Blessed & Loved

Today is our mother’s 72nd Birthday. I called to wish her a Happy Birthday earlier in the evening; wanted to be the first to officially recognize it. It’s an older child kind of thing and my mom said, thank you but it’s just another day, nothing special.

But it is special, because it is the day the Lord gave her life, and without her in existence, none of us would be here today.

She is a woman of great strength and love. She has always shown us and our families unconditional love no matter the circumstances, no matter if she agreed with our choices or decisions we made. She has ALWAYS loved us. As I become older, and perhaps a bit wiser, just a tiny bit, I realize that I wouldn’t have made it as far as I had without her wisdom and blessings in my life. She taught me to be tactful, which I was never really good at, and sometime’s I still need work on. She taught me to look through the lens of love and not through my eyes. She taught me that sometime’s what we see isn’t what is truly going on. People have a way of closing down to protect themselves when they are tired of being hurt and sometimes you have to look past the anger and fear, and be willing to be patient with them until they trust you enough to let you in.

Her life as a child wasn’t easy, she went through a whole lot of changes before she reached the age of 10; but instead of having the mentality, life will always be hard, she chose to make her life better. No matter how old I get, I think of the hard things she has gone through and I realize that she is who I so want to be like, when I grow up. Yeah, yeah, I’m 50, I should be all grown up by now, but there are days I still need my mom.  She challenges me to be a better person by reminding me that I can’t do things on my own. That I need to turn ALL my worries and troubles over to God. I remember one Christmas, she gave each of us a neatly decorated box, our God Box. When we had worries or struggles, we were to write them on a piece of paper, say a prayer and give them to God. I don’t have the box anymore, too many moves, and the Lord is the only one that knows where that box is….truly. But that selfless act of love, taught me to give my worries and cares to our Father in Heaven and wait for His reply.

She camped with me during our Campfire Girl Outings, took me to many a marching band practice, showed me how to sew on a button, or cook a meal, do laundry so my whites didn’t turn out gray or pink and always was laughing and full of love. Even though I speak to her almost daily, either through voice, or text or Skype, I can never convey how much I truly love this woman.  She gave me life. I don’t recall hearing the saying, “wait til your father gets home” because I knew that she could dish out discipline, just as well as he could. She taught me about respecting my elders and being respectful. She taught me that once trust is broken, it is very hard to gain back. She taught me that working and earning a wage, wasn’t just about a paycheck with dollar signs, it meant something. She taught me the difference between “wants” and “needs”. She taught me that even though you may have very little, as long as you have family and love, you are pretty darn rich. Friendships are bonuses!

Over my last 50 years, she has taught me so many things, I could not possibly list them all, but the one thing I know for sure is today is not just another day. It’s a day to celebrate her! I can’t be with her on this special day, so I am writing this love letter of sorts.

Mom,

You have always been someone who has amazed me in so many ways. Your selfless acts of love that go unseen by many, have not been forgotten by me. You have been my strength when giving up seemed like the only option. You have loved so immeasurably by putting your life on hold, when I didn’t understand what love was. You showed me tough love at times, but the one thing that stands true is you have always loved me, with no strings attached. So, regardless of whether you think it’s just another day, it’s no big deal, I am going to have to disagree. I wish you the happiness and peace on your birthday. I know it is hard with daddy not being here, but I know he would not want your day to go unnoticed.

Happy 72nd Birthday to my best friend, I love you mom!

Love always,

Carlene

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Seasons

Bucket Trip to the Mountains 027

As I get older, I realize that we all go through seasons in our lives; bends in the road and the realization that sometimes we are fearful for what might be around the bend, because we cannot foresee it, until we have followed it through, but God can. It says in his Word that he knows everything about me. All my hairs are numbered and he knows each one!

For me, having a Savior, Jesus Christ, that knows such intimate details about me and knowing that HE is always with me, is very comforting. Knowing that even when I can’t see beyond the bend in the road, HE can. The biggest challenge all of us face from time to time, isn’t fearing the bend in the road or the season in life we are in, but remembering to TRUST HIM.

It’s easy to say that to others, don’t worry, don’t fear, but sometimes following our own advice isn’t nearly as easy. If you are like me, I still want to be in control. And if I can’t let go of something and truly turn it over to God, then it’s like me saying, God, I know you got this, but………………….There’s the crux of the whole thing. Either I trust Him with everything in my life or I don’t.

