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Posts Tagged ‘cheli’

So, last week I asked the question, “Does God give us more than we can handle????” and asked for people’s opinions. I received some VERY great responses and have pondered on them for the week.
Then, this past weekend our pastor preached this same question as the theme for the service….and he had some fabulous answers! Every one of them was exactly my belief as well!
It was funny…because one of my best friends told me that she had never heard anyone talk about this topic until a few years ago when she and I discussed it and I told her my view. She did tell me she didn’t post on my facebook survey though because “she already knew the answer”! 😉

Now…let me share with you some of my thoughts.

I never really pondered this question too much. But I do remember a few times it came up in my life circumstances.

1.) When my mother was ill and things weren’t looking too good…it was the same year as when my boys died….. Well…a friend kept saying that “surely..after everything you’ve been through…God wouldn’t do this to you.” Then when mom passed and somebody else was ill….again…”Surely after everything you’ve been through…God wouldn’t do this to you too.” Finally…after several times of her saying this…I told her, “I don’t know who this ‘surely’ person is…but I know who my God is and that isn’t a promise He gave me.” I remember telling her to show me in His word where ‘surely’ said that…and she never could. It was then that I turned to the book of James and told her that He wouldn’t have told us to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds. It didn’t say you’ll only get one bad one! And yet….our human hearts hope for more of a gentleness in our learning process.

2.) The second was in a very difficult season. I had remarried and had already had our son. Then, in a matter of less than six months, we had two miscarriages. After the second miscarriage I had a surgery and came home in a daze. I remember my husband telling me our son would be fine as an only child…he would have cousins and he would be fine. But I didn’t feel like I would be fine. One day, as I sat alone ‘recovering’ I remember looking through a magazine and finding this plaque. It said, “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle….I just wish he didn’t trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa. I knew when I read it I had to have it. I found the phone, placed my order and when I received it I then hung it in my bathroom where I would see if everyday as I prepared myself for the day! (and yes….it’s still there)

3.) Then…the third time is when I was going through a book study…I was digging deeper into scripture and I feel like God was really speaking into me. I remember being in my bathroom and looking at the plaque….and thinking…”No disrespect to Mother Teresa….but this plaque has it ALL WRONG!” First…I realized…God DOES give us more…sometimes not directly…but everything that happens to us must be allowed by God….than we can handle. But……and this is a big one…..it is only more than we can handle ON OUR OWN! In 1 Cor. 10:13…which is where I believe most people get that He won’t give us more than we can bear! (So did my pastor!!) It says….”And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted byond what you can bear. This is what people think….SURELY he won’t give you more….. But what I told my friend years ago…and what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is…….that most people don’t know or consider the second part of that same verse…”But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

BAM!! It doesn’t say he will take it away completely. He doesn’t say he will get you out of it safely……it says he will provide a way out and also it says……so you can ENDURE it. That word right there….endure….means it isn’t even going to be easier just because God got you there!

What this says to me….. isn’t that He knows just how strong I am…..it says He knows just how WEAK I am….but my weakness is made perfect IN HIS STRENGTH!!! He is sufficient…for ALL MY NEEDS!!

So that third time…in my bathroom…I totally disagreed with the saying on the plaque. I think, instead of “wishing He didn’t trust me so much” I should be thankful that He knows me well enough to know I will seek HIS strength in the trials and He trusts me to trust HIM!!!

Let me say this again….instead of “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much!” I believe……with all my heart….we should say, ” I know God will sometimes give me WAY more than I can handle on my own and I’m SO THANKFUL He trusts me enough to give me this burden….because He knows I will seek Him to help me endure and I will grow stronger because of it!”

So tonight as I sit in my quiet house…..after sitting in a hospital waiting room this afternoon….I think of some of the correlations in this thought process and the current situation I am walking through with my husband.

One week ago we were in the Emergency Room because he knew he had another (4th time) kidney stone. Now….every other time this has happened….he has gone home from the ER and passed it within a matter of days. But this time…it was different….and I kept telling my friends….”I’m really worried because he isn’t in enough pain…” Not that I wanted my husband to hurt…but because I knew that if he wasn’t in pain…the stone wasn’t moving. I knew without the temporary pain….we could be in for a ‘longer-term’ of the process. Sure enough, he went to the dr this morning and it hadn’t budged. He came home just so I could drive him to the hospital to have a procedure to help break it up and move it on out. Tonight…he is definitely in more pain and it is beginning to pass. A friend said…so…. instead of passing just one…they broke it up and now he has to pass tons of little ones! Yes. That is exactly where we are.

All this to say….to me…it’s a picture of this life lesson. Sometimes we must go through a little pain in order to get rid of something that could cause us much greater harm in the long run. If we don’t….then the pain could be even more intense…… But either way….God will find a way for us to remove the item, person, thought-process…….you get the idea….that could eventually cause us harm.

Or……He might just allow us to go through hard times….to make us turn to Him…..because it’s in the valleys where we seem to cry out to Him the most…… But also because it’s in the valleys where we seem to be strengthened most. I know I have. Through all the valleys in my life….He has carried me through and my strength has been through Him….and each time…my faith has increased! This allows the mountain tops…to seem so much brighter…so much better….because it was such an accomplishment to get there!

My hubby will be okay. He leans into the strength of our Lord. I will be okay. I don’t just lean…sometimes I just jump on His back and say, “Carry me”….and He does.

I hope this has given you a different perspective. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect…or even be strong when things get tough. What he knows are our weaknesses….and He wants nothing more than to carry our burdens…..to strengthen our weaknesses….and help us grow in the valleys so that the view from the mountain tops are that much sweeter!

I’ll see you on the mountain top! blessings friends! ~c

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No…I haven’t been in a car accident…or anything like that!

I’ve been digging deeper into scripture! The other day..I felt like God was asking me to revisit the book of James. Yes…I’ve lingered there a lot because it talks about trials and having joy through tough times….but it honestly seemed a little odd to me that God would be directing me here.

