Shirley is the proud mother of two beautiful young ladies. She enjoys spending time with them on their ranch in the deep South with their three paint horses. Always looking for an adventure, she looks forward to hikes in the mountains chasing waterfalls, or scouring the coast for beautiful lighthouses! Shirley writes to encourage others and often times shares things that motivate and inspire her. She believes in living life to the fullest because no one is promised the gift of another day. Join her as we honor our bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and our Almighty Creator, God above!
If your first thought upon seeing the word “TEXT” is that of a teenager sitting in the family room on their phone while the adults are deep in conversation, think again! Allow me to tell you about the new hip “TEXT” which is short for:
T-alk to God
E-ncounter God and humanity in Scripture
eX-amine your heart
T-alk to others
Ah, now we’re talking, and we’ll be getting down with the B-I-B-L-E! Yea, that’s the book for me … and you .. and every believer … whether you’re a student, young adult, or new in your walk with the Lord. Honestly, any experience-level reader will want to use this new TEXT Bible every day as it encourages you to keep the four-step TEXT study method in mind.
Much to my surprise, my husband was the first to pick up the TEXT Bible and start going through it as he exclaimed, “Wow … cool!”
Within this book, you will find answers to big life questions, and there are close to 100 short devotions regarding the person and character of God. If you struggle while reading the Scriptures, there are brief explanations of people and events found within to help you better understand. Brief definitions can be found of important words that will help give a better understanding so we can discuss Scriptures with others. A feature I especially love is the ability to navigate the Bible across various topics.
Prayer is something I wanted to touch on as well, as often new believers find it hard to form the “right” words when they go to the Lord in prayer. While there is no right or wrong way to pray, the TEXT may help you be able to pray God’s words right back to Him. If we tuck His word away in our hearts, no one will ever be able to take that from us. What’s more, we will be able to claim these things as we begin our prayer to God. “By YOUR stripes we are healed, Lord …” you might exclaim as you are praying over a sick or wounded loved one. That is just one example that came immediately to mind.
The TEXT is specifically for anyone interested in becoming confident in engaging Scripture, as it connects Scripture to all of life. Michael and Hayley DiMarco have done an excellent job as general editors, with this being their third Bible project.
With the TEXT, you don’t feel talked down to at all, but instead, it teaches who God is and how to engage with Scripture. Most importantly, it equips you by teaching you how to have a personal relationship with God.
As we prepare for Valentine’s Day next month, we have a deal for you! If you order before Valentine’s Day, you will get 50% off your copy of The NET TEXT Bible! Visit the website to learn more. We encourage you to have a closer walk with the Lord in this new year, and what better way than diving into His word and drawing nearer to Him as you continue your relationship with Him?
Disclosure: Many thanks to Harper Collins Christian Publishing for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.
This holiday season we were purposeful in our planning. We contemplated what to give our parents, then decided the gift of time together was more valuable than anything else in this world. With that in mind, we planned an overnight trip with them but packed as much as we all could stand during those 48 hours! We ended up having such a great time together that we’re looking forward to our next trip!
We started out Saturday morning around 9 a.m. and ventured into North Carolina to the Billy Graham Library. My parents had seen the library on television but had never been in person. My dad’s face lit up when he saw the cross on the side of the library as we entered the parking lot.
It takes about two hours to tour the library, and you will not want to rush as you go through the informative exhibits. Beginning with Bessie, the cow, you will learn tidbits of information you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t taken the time to stop and allow yourself to enjoy the total experience.
My husband and I toured once before, but we learned a little more the second time we visited. My parents seemed to enjoy the new information they learned about Evangelist Billy Graham. My dad was moved to tears as we went through the library.
At the end of the tour, there is an invitation and opportunity to make a decision to follow Christ. If you need to recommit your life, you can do that as well. They have people to assist you with any questions at the end of the tour, and they will pray with you as you commit or recommit your life to Christ. That is priceless! As a matter of fact, there is no charge to tour the library, as the attendant told us Billy Graham did not want money to stand in the way of anyone coming to learn about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Touring the house, gardens, and library are absolutely free, and you are given the gift of eternal life through Jesus if you only believe, confess with your mouth, and accept Christ into your heart.
After touring the library, we moved to the childhood home of Billy Graham. The home was moved to where it presently sits out in front of the library. Around the side of the silo is the garden path which takes you to where Billy and Ruth Graham are buried on the property. We did not take my parents to the Graham’s final resting place due to the bitter cold that day, however. By the time we finished touring the library, we had enough time to drive an hour and a half further to check into our hotel and freshen up for the evening’s adventure to Korner’s Folly.
Carolers dressed in period clothing welcomed us on the porch of this unique home. I have to admit this was a really nice touch, and I was so looking forward to this part in particular. I wanted us to fully be emerged in the spirit of the holiday on our Christmas adventure, and we were not disappointed.
Once we stepped inside, we knew this house was unlike anything we have ever toured before. The house consisted of 22 rooms filled with the original furnishings and artwork complete with cast-plaster details, elaborate tile, which was hand laid, and carved woodwork. Built in 1880, Korner’s Folly was the home of mastermind Jule Gilmer Korner, an artist and designer.
