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This is what if feels like when God wraps you up in His consuming love!
Life hands us all pause and we have two choices.
Breathe in life-giving oxygen.
Refuse to surrender and forfeit the opportunity for God to do the miraculous.
Like breathing in and breathing out.
This is where faith begins.
In the middle of the hardest days of our lives~ That sorrowful, numbing blow to the chest that takes everything you know, have known. and implodes with the weight as your soul is suspended timeless. Breathless. That is until life reminds you to breathe when you feel you it will never be possible to EVER breathe again.
The police officer at the door, the frantic phone call from a family member, words like tumor, cancer, treatment, prognosis, no cure. The life-altering moment that shatters every inch of your ability to grasp words like death, divorce, we have done all that we can do, financial devastation, loss of a job, you make too much money to get any assistance, a barren womb, abuse, broken relationships, abandonment, a family divided, suicide, and words that are truths we experience so very real but we can’t fully prepare for.
We have to fight to be purposeful!
While there are always things that you need to get done, right? This weekend Monty and I purposefully checked off a few things that in all honesty were way down the list. Instead of laboring around the house, we chose to check on our little camper on Rocky Creek in Union Grove and get opened up for the season. A small detour was a much needed view before the coming weeks and months of travel for ALL the good and right reasons.
Truthfully- he and I needed to hit the pause button. Well, there is actually a 200 year old oak tree that decided a couple years ago to fall across the creek. Thankfully the wind blew it in the opposite direction of our camper.
Arrrgghh that old oak tree has become our arch nemesis and at the same time “group therapy” in the middle of one of most special places we have ever known. Our little spot at “The Mill” as locals call it has brought so much joy to our hearts. Family time. Respite. A place for refreshing. A blessing larger than we could have ever imagined.
We were giddy for sunshine and the great outdoors. The weather. Oh my the most beautiful weekend. We had accomplished most everything on our “list” by mid-Saturday and had so much fun in the process.
Well, that is until my friend and I went up to throw together a little lunch. Grill on, food prepped and then an agonizing scream from the creek. I knew immediately that it was Monty. The shrill pitch of his scream took my breath and almost sent me to my knees.
We both dropped everything and ran down the stairs to the creek. After we had gone up to the deck, Monty had wandered back upstream to grab a few rogue limbs. The creek water has been quite high this spring. Because of that, it had shifted rocks and the very character of its depth and width have changed. Sandy high spots and deeper pockets of water in places where they had not been.
After grabbing the branches and heading back downstream, he stepped into a huge hole and the stronger than usual current pulled him down and immediately filled his wading boots. The water was so cold it took his breath and for a minute he could not get up. His head was never under water but the moment he could breathe, he screamed for help. So thankful that he did not hit his head and get knocked out.
We made it to where he was just as he was staggering to stand up from what we would soon learn was his 3RD fall. 😳😳😳
Once he went down it stunned him, he got up, fell backwards AGAIN. He got up, leaned forward and then because his waders were full of water went headfirst. We arrived just in time to see his hat floating ahead of him. I would have laughed but it was soooo not funny. He finally made his way toward us and got up out of the creek.
While we have always had a safety rule that he is not allowed to work in the water, have his chainsaw or work on the tree without two people there. Uhm ✔️ There were 3 of us there. This was an unexpected “pause” and a reminder just how differently this could have turned out.
Needless to say, he is ok but all I can remember is the way my chest felt the weight of his scream, my heart dropped in an instant and I willed myself to breathe for what I might find.
The same weight of fear that swept over me throughout my life when I have received the unexpected, deafening words spoken.
It took a little while before I saw his body and mind shake off this moment. It has weighed on his heart too. So- you cannot say that I said this but it was equally scary for him! In time, we finally surrendered the rhythm of our souls to breathe in and out again but it has caused me moments of unrest even today. One small incident can turn in a moment and become a random accident with huge consequences.
