Today is the final day of The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in November. I have succeeded in what I set out to do.
But God! He succeeded in giving me a fresh vision for the purpose of this blog.
Originally it was simply a place to share bits and pieces from my book, Through The Eyes of Grace, (now available in hardcover) as well as background stories. I realize how limiting this has been to me.
Instead, I now see that this blog is mine to use for my enjoyment; writing whatever is on my mind for the good and hopefully encouragement of all who read it. But even if no one reads, I will still be full of happy to have this outlet of creativity and joy.
You all have been a part of this discovery. Thank you for reading, for commenting and for encouraging me in countless ways.
It took me a long time to call myself a writer. But I realize the old adage is true—Writers write! This is what God has given me to do in this life. I will listen to His prompts and follow His lead in writing from this foundation.
I write because I enjoy it, I always have—since I was a young girl writing silly poems that expressed my heart at the time.
I write because it helps me process life with all its good and enjoyable times as well as the hard and difficult times.
I write because it connects me to others who write well and inspire me in my craft. it is an art worth pursuing well.
I write to hopefully do the same in inspiring others. Either in their writing, in their faith, in their parenting, marriage or dreams.
To celebrate this, I am changing the name of my blog…
Write From the heart
Writing from my heart is what I’ve always done. Now my blog lines up with my mission. Thank you all for your part in this challenge and in this change. I invite you to join me as I discover more in this new season of writing.
Today’s prompt is to answer this question: What would you say to your teenage self based on what you know today?
When I was a teen I thought I knew a lot about life and how it worked. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I would say to myself—take it easy and enjoy the process. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You don’t even have to be in control. You never will be anyway!
I would say—God is leading every step you take, even when His footprints are unseen. What you can’t see you don’t know, but that doesn’t mean He’s not there.
I would say—take time and talk to your grandmother. When she gave you her ring when you were 16, pause and ask her the story behind why she was doing this. You won’t have much longer with her, and you will regret not knowing what you don’t know.
I would say—laugh more at yourself and stop taking what everyone thinks of you so seriously. What really matters is what God says about you. Focus on Him and all the other stuff will dim in comparison.
Embrace every high and low of the road ahead. These are the lessons that will carry you to maturity.
Read your Bible everyday. Not because you have to but because you don’t know what you don’t know. This is the place to begin discovering those answers.
Be grateful, humble and kind. Everyone has a story. And friendship is the key to unlocking them. It begins with a smile and asking good questions. It takes being a good friend to have good friends. You never know what you don’t know until you ask.
This is my 29th post in The Ultimate Bog Challenge to post everyday in November.
Normally when it’s time to leave any of my grandchildren I am an emotional mess. My sadness would cling to me for weeks. My poor husband learned to let me grieve the what could have beens and trust God to speak to me words of comfort. Everything in him wanted to help me, but he couldn’t. The waves of grief surrounding my broken heart were too big for human rescue. I needed God.
Today He broke through! As we huddled together with our daughter, son-in-love and four precious grandkiddos, in what our family calls “the group hug”, an amazing thing happened; there was only laughter—no tears.
Maybe it’s because we know the separation is only temporary. Lord willing, we will make more memories. But even if we don’t due to some unforeseen circumstance, this thing I know, we will have no regrets. We have shared our love and made memories that will last long after we are gone.
Maybe it’s because of the trauma our family has faced, making these goodbyes seem like gifts, not punishments.
And maybe, just maybe it’s because God is maturing me to trust Him with the things that are precious to me. I no longer hold tightly to those I love, but I hold tighter to God who holds them faithfully better than I ever could.
I remember getting on my knees one morning and desperately asking God to help me let go of my last child who was moving to Arkansas to start her new life as a Mrs…
I humbly bow my knee in surrender to Your Lordship in my life. And I choose to worship You with joy, trusting in Your faithfulness to me and to them.
In Jesus’ name,
It didn’t happen over night. I have prayed this prayer countless times in desperate moments. Times when the rising tide of my emotions attempted to take me out to sea.