In my walk with the Lord, I am learning, sometime’s ever so slowly, that when I put my faith and trust in Him, I have peace that I cannot gain from the world. Jesus knows that we struggle, he knows the struggles, because he too faced those humanly struggles while he was here on earth, but the difference is, Jesus always trusted in the Father to be the one to turn to. It doesn’t take but a moment, to pray and ask for help; it’s in the moments when you are faced with a life changing decision (sometimes it’s only in your mind, that it’s life changing) (or it may truly be a life changing moment) what kind of reaction will you have and how will you handle it. Who will you turn to???

Recently, during a season in my life, I could hear and see all the chaos around me, but I chose that I would trust in the Lord. I prayed for discernment and wisdom, clarity to make the right decision; knowing that when I reached that scary bend in the road, I still wasn’t sure what was best, but I knew with all my heart, he would grant me peace about the decision I was facing or he wouldn’t. And one thing, I have learned in the many years, He and I have been together, is if I don’t feel His peace, than I know I need to think of other ways to handle something or make decisions.

No matter, where you are in your journey with Jesus, even if you’re not sure you are on a journey yet, know this:

Jesus loves you! He will meet you whenever and  in whatever condition you are in. He longs to have that one on one relationship with you. He longs to be the one you turn to when you are happy; when you are sad; when you are down right scared; when you don’t know if you can take just one more step or hang on one more minute; HE is there. Waiting with open arms-waiting to engulf you in HIS arms and welcome you into HIS flock.

Luke 12:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins[a]? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

So the next time, you try to do it on your own, remember there is a Savior, who knows the worst and the best about you and HE just wants to get to know you better. He will guide you through everything you are facing or will face. He already knows what’s around the bend; HE is waiting to be invited by you to take the journey.

Deuteronomy 31:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

No matter, where you are, remember always Jesus Loves You!

The Ripple Effect

Today was supposed to be the day that we buried my father and said our final earthly goodbyes. Supposed to be. But due to an error on the part of one person, or maybe many persons, it didn’t happen. So we wait. On the car ride home, I thought about the what a ripple effect is and what happens,.

I have been thinking a lot since my father became ill and his death, how much of an affect he had on so many people and his ripples extend farther than probably even I can fathom. You’ve seen it and probably even done it, a time or two. Toss the little pebble into a body of water and if it bounces just right, it creates ripples, beautiful ripples, that only can happen because of that first majestic bounce on the water.

My father, in my eyes, was a great man. And most people would think that I am biased in my opinion, but when hundreds of other people share stores about him and the lasting effects of teaching and training and learning from him over his 73 years here on earth, I know that he was a great man. He touched so many lives. What is amazing to me, is he truly had no idea he was this man. Near the end of his life, he asked if he had done enough? And I thought it quite strange that he would ask such a question, but he was humble, always. He had no idea that living his life and doing the things he loved to do was actually creating a legacy to leave behind.

We all have the ability to leave a ripple effect in our lives. It is our choice to decide and determine, if the ripples we leave will be ones full of laughter and joy or sadness and sorrow. If we are lucky enough, and we need to make changes or look at life from a different perspective, we still have the time to make lasting ripples. They can be small or huge; it’s ultimately your choice.

God gives us free will. It is for us to choose how to use that free will that we are given. I think the best type of ripple I can leave is that I love.  I do the best I can, daily, to try to stay focused and look through the lens of Jesus when I am facing struggles.  Years ago, WWJD seemed to be everywhere.  Can you imagine, how different your live would be if you actually practiced WWJD(What Would Jesus Do)?

I can tell you this for sure, I am NOT perfect. I am broken in this sin filled world. But I am LOVED by our Heavenly Father and I am FORGIVEN.  There is nothing I can do to earn that. I chose to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and follow him since I was 11 years old. I do not belong to a religion, but to the body of Christ. I am the church. What I say, what I do and how I respond to those around me; hopefully, people see glimpses of the Savior.  There are many days, I must bow on these arthritic knees and pray for forgiveness, because I too, can be thoughtless and selfish at times. That is not the type of ripple I want to create.

In closing, the reason my father was such a great man, is many tidbits and stories, that are personal and can’t be shared, because I am not ready to do that, but the reason is because he taught me about Jesus when I was young and he modeled his life after the Lord. He was a very compassionate and forgiving man. He tried to see the good in everything and he loved unconditionally.

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it.

His ripples will continue through those he has left behind. What will your ripples look like at the end of your life?

Blessings to all who have taken the time to read this.

My Words

God reminds me in the book of Proverbs and many other places in the Word that my words can be helpful or hurtful. I always want my words to be helpful, however I am quite aware, that sometimes my words hurt. And usually, more times, than not, they hurt the people I love the most.