We have counted the gifts more intentionally today. Water lapping over the creek rocks awakened us this morning with such comforting ripples just outside of our window. Tonight the sunset from our front porch was a beautiful day’s ending and a gift.
Friend- I am not sure what circumstances you are wrangling through today but I am keenly aware that people everywhere are hurting. Their yesterdays did not end as well as did ours. I pray I never forget that all around us daily are life-altering diagnosis’s, loneliness and isolation in someone else’s heart, loss that has changed lives forever and to always, always, always give thanks even in the middle of the hardest things.
Real faith and trust is built and written like DNA into the fabric of our souls by our Heavenly Father when we can surrender to the rhythm of who HE is, what HE is doing and how HE is bringing us through.
In this moment, no matter where you are. In a car (don’t close your eyes), outside, inside, by a hospital bed, giving thanks for a sunset, making plans for tomorrow, washing clothes, checking off the list (and like me- transferring it to be done tomorrow. Do you do that too? I get it.), procrastinating, praying that the kids will stop fighting, praying by the bed of your child, weary, tired- then get back up again or preparing for a beautiful days end…
Surrender: Right. Where. You. Are.
In the sacred few moments ahead of you… You’ve got time. You HAVE to MAKE the time for pause.
Close you eyes.
Breathe in as much air as your lungs can possibly hold and then breathe in some more.
Exhale until every bit of breath has escaped and left your entire being.
Now start slowly breathing in and allow God to blow IN the warmth of life as He fills you up with HIS love. Take in that moment and find every little part of who HE is- the great I AM- take it fully all the way in.
Then allow God’s love to blow freely and fully into the next beautiful moments of living.
Breathing out and breathing in. Yep. It makes a difference when we consider every little IMPORTANT part of living- breathing.
It all started in the garden- when God made man from the dirt and then breathed LIFE into Adam. The gift of God is ours to take hold of and it is a choice.
Sweet friend~ Just so that you know this tonight. Just in case you are wondering. Beautiful LIFE.
NO MORE WANDERING.
You are loved more than words will ever be able to paint. God’s love letter to you- The Bible is the way, the truth, the life. With the fullness of God’s great desire for creation, relationship and the fight for YOU through the gift of His Son Jesus, He is redeeming the moments of chaos as we speak.
Practice breathing every part of yourself OUT in order to breathe fuller, deeper, longer, enduring, the sweet breath of life that can only come through a relationship with the Father.
You and I both know there have been days, will be days and until heaven we will forever breathe in because of our desperate need of God’s love that wraps us up tight and secure…. until heaven.
Do not be afraid to breath out the emptying of your soul so that the fullness of HIM can sustain you when life’s hard days happen.
HIS LOVE IS ENOUGH~
Breathing out and breathing in alongside of you friend. We are one when we belong to Jesus. ✌️
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A few ladies gather each weekend @ a central place and no two the same.
We talk about life things.
The everyday stuff.
The things that we are working through.
The things that we are learning.
The hard things too sometimes.
And we dare not neglect sharing the oh so good that God has done.
We give each other grace.
We give each other courage.
Even though not one of us has ALL of the answers, we know the God who does.
We focus our hearts on truth that builds us up into the spiritual house that God is building. One small step at a time. His Spirit always meets us there.
We laugh, we cry, we share our lives and by the end of our time together our hearts have been filled. We are cared for and we care for each other.
We are the ladies of MRO. Women who are navigating home, travel and all of the crazy in between. We know full well that we are better together.
The heart of this lady lovingly longs to care for your heart.
The heart of this lady lovingly longs to see your heart empowered to live abundantly, to live a life full of hope that knows God’s love fully.
Tonight we gather as one. A community of like-minded ladies in pursuit of community, friendship and grace. A place to belong, all are welcome and we feel loved there.
Oh how I have missed you all!!
It is my joy to come alongside of every beautiful heart, catch up on all of the happenings face to face and hug every neck!
