The Trap of Memories

memories

So the other day I had a memory from last summer come up on FB.  It was a really good memory involving one of my children.  I remember the moment so clearly because so many people had made comments to me about how it was the happiest they had seen my child.  This same child right now is no where near that place.  This summer has been filled with a lot of hurt, pain, sorrow, anger, and frustration that has filtered to the entire household.  When I saw that picture, I immediately began to be filled with sorrow.  All I could think about was how good things were then and how bad things were now.    Thanks FB!

However,  as I was driving to work the next morning and thinking through something I had read in my devotions, it really struck me as to how much this is just like what the Israelites did in the desert.  Every time things got tough, they complained about wanting to go back to Egypt.  We see it time and time again.

We see it when they reached the Red Sea.  They had just watched as God delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh, punished Egypt with plague after plague and brought them out with wealth the Egyptians actually gave them!  However, as soon as they were trapped and Pharaoh was chasing them, the complained to Moses.

” As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”  Exodus 14:10-12

Did they really think that remaining in slavery as they had for the past 400 years was better than trusting God?

We see it again in chapter 16,

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:2-3

Did they really think that God brought them through all this to let them starve in the desert?

We see it right up to the time they finally arrive at the Promise Land,

That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!  Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder.Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”  Numbers 14:1-4

Did they really want to go back after all these years and return to being slaves?

As I thought through all of this, I said to myself, are things really better than last summer, or am I just afraid and like the Israelites, looking at what I see in the natural rather than trusting God’s plan?

The truth is, if I am honest, last summer was a very difficult summer and this particular day, although it had its good moments, was a rough day.  Memories, like the ones that pop up on FB have a way of making us forget everything except that 1 moment in time.  So often in our lives we look back on things with a skewed memory of how things actually were at the time.  Our minds focus only on the good things of then and the bad things of now.

If we are honest, each year has it’s own troubles.  Our lives are made up of many different moments and yes, there are times that are better than others.  But, it all boils down to the same thing….do we or do we not trust God and His plan for our lives?  God never promises us that we won’t have trouble, He does promise us that we will not walk through it alone. (Deut 31:6)

God is sovereign over our lives, He walks through every season with us and nothing is out of His control.  All of this reminded me that I need to fix my eyes on Him and not on what I see.  Memories taken out of context can trip us up and lead us into grumbling and complaining.  We have the privilege of being able to look back on the stories of the Bible and see God’s faithfulness.  As we read how he brought the Israelites through so much, we often say to ourselves, “what are they complaining about, why don’t they just trust God?”  But the truth is, we do the exact same thing all the time atleast I know I do!  What we need to do each moment of every day is recount the goodness of God to ourselves.  We need to remind ourselves of all that He has done for us.  We need to tell ourselves His promises over and over so that when times of doubt and fear come, we can redirect our thoughts quickly to the TRUTH.  This will help us not be caught in the trap of a single memory.

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God Chose You!

 

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Mother’s Day weekend is upon us.  Honestly, for me, it is always a tough time.  Mainly because as most of us moms generally do, I start to look at myself and see all my failures as a mom.  I look at the ways I don’t measure up.  I look at the ways that my kids don’t act the way they should.  I think about how every other mother seems to know how to manage their kids except me.  I think about all the things I am unable to provide for my children.  Why do we do this as moms?  Why are we always comparing ourselves, always judging ourselves, always putting ourselves down?

The truth of the matter is, that as moms, we aren’t meant to be perfect!  Did you know that? We aren’t meant to have it altogether!  The truth is that if we were perfect, if we never failed, or fell down, or got frustrated, if we were everything our kids wanted and needed, they wouldn’t see their need for a savior!  When we fall down, when we make mistakes, we are showing our kids that we are human!  We are showing them that we don’t have it altogether, that we, just as they, are in great need of help, in great need of a savior!  We are showing them that we need Jesus!

