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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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Do you do this?  Do you play the “What if?” game?  Do you beat yourself up over maybe a different outcome in any particular situation by asking yourself “What if?” questions?

Hmmmm.  I have done this too.  I am guilty of playing this game in my mind.  But I am curious how you end this game. I mean, do you agree that if you had just done something differently, or maybe made a different decision, would things really be that different or that much better?

I’m just curious….because tonight at church….the pastor was speaking on finding favor with God.

Why, you ask, might this lead me to wondering if anyone has played the “What if?” game…..?  Well, let me share a few tidbits and you will understand.

He spoke about how we can walk in God’s favor at all times.  He also explained that being in God’s favor doesn’t mean an easy, care free, wonderful life (sounds a little like my last post!), but instead….it is a life knowing that He has designed us with a purpose….and He is constantly with us!

I have a girlfriend….and no matter where she is in life…if you ask her how she is…her answer is ALWAYS, “Blessed and highly favored!”.  I have come to expect her to say this…always.  And I love it!  I want to think like that.  But I thought, before tonight, that it meant that everything in your life had to be going so well, or just right.  Tonight I learned that is not God’s favor being upon you…that is you looking for God to do you a favor!!  Can I get an…AMEN!!!

Thankfully, this is NOT what walking in the Favor Of God is all about! The pastor calls it….walking in the FOG!  I love it and can’t wait to go back next week to learn more about it!

Well, the part that made me think about the “What if?” game is this….. At the beginning when he talked about finding favor with God…he asked who wanted that….and EVERYONE raised their hands.  Of course!  This is what ALL of us want!  But as he finished up his lesson…..he shared a scripture….with an insight that many never think of when this scripture is read…….

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”                        Luke 1:28

This is when the angel arrived to Mary to tell her she had been chosen to birth the Messiah!  Like me, you probably think that she had sooooo much faith….or that she was just soooooo good….and God must’ve really loved her the most to give her this great honor.  But at the end of the lesson…our pastor put this in a different light for me.

He said that we see this as a blessing….. she was “blessed and highly favored!  And the Lord was WITH her!  But we also know the rest of the story.  So……what if the angel had said instead, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you!  He has chosen you to birth the messiah.  This will seem, to all outsiders to be conception out-of-wedlock, you must suffer for that…as well as have the child in a barn.  And although this child will be perfect….and live a sinless life….. you must watch him be mocked, and ridiculed…..then beaten and put to death on a criminal’s cross!

The pastor asked us again…….”Now…how many of you are still willing to raise your hands and say you want to be HIGHLY FAVORED??????  Seems a little different now.”

And it did.  For me, this is when I thought about the what if game. This is when I considered…….

What if God told us the ENTIRE plan before we embarked on a journey?  Would you still do it?  Would you be willing to take the bad along with the good of the situation?

What if being “highly favored” means walking through some very tough and dark times?  Would it be enough to know that “the Lord is with us” even then?

For me, it made me feel better.  I know…..kind of a weird reaction to the whole lesson.  But for me….after everything I have been through…..it totally confirmed that even though my life isn’t easy or even all great all the time…..I AM BLESSED AND HIGHLY FAVORED! 

And you know what else?  I always have been.

I am SO thankful that even though HE knows the outcome of every situation……He doesn’t let me know.  I hate to admit….but I don’t think I could accept knowing everything …. how hard some of it might be.  I would want to think I’d be strong enough…..brave enough to take on what He intends for my life…even if I knew it all…..but in reality…I just don’t think that is what would happen.

So now, my what if game goes like this….and believe me….I am asked some of these A LOT!

Q. – What if I hadn’t gotten pregnant at sixteen…married and then my first child at seventeen?  A. – Then I wouldn’t have had my precious Cody…or then my adorable Cory….and then maybe not have gone to church and met my best friend who then led me to a relationship with Christ.  And then….my sweet Caleb never would have been a part of my life too.

A. – cont’d……  and I wouldn’t have made the relationships…..friendships….had awesome experiences……in my life.

Q. – What if the boys hadn’t died?   A. – Well…..then I might not have married my sweet husband, had two more beautiful children…..made the friends I have now…. or have the ministry that God has given me in the aftermath of this tragedy.

How can you play what if?????  All that has happened…has made me who I am today!  All that I have gone through…..has led me to this moment of feeling blessed and highly favored!!!!   All of it….good and bad….were a part of His purpose for my life!!!

And ….. now I believe…..with all my heart…..  if it was good enough for Mary….it is definitely good enough for me!