I mean…honestly…things have been pretty good. Nothing too earth shattering in my life right now. I know I’ve been digging deeper in my soul and working on the joy that God has for me daily…..but James….???? Why this place….why now????

Of course…who am I to ask all of this…so I opened His word to James 1. I just started at the beginning…and of course….I have highlights all over verses 2-4.

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I have been in this scripture many times….and have meditated over it even more!

So again….I’m questioning….”Why here? Why now?”

But then…I read on….and what I read….well…this part….okay…I get it….
verse 5 –
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without fining fault, and it will be given to you.”

But as I continued in verse 6 –
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7) That person should not expect to receive anything from The Lord. 8) Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

BAM!! There it is!

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Talk about God totally wrecking me! Remember…in my last post…where I confessed that I believed God would do anything for everybody but me??? Well….here…He showed me that I MUST believe it for myself! Verse seven says I should not expect to receive it if first I don’t believe it! WOW! He knocked me to my knees! This was like someone had literally knocked the breath out of me. It was like…..Here….this is why you feel like you’re being rocked by the waves….because YOU ARE!!!

It has been a week since I first opened this scripture….since He started speaking to my spirit. First…I confessed…..then…He shows me in His word why I wasn’t receiving….WOW!!!

So…my spirit has changed. I am in a totally different place! Even my accountability partner told me a few days after I read these words that I seemed more calm and at peace. I AM AT PEACE! I KNOW….beyond a shadow of a doubt He was speaking directly to me!

So I’ve been so open to hearing from him…and this past Tuesday night….it happened again. I heard Him speaking to me….

I had felt a burden for a friend growing in my spirit. She and I aren’t close…as in we don’t speak daily…or much at all really… But she was on my heart. And late into the evening…He told me to stop praying….and to reach out. My best intentions weren’t enough without action behind them. So I reached out to her. I asked how I could be a blessing to her. She was so sweet and told me to pray for something specific…something she later said she normally would not have shared. She had a specific need and was trying to find a way to meet it. After agreeing to be in prayer and help her find a way….God reminded me I already had a way. I had exactly what she needed. So I contacted her again and went to her house at about 10 pm to take it to her.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. Not at all! What I am trying to say is…..if you open your heart….God WILL speak to you! God will show you HIS ways! Even my friend told me she never would have told someone that particular need….but we both knew it was ALL GOD!!

Then…this weekend….God was so awesome! He was at work in so many hearts. Our church service was on things that are often said….but God himself…has never said! Yesterday was about “God just wants you to be happy!”. That is so not true. There is nowhere in scripture He says that!

Well…I wasn’t able to attend service until last night…and my best friend had told me to call her after it was over. I did and she told me that God had wrecked her with the service! He had shown her how He planned to bless her….but she might not always be happy! He showed her He had plans for her…and she didn’t have to always be in control! As she spoke….I had tears streaming down my face…because I’d been praying she would see all of those things….for years. She has come so far….and I am so proud of her! I’m thankful for all He has done. I am happy to say He wrecked her too!

I know it won’t be the last time either one of us feel this way! And honestly…I LOVE IT! I love that He speaks to me and it totally wrecks me! It convicts me! It makes me want more of Him…to search…to open my heart…to believe…with unwavering faith! He wants more of me and I’m ready to give it!

Won’t you consider opening up to Him?…the creator of the universe…the one who knew you before you were born…the one who holds you in palm of His hands…the one….who created you in His own image…..the one…..who loved YOU so much….he sent his son to die FOR YOU!

I love you…with all my heart. I want for you…to know the awesome feeling of being wrecked by God. The feeling of being on your knees…and totally surrendered to His will. ~c

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Today is the first day of school for my kiddos!! My heart is bursting because I am so proud of who each of my kids has become….and grown over the summer!

But….I have to be honest…..my heart is also just raw and I can’t stop crying. It hurts still…….even though my older boys would be in their upper 20s by now…..it’s just so unfinished….so unfair…..it just still hurts.

Today is Breanna’s first day of sixth grade!! Here she is….all beautiful, sassy….and ready to tackle whatever God sends her this year.

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Yesterday we were blessed with some girl time…just the two of us….shopping, pedicures….and some very sweet conversations. Conversations of what we think God is asking and expecting from each of us in this coming year. My heart is bursting with love and admiration for this sweet young lady. She is kind, loving, fun-loving and so wonderful to be around!! I have such admiration for her because she is so much more than I was at her age….. her relationship with Christ truly guides her heart. She is open to what He is telling her and who she is becoming in and through Him.

Today is Bryce’s first day of high school! HIGH SCHOOL!!!??? When did this happen???? I think it would be so much harder on this mom if he weren’t so stinking excited for new opportunities this year! Here he is from this morning…

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I’ve totally enjoyed watching the evolution of my son over the past few months. He has grown…physically, emotionally and spiritually! To say, I’m proud of him, just doesn’t quite give you the whole picture! Physically, he has grown several inches….still growing…and he has lost A LOT of weight! I’m so proud of the hard work he put in to accomplish his goals! Emotionally, I can tell such a difference in him. The sweet heart he has always had, seems to be even more evident in our conversations…as is the maturity he is gaining. Spiritually, he attended three church camps over the summer….and I’ve seen his desire to be an ambassador for Christ in his school and in the locker room increase tremendously! I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of this young man. I am thoroughly enjoying this stage of his life and relishing in the talks we have!

I really thought I was doing good this year. I really thought I’d made it through and wasn’t going to go through some of my usual difficulties at the first of the school year. We got up this morning, made some cinnamon rolls and I took him to drop him off. I was really good through it all. But when he opened the door and got out of the car it hit me…..like a ton of bricks. My eyes started leaking immediately. I didn’t snap a picture of him walking into the school…because a picture just wouldn’t show what my view was. I didn’t just see him walking into that school building today……I saw four boys………I can’t begin to explain it. I saw Bryce……but I could see his brothers too…and I lost it. I totally lost it.

