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Posts Tagged ‘ann voskamp’

Well, my sweet friend, it has been a year since I stood at your bedside, singing a song in your ear and praying with you. If only I had known it would be my last chance to speak to you… I have to wonder what I would have said differently??? If only you could have spoken on that last day. I have a strong feeling you knew I was there, that you could hear me, cause you became so restless when I told you I had to go.  I wonder if God had already told you that you would be going home so soon…is that why you were so restless?

I have spent too much time this last year thinking through the “if onlys” of that day, and the months prior to your death. But God has constantly pointed me back to the positives of what had already passed. Our talks on the phone, our times of spiritual accountability, our moments of encouraging the other during the hard days, the times we talked about your double lung transplant and the hardest parts of those days, the cards and scrapbooks that we made while we were together, the love for music that we shared, the fears that we both had, the laughs we had over our boys, the talk of Bible studies and learning together about God, our times of prayer, our quest to live boldly for God and our frustration with never doing enough for Him, the list goes on and on. I try to dwell on all those memories of the great times.

So often I wonder how your “days” play out now? Can you see me? Do you know of my struggles and my tears? Do you understand why your mom and my dad passed in the ways that they did? Does your illness make sense to you now? Does it matter if we have our quiet time in the morning or at night (lol)? Do you have all the answers to the private things we discussed between the two of us?

I am incredibly grateful that you are no longer suffering and when I think of being in the presence of God I am at complete peace, but when I lose my focus and think of myself and try to figure out the days without you here to talk to, I get a bit discouraged. Oh how many times I have wanted to talk to you… About envelopes, where do I buy them? Where did you find those keys that you put on that plaque? What was that recipe that we made for that family? What were your plans for some of the projects that you had started? How I wanted to cry to you like we have done before when the days have been hard. I have never lost of friend before and I miss you like crazy!

I am so grateful for the things I learned during your life…

-my struggles or frustration usually come back to a heart issue

-never take your friends for granted

-don’t judge your friends, let them be vulnerable about whatever is on their heart and just listen

-it’s okay for be afraid, just don’t give in to those fears, always look back to God

-when I fail at my having my quiet time, I just start again tomorrow

-never give up hope, God is working

-germs…they are everywhere…lol!

-how your death has caused me to lean even more on the Lord, trying to understand and trust His will, especially when it hurts, even when it’s hard

I did do the Ann Voskamp study we talked about doing together in January. I was a good study, but I still wish we could have done it together!

I will forever be grateful to the Lord for your friendship and for the times we shared. Remembering you today, a little more than usual, and rejoicing in God’s will with tears in my eyes…

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The week is crazy with work and Vacation Bible School. It seems so rushed to get everything done, there really isn’t time to stop and spend time with God…and yet He continues to draw me. This morning I read a quick devotional from Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” devotional.

The Scripture is “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine…Because you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:1, 4 ESV

When I let that verse sink in it warms me, to think that the God of the universe has redeemed me and has called me by name. He tells me right here that I am His. Oh, the comfort, I am so grateful I stop to spend these moments with Him!

The rest of the devotion talks about grace. She says, “…the real mystery of grace is that it always arrives in time. Like the wind, grace finds us wherever we are and won’t leave us however we were found.” I think of how God’s grace has found me and how He/it/ His grace continually changes me, softens me.

I see these word on a sign on the door at Casey’s in bold print “ACCEPTED HERE“. This catches me off guard, “accepted here” isn’t this what we all are looking for…??? A place to be accepted, not when we are better, or when we have it all together, we need to be accepted right here, right now, just as we are. One of the things I know about God and His amazing grace is that He accepts me, right here, just as I am. And I am comforted, I don’t have to jump through any hoops, do things just right, He loves and accepts me right were I am, right here!

While I am comforted greatly by this thought, another emerges in my mind…who is it that I am not willing to accept right where they are…like God did for me?

My time with God this morning was quick and a bit painful, as pruning always is, but as always, I am so glad for these moments alone with Him to allow Him to continue to trim away these parts of me that don’t look like Him. I’m so grateful for His grace and that He teaches me to share His grace with everyone I meet.

