Monday, December 13, 2010

New Blog

It is a new season in my life and time for a new blog.  If you are interested, you can find it at

Thanks for sharing the journey!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

For all that has been, thanks! For all that will be, yes!

I am overwhelmed as I write this blog.  It is the final blog for "My Unplanned Journey."    It is bittersweet. Many of you leave such sweet comments, and you share your own stories with me.  I will miss those. That is the bitter part.  But the sweet part for me is that I feel as if I can honestly say that I am now okay.  The journey isn't over, but God has brought me through the first leg.

Dag Hammarskjold said:  "For all that has been, thanks!  For all that will be, yes!"

Today I read this passage from The Saga of Life.

"I loved my uncle's ranch when I was a child!  There was space to run unhampered, freedom to explore.  The dust lay inches thick upon the trails, and running barefoot down the path of sifting powder was a sumptuous sort of feeling.  The barn was my playground, full of animated toys.  In the loft there were hay and mice and fairly friendly spiders.  The mint grew wild and plush beside the creek, and  my aunt made berry pies and the smell would seek me out wherever I played around the house.  I rode my cousin's palomino horse through fantasies that never seemed to end.  If I am not careful, Lord, I can edit out these memories and forget that I got a bee sting where I picked the mint and burned my tongue time and time again on the berry pies because I never seemed to learn and couldn't wait.  Or that the barn smelled just awful or that the horse made my bottom sore and the dust that felt like sifted powder made me sneeze all summer.  If I am not careful, I can forget all these things.  But if I'm wise, I will remember that all of life has both these things in it."

John Claypool goes on to comment about the passage.
"It is very important that we never conclude that only the pleasant and the beautiful have positive value.  The truth of the matter is that life is a bittersweet reality, and that is its essence and its glory.  For the final outcome both the sunshine and the shadows are needed.  A belief in providence, in a God who is at work in all things for good, can lead to that perspective on the past that enables one to say:  'For all that has been, thanks!'  It is one thing to look back and say:  'For some of what has been, thanks!'  To embrace all of life in that thanksgiving is something quite different, but it is the perspective that a belief in God's goodness and wisdom provides.  Understanding life as a destiny, not happenstance, and acknowledging God's hand as having been in it all, does make for gratitude, acceptance and the ability to end one's days at peace with the past."

This weekend, God handed me back my quilt of life.  Some of the pieces in the quilt were beautiful.  They were the precious memories of happy times.  Other pieces were not as appealing.  They were the dark days and difficult moments.  At first, I didn't know if I liked those pieces, but then I realized that those were the pieces that gave the quilt its strength and its warmth.  And when I stepped back and looked at the quilt, I realized that when it ALL came together, it was beautiful.  I will be able to use it to help give warmth to many who are facing the cold realities of a harsh life.

Thank you for sharing this part of my journey in life.  I said in an earlier blog that a part of my dream is to help others.  Please feel free to e-mail me through the e-mail listed on my profile if you just want someone to listen and pray for you as you travel your own Unplanned Journey.

Philippians 1:6 (New Living Translation)

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes!

Trading in my last bit of sorrow!

I attended a Women's Conference this weekend.  I have been to many such conferences in my adult life.  This one was different.  Maybe it was because I am different.  I went to the conference as one who has been broken and was partially healed.  God has done wonderful things in my life this year.  He has brought me through dark, difficult days.  When I left the conference this weekend, I felt as if I had been kissed by God, and my healing was complete.  I know there will still be difficult days, but I am finally at the point where I can take a deep breath and say, "All is well."

As the speakers came forward, each one seemed as if God had purposefully designed the words they spoke just to minister to me.  Isn't that amazing how He does that?  I know that there were thousands of other women there who experienced the exact same feelings.

