were not only 4 of us there that day. There was a group of family and friends- that are more like family, present to celebrate this special day. We had to choose how we could view this day, and as much as there were tears, there was also laughter. There were many people who pitched in to pull off this wedding and give my cousin exactly what she wanted for her special day.

You see, we had a choice, and so do you in whatever you are facing even with the scars you are living with. It’s about perspective-

PERSPECTIVE

: a way of thinking about and understanding something (such as a particular issue or life in general)

This definition was taken from the Learner’s Dictionary; http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/perspective

I love this definition. We can choose what we’ll focus on in a particular trial, and in life in general. This is liberating! And God’s word gives us scripture that is even more freeing.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 NIV

One of the best ways to change your perspective is to be thankful. We were so thankful for all the help we received giving the bride the wedding of her dreams. We are also a lot more thankful for the people in our lives these days. We share the realization that life is short, and we are not promised tomorrow. We try to live in the moment and be grateful. I am most thankful for Jesus in my life and the grace I receive. No matter how hard I try I still fail and am unworthy of His mercy and grace. I hope you take the time to list what you have to be thankful for this year. Maybe your trials are many and Jesus is all you have, but His love, acceptance, grace and mercy are all you need.in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Through all of these years of loss and pain, we’ve become stronger and closer as a family. We’ve also become a much bigger family unit. My cousin’s older sister has been married 11 years and her mother-in-law attended the wedding. Her extended family welcomed her and made her a part of their family from the beginning of their relationship. My husband’s parents attended the wedding and his aunt and uncle catered the wedding. Both of my cousins worked for my husband’s family business and they have watched them grow up and walked with us through all of our losses. My husband’s parents became best friends with my parents through the years. My cousin’s in-laws received her from day one and she has always fit perfectly into her extended family. To say we are one big happy family would be an understatement. We do not agree on everything and being a part of a family takes work, but we love each other and are there for each other!  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

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I don’t know who’ll be missing from your Thanksgiving table this year – whether they are no longer here on earth, the relationship is estranged, or you simply can’t be together because of distance. God knows. He has a plan for you this year in this moment and every holiday you are blessed to be a part of. Maybe you are lonely and there isn’t any family to spend the holidays with. I pray you seek the Lord and allow yourself to be open to who He has for you to spend the holidays with. It might seem scary and take you out of your comfort zone, but He will be with you every step of the way. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. Psalm 68:6

Maybe this year you will be with a house full of people and still feel completely alone. I pray you see others as God sees them and embrace the opportunity to be the light of Jesus at your Thanksgiving table. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

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