I was playing the card game War with my two sons. The boys were about to square off over a pair of Jacks. They laid down their three primer cards and got ready to lower the boom. In a somewhat synchronized fashion (after all, no one wants to go “first”) they said, “I De-Clare ….” And as my oldest son shouted “War!” his younger brother said “Hope!” Guess what? My youngest son won. In fact, he did that the entire game. And won. Every. Single. Time. He declared hope and won.
I have taken an extensive break from blogging, introspective writing, and for a while there, a break from living life. I mean, really living. Loss and trauma left me an empty shell, devoid of the desire to think … to feel … to laugh … and to really live.
But something happened. Time passed – and while not a cure, it allowed for healing, and for growth. It allowed for rebuilding, both inside and out. I got stronger. I got wiser. I got better. And then I made the decision – I want to REALLY live.
And that’s when I declared HOPE. I have hope for a future filled with possibilities. I have hope that even if I don’t always feel like laughing or smiling, the sun will shine and things will get better. I have hope that I can accomplish all God has placed in my heart to do, even if it’s only one step at a time. And I have hope in a God Who loves me; Jesus, Who guides me, and family and friends who embrace me.
It’s time to focus and get back on my mission. Powerful lesson from an 8-year-old.
Racing to camp for the kids. Preparing curriculum for next year. Helping to plan a wedding. Planning a major life event. Moving family out of state. One thing right after the other. Good things. All good things.
And yet, I’m overwhelmed. Feels like it’s coming to fast. No time to breathe. Can’t get it all done. Feels like I’m barely hanging on.
And then I realize why. I’m trying to do it all in my own power. Not resting in the peace and power of God.
Ah… another year. I woke up this morning with joy in my heart and peace in my spirit. Of course I wanted to express it in my favorite way. Writing!
I have so much to be thankful for. I praise God that I know me – and love me! (That was a process well worth the effort!) I’m thankful for patience with myself and others. I’m thankful for a true loving giving partner in my husband. I’m thankful for my sons’ laughter and smiles. I’m thankful to do what I love – write, encourage and motivate others. I’m thankful for loving supportive family and friends. And I’m thankful for a hope in and love for Jesus that brings peace that passes all understanding.
I could feel it start to happen with the arrival of November. My neck stiffening, my mind racing, my pulse quickening. All from thinking about preparing for Christmas. Or more accurately, Christmas shopping. Did I have my budget ready? Did the kids give me their lists? Who do I need to buy presents for? When should the Christmas cards go out? And on and on and on… Stress! Pressure! And not at all what the Christmas season is meant to be about. While there is nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves, when pushed to the forefront, they remove the focus from the true reason for Christmas – Jesus Christ! This year, instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle, and sucked into the commercial hype of the season, I am determined to stay worshipful, grateful and focused on Christ. –
Family, friends, laughter and love are all byproducts of the Christmas holiday. The love of Christ and the warmth of His presence, mold the beauty and joy of the holiday. But for everyone, it’s not a happy time. Someone lost a loved one recently, and ache at the thought of the first Christmas without them. Another person has a tragic, painful memory associated with this time of year, and it colors their joy and happiness a paled shade of blue. You may be lonely, frightened, and unable to find rest. You might be worried about money, and unable to provide much of anything for your children.
I just want you to know that people do care. Some of us do realize that Christmas is so much more than presents, sales, big dinners, and new toys. It’s about truly sharing the love of Jesus. And in an effort to do just that, I’m reaching out to you now with that love to say I understand, and I care. I am praying right now for anyone struggling with any of the hurts I’ve mentioned. While you may not feel joy or peace, that’s exactly what Jesus came to give you. Allow yourself to feel, but trust in Him to give you strength, courage and ultimately joy. That’s something no situation can take away. Praying for you.
The older (and wiser) I get, the more my perspective changes. I get what really matters. It’s funny, when I was younger I was all about climbing that career ladder, getting my big break, being on my hustle and my grind, and making it happen – whatever it was. I still have goals and aspirations. Now, however, they take a back seat to things a thriving career, and a networking connection can’t get for you. In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday I was so blessed to celebrate with friends and family dear to me, here’s a look at some things I’m thankful for.
A husband who cooks, cleans, is humble, and selfless. He’s an amazing daddy and an incredible marriage partner.
Two beautiful boys who are my heartbeat. Their smiles, their unconditional love, and their innocent acceptance make me want to continue to do all that I can for them. My heart melts when they laugh.
Parents who are living, love me and are an integral part of my life.
Siblings who are now dear friends.
Inlaws who I genuinely love and appreciate.
The privilege to homeschool my boys. Yes, I am sacrificing much, but boy, is it worth the sacrifice.
A place to lay my head, clothes to put on each day and food to eat. Truly things we usually take for granted. Truly things to be grateful for.
My health. So very precious to be healthy.
Joy! The joy of the Lord is truly my strength.
Peace of mind. I could write for days on this one ……
And last, but certainly not least, the love of Jesus that permeates my being and makes me who I am today.
A precious, dear friend of mine recently passed away. After awaiting details of a service for Sharan, I learned we were convening at a banquet hall. Hmm, interesting, I thought. Not sure what I was in store for, I went. Instead of a funeral, or even a homegoing, I encountered a party! The atmosphere was filled with love, reminiscing, food (yes, we had dinner), laughter, music and fun. It was amazing. I had a blast. Yes, I missed my friend, but the thoughts of sadness were far exceeded by beautiful memories and the good time we had. Her life, and subsequently her death and the way we remembered her, have really caused me to reflect.
1) I will live my life being true to me! I am a unique expression and creation of God. Life is too precious for me to be concerned about others’ opinions, thoughts and ideas about what I should be doing. Sharan surely lived that way. God bless her, she didn’t give a flip what you thought. And I loved that about her.
2) Live an impactful life. Sharan lived life to the fullest, and judging by last night’s turnout, she touched and impacted hundreds, if not more. Her love, compassion, thoughtfulness and integrity managed to make a mark on many lives that can never be erased. I want to live that way.
3) When it’s all said and done, celebrate the fact that I lived. I want people to be better for having known me. I want people to have joy and laughter as they remember me. And I want them to feel like my life exemplified Jesus. Now go party!
Farewell, dear Sister. You lived life to the fullest. Thank you for letting me be a part. And thank you for continuing to teach me, even in death. Until we meet again ….