So, if you are attending the January Caution tonight, please stop by my little station and say hello! I will have the MRO Community Center schedules available and much to share about our gatherings for children, ladies and families in 2018!
Through the years, MRO ladies ministry has taken many shapes and forms as we’ve cultivated and nourished friendships around various activities and gatherings.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul reminds us how connecting in authentic community was critical for even the early followers of Christ as he pressed them to “encourage one another and build each other up. “ 1 Thessalonians 5:11
This season there is a call to courage as each of us enters into the new that belongs to 2018. It takes great courage to step out of isolating your heart into the world of connectedness that often serves as a line of defense for those hard days ahead. And isn’t building walls around our hearts lonely work?
The energy it takes to avoid others might be best used in building a community of deep and meaningful friendships. Just a thought as I pause for a moment to preach to myself!
You are the bravest ladies that I know. You are smart. You are kind. You do life in fast forward and I love the embrace that I have known on this shared journey!
God. Is. With. Us.
“Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:9
If there is only one small thought that I pray that I can impart as I end, it would be that you lay hold of the reality that you are not alone.
If you are new to Nascar, new to traveling, new to having a husband who is gone— a lot or just a little and you are looking for a place to belong, a welcoming face or some of that gathering community stuff—
Please hear me shout from the mountaintops I AM HERE FOR YOU. MRO is here for you. And even though some things have been adjusted or changed, I am, the CC is and those who remain are still there! Available. Committed. Prayerful over your lives.
Hearts poised to love and be loved.
Just shoot me a direct message, send a friend request, give me a call 704-507-2624, email me @ email@example.com and we can all get connected.
If we have never met before, your first time coming to the January Caution, please stop by and introduce yourself! Make sure you fill out your registration card at your table so that we will be able to stay connected!!
Excited about 2018? Concerned about 2018? Change scares you in 2018.
God is faithful. We are cheering you on and I am cheering you on!!
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We have known the deep abyss of fear, yet hope has not for one minutes been far away. Why? Because we believe in the power of prayer. The faith of a mustard seed at times but God has always moved mountains. He is sure. Steadfast. Immovable. The mindset of hope on our knees shifts we “hope” so to “belief” in the assurance of God almighty as THE power greater than ourselves.
On our knees our view is heavenward where God the Father sees and knows the best for us- His view broader, wider and deeper than our minds can comprehend. And “by faith” we entrust, rest in every promise, settle in to the rhythm of His faithfulness over our lifetime and put one foot in front of the other believing in His love for His children.
Hope- a longing, a wanting, trust in what is unseen, yet we “feel” the very presence of love
Hope- an aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design, a dream
We make our plans. God directs our path.
Within the design of hope, we plant our feet in what is unseen and trust that the step in solid, steady and trustworthy
-to cherish a desire with
-to want something to happen or be
-to believe without wavering
Hope has permeated every prayer, conversation, conjecture of a future and in our dreams and plans there would never be a moment where we backed down.
For over three weeks now we have held tight to hope because the God we place our hope in holds us stronger and never loses grip- no matter how faithless we are in our hopes and dreams for a beautiful future for my sister.
To lose hope places a pause in the active work of God and we must not waver but pray always in faith BELIEVING!!
Today my sister has made a most amazing turn for the good. Not one culture that was taken was positive became the cause for the diagnosis.
Encephalopathy- an inflammation of the fluid around the brain that became infected. This beast, a self-limiting virus, likely became stronger than her weakened immune system could handle after a 9 day hospital stay for a GI Bleed.
She is a fighter. Resilient. Brave. And I have never been more proud of my little sister.
Words do not often fail me- But this has truly tested he fact that at times my inability to fully describe the angst and stirring in my heart….. The pursuit of hope often wavered but finding hope for Claudia superseded ANYTHING that I needed and will remain a worthy pursuit to keep hope alive in her!!
So often the very day the words fail to be found, the poetic painter of pictures with words, enables this heart to settle into its rhythm.
