WHERE ARE YOU, LORD?

What a timely post, of words that needed to be said and heard!

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Lord, are you there? I remember asking that question as a child.Are You there? Are You real, or a figment of my imagination? IMG_2968When I was about ten or eleven years old, I saw a dead body.I had never seen a dead body before.She was in her early to mid twenties, we were told.And her body had been dumped over a bridge not very far from our house.We didn’t know her; had never seen her before.I later heard she was from the southern part of the island, had also been killed there.That image of her lying at the foot of that bridge will forever be seared in my brain (and now yours too, sorry about that). But I remember thinking, “You could have stopped it from happening, Lord.Why didn’t You? Where were You, Lord?”

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Flawless to Fractured

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I’ve always been intrigued by the patterns shattered glass makes when it breaks. Some would say that it is imperfect or flawed, and not worth much or good for anything. Have you ever felt like that? Felt that you were too flawed, unworthy or no good?

That’s what the devil wants you to think. If fear and doubt creep in the corners of your mind, and you start listening to those doubts and dwell on them, it doesn’t take long for you to believe the lies of the enemy. And if you constantly dwell in the recesses of your mind, where you allow those thoughts to flourish, they can become beliefs that you hold true. When hurt and anger fuel those doubts, you start to imagine that every unkind word that has ever been spoken within your hearing distance is about you.

2 Corinthians 10:5  New International Version (NIV)
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Earlier this month, I was grappling with my identity. Things had happened and it takes being in the Word daily reminding myself that I am not a failure, I am not less than, I am not so overwhelmed with my chaotic life that the enemy can steal my joy, but he sure has tried to.

Ephesians 6:12  New International Version (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

The first thing to go wrong was my cellphone screen was purposely broken by our grandson, an inquisitive tike, who wanted to see what would happen when he ran his toy shopping cart over the top of it. It cracked the screen, but not in a beautiful prism pattern, as in the photo above, but lines crawling down and around my screen. I wanted to scream and yell and make him understand what he did wrong, but he didn’t understand. He just kept saying, “Maw phone cracked.” And when I agreed with him, he gave me a hug. He didn’t realize it would affect the use of the phone. The speaker was damaged, but the phone is still usable. Is it pretty, definitely not, but it still works, even with tape over the screen. My Joy is found in Jesus, not in things.

Several days later, my computer screen was damaged beyond repair, but thankfully the hard drive is okay. Accessing it right now is not easy, but at least I know at some point I will be able to retrieve the data and photos I have stored on my computer. Yes, I cried and lamented once again that one of my electronic devices had been damaged, and even felt as if it was my fault and I was a failure because he had managed to damage it. If I had been more proactive in closing my lid when not using my laptop; if I had never let him sit with me when I worked on it; if I had put it away when I was done with it – the same speech I give when he is done with his toys and things. All the “if I had” thoughts tried to make me believe that I had somehow failed as the adult in the situation.  And then depression set in. Worry took hold. Once again, the devil tried to steal my joy and harden my heart, but I love Jesus, so I asked for forgiveness for the anger I was holding onto and forgave this young child because once again, he didn’t understand what it all meant.  And no amount of explaining or reasoning would help.

As a child of God, I choose to love others. I choose to show grace and mercy even when that is the last thing I want to do. I make those choices because Jesus shows me grace and mercy and loves me, no matter how many flaws I have. No matter how broken I am, He is always there for me.

As I have leaned into the Lord and continue to learn how merciful He is, I realize that all the material things in the world mean nothing – they are simply things. Is it a lesson I wanted to learn, heck no. But it was one I needed to learn. God uses every single trial and test we go through to refine and purify us into the person he wants us to be. Even broken electronics. Even broken dryers and broken down vehicles. The fractures I’ve experienced in my home these last few weeks, all boil down to “stuff”.

Psalm 73:26-28 The Message (MSG)
25-28 You’re all I want in heaven!
You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God—
oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
God, I’m telling the world what you do!

I serve a loving God. I walk with Him daily. He holds me up when I feel like caving in, he sends love and support through prayers and helps from friends,  that I call angels here on earth. He loves me enough to let me go through trials, minor tribulations compared to what many in the world face today; in my mind’s eye, they seemed pretty big at the moment. When I rely more on my cell phone, my laptop computer, my clothes dryer and even my vehicle, more than I rely on God, I needed that wakeup call.

