10 Day Walk Out of the Valley of Darkness Day 4 – Decisions

Day 4 – Decisions

God will give you strength for every battle, wisdom for every decision, the peace that surpasses understanding….

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting GOD know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of GOD’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when CHRIST displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4: 6-7 MSG)

This 4th Day 3 years ago, was overwhelming with FINAL decisions, choices, conclusions, and resolutions. Who, What, Why, When, and How were questions that had to be asked and answered.  Every tough, painful, agonizing, gut-wrenching decision made was made with GODLY wisdom, counsel, and much prayer. My future, our daughter’s future, my in-Loves (in-laws) future, our family, and friend’s futures were all at stake in our decisions. 

I had to consider and wonder about what that we were robbed of and things that will never happen. Future graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries that would be missing a heart.  Walks down the aisles, grandbabies being held and spoiled, days sitting and watching grandbabies play, futures were forever altered, and alternate realities were becoming real.

Day 4 was marked with suffering…

Yet, I was reminded not to fret or worry, and instead of worrying, pray. When I would look at this scripture over the years, I never thought it meant in a difficult circumstance like this. But you know our LORD, HE meant in all circumstances even the painful and agonizing circumstances! 

It was not easy, but I had to give it over GOD and lay it at the foot of the Cross.  I knew whatever happened. He was in control. 

This decision at this moment later saved my life…

Forgiveness

 October 3, 2019

Okay, I know this won’t be the most popular opinion, but…

I try not to divulge into controversial issues on social media, but I felt I needed to speak out in support of a member of the Jean Family.

First…

Amber Guyger is definitely guilty of Murder and should have gotten a longer sentence.  There are black and brown people in prison that have received more time for selling drugs than she received for killing another human.  Both offenses are wrong, but the punishment should match the crime. 

Secondly, Now… Forgiveness….

I look at this from a Christian perspective, because that is what I am first and foremost a child of GOD.  You can say I am looking at things through rose-colored glasses, but I am just trying to see people the way Jesus does. 

The bottom line as Christians, the Bible tells us, “The Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13 

We forgive because God forgives. If He can do it, so can any of us. Right?

I know it is hard because I have had to forgive people for some horrendous things in my life. But you know what? I felt better because once I let that burden go, I left it at the foot of the cross and the feet of Jesus.  Until I forgave, I was bitter and consumed with what happened to me and the hate I was embracing.  It was eating at me from the inside. It was affecting my family and me. You have no idea how hard it is to grieve and forgive. Once I truly forgave, I was at peace in my heart, my mind, and my soul. 

Now with that being said, I have not forgotten because I won’t allow myself to be hurt again, but I am at peace to move on with my life without harboring hate in my heart. I refused to be held hostage or give the power of my thoughts, feelings, life, and soul to anyone, but Christ.  When my time comes, and I stand before God, I don’t want to have any hate or unforgiveness in my heart for anyone.

You cannot have hate in your heart and say that you love God.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) 

I chose to forgive mostly for me, and other people benefited from my obedience.

The Jean family are a Christian family, and I am sure that Botham’s brother, Brandt, prayed and received enough peace and understanding from God to forgive.  It was reported that he carried a Bible into court with him most days, and he was seen reading during court.  He will never forget, and yes, there is still hurt, questions, and some anger. He is not weak, as some have said, but he is strong because he forgave.

He has decided to have the peace of knowing that because God has forgiven him many times over, he chose to forgive. 

Amber has received an amazing gift of grace from Brandt, and the last thing she heard from him was, “I pray you find Jesus Christ” Brandt has done his job and planted a seed for Christ to cultivate it and cause it to grow.  We don’t repay evil with evil. If she does not receive the grace and mercy that has been afforded to her and make a change, then that is between her and God. 

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)

Botham’s mother said that she is not ready for forgiveness, but she is getting closer to it.  This is okay and perfectly normal.  Forgiveness is a process that we have to go through to get to the point where we can forgive. BUT we must forgive! I can’t stress that enough; from my own experience, we must forgive. 

I am not sure if they are going to appeal (I imagine they will), but just the pure act of grace that Brandt showed is not a sign of weakness, but it is an excellent sign of faith in God and the strength he has drawn from Him. 

“Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter, forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.” (Anonymous) 

May we all continue to pray for everyone involved.

Okay I am off my soapbox

I love you all with the love of Christ in me!

Have a blessed rest of your day!

