Category Archives: Blessings

Where will I lay my head tonight?


A year in review…I certainly haven’t been blogging this year.  In fact, when I go back and think about all of the “life” I was living this year, it blows my mind.  When I think about all of the events that tried to break me this year, it boggles my mind.  But even more boggling is the fact that 2014, which I have dubbed the worst year of my life, was also the most amazing year!  I have been humbled beyond belief; have learned SO MUCH about myself; have renewed my faith and hope in life.  I have found my inner love again.

I spent a bigger part of the year without a job and homeless.  My son even lived with his father for several months to finish out the school year.  In the meantime, I stayed with a treasure trove of family and friends.  At the hardest single point in my life, God sent me family and friends who opened their doors and hearts to me.  I was able to stay with family members that I had not spent time with in…decades?  I built stronger relationships with them than I could ever have done otherwise.  Friends too…Family is not always blood.  I tend to build my own family…some blood, and some divine.  This year, my family grew exponentially!

As for a job…I was without any form of income for a few months before unemployment kicked in.  I looked and looked for jobs…in a few states, even.  At the time, I just knew God was punishing me.  In hindsight, I realize He was setting the stage for an even bigger lesson.  When my household went from two incomes to one, I learned to do without.  I thought I was big and bad because I was sacrificing my manicures and restaurant meals for my son and I.  For our future.

Pish posh.  I realize how conceited and horrible that was. Because this year…this year I truly learned what sacrifice and going without really means.  I spent a good portion of the year wondering where I would get food for the next day, or where I would lay my head that night, or the next night, or the next.  I finally got on food stamps and Medicaid…very hard for me to do.  I am always the one trying to help people. It was very humbling to be the one asking for help.  I felt degraded and demoralized.  But humbled.   It was with the Medicaid that I was forced to see a new doctor…one who was able to properly diagnose me with Type II Diabetes.  I had spent the prior year so tired all of the time and without energy.  I finally received an answer why, and decided to try and get healthier.

So, in the midst of all of the drama, I began to exercise.  Realize…I had gained back all 80 of the pounds I had lost a few years ago.  I had to start all over again.  Chair exercises and lack of food saw me drop the first 20 pounds.  Throughout the year, I was able to lose a total of 68 pounds!

UsI had an angel, a friend from years past, call me about a job she had heard about.  I was living in Pennsylvania at the time, looking for work in Maryland, and my friend was in Florida (where I used to live).  The job was for a former boss, a dynamo woman whose passion for helping others is incendiary.  I got the job and we decided to move from Maryland (where we lived for the past 10 years) to Florida…”back home.”  The job itself is amazing, a great opportunity, and a chance to help the senior citizens of our local area.  It is an amazing blessing.

This year, we also lost all of our material possessions.  Everything we owned was in storage.  Without a job, and trying to find a way for us, I was not able to pay the storage bill and we lost everything we owned save what was in our van.  Like my mother when I was five, we moved to Florida to start over…with only what we had in our vehicle.  My mother, my lifelong hero, had left her shoes to me.

My son and I stayed with a dear friend from high school and her husband until we could get a place of our own.  We were super blessed to find the cute little townhouse that we live in.

Throughout the year, there were many other CRAZY events (you probably wouldn’t believe me) and each of those events and/or losses created a bond with someone that I will forever cherish.  Again, my family grew and I have found my love in the hearts of those around me.

That is where the new year finds us. We have a roof over our heads, a job, safety, food, health, and happiness.  We still don’t have a couch or TV in the living room and I am still sleeping on an air mattress, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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Humbled…


humble-heartHumbled seems to be the word of the year.  In every way, humbled.

I must humble myself to write this now, after taking so long away.  And this entire year has been…well, horrifying and amazing.  No other way to describe it.

But I won’t make this a summary.  I am just humbled to God for his care, guidance and love.  I praise and thank him for his answered prayers; and for the pure love and joy lifting my soul…a sensation only God can provide.  In a year full of uncertainty, hardship, and mental chaos, God did provide.  He provided for me, and for Ashton.  He provided for us in so many ways…even when I had nothing to give back but my heart.