Jesus is enough. The phone, computer, dryer, and van make my life easier, but it won’t get me into Heaven. Only Jesus can do that. And Jesus is the only one that can heal our hearts and minds.

Ephesians 6:14-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[a] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[b] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[c]

Wearing the Full Armor of God is the best way to live. When calamity strikes, no matter what it is, I can stand firm in knowing that no matter what problems I face, they are only temporary. And there is nothing wrong with me. I am worthy, I am good, I do my very best every day and because I am human, sometimes I fail. But that is not held against me by God. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Only Love.

If you are struggling with your identity and who you are, remember this, Jesus knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. He knows everything about you and He loves you. Right where you are, right now, at this moment. Do not give the devil and foothold in your mind. Because that’s where many battles are fought.

May you remember you are more precious than rubies. Jesus Loves You!

Blessings to you~Carlene

#HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

 

 

Belated Wishes

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I pray that however you chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it was filled with joy, love, laughter and great moments that you will have for memories.

I spent mine fighting off flu symptoms and recovering from a fall, so hence this post is a day later than I hoped.

Jesus loves you ~right where you are in this moment.

Blessings~ Carlene and Ty

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Forgive

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This week has been a lesson in forgiveness for me. Our grandson who is inquisitive , strong, funny, hyper and a autistic has tested my patience and mercy.

At the beginning of the week, he broke my mobile screen near the speaker and spider cracks down my screen, but thankfully it is still usable.

Tonight, my laptop screen was not as lucky. I’m at a loss, as both items will need replaced, in time. Living on a fixed income doesn’t afford the luxury of going to the store and buying new. He thinks, if something is broken, we will go shop. So for now, as long as my phone holds out, I’ll be posting from it.

As I sat and cried of the loss of data that I have no idea how to retrieve, family photos, etc. God reminded me that life is precious.  As our little one cried and kept repeating sorry, I knew it wasn’t intended and I knew holding onto anger would surely give the devil a foothold. Forgiveness was easy because I love him.

Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, a chance to do over things I could have done better today.

The Lord’s mercies are new every day. Mine should be too.

May you know how much Jesus loves you-right now in this moment.

Blessings ~Carlene

Gift of Love

James 1:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

 

As I sit here this morning, watching the snow fall outside my window, it reminds me of how the Father covers us.  When we come to know Jesus Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, he covers us by the sacrifice of his blood on the cross. And we are made pure in his sight, white as snow.

I’ve always said I don’t like snow and I have to confess I love watching it fall outside my window, I simply don’t care for the cold temperatures associated with falling precipitation.  Earlier, gazing out my window, I saw a muddied yard, with brown, lifeless trees and now I see white all around, and everything appears pristine and fresh.

2 Corinthians 5:17 New Living Translation (NLT)
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

No matter who you were or how your life was before Jesus, you are given a new life, one held together with love, mercy, and grace. Your sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb, similar to how God covers the muddled, messy ground with freshly fallen snow.

There is not one of us that can claim to be Holy or Righteous without the Cross. Jesus bore the sins of the world so we could be reconciled to God. When sin entered the garden, it separated us from God. With Jesus’ death on the cross, it gives us atonement for our sins, once and for all. When we come to Jesus, repent of our sins, and choose to follow Him, we are considered children of God. Jesus is the bridge that brings us back to a Father that sin keeps us from.  Living a life as a Christian isn’t easy.  He died for us so we could live life abundantly.  He didn’t promise there wouldn’t be problems, but in life and in death, he showed us how to live and overcome hate.

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Live your life with purpose, choose Joy that only God can give. Accept peace and hope as the things we seek and cling to. Live passionately, love extravagantly, Choose life. We are only given one chance to get this right. Choose to love others, help those that need help, pray and expect miracles. Leave a legacy.

May you know how much Jesus loves you~right where you are, right now!

Blessings~Hope Always, Have Faith

Carlene

 

“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.

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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

 

Reflections

As I sit here thinking back on the last several weeks, I am reminded how precious our time is here on earth and how important it is to live our lives to the fullest every single moment we are given and whatever we choose to do, we do it with unbridled passion. Near the beginning of the month, a lifelong friend, that had so courageously battled cancer and never given up hope that she would survive, was killed by her husband.  

She cherished life and her children/grandchildren. She loved her friends and always had something positive to say, no matter how bleak things were for her. She was always smiling, for as long as I can remember. Always smiling on the outside. Always a kind word. And the last time I had spoken to her weeks before her death, she was still hopeful and joyful, even though, as it turns out her life was less than joyful. She chose to live life in such a manner to leave a legacy of loving others with kindness and compassion. She will never be forgotten. She touched so many lives while she was here.  

