What a difference a year makes.

20 12 2010

This time of year always prompts me to look back at what my life has been like since the last Thanksgiving and Christmas. I reflect on last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas memories. Some were not so good and brought great sadness to me but others were beautiful, sweet and wonderful and brought me much joy. Quite a combination and it certainly seemed to have a roller coaster ride effect to say the least. When I think about what my life would be like right now if I had received everything I desired this past year, I can pick out a lot of the things that I wouldn’t know or have experienced if I had gotten what I wanted. I cannot imagine my life without these things, now. No matter what I have missed out on or the disappointment I may have felt I can honestly say that I cannot imagine my life without the people, places and things that I now have because “life” turned out differently than I had expected this past year. It’s bittersweet you know. I had to give up some dreams in order to gain some new ones.

It is so easy to say “what a waste of time” when I reflect on things that have gone wrong but my friend Linda O. reminded me the other day that “no, it’s not a waste”. She’s right. Some very hard, valuable and good lessons have come out of the time I spent over the past year. Do I miss what I thought my life “would have been like”? Yes, I do. It doesn’t mean it was the right thing, though. Reality says it wasn’t right and I have God to thank for saying no to my desires and replacing them with His desires for my life. After all, His viewpoint is better and He can see much farther than I can to know how things turn out in the end.

Today, I reflect on my life and it is good. I am truly blessed and I cannot even understand why in so many cases. God is good! He may remove some things but what He replaces them with is even better. He watches out for me. God has plans for my life that require I be on the path that I am presently on and I want to enjoy that path and take in all that I can instead of running along in a hurry. For I know that those very dreams that were not given to me this past year are waiting somewhere in another year just down the path. They are out there waiting to greet me at the right time.

Merry Christmas!



25 11 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Today we set aside a day to give thanks for the blessings in our lives, be with family and friends and oh yeah…to eat a lot of good food! I stayed in Nashville to celebrate Thanksgiving here with 4 friends who were not with their families today and I hosted my first Thanksgiving celebration where I actually cooked a turkey. Once my frozen fingers finally pried out the yucky stuff from the cavity of the turkey I was in business! I actually had fun preparing the turkey and wondered why I had never attempted to do this before? It felt good to be thinking about the people who would be arriving at my home this afternoon to sit at my table, say a blessing together and have good food and a fun time together. All in all this day was good and I am glad that I now have today’s good memories to carry with me. An unexpected visit from a friend after dinner made the day even better.

When I open up my home I try to remember to pray for each person who will be stepping across the threshold and praying that they will feel comfortable and safe here no matter what is going on in their life. I like for people to kick off their shoes, prop up their feet, spread out, relax and feel like they can let their hair down and be who they really are. It has been very important to me that my home be a safe haven for those who are hurting and just need to talk and escape from the world for a bit. One of my guests called me this evening to thank me for including her in my festivities and she shared with me that she was hurting inside today and was so thankful to have a place to go and to be around other friends. Out of all of the compliments that I received today this by far was the greatest. I never know what God has up His sleeve in situations like this but I am grateful for all of the times people have let me in on the real reason that I truly opened up my home. Usually, it was not for the reason I intended but for the very reason God intended. People everywhere are hurting and in need of someone to say I care about you and what happens to you.

Today was a good day!

What are you thankful for?

May God bless you richly so you have many, many things to be thankful for!


29 09 2010

Sometimes I like to go back and read my old journals just to see how silly, serious or crazy I was when I wrote the passage! There are times when I remember writing it, how I felt, where I was sitting when I wrote it and so forth. Other times I do not remember at all and have no clue where it came from! Tonight I found some old entries in a journal that I had in a pile of papers to shred. I went through a phase earlier this year where I tore out some pages from an old journal because I was angry about something and I just did not want to go back and ever read about my stupid mistakes or remember what I had written about. Along with those pages were other entries that, as I found this evening sorting through them, were about some things that I do not want to part with (for various reasons).

I found this one in particular that I wrote after a devotion I had read. This was a long time ago so it was good to go back and see just how far I have come from when I wrote this entry. I have no idea why I am sharing this other than maybe, just maybe someone out there will read this and it will hold a key to something that they need to hear. Take what you can from it and leave the rest!
Thanks for stopping by!

