The beloved Christmas carol I Heard The Bells was written out of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s intense grief after his once idyllic life was shattered by a series of tragedies. The popular poet, whose words helped people far and wide including soldiers on the battlefield as the nation was divided by the Civil War, found his voice silenced after tragedy struck his family. With intense grief that swept over him and his own family torn apart, Henry lost his poetic voice, and the world grew dark, cold, and bleak.
Having loved the song for years, especially after hearing Casting Crowns’ powerful version, this movie allowed a look into the series of events that transpired in Henry’s life which made him put down his pen. I struggled to fight back the tears as I watched tragedy unfold and the heart wrenching agony he experienced to which he exclaimed, “I will never write again!” Grief stricken and completely broken, he lost the will to write and once felt as if God equipped him as a poet yet took his poetry from him!
Even still …
It’s the sounds on Christmas morning from the church bells ringing their glorious tune that re-ignites the flames within him. With his rage all but consuming him from within, he feels no peace on Earth and bows his head.
With resounding hope and his rekindled faith, Henry returned to his writing desk after two years and penned the words to this powerful song.
This inspiring movie, based on the true life events of the famous poet, will only be in theaters December 1, December 3, and December 4, 2022. Don’t miss your opportunity to watch this movie come to life on the big screen. Get your tickets today for I Heard The Bells.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving on Thursday this week, let’s take a moment to truly focus on gratitude. In doing so, we bring many benefits to our lives and those around us. It’s been proven that gratitude will boost your mental health and sense of well being. It provides hope and more satisfaction in our daily lives.
A popular thing every year on Facebook is where you state every day up until Thanksgiving what you are thankful for. I participated in years past, and the memories pop up in Facebook to remind me of the beautiful blessings I have had. We truly have so much to be thankful and grateful for in this life. It’s a shame we only think to “give thanks” and be truly “grateful” or have a “heart of gratitude” during the month of November.
The world seems to scream at you daily how unimportant you are to many. With people blowing the horn at you when you are driving down the road minding your own business, they shake their fists at you as they drive by. For what? When you’re doing the speed limit, haven’t pulled out in front of anyone, and didn’t do any illegal lane changes, they are so full of themselves to think they can blare their horn at you. So, what do you do? You thank GOD you aren’t them! Further, you thank God that you don’t behave in this fashion. AND most importantly, you smile, wave, and pray for them so they will hopefully be kinder to others they cross paths with.
Seriously, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, please take time to really express your gratitude to God for bringing you this far in life. He continues to walk with you daily and provides for you and your family. Nothing you have is because of yourself. It is all because of God and how He works in your life. He is worthy to be praised.
Let’s take time to express with ourselves and our families what we are truly thankful for this holiday season. One way my family and I do this is by going around the dinner table when we say the blessing before the meal. Each one of us takes a few moments to say what is on our hearts. It’s something that may make some feel awkward and uncomfortable if they aren’t used to praying out loud in front of others. Others delight in having their opportunity to speak and share their hearts. If this practice is new to you, experiment with it with your own family this holiday season. Even if you choose to only speak in private, please give thanks to God for all of your many blessings, as we have so much to be thankful for. Even in dark and bleak times when the world seems to have gone crazy with worrying about viruses, cost of living going up without our paychecks increasing as well, or the price of gas, groceries, and a variety of other things. Even still, we have so much to be thankful for. Take time and be intentional as you list your blessings and give thanks to God with a truly grateful heart.
May God bless and keep you and your family this holiday season and beyond.
With Daylight Savings comes a variety of changes, not just those on the hands of a clock. We “fell backwards” this past weekend, and in doing so, there is less light for us to enjoy in the evening. It feels like we’re purged into total darkness as if it were the midnight hour, and yet it is only 6:00 p.m.
Sadness falls upon us.