After the news of her death and paying respects, joining in the sorrow of the loss that many of us feel and celebrating who she was, I realized that none of us know the time or day God will call us home. So, with the time I have, I better us it wisely.`

Prior to the first of the year, I had prayed and planned and envisioned what 2018 was going to look like, what I was going to strive for and what my theme for this new year would look like. My theme is the same: Focus on God, Be Intentional and Savor the Moments of Life. My visions have shifted.

I realized that as I attempted to build an online business with Plexus Worldwide as an Independent Ambassador, I loved connecting with others and offering them hope, through health and wellness supplements, I did not like the “business” side of it. No matter how many customers I gained or other people that signed up to do the same, that is not where my heart lies. I could go on living that lie, or I could get real and realized that God has a different plan for me. When doing something that you are not 100% all in, no matter how much you try to convince yourself, there will always be feelings of resentment or maybe resentment isn’t the right word, but feeling like if I continued on that path, my family and I were suffering, emotionally.  I just knew that it was preventing me from being the person I was created to be.  I will always have GREAT things to say and share about Plexus and the products they offer, and I will continue to use them because they have helped me to feel so much better, but this is not where my joy comes from.

Jesus is my joy! Reading the Word, learning Truth, sharing the Good News that is where I find my joy, that is where I feel fulfilled. Hope comes in many forms and loving others comes naturally to me. I always look for the positive in any situation. I choose to show grace and mercy as much as humanly possible. I have many flaws, as do others, but I look for the good.  There is so much evil in this world, so much hatred and greed and people that are all about themselves, I don’t care to watch the news anymore. That’s all you see most of the time. It’s sad, but the one thing that never ever changes is Jesus. He is the same today, as he was 2000+ years ago, and he will be the same 2000 years from now. He is the one constant in my life. He is my Lord and Savior and He is my friend. 

He has seen me go through so much in my lifetime, and He still loves me. He weeps when I weep and he rejoices when I rejoice. My life has been far from perfect, there have been many choices I have made that have caused others to hurt, emotionally and as he works with me to realize that there is nothing I can do to be perfect this side of Heaven, he has taught me that forgiveness and love can cover over a multitude of anger, hate, evil and despair. When the demands of being a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend become overwhelming, when there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all you hope to or need to, when the expenses outweigh the income, He always provides a way for things to work out. When you feel like you are in a tunnel and the walls are closing in, He is the One who lights the path and helps me to hold it all together. Days when I feel like screaming or crawling in a hole somewhere, He is with me. He comforts me. He lives within me. He guides me. 

I sit here in the midst of chaos. Toys spewed all over, crumbs left on the floor by a toddler, laundry overflowing that needs to be folded, dishes stacked high waiting to be washed, bills stacked up and I can choose to do two things, I can look at them as blessings in disguise or I can choose to be angry that no one else seems to notice. 

I choose to see everything in my life as blessings.  There are toys because He gave us this gift in the form of an inquisitive young child that wants to know how everything works and why the wheels spin on the toy truck, or loves the idea of the “black” sweeper, even though he can’t handle the noise of it, the crumbs and the dishes piled high mean there is food in our home to nourish our physical bodies, the laundry means we are fortunate enough to have more than one outfit to wear and a washer/dryer to care for those outfits.  The mess all around is contained by these four walls, we have a home to live in and a roof over our heads.  As I sit here typing this, I am watching my grandson, shred a piece of paper all over the floor, knowing that is just one more thing on my ever-growing list, but my life without him would be so lackluster and boring.

Every single child is a gift and a blessing. Some require more care than others. Extra care that you aren’t sure what that looks like or if it will ever happen where less one on one care will happen, but you embrace them. You love them. Living with someone on the Autism Spectrum is overwhelming, rewarding, crazy, chaotic and sometimes very stressful. Being able to cry out to Jesus and sit with Him in the midst of the chaos, keeps me sane. I think.

If you are living a life that is not what you want, you do have the power within yourself to make the changes.  It may not be easy, it might be the hardest thing you have ever done, but you are worth it.

May you know that Jesus Loves You~right where you are.

Blessings~Carlene

Rest in the arms of Jesus Sam! I love you and miss you deeply. (Samantha Howard Freels, July 7, 1965 – January 12, 2018)

Samantha