On Friday night Kay Arthur spoke for an hour and a half on the entire book of Matthew.  I didn't even notice the length because she kept me on the edge of my seat.  She talked about who Christ is and what His calling was.  I thought about that a lot that evening and the next day.  On Saturday morning we opened with worship.  I am not even sure what song we were singing.  I just know that it talked about Jesus being my healer.  In that moment I realized something.  While I had come a long way, there were still wounds deep within me that I had held on to.  On the outside I looked good, healthy and whole for the most part.  But inside, buried within the deep chambers of my being, were still some hurts that I had kept as my own.  As we began to sing the song about Jesus, our healer, I got the most beautiful image in my mind.  In the Old Testament a blood sacrifice had to be offered for the atonement of sin.  But when Christ came, He was offered up as the perfect sacrifice.  No longer did animal sacrifices have to be offered.  The blood Christ shed atones our sins.  I believe that just as His blood has the redeeming power to forgive me of my sins and make me a new creation, it also has the power to redeem my life circumstances and make my life into a living testimony for Him.  As I was thinking about the redeeming power of His blood, I pictured that precious blood that was shed for me, saturating my heart.  Then in my mind, it traveled from my heart to every artery and vein in my body.  As it did, it covered every deep and hidden wound that I have held tightly to and brought the healing touch that only He can bring.  When the song was over, I physically felt lighter.  I started weeping, and I wept for a long time.  I finally let it ALL go.  I gave all the hurt the sorrow and the pain to Him completely and totally.  Finally, I can say that He has healed my broken heart.

I know there will still be difficult days.  No matter how beautifully our wounds heal, if we look closely, we will still see the faint sign of a scar.  I will always have that as long as I am on this earth.  But when I have those days and I see those scars, I will not let it make me sad, angry or bitter.  I will let it be a reminder to me that I have a heavenly Father who is crazy in love with me and can carry me through any circumstance that life throws my way.

I learned so much more at the conference on a more personal level.  When I left, I was so overwhelmed that I was speechless.  We had a five hour ride home.  For most of the ride, I was silent.  I prayed, I meditated, and I sought God for what He would have me do with what I learned.  I hope that anyone who reads this knows Him as his personal Saviour.  I cannot imagine going through the last year without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He has been my Comforter, my Provider, and my Redeemer.  He wants to be that for everyone on the face of this earth.  He made it so simple for us.  He said that all we need to do is accept Him as our personal Lord and Saviour.  Then we just hand the reins over to Him, let Him be in control, and hang on for the ride of our life.

There is an old song by Andre' Crouch that says it best:

It reaches to the highest mountain,it flows to the lowest valley;
the blood that gives me strength from day to day,
it will never lose its power.

Friday, December 3, 2010

We will not be stopped!

We are finally off and away. When Brenda came to pick me up, I asked her if we could run by the drugstore. As we were leaving, she mentioned our lunch tickets for tomorrow. I suddenly gasped. I left my ticket at home. Thankfully, we were just a couple of minutes away. This is where our comedy of errors began.

I reached in my purse to get the keys. They were not there.  Yesterday I had left them in my car, which was safely locked in the garage. Not a problem, my neighbor had a key to my house. She was not at home. Not a problem, her neighbor had a key to her house. I would just borrow it and go into Jojo's house to get my key. That neighbor was not at home. Not a problem, Lily's high school is just around the corner. I worked there for a year. I will just call one of my friends there and ask them to send for her and borrow her key. I called the high school and asked to be connected to three of my previous coworkers. All three were away from their desks. Not a problem, I would just go by her classroom. I knew her teachers from working there. She had Mr. Dasher for English Comp. I was a little intimidated by him, but I was getting that key. I walked to the door and heard Mr. Dasher lecturing. This was just great. I interrupted his class only to find out that she was not in there. We figured out that she was in calculus. He joked with me and told me to go interrupt Mr. Holland's class. That class was on the other side of the campus. We drove all the way around the campus to the math hall. I found her and got the key. Five minutes later, my ticket was in my hands. I have one thing to say. "Greater is He who is within me than He that is in the world." (1 John 4: 4)
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Tomorrow IS a better day!

Try as we might, we cannot stay "up" all the time.  Feelings can change so quickly.  I think of a summer thunderstorm that rolls in during the afternoon.  One minute the sun is shining, and it is beautiful.  The next minute dark clouds have overtaken the sky, and a storm is quickly approaching.  We have been run off the beach more than a few times by the beach patrol when such a storm was heading toward us.

