Category Archive Trials And Blessings

ByDanielle

In Memory Of Nana Lou: A Process Of Grief

In March my Nana was called home. She lived a glorious God filled life. I know where she is, and I know I will see her again. The following is mostly how I felt & what my emotions were.

 

Nana Lou

 

Today I heard the doxology.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here below! Praise Him above all ye heavenly hosts! Praise Father, Son & Holy Ghost!! Amen!

The doxology was one of the first “Christian” things I learned. It holds a special place in my heart. I want to praise God for everything good & bad.

Today my Nana died. For awhile I was angry at God. I didn’t get home in time to be with her, to say goodbye, to tell her I love her. It took us 22 hours to get home. I thought a lot in those 22 hours. I cried a lot in those 22 hours. I praised God a lot in those 22 hours. The phone was put on the speaker and I said my final words to Nana. I told her how much I love her, how much I would miss her. How much B,M,S & E love her & will miss her. I told her to hug Jesus for me when she got to Heaven & hug my Gren (grandfather) I told her how sorry I was I didn’t make it home. I remember just telling her how much I love her, how sorry I was & I would see her in Heaven.

The days have been long, but they have also been encouraging. I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with family & remembering Nana. It’s been difficult. I get overwhelmed & cry easily. I am selfish. I live 22 hours away from all of my family. I miss living near my family. I should have been here to help care for Nana. I should have been there when she died. I should have been there for my dad & sisters…. I should have….

Monday is Nana’s wake. Tons of people will come through offer condolences & cry, laugh & tell stories.

Tuesday is her funeral. I will cry. I will think how unfair it is. I will know she is in Heaven, with Jesus. I will rejoice & praise God knowing she is not in pain, she is with her Savior.

 

Cold day at the beach

 

On Easter we didn’t go to church to celebrate the joyous resurrection of our Savior Jesus. We went to the ocean and talked about Nana. It was cold and windy. I don’t really remember exactly how cold it was, looking at the pictures I see how cold really we were. Nana has always known where she would go when she died. I believe God gave me (us) this time together to cry, live, understand each other just a little more.

As sad as I am, I also rejoice.

Flash forward a week….

Nana’s wake was beautiful. 200 people came to offer condolences and morn with us. I grew closer to my aunt & understand my Dad a little more. Watching my children mourn was very difficult. Emma was very emotional. Sophia was emotionally shut off. Melissa, my oldest daughter, took on a mom role for her younger sisters. I was taking care of my dad & aunt. I also have a son, Brian, he is 25 & he is lost.

I don’t remember a whole lot about her funeral, here are a few memories I will cherish…Before Nana’s funeral we prayed as a family. My Dad, who does not believe, led us in prayer. It was such a beautiful moment that my family shared. My Dad, my Aunt, my children, & sister stood in a circle holding hands & praying. Funny, I don’t remember the words he said, but they were Godly.

 

Me and my dad

 

Once we got to the church and the men in our family carried Nana’s casket into the church & we walked her down the aisle, the church organist started playing “How great thou art”. My Sophia finally cried. She held onto my arm and we walked, tears freely flowing. We sat down and the priest spoke of Nana, told stories, remembered how if anyone needed prayer Nana was the one to ask, she prayed faithfully everyday. Then came time to read the prayers of the faithful. That was my job. I can hear the priest saying Lou’s oldest granddaughter, Danielle. I can see myself walking up to the pulpit. I feel myself taking that deep breath and looking at the paper I am supposed to read. I look down and I see that whoever typed the prayers out has written the wrong name on the paper & all I can think is please don’t say the wrong name!! I take a deep breath, all that comes out is my tears & my grief. I cry through the first prayer. I paused for what seemed like hours, which in fact was only maybe 30 seconds and I hear footsteps. I look up & Sophia is standing by my side holding my hand. I continue reading the prayers, crying & at that point, where Sophia is holding my hand & I am crying & reading. I no longer care that I’m sobbing while reading. I would not have been able to get through reading if Sophia hadn’t been there holding my hand. We walk back hand in hand tears in our eyes. It was a beautiful bonding moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

 

Sophia and me holding her hand

 

My Dad walked up to the pulpit to speak about his Mom. I remember him talking about growing up and Nana always cooking. I remember him talking about Nana’s last night on this earth. Nana was partially in a coma at this point and one of my aunts or my step mom made her a drink, a highball, they put some of it on a sponge and she opened her eyes and smiled and said yum. My Dad talked of how much love nana had for everyone and then he too broke down, he came back to his seat.