I don’t set out to be hurtful, but I have always been the type of person that whatever thoughts are in my head, they usually roll right off my tongue and out my lips before I have thought them through. My mother had a hard time with me growing up, because I was not very tactful and it took me  years of squashing my thoughts before I could reign in the toxicity of my words.

That old phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is something I was taught to say and even believed until I realized how much words really do hurt.  And if you hear hurtful, heated, hateful words spewed at you one too many times, pretty soon, they become who you are.  I know because I have seen it first hand and lived through how hurtful words can be to your self esteem and your self worth.

And children are always blamed for being cruel, but really, where do children learn most things…you got it, from their parents or adults in their lives. Children also learn how to love and live happy lives.

Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)

24 Kind words are like honey—
    sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

If we don’t start at home, with our children, grandchildren and young adults in our sphere of influence and teach them how to speak and live, how can we expect the world to become any better.  I know I struggle from time to time with this as well.

Because I know firsthand, how words can hurt, I do my very best to not be that person that spews without thinking and I can tell you that when my words fly out of my  mouth without thinking, the conviction from the Holy Spirit is so strong that I have to find whomever I have offended and ask for forgiveness.  You know what the crazy part is though, people downplay it. They will say things, ‘like it’s no big deal’, or “no worries”, but that’s when they just don’t get it. I not only ask for their forgiveness, I won’t accept it’s no big deal or no worries. Sometimes I have to explain it to them why I won’t. You see, at the end of the day, I don’t answer to them, I answer to God. And the end of my life, I don’t answer to people, I answer to God for everything I have ever said or done.

I know I am forgiven already by God and I know he keeps no records, but I want to be a representation of who Jesus is, not who He isn’t. If people see me spewing words about without regard, that’s not very loving.

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

I am God’s creation, His masterpiece! So why do I compare myself to others or worry about what they think?? Because I am human, and sometimes as a human being, I forget that one simple TRUTH. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I want my words to be soothing and encouraging and loving and merciful and I know the only way that happens is because I have the Holy Spirit living in me and HE is my filter.  When my thoughts aren’t his, I have to stop them dead in their tracks and hold them captive (a good friend reminded me of that) and not let them become words.

It is my prayer that as God continues to work in me, that I will learn to think before I speak and speak only loving and kind words, words that build up and do not tear down, words that give hope and not heartache. May God bless each and every person that reads this and thank you for spending time with me today.

ThisLittleLightofMine

Stillness in the midst of Chaos

I keep hearing the words, Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
And it seems like an easy request, but in human form, being still in the midst of my chaotic life, seems next to impossible. That’s where I need to remind myself, many times in a day, or even many times in a moment, that I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13).

At this stage of my life, approaching mid-life, I had thought things would be a lot simpler and quieter in my space. But I am constantly reminded that God has a plan for my life and it’s not being sedate.

When you have an almost 9 month old in your home, it is anything but boring. This little bundle of joy and laughter reminds me every single day how precious life is and what a gift it is that God gives me every day when I awaken.

There are moments, short bursts where I know God is with me..when I just want to scream or cry because life can be so overwhelming. Work was hectic, dinnertime was rush rush rush and trying to find a moment just to sit and read is a thing of the past..and in those moments where my head is spinning and I just want to close myself in a quiet dark room, I see God in the twinkle in my grandson’s eyes or in his laughter or smile at something that he has found or seen for the first time…the beauty in being able to pick up a tiny cracker between his small fingers and I am reminded that God is with me everywhere I go, in the midst of worldly chaos, in the midst of toys scattered about and laundry folded but not put away and even in the dusts bunnies that are found hiding under the sofa.

By blessing us with this young sweet child, God is showing me that being still helps me focus on what is important…..loving each other.

You see God loves me right where I’m at. He doesn’t wait for me to get all cleaned up and dusted off, he says Carlene, you are my masterpiece, you are my creation and I love you right where you are and I am your Father and I am here for you always…whether it be still or chaotic.

And the best news: He is here for you also!

Just a Glimpse

I’ve been thinking about home, my heavenly home. I’ve been thinking about what it will be like to have NO MORE PAIN.  I have even experienced ‘just a glimpse’ of what it may be like and yes, I want more.  Sadly it seems, more often than not that none of us are truly satisfied with the blessings God bestows upon us. We always want more of something.  