 

 

One of Those Days

First, I want to say that I always write and blog when I am happy, and things are going well.  As a blogger, I always want to be truthful, transparent, intentional, and upfront. Most days, I am upbeat and ready to conquer the world. There are also “One of Those Days.”  Well, I am having one of those “Other of Those Days.”

I am having one of those days where I want to crawl back into bed and have a good cry.

I am having one of those days where everything seems to go wrong. 

Woke up late.

Trash all over the yard from the animals.

Slow cars

Back up at the gate

&

I left my glasses at home.

I am having one of those days where right now, I don’t want to look on the bright side.

I am having one of those days where although it is sunny outside I feel like it is raining.

I am having one of those days where life does not seem fair.

I am having one of those days where I question my past, and every decision I have made.

I am having one of those days where I question my purpose and my existence.

I am having one of those days where nothing at all seems clear or make sense.

I am having one of those days where I don’t want to be strong.

I am having one of those days where I feel that I am not good enough.

I am having one of those days where my dark safe place starts to look good again.

I am having one of those days where I think, “What is the true meaning of life.”

I am having one of those days where old thoughts and fears want to creep back in my head.

I am having one of those days where even though I am having “One of Those Days,” I can’t reside here.

Even though I am having one of those days, I won’t allow the enemy to disrupt my progress. 

Even though I am having one of those days, I won’t give the enemy any victory over my day.

Even though I am having one of those days, I won’t fall back into the enemy trap of depression.

Even though I am having one of those days, I can see past the enemy distractions and illusions.

Even though I am having one of these days, I DO know where my help and strength comes from.

Even though I am having one of these days, I am here, surviving, thriving, and I am living.

Even though he may have gotten a moment, the battle is still won by Jesus. Therefore, I am still winning!

Blessings and Love to you all!

Purging my Life 5.2 Purging the House Making my House into a Home “Meet My Dream Team”

September 2, 2019

My Dream Team

Now before I get further into this part of the Blog, you must know that I did not do this by myself.  Remember I said above I tried and tried to do this. But we (my daughters and I) were paralyzed and overwhelmed.  We could not do anything but survive the pain that consumes our heart.  We knew that this was not the way to live, nor was it the way we wanted to live.  Our house was not nasty by any means. It was just cluttered and unorganized.  I have to give you the back story about who we call our Dream Team and our deep connection to them.

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Meet my organizers Lauren Poe & Kike Ojo, Clutter to Clean.

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Jose and Elaine Belardo

Elaine Belardo (also my one of Spiritual Advisor) will beautify, and turn your house into a home by making it a cozy, warm, oasis. She is also the founder of the “Deeper Windows Project” that she founded when her husband Jose’ Belardo, was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Ironically he was diagnosed around the same time Michael was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in 2016.

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Elaine, Mike, and Jose

I want to tell you how God works in our lives.  I know for a fact that He knows what we need before we know we will need it. He prepares us for things that we are going to go through in our future, and he places the people you will need to lean on and glean from in your life and specific times.  Only God can orchestrate our lives like this.

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The book of Jeremiah states, “For I know that plans I have for you. Declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you a home and a future.”   God knew what was ahead for my life from the moment I was born, and when I looked back on my life, I can see where God was preparing me for such a time.  He has always had, and He still does have my best interest always in mind. I prayed for a way out and trusted in the LORD, and He answered my prayers!

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Tragedies can pull people apart, but they can also bond you for life!

When I met Elaine, her daughter Lauren was in high school. Looking back, both of our families were in a high season of our lives.  Michael was retired after 21 years in the military and had a good after the military carrier going and Jose’ was a distinguished officer with U.S. Public Health Service.  We were all very active in our churches and communities.  Elaine was in charge of one of our Chapels Women’s group here at Fort Leavenworth, where we became friends.  When our husbands were diagnosed with their respective debilitating diseases, we shared the bond of becoming caregivers to our husbands who were both the STRONG head of their household, something at our age we were not expecting!