 

Dad, Aunt, and Nana

 

After the funeral there was a meal, after the meal we went back to my Aunt’s home & talked more. There are so many more things that happened in those 2 weeks we were home. I am comforted in knowing that someday I will see my Nana again & we will be with Jesus next time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Grace & Peace to you!
Danielle

ByJudye

Satisfied?

Sometimes we are plagued with “If only”…If only I hadn’t done that…If only I hadn’t said that….If only I hadn’t eaten that much…If only they would behave..If only I had more money…and the list goes on & on. Contentment IS a difficult virtue. Why? We think if we get what we want, when we want & how we want, we will be content. Some of the most unhappy people I know are blessed with abundance but still not satisfied. When we are children, we say, “If only I were older…” As an adult, “If only I were married” Then…when we finally are older, we go back to “If only I were younger” That “If only” list never seems to end.

 

We are not satisfied - In each human there seems to be a missing piece of the puzzle - that is the God-Shaped part - the one and only Jesus part...

 

We are not satisfied. In each human there seems to be a missing piece of the puzzle – that is the God-shaped part – the one & only Jesus part that will fit & complete each of us. Nothing nor anyone else on earth can fit and satisfy that part of us.

We long to see God & the pages of life are turning & rustling with the rumor that we will…and we won’t be satisfied until we do. Max Lucado put it very aptly..”Father, keep us from being so blinded by possessions we cannot keep, that we fail to see the eternal treasure we cannot lose.” I HAVE to stay in touch with Him. How can I not? He’s as close as my next heartbeat.

ByJudye

July 19

Blue Birthday Candle

Photo Credit: Foxumon

On July 19, I will be reminded of my baby sister, Janie Carol. That’s her birthday and every July 19, Mama made her birthday cake with baby blue coconut icing. Mama said it was because Janie’s eyes were so blue.

Janie had cerebral palsy & was mentally challenged but she knew what love was. She loved me & I loved her dearly – she loved to pull things from my hand – and I let her. She thought that was so funny.

We lost her at the age of 5 due to measles complicated with pneumonia. Safe in the hands of Jesus, she now romps through Heaven freely – I think she must peek through the Gate with those beautiful blue eyes from time to time, watching for me. One day, some glad day, from earth set free, I will see to it that we run through Heaven & I will marvel at her perfect little body & those beautiful blue eyes again.

Funny how certain dates bring back precious memories.

ByAngie

A Grateful Heart

Last week I shared about my trip earlier this month to a children’s home. This post will continue that recap…

After visiting the school building, we all went to one of the houses where some of the children live. There was a festive, warm and welcoming spread of hot chocolate, spiced tea, and cookies. It was here that the children would all visit with us and receive their “big” gifts.

We were there for a little while before the kids were released from their classes. As they all slowly walked in the front door, they noticed the huge pile of gifts under and around the tree. The excitement could not be contained and was contagious! After everyone had a chance to get a hot drink and cookies, they all sat around the large living room and waited for their name to be called by the house parent that was handing out the gifts.

Many names were read, and the kids would walk up, get their present, get a crocheted ice skate full of candy, and then go back to where they were sitting and open their gift. Some kids received a few small gifts, some were given one large gift, but each child was so pleased with whatever it was they were given. The people who bought the gifts were given idea lists of what to purchase and there were toys galore! It was so much fun!

One girl, I would guess about the age of 11 or so, stood near the tree as she clapped and cheered for each child as they came up to get their presents. She had one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen! When the last name was read and she had not yet been given a gift, you could see the shock in her eyes. She still continued to smile though. The house parent who had been reading the names turned to her and asked, “Did you not get a present?” She shook her head no. He then said, “Well, you must have been naughty then.” She was handed a crocheted ice skate, and then he walked to the back of the house and out the back door.