He has been and will always be the anchor of my soul. I experienced a calm today as I walked out of my daughter’s front door. I expected stormy seas and instead found beautiful trade winds.
This is my 28th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.
My last question was asked by Jeanine Byers of the Hallmark Christmas Life blog; “How do you – meaning you, personally – navigate ongoing grief and loss?”
Such a good question that has needed time to meld in my mind before responding. And I have prayed about the best way to do so.
Grief has been compared to waves that come and go, a roller coaster with highs and scary lows, or a journey that takes you places you never wanted to go. All are excellent comparisons. The thing is I have personally felt every one.
The waves of the sea are said to come in sets of 7. And the stages of grief are also said to be 7. Just as the waves vary depending on the wind above the waters surface, so too does my grief vary based on the winds of my emotions. Some days all is calm, other days the wind is violent and difficult to navigate through.
Jeanine watched a movie where the end hit her hard. I call those “rogue waves” that hit out of no where. She didn’t see it coming so the affects it had on her were greater.
Movies and music provide touchstones (parts that connect to you on an emotional level or shared experience). I’ve found when this happens the best thing to do is like a big wave—roll with it. It won’t last and it may be that my tears have been building and need release.
However, I have to guard my mind when it happens. Or I get on the emotional roller coaster that leads no where.
The grief I have experienced recently has left me sad. My brother died of Covid, but God determined the day he would take his last breath. This gives me peace because God is in control, I can trust Him.
Life is a journey and God has chosen an exit for each of us. He would that all of us believe in Jesus Christ for this is the door to eternal joy.
I have hope as a Christian knowing I will see my brother and my parents again one day in Heaven. My parents were both older (Mom 90 and Dad 81). My brother was only 66. He had so much ahead of him he hadn’t experienced yet. And that would be sad if this life was all there is. My belief in Heaven has made all the difference. He is experiencing a level of life now that I can only dream of.
I highly recommend Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. He has spent his life studying and forming a theology of Heaven that is compelling.
This is how I process ongoing grief, but everyone is different.
The best thing to do is to listen to those who are grieving. I’ve heard cliches are not helpful and I’ve found this to be so true for me. Just be present and let your grieving friend share. We don’t ever move on from the loss we’ve experienced, but we do move forward, some faster than others.
A good friend is there for the ride—whether it’s rolling waves, scary coasters or long road trips—whatever is needed.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 ESV
This is my 27th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.
Welcome to Day 26 of my month-long challenge. We were prompted to share a favorite quote.
One of my favorite quotes is by Hunter S. Thompson. Although I’ve never read this book, I love this quote…
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow what a ride!”
I would add that my goal is to slide into Heaven having fully used up everything God had given me to live and love well.
The last few years have attempted to knock me off my feet. Stress has a way of making everything hurt. I’ve realized that my body may always hurt, but it won’t stop me from living my life to its fullest. Anything worth doing comes with a sacrifice. It usually involves enduring pain and hardship.
Athletes do this well if they want to reach their full potential.
Dancers push through the rigorous discipline of practice to achieve their best performance.
Musicians master their talent with finger drills and playing their instruments hours at a time. I’ve seen guitarists with bloody finger tips who play on. Such commitment to excellence is inspiring.
How God-glorifying to use up all that He has equipped me with—my gifts, my talents, my very heart, to lay it all at His feet one day. Showing that all I did in this life was for His pleasure and glory.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36 ESV
This is my 26th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.
Today is 24 days of posts in November. I’m amazed I’ve made it this far!
Nikki asked a really good question about celebrating the holidays.
“I have been thinking about the differences in holiday celebrations now compared to when I was a kid. Our family isn’t quite as close-knit — everyone in my generation has moved away whereas my parents lived near their parents so we could all gather for the holidays. Have you noticed the same in your family?”
In my generation most of us stayed close to our parents, so holidays were always a big event.
Our children all moved away after they were married. Some it took years and our last one moved when she got married. All three living in different states from us.