There is a direct correlation in sadness that worsens as Winter approaches. Depression sets in if we don’t fight it with all of our might. Here in the south our Winters are mild, which I am truly thankful for. I could not imagine losing daylight so early in the evening and being surrounded by freezing temperatures with snow on the ground. I imagine it’s exciting your first Winter as snow begins to fall, but shoveling snow would add to the dread as you start your day bundled up to face the chore at hand. Here in the south, we are delighted with a light dusting of snow, and everyone hurries to the store for milk and bread. It is short lived, and then we return to mild temperatures yet again.
People don’t often speak of things that are troubling them. Maybe they have been betrayed in the past or something they told someone was later used against them so they keep to themselves now to avoid anything of the sort happening again. We never truly know the depths of someone’s hurt and pain. We know not what they keep hidden in their heart.
Right now a man lays near death struggling to breathe as his soon-to-be widow puts on a brave face in front of others. She tries hard to be strong, yet she, too, is barely holding on with the help of anti depressants and family that takes turns sitting with her in the final days. We look on offering prayer and asking God to comfort as only He can at a time like this.
A friend’s message appears, and she is obviously consumed with the stress she has been under for so long. Her husband, a double transplant patient, returns to the hospital facing yet another surgery. She cries out, begging for assistance from someone, anyone who might be able to join her in prayer and relieve her worried mind.
We face our own mortality with medical tests and procedures. We pray for good results and hope for the best claiming faith over fear. Sometimes that fear does a number on us, and we withdraw because of the unknown or we lash out because we’re scared of what’s to come. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are … and the way we cope with things will vary from the next person. Maybe that’s all we know and are struggling although those words never pass through our lips. This was true once again in my own life last week as I faced what is usually a routine imaging procedure, yet each time I walk through the hospital doors I’m reminded of my family’s medical history and how it could affect me in the same way. I pray against it, and it feels as if I’m on pins and needles with the mental and emotional anguish until the results come in. Whew. Relief washes over me, and my nerves which felt as if they were once residing on the outside of my body can now sink back inside my skin as the perceived threat has passed for the moment.
What is one truly to do amidst the seasons of change? Pray and hope for the best? Pray and give it over to God only to take it back from Him moments later to worry over it some more? That’s what we do as emotional beings. We try hard, but we fall short. We’re reminded that worrying is a sin, but alas we’re human.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth!
These are more than mere words sang by Casting Crowns or quoted from the Bible. It’s TRUTH!
We can not do a single thing on our own in this life. We’re judged, ridiculed for the way we handle situations or stressors, and yet we’re doing the best that we can in that moment. It’s when we pray and reach out, hearts so overloaded with despair at times, knowing He will cradle us in His arms. He will see us through every storm in life. The raging storms of life threaten to take us to the depths of the ocean where we feel like we will surely drown on the ocean’s floor. But God lifts us out of the sea of chaos, with cares that once consumed us, and offers His strong arms as we cling to Him.
At the end of October, we held our vow renewal ceremony in our backyard in front of this gazebo that once belonged to my husband’s parents. When his mom passed away five years ago, his father renovated their deck, eliminating the gazebo that had been in place for over 30 years. He asked if we had any use for it, and we jumped at the chance to have a piece of his mother’s memory in our backyard! We went to work on lining up transportation, which required a crane to lift it from where it sat in my father-in-law’s yard in another town, setting it on the truck, driving with caution through our town and ultimately to our house, then using the same crane to take it off the truck and place it beside our pool. As you can imagine, it was quite the undertaking, but we had several knowledgable men in charge who made it happen! Honestly, from the above picture, the gazebo looks like it was made just for that very spot!
Back to the vow renewal …
My husband and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, and he asked me to marry him all over again. Imagine my surprise when our family was gathered around the Christmas tree last year when he presented me with a very special gift. My daughters and son-in-law knew exactly what was waiting behind the wrapping paper, even if I didn’t have a clue at that moment when I was holding it in my hands. With all eyes on me, I started slowly unwrapping the present to find a framed picture. When I turned it around, there was our picture from when we visited Hawaii in October of 2021 with sweet words requesting I marry him all over again. He joked that I may run and then joked that there was no way I was going to do THAT again. But I stood there with tears in my eyes holding the framed picture with the beautiful message regarding renewing our vows in front of family and friends.