You see, in April of 2012,I attended a Healing Conference and was healed of Fibromyalgia.  The pain was gone, I was able to run up and down stairs, bend over, dance with joy and just relish the feeling and knowledge of NO MORE PAIN. I was so overwhelmed with the Love.  So overwhelmed that Jesus loved me that much to take all my physical pain away! I have always believed in healing and prayers and I know my Jesus, my God is a God that loves, truly~however, until I experienced it first hand, little ole me, I just can’t explain the overwhelming, joyful, radiant love I felt and still feel to this day.

You know I have studied and I have been told that when we go home to be with Jesus, in the Heavenly realms, there will be NO MORE PAIN, no more tears, just the most wonderful, glorious joy.  And I have always thought how will our hearts hold that much joy~will it be spilling out of every part of us, will we even be able to stand it. I for one, am truly looking forward to finding out.

Since the arctic cold winter has descended upon us this year, I have been having pains. I don’t really classify them as chronic pain, because I have chosen not to speak that over my life, but there is something different. I struggle with going to the doctor or not, because if I do that….does that mean I don’t believe I was healed? I know I was healed! I praise the Father for his healing touch! 

The problem with my eyes, is that when I get a glimpse of something I like, I always want more and there are times I hear God telling me that His grace is enough for anything I am facing. So maybe I had that glimpse to know that better things are coming.  Glorious times are unfolding. And I know from past experience, His grace is enough. It is sufficient.  I am His. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. What I see as a flaw, HE does not. He sees beauty. It’s so easy to go along with the world and the flesh and think of all the things that make us who we are or who we aren’t but strive to be.  

I have physical pain. Yes it hurts, but I am still walking, talking, seeing, hearing, tasting and loving. I am still breathing and learning and living. And as a very dear friend reminded me today, I am thriving.

Sometimes a glimpse is needed to push us forward, to find our focus on what is important. Getting over the physical pain, is that the most important thing in my mind now…no.  The most important thing in my mind is hearing what God wants me to hear, for me to know where I am supposed to go with the directions He gives me, to discern that they are of Him and not my own wishful thinking and I know that by having ‘just a glimpse’, the Lord was able to redirect my focus on what is truly important~Him and my relationship with Him.

I just have to say that one day, we will all be dancing and singing with joy, because there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more hurt…..can you even imagine?

As always, I leave you with this thought, God Loves You, right where you are~blessings,

Carlene

Do Not become Embittered

Hebrews 12:15NIV

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Acts 8:22-24

New International Version (NIV)

22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

I was just sitting here thinking about bitterness and how easy it is for any of us to let it take root in our hearts and pretty soon we are so full of it, literally, that we don’t know how to walk in love as Jesus has called us to do.  With the pessimistic, negative people we come in contact with daily, it’s easy to see how we can let bitterness take root and just go with it.  It’s not easy to remain bitter-free, but it can be accomplished; it just takes lots of practice to not let the world shape your focus or your perspective.  Jesus has worked with me on this one subject for some time now and how I react to what people say and do, can also determine how or when bitterness comes.

By nature, I am not, nor will I ever see myself as a ” morning” person.  Yes, I work a daytime job and yes, I have to get in the  early morning hours, but I am not someone that wakes up happily, eagerly ready to jump out of bed and start the day.  I am the one, that hopes I can reach my alarm clock, so I can press the snooze bar, just one more time, and that 7 minutes doesn’t really do me any justice; I really don’t get any more rest than if I had just gotten up, but it’s something I have always done and do not plan on stopping anytime soon. Then once I am up and getting ready, I don’t want to have to talk to anyone. I want time to wake up, put myself together, maybe have time for a cup of coffee and spend a little  time with God (and I need to do more of this in the morning, than I do now) and then after all that, if there was anytime left before I had to head out the door, then and only then am I ready to embrace any type of conversation.

So, it should come as ABSOLUTELY NO SUPRISE to my husband that I don’t want to chit chat about anything, unless it’s a matter of life and death, so to speak. If you want to stay up late and chat, I am all for that.  We are complete polar opposites on this matter. You guessed it, he is happy go lucky, eager to start his day; if he’s up, then everyone should be up and ready to go too.  It’s funny how after 19 years, that hasn’t changed, and probably never will.  So the whole reason I am sharing this tidbit, is that more often than not, when he tries to have conversation with me shortly after the alarm buzzer goes off, I am usually less than friendly…sometimes I think I might even be snarling….I honestly don’t like that part of myself, but I have never tried to change it.  Words are said, and you guessed it, if I am not very careful and stop and think about how Jesus wants me to be, that old, ugly word BITTERNESS creeps in.  And if I swill it around and think about it all the way to work, while dealing with people just learning how to drive (no not really-just seems that way), it grows.  The sad part is it is only a 15 minute drive at best and it doesn’t take long for that Bitterness (B word) to settle in for the day.