Thank you Lord, for writing my part in Your story one word at a time.  For, if I knew at the top of the page, what would happen at the end of the page…….well…. let’s just say I’d never have considered myself strong enough to endure.  But, now I know, being highly favored simply means…….YOU have been with me….EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!

The pastor described it like this……The Favor Of God is…  The guarantee of His presence and the provision of His power to accomplish His special purpose in and through my life!

WOW!  I love being blessed and highly favored!!!!

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My sweet babies!!

 I can’t even believe that it has been 15 years since my babies were here.  I can’t believe I have lived so much more life since they left this earth than they were able to spend here with me.  I can’t even put into words how much my heart hurts right now….and always.  I can’t describe the pain and hurt I feel…..the aching to be with them.  Just to hug them….one. more. time.

I remember that morning….

5:15

That is what the clock read when I picked up the phone.  I still have a difficult time looking at clocks when they read this time.  This is the time I knew something was wrong….but I just didn’t know yet exactly what that was.  I spent the next hour….making calls….praying…trying to figure out….because I knew that something just. wasn’t. right.

6:15

This is when my dad called us back.  I remember watching my sister’s face to see if I could see anything in her expression to let me know what was going on.  Then as she handed the phone to me….I remember Daddy saying, “Cheli, the police just came and the boys are gone.”  And then I remember, with the hope of a mommy who loves her babies so much….thinking….and saying, “Oh good……do they think….they know….where he took them?”.  It was then that dad had to tell me the whole truth.  It was then…..I raged….and then fell.  It is the next little while…I don’t remember feeling…or much of anything.  I don’t remember getting into my van…..or reaching for the clothes they had left…..All I remember is looking out the window…and thinking I didn’t know why we were even going back to Okc….I mean….I didn’t have anything left.  I was just…..numb.

I don’t know where we were in the trip home..but I remember something happening.  I remember God speaking to me and realizing that my babies were okay. They were in heaven…..WITH GOD.  I knew they didn’t hurt…they had no sadness….no sorrow.  Only joy.  As a mom….that is all you can hope for….. is KNOWING your babies are okay.  Knowing they are safe.  For me, knowing they were in the arms of our Heavenly Father….was what gave me hope.  I woke up.  I woke up to the fact that I was still here.  I still had things to do.  I had to show others the hope that I had.  The hope in Him that if we are still here….we have a purpose.  The hope of knowing when our loved ones are gone……if we are followers of Christ….we will all be reunited for eternity.  This is what woke me up and gave me a new purpose.

I mean….look at these faces….

They LOVED life! They gave it their everything….every day!

They had fun!  But even their short life wasn’t always easy.  There were some very dark and difficult times.  But if you remember…or knew my boys at all…you’ll remember that no matter where they were…or how bad things were in their lives….they were always smiling!!!  Their smiles…..showed HOPE.  Their hope….I know for a fact….was in HIM!  If those sweet boys….could smile through anything….then this momma….will always do the same!  You have no idea how much I want to make them proud.  Usually it is the other way around.  It is usually the child that wants to please the parent and make them proud.  But for me….I just want to show them….that in my time left here without them…I was able to smile.  Through the pain…and the tears…I continue to smile.  Not because it is easy….but because that is what they would have done.

Cody’s friends and teachers talked about his smile.  They talked about how it lighted up a room.  I miss that…. more than I can express.

Cory’s friends and teachers also talked about his smile.  How he loved to smile and perform.  I miss that…..so bad it hurts.

Caby’s friends loved his smile.  It was so fun and mischevious.

I miss that…..more every day.

But I have hope.  Allow me to share the scripture that was in the funeral brochure.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand,.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disapoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he ahs given us.”      Romans 5:1-5

This is it.  FAITH. HOPE. and LOVE.

As angry as I get….at what happened…at the fact I will never get to see my babies grow up…..never get to see who they would have become….never get to experience so many of the milestones with them….never get to be a Gramma….never get to do A LOT of things……  As angry as all that makes me….  I have hope. That is what woke me up 15 years ago today.  The hope that I am still here and have so much more.  The hope that my still being here on this earth….means that I have to fulfill my purpose…and show others that hope.  The hope that through my smile…..others see my boys.  The hope…that one day…we will ALL walk together again…into and for eternity!

That is where my hope lies.  15 years ago…for a brief time…I lost hope.  But then God reminded me….He is still on the throne….and He is holding my sweet boys…. and keeping them safe…until I can hold them again too.