If married couples are honest, there are trying times in every marriage, and ours has been no different. I won’t put on this fake image that our entire time together has been sunshine and roses, but I will be realistic in that we have struggled through sorrow and heartbreaking times. The loss of my sister early on when we were just beginning to date is one tragic event that immediately comes to mind, followed by my ruptured ectopic pregnancy which devastated us. We prayed for a baby, and not long after finding out we were pregnant, we went from being filled with excitement to being rushed to the emergency room and prepped for surgery. Although crushed beyond belief and so brokenhearted after losing the baby and one of my tubes, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to have another baby after this great loss which left me with only a fifty percent chance. Even still, I continued to pray through painful procedures, and God not only met me right where I was in a sobbing heap on the floor crying out in my brokenness, but He blessed me the very next year with a beautiful baby girl! Our hearts are forever grateful for her and her big sister!
So yes, we have endured trying and down right gut wrenching times. We experienced the passing of my grandfather three months after losing my sister, then my grandmother a few years after that, and we experienced losing his mother to colon and rectal cancer several years later.
There are other things in between that caused us great heartache, but we managed to prove that love does conquer all. Thank God for forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love.
This vow renewal was not like a typical wedding, of course, since I was already a bride 20 years ago. Instead of wearing a white gown, I decided for a full length navy blue evening gown with shimmers depending on what light I was in. My handsome groom wore a tux with a matching navy blue bow tie. My sweet mother was my matron of honor, and my two gorgeous daughters were my bridesmaids. My humble father walked me down the aisle again, just as he had done 20 years before. My father-in-law was my husband’s best man and stood beside him as our son-in-law officiated the ceremony. Our son-in-law is a praise and worship pastor, and as you can imagine, it was so moving to have him standing there speaking and conducting the service. My heart was so full at that very moment as I stood before my ever so handsome husband and placed my hands in his.
We did not choose the traditional songs either. We have to be different, so my husband, father-in-law, and son-in-law walked in to “Pledging My Love” by Elvis, while my mother and two daughters walked in to “Destiny” from Jim Brickman’s CD. My father and I walked in to “Love of My Life” also from Jim Brickman’s CD featuring Michael W. Smith as the vocalist. During the ceremony, “It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill played after our hands ceremony, and as we went to exit, Shania Twain’s “Still The One” declared what our hearts felt as well.
I know without a doubt the impact this ceremony had not just on my husband and I but others witnessing the exchange as well. My father was wiping his tears after the ceremony also. He has always been a strong man, but when he shows his soft side, it truly means something extra special.
I may share the actual written ceremony in the days to come so other couples may take from our ceremony what they feel will bless their lives and their union on their wedding day or vow renewal.
Maybe you have heard of Anne Wilson or even heard her beautiful song “My Jesus.” Or maybe this is the first time you are hearing of her. Whatever the case, Anne is a Jesus-loving lady that is on fire for Him.
Anne and her brother, Jacob, and sister, Elizabeth, grew up with beautiful, loving parents in Kentucky, bluegrass country! Her world of great love and security was shattered when Jacob was tragically taken from them in a car accident while he was attending college. Anne’s overwhelming ability to help her family through this most difficult time was only through the power of Jesus Christ. As she was thrust into such heartbreaking pain, she trusted in and leaned on God to see her and her family through this.
My Jesus is the story behind the song. I encourage you to pre-order your copy of her book here.
You will feel her pain through the words she has written, and you will learn of how God truly was close to her and her entire family as they tried to go on in life, truly broken-hearted and crushed in spirit, after the loss of Jacob.
