Monthly Archives: July 2016

He Never Stops Amazing Me

When I look back to a couple of years ago, I struggled with being obedient to the Lord’s voice. I knew he was nudging me to walk in faith and step outside of my comfort zone and it took several months of nudging for me to take that leap.

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I attended The Vineyard Church in Dayton, Ohio and I loved learning about and leaning into the presence of God. I grew in my spiritual walk with the Lord and I found out what it meant to be part of a church family and show God’s love in a practical way to others during outreach events. My faith grew over the 8 years I made that my church home. I was so comfortable there, I couldn’t imagine ever leaving.  I had made connections and my small community had grown quite large and I was okay with where I was.

The one thing I know, is God doesn’t want us to just stay in one place and be comfortable all the time. He wants to use us to spread his story of love, redemption and grace. He doesn’t want us to just minister to those we know, but to friends we have yet to meet. There were staff changes, people being moved to where they were called, new worship teams, lots of changes going on.  I don’t mind change, but sometimes too much change too fast, is unsettling to me, personally.  When all of this was taking place, I was feeling the nudges. I ignored them. I just kept thinking, why in the world do I feel like my time here is coming to and end?

I share this back story with you to see where God has brought me to.

Every week when I would go to The Vineyard, I passed several other churches on the way. One of them was Shelter Community Church. It was inside an old movie theater, and very small in comparison to the Vineyard church. Each Sunday, when returning home, as I would pass it, I felt like I needed to stop there and check it out; I also felt a little bit of guilt in thinking I needed to make a change. Guilt from the enemy telling me things like “what about your friends at the other church” “what about the women’s ministry that you are involved in” “what if you’re not welcomed” “what if you go and don’t like it”-a thousand what ifs. I tried to remember that the enemy of our souls will do anything and everything to deter us from listening and being obedient to God, our Father. For several months, I prayed, I asked God to reveal to me what he wanted me to do.  He is in control and I needed to listen.

My husband and I started attending Shelter Community Church in December of 2014. When we first walked into the lobby, there was a melodious sound of joy and laughter, people mingling with one another, chatting, small children rushing around, weaving in and out of the people in the lobby and people coming up to us and saying welcome to Shelter.

The what ifs that the devil had tried to plant in my heart, were gone. This place was a place where you could be yourself and still be loved, no matter how broken or lost or confused you were. As we sat through the service, of Worship, Announcements and the Sermon, I knew I had made the right decision to follow God’s leading and yet, I wasn’t sure that I could just leave the one church family that had been mentors to me, had helped me with food when we needed it, loved on me and my family; could I just walk away-was it that simple. After two weeks of attending Shelter, my husband wanted to change. He said he really liked this church and he felt good being there. I knew God was doing a work in both of us.

What I didn’t know, was that God was placing us right where we needed to be for what was to come. As most of you know,that follow this blog, our grandson was recently diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and another family member with Alzheimer’s, within a matter of weeks.  I can speak from experience that when people, who receive any kind of life altering diagnosis, say they are overwhelmed, they  feel like grieving, it really is the truth. I never imagined those first few days, as I allowed those diagnosis-es to set in, how mind-boggling it is. Instead of sinking in despair at what he might face for the rest of his life, and praying that God will show us the best way to teach him to communicate, I have read and watched videos, contacted professional organizations for help and most importantly reached out to friends and family.

By reaching out, our family is blessed to know someone who has been through all of  this that we are just learning about;a loved one that had a disability and a parent with Alzheimer’s. They’ve offered to walk along side us and help us get through all of it.

God is so good!!  And this is a prime example, of why we are not given all the details of our lives, before we are meant to know them.

I still have my friends from my old church; because our friendship doesn’t hinge on whether we  worship in the same building or not. God placed me at The Vineyard because I needed help growing, so I would be prepared for what has happened. I learned from some of the best role models of Godly men and women around. They nurtured me, helped me to learn what it means to walk out my faith and to love one another.

And our Shelter family loves us like we have always been there. Our grandson is making friends in the nursery and loves going. The Life Groups at this church are really all about life and applying the Bible to our lives and relationships. It has grown so much in attendance, that we have had to go to two services, but it still is intimate. Everyone knows everyone, hugs are shared, we cry and laugh together and we hold each other up. This is not to say it is all about the inside of the church. We love reaching out to our community in any way we can.

I cringed at the idea of leaving a church that felt so like close family members and going somewhere else and I even asked God if he was sure. What a laugh, right? I know now, that he knew what he was doing all along. Walking in obedience is part of having faith. Just because I couldn’t see the outcome of where that leap would take me, I should have known that God would never lead me astray.

