My “Grand” Adventure

Matthew 19:14 “but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’”

The radio hums in the background and the lights are dimmed low. Max and Dash were confused and made their voices heard over feelings of upheaval but have settled and are comfortable. The house is in peaceful rest. Quiet even breaths emanate from my lap as I rock back and forth, back and forth.

A glossy sheen peeks through slits of the sleepy eyes of the wee one in my arms. I softly sing, ”Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong.” The slits close as my red velvet antique chair creaks to the melody. “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so,” creak, creak.

Monday morning my granddaughter arrived, dark and early, along with a new adventure. My grand, Miss Willow, will be hanging out with Grammy for an hour or two each morning. I will then take her to the lovely young woman who has chosen to care for this precious bundle during the day. This is truly a dream come true: to be able to see my daughter and granddaughter every day (an added bonus would be Kristian).

I have been praying for Willow since before she was born. To have this blessed miracle in my arms brings tears of unworthiness for my Heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer and Healer. I look at Willow’s perfect face and see Kristan’s chin and Archie’s nose, but when I look at her resting face I see my beloved Taylor over twenty-five years ago. I well again.

As I rock I ponder Naomi in the Bible. She voiced her feelings of being dealt with bitterly. When she held her grandchild her perception had changed. She then viewed Heavenly Dad as the Restorer of life. So do I. God is good.

Matthew 19:14 “but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’”

The verse today is a reminder that crap happens in life. I cannot focus on that. I might miss the opportunity to teach this precious new beginning in my arms about the love, strong, compassionate, forgiving, merciful Creator who designed her perfectly with love and purpose. “Do not hinder them… .”

She has been created to do great things with a passionate heart. I sit in awe of this tiny miracle and wait with baited breath to watch as He unwraps the many gifts strategically tucked into my bundle of grace, mercy and joy. That is the Grand Adventure!

Thank you for walking this journey with me.

As the teeny blue eyes peek open comes the realization: Heavenly Dad loved me so much He placed special and important people in my life. They changed me. Those from the past I carry with me and are reflected in my mannerisms and the way I treat others. The present is made up of mercy, grace and hope. Thank you Eric, his family, Archie’s family, my family, Grace and my Awesome kids. Finally, Heavenly Dad loves me and I trust Him that the best is yet to come.

Until next time: Blessings!

It Wasn’t Enough

1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Hmmmmmm, the fan hums, as it was accidentally left on, for the sake of sleepy white noise. One “Click!” and it’s silent. I meander to the kitchen to refill my tipsy mug. The bottom cracked and fell off two or three years ago and went missing on a snowy day at Heartfelt. With the melting snow of spring brought the reunification of more-than-a-slightly warped base and coffee mug. Eric does not share my love for this 8 or so year old thermal mug. On more than one occasion he has fallen victim to it’s tumultuous antics. He drinks and WEARS coffee quite well, as proven on several occasions.

Since I finished my coffee time with Heavenly dad about an hour ago, I have been pondering that last verse in 1 Corinthians 13. I know I’ve dissected the entire chapter but feel overwhelmed when I think of putting them all together.”Heavenly Dad, Can you please show me what YOU say love is?” Ask and ye shall receive! (Matthew 7:7)

One of my favorite passages of scripture EVER is in Act 17:11. Paul commends the church for not just listening to the words HE says but checking them/searching the scriptures to make sure he was right! I’ll bet most (hopefully) pastors would say the same thing. When I asked Heavenly Dad what love is, more than one chapter, He gave me TONS of info. I had to break it down in bullet points for me to understand so that’s the way I’m writing. I’m also going to “Pull a Paul” and include the scriptures at the bottom for you to double check my thought process. If you see anything I missed, PLEASE, let me know. This journey we are on together.

What is Love, from my Heavenly Dad:

-Love is a command

-from God

-since, if you love you know God, I’d assume if we don’t love we don’t know God. Am I reading that right?

-God gave the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of love: His only Son, part of Himself, for us to have the opportunity to be with Him in heaven. He loved US that much.

-Love is forgiving: covers a multitude of sins (keep that one earnestly)

-Dad reiterates my previous thought: if we don’t love, we don’t know Him

-Real love has no fear, it casts out fear. Fear has to do with punishment. If you are afraid in a relationship, the love is not perfect.

-The fruit of the Spirit, part of God is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

-Again: if we don’t love, we don’t know God AND God is love which means our love relationship SHOULD contain all that fun stuff from the previous point

-Love other people as much as you love yourself. There is no commandment greater than this one.

-A true friend will always love you (frenemies don’t count). Your kinfolk are the ones we often fight with (let’s just look at them as “friends,” shall we?).