This book was hard for me to read as my family has faced great tragedy in our own lives when we lost my sister, Pamela, in 2001. I know without a doubt that MY Jesus was there wiping every single one of my tears away, lifting me up when I just wanted to fall into a heap in the middle of the floor sobbing and wishing this was all just a bad nightmare.
In situations like this, with my own family and Anne’s as well, people will either draw closer to the Lord, or they will turn from Him in their anger and grief. The thing is, Jesus can take it. ALL of it. No matter what you are feeling, no matter how many times you clinch your fist, shake them in the air and yell so loud you’re sure your screams are going straight to Heaven, God can take it! And … God can absolutely turn ashes into something beautiful. It’s hard to believe how that is even possible and what good could possibly come from a situation like this. Yet, my God invites each and every one of us to grow closer to Him, allowing Him to comfort us and hold us as only HE can!
No matter what you’re facing in your life – loss, disappointment, etc. – God can and will come alongside you showing you still have a purpose, offering hope although your heart is shattered, and letting you know that you are never, ever alone.
God is with you.
God is for you.
He has never EVER left your side, and He won’t!
HE loves YOU!
Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Books for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.
The latter part of Psalm 30:5 reads: “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
I’m sure you can recall a time in your life when you endured intense grief, when the tears fell like rain and you didn’t think you would ever feel whole again. We love so deeply, and when we face a devastating loss, it feels like it will cripple us completely. For a time, it does. Then we decide we cannot live in that depressed state, and we try to force ourselves to get out of bed. At times this is easier said than done. When a person hurts to the very core of their being, they have no idea how they will take their next breath or how to put one foot in front of the other. All they know is that they hurt tremendously.
What can you do for others during a period in which you know they are hurting deeply? When you really want to take their hurt and pain away, but feel so helpless because you can’t, all you can do, it seems, is pray. Prayer is a wonderful thing that connects you directly to God above. He is the only one that can help mend your broken heart.
Why does it hurt so much? Because we love so deeply with our whole hearts. Because the thing or person we wanted most is taken from us suddenly and tragically. Our hopes, dreams, and futures are bound so tightly to the one thing we wanted most that was stripped away.
When it is so easy to lose hope … cling to the promises of His word.
Rejoicing comes in the morning …
We struggle to see what good could possibly come from … THIS! We have a million questions but no answers. Anger wells up inside of us, and we just want to scream!
Just recently I felt like this, and my well-meaning coworker and friend asked me to listen to a praise and worship song when that was the very last thing I wanted to do! Yet, I know this person cares for me and only wanted to help. So, I gave in, pulled it up on the computer, and sat there listening to the words as the video played.
At a time like this?
I just did not have it in me at that moment in time. So, I sat there quietly listening to the words I didn’t want to hear. As the song finished, he slowly walked back into his office. I remained staring at my screen trying to feel because at that point, I was just numb.
Music usually helps me. We connect with the lyrics and the music as it flows. This time I sat still, then I managed to pull myself forward in my seat to select songs by Casting Crowns. I have always loved their music, and I wanted to turn up the volume and get lost in their songs. One of the very first songs to play was, “Scars In Heaven.” I have never heard that song before, and as I paste the words below, I’m sure you will understand the tears that streamed down my face, and I rested the back of my head on my chair, almost lifeless at this point. The one I wanted to scream at and demand answers to my question of WHY … was the very One I needed comfort from.
If I had only known the last time Would be the last time I would have put off all the things I had to do I would have stayed a little longer Held on a little tighter Now what I’d give for one more day with you
‘Cause there’s a wound here in my heart Where something’s missing And they tell me that it’s gonna heal with time But I know you’re in a place Where all your wounds have been erased And knowing yours are healed is healing mine
The only scars in Heaven They won’t belong to me and you There’ll be no such thing as broken And all the old will be made new And the thought that makes me smile now Even as the tears fall down Is that the only scars in Heaven Are on the hands that hold you now
I know the road you walked was anything but easy You picked up your share of scars along the way Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun You’ve fought your fight and your race is run The pain is all a million miles away
The only scars in Heaven They won’t belong to me and you There’ll be no such thing as broken And all the old will be made new And the thought that makes me smile now Even as the tears fall down Is that the only scars in Heaven, yeah Are on the hands that hold you now
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah For the hands that hold you now
There’s not a day goes by that I don’t see you You live on in all the better parts of me Until I’m standing with you in the sun I’ll fight this fight and this race I’ll run Until I finally see what you can see, oh, oh
The only scars in Heaven They won’t belong to me and you There’ll be no such thing as broken And all the old will be made new And the thought that makes me smile now Even as the tears fall down Is that the only scars in Heaven Are on the hands that hold you now
Songwriters: Matthew West, Mark Hall. For non-commercial use only.