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Airplane trails can be seen all across the morning and evening sky, the sun brightly marking their paths.

I ask Freddo why I have never seen so many at one time before, as I have this past year.

When I look to count them, there are 12, 13, 14 and counting. There is this childlike grin on my face and anticipation growing within me as I count them all. I tell Freddo, “Truly, I have never seen this many in the sky at one time before this past year.”

He gently says, “That’s because you are slowing down to see. You know, taking time to count the gifts”.

There it is, a reminder of what Ann Voskamp testifies of, “counting gifts slows down time”.

Even my sweet husband notices that counting gifts slows me down, proving what Ann has told so many in her “One Thousand Gifts” book…that “counting gifts slows down time”, which brings about joy.

For years I have sought this slippery word, joy, never before had I been able to grasp how to have the “joy of the Lord”.

Then I read about it in Ann Vokamps’s book. Slowly, as I soak up the book and begin to count my own list of gifts, simple, everyday things, this joy that has always been such a mystery to me, begins to show itself. Joy, not happiness.

Joy, a state of mind, that comes even when life is hard, and yet it stays despite the sadness of the days, such as were my days last year when Dad was slowly dying and Blane’s high school years were slowly draining away.

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Despite anything I tried, the days of those two lives that I desired very much to hold tight, continued to fade from my sight.HPIM1798

Any Daddy’s girl and mother of that last child at home would have felt the same, I believe…that sadness that comes when seasons are over. Gone. Never to return.

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Even then, in the tear-filled days of those fading seasons, counting gifts brought joy into my life.

By God’s grace I had learned a way to stay fully awake in the moments and have joy even though I was sad. Great is my gratefulness for finding that direct link to constant joy, Eucharisteo: thanking God in all things, bringing about grace, gratitude and joy. The journey has been hard, but I am so glad that God’s plans allowed me to walk this path, despite the pain.

And just today I was reminded that this slowing down, finding gifts, it really isn’t even about the gifts, but about the God that gives the gifts. The entire purpose of this totaling of gifts with daily persistence is to point me back to Christ with each gift I list.One thousand gift shelf

Something I am learning is a life totally focused on and fully trusting in Him is always right on target! And who wouldn’t want that?

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{Joy Dare} for Week #5 of 2013

1-21 a gift in sky, water, and memory:

#121 sky: two bald eagles taking in the scenery from two trees on our gravel road, so cool!

Eagle shot edited

Eagle in flight edited

#122 water: warm shower

#123 memory: recalling the times that we went to see the eagles with friends of ours, how small our boys were then…

#124 Hardwood floor warm from the woodstove’s fire

#125 My friend’s bathrobe, soft and cozy around me as I read my devotion

#126 Fan, noise I don’t like, forcing the warm air throughout our home

#127 Sunrise colors, hues cast all across the sky

 

1-22 a gift wrinkled, smoothed and unfolded:

#128 wrinkled: my face, showing that I have lived, laughed and loved

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#129 smoothed: floors, removing all the wood and dirt

#130 unfolded: God’s continued blessings in my life

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1-23 3 gifts found in Christ:

#131 acceptance

#132 wisdom

#133 gentleness

#134 bowl of Cheerios with a banana in it

 

1-24 3 gifts blue:

#135 brad nailer my hubby used to build a crate from scratch from materials we had in the shop (won’t be long until he will be able to make our crate coffee table, yippee)

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#136 finding Red’s bed, it was out in the shop (we had forgotten it was out there)

#137 plastic tote that holds wood for the stove

#138 14 quarts of homemade V8 juice canned today

#139 hearing a sermon yesterday telling us all that we need to ask God for wisdom when we lack it, something I needed to pray for two times today, so grateful God gave me that reminder last night at church!

