Friday, November 30, 2012

Slow Down and Smell the Wonder

My Five Minute Friday on: Wonder

A little girl full of anticipation, skipping steps on her way. It is Christmas morning, the culmination of the Advent season. This is the day she has been waiting for.

The star sits atop a tinsel strewn tree. Memories hang from the evergreen branches, like the ornament marking the day she was born.

Her eager eyes take in the gifts, wrapped in colorful greens and reds, and out of the corner of her eye she spies full stockings hanging on the mantel.

The mystery of the gifts is revealed with each rip and tear of holiday paper. And all the excitement of the last four weeks dissolves.

That girl is now a woman. A Mom. And although the people have changed, the scene above repeats itself every year, bar one thing.

The little one could not wait until "the Day". It used to be all about the presents. But the woman has learned a few things over the years.

The woman is me.

When I rifle through the memory files of Christmases past, it's not the presents received that I remember, but the time spent in preparation and anticipation with family and friends.

May we "slow down and smell" the wonder of this glorious season and remember why it's more then just a special day.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Friday, November 23, 2012

Surrounded By Thanks

My Five Minute Friday on: Thank You

Sun streaking through empty branches. Feet crunching through their leafy remains. If I stand here still enough I hear the gentle wind moving foliage -- brown and red and yellow -- across the woodsy floor. But the stillness is overwhelmed by laughter.

The sweetness of adventuring children, muddied shoes -- and bottoms. Slip sliding down the bank of my childhood, where rocks skip and plop and splash.

I am caught up in this current of abandon. Swept along, in shoes meant for sitting, not adventuring. For more then a moment I am reliving -- carefree, happy times. I am thankful for this place.

A "thank you" from my lips for this beautiful, peaceful moment -- the sound of water rushing and children playing and searching for the right rock.

As water ripples and my today collides with my yesterday and I am so very thankful. For the man building rock bridges and the boy and girl gifts and their smiles wide. For nephews splattered in mud and water. This legacy. This place. I am overwhelmed.
God knows me. He has filled my life with everything I need. Beauty and laughter and a family that gathers after months a part yet it feels like just yesterday we were together. And He surrounds me with all of this goodness and I remember.

I remember that life with Him, although not without trials, is good.

And I am forever thankful.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Seventy-Seven Times Forgiven

I have been offended, betrayed, and disappointed. And I have needed to forgive the unforgivable. But that was a lot harder then I thought.

Forgiveness was easier to do once I understood it. But it also required I do something contrary.

In the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-22) Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" and Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

I grew up hearing people say, "forgive and forget." I thought that in order to forgive someone I had to forget that it ever happened. This might be possible with the invention of a mind eraser, but otherwise, an impossible task. But that's not what forgiveness is all about anyway.

"Forgiveness is a promise…a deliberate decision to deal with another's sin by doing away with it" ("Choosing Forgiveness" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss).

Before I could fully understand forgiveness, I needed to understand grace. In an "everything needs to be fair" world, grace doesn't make any sense.

I have earned frequent-flier miles for my mistakes. I allow impatience, selfishness, and worry to rule my days. When we're late for school and those words come out of me. I look at my children apologetically and without hesitation their tiny arms embrace me with undeserved forgiveness.

There is faith in grace — and in forgiveness. Faith in a heart broken and in a desire to change or do better next time. I don't deserve grace, but Love offers it to me anyway.

In John 8:3-8 a woman accused of adultery was brought to Jesus and instead of pointing a blaming finger at her he rebuked the others. "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

I can forgive my offenders because I have offended. I offer grace to the undeserving because I am undeserving, too.

"Unforgiveness is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die," says Mark Gungor in "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage."

I am the only one that suffers when I don't forgive someone else. Like an infection, unforgiveness will eat us up inside until all we are left with is bitterness. Holding on to the pain and hurt that others have caused us will only leave us angry and lonely.

I believe forgiveness gets easier with time —when the wounds aren't quite as fresh. Depending on the depth of the offense, the process of forgiveness can take time. In some instances, I needed to work through the process with a counselor.

Forgiveness is a promise that is not based on anything anyone deserves or earns. Forgiveness is a gift, wrapped in grace, with a bow of surrender.

"Whatever's in the past, it's exactly the past God wants us to have. He doesn't want us to try to change it or forget it. He wants us to learn how to use it to serve him." —Kevin Huggins

This is a revised post from the archives.

Linking with…

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Wish She Could Have Stayed

My Five Minute Friday on: Stay

It had been about 4 years since she had radical surgery. In the course of a weekend our lives were changed dramatically. Mom had stage 4 ovarian cancer and she needed surgery, like now.

We celebrated her remission after a long course of chemotherapy, followed by radiation. She was an amazing testament to strength and resilience. Her faith never wavered. It was a confidence that defied the world's reason. She was so brave!

Life seemed normal. Holidays shared, family parties full of her wonderful dishes. We knew it had taken a lot out of her, but she rallied and climbed each health mountain with grace and resolve.

Last Thanksgiving all seemed well. Singing with joy for my daughter's birthday — gratefully enjoying another holiday together. But by Christmas, things had changed. She was not well.

As noise makers and midnight kisses rang in the New Year, she was slated for medical tests. An MRI revealed lesions on her brain. After a lengthy brain surgery they were confirmed to be cancerous — only weeks before her 60th birthday.

Fast forward to July, her health continued to wane. Cancer was taking over and there was nothing anyone could do. My mother-in-law lost her courageous battle on July 25, 2012.

The Five Minute Friday prompt was "stay". And all I could think about was her. Knowing she is celebrating her new life with her Lord and Savior, but missing her terribly.