For so many, not just myself, this day 15 years ago…changed a part of their life.  There were so many affected.  So many that hurt.  So many, that even today, remember.  Please do me the honor of leaving a memory here….. and please….sweet friends and family….know that there is always hope.  God not only holds my boys in His hands…but he is holding each one of us every moment of every day.  Some days…for me…it is a moment by moment thing..just getting by.  It is then I crawl into His lap to cry. He lets me be sad and understands my tears.  He holds me and comforts like no one else can.

So today….as I allow myself to be sad….and miss the sweet smiles of my angels…let me leave you with this.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

Be thankful and kind to those around you.  You never know it….but your smile and kindness could be the hope they need to keep going….just one more day.

Forever remembering…..until the memories unfold into eternity with you!

I love you all … my sweet c3angels!    ~mommy

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Well….it’s February!  HEART month! 

As my kids prepare this weekend to make their annual Valentine’s boxes for school this weekend….it has made me take a look at what has been going on in my heart and in others around me.

This past week has been a little difficult for me.  Last week there was a senseless tragedy that is similar to my own that made national news.  I have had several wonderful people reach out to me and ask if I am ok…..and offer (much needed) prayer for me during this time. 

Part of what is so difficult though…really hit home on Thursday night.  It has really made me reflect on the “condition” of our hearts.  Not if we have clogged arteries or an irregular heart beat……but the condition of how much and what we allow to Break Our Hearts!

When was the last time your heart broke?  When was the last time your heart was so broken you felt like you couldn’t breathe?  When, my friend, was the last time your heart was broken to the point you felt called to action?  When…..have you felt for someone else….and not been able to sleep because your heart broke for them?

I spoke at a small gathering this past Thursday evening.  I shared my story and the story of my family to a group of some very strong and courageous people!  One lady, at the end shared with me that she remembered my story. She said she cried for a week every time she thought about it.  That took me back a little.  I mean, I remember crying for weeks….DUH!…..but she was a total stranger.  Yet….her heart broke every time she thought of me or my boys or anyone in my family……broke to the point of tears.

Does this still happen?  Or have we closed off parts of our hearts so that we don’t feel that deeply any more?  I know that there are more and more tragedies just like mine that happen much more often and they barely get any mention any more because it seems so common place! 

Allow me to share a couple of stories with you that highlight some people that allow their hearts to still break….

The first is a friend of mine who just this past week sent me a text and asked me to pray for a very difficult situation.  She asked if I could help her grasp the idea that something she was trying for just wouldn’t happen and that if she could just grasp that reality it wouldn’t hurt as much because right then…..it hurt a LOT!  I told her I would pray …… but I also told her that getting our hopes up is not a bad thing!  We hope for the best and have trust…and that is what we are called to do!  Yes…it leaves our heart more vulnerable for hurt….but also makes us more compassionate and caring and moldable!  I asked her to not close her heart or stop expecting….because that allows HIS plan to unfold and we will be open to it!  Hurt is a part of life. 

The second is a friend who has opened her heart…and her home….to foster children.  She has a heart that is burdened by these sweet children “who haven’t done anything to deserve what is happening!”.  I so often hear others say, “Nope.  I couldn’t do that…because when they came to get that baby and give it back to its mom or dad…I’d be like….No way!  I’m too attached!”  or…..they say, “How can I do that to my kids….let them get attached to a child like a sibling only to have them ripped from their home and break their hearts?”.  I love the way her heart has broken for these children and the way she looks at it…  She says, “How can I NOT….take these babies in?  They didn’t do anything to deserve this.  And if I don’t take them…..who will?  A shelter is not what these babies deserve.  They deserve a home where they are loved like they are a part of a family.”.  And that is exactly what the little boy she has now is experiencing …..  a family that truly loves him.  She encourages the parents to work their plan to be able to have their child back as soon as possible…. and KNOWS that her heart will break when they do and this baby is placed back into it’s parent’s home.  She also knows her children will have a hard time…..but also knows that she wants to teach them that this is what we are here to do….to make a difference in the lives of others…..to let God break our hearts for something…and not just sit on the sidelines and gripe or hope that someone else will do something about it…..  To let our hearts BREAK………  for others……

Just like the sweet lady I met who cried for a week over my loss…..  a stranger.

So…..this heart month as you prepare to give a Valentine to someone you know and love…please also take a little time to check the condition of your heart.  I truly believe that the more our hearts break……the bigger they can get.  Let’s not get so desensitized to what is happening around us that we don’t think there is anything we can do about it.  God can do anything…..He just needs a willing heart to step forward to show His love…..

~cheli

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