When you feel like God is calling you to do something, that is not your normal; trust him. When we fail to follow his lead, we could be missing out on a blessing that he wants to give us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

May you hear God’s voice when he tugs at your heart and may you have the courage and faith to take the leap he is asking you to.

Many blessings as always,

Carlene

 

 

 

Choices Determine Destination

As I sit here, I look back on my life and all the times God has carried me when I didn’t want to go on, I am so thankful that I have his Word in my heart.

I recall as a child, who was a bit overweight compared to my peers, I was very self-conscious and so worried I wouldn’t fit in. I was the same height in the 6th grade that I am now at the age of 51 (5’11”) and I felt like a giant in more than one way. There were those people who called me names and made me feel as if I wasn’t good enough.  Those words stung for a long time. I would put on a happy face, but I was dying inside. I wanted to be loved and accepted for me-not the mold that people of the world wanted me to be.

Than I came to know Jesus and I realized that I was perfect just the way I was. He loved me. He created me. In His image. Jesus became my rock that I clung to when days seemed unfair.I was lucky to know other people who believed in Jesus and new friendships were formed.I learned that beauty comes from within, not our outward appearance. Beauty is treating others with compassion and kindness, not tearing one another apart.

I volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician for over 10 years because I felt complete when I was able to help another person. Oh sure, the adrenaline rush was great, rushing to a scene and not knowing what you would find, but calls where people would thank you and appreciate you; those were growing moments in my life. We couldn’t help all the people who called upon us, but the skills and experience honed over the years led me to know that most people are the same. We all want to be needed and loved.

Being part of community – the life squad – where relationships were built and friendships formed shaped me into the person I knew God wanted me to be. To continue to share the love of Jesus with others, speaking silent prayers over them and asking God to guide me as I cared for them in the short period they were my patient. Many patients I came to know, as we lived in a small community and I felt, the small part I played, made a difference in their lives and they in turn touched mine.

When the time came, to start a family, I knew I could not devote the kind of time and dedication I had once done, so I resigned and moved on with my life. Those 10 years were some of the best times of my lives. Seeing how people come together to help people in need, regardless of their own safety in doing so (in some cases).  Human emotions were raw and unfiltered.  I saw people at their worst and best, myself included.

In September of 1993, the 8th to be exact we miscarried with our first daughter. We think of Jesse often and know someday we will see her in Heaven. Sadness, overtook me. There was no rhyme or reason why this happened, I remember when we heard the heartbeat, I was so ecstatic and a short 12 weeks later, we were entering a period of grief that has never stopped.  Days are easier now, because life goes on. I could choose to stay stuck in that sorrowful moment, or tuck it safe in my heart and only let the memory come when I wanted to share it with other, in hopes they would know we all go through struggles and within those struggles we learn to comfort others.

I was blessed with two stepdaughters,Krissy and Erin, when Mike and I married. They tested me, fought with me and tried everything to overrun me. It took time for them to accept me. And that was okay.Their family had been torn apart when their parents had divorced and their father had married me. I am happy to say that after all of that, I loved them as my own daughter and they treat me with the same love and respect they show their own mother.

They have blessed our family with a total of three grandchildren, two boys-Alex and Austin and our only granddaughter, Megan.

God is the author and perfector of miracles and on September 8, 1994, our daughter Katlyn entered the world and blessed our lives! The joy I felt that day, overcame the sorrow that I had experienced, a year earlier to the exact day.  She was perfect. Her head appeared to be cone-shaped, due to the extremely long strenuous labor, she had bruising on her face, but in my eyes, she was perfect!  Fast forward to May 14, 1996 and the Lord blessed us with our son, Michael. He was so tiny, but also perfect!

Raising the children, I was scared I would do something wrong, I wouldn’t be good enough. Advice came from all sides, well-meaning advice. I’ve learned over the last 21 years that the only people who really know our children and understand them and know what’s best for them is my husband and I. We can pretend to assume we understand what another parent is going through, but every one is created uniquely with their own personalities, characteristics and souls.

Marriage takes hard work on the part of both people. One person cannot do everything and the other one just skate by. It doesn’t work. I never thought I would be the person to say that I had been divorced twice and married three times. EVER.  Or that it would be to the same person. And I have learned to stop using the word NEVER AGAIN, because no matter what my plans were, God’s plans always win out. For my husband and I, we have found we must keep God at the center of our lives. We pray and ask guidance on every decision we are faced with making. We put Jesus first. He holds us up with his mercy and grace, when life throws punches at you and you just want to sink into despair.

We’ve experienced homelessness, joblessness, an empty pantry and a million other moments that others face. We learned the hard way that life isn’t fair and life is what you make it. We have fallen many times, cried out to the Lord and watched him do a work in us and the way we view life and others. God’s mercies are new every morning and we do well to remember that with one another.