Unfortunately, as you know, Michael made his transition home to be with God, but we both soon discovered that we were both grieving what was to be our future and we became each other’s shoulders to lean on. She has been there for me even though all of the work, pain, and grief she is going through.  We have been each other’s sounding boards because some people, as well-meaning as they are, do not understand this type of grief and what it takes to keep going day by day.  She has helped my girls and me through some of our darkest days and is always there to help us celebrate the good times in this new normal of our lives. I hope I am doing the same for her. I am proud to not only call her a part of our village, but she and our dream team are a part of our family. (I am still waiting on my adoption papers to come through)

So, to have them come in a do a total overhaul on our house was more comfortable than having strangers in my home.  They had stock in our memories and an investment in our lives. Because they knew us personally, they knew how difficult this was and would be.  They were very gentle and loving throughout the entire process, which took a couple of months.  If the girls and I had to do this on our own, it would have taken us years to complete this type of project.  Lauren and Kike kindly encouraged us to purge and did not push if something was too difficult to process or get rid of; they just found a way to organize it.  Wait, now I am getting ahead of myself.  Purging and reorganizing in the middle of a difficult situation is very hard and can be excruciating.  But our Dream Team made the task bearable and yes, sometimes even fun!

I love you all

Have a blessed and Amazing Day

 

Sleep Won’t Come

August 23, 2019, 2:51 AM

I tried to close my eyes,
I tried to shut down but my mind is still humming,
but sleep won’t come.

My mind wonders and worries about things that I can’t control
I give them to God, but I keep picking them like my soul can’t be consoled
Because sleep won’t come.

When I close my eyes, the images from the day’s events won’t let my mind shut down
There is a soundtrack in my head that plays a familiar sound
But sleep won’t come.

Most of the time it is that God loves me, and I am enough
But the voice of doubt that keeps me awake at night tries to rebuff
It makes sure that sleep won’t come.

Even though I know that God will see me through and Jesus is on my side,
I sometimes feel as if I am going through the motions and my mind is misapplied
Because sleep won’t come.

Even though I feel botched, bungled, mishandle, misunderstood, I still go on
I don’t give up no matter what the enemy throws at me, my mind is tired
Yet sleep still won’t come.

HIS light, that’s the light of the world, is always shining upon me.
I am a light in the midst of the darkness,
But still…sleep won’t come.

Rest is fleeting, and I am fatigued.,
But still… sleep won’t come, but nevertheless, I am intrigued.

Because I remember… “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

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I will come to you Lord and seek the rest that you give.
I will go on, and I will continue to live the life that you want me to live.

I will rest in you LORD, and I will continue to seek YOUR face.
I won’t grow weary because I am covered my YOUR amazing grace.

I have prayed, and now I will close my eyes and trust in Your Lord

Finally, my sleep will be restored

And yes, REST will finally come.

Purging my Life 5.1 Purging the House: Making my House into a Home “Taking the Plunge”

August 9, 2019

After all, that I have mentioned in previous posts, you would not believe that my home was my toughest area to purge. I would please ask that this become a no-judgment zone because you can’t imagine what we were going through to function every day.  This area is tough for me to write about, probably because for me, it brought me the most shame. I was embarrassed that I let my home get into this condition. However, I did learn through my therapist that this is normal when you are grieving such a significant loss. There was no need for shame and condemnation, and I was taking action!

Purging and organizing was a huge deal and a significant overhaul for us, so I will break this up into parts, showing before and after going room by room after I introduce you to our Dream Team.

A House vs. A Home

There is a big difference between a house and a home.  Merriam –Webster stats the proper definition for a house is, “a building that serves living quarters for one or a few families.” The description for home is, “one’s place of residence, a social unit formed by a family living together.”  Those are excellent definitions, but, I believe that a house is somewhere you live, you sleep there, but it feels like a residence, dwelling, domicile, somewhere you exist. A home is a family.  It is warm, inviting, and it is your refuge, your oasis.  It should be your escape from the real world.  When you walk into your home, you should feel joy, love, and warmth.  My house was nothing like that.  I knew I had to make a change in my home life when I wanted to spend more time at work or more time away instead of going home.

I would come home every evening and sigh.  This house was not my haven, and it was not my escape. It was my prison. There was a room in my home that we called the “Man Cave” that looked like Michael had just left and was going to return any day.  He kept that room immaculate and always told us when he left to go TDY to keep his room together.  We all loved to hang out down there.   At first, that room was comforting, and we all felt closer to him when we were in there, then it became overwhelming.  Other areas of our home were disorganized, nothing had a place, and we needed a change, and we needed to purge.

Before: Man Cave Pictures

Turning Point

I started by deciding that it was time for me to do something with all of Michael’s things.  I held on for two years, trying time after time to clean out my closet.  Deep down, I knew that he was not coming back, but when I decided to start, I would get overwhelmed, start crying, and then walk out of the room. I knew It had to be done but, I was paralyzed, and I could not do it.  No matter how much I wanted to or how hard I tried to do this, I could not! I needed help.