Then I had to drive home and finish getting sis ready. She was dressed and beautiful already when I walked in the door. Before I walked in, I dried my tears so she wouldn’t know…..and greeted her with a smile. I was happy to hear she still wanted my help with her hair. When we got to the school she went straight over to her friends….I was taking pics! 🙂 She did walk with us to her class…..but was horrified when I asked for a pic of her and her teacher….she obliged…but then was ready for us to be gone! It was pretty cute really. I could feel her tugging a bit….yearning for us to let out the parental rope just a little more. My baby is growing up…..and becoming more independent. I walked out the school…….knowing it was the last “first day” of elementary school for me……..

I had appointments and lunch with a friend…but now that I’m home with my thoughts……I have to be honest…..My heart is happy….and hurting….all at the same time.

Today my last child….my baby, started sixth grade and is eleven years old…..and her oldest brother….I can still remember that first day…….when he was starting sixth grade and was eleven………….. That was it. It was his last “first day” ever. Believe me…..I don’t compare my kids now to their brothers…..but my heart aches for the realization of what they missed out on……..for those sweet boys not to get to experience some of the things their brother and sister are getting to experience. It just hurts my heart….even though Cody would be almost 30 years old now……..this beginning of school thing…the ache…the sting….just hasn’t gone away. He is forever in sixth grade and eleven years old to me. And soon….his baby sister will be past that! It’s a very difficult thing,that I believe, only those who have experienced the loss of a child will understand!

And today….my son walked into high school. I have four years to prepare to release him into the world as an adult. I absolutely love him…..love this season…but it too reminds me of the other boys that should have been “Jaguars”! At one appointment I had this morning right after I took the kids to school, one of the ladies there greeted me and asked how my day was……I told her I had taken one of my babies to high school and it was hard!! She said, try having a child that is getting ready to turn 29!! I told her…I know…kinda…my oldest WOULD BE 29!!
But I haven’t gotten to experience his life as those birthdays flew by…………I know she didn’t mean anything by it at all…but it’s my reality. And some days, like today, it’s just a difficult reality that is just really hard to put into words. It’s very hard to paint the picture of just how happy my heart is today….how proud I am of Bryce and Breanna…..but at the same time…..how terribly sad I am and how much my heart aches for Cody, Cory and Caleb.

Thanks for letting me try……

I’ve said it before…and I will say it again…hug your babies. Love on them and enjoy who they are TODAY! Don’t wish they were still young…..don’t wish they’d hurry up and grow up. We aren’t promised tomorrows…….so take a deep breath….and enjoy today. That’s what I’m going to do….

~cheli

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I miss my momma………

Sixteen years ago today was a day, weather wise, much like today. Windy….chilly but not really cold.. Cloudy…overcast….not much sun.
Sixteen years ago today I was putting up the Thanksgiving decorations. Not because Thanksgiving was already over….actually it hadn’t even happened yet….but because we just didn’t feel “festive”.
Sixteen years ago today I helped make calls that I knew were coming….but never wanted to make.
Sixteen years ago today I said goodbye to my mom’s earthly body and wept because in those first few moments, minutes, hours…..I already missed her.
Sixteen years ago today I felt jealous of her…..because she was the first to get to see my boys in heaven.
Sixteen years ago today I felt loss and relief at the very same moment. I lost my mom. I knew I’d never get to call her again or talk with her or celebrate anything in my life with her again! But at the same time…I knew she wasn’t hurting any more. Her pain had become more than any of us could tolerate…especially her. I am thankful she is completely healed in her new body!!
Sixteen years ago today I started mourning the “never woulds”….. Mom “never would” make it to mine and Bryan’s wedding. Mom “never would” see my beautiful sister get married. Mom “never would” see me with my children now. Mom “never would” see that she finally had a granddaughter. Mom “never would” see my sister and myself as successful business women. Mom “never would” see so much…………..
or would she????
This morning I awoke with that same double edged sword of feelings….Sorrow of missing her and joy knowing she was somehow watching over me and my family. Today is my son’s first wrestling tournament ever!! As I prayed for him I smiled knowing she would be watching over him. I smile knowing she is watching over me…over all of us who loved her and are still here.
As I hugged my sweet daughter this morning and just relished the moment and the feeling and bond between mother and daughter, the tears started to fall.
I miss my momma.
I miss her smile.
I miss her hugs.
I miss our talks.
I miss her….everything.
It never goes away. I will never be too old to wish I had my mom with me. There is never a milestone or a day that goes by I didn’t wish she were still here.
The holidays are a difficult time….she was so all about the holidays. It is hard some times to get into that holiday spirit and get excited…. But I do….for her….my my boys…for my sweet family now……and for me.
I will never stop missing her. I will never stop thinking of her.
But I will go on and continue to live the best life I can on this earth…..partly…..because of her!

I love you momma. You told me once you would love me until you took your dying breath…..and I will love you until I take mine….

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On this date back in 1946, in a small town in Oklahoma…Prague..to be specific, a baby girl was born. She had black hair and dark eyes. She was the first girl to this family. They already had 3 boys….all older, one already grown. She was quite a surprise to her family…but a blessing.

Growing up she was rambunctious. A tomboy, of course! With older brothers she had to be. But her beauty was there also. She learned much from her family. She learned how to cook and nurture from her mom. But being a daddy’s girl, like so many girls are……she spent most of her time with her dad. She loved fishing and camping and animals and dirt! She became very resilient from these days…..and though I don’t know all of the details from that time….I know it was during her growing up years, she was gaining in the strength she needed later in her life.

Her family moved to another town, Shawnee, where she graduated in 1964. She also attended Business College there. I wish I knew more of the stories from that time in her life. I know she was well liked and learned a lot…..and had a lot of fun!

After school she was working at Tinker and met a young man, transplanted from another state. That was in October. By February they had wed and she was off to the east coast to meet his family. My grandmother tells me as she looked out the window waiting to catch a glimpse of her son’s bride, she was taken back as mom got out of the car….by her beauty. Mom was tall, slender and very stylish!