I read this week about how an egg isn’t useful unless it is broken. Immediately, I flipped to another article, not wishing to be reminded of the times in my life I felt broken. After a few days, I returned to the article, now ready to face what reminders would come.
There are situations in life that take us to our breaking point, and even people that tear us down and break our spirit leaving us on the floor in a heap crying out to God in our soul-crushing, heart-shattering despair. Consider yourself extremely blessed if you have never encountered anything of the sort. For the majority of people, life has left us beaten and battered, tossed around in the storms that rage at us, tearing at our worth.
Rest assured; God is close to the broken-hearted. Pslam 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
I have written on this scripture before, and I always come back to it as it is one of the most important and encouraging messages when you are going through a devastating trial in your life. When your heart has been broken, you are closer to God than you may believe. He counts every tear that falls and knows the turmoil you feel even when all you can manage to mutter is His name.
Don’t fear appearing “weak” to others around you by admitting your vulnerableness as a human and showing your emotions. Instead, feel sorry for those who do not allow emotions to show for whatever reason. Feelings aren’t right or wrong. They just are … and no one has the right to tell you that you are “wrong” for feeling a certain way or that you “shouldn’t” feel this way or that way. Your feelings are your own, whether others understand them or not. Your feelings are valid, and they matter.
Whether you’re grieving for a broken relationship, the loss of someone you love dearly, or a temporary situation that seems permanent, lasting, and unchanging, God is there in all of your brokenness. Friend, I cannot know your brokenness nor you mine, unless we are transparent. However, God sees all that has transpired leading up to this point, and He knows how it will play out even as you find it hard to breathe from moment to moment.
Ephesians 3:20: Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Maybe things have to fall apart and break our hearts for God to build back better in its place. We are nothing without God in our lives and in our relationships. You simply cannot get through life without God, and I, for one, would never even attempt a day without Him by my side. He is my ever-faithful companion and friend. When life explodes around me and I am at a loss for how to move forward, I put my faith and trust in Him.
God knows what the future holds, and you may not think God can use you in your brokenness right now. But He can. Broken can still be useful. Maybe this time in your life has allowed you to become more compassionate for others struggling around you. Maybe it has made you even more aware that people are hurting so deeply inside even though they flash that smile to the outside world. Maybe God wants you to be the person to open your heart to show the hurting that you truly care. All it takes is one soul reaching out to another to change the world in that instance for the grieving, brokenhearted individual. Behind the scenes, God is turning this mess into something beautiful. You just cannot imagine it at the moment but know that with God all things are possible through Him.
Just recently, someone dear to me endured the “wrath” of several individuals who tried to “put her in her place” because she didn’t act or react the way they wanted her to. ~insert the biggest eye roll ever here~
News Flash: We are individuals that have free will, a mind of our own, with morals, and values that are not like theirs (as in, theirs are severely lacking, to say the least). Furthermore, we can choose how to conduct ourselves without being under the control of a narcissist. Shocking, I know.
My recommendation for this precious soul was to read a book that helped me many years ago:
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
And so, this precious individual not only bought the book but dove into it ready to equip herself and set more boundaries in place without feeling incredibly guilty about doing so!