One-day months later, I was finally able to pack up all of most of Michael’s clothes and donate them.  We have a free garage sale in our town called “God’s Open Closet,” ran by the Fortress of Faith Church,

GodsCloset
2700 Wilson Ave, Leavenworth, Kansas
If you live in my area…
The ministry of God’s Open Closet is to provide clothes, coats, household items, and furniture to anyone who has a need. Individuals who come are never asked for personal or financial information.

Items are donated by local families, churches and from area garage sales. Tax-deductible receipts are available upon request. To donate: bring items Saturday mornings or call (913) 683-3953, (913) 682-6779, or (913) 704-6033.   Hours: Saturdays from 8 a.m. to Noon. Closed the 3rd Saturday of each month and Holiday weekends. Subject to weather conditions January to March.

You can donate what you do not need (in good conditions), and they give them away to the community.  I know that Michael is pleased to know that someone in need was able to use his clothes and shoes; this made it easier for me.  That was a big step in moving forward for me, but there was still more to be done.

Moving Forward

For me to move forward, I needed not to let go but discover MY way to embrace my new normal, and I knew that this was one of the areas I needed to conquer.  It is not about erasing what was it is about remembering all that was, what I have learned, how I have grown and built upon the strength that the Lord has given me to stand in my current life.  I had no choice but to move forward because time was not waiting for me.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells me that God has things planned for me, for my future, and I needed to learn how to embrace my past and also embrace my future.
I love you all

Have a blessed and Amazing Day

Yes, I Have Changed, Wouldn’t You?

July 23, 2019

 

Yep, I sure have changed.  

You cannot go through and experience what I have experienced without changing.  Change can be good and I think that my changes are wonderful, but some may think otherwise. Guess what… Not my problem.  I will continue to love you, but I must continue to live for me.  Those who truly love me understand that and continue to stand in my corner and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  

You must understand that deep grief and depression will change you and challenge your existence in this world.  When you have to fight the enemy so hard just to exist… you change. You do not come out of the battle the same.  There are some scars.  

When I say that I have changed, I mean that God has made me stronger, resilient, and I realize that I can do more than survive.  I can live! By any means necessary I will live. 

Let me tell you this if I continue to not only get up out of my bed every morning but also have pure joy in my heart and my soul, those days are all very good days.  I am happy to report the most days are now very good days! 

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You see I have to change to adapt to the world I am living in, in my present state.  Now before you say, “You do not suppose to change to fit into the world.”  I am not changing to fit the world I am adjusting to my circumstances.  I can no longer afford to be the Lolita I used to be. Financially, physically, or emotionally, my points of views have changed.  Let me explain:  I wear glasses, so it is as if I am looking through my eyes and everything is blurry and unclear, but I have worn this same prescription for years. However, now since my vision as changed so does my prescription.  My prescription had to be adjusted to adapt to the new changes in my eyes. My vision is very different than it was this time three years ago. This time three years ago I lived with a different set of circumstances, responsibilities, and hopes, which I still have but they are now different because I am different.  

I am continually evolving into something new. God is doing something wonderful in me!  God is leading me down a new and different direction, a new path, and I am trying to follow his lead.  The Lord knows His daughter, and I may not do everything to his specifications but I am trying.  I am still a beautiful masterpiece, yet I am still a work in progress, God is not through with me yet.  

I love you all!!
Have a Wonderful and Amazing Morning!

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There was an old song we used to sing in the choir when I was younger, by the Rev. James Cleveland;

Please be patient with me, 
God is not through with me yet.

Please be patient with me, 
God is not through with me yet.

When God gets through with me,
when God gets through with me,
I shall come forth,
I shall come forth like pure gold.

If you should see me and 
I’m not walking right,
and if you should hear me 
and I’m not talking right;
Please remember what God has done for me,
When He goes through with me, 
I’ll be what He wants me to be.

 

Please Be Patient With Me “God Is Not Through with Me Yet”

 

Okay, I had one of those white blouses with the ruffles in the video!! It was a choir requirement! LOL

***Video and Picture courtesy of Youtube[Merlin] The Malaco Music Group (on behalf of Malaco Records); Peermusic, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., and 2 Music Rights Societies

(James Clevland and Albertina Walker)