I was born in Indiana a few years later. My parents had moved up there to be close to my mother’s youngest brother. Shortly after I was born, they moved back to Oklahoma to take care of her mother though. So, I grew up with my parents and my grandparents being the only family close by. Until my second grade year when my baby sister came along. Our family was complete.

It was less than three years later, mom had cancer. I’ll never forget. But there are some cloudy memories during that time. I know that is because she tried to shield me and my sister from most of it.

What I do remember is helping as much as I could. I would take care of her and my sister! I also remember my birthday party. It was at the skating rink. I remember she had a beautiful curly, short black wig she wore. It was the only time she had ever had curly hair. She smiled a lot. At least with me she did. She was strong. She kept going.

Then, I remember growing up, going out on my own and becoming a mother. She was there the night before I delivered my first child. She would hold her hand on my swollen belly and tell me when I was having contractions. She was always the one I would call. Every day….for no reason…or for any reason…she was there.

I remember when she was diagnosed with cancer again. She didn’t want the treatment. She got so sick the first time….and she couldn’t do it again. I, selfishly, didn’t “get it”. I didn’t agree. I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t fight. She had kids, grandkids to fight for. I didn’t agree with her at all……but it wasn’t my choice. She was only a little over a year older than I am right now. And I can honestly say….as I sit here typing….I finally understand. I’m not saying I could agree….but I finally understand. The fear of the past…sometimes overtakes the reasoning of the now. We let it grip us and hold us in a way that makes us feel utterly terrified. I get that now.

After this diagnosis and surgery, they told her it will come back. They told her when it came back, it would be fatal. They couldn’t tell us when…but they did tell us where. And sure enough, two years later…..it was back.

This time, something in her had changed. Because she fought it! She fought hard. During this time I was going through a hard time. I had moved in with mom and dad….the boys and I…..when she was first diagnosed. I watched her fight. I watched her resolve to win. I watched her strength.

I saw her in a new light. I saw her as a fighter. She never stopped working….even when she was so sick. She never gave up.

Then, when the boys died, she checked herself out of the hospital so she could be at home when I got there. I remember laying with my head on her lap and her just rubbing my hair while I cried. I remember laying in her bed with her and just being with her. She was there for me. She was fighting for me.

Over that summer mom and I talked so much more than we ever had. Yes, we talked before….but this was about so much more. We talked about us. Our family. God. Heaven. We mended every fence we had broken. We spoke words that needed to be spoken. We also just spent some time in silence just being with each other.

I remember the day she called to tell me the cancer had moved to her brain. She knew this was truly the beginning of the end for her. She wanted to keep fighting but she also wanted to be realistic. She asked me to bring a pen and paper to the hospital. When I arrived we hugged and cried for a bit. But then she asked me to get the pad of paper and pen out. She apologized first, but then asked me to help her plan her funeral. She wanted to take that burden off my father…but she also wanted what she wanted! 😉 As I sat and did that with her, for her, we bonded even more. I was overwhelmed at how strong she was….at how strong she had always been.

She worked from then, the first part of July, up to her birthday. She finally received her medical retirement. She knew my dad would be taken care of. I don’t remember the day exactly….but it was the week after her birthday…..I saw it in her eyes. She was tired. She was tired of fighting. She was worn out. She had accomplished all God put her here to accomplish. She had fought and survived well past what the doctors had expected. She stayed with us….until each of us…in our own ways knew it was better for her to experience the joys of heaven instead of the pain of this life.

The night she left us…..she looked at me….and I remember saying I love you that one last time. I remember telling her it was okay …… she could go. We didn’t want her to hurt any more. She did just that…but waited until we were all there in the room…..loving her…before she did.

So, Happy Birthday Momma! Here is to all the memories I have tucked in my heart of you!
I thank God for giving me the wisdom to know…..if it weren’t for some of the things in my life I used to see as hard times and difficulties, I wouldn’t have been able to be as strong as I am today.

A huge part of who I am is because of you. I am strong and keep forging ahead…because I saw you do the same. I am strong and won’t give up….because I watched you do the same. I am motherly and protective…..because I watched you be the same way. I “kill them with kindness” because I will never forget your teachings! 😉

I am so glad, on this date, back in 1946…in Prague, Oklahoma……you were born to be my mom!
Until we meet again! ~rrb

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When change is presented to you….how do you see it?

Do you perceive it as a good thing? Do you resist with everything you have in you? Do you wait and see if the same change has treated someone else well…and then jump full in wanting the same good things to happen for you? Do you research and find out all the bad stuff that could possibly happen and try to disprove every ounce of possible change?

or….

Do you embrace it as a gift from God?

I have to be honest….I think I could put myself into every single category listed above… AND MORE!

What I’d like to think though….is that no matter what my initial reaction is to change….that I ALWAYS end up thanking God for the change and how it has changed me.

There are so many ways to go with this…so I’ll share a few of my own….

1.) My children haven’t known a tremendous amount of change. We’ve lived in the same house for almost 13 years…they’ve attended the same schools….had the same friends…. So major life changes haven’t really affected them a lot. Until recently….the principal of the elementary school where my daughter attends changed positions and moved into an administrative role in the district. When she found out…(which I delayed because I was concerned of her reaction..) she looked at me and tears started welling up in her eyes. We were in the car and she was in the front seat with me. As soon as I saw the tears, she turned her head. After a long pause, she turned and looked at me and told me she wanted to change schools. She said she wanted to go back to the private school where she had attended pre-school. I told her that wouldn’t be necessary. I assured her the new principal would be a great addition to the school……after which she reminded me I had once said that the previous principal was the best and there was no one better than him…..(me…inserting foot right about now…). She conceded to go about her summer…but now..here we sit about 3 weeks before school starts and the anxiety in her is beginning to build. I have had to resist the urge to do a search of the new principal and get all the feedback I possibly can…. I….am choosing….to trust HIM.