In honoring and worshiping God, we do our best to extend love and mercy with and to others. Even those in our own families. We could never do it in our own strength, only the strength that comes from Jesus. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.

Two years ago, God blessed our family again with our grandson Tyson. He is a sweet lovable child, that oohs and aahs at the simple things. A dog passing by on the sidewalk, cute little videos of kittens and children.Stacking blocks and watching them tumble when he pushes them over.

And now, our journey takes us forward learning to care for someone with Alzheimer’s and Autism. The old cliché, you can’t teach and old dog new tricks is not true. Thank goodness for that. We have learned to take one moment at a time, as that is all we are promised, we read, we reach out to others going through similar situations and yes, we pray and ask God to give us clarity and wisdom to help those we love that are struggling to make sense of the world they are living in now.

Not one of us know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future. His name is Jesus Christ. I thank him daily for the blessings he gives me and my family. I love him with an everlasting love that a child has for their father.

In every journey, there are many twists and turns, steep hills to climb and valleys to traverse. The way we respond to the many curves that face us on those journeys determines how well we will persevere when the struggles seem never-ending. When we fall, will we dust ourselves off and pick ourselves up or we will sink into the abyss of depression. Every step that is taken, requires making a choice. Choices determine destination. Seek God in prayer and he will ease your burdens and carry your load, if you let him.

May the journey ahead of you be calm and when the storm’s approach, may you always remember you have a Father and Savior that will be there to carry you when you don’t feel like you can take just one more step.

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May you know how much Jesus Loves you today!

Blessings,

Carlene

 

 

 

 

Pieces

Yesterday our grandson was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  It is a relief to have a diagnosis, but I am so overwhelmed right now that the only thing I know to do is keep praying that God will guide all of us on this journey and that he will know how much he is loved.  At 26 months, he is nonverbal for the most part and it has been a concern for some time now. I am upset with myself that when we asked his doctor at 12 months and again at 18 months that our concerns were dismissed and that we didn’t have enough foresight to ask for a second opinion.

Would it have made any difference? I really can’t say.  I know that early intervention is key. He has been undergoing speech therapy for over 6 months now, and seems to lose words faster than he gains them.

He has his own way of communicating with us and for the most part we know what he wants or is trying to ask for, but I can’t imagine how difficult it is for him. It’s sad. I know there are many people that have ASD that function very well in the world. I know there are other’s that struggle too.

The developmental staff of doctors and psychologists and nurse practitioners have been awesome and I am glad they are part of his team. They loaded us with so much information yesterday and warned us not to try and read it all in several days. Take time.

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We know this will be a lifelong journey, with bumps along the way. The one thing I read that “struck me funny” was:

If you’ve met one person with autism, you met one person with autism.

The information went on to say that every person that has this disorder is usually totally different from another person that has it and that’s why you can’t group them into a typical set of rules. What works for one, may not work for another.

I am looking forward to learning more and empowering myself with knowledge about this disorder. Finding other parents/grandparents to get together with and talk to.  As we continue to support our daughter in raising her son as a single parent, we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he thrives in every way possible.

Thanks for “listening”.  Much love to all of you over the weekend coming up and many blessings for next week.

Remember Jesus Loves You,

Carlene

 

 

Exhaustion

As I sit her listening to Tenth Avenue North singing Worn,  I know God is still on the throne and is still in control and in charge.

This has been a long week for me and it’s only Tuesday! Today was a reminder how precious life is and how we should live every day as if it is our last. We said goodbye to our cousin. He was one of the most loving souls I knew. He always had a kind word for everyone he met; he saw the good where other’s were more judgmental and he was a good man. Always doing the right thing. Honest and loving. He will be missed. I hadn’t seen him in many years. Life gets busy and we think we have all the time in the world and in a heartbeat we lose that moment.

I had kept in touch with him through social media, a comment here and there or a short instant message, which I am thankful for, but it’s hard to believe he is no longer with us.All of us know he has gone home to the Lord. His service was beautiful and we saw family we hadn’t seen in years.

Comments were made from all there, how sad it is that there are no more reunions or get together’s …we all wish for days gone by, when we would sit down together to take in a meal and fellowship with one another, but now we are all scattered and our schedules are too full.  When did family time become a thing of the past? Was I sleeping through all of it?

The hardest thing to accept is he hadn’t been sick, was healthy and happy and it was just his time.  Living in a family of Christians, made it easier to accept his passing, knowing we would reunite when it was our time. Regardless of whether a loved one has been ill and death is imminent or it is a total shock, the grieving is the same. It’s hard to let go. But God gives you the strength to carry on. He comforts us when we are totally exhausted because times like these are so painful to your heart and spirit.