As Christians, we are taught to turn the other cheek. Here’s the thing, though. After turning the other cheek so many times, you finally get tired of the neck injury and the bruises on both of your cheeks. Certain people take advantage of us, especially when they know we are Christians. They think they can get away with more because we’re “supposed” to turn the other cheek, or we’re “supposed” to say yes to accommodate them. While I believe there are appropriate times to do both, you do have to dig your heels in and stand firm with individuals known to push you around.
Consider the following and answer honestly if you have seen yourself doing any of these things in the past:
If ANY of the above rings true, this book is for you! No, I am not getting paid to write this and am not benefitting one bit by advertising this book. The only thing I stand to gain from this is equipping others with the knowledge and tools found in this book by these two men! It will truly benefit YOU to read this book if you have any boundary issues in your life.
Will it be easy putting boundaries in place or drawing a line in the sand with some people? No. They will resent you for the boundaries you put into place. This won’t be the norm when dealing with you, and they will resist the boundaries. They will test the boundaries. Stand strong with your armor on and brace for the attack. Believe me, it will come. They will say things to hurt you when you tell them no or refuse to allow them to control you. Hold your head up high. What you are doing by putting boundaries in place is extremely healthy for you and your family!
Today marks 21 years I have lived without my sister. Desperation and depression took her from me. She was only 32 years old.
Every year I think I can get by without it affecting me. This “tender day” of July 9th shouldn’t hold such agonizing memories for me, yet on the way to the wildflower field this morning I kept having flashbacks to this day in 2001. The scene that unfolded 21 years ago was just as vivid today riding down the interstate as it was the day it happened. Fighting back tears, I tried to think good thoughts, and even turned on loud music to drown out any thoughts that tried to haunt me. At one point I am almost sure my husband’s ears were ringing from the thump of the bass. Blinking back the tears, I shifted to thoughts of happier times.
Later, at the wildflower field, I was able to escape in the beautiful array of colors. The variety of vibrant colored Zinnias in light pink, hot pink, red, white, orange and yellow took me away for a little while as we strolled throw the meadows along the pond. Being among nature is good for the soul.
We left the wildflower field and continued on toward an old mill in the upstate. We love going on little adventures and exploring all of God’s beautiful countryside. While we were there, we stepped inside an old structure filled now with graffiti and litter. As we looked around wondering what it was like back when the mill was active, the writing on the wall seemed to speak to me.
“If the world was coming to an end, I don’t wanna close my eyes without feeling like I lived.” MGK
There’s so much my sister has missed since she has been gone. She missed her daughter growing up, graduating high school, and having two children of her own (a boy, three years old now, and a girl, six months old at the time of this writing). She missed my youngest daughter being born and my oldest daughter doting over the baby sister she asked God for. My sister missed recitals, family vacations, cheer practice, volleyball games, silly Christmas pictures with everyone wearing matching pajamas, graduations, weddings, and all the things she SHOULD have been here for but wasn’t.
I wonder with the time she did have on this earth if she truly felt like she lived.
I’ll forever remember the feeling that washed over me shortly after her passing. No one knows how long they will live. We all hope for long, healthy lives, but none are guaranteed this gift. I’m sure you can think of people gone way too soon at an early age as well. Several people come to my mind, too. That’s why I have tried to live, truly enjoy life, for myself and for all the things my sister didn’t get to do with her short time here on this earth. We are made for much more than just to work, deal with stressors, and pay taxes. Our time on earth should be to make a difference in the lives of others and to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. We should go on more adventures, tell people we love them a whole lot more than we do, and spend more quality time together making memories.
I want to feel like I have lived … and so I took swimming lessons and went scuba diving in the Grand Cayman Islands shortly after my sister’s passing. I’ve hiked down the side of a steep mountain to the ruins of an airplane crash to pay respects to those who lost their lives. Sailing in the ocean feeling the wind in my hair or putting the top down on my little convertible has allowed me to feel completely free. Riding on the back of my horse has given me the ability to connect more deeply with God as we explore areas we’ve never been before from the North Carolina mountaintops to the sandy shores of the beaches. We’ve traveled to Hawaii and experienced the culture there while respecting the land and local residents. We have LIVED … in honor of my sister.