She never complained. She didn’t cry. Instead, she walked over and checked out what her friends were given. She shared their excitement, and then sat down to open her candy bag to see what was in it. She smiled as she made an inventory of the candy, and acted as though it was the most wonderful thing she had ever been given. No tantrum, no jealousy, no anger. It was just what it was, and she accepted that.

A minute later, that same house parent came back in the back door with a big gorgeous pink bike. He said her name, and the smile on her face when she turned around was unforgettable. Still clutching the bag of candy, she ran and hugged the man. She then walked her bike over to where she could get a better look at it. I was unable to hold back my tears, I was so ecstatic for her!

I couldn’t help but pray at that moment, “Lord, make me like this little girl. Please. And let more of your people have a heart like hers, also.”

Sometimes God has something for everyone around us, it seems. He’s using them, blessing them, and fulfilling more than what seems to be needed. All the while, we feel forgotten. We start to say “All I have is this” instead of being grateful for what we have. Never considering that instead of whining, complaining, kicking, and screaming that He is actually preparing something beyond our wildest dreams if we just wait. Sometimes, our immaturity and lack of gratitude actually causes Him to wait longer, due to our not being ready.

I’ve been there, have you? Ugh.

If only my phone hadn’t died so that I could have snapped a photo of her walking that bike with that huge smile. It would be nice to have that reminder on my fridge next time I feel like moping instead of waiting… Lord, let me not forget!

By

Discovering Yourself – Military Pride

Faith, Hope and Love… Three words that have powerful meaning. Words that I bought written on a t-shirt. Although I do not believe in buying biblical references on clothing. (I liked the color.) God’s love should shine from within.

In life people sometimes look for signs to change their life and maybe that sign will be my t-shirt?

1 Corinthians 13 are where those words are written, one of the most used biblical verses of all time. Why? In most wedding ceremonies they are referred to as a husband and wife’s love. In reality it is the love that Christ himself gives us.

Like so many people we have loved,lost,known or continue to meet: We touch their lives and they impact ours. I have met so many men and women in the Military that struggle through conflicts of dedication and love.

Sometimes there are sides to them we almost never want to see. A lot of them like to drink because of what they have done, seen, or experienced that we can’t even imagine. I had to edit this post because I felt like instead of writing just words or my own personal thoughts, I would share my brothers story.

Lance Corporal Gregory James Albrecht was my older brother, the deepest blue eyes, the most loving heart and the best sense of humor.

When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be like my older brother. He was cool and crazy and I could never understand why he wanted to sleep until 12pm when he came to visit. I loved him with all of my heart.

When he died he wrote Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd;I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Every time I read those words I cry. Even now to picture my brother writing them down and almost feeling his pain was just too much to handle. His heart was not fulfilled and there was no one to reach out to him grab his hands and tell him how important and loved he really was. He took his own life January 6, 1995. Since that day, I have wanted to tell him everyday that I love him. That God loves him, that no one should ever suffer so much they have to take their own life.

There are a lot of men and women who suffer from PTSD. Some military members find it dishonorable to take your own life. Yes, I agree it is not the answer. However; if God knows you, he knows what you are going to do.

Do I think it’s selfish- no, do I think my brother is in hell – no. He believed in God and needed an out and it was just too late for him. I don’t want it to be too late for the rest of you especially if you know someone who is really struggling.

I know that most of the men who have been to war refuse to grow closer to God.

It is difficult to love God when they have killed, murdered, or even martyred people innocent or not.

In the Bible there are so many references to War, and if you read Jeremiah, Kings, and Samuel you will know that God wanted the bad to be gone. The filth to be taken away from the world. He still does, and yet, there are a lot of bad things that happen to good people. It is not the person it is just the sin, yes the sin of the world.

God knows what you have done before you do it, He places us where He wants us, we experience things that He knows we will experience.

People die when you live, there will never be an answer to these questions until you are at the right hand.

When you are with Jesus and He looks upon you how will you feel? Do you think Jesus hung out with people who were all good? No, he was around prostitutes, murders, adulterers, thieves, homosexuals and the list goes on.