In His love…He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them.

My life lay broken and in scattered pieces. The life was sucked right out of me. The rug was pulled out from under me. A cruel joke had been played on me and there was no laughter. It was real. Life, brutal life had happened to me.

No more tears left..all had been shed. My strength was wiped out and there I lay. No movement. Just a quiet, heap upon the floor. Memories and events swirled through my mind as if I were watching a movie. Oh, how I wish it had not been of my life. It was though. A sad, disturbing existence. One I hope never to return to.

Out of my turmoil came a strength unlike any I had ever known. Nothing absolutely not one ounce of that strength was required of me. It was a gift. It felt so good. I gladly accepted it.

At times I feel like I am an observer, just along for the ride. Grace. Sufficient to meet all of my needs. It redeems me, lifts me, carries me through life. No longer trying to be in control and it is so freeing.

In letting go, I was held.
In resting, I was strengthened.
In trusting, I was walking.
In believing, I was seeing for the first time.

Can you do this?

5 07 2010

I am taking a drawing and composition class this summer and my instructor is great at letting us listen to Pandora Radio during class while we are drawing indoors. He showed up to class one day and was telling us about this incredible dance scene that you can find on YouTube. It is the Nicholas Brothers and he said this was the most amazing dance scene he had ever witnessed! We all stood around the Apple on the counter and everyone in the class was amazed at what we were seeing! I have never in my life been able to do the splits much less imagine coming up off the floor from the split position with absolutely NO hands! Once the 3 minute video was finished a woman in the class asked “Did they have cups back then?” I sure hope so!!

Some things you’ve just got to see for yourself so I leave the link below for you to discover a world that makes me wish I could dance like this! Well…..almost like this!
Here’s to the playful side living in all of us!

Jake and the Yellow Balloon

11 06 2010

Today was a very busy day and for a Friday I was just really, really ready to get it over with so I could go home and relax. My job has kept me very busy this past week and although it has been fine and I was doing great plowing through the piles on my desk, it just so happens that I hit the wall today. Finally, the busyness caught up with me and I mentally was on E…empty. All it took was one little thing to trigger me and I was a goner. One more thing got added to the long list and piles of things to do that doesn’t seem to get that much shorter before it starts quickly growing again. It was enough that I felt the tension inside of me growing, the tears started to surface and I felt some anger welling up in me. I decided it was time to take a walk outdoors even if it was 90 degrees and just get out of the 4 walls that I had been sitting between for way too many hours! So, I fought the tears and I went for a walk.

I love walking on Vanderbilt campus because it is just so beautiful. There are so many meandering sidewalks and paths that I can take that each time it can be a new adventure. It was rather warm but there was a nice breeze stirring so I finally ended up coming to rest on a bench below some very beautiful, tall and old majestic trees and was facing the library lawn. As I sat there, I just enjoyed the wonderful feeling of the breeze against my skin, loved watching the chipmunk scurry around into the monkey grass and I just watched people as they walked by. Some were families who were obviously visiting with their children who were possibly interested in attending Vanderbilt and others were students, professors, faculty or staff and the world was just at a relaxed pace underneath those old trees. It was nice! It suddenly hit me that not only had my week been really busy but I have some friends in my life who are really struggling with some things right now and I have been reminded of some of my past hurts as I watch and hear about what they are going through right now. That helped add to the way I was feeling today. At that moment, I had a private conversation with God and just decided that I would share with Him what I was feeling. As I informed God that I had some hard stuff I was focusing on because of pain that others are experiencing I knew that I needed to turn these things and these people back over to God where they belonged anyway. No sooner had the words crossed my mind, “God, I guess I need to give these things back to you because I cannot handle them and I just need You to take over and have control of the situation”, I happened to look up and to my left only to see something out of the ordinary.

