Thursday, June 24, 2010

What a Day!!

As I write, I am on the threshold of another birthday - and what a day that will be!!! If you are reading this, it is proof that I woke up on June 25, 2010. Hurrah!! Celebrate with me as you read and be encouraged.

There was a time I convinced myself that I could live without others. A deserted island was of great appeal, and for a long time I frustrated myself with that glorious haunting thought trying to figure out how to get to that island.

As I reflect on the last 30 years of my life, I am utterly speechless with gratitude for the number of persons who have contributed significantly to my life. Thank God I never ended up on that deserted island!!!

The beginning of my Christian journey placed me in the company of some great fun-loving godly people. The memories and the bonds of friendships that were cemented, surpass your utmost imagination. I am also very thankful to my co-workers who were always very kind, encouraging, and supportive. I will never forget the kindness of two of my co-workers who pooled together to buy me lunch because I was broke and waiting on the next month’s paycheck. They did it with such ease and kindness. [Sadly, one passed away early this year.]

To my wonderful English-speaking friends and co-workers in Germany, I say “Dankeschon”! {I thought we were speaking English!} My most gracious thanks!! How could I survive five years without you is beyond comprehension!! All those sightseeing tours, KFC visits, English food, weekends together, all night Christmas cake baking, and that bridal shower…. created lasting memories. You made it more rewarding and I thank you yet again!!

The Big Apple was a blast!! I never wanted to go there and I never wanted to leave! Oh the paradoxes of life!! Thank you all for your love and support at Church and at work. The lessons learned were significant and I thank you. Though we are apart, the goodness of God has never left us, and we kept the flames burning despite the distance. I thank God for you always!!

Now, I words are not readily present in my meager vocabulary to describe my gratitude for this next group of persons who have impacted my life. Your welcome reception toward us was top of the line. You sure outdid yourselves!! Our relationships over the last six years have been growing and maturing; and I thank you from the depths of my heart. It would seem that the Lord placed us in your care over these past years because they have presented for my family and I some of the most difficult challenges, and painful experiences in the loss of our loved ones. It was your love; your caring; your showering of compassion; and your friendship that helped us weather the storms. Thanks for being that tower of strength. God knows the full extent of my gratefulness, but I thank you yet again!!

I must also thank profusely the Teachers, and Moms of my children who have afforded us much quality together. It was a blessing hanging out with other Moms in a PTA meeting or on the playground, wherever. It sure beat having to talk to babies and toddlers all day long. I do appreciate the friendships that were developed and you have been a blessing to my life.

To my family (born of the same mother and father and extending), we have shed tears together, we have laughed ourselves silly; we have talked and consulted; and it is always like we have never been apart What a blessing to have you all in my life. I was blessed to meet some of my cousins and their families for the first time last year. The wonderful aspect of losing a love one is that you get to spend time with families you have not seen in many years. So it was that we enjoyed that time together! Such blessings!!

Above all, I thank my point man of 14 years who has endured much as a result of being with me. The victor he is, he stood strong, tall, and confident and lovingly tightened the band around his household. Of course he was the recipient of the greatest care a man could ever ask of a woman in this life! He has never slept on the couch!! I praise God for Him and his little trainees - our four handsome and precious gifts from our God Almighty!! I pray we do right by them and present them back to the Lord well nurtured in His word.

Through it all, as the song says, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus and I have learned to trust in God. My faith, love, and compassion, have grown, and are still maturing. I sincerely thank you for traveling this journey with me. You lightened my load and made the walk more enjoyable.

Wait up!! I am almost done!! I must change course a bit here and encourage you to pursue your dreams and fulfill your passions in life (so long as they are in keeping with God’s will). Take the time to find out what your passion in life is (if you don’t already know) and work at it; develop it; succeed at it!! You are not too young nor are you too old to start where you are right now.

In 2009, I witnessed the pride and joy on the face of my over 70 year old Sister in the Lord when her book of poetry was published. It was always a dream of hers for many years and she kept on writing poetry all her life. She just needed the encouragement, and the tangible help to see it to fruition.

Similarly, I have always wanted to get published (traditionally) but felt the urge to really follow through on all that talk I have been doing for over 30 years. And by the grace of God my book was published (Print on Demand) before my next birthday! That alone is reason for jubilation for me. Even if I buy the million copies myself and use them to decorate my boys’ rooms, I am still overjoyed that I can say with all humility, “I am now a Published Author, and I did it before my next birthday”.