Beautiful words about hope in this time of Advent~ as we await and renew our alive again at the reminder of the coming of the promised Messiah- Jesus Christ.
Wonderful. Counselor. Mighty God. Prince of Peace.
🕊Peace 🕊Peace 🕊Peace
Words of hope at this day’s end~
Thank you Ann VosKamp for painting my world today with hope.
I rise today with the “thrill of unwavering knowing” Yes!!
“What gives us Hope if not God and who is the source of Hope if not our Savior?
Making up hope isn’t our job.
Hope is God’s job and our job is to trust that God’s making Hope.
That God’s making a way, because He is The Way.
Let the weary world rise with the thrill of the unwavering knowing:
When we’re tempted to fill with despair, Hope whispers that God will fulfill His promises.
When it feels like life is a setup to let you down, we will whisper it to ourselves like a resuscitation:
Hope is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the belief God is working through all things, no matter how things turn out.
And when we get karate kicked in the esophagus by life and it hurts to breathe, we will be the
Remembering People who retrace it slow again, how Hope works:
Hope fiercely promises to meet us in hard things now — because we fiercely trust God’s promise to make all things new.
You see: Hope is a defiant reliance on God keeping His Word.
The winds and the days may rage and the blaze of things may leave you feeling charred, but now is the time for faith to rise like a phoenix from ashes and we will:
Hold on to His Word for all you’re worth — because His Word is what proves God is trustworthy.
And when you know God is trustworthy — you know today is worthy of Hope.
When your bones know God ultimately makes good on His promises — that’s good enough reason for hope to burn in your bones.
As long as you still are, all is not lost. Being is hope, and hope is presence, and this present moment is a gift pulsing with hope.
Feel it even now:
Hope doesn’t promise success to the strong, but resurrection to the wrecked. Because success isn’t the virtue that will remain. Love, Joy and Hope are. So we will make those three that will remain, always our main thing.
Feel it especially now:
Like muscles, Hope is made by rising, again and again, lifting the weight of dark that’s conspiring to flatten us with the strength of His promises that’s certain to carry us.
Advent is learning how hope works and you can feel the warming light of the main thing that matters:
Hope is not some elusive lottery ticket for the lucky, but hope is the fiery torch the faithful raise in a life-grip to burn back the ugly face of the dark so they can see their promised land —
and the welcoming face of God.” ~Ann VosKamp
May hope surround you this night and for all of your tomorrows.
There are days of doubt and fear when we pray…… unending, unrelenting, breathing prayer without ever saying a word out loud.
Praying in faith believing over the several weeks previous to this day’s end, have been made up of bold, believing shouts out loud to God prayers. With every opportunity, I have prayed with authority from the many years of deeply rooted truths from God’s Word written in my heart.
Tonight, there are prayers from a hospital room and an unexpected twist along this journey. How incredibly amazing that the hospital television has an entire “Healing Content”, get-well network, filled with beautiful photos and the ambient sounds of relaxing and restful places.
After Monty left tonight and I was settling in alongside of my sister, I chose for us the quiet of a trickling forest creek in hopes for her to rest peacefully through the night.
As the display of beauty and sound began to play, I adjusted the volume on the TV remote, placed it by her head and listened closely to her every breath as I watched her chest rise and fall.
We have had a most eventful and hard day. While there is still so much that we do not know, watching her sleep peacefully and breathe so perfectly soothes a bit of the anxious that rises up in me every now and then.
All that I CAN do for her is wait WITH her, focus my requests toward heaven and gather every ounce of strength that I have to speak truth over the darkness of the unknown…..
In these quiet moments, there is a strong sense of abiding union with the Lord. Whole as one. So much more than being held but a blanket of cover known only in the presence of the Holy Spirit’s bridled power spread deep and wide with enduring, unwavering love and care. So sweetly tender. Moment by moment awakening in the unseen work of God’s hand and I can feel it deep in my soul.