My soul is on fire for the Spirit.  I know I am not worthy, but I also know that God is working through me and for me and for those I love.  It is an amazing place to be…particularly when your world has been turned upside down over and over.  I am so grateful for all of the opportunities this year to come to God and surrender.  Surrender is humbling, but also can be mind blowing.  It is amazing the plans God has for us compared to our own attempts of imagining and dreaming.  Make no mistake: You must be open to the blessings and God’s guidance.  But when you are, it is powerful and life changing…no words to describe.

This is one of those moments of thankfulness.  A privileged moment of insight and clarity.

I have been having troubles with Ashton.  He has hit puberty and turned into a monster almost overnight.  He is making a hobby out of testing boundaries and joyfully expressing defiance.  I literally found myself on my knees two weeks ago.  On my knees to God, praying for some sort of help.  Some sort of guidance.  I am so ill equipped for dealing with a 12 year old son hitting puberty.  I don’t even know what is normal…I prayed fiercely for an answer.

Then in less than two weeks, my prayers are answered in multiple ways by multiple people from across the United States.  Now, I don’t mean that Ashton is fixed, and the problem is gone.  That is not what God is all about.  God is about helping us get through the difficult times in life.  He has sent some Angels to interfere and guide.  Some of the people have been part of my life forever.  Some are brand new popping into our lives like magic…out of thin air.  Some are helping and guiding me.  Some are helping and guiding Ashton.  It is like we are all of a sudden surrounded by God’s Angels.  I know there is no magic potion that will help Ashton, but I do know that God is helping.  If God is helping, I know Ashton is going to be okay, and so will I.  I know our Great Father will provide for us, both directly and indirectly through others.  God’s presence strengthens me in the present and helps me vision tomorrow with peace.

For this, I am completely humbled, amazed, and in awe.

When Your Friend’s Child Dies


The death of a child is ALWAYS traumatic.  No parent ever dreams of the day when they will have to bury their own child.  Our culture deems that we as children will eventually have to plan the funerals for our parents.  Never, do we expect to purchase a miniature casket.

What happens when you friend loses a child?  Being there for them, emotionally, can be so very difficult.  You don’t know what to say or how to act.  Do you mention the child, or do you avoid the issue?

A dear friend of mine lost her son and began the J.O.S.H. Foundation (Joining Others Seeking Healing) to be able to help families with the horrible tragic loss of a child. One of the projects completed by the J.O.S.H. Foundation was an Angel of Hope Memorial Garden in Eldersburg, MD.  The memorial garden is a place where parents and family members can go to grieve.  The actual Angel of Hope was born from the book The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans (who does a great deal of philanthropic work) and is one of over 100 Angel of Hope memorial gardens in the US dedicated to children.

When talking to my friend, years after the tragic event, one of the things she said to me, that has really stuck through the years, is that she so very much appreciates when her friends send a card to her on the anniversary of her son’s death. No matter how many years go by, she relives the crisis on that day…just knowing that her friends and family members are thinking of her gives her a great deal of comfort.

However, not everyone would appreciate the reminder each year. One thing we know for sure is that all people are different. Below is a presentation of some very basic do’s and don’ts for how you CAN help.

Raw Faith


This week I watched a really heartfelt documentary called Raw Faith.  Marilyn (read below) made some amazing statements that I think describe the kind of woman I am and want to be.  She is very insightful, and has learned to turn the struggles of her life into love and help for others.

raw faithRaw Faith is an intimate and revealing documentary that follows two years in the private life of Marilyn Sewell, an outspoken and socially progressive Unitarian minister who has re-energized her Portland community.
While serving a community that relies on her for wisdom and advice (on both personal and ethical issues), Marilyn struggles quietly with decisions about her own future. As she seeks to reconcile the commitments of her profession with a longing for intimacy and love, childhood memories of mental illness and alcoholism come back to the surface – and must be dealt with before she can move forward.

As Marilyn’s life unfolds in front of the camera (in real time), she shares her journey with remarkable candor, humor and increasing wisdom, ultimately leading her to an unexpected revelation of faith and love in all of its guises.