He loves you and He loves me. He knows what you want and He knows what you need. He has seen your struggles, strife and afflictions.

Even if you are the “best” christian you can get divorced, you can go to jail, you can even succumb to having impure thoughts.

I feel like though we have all sinned and some have gone through much worse then I that no matter what you have done, if you ask for his forgiveness with a whole heart you are forgiven.

Once you release yourself and stop trying to fight the world and yourself that you will find what you have always been looking for. LOVE

For those men and women in the military, past or present whom, I love and adore, who keep me free in writing what I want, loving God and fighting so that the rest of us don’t:

If any of you are struggling with what you have done, remember what Jesus Christ did for you. He was beaten, His flesh torn away from His body, a crown of thorns impaled into His head, hands and feet nailed. Above all a promise He kept and through the scriptures He foresaw what his life was for- US.
There is not a right or a wrong scenario there is not.. well maybe it happened– NO it happened.

It happened so that we may find what we all long for and that is Christ. He loves you so much and knew who you were before you were even born.

Why not get to know the man who loves you? Why be afraid of what you have done? Even if you do sin again, He will still love you.

Life is too short to waste it on the “what ifs,” in life- make it happen. Although you will never forget you can always remember where it lead you and what type of person you have become.

Faith, hope and Love are all you need.. He loved you first.

God Bless, Merry Christmas – Thank you Vets, and Active Duty Military, for your love and devotion to this country.

ByAngie

How To Build Your Own Lemonade Stand Step 5: Be Positive

So, here you are. You’ve gone through all of the steps to make your lemonade & construct your lemonade stand by grieving, forgiving, accepting, and moving on. Now you have reached the point where you set up shop, practice good customer service, and make those sales.

“Huh? What are you even talking about? Stop with the metaphors or at least explain them!”

Okay, I’ll explain. Sorry.

  • Set up shop: Carry yourself in confidence. Never think that because this event happened that you are damaged or less than anyone else. Walk with your head held high and know that you are a child of God. Never walk aimlessly, have a purpose… To serve God and live according to his will.
  • Customer Service: Smile. Be positive! When someone tells you a story or something they are going through, don’t try to bring them down by putting every ounce of negativity you have on them with your words or expressions. Having a bad day? Stop and mention the positive. Remember Pollyanna? (If you don’t, watch the movie) Look on the sunny side. You might be having a bad day, but for everything you count as bad count 2 more things that you are blessed with. When you’re down, you bring everyone down around you. Don’t be that guy… (To clarify, you can feel down sometimes. Just don’t let it define you.)
  • Make The Sale: When someone says to you, “Oh wow, I can’t believe you lived through that.” feel free to say what a struggle it was. Be real, and give God the glory! You never know who you might encourage or witness to by giving all acknowledgement to Him! Don’t act like a victim, be a survivor!

(If achieving this step is just too much work, consider seeking counseling. There is no shame in asking someone for a little help. Also, depression is a very serious illness that can happen to anyone. It is not something that you can “just snap out of”. Seek help if you need it, please.)

So, what do you do now? Sit back, relax, and drink some lemonade!!!

God bless!

 

 

ByAngie

How To Build Your Own Lemonade Stand Step 4: Moving On

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spiritis in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

“ Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:8-14 NKJV

Okay, so you’ve done all that you can in the kitchen for now. It is time to grab a hammer, some nails, a couple planks of wood and head outside.

Moving on can be one of the most difficult tasks. Leaving behind something that has been consuming you for some time can be a lot of work. So, why must we move on? Why can’t we just stay where we are? Because if you sit and dwell on what has happened, you will never be happy. It is not God’s will for us to be sad or angry. There is a season for that, yes, but it does come to an end. That is why it is a season, it changes.

Now is the season where things become warm, metaphorically. You began this struggle in the late Autumn. During the Winter you grieved. Late Winter and Spring you forgave and accepted. Now, it is Summer… and people are thirsty and in need of your lemonade. Soon they may be in the late Autumn and will need to remember how wonderful Summertime was and what that Lemonade you made them tasted like.

