Wednesday, February 8, 2012

So Blessed.

Today I am overwhelmed with such a grateful heart. It has brought me to tears. Why am I so blessed? Why has God allowed my family such comforts and second chances? Why has God chosen to give me a husband who truly cherishes me and wants nothing more than to just be with me? Why has God given me a little girl who oozes joy to the very pit of her being...She brings such joy and excitement to my life. Then my mind wanders to the friends that God has no doubt strategically placed in my life during this season and chapter. I wonder if we would be so close if we met in 10 years from now. Would our lives collide in such a way that we would be such steadfast friends? In all things I am reminded of the love that the Father has for me. He chooses the folks who walk into my life and at times He allows me to see a glimpse of His plan. Tom and I have been reminded more and more recently that we are His hands and feet and we are to love so intensely for nothing else other than to be the extension of His love. How amazing is that, that our Heavenly Father would allow us to serve Him in such a way. Wow! We have built relationships with others who are hurting, deeply hurting through trials we have not faced. We pray together, cry together and sort through the grief together. I cannot even begin to describe the intensity that ministering to othershas changed our relationship with each other. I am so thankful that even in the darker days, God gives me hope more often than not, by allowing me to be with others who love Him and show His love to me.

Thank you Lord for your love that you show to me through those who love you. i am humbled, grateful and thankful that you allow me to experience such intense joy by living for you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where is Jesus?

I finished wrapping presents today and I placed them under our Christmas tree. I have a Jim Shore Figurine with Santa bowing to baby Jesus in the manger. This sits right under our Christmas tree as a reminder of what this season is really about. As I was organizing the presents I found myself moving this figure all around to make room. It was striking to have a visual of what many times happens at Christmas. We get preoccupied with the "stuff", the tradition, the family, the get-togethers and soon we see Jesus shifting out of the picture. We do not go crazy about presents and stuff, but any attention focused on the shopping or deal-seeking is attention that is taken away from Jesus. As a mother, I want to be intentional in the value that we give Christmas in our lives. I want to be intentional in making Jesus the "main event." He is the greatest gift this world will ever see; I want Julia to know with certainty that He is truly the Gift.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blessings in the Storm

Amid the stories of heartache from the tremendous storms that have plagued our country I’ve also heard many stories of near misses and miracles. I believe whole-heartedly that God's hand of protection was on us during the storm and as a people we should be grateful for His mercy.

I know that Hurricane Irene was not "the storm of the century," but for a Virginia girl the mashing of an earthquake and a hurricane was enough to have me "rattled." While feelings of fear and anxiety took hold, most of all thankfulness to God flowed through me.

We all survived a lethal dose of wind and earth shaking power, but God’s hand of protection was on our community. I keep thinking that in times of "storms in our life," where are we rooted? There is such a parallel between the roots of a tree and our roots of faith. Worldly roots, like those of an old oak tree, can be uprooted from their source even after hundreds of years of growth. When we’re deeply rooted in our faith, we have a root system that will never be displaced.

As Paul told the church at Colosse, we are to let our “roots go down into him.” When we follow him and build our lives on him, our faith will grow. We will overflow with thankfulness even in our darkest most fearful times.

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."
-Colossians 2: 6-7

Today, Lord, I thank you for your protection for my family, the ones I love and my community. I thank you for your blessings of food and shelter even when we did not have electricity. I thank you for your mercy that you have shown us as a people. I also pray that the people around us will know that every tree that fell perfectly away from their home was placed there by you. Thank you Lord for your blessings in the storm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Forgiveness- Family Style

Recently forgiveness has been on my mind. A family member whom I have never met attempted to contact me. This person has caused a great deal of heartache for the ones I love, so naturally I too feel hurt when I think of this person. As hard as it can be to forgive people who've hurt us, I think it is even more difficult when the person is “family.” Many people assume that forgiving family members is easier than forgiving strangers or acquaintances because we don't have a history or a shared connection with non-family members. In reality, I feel that's exactly why forgiving family members can be so complicated and so painful. I recently read an article by Sydney Thomas who addresses the key points below regarding forgiveness in the family.

Betrayal of our trust.
I believe that family members almost always start off with a basic level of love and trust, even if it is for no other reason than just being “family.“ From the moment children are born they naturally develop an attachment to their parents and siblings that usually grows deeper with time. Families are considered the most natural relationships in our culture. We consider the family bond to be sacred.

Cultural and historical importance of genealogy

The Bible illustrates time and time again the importance of genealogy. The Old Testament describes in great detail the lineage of King David and ultimately Jesus Christ himself. Thrones, family fortunes, legal rights and much more are determined by blood ties exclusively in many cultures.

Shared history and shared memories.
For some people shared history makes it easier to forgive family members. There are happy memories of better times that provide motivation to reconcile and return to the way things used to be. Yet, a serious hurt at the hands of a family member can cause some people to question every thing they thought they knew about their "loved ones." It seems that the history can sometime be erased given a serious hurt.