Dear Readers, make it happen!! And if you need that tangible help that I may be able to give you – let it be known! Just ask!! I want to celebrate accomplishments with you so go ahead and chart your course….. What a day!!

As my Minister here would say, “God loves you, and I love you, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!” Be hopeful!!

Happy Birthday to me!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Consider Him That Endured

Hope, when discouragement comes at you fast from all angles, is my prayer for you dear Readers. I know we all have a story to tell, but let me go first in sharing my recent ordeal with you to be, hopefully, of some encouragement.

The last month has brought me much despair – from family, friends, fellow Christians, and self. Wow!!

My nine year old decided that he no longer needed to complete school work including work that would reflect on his final report card. He tumbled from the Honor Roll to C's and D's. This is the same child that also brought home the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) results with a perfect 5 in Math and an almost perfect 5 in Reading (he missed one question only). You can’t get higher than a 5. I was raging mad and extremely discouraged as I, due to the length of time I have been on this earth, am so aware of how much this boy is hurting himself and not realizing it now. He knew the consequences and withdrew into his shell from the moment I picked him up at school. I was truly disappointed and discouraged especially for him. I saw (when he realized that that was a dumb thing to do and there was nothing he could do about it) how he felt and I couldn’t comfort him because I was hurting.

“Misery loves company” is a good saying that became true to me as added to my sorrows with my nine year old, I had the support of a number of friends in a business venture, and in the space of one month, four of them (due to personal circumstances) quit. My business credibility plummeted. More cause to despair. I was cut, I was broken, I was discouraged.

No, it is not over yet. I spoke up on a particular course of action I felt was not prudent, and not in the best interest of the people, and the reaction I received was heart-wrenching! I was chewed up and spat out by a fellow Christian. I was left battered, torn, badly wounded; and, at that time, I thought I would never be able to worship again unless the Perpetrator repented.

I talk about hope, I write about hope, I try to encourage others to have hope in times of despair, yet what do you think I did in all this?

I turned on self and sunk to an all time low. My spirits were low, and I craved nothing but to sit under a juniper tree – I cried out, “it is enough now O Lord” take me away from here! (1st Kings 19:1-9). I didn’t ask to die, just for Him to give me a break – send me to Europe, Africa, Australia, somewhere I could get away from everyone. I grew weak, and I allowed the Evil One to crush my Spirit. I wanted no one’s help so I cried out to no one. I kept it all to myself and moan and groaned until my eyes were opened as the Prodigal Son’s. I eventually allowed the Spirit to guide me back to the place where I needed to be. I again picked up my cross, denied self, and ran like Ian Bolt following Jesus.

Dear Readers, disappointment, discouragement, disagreements, disapproval, discord, and discontentment, will come upon us. So What? We must deal with them! Get over ourselves and get on with life? No sense in behaving like I did and increase the suffering by turning on self.

Nearly every Christian at some point in our lives despairs and grows fainthearted. As I encouraged myself so I encourage you - look to the Word of God. “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:3) Wow! God knows! Jesus has been there. He endured hostility, opposition, hate, and sufferings, from sinners!! Read that again, He endured hostility, opposition, hate, and sufferings, from sinners!! Yes, He ENDURED and it paid off in the end. We have salvation as a result. When we find ourselves in situations similar to what I found myself in; when family, friends, and fellow Christians cause you to grow weary and discouraged, look to our great example. Jesus the Christ who never beat up on Himself; He never harbored thoughts of wanting to quit. Instead He endured it all. When confronted with reasons to want to give up, run away, or end it all, consider, (seriously consider) our Savior, and all that He suffered for us!! Be hopeful, Dear Readers, and don’t remain in a weary or discouraged state. Burst forth with bowels full of hope!!

Closing Thoughts

1. My child had to watch his brothers celebrate their excellent report cards and he couldn’t share in the celebration. I would like to think he learned a valuable lesson and this behavior will not be repeated
2. My business is prospering and I have learned a valuable lesson that disappointments will come, so deal with it and get on with the business at hand
3. My feelings still remain strong; and no, the perpetrator has not repented for me to hear, but I am still worshiping and praising God.
4. I told you already that I no longer beat up on self – I allowed myself to be guided back to a place of Love, Forgiveness, and Hope! Glory Hallelujah!!