Some of the quotes from Marilyn Sewell, former Unitarian Minister:

I’m not there to fix him; I’m not there to help him in any way.  I’m not a doctor or social worker.  I’m there to be with – to provide an opening for him to be precisely who he is and to be accepted for precisely who he is.  That’s very powerful

The most powerful thing we can bring to anyone in any situation is our full presence.

Sometimes when people come in with very terrible, sad stories, and they do, I sometimes find myself smiling.  Sometimes people will be taken aback and they’ll say “Well I just said something that seems to me pretty sad, so why are you smiling?” And sometimes I’ve had to say, “Because I find you so beautiful right now.  Because I know we all suffer and that we all are going to go through hard times.  And right now you’re going through your very hard time but all of us do that and you’re doing that so honestly and so beautifully and so truthfully. So when I see truth and honesty the way I see in your face and in your tears, it really makes me happy.

Check her out for yourself

This is Our Time


this is our timeI  watched a really good movie last night. Actually, the movie was okay, but I picked up a message in it. Movie is called “This is Our Time” and it is a Spiritual movie on Netflix. The message was about God having purpose for each of us…

It was about 5 friends who graduate college. 4 go off and begin their lives in big ways, 2 of which become missionaries to lepars in India.
 
The 5th guy, who stays behind to work in his Dad’s restaurant because he was not accepted into Grad school, feels like God has forgotten him. When he consults with a former college professor, the professor explains to him that God’s plan is not about DOING…it is about BEING. 
 
Being?  Somehow, that really sat with me for awhile.  In my own life, I have been so worried about not “doing” enough lately.  In fact, our family is planning a new ministry project, because I felt like God was calling me to “do” more (I still feel he is, but in my mind it was because I am not doing enough).  Doing…it is a noble effort, but in the end, God has a plan for who we are to BE.  Think of all of the people who go to church each week, but never BEcome children of His word and receivers of His great love.  They spend their life doing, without ever being who God truly wants them to be.
 
We are to BE the beacon of God’s light for those in trouble to see.  We are to be loving, caring, and patient followers of His word and truth.  We are to be gentle and kind to those in need.  God simply wants us to be His child. 
 
Ultimately, this “throwaway guy” ends up being the one who holds everyone together when one of the 5 friends dies.  He was the friend who could always bring them all back together…because that is the person he was, not because it was something he felt he had to “do”.
 
He is reminded that God’s purpose is not for us to do. I mean, yes, we do things to help people, etc. But even when we do not feel active in His ministry, we are still living His purpose.  If you want to know what it is to BE God’s child, email me.
 
 
 

Yay! A Matching Pair!


ashton sock boxI supposed you would have to know how chaotic our mornings can be sometimes.  There you go.

This morning, Ashton grumbled to the sock box and the next thing I heard was, “Ooh, already a sock.”  There was raw excitement in the way he said it.

“It’s gonna be a good day.” It seemed to be the underlying message of his comment.

Then, to make his day even better, he found a matching pair!  (He is usually too impatient to look long enough to find one.)

Yep, today is gonna be a good day!  🙂

***This is NOT to say Ashton has no socks.  On the contrary, he has a million of them.  I have delegated the chore of pairing his own socks to him.  🙂

I needed some sunshine today


I needed some sunshine today!

It has been one of those mornings where nothing seems to have gone right.  I woke up late, so Ashton missed his bus, and then I had to chase Cupcake around the parking lots this morning. 

So, when I pulled in to work and saw the full parking lots, I realized I was going to have to walk in from the “back 40” and there was no chance of being on time.  It was like God was telling me, no forcing me, to be in His light for a morning meditation while absorbing the healing light of our earthly sun.  I needed to pump up my heart rate and create some natural energy.  I needed to find a moment of peace and calm before continuing my day.

He even provided what I needed.  I realized I had my big scarf on and could wrap it around my wet head for protection against the Winnie-the-Pooh-like blistery winds.  I glanced over to the passenger seat of the van and saw the bottle of water from last night that I had not finished.  It was nice and cold from being in the car overnight, and would help if I began choking halfway up the hill (This kind of weather likes to play with my bronchial asthma).

