Here a Date, There a Date…

Woman writing in her diary at sunset

I have done it for years, and it has always been a happy habit that I enjoy. It has been easy for me to remember dates on the calendar and special things that happened on that day 1, 5, or even 10 years ago because I have journaled consistently for nearly 3 decades. My husband and I still celebrate our first date, the day he proposed and our wedding anniversary.

Thirteen years ago the dates on the calendar began taking a sad turn for me–my dad died on January 3, 2004; My daughter moved out-of-state with her husband and three children in May of 2011; My Mom passed away on December 15, 2012; My son moved to TN with his wife and three children on March 24, 2014; the list goes on and on.

This year we’ve faced more challenging dates on the calendar–my Mother-In-Law fell and broke her hip, our daughter needed surgery and it was scheduled right between Christmas and New Years Day. Not to mention the friends who have moved, friends who have endured incredible suffering and life-threatening illnesses.

What used to be a fun habit can now at times bring torment and despair. It’s all on how I choose to remember. A friend recently gave me a plaque with this quote on it by Dr. Seuss. It says,

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

I tend to look back and remember precious times that are no more and feel sad. God is helping me to change this habit, but old habits don’t die easy. I don’t know if I’ll ever celebrate Christmas without remembering my parents and what my siblings and I walked through with them on the road to eternity. It was the most precious hardship I’ve ever endured.

Isn’t that how it is with life? We long for the happy moments, but it is the intensely sad ones that often become the most precious to us. Most of life’s important lessons we learn come to us through tears.

What dates on your calendar bring you joy? Tears? Do you think it’s good to remember or better to forget? I’ve decided it’s good for me to remember, but to limit those things on which I allow myself to dwell.  Remembering the hard parts may not be the best for me. I must choose instead to remember what I learned through it all and focus on that!

This year I pray I’ll be more aware of how quickly my heart attaches to dates and their meaning on the timeline of my life, and resist the downward spiral of emotions that comes so easily to me. I want to instead remember the good with smiles of gratefulness for what once was and let go of the weight of regret for how things have changed. Life is too short to look back unless it is to give thanks to God for it all.

 

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A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes…

a_dream_is_a_wish-32635…when you’re fast asleep… is how the song goes from a popular fairy tale. But today I feel as if I’m living that dream.

Tomorrow I leave for my first Ladies Retreat at Barefoot Cabin. This is the place Tom and I bought in May for the purpose of hosting marriage and ladies retreats. It is a dream come true.

My love for this kind of retreat came about when I attended my first one in 1989. It was there that God shared with me His desire to use my writing for His purposes. All I knew then was He wanted me to start keeping a personal journal. I didn’t realize how doing this one daily exercise would strengthen my writing skills and help me remember significant events in my life and family. But it has! Whenever I take the time to write out what God has done, it cements it in my memory and enables me to recall it later.

Take for instance my research for Through The Eyes Of Grace. I can’t tell you how many times my Mom told me all the facts surrounding my grandmother’s story, but they never made it permanently into my memory bank until I wrote it down. Now I feel as if my grandmother is my friend, and someone with whom I can relate.

There was one time in particular that I want to share where I was so overwhelmed with God’s love for me through my journals. I was facing an extremely difficult season; my only hope was in God doing what seemed impossible to me. I was writing out my fears and worries in my journal when God interrupted me. I heard Him say that five years from now I will look back on this journal entry and thank Him for what He had done. Of course, I wanted this to be true, but my mind quickly filled with doubt, “That’s just you speaking, Debi. That’s what you want to hear!” I wrote out what I thought He had said, but quickly forgot about it.

Fast forward five years. Things were going well in our household, and I was filled with gratefulness to God for some specific things He had done. I took the time to write out those specifics in my journal as a prayer to God for His kindness and mercy in my life. As I was doing so, God once again interrupted me and said, “I want you to look at your journal from five years ago.” Puzzled, and having completely forgotten about the previous paragraph, I did so. Imagine my overwhelming response when it was where He had told me I would thank Him for what He had accomplished in the circumstances with which I was anxious and afraid!!

What a God we serve. He isn’t far off as some suppose, but He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. His kindness and mercy knows no bounds, and when He stoops to encourage me in little ways like these, I am undone.

So as I embark on this new journey, I know God has gone before me. He has surprises along the way that I can’t wait to discover. But most of all I can’t wait to spend time alone with Him. He is the author of our dreams and the finisher of our faith. He will complete the work He’s begun in you and in me.

In what ways are you tempted to fear tomorrow? How has God helped you remember His faithfulness?

From My Journal

From time to time, I’m going to share with you some of my personal journey as I record in my journal. My hope is that this will help you as God is helping me, and that it might encourage you to start journaling your own thoughts and prayers.

Journal entry from October 15th:

My Bible verse for today is Deuteronomy 7:7-8 ESV:

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers.”

Thank you, Father, for Your faithfulness to keep Your promises. You promise and You never forget. We benefit from the promise You made to Abraham thousands of years ago. I’m sure I’m benefitting from promises You  made to my grandmother–Grace Stella–and my great-grandfather–“Uncle Bud” Oswalt. Thank You.

Thank You for choosing to place Your love on me and on my children. I believe and pray my grandchildren will grow to love You as well. Set Your seal upon their heart, Lord. May they learn of Your grace at an early age. I love You and can’t imagine my life apart from Your love. Thank You that I will never know.

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Do you keep a journal? If so, what is God currently saying to you? If not, have you considered the blessing this would be for your family in the years to come?