A guy. A tall, very slender guy in a navy pullover shirt with baby blue trim on the sleeves and collar, dark shorts and tennis shoes. With a backpack on and no less than 20 balloons tied to thus said backpack floating about 4-6 feet above his head! I looked at him with wide amazement on my eyes and my lips cracking a smile and we made eye contact. He looked at me and started to smile and then he turned right down the sidewalk and headed straight for my bench! My smile only grew wider and as he got closer he asked me if I wanted a balloon? I said, sure! He sat down beside me after he took off his backpack and sat it in his lap with the mass of balloons now floating only a few feet away from me. He introduced himself as Jake and we shook hands and he said “what color would you like”? I said any color would do and then I asked him if he had been handing out balloons all day today? He said he was out “spreading some joy” and that he had seen a lot of smiles today! I told him that I could understand why! So, he chose a yellow balloon on a yellow string and said that yellow was the color of joy. I told Jake that I could use some joy today so he cut the string and handed me the yellow balloon and I now had 1 lone balloon floating above my head and he still had the many! I’m sure we looked pretty funny sitting together on that bench! Jake attends Lipscomb University and is in the Divinity program so I felt led to ask him if that meant he was a Christian. He said yes and asked me the same to which I said yes and we carried on about a 2-3 minute conversation about Christianity and I just sat there thinking that this has got to be God himself sitting next to me with a HUGE bunch of balloons! The very timing of it all, the very way he approached me was with purpose but a calm and peaceful purpose. Jake had a message to deliver to me and it was JOY! I gave something that was bringing me anything but joy back over to God and instantly He brought me JOY. Literally! Joy was handed to me, it was spoken to me and it sat right next to me! JOY literally landed on the bench next to me. As we ended our conversation, Jake walked down the sidewalk to the next bench and started to spread more JOY to 2 other people sitting on that bench. I got up, walked with a JOYful purpose back to my office, carrying my 1 yellow balloon and finished my day with JOY in my heart!

God, thanks for being the guy with the balloons today that sat down next to me and thank You for literally handing me a JOYful yellow ballon today! It was You, I just know it!

Love and much JOY to you!

In Her Mother’s Arms

6 06 2010

I pulled into the parking lot of the recycle center closest to my home on a typical busy Saturday filled with lots of errands. This particular day I was just in the mood to get out of the house and do anything that would occupy my time before my hair appointment. My plastic tubs were completely filled with my recycling products and then some so I had waited about a month too long to drop off my recycling. My trunk was popped open and I set about the chore of carrying one or two bins at a time to their specific container to be dumped. The container for the glass had recently been emptied so as I dropped the various glass bottles inside of it there was a very loud bang and crash as some of them broke. I walked back to my car which was parked next to a lightly colored SUV and I heard the sound of a child crying and yelling “mommy” amidst her sobs. As I passed by I glanced in the back of the SUV which had its hatch opened up and I saw a little girl looking out over the back seat in hopes that I was her mother coming to rescue her. I’m not sure if the child was asleep and woke up suddenly to realize that her mother was not in sight and she did not know what was going on or if she just missed her mom. Quite possibly I may have awakened the child with my “crashing” bottles that were so loud. In that case, I am so sorry to the mommy who’s sleeping child I disturbed!

After I looked in and saw the child, I put my plastic containers in the trunk and glanced over a short distance to the recycle containers and saw a woman who looked my way when she realized that her daughter was crying. She headed the short distance to her vehicle to tend to her child as I took two more tubs to the bins to finish my business. With the last of my recycling in the appropriate bins I loaded up the remaining containers in my trunk, closed the trunk lid and unlocked my car to get in and head to the next stop….Marshall’s for shopping! I had not seen the mother get her daughter out of the car, nor did I see or hear her talking to her before I returned to my car. As I looked over I saw the following: A young mother, probably in her mid 30’s with short blondish brown hair was holding a beautiful little girl who looked to be about 4 years old with beautiful, long blondish brown hair that was straight. The little girl was almost as tall as her mother it seemed and she had her eyes closed. Her eyes were not tight and they were no longer teary but they were closed the way you close your eyes when you lay down to take a nap. The look on her face was sheer contentment and her cute little pink lips almost had a curl on the ends as a smile looked like it would soon erupt. She had her legs wrapped around her mother’s waist and her arms thrown around her mother’s neck and the little girl was holding on to her own arms with her hands as she embraced her mother and locked her arms around her. This child was in her mother’s arms and she felt safe. She had the look of utter contentment on her face. What struck me hard in the heart and brought a tear to my eye was that at the point I returned to my car after having missed any conversation between the two, the mother was saying nothing to her daughter. She just simply, lovingly and in a way to express safety just held her daughter and she let her daughter hold on to her and just be soothed. No words were needed because actions said it all. There had been no discipline for the child crying out and not allowing the mother to get her task at hand finished but rather time, necessary time to soothe her child was taken. She just stood there holding her daughter and allowing her all of the time she needed to feel comforted. As I drove away, the girls eyes were open and she was paying special attention to how my tires looked as I rolled away to my next thing on the list.