2.) I am very open minded…I love new opportunities. But I have been burned, more than once, and had shut the door on that way of thinking. I am very happy in my current job. My husband is very happy. We are doing well and were not looking for ANYthing new in our lives….(as if we needed something more to do…). But….along came an opportunity and some friends, (very Godly friends I might add..) who shared something new with us. They told us how it would benefit our family…how I could travel with and make more memories with my family. Instead of brushing them off…..and even….instead of trying to figure out EVERY single reason why I shouldn’t do this and I couldn’t do this and there was no way I could make this work….instead….I decided to trust Him. I jumped in without abandon. I did what I usually don’t do…and am beginning to see that I am not the one that will be changed and blessed through this….but how I am going to be able to bless others~! I choose….to trust HIM!

By now…..I’m sure you are seeing that some of these changes are not the big…life altering….”I didn’t ask for this” kind of changes we often deal with. No, sis doesn’t have a choice who her principal is…but really..that isn’t a big deal. And….choosing to start something new…yes…that was my choice. Not easy..but still …it was mine to make..for myself. So if you are there…..keep reading…the next one is for you.

3.) This is one I’ll just call……”where my two worlds collide”.
You see…this past week…I got to travel to another state to meet my “kinda” twin grandbabies. I say “kinda”…..only because their dad is one of my oldest son’s best friends. No, these are not my “babies by blood”. His family, and brothers, are and were some of the sweetest people I know. They were my oldest 3 boys best buddies….and I love them all. They still call me mom. I sat in the front row of his wedding as his “kinda” mom….and have enjoyed trips to see them and them coming to see us. Anyway….he has 4 month old twins…a boy and girl…who have stolen my heart. I went to spend time with them for two days. To play “Mimi” to these babies and just hang out. I loved it. More than I thought my heart could…..I truly loved it. The baby boy….is named after my oldest son. I am so honored to know that my sweet boy made enough of an impact…for someone to do this.
So, where is the difficult choice here you ask????? It is in allowing myself to be mom to these boys and to be Mimi to these babies. Because on our last evening….as I put those babies to sleep and took them to their beds…I held a baby boy,a baby boy named after my baby boy……………

and my two worlds collided………..

As much in love as I am…with this family…I was reminded that this is my “could have been….SHOULD have been”. But instead…this is my now. As I laid this sweet baby in his bed and watched him sleep….just as I did his namesake 28 years ago…..I had a choice to make.

I choose to TRUST HIM!

28 years ago…I was 17 and scared. I was still in high school and quite frankly….I wasn’t a believer. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I had different plans for my life…and none of them included family…or kids.

But I believed He had a plan for me…and I chose to trust in it.

I can literally look back now….and see the paths of my life…and how each part of it…..has led me closer to HIM. Even the parts I didn’t plan…..and especially the parts I didn’t want. But …. I kept moving. Sometimes backwards….but mostly forward. And eventually….I conceded that His plan….was always best for me.

And today….28 years later…I’m still scared sometimes. But now I have this relationship with Christ…and I see God as my Father. I’m still choosing to believe in His different plans for my life. I will be Mimi to those babies…even though they aren’t the children of my children….they will know me…and know my sons… I will choose to do what is best for my family now….and work hard at becoming the servant He wants me to be.

I’m not saying I’ve always liked it. I’m not saying it is easy. What I am saying…is this….

Think of the many times change has happened in your life. Did you fight it kicking and screaming…..only to realize there was nothing you could have done to make it different? Or did you embrace it..? Accept it? I’m not saying like it….. I’m just saying you might just realize that change…is sometimes necessary to grow…to learn…to strengthen.

Let me show you my way for you this day. I guide you continually so you can relax and enjoy My Presence in the present. Living well is both a discipline and an art. Concentrate on staying close to Me, the divine Artist. Discipline your thoughts to trust Me as I work My ways in your life. Pray about everything; then, leave outcomes up to Me. Do not fear My will, for through it I accomplish what is best for you. Take a deep breath and dive into the depths of absolute trust in Me. Underneath are the everlasting arms!/blockquote>

This quote is from my Jesus Calling devotional. It has been speaking to me. I truly believe we can’t always choose what happens to us…..but WE CAN choose how we react and respond to it. We can choose to train our thoughts on our Heavenly Father and how He and His kingdom can be glorified in and through every situation. I believe He will hold us when we want to scream and kick and cry….and believe that the changes sometimes don’t seem fair! I believe He is big enough…loves us enough….to hold us…until we are calm and are ready for Him to show us His ways are right….His ways are pure…and we WILL be better…..one day.

If there is any way I can pray for you…or help you through a storm…don’t hesitate to let me know!
Much love ~c

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So here I sit….smack dab in the realization that 16 years ago my life was forever changed. There aren’t many days I really let myself feel all the hurt associated with this day…but today is that day….the day I allow myself to be very real with those feelings. Today has started kinda different though.

You see…..through the night…I was thinking it would be good to have my cry and get some of the emotions out while everyone was asleep. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t make myself cry. I felt like I was in a fog. I couldn’t cry. What was wrong with me? Why? Why couldn’t I feel those feelings? Were they too bottled up? Had I pushed them down too deep?

My kids got up…and were so loving and sweet. Bryce held my hand and caressed my hair and told me he loved me. I held his hand so tight…. because sometimes I’m so afraid…..it could be the last. Then sis, was so sweet. She said she knew what today was. She knew it had been 16 years since Cody, Cory and Caleb died. It knocked the breath out of me to hear her say it.

Then…after I took her to school and came back home….the tears came. I have been getting loving and wonderful texts and messages and facebook posts….that mean more to me than I can say in words…and I’d been ok….. But then it hit. One of the girls that was a classmate of Cody’s talked about this day…how she missed him and his smile…and said I had been an inspiration during this whole time…. it hit.

I’m gonna be brutally honest…today.

I DON’T WANT TO BE AN INSPIRATION! I DON’T WANT THIS TO BE MY REALITY. I JUST WANT TO BE A NORMAL FAMILY. I DON’T WANT THIS. I FEEL LIKE MY HEART IS BEING WRENCHED FROM MY CHEST!!!!

