Moving Forward

Revelation 21:4 
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I look forward to the day when Jesus returns as He promises in His Word. I eagerly anticipate when there will be no more pain, no more tears of sorrow and mourning will be ended once and for all. 

Earlier this week, a dark cloud appeared in our lives and reminded us that life is but a fleeting moment here on earth. That just as there is a time for being born, there is also a time to die. It was with great sadness, my father-in-law drew his last breath. While we know, he is in Heaven with The Father, it does not make it any easier for the family members that are left behind. While we can rejoice in knowing, we will see him again, the ache that hangs onto your heart and the tears that are near the surface of spilling out, that is a sorrow that will take years to get over. 

When I was younger, I always heard that”time heals all wounds”.  I know, now as an adult, that it isn’t the case, exactly. I know that one of the reasons grief is so hard and messy is that when you grieve the loss of someone that you love and care deeply for, there is no time frame for when that grief stops. I lost my own father three years ago and he is always on my mind. I know that when it was time for him to leave our presence and go to the presence of Jesus, he no longer suffered or struggled with his pain and labored breathing, and in that essence, he was in a much better place.  And I also know that no amount of preparing yourself for the inevitability of a loved one’s time is drawing near, cannot prepare your heart for the sorrow it holds when their time has come. 

Each and every person deals and handles grief differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Today, as I surveyed the space within the room where a time of hugs, laughter, and tears were erupting, I realized how short life is. Every person on this earth touches the hearts of others, in many ways.  Some experiences are pure joy, while others are hard lessons to learn and some are sad. I have learned that no matter how much time you have to live your life, living it to the fullest means not leaving this earth with regrets. Or living in the “I wish I had done________” or “What if?”.

Cherish your family, make amends if needed, love deeply. At the end that is all that matters. Loving each other for the time we are given on this earth. Regrets don’t have to be if we choose to live in the abundance of love. Forgive others, hold dear the memories and treasures of the time you have with those that make up your tribe. Be thankful and grateful that you were blessed to be part of their life. Don’t be afraid to speak their name or share a memory or story of why they were so special in your life. 

I have found, in my experience with loss, as you share what you loved about the person you’ve lost, not only does that piece of your heart that feels like it will never be the same again, start to fill with love because you had them in your life, the sorrow does become easier to live with. It’s always there, but in order to continue living your life, some days you have to tuck it away in a special place in your soul and some days you allow it to run freely because you just need to do that. That’s okay.  Every one of us grieves and processes things differently.

Saying goodbye is never easy. Tomorrow we will say our final farewell to a man that meant so much to so many. And I will cherish all the memories that we shared over the past 24 years. I will share those moments with our children and grandchildren so our family history will continue with each generation. 

We love you, dad. We will miss you. We are happy that you are home with mom now and we look forward to when we will see you again. Thanks for being a part of our lives. 

Dad & Mom Wooddell

In loving memory of Donald K. “Woody” Wooddell. First breath taken on 10/26/31 and last breath drawn on 11/12/18.

May you know how much Jesus loves you~right now~in this moment. Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony. #HopeAlwaysHave Faith

Blessings until next time~Carlene

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“Go Away!”

Go Away is a phrase we hear all the time when Tyson doesn’t want to do something.  It’s easy for him to get his point across, instead of trying to put the words in an entire sentence.  My husband and I heard those words this morning, as we were working on getting his coat on for school.

Tyson has been sick for over a week, not with the flu, thank goodness, just a nasty cold that didn’t want to leave. So, for him, having a structured routine that had become anything but structured the last week, he was used to staying at home and sleeping much later in the day.

His vocabulary is getting bigger every day. For that, we are so thankful and praise the Lord daily for opening up his mind to be able to put his thoughts into words, even when he shouts and kicks and struggles to get away and says, “go away!”

Two years ago, he only had two words. Two. Ma & Da. And the only person he has ever called ‘da’ is his papaw.  Now, he addresses his mother as Meem, I have no idea how that came about, except he has always called me Maw (for mamaw) and there were times he would say mom, to his mother, but then one day, wanting to get her attention, he shouted “Meem,” and it stuck! His style of communicating is music to our ears, even though they are in short one-three word sentences. And the hardest part is understanding him because he struggles with middle and ending sounds of words. But, I have no doubt, as we continue to work with him, through his Prompt trained SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist), his wonderful Play Project Developmental Specialist and at home, those sounds will come, eventually. We still use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System=Visual Supports) and occasionally sign language, along with his voice.

He was amicable to getting dressed and even eating breakfast, which is usually a struggle this early in the day. but when it came time to put his coat and hat on, the battle ensued. Most people can’t imagine it would take two grown adults, one holding onto him for dear life, while the other works to get the coat on and keep it on, long enough to get it zipped and snapped  He was determined he was not going to school. As he slid off my lap, onto the floor and Mike trying to keep his arms in his jacket, asked Tyson, “don’t you want to go to school and see your friends?” He replies, “no friends, home.” Five minutes before the bus came, he was in his coat and hat, but still saying, “go away.”