I never considered this would happen.
When our daughter moved to GA with two of our grandchildren ages almost 4 and almost 2 in nearly killed me. I didn’t see this coming and my heart was broken.
I had well-meaning friends who said things like, “At least you are close enough to drive there and see them.” This was like pouring salt in my wounded heart.
But God! He had other plans.
My hope was that our family would share life together. We would be available to babysit so our kids could cultivate their relationship in the throes of raising a family. Holidays would be challenging in how we would seat everyone around the same table.
First our daughter, son-in-love and two grandchildren moved to GA. in 2011.
A year later my Mom died in 2012, leaving me feeling orphaned since my Dad died 9 years earlier.
Second, our son moved to Tennessee for his dream job in 2014. He took his sweet wife and three more of my precious grandchildren with him. While I was happy for the dreams they were pursuing, my heart was broken for what could have been. It haunted me daily.
Then Disney came out with a new movie and a hit song that was played everywhere. It had the three words I kept hearing God say to me. “Let it go!” I was afraid to let go of my desire for fear that my kids would never move back.
Finally, when our youngest daughter got married and moved to yet another state in 2018, I was undone. Finally I knew I had to let go of what I had imagined life would be to let my kids have the freedom to follow their dreams. I needed to be their biggest fan, not their strongest antagonist!
This made all the difference.
I was able to let go and trust that God was leading our kids exactly where he wanted them to be.
Our holidays change from year to year. We have enjoyed times where we are all together, but more times than not, we’ve had to adjust our expectations and enjoy the ones who were able to be with us.
Most times we are the ones who travel to see them because our kids and grandkids are a priority to us, even if it’s not convenient. I love them and anytime we are able to spend together.
FaceTime is an almost daily occurrence, and for this I am so very thankful. I think often of my grandmother, Grace, who moved away from her family at 16 years of age. There was no telephone, no internet, no cars even. Miles separated them and the only communication took weeks to receive.
As I write this we are with one third of our family for Thanksgiving. The other two-thirds are spending Thanksgiving with their in-laws. We are choosing to focus on being present and enjoying what is, rather than being sad over what could have been.
But God! He is the only reason I’m able to say this.
We almost lost two grandchildren in the last two years, and I lost my brother this year. The distance that separates us doesn’t seem as significant now.
As my youngest daughter recently wrote about raising an infant with special needs, “Every day is thanksgiving, and even though I can still struggle with a heart of complaint. I pray my perspective is always pointed to what God has blessed me with rather than what I think He has taken away.”
Yes, Perspective. it makes all the difference in how we move forward from grieving what could have been to what we’ve been given.
This is my 24th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.
Yesterday I invited questions from readers, and I received some outstanding ones. Thank you all!
Tamara asked about our youngest grandson Elias.
Our daughter and her husband were expecting their first baby on January 29, 2021. Tom and I were so excited to finally visit them in Arkansas to see Heather pregnant. It was such a happy anticipation to welcome grand baby #9 and watch Matt and Heather receive the blessing of parenthood.
After our wonderful visit. I got a phone from her saying the doctor was putting her on bed rest. I flew out to take care of her and to help keep her baby safe and secure.
But what we didn’t realize was God was working to rescue Elias from a virus he had contracted during the first trimester called CMV. Babies that go full term with this virus often have very serious health disabilities including hearing loss, lung, liver and brain damage. Some don’t survive.
Elias Angel was born on October 14, 2020, at 24 weeks and 5 days. He was 1 lb 6.6 ozs and 12” long. Roughly the size of a water bottle.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 ESV
The NICU staff was amazing. Our daughter calls them God’s angels. They began Elias on medication right away to fight the effects of CMV. Everyday he surprised all of us making forward progress.
From his little NICU cubicle we were able to watch God do what He normally does in the “secret place” as Psalm 139 declares. We were in awe of this miracle being formed before us.
He was in the NICU a total of 116 days. When Matt and Heather were finally able to drive him home from Oklahoma to Arkansas (a two hour drive), Papa and Nana were there waiting to see and hold him for the first time. What a moment that was!