I get frustrated and upset and, you guessed it, way too snarly for my own good.  I start thinking about how dare he do that and then go do whatever he has planned for the day.  Sometimes, I have to pleasantly remind him that mornings are not my thing, anymore than late nights are his.  And he looks at me like I made some alien comment, and again I just have to say, please don’t get upset with me. I don’t get upset with you when you want to go to sleep way earlier than me. We are all just different and we are that way because that’s how God created us.

At http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bitterness, The Free Dictionary Online describes bitterness as this:

bit·ter  (btr)

adj. bit·ter·erbit·ter·est

1. Having or being a taste that is sharp, acrid, and unpleasant.
2. Causing a sharply unpleasant, painful, or stinging sensation; harsh: enveloped in bitter cold; a bitter wind.
3. Difficult or distasteful to accept, admit, or bear: the bitter truth; bitter sorrow.
4. Proceeding from or exhibiting strong animosity: a bitter struggle; bitter foes.
5. Resulting from or expressive of severe grief, anguish, or disappointment: cried bitter tears.
6. Marked by resentment or cynicism: “He was already a bitter elderly man with a gray face” (John Dos Passos).
Now I don’t know about you, but when I see what the word bitter means, I know I don’t want to be that way.  I don’t want my heart to become harsh, or acrid or unpleasant. And it can if you let it.  OR You can show grace and be gracious.
I know that people think that is hard to do, but it really isn’t. We all have choices every day. We can choose how we react to something. We can choose to show grace or not. I want to be the person that shows grace, lives graciously and accepts the fact that the world does not revolve around what I want and that not everyone sees life from my point of view or perspective.
However, I think it is very important that we talk to Jesus about this. He could have become so embittered when he walked among us on earth as the Son of Man, but he didn’t. If anyone deserved or earned the right to be bitter, he surely did; but he never was. I strive daily to remember all he went through, all he suffered and why, because he loves me. He loves you.  So when I become embittered Lord, forgive me. Show me how to be gracious. Teach me how to be more loving like you. Examine my heart and guide me so that I will not let bitterness prevail. Thank you Father.
I leave you with reading Proverbs 14 THE MESSAGE translation

Proverbs 14

The Message (MSG)

A Way That Leads to Hell

14 Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home;
Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick.

2 An honest life shows respect for God;
a degenerate life is a slap in his face.

3 Frivolous talk provokes a derisive smile;
wise speech evokes nothing but respect.

4 No cattle, no crops;
a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow.

5 A true witness never lies;
a false witness makes a business of it.

6 Cynics look high and low for wisdom—and never find it;
the open-minded find it right on their doorstep!

7 Escape quickly from the company of fools;
they’re a waste of your time, a waste of your words.

8 The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track;
the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch.

9 The stupid ridicule right and wrong,
but a moral life is a favored life.

10 The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
will be an outsider at their celebrations.

11 Lives of careless wrongdoing are tumbledown shacks;
holy living builds soaring cathedrals.

12-13 There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

Sift and Weigh Every Word

14 A mean person gets paid back in meanness,
a gracious person in grace.

15 The gullible believe anything they’re told;
the prudent sift and weigh every word.

16 The wise watch their steps and avoid evil;
fools are headstrong and reckless.

17 The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret;
the coldhearted get the cold shoulder.

18 Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion;
wise realists plant their feet on the ground.

19 Eventually, evil will pay tribute to good;
the wicked will respect God-loyal people.

20 An unlucky loser is shunned by all,
but everyone loves a winner.

21 It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need,
but compassion for the poor—what a blessing!

22 Isn’t it obvious that conspirators lose out,
while the thoughtful win love and trust?

23 Hard work always pays off;
mere talk puts no bread on the table.

24 The wise accumulate wisdom;
fools get stupider by the day.

25 Souls are saved by truthful witness
and betrayed by the spread of lies.

26 The Fear-of-God builds up confidence,
and makes a world safe for your children.

27 The Fear-of-God is a spring of living water
so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells.

28 The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.

29 Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding;
a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.

30 A sound mind makes for a robust body,
but runaway emotions corrode the bones.

31 You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.

32 The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold;
the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living.

33 Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
fools never even get to say hello.

34 God-devotion makes a country strong;
God-avoidance leaves people weak.

35 Diligent work gets a warm commendation;
shiftless work earns an angry rebuke.

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God Loves you, right where you are.