Never Forget

Today I looked at my son and realized one day he is going to ask me and his dad if we remember where we were on 9/11.

I realized one day I’m going to have to explain to him about the evil that exists in this world. I won’t be able to shield him from it forever as much as I would like to.

I’ll have to tell him I woke up that day like any other, took a shower and got dressed for work. I was living alone at the time and working my way through some personal issues that were consuming my mind that morning. I was 22 years old.

I had to be at work at 9am and was running a few minutes behind as usual. I got in my car, tape playing (I’m sure I’ll have to explain what a tape is to him), and headed to work. It was right at 9 o’clock and I noticed there were no other cars on the road. I thought maybe it was a holiday and I didn’t realize it. I kept driving along and things just seemed off.

I switched over to the radio and heard a very serious voice and I wasn’t sure what they were talking about. As I listened, I realized there had been an airplane crash but at the point I was listening, they weren’t really giving details, they were more in shock and at a loss for words. It was a strange few moments as I continued on to work because I didn’t understand why they were reporting like this on an airplane crash and then I heard the part about it being into the twin towers in New York.

I pulled in to work, sun shining, temperature comfortable, light breeze and puffy clouds in the sky. No noise. No traffic and no air noise. No planes.

I went in the front door of the building on Dayton Blvd into my dad’s upholstery shop and when he heard the door ding, he walked out of his office and gave me that look. He didn’t say a word but just looked at me.

I asked, “Am I hearing right? Was there a plane that crashed into one of the twin towers in New York?”

He said “Yes,” and turned on the TV in the front room. The news was on and reporting. We stood silently and watched trying to comprehend what was going on.

While we watched they reported a second plane. I said “This is no accident.”

Then a little while later the report about the pentagon.

I looked at my dad and said, “What do we do?”

His response surprised me. He said, “I don’t know,” and shook his head. He always had an answer. Always. I wasn’t scared until I heard him without one.

The day was solemn. We didn’t talk much, just listened to the news reports and worked at a little slower pace than normal. We didn’t have a single customer that day, not that we expected any. I’m sure, as many others, I spent the day wondering what all was going to happen. Are we at war here at home? Are we about to be? We waited for the media to tell us yes or no.

We left that day and my dad told me he loved me. I told him I loved him. He said if anything happened, head to the house.

I went home and stayed glued to the television. I watched the people on the screen terrified and I cried. I cried a lot. I prayed even though at that time I wasn’t at a place in my life where I prayed much at all.

I remembered being there not long before. This picture was taken earlier that year when I went for a weekend with my friend and her aunt. I wondered if I knew anyone who was in the buildings or those who were nearby. I cried for the families waiting to hear if their loved ones were okay. I couldn’t imagine that city, the way I remembered it, forever changed.

I thought of the ferry ride we took and seeing Ellis island off in the distance, the port through which many of us came to be American citizens generations before. The place where many became free to live their dream. The attack was truly an attack on freedom because it was meant to instill fear and those who live in fear do not live free.

The next few weeks were spent wondering if there would be other attacks and if we were really safe anywhere. Those weeks turned into months, now years.

Those who knew the world before 9/11 can say it’s different now, afterwards. Try taking a flight somewhere and we still see the residue of what 9/11 did to us as a country, as a world.

But after all that, I’ll be able to tell my son how people, for a while, set their differences aside and were a little more compassionate towards one another. For a while, love was shown between strangers by treating each other as we should. For a while, people realized how fleeting life truly is and acted accordingly, but, how quickly we forget.

We remember a date, the news reports, the images, but we can’t remember how to be compassionate. We are back in a place of arguing over our leaders instead of praying for them, we get more excited about games on television instead of checking on our neighbors, we resort to physical contact when someone cuts us off on the road instead of using mercy and grace that we are shown every day.

How quickly we forget. To my son, always be compassionate. Always err on the side of love.

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Kingdom Business

SEEK what first above all else? The kingdom of God.

WHERE is the kingdom of God? Inside each of us.

WHAT is in the kingdom? Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33 KJV

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luke 17:21 KJV

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Romans 14:17 KJV

God’s love

I first gave my life to Christ around the age of 11. That simply meant I chose to believe what the Word says about who God is and who Jesus is. Shortly after, I made the decision to be baptized, an outward declaration to the world of the decision I had made to follow after God.

Then as a teenager, probably starting around age 14, and into my 20’s, I fell far away from any kind of Godly life. That’s a story for a different time.

I was 28 when I rededicated my life to Christ and God. Those that know the story of the prodigal son just make it the story of the prodigal daughter and that was me. For those that don’t know the story, it simply means I was tired of living and doing things my way (because it brought nothing but misery) so I told God I was ready to try things His way again and that I needed His help.

