Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What Jesus Does for Me...

...He takes the shattered pieces of my life and makes a beautiful mosaic with His grace.
...He turns my cries of pain into tears of joy.
...He turns the water of numbness in my heart to the wine of His love.
...He takes burdens that are crushing my soul and carries them for me.
...He parted the Red Sea in my life when I had no where else to turn.
...He promises me not only will my boys be okay--they will soar with the eagles.
...He gives me hope when the world says I have none.
...He makes a tomorrow for me when I thought I could not make it another day.
...He pulled me up when I was drowning.
...He allows me to walk on water with Him through my storms of life.
...He saved me from the grips of eternal death and gives me the promise of eternal life.
...He took my empty cup of loneliness and sadness and makes it overflow with joy and laughter.
...He took my feelings of worthlessness and called me His daughter.
...He tells me I can stop seeking, because He has already found me.
...He shuts the mouth to the Lion of Depression. I know it is there, but I also I know it will not devour me.
...He breathed laughter into my Noah....and I am so thankful.
...He shields my children from the flaming arrows of hurt and rejection.
...He carefully put us into a family that embraces us.
...He lets me stand in the wide open spaces of His grace when I am suffocating in my box of selfishness.
...He heals me...not in a way the the world would say is healed, but so much better.
...He takes my breath away with His kindness when I could not breath because of sadness.
...He forgives me when I should not be forgiven.
...He builds beauty from the ashes left from the fires of my sins.
...He is the Light in my darkness.
...He gives me purpose in everything.
...He gives me everything that I do not deserve.
...He does not give me what I do deserve.
...He said, "Take me instead."

THIS is what Jesus does for me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Beyond Thankful

So I am having a hard time even beginning to type this blog. I am truly without words...but overflowing with tears...

I am just overwhelmed at the profound love my children and I were shown today. Psalm 68:6 just keeps running in my head over and over as I try to wrap my brain around the events that have transpired. "God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy." I know it is kind of an odd verse to be thinking of in this moment of sheer gratitude, but really it is not, and here is why: This church...Keystone, without doubt family to me. I was just telling a sweet friend of mine, that every weekend when I am in the building, I feel that I am surrounded by people that I absolutely love, and who love me back. I just think back six and seven years ago to how incredibly lonely I was! Please believe me when I say that I am not trying to make a sob story here...I just want you to be able to see my heart journey and WHY I am totally touched beyond description. Now onto the blessing of blessings...

Yesterday was such an awesome day for the boys and me. We were still excited about being able to participate in a God-given opportunity to bless an amazing family. I was excited, as a mother, that my children were able to really experience the JOY of giving to others, and the lessons it entailed. A wonderful friend called me and asked if she could stop by our house--after fair warning of my lack of make-up and that my boys tend to run around in underwear--I was excited to see her! She arrived with a Christmas tree and ornaments! We were pumped! When we moved this year, we had to get rid of a lot of things...and our tree was one of the first to go. So, how excited were we to have a beautiful tree now decorating our home! I was touched, really.

To be honest, I have not done anything for Christmas... The boys and I are in such an amazing place this year, especially compared to last year. This time last year, we were ALL struggling with heavy burdens. Struggling, honestly, to feel joy. God has been amazing in His love, compassion and teachings to us through out this crazy year to each of us. And through some really tough times, oddly enough, the boys and I have found total joy. Total happiness. Total contentment. So much so, that honestly, I just did not feel anxious about Christmas. Every time I thought about it, I just had a feeling in my heart that God has the boys and I exactly where we need to be, and I am just simply thankful for that! Each of us is so happy to be able to be back at Keystone, and back with our familyfriends...that I just could not think of anything beyond that!

The boys and I did our family devotional by the Christmas tree this morning, and as I was finishing up, I had the most ridiculous thought to check the front door. Weird, I know. I was thinking that too as I peeped through the peep hole. AND SURE ENOUGH there were two large bags on the porch! I was SHOCKED to see a new outfit for me, and brand-new Nike shoes for each of the boys, complete with socks. (Let me just pause right here and let you know, that who ever did this must really know how much I value shoes for my kids. I am not kidding at all. And to send SOCKS are a true friend who knows me really well! If you have ever struggled financially, you know that shoes are a big source of worry!) The boys laughed and were so excited because "magically" they could all run super fast with the new shoes. (Don't you just love the way that works!) Sweet Caleb (my minister-in-training) comes back a few minutes later with a huge grin on his face and says,

"I feel so blessed...I know God does this so we will bless others."

Thus began my sob-filled day!

A few hours later, I remembered I had to put something in the car, and I walk out my front door to see a lovely white gift bag! Why hello! I was thrilled, and humored, to see the bag filled with Bath and Body Works "Stress Relief" lotions and potions! I LOVED it! I giggled and felt very loved and special. What a fun day this was turning out to be...

About an hour later, the door bell rings...of course, in my house that is code for "Elephant stampede to the front door." I hurdle over the boys (remember that I happen to be very competitive!) and open the door to see the faces of my VERY dear heart friends. I really do not have words for what I was thinking because I don't think I was thinking. The next few minutes are a blur in my mind. I guess I was trying to figure out if this was an intervention for my movie theater popcorn habit or something. I just know that all of a sudden my friends are putting gifts under our "blessing tree" (Editors note: the tears are flowing again as I think about these next few moments.). The boys are excited and one of my sweet friends says they want to show me something outside. I follow them out, and one of them is explaining they have a gift from my friends at Keystone. She opens her car to reveal a basketball goal for my boys. I lost it. I sobbed. I wish I could tell you how it makes me feel to know that my children are loved at this church. Not only are they loved but VALUED. What a thoughtful, caring gift for my children. They have had a tough, tough year...and honestly, I feel have experienced rejection more than they should at their little ages. It has always been a very sore, bruised spot in my heart. And to know that not only have they not been rejected...but embraced, and loved and and CARED for...I just can not explain how overcome with emotion I am. I am so excited to see them play with this over the years and know it was such a gift of love!

My sweet friends, then explained that they have arranged a Girl's Night for me! YIPPEEE! I am beyond thrilled!! Bless their hearts, I know they said other things to me before they left...but I was still crying about the gift for the boys, and still in shock! I do remember that they encouraged me to look through the basket that was made for me...

I went back inside and shared a sweet moment with the boys as we looked at the gifts under our tree. It was awesome. I know I thought, "It just does not get any better than this!" Now in reflection, I have to wonder if God sort of chuckled at that I began to look at the basket I was FLOORED by the number of gift cards and monetary gifts. FLOORED. I wept to see some of the names of those involved with this blessing to our family. And when I say 'wept,' please know I do not use that word lightly! I was crying SO hard that my little Shimmy (Jimmy, my 3 year old) kept coming over to console me! I think I scared him!

I am just so thankful. I am thankful for this family of believers...I am thankful that you love my children. I am so beyond blessed by each of you. Truly, truly from my heart and the center of who I am THANK YOU.

My eyes are beginning to swell shut because of the tears... Good night for now!

"God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Excuse me, please

Somehow I have messed with my blog, and cannot figure out how to make it presentable please excuse the mess. :o)