This may seem like a simple, ordinary moment in time between a mother and a daughter but to me it meant more. Not having children has had some especially challenging moments such as when I see families playing together at the park or laughing together and I know that I do not have that in my life and may never. When I hear a child’s voice or laugh I take notice because these may be the only snippets that I get to hear of special moments that I had hoped would become memories with my own children. As I drove away from that scene yesterday, I was touched by what I saw and was grateful for having witnessed a tender and very special moment between the mother and daughter. It made me think of how safe I feel in God’s arms and how He holds me when I am in need of a loving touch and there is no one there to give me a hug or a kiss on the cheek and just hold me until I feel safe and secure. Sometimes, God is all I have at the moment and it is more than enough.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

Dreams. Is God talking to me?

27 05 2010

So many people seem to be fascinated with dreams and what their dreams symbolize. I must say that I am curious and sometimes wonder why I dream the things I do but it has never really been an obsession of mine. This past Thanksgiving I sat down and talked briefly to a person who has studied dreams and what I heard him say was pretty interesting. He explained to me that he believes that God uses our dreams to reveal certain truths and even our future to us. He told me that when he wakes up from a dream he jots down a few words in a notebook that he keeps by his bed to help him remember what he dreamed about. He said later on he would look back over the notes and some of his dreams had come true or events had happened that were very similar to what he had dreamed about. He encouraged me to do the same when I had dreams.

Not too long ago I asked God to speak to me in my dreams and I believe that He has. I have had a series of dreams sporadically about a certain individual and I feel that God is talking to me through my dreams. The only problem is that I am not certain what He is trying to say. Some of the dreams have been good and some have been bad. Mostly I would wake up and be sad or upset by the dream even if it was good because I felt like I was being haunted by my dreams. One morning I was sobbing in a dream and was so upset at what was happening. When I woke up it was not just in my dream. I literally was crying and having a hard time catching my breath. It was such a sad and overwhelming feeling to be crying over something that happened in a dream. I was so tired and sad that all I could do was lay there waiting for my sobs to subside and I soon drifted back into a peaceful sleep.

This morning I had another dream and it startled me awake. Instead of being sad about the dream when I woke up, I instead accepted it for what it was. A dream that may have a message but right now I am not meant to know what that message is. God, if you are trying to tell me something, teach me something or reveal part of my future to me then please be patient with me because I do not fully understand what is happening or what it all means. It’s as if my dreams do not coincide together but are “here and there” events that are being plucked out along the way and revealed to me. These are things that have not happened to me before but I feel that they are intertwining with my present and becoming a part of me and my memories. It is strange to have these feelings. How can I have “memories” of things that have not happened? Will it one day be one of those moments when something happens, something clicks and I flash back to a memory from a dream and say “I’ve been here before or seen this before”? Sometimes I wonder if the person I am dreaming about is having dreams about me or if we could possibly be having the same dreams?! I chuckle at this thought sometimes because I know God moves in mysterious ways but that would just be crazy if it were true! Could it be?

What I do know is that God’s thoughts are greater than my thoughts so I am learning to be content in not trying to figure out what the message is. I hope I’ll simply just accept that things are exactly the way they are supposed to be for now. Maybe someday He will reveal the “bigger picture” to me.

Sweet dreams everybody and good night!