Every now and then the tears well up in my lower eyelids- right up to the edge and so very close to spilling out. Even this small heart dares to blink as a sign of conceding to defeat in the midst of this battle. #warrior #child #sister #caregiver
The waiting. That movement of God in my heart that reminds me— to hold on to and know full-well that God is greater.
He is able.
He is healer.
I watch a tear trickle from just inside the corner of Claudia’s eye. Our prayers have been steadfast and she is worthy of every petition that has been prayed and tenderly sifted through the hands of “The One” who sits at the right hand of God enthroned.
“…. our comfort in suffering is this: YOUR promises (God) renew our lives.” Psalm 119:50
I wipe away her tear and begin to breathe heavenward with each breath every promise that God brings to remembrance.
For every one of you that has prayed, we are so grateful. We are expectant and believing nothing less than this to be an opportunity for His glory to be displayed in her life. How it will bring honor to God— this we WILL tell!!
I continue to sing in my heart God’s Word and His promises over her as we settle in to the late night and into the early morning rhythm of another day if the Lord wills for answers.
Lord, you promise that You are my (her) ever-present help in trouble…
You promise that Your grace is more than sufficient for my (her) every need…
You assure that you will never leave or forsake me (her)….
You promise to be the One who will go out and fight for me (her)….
With every promise my heart beats strong for her….
The book of Joshua tells me that you will be with me (her) wherever I (she) goes…..
You promise you are a refuge for the oppressed, and a stronghold in times of trouble…
You say You will counsel me (her) and watch over me (her), and guide me (her)by Your righteous right hand…
You’ll sustain me (her)and be my (her) mighty fortress…
You invite me (her) to cast my (her) cares on You, for You will never let me (her) fall…
Your name is a strong tower, and as the righteous run into it, they are safe…..
Jesus, You tell me I’m (SHE IS) SAFE….
In the sacred moments—
TRUTH spoke the depths of our darkness into light and became the presence of hope that I hold on tight to FOR her….
In the gap….
In the quiet…
In these moments…
While the whole world kept moving right outside of the door and not one thing regarding the circumstances have changed….
Truth. Set. Free.
The pain in my heart was and is still throbbing, but my courage has been renewed by truth for a road neither of us would have chosen. I am assured that no matter how old I get, in His sovereignty, God still allows me new opportunities along my faith journey that may stretch my heart. I am assured that they will always lead me on a path of promise and hope. The reminder that no matter how tough I think I am, it is the power of God that gives us the strength for every enduring moment we may face.
No. Matter. What.
I am smiling so fully inside. Actually I am STILL smiling all over the outside too!!
At some point my sister’s nurse came into the room- which I did not realize. She told me later that she paused but then left because I was typing and the smile on my face was not what she had seen previously and she wanted me to smile out loud for as long as that smile might possibly last.
Because the blessing of hope was no longer shadowed by my pursed lips and furrow on my brow but a smile secured by real faith- You know the kind of faith that wrangles through things with the Lord and is ultimately what real courage is made up of.
Courage that finds its position bowed low and giving thanks in ALL things!
Grrrrrr…… She so busted me!
An exhausting journey for so many reasons but it has not been because it is TOO hard.
Life is always moving and we all get weary for ALL of the right reasons. You know it is true.
With every Bible verse inwardly spoken over Claudia tonight came an infusion of life-giving blood into our spiritual veins.
In the quiet and stillness, the sweetness of God has revealed Himself as an ever present and perfectly available Savior.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help… He heard my voice….” Psalm 18:6
Wow. Just wow!
Ann VosKamp says it this way—
“Don’t ask me how it works, or how the Holy Spirit does it, but when we DO the Word – actually DO it — something splits the seams of heaven and pours out a shower of blessings.”
This I know—
Ankle deep in my humanity. Light broke through and overpowered the darkness tonight just as it did in that small stable in Bethlehem so very long ago!
This is where our hope lies. #thecoming #advent
Come Lord Jesus Come
At this day’s end……