Will you ever go back to the kitchen? Oh yes. You’re going to have to go back to get sweetener, supplies, and once in awhile you’re going to have to take in more lemons to squeeze them out. But for now, you’re building your stand and preparing for the next step which I’ll be talking about next week when we conclude this series: Setting up shop and customer service.

As tempting as it is to go back inside because the sun is so bright and the air too warm, remember God got you this far… He’ll take you even farther! And if you want to go farther, you can’t live in the past… Put on a smile and a pair of work gloves (Read your Bible and have faith), because it’s time for you to construct (pray for) your shop front (attitude)!

ByAngie

Sticky Hands: Toys And Trials Everywhere!!!

This is the "clean" part of the room. Seriously. And yes, my couches are out dated and the lamp shade is crooked. Now you see how human I truly am! Oh, and I took this photo while telling my youngest son to stop climbing on the tv stand and feeding my youngest daughter her bottle. Human? DEFINITELY!

My house is a disaster today. I mean seriously. A complete disaster. It looks as though a tornado touched down and only knocked around the toy bins. I considered making the boys pick all of the toys up, but then I decided to let them have a fun day with all their toys. We’ll clean them up, one by one, at bed time and start “clean” tomorrow.

Ever stand in the middle of a room covered in toys? So not fun. Even worse? Walking through it. Add carrying an infant through it and it becomes down right frustrating!

As I sat here looking around my living and conjoined dining room thinking of how each toy will be picked up at the end of the day and all will be okay, it hit me. This is how I should approach life.

What do I mean? Well, have you ever been completely overwhelmed? One thing after another piling up around you. You feel like you’re drowning. You have no idea how to dig out. So you try to manage it all at once, only bringing yourself down deeper.

What if I handle each situation one by one? Instead of worrying about tackling it all at once I’ll pick up one situation, wipe it off and handle it with prayer, and put it away by giving it to God! Then, I can move on to the next, and the one after that… Seems to work for my kids, why can’t it work for me?

Next time I’m standing in the midst of trials all around me, I’m going to try my kids approach. Besides, everything will be less likely to be swept under the rug only to show up again later this way. 😉

 

ByAngie

How To Build Your Own Lemonade Stand Step 3: Accept

1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV

So, now that you have gone through the processes of grieving and forgiving, it is time to accept.

Definition of ACCEPT

transitive verb
3 a: to endure without protest or reaction <accept poor living conditions>
b: to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable <the idea is widely accepted>
c: to recognize as true :believe <refused to accept the explanation>

This, obviously, does not always come easily. Our flesh tells us to live in denial. Pretend it never happened. If we don’t acknowledge something, then we can pretend everything is hunky dory and just go on. Unfortunately… it doesn’t work that way. Especially with women. We bottle things way deep down inside only for it to come back up later. Sure, we can live in our make believe little world where bad things and bad days never happen for a time. However, you will inevitably have to face what you are avoiding eventually. Better sooner than later!

What do I mean by telling you to accept what happened? I mean for you to tell yourself, “This happened, and that is just the way it is. God loves me regardless and I will rely on him for mercy and blessings for all of my days.” instead of screaming and throwing a tantrum, “It’s not fair! Why is God allowing this? Why didn’t he do things differently? I want my way and I want it NOW! Waaaahhhh!” (Okay, I got a little dramatic there, but you get the picture.) I never said this would be simple… It may even be brutal. But without it, your lemonade will be bland.

Am I saying to let this event define who you are? Not at all. Will it change you? Possibly. But that could be a good thing depending on the situation. Being that we are covering many different possibilities with a general blanket here it kind of makes this part hard to touch on. Once again, in order for your lemonade to turn out sweet and tasty, you’re going to have to give up a lot of time in prayer. We are supposed to be letting God lead us on how to make his recipe, not ours. Okay, time to wash our hands and prepare for the next step….

Personal note: Before going on any further with this series, I do want to let you know I have been through some very upsetting, traumatic experiences. I’m not some bozo just sitting here saying “Chin up” without an experience myself. I know that EVERYTHING I am telling you is easier said than done. Like I said, depend a lot on prayer and our Savior… He’s the only way to truly make it through!