No excuses.  Just a morning walk in the sunshine.  I so needed that!

The Study of Happiness


The Happy Movie is awesome!

I just watched the most eye-opening documentary – “Happy” – on the study of happiness (aka positive psychology for those who care). There were some amazingly simple and fundamental points made within the nearly two hours of information. Sounds boring, but really, it was awesome.  Just understanding that happiness is something that exists within each of us and that bonds us, is truly compelling.

It kind of reminds me of the simplicity of togetherness that we all seek.  Good movie, check it out!

I know the full movie is available on netflix, and there is a clip of it available below (and no, I am not getting paid to promote it or anything…it just added a new perspective through my journey!)

Film – The Happy Movie | The Happy Movie.

Let Go and Let God…


Long ago, at a previous job, I had a friend (one of My Angels) who battled lots of difficult pains and struggles, one of which was addiction.  Now, before you jump the boat and immediately begin defining her addiction, I want you to take a step back and just look at addiction for the sake of what it is: addiction.  Many of us have chemical addictions to caffeine.  Um…hello to all of you who sleep in “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” jammies!  An addiction is an addiction, whether it is emotional, chemical or whatever.  Period.  Let’s move on.

I watched my friend struggle her addictions, sometimes on a moment by moment basis.  I was able to see within her spirit the desire to continue on.  The fight to keep on fighting.  The defeats that she sometimes crawled through.  From her perspective, she only saw the failures and mistakes she made each day.  From my perspective, How, I didn’t know.  Then one day she shared with me.

Every morning, she would get up early and give her day to God.  She would ask God to carry her burdens for the day and guide her actions and thoughts.  She described to me the sense of peace that would help her through the day.

We are all human beings, and capable of failure, setback and burnout among many other things.  Sometimes it is hard to accept our humanness.  The worries and anxieties of everyone’s expectations (including your own) overwhelm you.  They sure worry me.  Now, in the mornings, I open my morning with prayer and thanksgiving to God.  I pray for strength to get through the day, and for the wisdom to make good decisions and be good help to many.

I challenge you to try the same…Each morning, spend a few minutes and pray.  Give your day to God.

Each and every morning,

I give my concerns to You, God.

I acknowledge my weaknesses.

Please guide my hands,

And my decisions,

And my perspectives,

And my compassion.

I ask that You work through me.

Love and inspire others through me.

I will listen for Your voice.

And I will know,

The richness of Your Love,

And Jesus’ Sacrifice,

And how the Holy Spirit lives within us.

I will listen for your voice.

Amen.

Unreachable


Wow.  I survived.  By the sweet grace of God, I survived Thursday night.  I cannot even begin to explain.

I know that I woke up on Friday morning still grumpy, bags under my eyes, hating life in general.  I felt as if I had survived an exorcism.  I had just faced my life’s issues…my demons, if you will.  All of the parts of me that hide away, as well as how my decisions do effect and have effected my family, everyone around me, and myself.  How I truly feel like I had let everyone down.  Then couple that with a family counseling class that has forced me to look at my family on paper and notice patterns and blah blah blah.

Point is…I came to direct terms with the very real fact: I am broken.  We all are.  We are all victims of the behaviors of others, and we all take turns victimizing one another, whether we know it or not.  It is human nature.  It is inevitable.

God had given me all of these miraculous blessings in my life and I had hurt them all and was not as grateful as I could have been.  I took a lot of true blessings for granted.  I felt such shame and unworthiness.

Then, this song played…

The words spoke everything I was thinking and feeling.  The overwhelming sense of peace began to bring reassurance and comfort, love and protection.  All of my human fears vanished and once again I felt the truest of truth, I felt God within my soul.  I knew we would be okay if I just stayed focused on His guidance.  When I am weak, He will give me strength.

Not only did the blessings continue to pour down on us, but the awareness of God’s great and abundant love became ever so clear again.  I had been missing that sense of fullness and faith.

Yes, Uncle T., I heard your message, Let go and Let God.  It is easier said than done, AND it is necessary.  When you turn your life over to God and allow Him to work through you, He will provide for you.

It is simply amazing.