I so believe God is using this story for His Kingdom. I truly believe He is calling me into His ministry to share His hope…through all situations. BUT I DON’T WANT IT TO BE LIKE THIS!! I totally submit to His will. I totally believe it is only by His strength I am still here. But …….

I would give it all back….to have them here with me. If I could change it….I would. In a heartbeat. If I could see their smiles….again….and just hold them……..God PLEASE…..this mommy’s heart is in a million pieces. It hurts so bad. I hate this. I really do.

If I had known…that when I saw Cody and Cory in the hospital when my mom had her surgery…it would be the last time…..I’d have held them longer…and maybe not let them go. If I’d have known…..I’d have made Caleb talk to me on the phone longer……and made him say he loved me….one. last. time.

As I sit here…..the tears won’t stop. I am continuing to get such sweet texts and messages….and sweet friends…I cannot express how much they mean to me. I truly believe God has placed such amazing people in my life…..in order to keep me going. As the tears flow….and the hurt…just doesn’t stop….it is the people I love….that keep me moving forward. It is those people…that give me my purpose.

My sweet boys…..I miss them so much….and can’t believe…I’ve lived without them now for so long. I still can see their faces when I close my eyes. I still can see their smiles….and imagine them now.

If you had told me that they would be taken from me in such a horrible way…that I’d have to go on living without them…..that I’d have to find a way to continue my life without them in it….I’d have told you I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it.

But, the reality is……I have gone on……I have found a way……..I have done it.

There are days, like today, I’ll be honest with you and tell you I don’t want to. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want this to be my life.

But, during this day……I’m reminded…..I haven’t done it alone. I have had family and friends who have walked me through this sixteen year process. I have had people I have never met…praying ….. for me to be able to continue. I’ll be reminded each time a person texts or messages me or “likes” a post on fb….that I am not alone. I am still here.

And…as I’ve said before…..if I am still here….then there must be more. I said on this date…..sixteen years ago….I promised God and my boys…that I would stay here and figure out why He left me here. And honestly….it is becoming so much more apparent to me.

He left me here to show others that …. through His strength….there is more. There is a family that I love and adore. My sweet husband and our two children are now my world. They are the glue that holds me together. My friends…..they are here for me no matter how crazy I am…..and love me no matter what….

And He is showing me…….that I am here…..to be His comma. My part in His story is to give hope to others. I’m being honest when I say I really think it stinks…….to have this story….but it is mine. Those sweet boys…..were mine. But really…they are His. They were only mine for a short while. And I’m going to be so honored…….to share them with the world…..and see just how He is going to allow our story………to touch yours!

Today has warmed my heart…..hearing stories of how my boy’s lives touched yours. I am very aware of how others were touched by the loss of my boys. If you ever want to share a story with me about one of the boys…or about how their loss has affected you…or where you were when you found out…..I’d actually LOVE to hear it.

Thank you for remembering with me today. Thank you for loving me through today. Thank you for your prayers and your kind words. I will always miss my babies!!

I want to share this pic…. my sweet daughter was playing in my jewelry one day and took this picture. It is of my c3 necklace. I love my c3angels. They will always be a part of me!

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So, today I had the conversation with a friend that they needed to enjoy where they are today. They needed to stop borrowing worry about tomorrow and anticipating what will be…..because they will, in turn, miss out on the joy that is today.

After our conversation she thanked me for my perspective…….but it was I….who had to take a step back and listen to my own words…and heed my own advice.

Don’t ya just hate it when your own words come back at you and just bite you in the butt???? That is what happened to me today.

I realized, after having that conversation, that I need to do just that. Rejoice in what my “today” is. I literally burst out in, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice” tunes that my pups were all too happy to listen to! But literally…it made me stop and realize…..we are told….really commanded to rejoice in our Lord…..every day….in every situation.

I’ll be honest…I don’t always feel like rejoicing in everything… And it is mostly in looking back at circumstances and times I’ve had, that I am finally able to rejoice.

Then as I drove for a while, my mind started comparing……my memories to my todays.

On this date back in 1997 it was a Thursday.
Today…it’s Wednesday.

Back then, weather wasn’t too bad.
Today……it’s snowing/raining/sleeting….. and who knows what will happen later! 🙂

Back then, I took the boys out for dinner at Arby’s. Had a fight with Cody since he wanted me to keep my “mom van” and I was considering getting a car! Was told I looked like their sister when we ordered our food! (OF COURSE I had to throw that one in there…..cuz I love that part!)
Today……I’m at work and tonight we have kid’s church and sis is doing her first Wednesday night pre-team class. I had to tell my sweet boy he didn’t advance to the State Science Fair from regionals and it kinda bummed us both out.

Back then…..after dinner, I drove the boys to their dad’s house. I didn’t know it then….but it would be the last time I ever saw Caleb alive. He was off to do something and I didn’t get to squeeze him….to hold him…. to memorize his sweet, little face.
Tonight…..I’m going to bring my kids home from church and just sit on the couch with them and let them curl up around me. I’m gonna ask them about their day and let them tell me anything and everything they want to. And I’m even going to pray that we get so much snow/ice tonight that they will cancel school tomorrow so I can spend even more time with them!

Back then…… I went home and prepared to be at my mother’s surgery the next morning. I knew it would be early so I didn’t stay up late. I talked to some friends on the phone and then went to bed to try to sleep. My mind was all over the place, so sleep didn’t really come. I talked to the boys…..told them goodnight again…and approved of Caleb going to his buddy’s house to spend the night.
Tonight…….I’m going to soak in the day….love on my kids……love on my husband….and try to memorize their faces!! I’m going to thank God for February 20, 1997…..and I’m going to thank Him for February 20, 2013.

Of all people out there….you’d think I should know to take every day, every moment……and rejoice in it! But so many times I let life just start to happen…and I worry….about the tomorrows. I should know that sometimes…….tomorrow….never comes. At least….not the way we plan it.
You would think….after everything I have been through…..this would be an easy lesson for me…. but it’s not. Even I need to be reminded. So I decided to share….so we ALL can be reminded…

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)

So, please take it a day at a time. Take time to rejoice in the season you are in….it might be the best you’ve ever had….or it might be a difficult time. Either way, we are called to rejoice. Rejoice in our sufferings……rejoice in our blessings! It isn’t easy…..I know. But it is possible. And sometimes…..when we do…just that…..we realize just how blessed we truly are!

