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Posts Tagged ‘lessons learned’

If you had told me in January of this year that today would be so full of joy that my heart would overflow and I could hardly keep the smile from my face as we drove home from church, I would have rolled my eyes and said in a sarcastic tone, “Yeah right…”.

Let me back up…here is a run-down of 2012…My cousin, John, passed away from stomach cancer in January. Blane graduated from high school, changing my life as a mom. My dad passed away in June. We moved Blane to college two weeks later. In August the wife of Freddo’s co-worker died; she had become my friend over that last year and a half of her life, and we were there when she passed away…bringing with it all the sights and sounds of my dad’s death… In November a very close friend of mine died. I went to see her on Friday. She couldn’t respond to me, but when I told her I had to go and prayed with her, and that I would be back the next day, she got restless and started making noises for the first time since I had been there…if only I had known that she would pass away the next morning…I would never have left…

All through this process I spent time each day searching for gifts, and I journaled them. Honestly, this daily moment by moment act and praise music were like my life lines through the dark days. I knew God was there, but because of the pain my heart was in, I couldn’t see Him, or feel Him. (I recently learned that “feeling” my way to God is not biblical.) I developed a very discouraged and rebellious attitude. I didn’t care much about anything. I struggled to find joy in each day and I still laughed and smiled upon occasion, but I felt lost.

In December of 2013 Bob’s dad was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma and was given “months” to live. In January of 2014 we moved into their home to assist in his daily caregiving needs and stayed with them until a week after he passed away at the end of March.  In February Freddo and I resigned all of our “positions” of ministry at our church, since we didn’t know how long this would go on. Our hearts were so sad and discouraged, and yet we KNEW we were right where God intended us to be.

I learned so much during this time! One thing was… that a few clothes, my own pillow, my tablet, my Bible, a book called “Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl”, and my hubby was really all I needed from home. We have always tried to live a “simple” life, but this really was simple. I recall thinking, “All that stuff at our house, all the decorations, the dishes, the clothes, jewelry, furniture, tv, etc., none of it means anything.” I guess God really changed my heart about our possessions during that time. Now, to be honest, I still struggle with contentment, and I think I always will to some degree, but there had been a definite shift in my thinking.

Freddo and I struggled about where God wanted us to worship from here on out. We worshiped with his mom at his folk’s church for some time, and while our hearts were so encouraged by the love and support from their community, we never had a peace that we were to leave our home church. So we decided to go back to “visit” our church. We sure felt on guard during that time, and I can’t tell you the exact Sunday that we knew what God’s plan for us was, but I can say we were convicted during worship one Sunday morning. On our way home we agreed that if we were going to worship at HBC, we were going to get back into serving the Lord there. And that exact week, God opened doors for us that we had never imagined. We decided that we would serve God with our hearts, wholly surrendered to Him, despite the cost.

Today, August 24, 2014, I can tell you that for the first time in a long time, I walked away from a full day of service to the Lord with an overflowing heart, so full of love for His people. It would take a while to go all the joys God blessed me with today, but I do want to testify that God has renewed my heart and healed it. It has been a slow, long, painful process, but I can at this time thank Him for all the pain of these past few years.

If you are discouraged by the trials in your life, let me encourage you to not give up the fight. Seek God. God’s Word says in Psalm 53:2, “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.”  After reading this verse, I realized that I want to be one that God sees who understands and who seeks after Him. Don’t you?

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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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