Forced intimacy.
Families don't stop doing what families do when there's a rift between individual members. Many family members ignore the issue and “pretend” as though nothing has ever happened. Holiday meals, weddings, and birthdays are events when unreasonable and unfair pressure is forced on the ones who have been hurt. Often, they are expected to grin and bear it for the sake of the family, even when the family knows about what happened. While their intentions may be well-meaning, families often throw the wronged family member under the bus in the interest of maintaining the illusion of family harmony. This only adds to the pain of the person who has been hurt. In reality this only deepens the already open wounds and sets the family up for more bitterness down the road.

For me, it is extremely difficult to forgive the folks in my life, family or not, who do not identify their wrong and deny it repeatedly. I choose to forgive for my own well being as to not let bitterness take hold yet my heart is still very guarded. Forgiveness is especially difficult when the person appears to be a “repeat offender” with no remorse for the wrongful doing. I am not saying that I am perfect and there are more times that I can count when I needed to ask forgiveness from a family member. It is a humbling experience. I do find it amazing though that when Christ is in the center of your relationship with one another forgiveness is easy, bitterness never takes hold and peace reenters the relationship. In those relationships the act of forgiveness makes the bond stronger. I have found in my life that on the contrary, when Christ is overlooked in a relationship the act of forgiveness is a struggle and almost seems unnatural. Bitterness time and time again attempts to rear it’s ugly head and it is a struggle to push it away. The relationship is saturated in prayer and yet the forgiveness always seems one sided. It is very difficult to talk about forgiveness with someone who does not believe that they have wronged you and appears angered by the thought. Bingo- that is when I made the choice to focus on Jesus and His forgiveness for me. He forgave me before I even acknowledged it as He did for all of us. When I get to feeling upset or irritated about dysfunctional family dynamics I try to bring myself back to the foot of the cross. That is true unconditional forgiveness. I think if we can model sacrifice and humility in our own lives as Christ did for us forgiveness would be so much easier.

It is my prayer that no matter what hurt you are dealing with in your family that you meet it with Christ like humility, love and forgiveness. Only then will we see the miracles He has in store for us!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I want to share a God experience that I had the blessing for encountering this week. HE. IS. SO. GOOD! For those of you that don't know, I am nurse for a Kidney Specialist. I saw a patient on Tuesday who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. She has been on the waiting list for many years and still has not received a kidney. She is a young mother, so full of life. I have only known her for about a year, but we have become fast friends. Her family members were tested to see if anyone would be a tissue match and thankfully her brother was a match! While this is a blessing, it has also caused conflict and turmoil in the family. He is also a young father of three as well as the sole provider for his family. In giving one of his kidneys to his sister he would loose his job in construction as he would need to be out of commission for 2 months. In preparation for this, he sold his home and moved in with his parents. My patient, felt intense guilt about this. She told me on Tuesday that she was so upset that her brother had to choose between saving her and providing for his family. I told her that I would pray that God would provide in the situation. I wasn't really sure what I was praying for except for strength, courage, and compassion for all of the family members.

So that was Tuesday. On Friday I called her home to check in and just see how she was doing. Her husband answered the phone and said that she was in the hospital! I called VCU and was transferred to the transplant unit. I spoke to the nurse and learned that my dear friend received a cadaver (donor) kidney on Wednesday morning! Isn't God awesome! She had been on the list for over 5 years and the morning after my intense prayers for her He provided in a way that I could have only dreamed of! I am in awe and amazed at His mercy and compassion for us.

Can you imagine getting that call that you need to come immediately that there is a kidney for you!? I get chills just imaging this. I pray that God will use this experience to minister to her family. I pray that they will see how real God is and how He wants so desperately to bless us.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Of all the lights you carry in your face, joy shines farthest out to sea.
-Author Unknown

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Discipline, Encouragement and Everything In Between

I have had many people including family members say that Tom and I are "too hard" on Julia. I can't even count the times I've heard "she's just a kid". "She's only 2." Oh, the list goes on and on. Tom and I believe that our commission as parents is to raise her in a way that would shape her to be a women filled to the brim with Christ's love. Julia is old enough to know right from wrong. She can be manipulative at times and she is very saavy when it comes to stacking us up against eachother. Sin is not learned, we are born with it seeped inside of us. We whole-heartedly believe that now is the time to help form and shape her into a respectful and kind child who will grow in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thats the goal!. Parenting isn't filled with doom and gloom and constant correction, but I do believe that there is a place for correction and discipline. Tom and I understand that children need boundaries, in fact, they yearn for them. There is comfort in knowing your boundaries and children thrive in an environment where there are clear cut boundaries.

With that being said we believe that there is also a strong obligation as parents to encourage our child. Encouragement in the terms we use is more than merely praise for an act or good behavior. We strive to help Julia internalize positive feelings about herself through interactive encouragement with us. We are raising Julia to feel good about who God made her to be and to acknowledge that He is responsible for her gifts, abilities, and accomplishments. We want her to feel good about Jesus in her, enabling and empowering her for the mission of her life!

By no means do we think we are perfect or that we have this all figured out. We struggle and sometimes anger gets the best of us. We pray, we read and we surround ourselves with people who propel us in a Godly way of parenting. Above all, we see such an overwhelmingly awesome task that God has given us in being parents. We take it seriously and know that we play a large role in the molding and refining process for our child. It is humbling, it is scary, and it is such a blessing!