I want to assure anyone reading that I have my moments when the emotional thunderstorms roll in.  Sometimes they are just that, moments.  Other times, they last for days.  I try to "keep my chin up" and keep a positive attitude, but some days it is harder than others.  At times a positive and happy attitude happens naturally, and other times it takes a conscious effort to choose to be happy.  One thing is certain: I cannot do it in my own capacities.  My friend Patti Davis gave me this great little cross.  It is wooden and carved in a kind of twisted shape.  It was carefully carved in a shape to fit in the palm of your hand.  I have started keeping that cross with me at all times.  When I find myself going "down,"  I grab the cross and tightly hold it in my grip and offer up a prayer to God.  Seeing that cross reminds me that no matter how I feel or what is going on in my life, there is one place that I can run to for safety from the storm.  Often, just this prayer is enough to pull me out of the shadows of darkness.  Other times, however, even after praying with all my might, I still find myself in the shadows.  It is at these times that I just continue to ask God to be with me, and I say to myself, "Tomorrow will be a better day."

Today is a great big tomorrow for me that is following several weeks of struggling with ups and downs of this crazy journey.  Last week, I got a call from my friend, Leigh Shirer.  She had a ticket to the Deeper Still Conference in Birmingham that she could no longer use because her husband is having knee surgery.  She wanted to give me the ticket.  I called her to say, "Thanks, but no thanks.  I just don't need to take off work."  Somehow, less than two minutes into the conversation, she had talked me into taking the ticket.  When I hung up the phone, I wondered what had just happened.  But within five minutes I found myself getting "blissfully excited" about the conference.  I know in my heart that God has orchestrated this trip for me as a time of rest and renewal as I wrap up the end of my first year in this Unplanned Journey.  Let me tell you, He worked out every single detail of the trip.  My principal assured me that it was okay to take the day off work.  I found out my good friend, Brenda, is going with her sister in law.  She graciously offered for me to ride up there with her and let me stay with them in their hotel room.  And if all that isn't enough, God just piled one more thing on the top.  I received a text yesterday from one of my very best college friends.  She saw on Facebook that I was going to the conference.  She is going as well.  So I also get to reconnect with her.  I tell you this.  God is just showing off.

As I come to the end of the first year of my journey, I can say this:  I would not be where I am today if it were not for my God, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my students.  It is hard to believe that it has only been a year.  I feel like the lessons that I have learned this year should have been learned in half a lifetime.  But one thing is for certain.  This year has made my faith rock solid.  I had an amazing tutor in Christ who carried me every step of the way through this crash course in handling life's difficulties.  I would not be where I am today and at this emotional state of healing if it were not for Him.  I feel as if this weekend is the icing on the cake that He has been baking with me all year.  I know that many of you are traveling your own Unplanned Journey.  Please don't travel your journey alone.  You have a loving Father who wants to hold your hand and travel with you.  It is hard.  I will admit.  It is a journey of faith and trust.  But with Him, you can and will make it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (King James Version)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Mismatched Quilt of Life

I love my grandmother's quilts.  None of the pieces match.  When I was a little girl, she still sewed a lot of her clothes.  The quilts were made either from remnants that were left over from her dresses or from pieces that she picked up on sale.  I have a very old quilt of hers.  When I look at it, in the recesses of my mind I have a vague memory of her wearing a dress from one of the fabrics on the quilt.  It is a comforting thought.

I have heard a particular line many times throughout this Journey that I just don't like.  "Everything happens for a reason."  So many wonderful and well meaning people have said this to me.  I know they are only trying to help and comfort, but I just don't believe that this is a true statement.   Bad things happen because we live in a fallen, sinful world full of sinful people.  (I certainly include myself in that category.  I am surely a sinner that is saved by grace.)  My best friend's husband died seven years ago from a terrible disease called cancer that exists in this world.  I am divorced because my ex-husband no longer wanted to be in our marriage.  There are no good reasons for any of these things.

However, life is not all bleak and hopeless.  While I do not believe that everything happens for a reason, I do believe that no matter what happens to us, if we seek God with all of our hearts, He will work it all out for our good.  That is a promise made to us in a Bible verse that I learned years ago.

Romans 8:28 (New Living Translation)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

That is an amazing feeling.  When I feel down and discouraged, I cling to that promise.  I will be honest.  It is not always easy.  I don't have any earthly idea what my future holds.  But I know that God holds my future, and I know that He is taking this terrible situation and weaving it together into a beautiful life for me.  I trust that with all my heart.  While I don't know what my future holds, I do know that as long as I am loving and following God, it WILL be good.