 

1-25 a grace borrowed, found, and inherited:

#140 borrowed: canning colander

#141 found: a Hannah Whitall Smith book in Mom’s closet

#142 inherited: wooden bowl that my dad made when he was in school

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#143 cabin themed buttons to hot glue to a lamp shade

#144 opportunities to show love to others that don’t feel they deserve it

 

1-26 a gift before dawn, at noon and after dark:

#145 before dawn: sleep

#146 at noon: salsa made and jars in a hot water bath

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#147-150 after dark: crispy and thin homemade pizza, ice cream sandwich dessert, laughing with friends and planning a trip out west

#151 cozy home with warm lighting, #iloveourhome

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1-27 3 gifts in the kitchen:

#152 “new to us” microwave that some friends gave us

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#153 indoor/outdoor thermometer

#154 wooden silverware holder

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In this post I will include some ‘things I learned this year’ and answer some reflection questions that came to my inbox from “Incourage” today.

This past month I have been thinking about things I have learned this year, some funny, some sad, some encouraging.

~having an empty nest isn’t as bad as I thought it would be

~Freddo and I are getting older, cutting wood seemed quite a bit more difficult this year

~shopping is fun, spending money can be too

~I didn’t value my time with my friend(s) as much as I should

~an expected death is easier to deal with than a sudden death, although neither feel good, there is SOME ease in knowing the end is coming

~I don’t trust God as much as I thought I did, especially in the midst of life’s messes

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~God never leaves us, He is always faithful!

~it is hard to watch someone you love suffer

HPIM1798~and it’s hard to let them go, even when you know it is God’s planHPIM1817

~Women of Faith and a weekend with girl friends can be an absolute blast!

~time spent building relationships is worth it every time

~forgiveness feels great

~time with family and friends is priceless

~Joy and sorrow can be felt at the same time

~It is possible (in God’s strength alone) to give my dad’s eulogy without being one bit nervous. So grateful for all of my dear friends that were praying for me that day.

~It is fun to sit in a nursing home with a bunch of old men and sing songs with them, it makes your heart sing and cry. Time well spent.

~Life is not an emergency

~trust comes in layers

~the internet (facebook and pinterest, mainly) can drain an hour or five easily before a person even realizes it

~I enjoy painting and quilting (well the easy stuff anyway)

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~it is easier to keep my home clean when I am not homeschooling

~I like jewelry…and scarfs…oh, and purses and shoes…who knew???

~it’s okay to take an antidepressant for a season to get past the pain of grief, it doesn’t make me a bad Christian

~I am too old to ride rollercoasters or Giant Barn Swings at Silver Dollar City, cause they make me sick to my stomach…sad day!

~it hurts to offer God on open hand, but easier when I recall His faithfulness

~laughter is a very good thing

~sex gets better and better the longer you are married…yep, I said it…  🙂

~my relationship with God can change, not because of Him, but because of me.

~life is better when we stop to enjoy the moments instead of rushing through the day

~counting gifts from God changes how I see

~”Eucharisteo (giving thanks to God) always precedes the miracle. “ Ann Voskamp

~I enjoy writing

~there are so many moments within each day to truly be enjoyed, but I must be intentional

A few reflection questions…

What was the single best thing that happened this year?

Freddo proposing again to me on one knee, giving me the new ring that he picked out, containing diamonds from his mom’s, my mom’s and my grandma’s first wedding rings.  It was a surprising moment. I am grateful to have married such a sweet man 25 years ago in May 2013!

proposal

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What was the single most challenging thing that happened this year?

My dad and my friend dying about 5 months apart.

Presenting the flag 2

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What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Becoming a Blessings Unlimited Consultant

   What was an unexpected obstacle?

My love for God growing cold this fall, grief looming in a way I didn’t expect, depression deepening

What were the best books you read this year?

“One Thousand Gifts”(pictured below)

 

“Choosing to See”

“Guide to the Empty Nest”

“Final Gifts”

“Made to Crave Devotional”

What was the best way that you used your time this year?

Encouraging other’s hearts through Joy Boxes that I made

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Each box contained Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts”, a 1,oo0 gifts journal that I created and other goodies to encourage the hearts of women in my life that God brought to my mind.

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May God bless you greatly as we head into 2013 seeking Him and learning to trust Him more, no matter what mess may come into our lives.

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