I just turned 40 this past February so I’ve been growing in my faith for 12 years now. I would never want to go back to how I was living in that “middle” part of my life but it has only been in the past six months or so that I have had a revelation in my relationship with God that I didn’t even realize I struggled with all these years.

I’ve always believed and known that Jesus loves me. I’ve never doubted that. God on the other hand, I’ve doubted quite a bit.

God knows every detail of our lives and if you knew every detail of mine, you would see how hard it’s been for me to accept that God truly, relentlessly, constantly, loves me.

I don’t know the exact moment it hit me that I was not fully persuaded that God loves me but it’s been something I’ve been meditating on for quite some time now.

Over the years I would listen to messages or read my Bible on God’s love and God IS love and for some reason, without realizing I was doing it, I would always tell myself, “He may love everyone but not me. Not like that. Not constantly.”

I had somehow convinced myself that God was always kind of upset with me and if He was always kind of upset with me, He didn’t always love me.

This is how I was living my Christian faith. The entire time as I served at my church, as I tithed faithfully, as I prayed in the Spirit, as I talked to others about how God loved them…

I didn’t believe it for myself. I couldn’t accept that God would or could love me. I let past shame, self disappointment and doubt over shadow God’s written Word.

This past week, something clicked. I’ve been working on accepting God’s love for me and working to see Him as the Word describes Him and not what the world says about Him. Not letting MY past or MY actions determine who HE is.

I’ve had to immerse myself in completely opening up to God and letting Him love me. I believe this may be partially the reason he sent us a son who is now 15 months. I have gained a deeper understanding of my relationship with my heavenly Father through the relationship that is building with my son.

God looks at me and smiles and I see it now. He rejoices over me. He wants the best for me. He is on my side. He fights for me, not against me. He is the same God to me that He is for you. Let Him love you.

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Avonlea

God speaks to me through dreams many times, always has. Probably because it’s the only time my mind is quiet enough to REALLY hear Him, ha.

I’ve had a few distinct dreams over the last year dealing with major life issues (mountains). God has shown me each time that I am the Victor, the winner, but only through Him, only by allowing Him to work through me. I won’t go into all the details but there have been spiritual struggles and dealing with things from my past that I thought I had dealt with when in fact I had just brushed (shoved) it all under the rug. So I have spent the last few years working on how I think. Reprogramming my brain according to His Word, if you will.

Last night, thinking about all of this, the first line of this poem came to me through mishearing some song lyrics. So I wrote it down. I found it funny at first because one of my favorite books/movies is Anne of Green Gables and the continuation of her story Anne of Avonlea. So unless you know those movies, this may not make much sense.

It’s written as a farewell to childhood/young adulthood/depression (the “bosom friend” in the poem) and embracing what it was instead of what I wish it had been. Letting go of the negative but holding on to all the dreams I had of what life should look like because it’s still possible.

Burn it down… God makes beauty from ashes when we relinquish the things that hold us back.

Maybe one day I’ll pick this poem apart and explain what each line means to me. It’s deeper than most would care to know.

GOD STILL HEALS

I don’t even know how to describe my Sunday. I’m laying in bed at 12:30 in the morning trying to process everything.

I’ve never had a day like today. There was heartbreaking news I received first thing this morning that broke my heart for a friend. Then an on time message at church in regards to some other things we are dealing with. A message that confirmed some of God’s promises for our life. Then more heartbreaking news after service. Then an evening service with a special guest minister who spoke something over me that I didn’t understand when he said it. I’ll get back to that in a minute. At the end of service I received healing that I’ve been believing God for, for a very long time. Then once home I found out my Aunt, who I just talked with a few weeks ago, passed on Friday.

The word spoken over me was from Psalm 30:5… weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

When I heard the news of my aunt, I understood.

I promised God when I re-dedicated my life to Christ that I would always testify of His goodness. I don’t know what else to do right now except that. My aunt is no longer suffering and is healed and whole so I rejoice in that. As for the other heartbreaking news from today I can only trust and believe that God will bring something beautiful out of those situations more than He already has.

As for my healing, I watched my own left leg grow an inch and a half tonight. I was in the presence of God at the altar and a work was done there on a deeper level than I will go into here. But then, at the very end of service, I sat and watched a prophet of God pray for healing in my back as my heels rested in the palms of his hands.

You may have heard me mention before that around age 11 or 12, I had a mishap while cross country skiing where I got my skis crossed and fell hitting my tail bone directly on the spot where the skis were crossed. I truly thought I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move for at least 20 minutes and then forced myself to get up and walk, a very slow walk. I had other injuries after that including a bulged disc and some other issues over the years.