Her passing made us all realize that although we don’t want to think about a tragedy occurring in “our” family, sadly, it can and does happen. No one is immune to loss. Our worlds can be totally fine one day with us happy one moment and our entire world crashing around our feet the next.
No one is promised a happy life. You will get beat up and knocked around as you try to merely survive at times. The world won’t stop for your broken heart, just like Reba McEntire sang in her song from the 90s. The world will keep on turning as you pick up the shattered pieces of your heart and life.
From suicides, to random shootings, to drug overdoses, these are just a few things that can seemingly destroy your happy life and family. When someone is ripped from your life, you find yourself wondering how you will be able to breathe from one second to the next. God … that is how. He has been the only reason I am still here today. The Lord truly is close to the brokenhearted as scripture promises us in Psalm 34:18.
So live. For yourself. For your family. For the loved ones that left this world too soon.
There was once a picture of a stick figure person standing in front of another stick figure person with their red heart in their hands. Above their head was a caption that said, “It’s all I have.” And the other person’s captain said, “It’s all I want.”
Have you ever felt as if you had nothing to offer anyone? No physical gift you can possibly give will ever leave an imprint on someone’s life or etch a place for you in their soul. What we seek is much deeper than that. It comes from the core of our being and is THE gift of all gifts to be given freely without reservation to another.
What if the entire world offered their heart and soul? Wouldn’t we see a humungous shift in the way people interact with each other?
I am offering this >>>> my heart, my soul, who I am from the very core of my being. To some it will mean the entire world. Yet to others, it won’t mean a single thing to them, and they will turn away scoffing at the gift of … me. Worry NOT about those fault finding people who could knit pick you like birds peck at the corn in the field or beetles that invade your favorite rose bush, leaving behind holes in the green leaves threatening to steal the life right out of you if you let them. Do not give them that power. They aren’t worth it. Anyone that strikes out at you isn’t happy with themselves. That is the root cause of individuals who stoop to that level. We are better than that! Let the small minded people chatter amongst themselves as we rise and soar to new heights well beyond their reach.
To those that accept the gift of who I am as a person – body, mind, heart, and soul – remember, I welcome and accept you, too!
It grows cold as night falls. I hear you knocking and usher you inside. I bring you soft fuzzy socks to warm your feet, and wrap you in a fleece blanket as I offer you a tasty hot chocolate and place it in your all but frost bitten hands. Wrap your fingers around my favorite mug as you sip and savor every drop allowing the warmth of the smooth liquid and the aroma to soothe your soul. Sit with me by the crackling fire and allow me to soak up every drop of who you are … for you are a beautiful treasure.
There is no flaw in you.
No matter who in your past has told you differently. No amount of ridicule can harm you now. You are safe inside my shield, and anyone that launches harmful words of hatred your way surely will not pierce your heart now for I protect you. Here with me you are safe. My love surrounds you.
Hear me now! There is NO flaw in YOU!
You were formed with God’s great and mighty hands just the way He intended you to be. The fault finders need to examine themselves under that same microscope and rid themselves of the evil that swirls within.
Be free! My love!! Be free!
I offer you words of LOVE and ACCEPTANCE! Be who you were meant to be, and fly high in the sky knowing no one that seeks to destroy you can EVER touch you again. Their attempts bounce off of you and cannot reach you now.
Your worth and value is not to be found in them or their acceptance or even in their criticism of you. For God freely gives us HIs love, and our worth and value is securely found in HIM; our Creator, THE lover of our soul, the One that formed us with His own hand!
Go now out into the world with your head held high, shoulders back, and walk confidently in Him, Dear One, and in the love I have for you as well.