You know, my grandmother's quilts would have never won any contests at the fair, but to me they are beautiful.  They were pieced together from leftover scraps and made into something wonderful.  When I am wrapped in those quilts and memories of her come to mind, I feel her love that I knew for so many years come over me.

My original quilt of life was a work of art.  It was carefully crafted and to the world looked like a masterpiece.  That quilt was torn apart.  But my loving heavenly Father is remaking it.  He is taking the scraps from my old life and carefully and precisely piecing them together.  He is discarding the pieces that are beyond repair and replacing them with new, colorful pieces that make it even more interesting.  This quilt is going to be even more meaningful because it is going to be threaded with lessons learned and heartaches overcome. It will be stronger and sturdier than the first one.  No doubt, it will be able to help and comfort others in ways that the first one never could.

Thank you, God, that with You, there is ALWAYS hope.  No matter how desperate our lives seem, You promise us that if we will love You and follow You, it will all work out for our good in the end.  I don't know what my "good" is quite yet.  I get impatient at times and want You to hurry up and show me my plan for my life.  I want to see the "finished quilt."  But I know that I need to stop worrying about my future and just enjoy each day and the blessings that You send me.  Thank you, Lord, that I have You, and my scraps are not just thrown into the trash, but they are being woven into something beautiful.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Must I let go?

This morning, I was began reading a little book, The Saga of Life.  In it, the author is discussing the transition from adolescence to adulthood.  He shares these words from Alan Paton.

I see my son wearing long trousers; I tremble at this.  I see he goes forward confidently, he does not know so fully his own gentleness.  Go forward, eager and reverent child.  See here, I begin to take my hands away from you.  I shall see you walk carelessly on the edge of the precipice, but if you wish, you shall hear no word come out of me.  My whole soul will be sick with apprehension, but I shall not disobey you.  Life sees you coming, she sees you come with assurance toward her.  She lies in wait for you.  She cannot but hurt you.  Yet go forward.  Go forward.  I hold the bandages and the ointment ready.  And if you would go elsewhere and lie alone with your wounds, I shall not intrude upon you.  If you would seek the help of some other person, I will not come forcing myself upon you.  If you should fall into sin, innocent one, that is the way of this pilgrimage.  Struggle against it, not for one fraction of a moment concede its dominion.  It will occasion you grief and sorrow, it will torment you.  But hate not God, nor turn from Him in shame or self-reproach.  He has seen many such, and His compassion is as great as His creation.  Be tempted and fall and return.  Return and  be tempted and fall, a thousand times a thousand, even to a thousand thousand.  For out of this tribulation there comes a peace, deep in the soul and surer than any dream.

I was so intrigued by this beautiful passage.  I think I reread the passage four times. As I read, I saw it from two different perspectives.  First, I thought about my life and my relationship with my parents.  I can only imagine the incredible grief that they have endured this year as they have had to watch their baby girl travel this Unplanned Journey, but, even more difficult, to have to watch me travel it as an adult and make my own way.  Now my daddy has certainly had his opinions about what I should and should not do.  But in the end it is my journey, and I have had to make my own way in this pilgrimage.  They have had to sit back and watch me travel, holding the bandages and ointments ready for those times that I needed them.  As a parent myself, I can only imagine how difficult this must have been.

As a parent of two teenage girls, one who will be going away to college in a few short months, I can see this through a parent's eyes.  Just yesterday, I was holding their tiny hands and helping them balance as they learned to walk.  Now the time is coming close when I have to let go. If only I could protect them from ever getting hurt.  But I cannot.  I have to start letting them go and face the world that can be so cold and cruel -- this same world that can be so seductive and tempting.  Will they get hurt?  Most certainly.  Will they give in to the temptation of sin at times?  I would love to say, "Absolutely not."  But, surely at times they will.  However, if I have taught them nothing else in the few short years that I have had them, I pray that I have taught them to run to God first.  And as the passage says, run to him again and again.

Proverbs 22:6 (New King James Version)

Train up a child in the way he should go,
      And when he is old he will not depart from it.