As he begrudgingly took da’s hand and walked out to board the bus, I realized it’s like starting all over again. When his routine is disrupted, it usually takes a week or two to get back in the habit of everything and how hard that must be. It’s almost like an adult that gets to go on vacation or take time off from work, getting back into the swing of things isn’t always pleasant when you would much rather stay curled up under the covers.  I am thankful that he is feeling well enough to go to school so he can get back into the game of learning, but so we can have a short break. TYSON BUS

We love this little guy, but we didn’t plan on having a small child to care for at this stage in our lives, so even a short 3-hour respite is welcome!

Every child is a gift from God. Every child is a blessing. Tyson has many struggles that at times can seem insurmountable, but we get through it because we love him. 

Until autism became part of our lives, I never fully understood the impact it can have on a family unit. It changes your perspective on so many things, but the one thing that it has done for me is to remind myself that everyone on this earth has struggles and challenges. Many are unseen.  I can’t see the sensory processing difficulties he has until he starts jumping off of furniture and climbing all over the place, I don’t realize he is missing something until he wants to be tickled and then laughs and gasps for air, says “go away,” and in the same breath, says “more tick”. He is overcoming his tactile challenges with PlayDoh and sand, and will even eat pasta as long as it doesn’t have cheese on it. I thought every child loved mac-n-cheese!  He loves cheese and he loves elbow macaroni, but not together. 

I can’t wait to talk to him about his day. I do most of the talking. Asking yes or no questions to find out what he did in class. And I am sure his first day back, those questions will have to wait until he wakes up. I know when he gets home, he will be asleep on the bus and we will carry him in and lay him down and enjoy just watching him sleep. It is peaceful in these moments. But once he is awake, then the fun will begin. Jumping, climbing, dumping his toy bins, creating what seems like a danger zone to walk through, but he loves having all his toys surround him. I think it makes him feel more connected.  If you are a parent or caregiver of someone with Special Needs, take a break when you need it, don’t give up hope, celebrate every single accomplishment they make and know you are not alone in this. All of us need one another to make it through this thing called life.

Heavens Very Special Child 2

 

Romans 5:4-5 The Message (MSG)
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience, in turn, forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

 

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right where you are in this moment!

Blessings~Carlene

 

Senseless Sorrow

memorial candleThere are no words to describe how I am feeling right now except pure sadness.  It seems that everyday there is some type of killings or pre-meditated murders.  When I heard of the shootings at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida and at last count 50 killed and 53 critically injured (CBS News), my heart is broken.  And I know I am not the only one that feels this way.

On July 20, 2012 my cousin, Matt McQuinn, was one of the victims in the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting.  There are no words that comfort you when tragedy like this happens. We knew Matt loved Jesus and we know he is with him. That was the best comfort we could have.

Dear Lord Jesus,

We don’t know why things like this happen? We don’t understand, but we know that you have plans for all our lives. Lord I know that you will cause good to come out of this horrible tragic situation. Lord I ask you be with the family members that lost loved ones, for all the survivors and for everyone that has been affected by this senseless killing, yet again.  I come to you, and ask that you pour out your peace upon each and every one of them and comfort them. In your Holy name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

Perceptions

 

Perceptions
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”? When you are meeting someone for the first time, how do you determine that this is someone you will become friends with? Is it their outward appearance, is that what draws you to them or is it something else? Is it a gut reaction, first instinct-yes, I really like this person or no-way can I be friends with this person?

I have met many people over the years and if I only judged my initial reaction on how they looked, I would have been sadly disappointed with what I found. Most people, in general, can dress themselves up in such a fashion, with makeup, hairstyles and clothing to make it seem like they are all put together. And if they look like they have it all together,with no problems, and appear happy, are they really?

There are so many people that are hurting and lonely and have lost hope. But there is hope, one hope that we can hang onto. That hope is that the God of the Universe, the great I AM, is longing for everyone to come back to Him. To accept His son, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, to repent of their sins and to have a daily relationship with Him.

My eyes see people that love, but have not been loved. So they search for love in all the wrong places. Some search out drugs and alcohol and some have other addictions, because if it makes them feel good, if only in the moment, then they don’t feel like they are hurting. The drugs, alcohol, sexual partners, gambling, smoking, overeating..whatever it is that brings them comfort, that is what they love and that is what makes them feel better,again, if only for the moment.

The sad part is that all of the addictions, that many people face, myself include(cigarette smoking), only bring temporary relief and can bring damaging and sometimes, fatal results.
I ask myself daily, what difference can I truly make? I am only one person. And then I am reminded that with God ALL things are possible. I pray daily to the Lord, sometimes hundreds of times throughout the day, because I know that I can’t do anything without Jesus.