I felt like a child as I went from room to room admiring all of the spectacular Christmas decorations. The sparkling and shining decorations were different in every room, and you could vote on the theme you liked best at the end of the night. It was truly hard to pick just “one” favorite, as they all stood out in their own Winter Wonderland way. From Snowmen to Nut Crackers and everything in between, there was something waiting to bring a smile to your face in every room you stepped into. As if the decorations weren’t enough, each room was unique in size and shape. For instance, when my dad entered the children’s playrooms upstairs, he had to duck way down to avoid hitting his head. Meanwhile, my mother and I, (5′ tall and 4′ 11″ tall), walked comfortably into the playrooms and began admiring all the toys from years gone by. This made us all laugh, and then it was on to the next room to find plenty more that made our eyes widen with excitement. Seeing my dad turning sideways squeezing through a narrow hallway and my husband going down an even more narrow flight of stairs where he had to draw his arms close to his side made us laugh almost hysterically. Oh, the wonder that was Korner’s Folly!!
As you can imagine, we worked up quite an appetite with all the touring that day, so we stopped for supper before heading back to our hotel to retire for the evening.
We rose early the next morning and had a hot made-to-order breakfast before setting off to explore the Reynolda House. Sticking with the sights and sounds of the holiday season, we were enticed by the “Comfort and Joy” theme they had going on that day. But first … Mast General Store was calling our name. There, we found items from our childhood that brought a smile, such as moon pies and RC Colas, candy cigarettes, and little bottles made of wax filled with flavored liquid. We took our time in that store thoroughly examining little blasts from the past to more modern merchandise. There was something in that store for everyone!
After cracking open the candy we purchased at the store, we headed to the Reynolda House. The cold Winter wind felt as if it were slicing right through our jackets as we exited our vehicle and walked toward the entrance where we waited outside for the doors to open. We welcomed the warmth of the sun as we waited. Much to our surprise, quite a large crowd grew before they opened the doors at 1:30 p.m. that Sunday. Once the doors were opened, it didn’t take us long to get through the line for tickets and on to the self-guided tour of the home. We were there the Sunday before Christmas when they had a live performance of Reynolda’s original 1917 Aeolian Organ! What a treat to have beautiful holiday songs from the first half of the 20th century playing from this grand instrument as we toured the museum.
This house, now a museum, made us think of The Biltmore Estates, but of course on a much smaller level. They had no need to leave the estate for entertainment as they had room for roller skating in the basement. What’s more, they had a bowling alley, a shooting range, a racketball court, a wine cellar, a bar, and an indoor swimming pool. What more could you possibly need?
While my husband and I took the stairs to the top floor, my parents used the elevator. Yes … they had an elevator in the house! Something that also surprised us was the history of the family that occupied the home, none other than R.J. and Katharine Reynolds and their four children. Reynolda was the vision of Katharine, and so she hired Architect Charles Barton Keen to design her dream house, and construction began in 1912. The formal gardens were originally laid out as part of the general site plan by Horatio R. Buckenham and Louis Miller and later replaced with Thomas Sears. Due to the frigid cold, we were not able to fully enjoy the grounds and outdoor space. However, we would like to return in Spring to see it in all of its glory when the gardens come to life yet again.
After touring the house, we stopped for a nice late lunch and then started the over three-hour drive back home. The long drive allowed for deep, meaningful conversation. Connecting and making memories was honestly what this trip was all about anyway. Time with family is the absolute most important thing, and it makes it even more special during the holiday season. We look forward to more opportunities to make memories in the new year!
Ten days before Christmas we learned of another star that has taken his life. Twenty-four hours prior, there was a video posted of him dancing, smiling, and playing around. No one knew the feelings he was hiding, and no one knew that the next day he would walk down the street and take his own life at a hotel.
Ten days before Christmas and another family is shattered. They have been tossed into a whirlwind of grief like none other. They struggle to breathe from one minute to the next, unsure how air will force itself into and out of their lungs. They can’t think straight, a million different questions are swirling in their minds all while they are screaming WHY???? Why did this happen?
Ten days before Christmas they are guiltridden. They are filled with unimaginable guilt – survivor’s guilt – because they did not see or recognize the signs if there were any prior to this act. They curl up in a sobbing heap on the floor crying out with everything in them because the pain is too great.
Ten days before Christmas people are struggling in their own way each tormented with things that they don’t speak of to others.
My sister’s birthday was Tuesday, December 13th. I thought of her that day, as I always do, and what should have been. She should have been here with me celebrating her turning 54 years old. Suicide took her away from me. Postpartum depression clouded her view, and she was unable to see the love we all have for her and how we would have done anything to save her!
There was no celebrating on her birthday. There was great sadness that filled us like waves crashing onto the shore overtaking the little toddler that struggles to remain standing against the force of the ocean. The grief finally takes us down once again, just like the waves that knock the toddler into the unforgiving sand on the beach. He cries out, gasping for air, trying with all of his might to recover. We are different, yet the same.