He was so tiny and quiet. The ventilator and his immature core muscles made his voice very weak. The only way we knew he was crying was when his heart rate monitor would go off. His care required 24 hour diligence with feeds and medications.
Fast forward to today, Elias…
Is still making forward progress, thanks to an amazing team of doctors and therapists
can hear well
can see and recognize people
Has the cutest personality
Loves to belly laugh (still quiet but now he’s audible)
Is trying his best to crawl
Is eating baby food
Has two teeth
And kisses Mommy every chance he gets
His prognosis is wait and see. Every child in his condition is unique. There are no certainties. But one thing we know! But God! He has been leading every step of Elias’ treatment since the day He was conceived. He is our miracle baby and one whom we call our Tiny Warrior.
He now weighs over 14 lbs at 13 months of age.
I write a song for each of my grandchildren. This is Elias’ song, sung to the tune, Jesus Loves The Little Children…
🎶Nana loves Elias Angel. He’s as sweet as he can be. When he was born he won my heart, tiny warrior from the start. I thank God He brought you to our family!🎶
This is my 23rd post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to write everyday in November.
First of all, thanks for coming my blog and reading about whatever is on my heart for the day.
I have a favor to ask of you! Now that you are here, what would you like to know? What question would you like answered or discussed? What is causing the most pain for you right now? Go on, Ask Me Anything!
I will select one or two and answer them if I’m able.
So, leave a comment below and ask me a question! Thanks for taking the time to consider and comment.
This is post #22 in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.
When we moved into our neighborhood in 1992 our children were 10, 8 and 6. We had a cat named Bunny and a guinea pig named Cupcake. I homeschooled all of our kids since day one and this neighborhood was full of other homeschooling families. It was so nice to be able to plan things together and not feel so isolated.
Imagine my disappointment when we went to our first HOA meeting.
The air was so tense neighbors were using it to fling lots of complaints and insults at each other, many of which were warranted. But still. There is a positive way to say things that produce results. This was not working. I had an idea but had to ask myself if this was a challenge I was willing to take.
I asked the HOA President if he would be open to me starting a neighborhood newsletter. I told him I could say what needed to be said in a way that would be more “hearer friendly”. Since things were so volatile, he was more than will to let me try. I said I would never be on the HOA so my words would always be from one neighbor to another, not from the Board make directives to the “homemoaners”.
Our Sun newsletter began in 1999 with the byline, “helping our neighborhood shine”.
It was more of a hope than a reality. But I knew the power of words, and this was a challenge that would have tremendous rewards. Not only for our quality of life, but for our property values too.
It began as a monthly newsletter. I write a regular piece for the front page that focuses on the importance of being a good neighbor. Other regular columns are from the HOA President, the Architectural Review Board highlighting Yard of the Season, and our Neighborhood Watch report. The last page is the Kids page with seasonal jokes, puzzles and challenges.
As the years have passed we have changed the newsletter to be distributed quarterly. Some have suggested we go digital, but honestly we have found people are more likely to read a colorful newsletter dropped at their door, then they are to click a link on their computer.
Our neighborhood was established in the early 80’s. The fact that our HOA is still being run by neighbors who volunteer their time for a year commitment is an anomaly. It’s even more so that our board gets along well. When there is a disagreement we have learned how to work it through in a civil way.
Words have the power to tear down.
We’ve seen this more so on social media in recent years. And we can never take those words back. It is best to use our words to build up and say what needs to be said without a pointing finger.
Our pastor says, “Every time you point a finger at someone remember there are three more pointing back at you.” Which goes with the saying, “Better to remove the log from your own eye before going after the speck in your brother’s eye.”
We are all capable of tearing down or building up. This challenge was to see if a simple newsletter could shine the light of kindness on a battlefield and bring peace. I’m thrilled to say it did, and our neighborhood is shining all the brighter as a result.
What challenge have you taken and found positive results?
This is the 21st post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.