I remember when I have tried in the past to run my life and be in total control and didn’t have Jesus as my number one; my life was, for all intensive purposes, a wreck to say the least.

You see, we aren’t meant to walk this earth alone. We are created to worship God and to live our lives in such a manner that we honor Him and give Him glory. But if you don’t have any kind of foundation in your life growing up, or any godly examples of people that can counsel you, when life just jumps up and smacks you in the face or punches you in the gut, than you don’t know to turn to the Lord.

I was very blessed to have parents that taught me about Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit. I learned at a young age, that having Jesus to hold on to when times were tough and pray (talk) to when I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing and learning that when people need help, it’s not considered a hand out but a hand up. They modeled this in my life. I was one of the lucky ones for sure.

It makes me sad, when I think of all the children in the world, that don’t have loving parents to guide and direct them. To teach them that there will always be people trying to pull you in many different directions and stand for many things and the one thing I have always tried to impress on my own children is this:

Doing what’s right is not always popular and doing what’s popular is not always right. There will be times in your lives, where you will have to stand up for your beliefs and you may have to stand alone. Don’t ever be afraid to do that, because God will be with you.
Standing up for your beliefs or standing up for others, that are too weak or scared to stand up for themselves, shows that you have character. It also shows that there are people that are willing to stand up for them, when they don’t feel like they can stand for themselves or maybe they have no idea how to even do that because they’ve never been given the opportunity to do so.

I’ve heard a lot of people say honesty is overrated, but I totally disagree on this. I believe in total honesty. When you are honest, you don’t have to try and remember what story you told to so and so and then try to keep your stories straight. Being honest, at times, may be hard, especially if the person you are being honest with, doesn’t want to hear what you have to say.

You can be honest and loving and caring. There is nothing that says when you are honest with another person, no matter what the topic is, that you have to be brutal and demeaning.

John 13:34 NLT
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

In the dark times that we are all faced with in our world today, there remains one constant, one light, one Lord and His name is Jesus Christ. I have a choice and so do you, you can live for the Lord and be a light to others, a hope, if you will, by sharing your testimony to what Jesus has done in and for you and through your trials and joys or you can choose not to accept Him as your Savior, Redeemer, Friend, Father and live a very dark, hopeless existence with no light in your life.

When I decided to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I was eleven years old. I grew up attending a church with my parents and siblings and loved hearing and learning Bible Stories and how when people trusted God and looked to God for their everything-their food, their protection, their very lives, I wanted that too. When I read of people of Faith in the Old Testament that chose to faithfully follow God and do His work, were rewarded with abounding love and favor. They had trials, they had battles they faced, they were hungry, and lost and felt hopeless, but they trusted God to provide for their needs. And He did.

They fought evil just like we do today. They were slaves in Egypt before Moses led them to the promise Land God promised them. And for a while, they were faithful in actions and words, but then temptations and the freedoms that they had never experienced before and the waiting and wondering in the wilderness, caused them to worship idols and false Gods. This broke God’s heart and angered him. But Moses spoke with God and pleaded for their lives and God relented. He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and promised to always guide them as long as they lived by the law.
The difference in Bible times between Old Testament and New Testament is that when Jesus Christ came to earth in human form, and died a sinless death on the cross, He paid the ultimate price for redemption for ALL of OUR sins FOREVER. And the only command he truly gave us was to Love God and Love others. Repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior, because that is the only way back to God and live your lives in such a manner that glorifies Him. Give to the needy, help the poor, care for those who have nothing and love one another. Forgive others, show them grace and mercy, even if you don’t think they deserve it.
Showing grace and mercy in heated situations, is difficult, but the more you do it, the more you practice to respond in a loving manner or tone, the more you are willing to reach out and be the one person that will listen and help if possible, you are learning to live like Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. He is the one constant,in our ever changing times.
We live in such a broken world today, that the only hope we have that will change things is Jesus Christ. When he died and arose again, and went to be with the Father in Heaven, he left us an advocate, The Holy Spirit that lives in the hearts of believers. Jesus is always with us, even when we aren’t sure. He is there.
He promised to never leave us or forget about us. When we are weak, too exhausted to hold on, He is our strength. He carries us more than we know and He does it because He loves us.
In 1 Peter 5:8-9 the Bible talks about being alert and on guard, because the devil (our enemy) lurks around waiting to devour us and it only takes a fleeting moment of fear or doubt for him to attack.
The state of our world is in sad shape and I pray daily that God will heal our nations. No viable candidate for the presidency, wars all around, mass killings, hungry people, homeless people, a great sadness. I believe we are in the end times. But we also know that no one knows the day or hour Jesus Christ will return, so that’s why we need to stay alert and continue to be the light and share the gospel with all those that will listen.
We must live our lives in a holy manner-stop the judging of others-that is not our job. That’s His job. Jesus tells us in the Word that we will be judged in the same manner as we judge others. We all have to answer for our actions when we come before the Father in Heaven.
Are you struggling right now? Not seeing anyway out of what has you mired down? Feeling like God isn’t there? Seeming like you are on a sinking life raft and you are totally alone and no one cares? That’s the enemy of our souls. That is how he wants you to feel. Do you realize that in times like these, this is where prayer and crying out to Jesus is what you must do? Talk to a pastor, or friend, seek help-don’t give up.