Thanks for taking a stroll through my today and to my yesterday with me! Much love ~c

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It’s okay to NOT be okay……..

Okay….since my last post was about not comparing ourselves to others….especially their highlights to our low moments…..I’m going to continue to be very transparent.

Maybe the title gave it away…but I’m just not in my usual…”Happy! Happy!” smiling self! I’m ok….but underneath everything…I’m not. I’m emotional beyond words……

Last night, all my husband had to do was look at me and give me a big hug….and I broke out in tears. I told him, I soooooo wished I was “normal”. He reminded me there is no such thing as “normal”. But, all I know…..is my reality….. and it is NOT normal!!!

Then, this morning, a friend just sent me a sweet text…..letting me know she woke up with me on her mind….she knows it is a hard week for me…and that she’d be praying for me. Well, off go the water works again. It meant so much that in the midst of her busy life….she took the time to remember me and how this week is so hard.

It is hard. It isn’t any easier……and at this point….I don’t think it EVER will be!

Today is the day….usually my mind starts this process. You see, today would have been my parents’ wedding anniversary……and there is something about that date…. that starts my mind thinking, remembering…..every detail from February 19th through February 25th, 1997.

I don’t know how to explain it. I can focus on my “today” and the life I am living now….but there is this ever-present feeling, remembering, going on in my head….in my heart! I have this all the time, really…..but this week it seems to magnify itself. It makes me emotional….and I never know how I will react to it. Sometimes, I am perfectly fine….and can go on about my life and almost no one could tell this is “that week“. Other times….I’m pretty ok…just emotional…more so than normal. Then there are times, when I’d rather just hole up in my own cocoon and not go out. I don’t want to live in my current reality…because it still hurts so bad. I just want to be by myself…not have to talk to anyone…not have to do anything!

I can honestly say…..I thought it would be much better by now. I thought it would be different…not hurt as much. I thought, after a certain number of years, I would be able to talk about it, think about it and go through this week and it just me a part of me….a memory….a story I could talk about. But no…..it still hurts. It still stings in a way I can’t describe. It continues to knock the breath out of me in a way I just can’t describe. What I thought……is never going to happen. I now realize this will never go away. My grief is a life long process.

I saw this quote and realized it is so true…..

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And…..so for me….and all those I know who have felt the loss of a child….

Allow me to share some thoughts with everyone. Some of these thoughts I have shared before…some….maybe not… Please know I am sharing from my heart…..and I just need you to hear it with love.

First……I KNOW BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT….that my boys are with Jesus! I know their hearts were filled with His Holy Spirit and upon the very second their earthly lives were over…their heavenly eternity began! And Yes…..I rejoice in that knowledge! BUT…even in that knowledge….there are some times…it just. doesn’t. make it better! Because I AM THEIR MOM! I want them here with me! I want them to want me….to neeeeed me….the way that I need them to be here so I can hold them! It is unnatural for me to imagine continuing with my earthly life when my children’s lives are not walking here with me during mine! Knowing this in my head……does not make it hurt any less. It didn’t then….and now….just short of 16 years later, it still doesn’t help! I am thankful that one day I will see them again….and we can spend eternity together……but it doesn’t stop the hurt in a momma’s heart while I’m still here!

So, if you know a parent who has lost a child…at any age…..be mindful of this. Please…oh dear friends please….do NOT tell those parents they should be rejoicing in these things! Please understand that while we KNOW these things……we still don’t want them to be true! No matter what the reason……no matter how long our children were with us…..we WANT them to be here…with US….not in heaven. Not because that isn’t the eternity we would wish or want them to have…but because we don’t want that eternity to begin before our own!

Second….. It doesn’t matter how long it has been….. it will never stop hurting! Don’t tell someone that it will get better with time…. Don’t tell them that grief is a natural process and that they should be done grieving by a certain time…… because it DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY!!! There are no….SHOULD BEs…..there are no….rules of grief….and there is no “time line”. Every one always said to me, “The first year is the hardest.”….. so I expected my second year to be so much better….easier. Guess what? It was WORSE! By the second year….I was starting to not be able to tell you who they would have been hanging out with…..what they would be liking….which sport would be their favorite! And now……here I sit….16 years on Friday since they have been gone…..and it is almost worse. I don’t know what they’d look like…..who they might have married…where they would have gone to school….if I’d have grandkids with one of them….two of them…maybe all three! I just don’t know! But it is my reality. I live on the edge of…this is my life…and this could have been my life! And there are constant reminders daily of each of these. I am so thankful for those I have in my life now. I truly love the older ones who call me mom and allow their babies to be my grandkids….. But I want that from my boys! I want to scream it sometimes…..I just want my babies back!!!!!!!!! I want to have fought with them through their teenage years like I am doing now with their brother! I want to sit on the front row of their wedding like I was so graciously allowed to do at one of their best friend’s weddings! I want to have my grand-babies call me and tell me about everything…like I get to do with my oh so precious adopted daughter! I want what I thought my life would be like to be my reality! But…..

It is what it is…..when it is…..and lasts….until we meet them on the other side!

Don’t freak out! I’m ok. Really…..I am. This is just a glimpse into the reality that is in my head and my heart. I LOVE my family I have now. I LOVE the life I am leading now. I LOVE the ministry God has given me through my story. BUT…..I’d be lying if I told you I am always happy…. My memories make me happy. My life now makes me happy. But there are just some times the hurt is overwhelming and the two worlds that are my life just don’t match up too well…..

Do I wish things were different…sure. But seeing God do such a work through all of this…..in me, as well as others…is humbling. Do I wish God could accomplish some of the things He has used my story to accomplish in a different way…YOU BETCHA! But I’m honored and so thankful He has chosen to use my story to bring others hope in His love.