The travel bug has bitten me. I have been blessed to travel to several extraordinary places in my 50 years, but I yearn for more experiences. Early on in my 20s, a friend sent me plane tickets to Alaska not once but twice! Exploring Alaska is unlike anything you will ever experience in life. It is a must-see!
I remember it just like it was yesterday. Shirley, the little naive girl from the South, ventured out on the journey with nobody else accompanying her as she rode on the airplane for the very first time. Imagine the thrill and terror all rolled into one as I stepped foot on the airplane. Upon take-off, the strong force pushed my head back against the seat as I gripped the armrest. I prayed the entire time we were taxiing down the runway before the wheels left the ground!
Atlanta, Georgia was the next stop to change planes. My friend, Tara, met me at the airport. This was during the times when visitors could actually be inside the terminal before 911 happened and security was increased everywhere. It was so pleasant walking with Tara, as she made sure to get me to the right concourse so I didn’t miss my next flight. Man, those were the days!! I say that because at the next stop, my friend, Chris, met me with her family in Salt Lake City, Utah on my layover! We sat around talking and laughing as the time passed way too quickly. We snapped some pictures (I wouldn’t be who I am without documenting the occasion with a picture, of course!), and then Chris hugged me before she and her family waved goodbye as I disappeared into the airplane to find my seat.
Arriving in Alaska was surreal. My friend picked me up at the airport and whisked me away to begin my Alaskan adventure. The time difference was only four hours, so it wasn’t that brutal, but it did take 14 hours of traveling to reach my destination. We rested, and then the next day, we set out to explore.
(The pictures are definitely “dated” with the grainy look from the film back then, but I’m thankful to have these sweet memories despite the quality. There were no pocket cell phones with the ability to take crystal clear photographs in those days! ~gasps~ It was almost 23 years ago!)
The morning fog covered the mountains at first, but by mid-morning, the clouds rolled back to reveal the most beautiful, breathtaking, monstrous mountains my eyes had ever seen!! My family and I would vacation in the “mountains” of North Carolina, and I thought they were amazing. Well, the mountains of Alaska made the mountains of North Carolina look like ant hills!
We hiked to the baby blue glaciers, took pictures in front of a waterfall coming off the side of a mountain, and rode four wheelers on a frozen lake! It was unbelievable!
“Don’t go off somewhere else, we have yet to fish for King Salmon!”
Oh, that was an adventure!
I distinctly remember stepping in waders all the way up to my hips and laughing. What a sight I was, for sure! But, they were needed if we were going to stand in the creeks as the salmon swam upstream. My pal, Cal, the most beautiful Black and Tan German Shepherd thought it would be cool to “fish” also. The only problem was the current was so swift, it swept him off of his four feet faster than we could reach him in the creek. We scrambled to get a rope to hold on to as my friend ventured deeper into the creek after Cal. Within minutes – that seemed more like hours – Cal was back on solid ground, shaking his thick coat and looking at us like he was ready for another adventure. Shortly thereafter, a King Salmon almost as big as me hit my line. I definitely needed backup to pull him in as he twisted, turned, flapped, and struggled against the current and my rod trying his darnedest to get away! Ah, but with reinforcement with what turned into a team effort, we wrangled the King Salmon and made him ours!!
I visited Alaska in the summer, which was like a dream being in the Land of the Midnight Sun! We rode motorcycles at midnight, where it was just as bright at that hour as if it were midday, noon. They truly do have 24 hour daylight in the summer months, and you need heavy blankets or room darkening shades to sleep when it’s like that! Then, in the winter, it gets dark so early – really around 4 p.m. – that depression is very real for many residents during that time. I enjoyed seeing both seasons, but if I had to do it over again, I would only visit in the summer. The air was so cold in the winter that it was like razerblades cutting into my face when I ventured outdoors without full face coverings or ski masks. Even still, I appreciated the generosity and the experience to travel from one end of the United States to the other – twice – to see God’s Country in Alaska! I’m certainly no world traveler, as there is lots more for me to see, but I am thankful and completely grateful to have seen The Last Frontier!