-There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God…except ourselves(notice, that one’s not in there).

-His love quiets us. I think of that as when we are anxious, He can give us a peace that passes understanding.

-Real love cannot be quenched. If anyone is willing to sell love, it isn’t love at all.

-If you truly love the way God wants us to love, people will see that you are one of His kids, meaning we are part of Him and He is part of us.

I have a long way to go but at least I can clearly see my goals. Does that help you? Check it out for yourself:

1 John 4:7 “
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

John 3:16 “
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins.”

1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.“

Song of Solomon 8:7 “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.”

John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

Until next time: Blessings

Who Are You?

I Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

“It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring. He went to bed, bumped his head and didn’t wake up until the morning.” It IS raining but Eric is NOT old and as far as I know he hasn’t bumped his head. He woke up hours ago, so I think that would qualify as middle of the night, not the morning. It’s fun, none the less, to remember things from our youth.

I remember laying on the floor, on my back, across from one of my siblings. We would press our feet against each other and go back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, like climbing stairs and sing this chant. Why? I have no idea. It was just a rainy day activity to entertain wee ones.

We didn’t worry about what we were going to wear. It was enough of a challenge to figure out how to get the shirts over our heads and the right arm in the right sleeve. There was no worry at night as to IF there was going to be breakfast. When we awoke, hot oatmeal or cereal was always available. As we got older, my mom’s special breakfast bars or muffins along with a vanilla milkshake (she said it was the same same as a glass of milk only all of us would drink it—LOVED her reasoning!!!) would be ready to grab before running out the door to the bus.

There was little thought or concern about what we were going to do, when we were going to do it or with whom. We got up, went to school, came home after an hour on the bus and did homework. One of the most unusual things happened next, my mom’s rule: we had to have devotions before the TV came on. Honestly, not a lot of the words lept from the page to my heart. It was more a matter of, “how fast can I read and get through this?” Admittedly, one part of that regiment stuck: God is the priority. I would thank her times a million, if I could, because I know I never did while she was living.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly,” When I was a child running to and fro, I would look in the mirror and it didn’t matter about the lighting. A quick glance while running a chunky yellow pocket comb through my hair and I was out the door.

 “but then face to face.” As a teenager, the mirror at home was a daily frenemy. I’d swear I walked out of the house with every hair in place and pimple popped. The fluorescent lighting of the girl’s bathroom at school told a different tale. In THAT reflection I would see a cyclone headed girl with eighty-four whiteheads (more than a slight exaggeration) staring at me. Who was that person looking back at me in the mirror, I wondered.

Life takes turns, as it always does. Middle school began in Indiana but was completed in Pennsylvania. High school was an adventure starting in Pennsylvania then veering to Indiana with an added sub map for a homeschool route. This path helped the excursion to Virginia and then the expedition to Minnesota with night school. The destination for completing and receiving the illusive high school diploma came to fruition back in Virginia! The answer to “Who am I, really?” became more of a quest than question.

“Now I know in part;” I had suspicions of who I was, but one has to acclimate to the culture in which they are immersed. The positive was the varied experiences in different states. These opened doors that would have remained unseen. Often we develop tunnel vision as we embrace and accept a “normal” way of life. One person’s “normal,” however, is another person’s “weird.” If not for many displacements, I might have set limits of involvement in an effort to be accepted or impress the individuals surrounding me.

“then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” Everyone goes through some sort of self awareness. It was important to me that Taylor didn’t have to struggle to see hidden doors of opportunity or possible interests. We wanted as much information/many tools in her toolbox as possible for her to assemble and produce her identity.

Taylor was raised with God being #1 and she knew He created and instilled loves and passions within her. It our our job, as parents, to open the door and shine the light on the path He laid before her.

She tried or played nearly every sport we could find, participated in drama’s and sang in choirs on stage. She played clarinet and participated, successfully, in marching band. We fostered so she was an only, youngest, middle and eldest child. We hand made Christmas cards and candy, annually, to give away and volunteered at the Depot, a local non-profit. As if she wasn’t well-rounded enough, she lived in two houses that were repossessions. Her best Christmas present EVER was a bedroom door! She now values the little things.

Some activities she enjoyed, others she did not. When it came to fostering, no one really speaks of the affects on/to the bio child. She was hit, bit, pinched, spit on, stolen from, and punched in the stomach. She learned to love, celebrate, win, lose, deal with disappointment, heartache, and grief. We consider her well rounded.

The above mentioned experiences created opportunities for self awareness. She blessed my socks off the other day when asked,”One thing your mother said…” and her response was: “Better or best?” When we made a decision it wasn’t based on right or wrong but,”Is this the better or best thing I can do for the situation?”

