Holy Moments – Day 15 – Secret Dream

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Hearing encouragement from the right person can make all the difference.

I have a friend who spoke the secret of my heart out loud.

She had no idea that’s what she’d done at the time she said it. But with her words, she gave a dream wings.

“You should be a writer.”

In the very early days of writing my blog, it was her voice that gave me the confidence to click the ‘Publish’ button.

And to write again.

I quickly realized I needed to thank her.

So I did.

And then, well, grace came back to find her, too.

Because in big and small ways, that’s what He does.

Our emails mark the trail….

From: Gretchen  
Sent: Sun 10/05/14      4:20 PM
To: Laura 

Laura,

So, I’m sharing this with you because I keep feeling prompted to do so…probably because on more than one occasion now you’ve told me I should be a writer. Whether you were serious or not, I don’t know, but you couldn’t have known you were speaking truth to a private dream.

So – after years of thinking about it, I’m finally taking the leap and trying a little bit….[I] created a blog…It isn’t perfect…I’ve posted for 3 days and hope to be faithful to it….I hope you’ll pray for me. 🙂

Here’s the link….

Blessings,

Gretchen

 

From: Laura
Sent: Mon 10/06/14      10:07 AM
To: Gretchen

Wow Wow Wow…

I had just arrived home from taking the kids to school. I was still sitting in the garage waiting for Joel Osteen to come to a break in his talk so that I could run the XM radio inside to finish listening there. I was debating whether this particular episode was even worthy of my time as I had to get on with my “daily duties” and it wasn’t particularly striking a chord with me. I decided to ease my guilt by multi-tasking – I began to check the emails on my phone.

He kept stressing the point about how even a passing statement to someone that seems like nothing, could mean the world to them. We have no idea about how we can affect the course of someone’s life. We should never underestimate ourselves and the power of our words. I thought, “Ok. Makes sense. Still, no big aha moment.” …and then I opened your email…I may not have given any propulsion to your dream, but I feel like God was telling me, “Yes, even YOU, Laura.” My fists were clenched and waving as I audibly got the willies- in a joyful way. God is fun sometimes!

I went to your blog and read every last bit. You are amazing! 3 People?!

I hope you shout it from the rooftops so that everyone can experience your talent and inspiration! (add to favorites-click!)

In the meantime, I WILL pray for you and I will remember today’s message for a long time.

L

 

From: Gretchen
Sent: Tue 10/07/14       7:53 PM
To: Laura

Laura,

What an awesome experience to have all of those “promptings” for me to tell you then come together so that Monday morning you would get your God moment. He really is amazing. :).

Thank you again for the encouragement. I think the three followers are all friends…. My confidence goes up and down.

I’m certainly not ready to post it to FB or anything.… Facing that fear is hard.

But anyway – every bit of support is awesome, and helps me feel like maybe I’m on the right track.

Blessings,
Gretchen

 

I did eventually post to FaceBook and over time, in infinitesimally small ways, living a secret dream started to feel less scary. More like taking flight.

A Prayer and Song for Claudia’s Family

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Thank you to everyone who prayed for my stepsister, Claudia, earlier this year.  As you know, she went home to the Father, and will be rejoicing in Heaven this Christmas. But her family remains.  And oh, how they ache. If you would, please pray with me again – for them – this season.

And if YOU are mourning someone this Christmas, it would be my privilege to pray for you.  Please don’t hesitate to ask me.

Dear Lord, King of Kings,
You are Immanuel – God With Us.
Thank you for creating this Christmas season by sending your son, Jesus Christ – the Very Word of God, wrapped in human flesh.
In His life, he knew every possible kind of suffering – so that we would know,
We are never alone.
We thank you for His triumphant resurrection over death, and for His eternal grace.
Lord, you have promised to be with us always and everywhere, and your Word is Truth – for there is no impurity within you.
Please come and be with Claudia’s family.
Make your peace known to them.
Enfold them in your loving arms and touch their hearts with the expectation of joy to come.
Assure them of your never-ending faithfulness, and remind them of the ways you have already blessed them, so they can be renewed with hope for your goodness in the time ahead.
Strengthen their spirits and increase their faith.
Please hold them up and bind them together, so that they may find solace, and You, in the eyes of one another.
And Lord, bless Claudia’s children – Cata, Nick, and baby Matias – in a special way.
May their mother’s love be forever imprinted upon their hearts and souls.

In the name of our Saviour, Jesus, we pray,
Amen.

 

Day 29 – Write it on Your Heart

I got out the hearts today. The wooden hearts. We started writing on these at Thanksgiving a couple years ago, when I hoped it would become an annual tradition. Every person in our home for the holiday writes on one side of the heart what he or she is thankful for this year, and on the other, their name and the date. Over time, we’ll have a record of gratitude that can be arranged in a vase, or tossed in a bowl to be sifted through and remembered.

One of my very best friends gave me this ‘hearts’ idea, and I liked it because it’s similar to writing thank-notes or making gratitude lists.  And I like to write thank-you notes. Seriously. Some people find them tedious but I don’t. In fact, I’ve found that the old adage “you can’t hold a positive and negative thought in your head at the same time” is true, because when I’m feeling a bit down or having an “off” day, the best remedy for me is to write a thank-you note to someone, for any good reason I can think of.  And if I can’t think of anyone, I can always build on my gratitude list to God, starting right where I am.