I’ve been to the chiropractor for years to get relief and preventative care. I haven’t been able to go these past few months because even with our new insurance, we haven’t had the money to cover our cost of the visits. I’ve been standing in faith that I’m healed even though in the natural I don’t remember a time I haven’t had some form of back pain going on. I don’t go by what I feel or see though, I go by what I know to be true in God’s Word and tonight that truth manifested.

As I sat back against the chair, straight as I could, when I put my feet in the palms of his hand, my left foot was about an inch and a half shorter. This was no surprise to me because I have not been able to stand flat on both feet without leaning to the right to balance myself out. So as he prayed… I will do my best to describe what I felt… It felt as if hands were wrapped around the bones from my lower back, in my hips, down my legs, to my feet, and pulled every which way to align everything as it should be. I even, not realizing it at first, pulled back against the adjusting and felt the pressure of it pulling me the other way. The work was in progress and there wasn’t anyway I could stop it if I wanted to because I was open to receiving my healing. I saw my left leg, with my own two eyes, grow (realign) an inch and a half. There were witnesses as well. There were others with back problems who were healed in the same way and I watched their legs reallign.

I knew when I stood up and walked, the healing was complete. When I walked across the sanctuary, I stood flat foot without having to lean to one side.

Then, on the way home, as I was talking with God and trying to process everything, I realized I could breath normally. God healed me of asthma tonight and I didn’t even know until I was driving home.

Two things: an obedient man is an instrument of God through which the Holy Spirit can operate. The healing comes from God, not the man, and we have to receive it. Second, the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy so after healing he may try to bring symptoms back to get you thinking you weren’t really healed. Tell the enemy to shove it and stand on God’s promise of healing.

I still don’t know how to describe my overall day. There’s much in the details (outside of my healing) I’m choosing not to share and half of it isn’t mine to share anyways.

Pray for me and my family. My Aunt meant a lot to me.

Regardless of this up and down day, God is still good and the same today as He was yesterday and I can depend on Him tomorrow as well.

40 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

I turned 40 today.

Know what I’m doing for my birthday? Laundry. I’m doing laundry.

I woke up like every other morning, thanked God for the day, gave our almost 1 year old son a bottle and snuggles, changed a dirty diaper and then stumbled into the kitchen to start breakfast.

After my breakfast of eggs and bacon and my son’s of egg and waffle, I put a load of towels in the washer and finished off the store bought banana pudding in the fridge. I have no plans to do anything special today. I don’t even plan to take a shower and get dressed. I have plans to finish laundry and get some cleaning done today. That’s my 40.

I remember turning 30 and thinking, “Well, this isn’t so bad,” and then a few days later my body started aching and hurting in ways it never had. The good thing about 40 is I feel the same today as I did yesterday.

I set a goal when I turned 37 to be in the best possible physical health by the time I was 40. I’m not exactly where I want to be, but at 37, that plan did not involve becoming pregnant at 38, giving birth at 39 and spending the past year not sleeping taking care of our son. He turns one in a couple weeks on the 24th. Me, my husband and our son all have February birthdays so this is, and will always be going forward, a celebratory month.

As a little girl, I had this dream that when I grow up I was going to be married, live in a 3 story house (blue with white shutters), white picket fenced in yard, the greenest grass one has ever seen, a white dog house with shingle roof and a big happy dog, two kids – twins – a boy and a girl named Alexander and Alexandria, the sun would always shine and a light breeze constantly blowing across the yard moving the tire swing ever so gently that hung from the single giant shade tree in the yard. I may be living in alternate universe now but some of those things came true in their own way…

In my teens, 40 seemed really old to me. For that matter, 21 seemed YEARS away. In my late teens and early 20’s however, the way my life was going, I never thought much of 40 because I honestly didn’t know if I would make it that far. My life was a mess and I had a hard time seeing past the end of my nose let alone what was in my future.

I was 28 when I rededicated my life to Christ and then later that year got married. There’s been a lot of work put in these past 12 years to get where I am mentally and spiritually. I have two college degrees (Bachelors in Science and Associates in Theology) and I’m a licensed insurance agent. I had accomplished things in my professional career by the time I was 35 that most aim to accomplish by retirement.

I was told in my early 20’s that I could, more than likely, never have kids. Well, ha! At 38, fresh out of work because the company I was Vice President of closed unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant. I did the math. Pregnant while I’m 38, give birth at 39 and have an almost 1 year old at 40.

I see how God carefully orchestrated all of this now. He knows me so well. At age 38 I had already had my career and accomplished much. I knew a big change was coming and could feel it in my spirit, but no clue just how much and what kind of change. I never thought I would switch gears to stay at home and take care of our son. My husband never thought he would be the sole provider financially in our household. The last three years have turned our lives upside down and inside out.