The bottom line is: Taylor is authentic. If you meet her, know that the person in front of you is the person she is behind closed doors. I truly believe God did an amazing work and I will always be in awe that He used me for such a perfect creation. She is fully known because she fully knows who she is. My prayer is that you do, too.

Until next time: Blessings!

Can I say,”It’s full Enough!”?

Years ago, six to be exact, Archie and I had a discussion that was so convicting it hit my Facebook page. It was one of those things that you write, get it off your chest and then you move on. Facebook however, doesn’t let those things die. “Your Memories“ pop up on a consistent basis. Often when I’d write something I would tag my kiddo in it. She now has this ability to catch the memories I’m blind to and draw attention to them.

This week was another set of memories I ignored and then I got a notification. Taylor shared my post. “What post?“ As I hadn’t posted anything for a few days. The post that she shared was me talking about tools and where God uses the difficulties in life. I gave examples, some of which were mine, others were struggles that I knew other people were dealing with. The difficulty with revisiting this post was that I had acquired another tool I had mentioned that wasn’t mine at the time. The tool was being a widow.

With that being said and the uncertainty of the future, a lump in my throat appeared. Another tool I mentioned was diabetes and my mom was diabetic. Now I’m wondering…?

When I look at this post, in my mind I picture a toolbox, red metal with a lot of the paint knocked off. There is rust in the corners and the latch is fastened but has no lock. I keep this mental toolbox beside my purse or in my car. I need to have it readily available and as a bonus I don’t have to worry about trying to keep another key straight (I have been accused of carrying a set of janitor’s keys).

As I mentally look at the toolbox, my first thought was, “That toolbox is full. I don’t want any more tools.” Though that sounds super selfish, and it probably is, but I’m just being honest. It’s the
guise of the “full plate. ” You know, when there are so many trials, you talk to God and you say, “My plate is full I can’t take anymore!” Instead, often it feels like God grabs you another, for “seconds.”

The crazy thing is, I have used each and everyone of those tools. Someone has had a need, and when I asked Heavenly Dad how I could possibly help, He lovingly reached into that battered toolbox, handing me the right tool at the right time to help. In that respect I can’t say, “enough tools!”. When I remember whose hand went in I realize, it’s not my toolbox…it’s His.

Here’s the memory:

Thoughts for today….
Yesterday Taylor Cook and I were discussing why negative things/physical aliments either happen or why God doesn’t heal everyone who asks.
Today @ lunch while chatting w/Arch the subject came up again. These were some of our thoughts…what are yours?

What if God came to you, like actually came to your door, and said He had something extremely important to talk about with you. He said there is this tool He has to reach those that are hurting, feel betrayed, are lost, or are hopeless. He shares His intense desire to comfort and give peace but He needs you.

Wow! God needs me! What could I possibly have that God could use? Why did He come to MY door? What could possibly make me that special?

God continues: He explains, this tool is vital to His work. People are hurting and He wants to comfort and encourage them with the use of this tool. You can see the pain in His face when He speaks of the discomfort in the world, but His brow softens and His face is peaceful as He shares the hope and reassurance the world is about to experience with your help and reliance on Him.

My heart palpitates! Help others in need? Give hope?!!!! Me?

He warns that there will be pain and sacrifice on my part. Change that….GREAT pain and sacrifice.

….what would you say?

The truth is the tool is unique to each one of use, what is yours?
Is your tool cancer? Can you relate to an unbeliever in a way that someone not going through it just couldn’t understand?

Is your tool sympathy? Have you grieved the loss of a child…a parent…a spouse…best friend? Can you cry with someone because you genuinely feel their pain?

Is your tool diabetes? Can you give encouragement to those that are just beginning this journey and express that God loves them just they way they are. Can you explain, with empathy, God has created them for a purpose and this disease is not a punishment, it’s a purpose?

Is your tool depression? WHAT? That CANNOT be a tool I yell…ever so reverently, of course…. . Yes, He explains. Can you teach and model complete dependency…moment, by moment, by sometimes agonizing moment, on Him? Can you can give the weight of the world to God and trust that He is big enough to carry it, even if that means giving it to Him over and over and over again?

Sometimes I feel so helpless in a world full of pain and suffering. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself because of my shortcomings and physical limitations.

What if….what if I took the focus off of me…? What if I looked for someone else who is at the beginning of a difficult journey that I just finished? What if I got up enough nerve to seek out someone who successfully completed a journey that has stopped me dead in my tracks.

What is my tool?

Until next time: Blessings!