As my 51st birthday approaches, I look at all the things that have happened in my life and I can say with 100% assurance that if it had not been for the Lord and his unfailing faithfulness, I would not be where I am today. I have walked through many valleys and climbed many mountains and He was always there with me. Even when I wasn’t sure, he was. I have been through some terrifying times in my life where I saw no way out of them; where I felt like giving up and not hanging on, but the one go to verse, I have carried in my heart, reminded me that God has/had plans for me.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
“I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

There are days where I have a hard time hearing the Lord speak to me, but when I stay in His Word and walk with him daily, it’s easier to hear the whispers and know, with conviction and peace that I am hearing him correctly. Sometimes, though, what I think I heard for someone else or myself, turns out to be not the case at all and then I do my best to ask Him to reveal to me what it is he wants me to do or to know.

When I choose to trust in God and live my life according to Him, things are easier than when I try to do it on my own. Sometimes, he will allow difficulties to arise and in those difficult moments, I know he is refining me, molding me and shaping me into the person he wants to see me become. Many times the lessons, seem very painful, but when I look back, I know he was preparing me for battles I would face and building my faith.
I have always been blessed with strong faith. My eyes may not see a way, but my faith says yes-it’s possible. My mind may not be able to comprehend how everything will work out, but my faith says, my God is bigger and He will prevail!
When I see someone that is struggling or hurting, I do my best to look through the Lens of God. When I remove myself and ask God what it is that is causing them sorrow or hard times, I try to be a light to them. I share my testimony of what God has done in my life and love on them. Sometimes it is welcomed and other times, maybe they aren’t ready to forgive a trespass or maybe they have been hurt so much, that someone just loving them is scary because they have never experienced Holy love. This is so sad to me, that when love costs nothing and is so easy to share, that there are so many that don’t understand. And when I speak of love, I am not talking about romance. I am talking about loving someone because they too are my brothers and sisters and created by the One True God.

We all have different ways of looking at and perceiving things and often times, just this alone, can cause rifts in relationships simply because we only know one way-our way. Most usually this doesn’t mean one person is wrong and the other is right. Showing mercy and grace during situations that create a rift, can help propel healing on many levels. There are so many practical ways to love on others-pay for their meal, smile, give hugs, listen, empathize with them, do a chore that you normally wouldn’t do, take a burden from them. Be helpful and kind. It costs nothing but the rewards are great.
Think before you speak. Our words can bring peace and comfort or hurt and anguish. Once words are spoken, you can’t take them back and pretend it never was said. Apologize when it’s necessary, ask for forgiveness, forgive yourself. We are all human and sometimes we do not stop to think that our actions can be devastating to others that do not walk in the love of the Lord.

May God bless you today and may you know you are loved!

Letting Go

Jesus welcoming home

My father died in September of 2015; it seems like only yesterday, I was hugging him, giving him a goodbye kiss and telling him I loved him.  That day, 9-14-15, was the hardest day of my life, because I knew it wouldn’t be long and he would be home in the Father’s arms.

Recently, a friend was talking to me about how death is ugly and scary and that is where I disagree.  I can say death is hard. Hard on those of us that are left behind to carry on without our loved ones.  It’s hard because I want to hear my father’s voice, laughing and making jokes or giving me advice~any advice, just to hear him speak. I miss my dad. We didn’t always see eye to eye on many things, but as I became older, I understood why he was the way he was when he was alive. He was leaving me a legacy, something to hold onto when he wasn’t here; a memorial guide in my brain, to help me get through times just like this.

Letting go wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as difficult as many think, because I saw this strong willed-independent spirit of a man, falter in his earthly shell.  One thing that has helped me and will continue to strengthen me, is I knew without a shadow of a doubt, he was going home to Heaven. And that is beauty.  When his time on earth had ended, he became free. Free of pain, free of having trouble breathing, free of having difficult walking, free of any discomfort that he suffered with for more than a year.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that someday my suffering and agony here on earth will come to an end. This body, this place I call home, is temporary. My home is in Heaven.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 New International Version (NIV)
5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Letting go isn’t easy, but it is necessary. So, take the time to heal a wound, mend a relationship. Love one another. Forgive. Know that when the time is near, Jesus will be waiting with open arms to welcome all of us home.

God Bless you today!