In all our gratitude for the life she lived and her faithful example, in selfish grief…

I wish she could have stayed.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Letting Go - Tamar's Redemption Tuesday

Healing from childhood sexual abuse takes time and hard work. Through a lengthy process I learned a lot about myself and eventually — how to let go. Here is Part 4 of my story, in a series for Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays called God in Healing.

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
How We Hurt, How We Heal

Never have I felt so vulnerable, yet so free.

After God began the process of band-aid removal (Part 3), I was forced to see all the ways I had been covering up the pain of childhood sexual abuse. Standing bare, heart exposed I had to face the truth about myself – and God.

Slowly I began to see God’s hand in my story. I saw my hands clenched white-knuckled around a rope, grabbing and pulling with all my might. I was playing tug-of-war with the Creator of the Universe. And it wasn't getting me anything except rope burns.

Read more of this guest post at Tamar's Redemption

Related Posts:
Looking for a Hero — God in Healing Part 1 -- Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Looking for Eden — God in Healing Part 2 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Finding the Real Me - God in Healing Part 3 - Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays

I Am A Survivor — Christy's Voice Part 1 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Shame — Christy's Voice Part 2 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Betrayal — Christy's Voice Part 3 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Healing — Christy's Voice Part 4 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Am Not Quiet

My Five Minute Friday on: Quiet

Butterflies in my stomach. Eyes darting, scanning for the nearest exit. Feeling terribly uncomfortable in my own skin. It wasn't an allergic reaction to something I ate and there's no cure.

"You are so quiet!" — Impression accomplished. Feeling misunderstood, absolutely.

I am a "closet" introvert. People seem surprised when they find out. I keep it under wraps, but inside it can still suffocate me.

Introverts may be one of the most misunderstood social groups. I can't tell you how many times in a new setting, with people I don't know, someone has informed the room about how quiet I am.

I concede that in that particular setting I don't have a lot to say. Small talk and I just never got along that well. I will participate and answer questions, but when the "where are you from's" and the "what do you do's" have been exchanged, I'm left with a big pile of…not much to say.

I should clarify that I actually have A LOT to say (ask anyone who knows me well). I just prefer to share it with someone I know actually cares or could benefit from my sharing. Or maybe it's just a comfort thing. Sometimes I don't even understand myself!

I attended a blogging conference recently and at 2 different dinner occasions the person next to me just flat out ignored me. I mustered my introverted courage and decided I would make the first move (I do occasionally try to put myself out there). These women did respond and chatted politely with me for a few moments, but we spent the remainder of our meal in silence. They seemed more interested in chatting with the friend in the chair next to them. Not sure how to navigate that!

Irregardless, I just wanted you to know how hard social settings can be for an introvert like me.

And make an important statement: Be patient and try to get to know me because I am anything but QUIET!

Linking up today with Lisa-Jo:
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Orange" - I Heart Faces Photo Challenge

I believe this was his attempt at blowing a bubble, although it looked like he was about to taste the wand. Love his beautiful brown eyes!

This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge –

Photo Challenge Submission

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Finding the Real Me - Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays

Sharing Part 3 of my story, in a series for Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays, called God in Healing. We wish healing would just happen. Maybe if we ignore our pain it will go away. But we know in reality the only path to healing is facing our hurts head-on.

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
How We Hurt, How We Heal

When my kids were small they thought a bandaid could fix anything. A tiny scratch or a banged up knee just felt better when you put a bandaid on it.

You and I know there is nothing magical about those sticky, adhesive bandages. They are a temporary fix while the real healing work happens -- under the bandaid, from within.

In a perfect world you could stick a bandaid on the hurts of life, ignore it for a few days and you'd be good as new. But real healing is intentional and it takes a lot of hard, often agonizing, work.

Read more of my guest post at Tamar's Redemption

Related Posts:
Looking for a Hero — God in Healing Part 1 -- Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Looking for Eden — God in Healing Part 2 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays

I Am A Survivor — Christy's Voice Part 1 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Shame — Christy's Voice Part 2 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Betrayal — Christy's Voice Part 3 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
Healing — Christy's Voice Part 4 — Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Girdling Root

My Five Minute Friday on: Roots

There is a tall oak tree that stands next to our driveway in front of our house. It litters its acorns and twirly seeds every year to the annoyance of our next door neighbor. When a strong wind blows, or a hurricane, its branches shed all over our front yard.

Looking at our towering oak tree there would be no reason to suspect it was anything more then a healthy tree. And it primarily is.

But at its base, down in the dirt where the roots call home, it is strangling itself.

Called a girdling root (I am the daughter of a "tree man" who worked as an Arborist/Horticulturalist his whole life), this phenomenon often kills young trees before they reach maturity. Some, like the one that stands proud in our yard, has found a way to survive.

Roots are opportunistic. They need oxygen and water to live and as seedlings begin a course in search of these conditions. If the soil surrounding them does not provide these nutrients, the roots turn and begin to circle the tree itself -- strangling it.

Like the oak, we have roots. In healthy soil they dig down deep, keeping us grounded. Our roots tell us where we came from and encourage us to grow and mature. When the winds blow, we remain securly planted. Roots were intended to reach far and wide, being fed by a source outside of themselves. But it's not always this way...

In self-protection we may have pulled those roots in close, surrounded ourselves with them so we could survive. Feeling like a protective hug around you, but in reality, like the girdling root, strangling the life out of you.

Our tree figured out young how to survive the gnarly twist of roots encircled around its base. I thank God that in our wounded, feeble attempts to "save" ourselves, He finds a way to love, nurture, and feed us -- girdling root or not.

Linking with Lisa-Jo at Five Minute Friday.

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