I read (and re-read) an amazing book this year called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  In it, she takes counting blessings to a whole new level.  How?  First, she unravels the word eucharisteo, the original Greek word used in the Gospel of Luke to describe Jesus giving thanks at the Last Supper. Eucharisteo means thanksgiving, and within it is the Greek word charis, meaning grace, and its derivative chara, meaning joy.  So, there is a correlation between giving thanks to God for the gifts of His grace that we see all around us (even the tiniest things!), and experiencing joy. The miracle is that this works even when we think there is nothing to be thankful for.

This year has been a difficult one for my family.  We’ve lost several family members, and we miss them this Thanksgiving. But when we had to say goodbye to each of them, I began my daily prayers with litanies of thanks for all the things I could think of about each person, and it pulled my focus off my sadness, and onto them, where they are now, in God’s light.

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Day 16 – Getaway?

Today we are leaving on a 4-day family getaway to Colonial Williamsburg.  We’re all super excited, and every single one of us has had a checklist of items that needed to be done prior to departure. My older two kids both had big assignments due today that should have, and could have, been completed at a more leisurely pace before last night. But they weren’t.  And one child had completed an assignment, shown it to me, and since it wasn’t what the teacher was asking for, put me in the position of saying, “You need to redo it.”  The other had a gazillion math problems I didn’t have time (or memory) to solve while cooking dinner. If you are (or were) the parent of school-aged kids, you know where this scenario is headed.

I’ll spare you the drama, but let’s just say that by 6:30 last night, my dear husband, who was still at work trying to clear his desk for vacation, had just received a full-on “vent” phone call from me. (It was soooo not fair to him.) After we hung up, the other 4 of us sat down to dinner.  All three kids were crying.  The older two because of their schoolwork. The younger one because of the older two; he couldn’t stand their tears and wailing.  How I sympathized.

It was time to pray.  And pray I did.  Not your normal dinnertime prayer, NOOO. I risked the food getting cold.  I asked Him to step in.  I called on Him by name for each of us, by name.  The red eyes and red noses started to clear as we ate in silence.  And miraculously, everything got done and everyone was in bed on time.

This morning, the day dawned and I was given a second chance to do better. The plan was to drive 1 hour round-trip to take my husband to the Metro so he could leave his car at home (instead of in a lot somewhere) for the next few days. Then, load up the dogs and drive 75 mins. round-trip in the opposite direction to the kennel, before dropping my little guy off at preschool for lunch and — get this — PICTURE DAY.  He was dressed and ready to go at breakfast.  All his other nice-looking clothes are packed for the trip…..Life was going well….And BOOM!  He spilled a full cup of orange juice down the front of him.

I could have lost it. I was definitely frustrated, even slightly angry. But I looked at what I had been given at that moment.  Time.  I stripped him down, put him in sweats, and had just enough time to wash and dry the outfit between runs to the Metro and kennel.

“His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion.”

–1 Peter 3:1

Everything.  His divine power has given us everything we need at any given moment to move out of that space where anger and frustration is going to spill out and harm those we love. The only thing required is the only thing ever required – turning to Him and letting His grace in.

Day 12 – Family Movie Night

Saturday night is usually “family movie night” at our house. Our selections generally need to have broad appeal since the audience of five ranges in age from 4 to 42 and includes both genders. So – it’s not all action movies or cartoon animation, and it’s not all princess stories, either. Lately, we’ve been trying out some classics we think the kids might enjoy.  I’m happy to report that in the last few months, The Wizard of Oz, The Goonies, and The Sound of Music were hits!

Photo credit: "Maria" by jessowey, www.fanpop.com
Photo credit: “Maria” by jessowey, www.fanpop.com

 

What I cherish most about these evenings is not the break in routine from our very scheduled lives, but the feeling in our home just before we descend to the basement to get settled in. We make a bunch of popcorn. Then, the kids grab pillows, stuffed animals and blankets from their rooms and loudly haul them downstairs. They are jubilant and pumped with adrenaline. They “call” spots.  Who gets the little hideaway between the sofa and the Elvis lamp? (It was from my husband’s first apartment – none of his roommates claimed it when everyone moved out, but we still have it….worth some money, maybe??…..the kids love that nook.)  And who will get the alligator chair? – a green stuffed animal/pillow that we bought for child #1’s baby room, but that has mysteriously lingered for almost 12 years. And who gets the sofa, to cuddle with Mom?  (Thankfully, this last choice is not always the last choice.)

These joyful family rituals are the ties that will connect my kids’ childhood memories, along with family dinners, outings to museums and sites in nearby cities, school events we all attend, holidays, church on Sunday, etc. And the truth is, I know I couldn’t really appreciate these situations without a modicum of God’s grace.  Not because I don’t love my kids, but because try as I might, I still love them as only a human mother can.  And sometimes, the noise they make drives me nuts.

When I’m tired, and just looking forward to putting my feet up on a sofa, and watching a nice movie next to my husband, I sometimes have to step back and remind myself where all this luxury of time, good health, food, and a home came from. And when I do, and I offer thanks to the One who gave it to me, my preconceived notions of how I think I like my house to be – which is QUIET – go away. My perspective shifts.  And I love how it does. Every. Single. Time.

My perspective swings off of me and my preferences, and onto Him and His gifts to me…..Too numerous to count. Among them – three kiddos just psyched that we’re all here, and going to do something together, yet again. Thank you, thank you, thank you….