If you can’t find me this next week….or I seem a little out of it….now you know why. I think I’ll go and just stay a while in the same place I was 16 years ago…..I’m gonna crawl into the lap of my Heavenly Father and just imagine His great big arms….holding me…..comforting me. Because even when no one else here “gets” me….He does. He understands me….and He accepts me. He allows me to me mad…to hurt…to cry…to yell. He is big enough. He will still love me. And for that….I am thankful.

Much love to each of you! And if you know of someone going through something…I pray my words will help you find grace for them…..even if they aren’t where you think they “should” be.

One of my now famous sayings is this….”It’s okay to be down….it just isn’t okay to stay there”. I’ve learned that I have to let myself feel these feelings….or they will come up later and really get to me! I’ve realized that no matter how bad some things may seem….if we continue to walk through them….they will only last for a season and that things WILL change!

He is faithful….my God can/will continue to perform miracles! I feel blessed that me being here….is one of them! ~c

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. Jeremiah 31:13

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While perusing Facebook recently, I saw a post someone had made with a quote from one of my favorite pastors.

I’ll be honest….I saw it and thought…true…and then continued on with my scrolling.  But the next morning I had this same thought on my mind.  It is not only true…..but dangerous.  Especially with all the social media out there……

You see, as a blogger….as a speaker…..as a Facebook poster….I get to choose the parts of my life that I want you to see.  And most of the time…..we choose to only share the “good stuff”.  So much so… that the “real” in our lives is cloudy….almost like we are watching a soap opera unfold through social media…but this form just seems more acceptable.

I mean, we’ve been warned of the dangers of comparing our love lives with that of those on a soap opera….PUHLEASE….who lives like that anyway???  But have we been warned of social media content and what it is doing to us? I think it is a fair comparison!  We see the highlights of people’s lives…..the trips…the good times…..the perfect meals….the fun with friends…..the romantic getaways!!

My friend did a little beta test.  She “tweeted” once daily.  But one out of seven of her tweets were not all “peppy” or “upbeat”.  They weren’t doom and gloom either.  Just a general statement kinda like, “I’m just not feelin it today”.    Everyone FREAKED!  She said it was as if the world was ending because her post wasn’t all rosy!!  HMMMMMMM……interesting.

It made me think about what I allow others to see…through social media, blogging and the stories I share when I speak!  I get to choose what you see or know about me and my life….my feelings. It also made me think of statements my husband tells me others say to him about me…”How does she do it?” or “She is always smiling….does she ever have a bad day?”  HECK YES I have bad days……and sometimes they are just dark.

Take my birthday, for instance.

My birthday is just a few days before Christmas.  Now, don’t think I was all gloomy because I am another year older….NO….I am actually glad I made it through another year!  Age is really just a number of measure anyway!!  But this past birthday…… well…. it fell on the weekend before Christmas.  And my sweet daughter was singing in our church services… all 10 of them!  I had committed to be there for her for all of them and was excited to do so!  Well…. 3 were the evening of my birthday.  And….my sweet sister and her family were coming in on my birthday to spend that day and the holiday with us!  I love it when she comes to spend time with us!  Especially her whole family!!

BUT….

My birthday was also less than 10 days after the Sandy Hook massacre.  I was still in an emotional state because of that.  AND…..someone I’ve never met personally….but followed her family and their sweet daughter’s battle with a nasty disease….was preparing to say their final goodbyes to that sweet baby girl….and that was weighing heavy on my heart.

AND

I was preparing to spend Christmas eve with my sweet adopted grandbabies for the first time! These 3 angels now call me Mimi and their mom calls me momma….cuz her mom is no longer on this earth…. but she was my best friend……and I’m so thankful she allows me to be part of her life and her sweet kiddos.  And another sweet child, one of the boy’s best friends, who still calls me mom…is expecting twin babies in April with his wife…and again …..I’ll be Mimi to them.

So……

Needless to say….my emotions were everywhere!

On the morning of my birthday…..I woke up…..rolled over…….. buried my head in my husband’s chest……..and SOBBED!

I couldn’t stop.  I sobbed until I couldn’t breathe.

It NEVER goes away! It NEVER stops hurting! IT IS ALWAYS THERE!!!!! The pain of losing my boys….my mom…..is still a very present part of my life.

As happy as I was in that moment….at the very same moment I was so, overwhelmingly, sad! I just wanted to be a Mimi to my boy’s children! I wanted to share my sweet daughter’s performance with all FOUR of her brothers! I wanted to just hold them…….even one more time! I just hurt………

There are more of these moments than I care to share. But I share this to show you…..I am REAL.  I hurt. I cry. I downright sob.

But….. I have hope.  I guess that is what people see.  Because by that same evening ….. I WAS smiling! I was enjoying the time with my sister and loving listening to my sweet girl sing! I celebrated another year with my friends and family and was so thankful for all that I’ve had.

Yes….that includes the bad times.  I am at a placed where I am even thankful for those bad times……..Because that is part of what has shaped me into who I am today.

And today…..I am a strong woman of God who has hope through His son. I know through His promise that I am loved….I am enough….I am worth fighting for!

I may not always feel it….but I have come to realize emotions and feelings can lie.  The way I feel ….. isn’t always what is true! So…. at the end of the day……  stop comparing who you are with what you see on social media or hear about somebody else.  Stop comparing their highlights with your dark times.  Stop comparing at all!  Because…….. God made you an original….you are fearfully and wonderfully made……and no one else will ever “get you” the way that He does.  No one else will ever fight for you the way that He does!  You are HIS! You are exactly the way the creator of the universe designed you to be….faults and all! And in the end……….HE is the only one that really matters at all! And if HE says He loves you and will always be there for you……then what is stopping you?  If GOD is FOR us….then WHO can be against us????

So stop comparing! Start looking at you…….. through His eyes…….

I’m convinced if you do that…you will love what you see!

Do something beautiful this week!  YOU are a masterpiece!   ~c

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