And if having a funeral isn’t enough to have to deal with, we are dealing with our youngest grandson that isn’t speaking like he should by all earmarks of language development. Testing today and more testing tomorrow.  Long days with no clear answer in sight.

A family member struggling with Alzheimer’s and all of us struggling with a way to make things routine and “constant” for him. Praying God gives us wisdom to know what to do and what to say.

Then there’s this lovely Fibromyalgia thing. Running (not literally) all over the place, a lot of walking, runs you down to where you feel you can’t take one more step. The pain increases and if you’re not careful a flareup sets in. Flareups don’t last for a few hours, usually more like a few days, sometimes a week. Then everything else goes to the wayside. Laundry and dishes pile up, getting out of bed and maybe dressed, takes all the energy you have. You feel like you’re not even human.  OR 1/2 human. Things like doing laundry and folding clothes that came so easy before, now take twice to three times as long to get done, because you have to sit down and just rest.  When you are in a flare, what might normally take 30 minutes to do, now takes hours and you still don’t feel like you accomplish anything.

I am thankful for friends and family that love me no matter how worn out I am. Sleeping for several days is just a dream. The fatigue associated with Fibromyalgia is like being awake for 3 or four days straight, with no rest.  This fatigue makes me feel nauseated and an overall feeling of “blah”. Depression sets in because the pain, the fatigue, feeling like you can’t make plans or making plans and then you have to cancel because you just can’t function like normal.

Never take a single moment for granted, because none of us are promised a tomorrow. Live each minute to the fullest. Love extravagantly, tell people you love them, don’t wait until it’s too late to live your life. I have learned that housework can wait. Family can’t.

To my cousin Tim, you will be missed. You left a lasting legacy and may you rest in the arms of the Savior.Tim H

Blessings to all. Remember Jesus Loves You,

Carlene

 

 

 

 

Are You Ready?

When God places something on your heart to extend His Kingdom, are you ready and waiting to walk in obedience? OR Do you think you that you are unqualified?

God provides all the tools we need and equips us for every situation he places us in.

Just as a carpenter has special tools to fine tune his creations, Jesus has his own tools he uses on us and through us. It is not our place to question when we are called, but to have faith that whatever we are tasked to do.equip

When God asks you to do something, pray for someone, reach out to a stranger, share your testimony; he knows what he is asking. He is asking for you to trust Him with the results. It’s not our job to question or battle with the Lord. God has tugged at my heart many times and pulled me out of my comfort zone.  In the 30 second battle in my mind, telling Jesus I couldn’t do it or I was afraid I was too inexperienced, I learned one thing. Jesus doesn’t expect me to do it in my own strength. He expects me to follow his guiding Holy Spirit and trust that no matter what he has called me to, he has gone before me and prepared a way.

Remember when God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell them to turn back from their evil ways, but Jonah didn’t want to do it. So he ran and thought he could hide from God on a ship. And the ship was tossed by the angry seas and Jonah was thrown overboard to save the rest of the ship.  Just think if Jonah had just done what God commanded him to do, he would have never ended up in the belly of the whale. So once he was spit upon the land by the whale, he still had to go to Nineveh.  (See the book of Jonah for more specific details.)Can you imagine what Jonah must have felt, when after all he had been through, he still had to do what God wanted? And then to make matters worse for Jonah, he thought for sure once he delivered the message from God, God would destroy the evil people, but he showed compassion and Jonah was then acting as if he knew what was better, than God.

Jesus knows every battle we face, and he uses the right people at the right time, to offer hope and encouragement, to answer prayers, and by us being obedient to His call, we further His Kingdom here on Earth.  It’s not for us to question why me Lord? It’s for us to trust the Holy Spirit that lives in the hearts of all believers and to follow his prompting. He will provide what we need at just the right time.  So, the question remains, are you ready?

I pray daily that when God puts something on my heart to write that I share what he wants me to share and that it touches just one life. One person can create a ripple effect, it only takes one to listen and reach out.

ripple

John 14:26 New Living Translation (NLT)

26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Stay in the Word, pray to God, seek His Will and trust your heart.

Many blessings to you!

Much love,

Carlene

 

 

Being YOUrself

You Are Beautiful ~ Always

Strong & BeYOUtiful

There’s a secret I’ve been meaning to tell you… You’re amazing, you’re beautiful, you’re strong, and you are a child of God who was put on this earth for a very specific reason, whether or not you have realized that at this point. I hope you have people in your life that tell you that often, but if you don’t, I am telling you. You know why? Because I don’t have to SEE you to believe you’re beautiful. Talented. Kind. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

I want you to be that beautiful person inside of you. Let people into your heart and show them how lovable you can be. Let them know if you are struggling. Especially now because our world is undertaking so much violence and conflict, all hurting ourselves in the long run. We just need to love each other for…

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