I was leaning towards switching careers at the time. I was wanting to pursue my life long dream of becoming a published author but I had no clue how to do that. Bills loomed and time was short. We thought I would go back to work once our son was born but one look at his face and I knew I could not entrust his care and the majority of his raising to a daycare facility. So, we put our faith in God.

This past year has been extremely financially difficult. Three different times they were coming to take our cars. But God. Many bills have gone unpaid and to debt collectors, but we are still believing God. We live in the same small (like 700 square feet), 2 bedroom house (where one bedroom is storage because there is no room for the stuff any where else) we were hoping to be out of years ago and have had to get very creative as to how to raise a baby, now almost a toddler, in such tight spaces. But God. There were days I had two notches of gas in the tank and no income soon enough to put any more gas in there. But God. Our son had digestive issues and required formula that costs $40 a can and going thru 2 to 2.5 cans a week. But God. There were days I opened the refrigerator door and there were pretty much just condiments hanging out in there. But God. Somehow, even without me working, we owed on taxes last year. But God. We used up every bit of savings and retirement to our name to survive the past year and a half. But God. Every day it has taken faith. Every day it has taken trusting God. Every day. Every minute. Every second.

Health wise it’s been difficult. Two different times for long lengths of time, my lower back went out to the point I found myself stuck in the floor, one time unable to move, with a 5 month old to care for (my husband was out of town at the time). I was dealing with bronchitis for a couple of months after an upper respiratory infection, healing from another one right now. Sleeping patterns have been all over the place with a colicky newborn with reflux issues. Almost a year and we finally get full nights of sleep on most nights.

We still aren’t completely back on our feet but getting there. God always provides. He always makes a way. Although, I did have many dark moments over the past year. I had many candid conversations with God because I had a hard time understanding how he could send a child into our lives and everything else seemed to fall apart. I was tired and pushed further than I ever thought I could be pushed. There were days the only thing that got me out of bed was my responsibilities as a new mother. I had no idea what I was doing other than putting one foot in front of the other. Some days are still just that.

We never shared openly, specifically, how difficult things had become and I’m debating right now as I type this if it’s too soon to be sharing now. I don’t believe so though. I believe someone needs some encouragement. I look back over the past two years and see how God provided and how our situation actually strengthened our faith and trust in Him. It has by no means been an easy road to walk but there is a purpose in it.

We are in the beginning stages of establishing a ministry God put on our hearts years ago. In this, we MUST rely on Him 100%, no wavering. These past couple of years have conditioned us to do just that. What satan meant for harm, God made good on. Those times when the refrigerator was empty, someone would buy us groceries not knowing how empty it was. The times the gas gauge was bouncing on “E” when we hit the church parking lot, someone would put a gas gift card in our hand after service. It was what got us home from church on more than one occasion. Our son has never went without his formula, or clothes that fit, or wipes to clean him or diapers to keep him dry, or toys to help him learn. We haven’t gone without. Because God.

This is nothing like I imagined my life at 40 to be like but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am nothing without God. I am nothing without Jesus. I don’t know if I have cried more this year in frustration at our situation or in the times when God showed up and showed out.

He put a Word in my heart at the end of 2018 that the best is yet to come. I don’t doubt. We have a lot of kingdom work ahead of us to care for the ministry that He has entrusted to us. I don’t believe I will ever go back to my previous career or a regular 9-5 job. I know I’m called to be the best mother I can to our son and raise him in the way he should go. We plan to homeschool as well. The ministry is a big undertaking and I am still whittling away on my first full book and pursuing that dream which will come to pass.

I’ve heard it said by a believer I respect that you should always be talking about 3 things, not necessarily with these exact words: what you’ve accomplished, what you are working on accomplishing, what you are going to accomplish.

I’ve accomplished quite a bit in my short 40 years here on earth. I’ve overcome sexual abuse and addictions, I’ve obtained two degrees, landed the best husband I could ever ask for, I’ve won design awards, survived losing my dad, worked my way up to Vice-President of a company, I’ve published four Bible workbooks and a poetry collection, I’ve birthed the most beautiful baby boy. I’ve kept my faith.

I’m working on finishing a 365 day devotional as well as my first book based on my life testimony and we are working on establishing our Unreachables ministry to reach a niche of people who are overlooked and let them know they are loved too.

Finally, what do I hope to accomplish? I have a new short term goal of being in the best possible health by my next birthday. I plan to finish up the book and start on the next along with publishing the devotional. We hope to be traveling for ministry with speaking engagements in a few years. We are believing to be in a spacious house for our son to grow up in and a fenced in yard so he can get a dog, soon. We plan to be debt free and financially able to sow into more ministries that we are in agreement with to help further the kingdom of God. Those are just a few things.

So, 40. Let’s do this. The best is yet to come.

 

Philippians 4:19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.