A widow lies crying in the darkness of night as she just lost her beloved husband of 60 years to dementia a month ago. She was his beloved caregiver, and she did everything in her power to make his last days as comfortable as possible. She would climb in the bed with him and hold him as he cried wishing he had more time with his bride. She watched him slowly slip away from this life and into the next. Her grief is still fresh and raw. She struggles with her first of many holidays without the love of her life by her side.
Another woman lies crying in a heap on the floor because her husband doesn’t show he loves her. He says it, sure. But his actions do NOT line up with his words whatsoever. She cries out in her grief and pain over what should be a love-filled marriage, and yet, she knows she will not truly ever FEEL his love because he withholds it. He knows HOW to show her that he loves her, yet he refuses and she has to accept that she will not feel loved in this marriage. It’s a choice HE makes, treating others better than his own wife that he yells at when she shows her emotions and begs for him to throw a crumb of love and affection her way.
We are different, yet the same in our grief.
People are HURTING, and it is up to US to show them that they matter! It’s up to US to be kinder to others, to go the extra mile when others won’t. We have the power to change a person’s life just by being KIND to them and LOVING toward them. Don’t just say the words – SHOW IT!!! Show people that you love them and care for them. Show people that they matter.
Be there – in every way possible – whatever the need. Let people know that they are NOT ALONE! They feel alone, they hurt so deep within the core of their being, and they FEEL alone. Their feelings are their reality. They HURT … and we can help them if we just TRY!
People need to know that they matter. Come alongside someone and truly show them! Put your arms around them, embrace them, and draw them into you for a hug. A true heartfelt hug has the ability to heal hurts that are hidden deep within people.
There are people that never speak of things that haunt them daily. They suffer in silence, never letting those words pass their lips. The pain is too great to pull the scab back and expose it. It hurt too much when it happened, they can’t risk opening the wound back up again by talking about it, so they tuck their hurt and pain inside. Maybe they encountered a heartless soul that would not help them but yet shamed them for their feelings. Maybe they were told to suck it up, as if things that bothered them “shouldn’t.” Or maybe they were told things like “I don’t know why you feel that way.” BECAUSE THAT IS THEIR REALITY!!! If you have the ability to CHANGE that for someone – DO IT!!!!
Why is it so easy to be hateful and mean to people instead of wrapping their hurting hearts and souls in LOVE?! WHY do we have people that kill themselves? Because the pain they feel is so soul-crushing deep, so convincing, and they feel no one understands them or that ONE person that can make all the difference in the world CHOOSES NOT TO …
They hurt … and they just want the hurt and pain to end.
But that’s the thing. The hurt and pain do NOT end there. Instead, it is transferred over to the family members that are left behind. The pain never “goes away.” It is just heaped on top of other unsuspecting individuals who never saw it coming.
They are hit in the face by a plane that fell out of the sky from nowhere. They are leveled by the skyscrapers in New York City that come slamming down on their shoulders now.
Ten days before Christmas, this is our wake-up call. You could possibly save someone’s life just by being kind and showing love. None of us know what the person standing next to us is dealing with. Maybe they appear to be so happy and are smiling all the time, dancing around, JUST LIKE THIS STAR THAT KILLED HIMSELF!
Instead of withholding love from the lady that is begging and crying out in her overwhelming sorrow, you could change her entire world by giving the love you KNOW you have within you. Why do you “play nice” with everyone else – your acquaintances or coworkers? Why do you treat THEM better than you do your own spouse? Because you can get away with it? Because you like having “control” and “withholding” … because you “can”?
Don’t be the reason someone feels so beat down by this world and by someone living in their own homes to where they would even breathe the words, “I know why people kill themselves …” Even if that person would never act upon it, they are expressing the deep hurt, pain, and sorrow felt that would lead someone to end their own suffering.
Be the change. SHOW LOVE. BE KIND! Everyone is struggling. Don’t be the reason someone feels there is no good left in the world, instead show them love and be the reason they decide to stay …
This holiday season, we hope you’re taking time to enjoy the simple things in life. The Christmas lights are one of those simple things that provide joy and happiness during the holiday season for our family. We tried last year to get tickets to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrels Inlet, but the event was sold out. Therefore, it became my mission to start early this year to snag tickets.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving was marked on all of our calendars.
Night of a Thousand Candles
And … it did NOT disappoint!
Our youngest daughter accompanied us on this exciting adventure! We began our two-and-a-half-hour journey early in the afternoon to arrive shortly before the sun began to set as we wished to enjoy the grounds before nightfall. Then, as daylight slipped away, we found ourselves immersed in twinkling lights, candles galore, and the most beautiful displays of trains and vintage toys from years gone by. While we were taking a stroll down memory lane amongst the familiar toys of our youth, our daughter looked on astonished at the “antiques” making us feel old as dirt!
As we made our way through the lushly landscaped gardens among the statues and fountains were three trees strung with Christmas lights. We all gathered in front of the makeshift stage singing Christmas carols, then counted down for the three trees to be lit signifying the beginning of the Christmas season.
With a flip of the switch, things seem to change inside of us as well. The twinkling lights united us all as we stood in that moment in time.
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.