God is the perfect father and the perfect mother and He doesn’t make mistakes.  When he created your kids, he chose YOU to be their mother.  He knew before they were even a thought in your head, that you were the woman to be the mother of your specific kids, with their specific needs and issues.  He didn’t choose you because you were perfect, he didn’t choose you because you would get it right all the time.  He chose you because he knew that you were the woman for the job.   He chose you because He is the sovereign God of the universe, and his plans and his” purpose will not be thwarted“.  You are a part of God’s plan, a part of His story and in that story, he made you a mom, the mother of your specific kids.  And while you might not feel up to the task and you may sometimes feel like God must have made a mistake, you can rest assured that he didn’t.  You can trust that He will lead you and guide you down the path of motherhood.  He will carry you through the tough times as a mom.  He will pick you up when you fall, He will dust you off and give you the strength to go forward when you don’t think you possibly can.

I am not a perfect mother, and I never will be, I don’t always get it right and neither will you, but one thing we can be sure of is that we are the right mom for our kids because God chose us and He doesn’t make mistakes!

 

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For Good Friday

krismatthews.com

cross

I push through the crowd
Trying to get away
Taunts now turned to terror
As the ground gives way

Midday it may be
But it’s black as night
What once seemed like justice
Is now a gruesome sight

I heard some say
They now think it’s true
This man named Jesus,
King of the Jews

They say he truly was
The very son of God
But now he is dead
I guess evil has won.

How could they do it?
Nail him to that tree
Were they so very sure
His claims were blasphemy?

I am glad it wasn’t me
Who put those nails in his hands
I’d hate to be the one who killed the son of man
So I push through the crowd though I can barely stand
I guess it’s hard to run with this hammer in my hand.

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Don’t Miss The Miracle

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At the beginning of each year. our church sets aside 2 weeks for fasting and prayer.  We are just finishing up the first of those 2 weeks and it has been an amazing time of connecting with God.

However, a situation happened with one of my children the other day that made me think about our focus when we are looking for a miracle.  We often go into a season like this with expectations on what we want God to do. And we should pray with expectation! Our God is Great and Mighty, a loving and powerful father and no request we have is too big for him.  But often, we expect him to work in the way we want him to and sometimes, we miss what he is doing because it didn’t come in the way we wanted or expected.

As my kids and I began attending our nightly prayer meetings, after the first night one of them became discouraged because there hadn’t been a specific prayer for something she has been struggling with.  She told me a few things that she wanted to happen.  Wednesday rolled around and she had a very difficult day.  Something happened during the day that brought not only an extreme amount of fear and anxiety but left her not wanting to attend the service that night.  I left it up to her, but encouraged her to attend.  She did.  When the time for praying for others came around, every thing that she had told me she wanted to happen, happened.  Her specific need was not only brought up, but prayed for by more than 1 person.  Several people gathered around her and prayed for her one on one.  Not only that but something even more specific that she said also happened.  As we went home we talked about how God had shown her that not only does he see what she is going though, but he hears her!

In the middle of the night, she woke me up in a state of fear.  We talked through it and we talked about how God was with her.  Her words to me were, “but I need a miracle!”  I told her, you got one!  Tonight!  God showed up in a special way showing you that he sees and hears you.

You see the problem this is a problem we all have.  We want more of God, we want God to move in our lives, BUT we want him to do it the way we think he should and when we want him to.  When we do that, often, we miss the miraculous things he is doing.  God tells us himself in the book of Isaiah that he doesn’t think the way we do or work the way we do.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.”         Isaiah 55:8-9

God has His own plan and purpose and as the book of Job (Job 42:2) tells us His plans will NOT be thwarted.  If you are praying to get something from God and to get it the way you want it, you are not only missing the whole point of prayer but you are going to miss out on the miraculous things that God does.  Don’t miss the miracle.  Don’t pray and wait in a spirit of expectation and then miss out because it doesn’t happen the way you want it to.  This is a lesson we all need!  Many times I have to say , “ok Lord, you are God and I am not, so do it your way…because you know far more than I do about what is best for me.”  Don’t miss the miracle! Trust God to do what only he can do and trust that His way of doing it, is the best.

 

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New Year’s Hope

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This morning when I woke up, I felt a bit of depression creep in.  As I laid there I felt a bit overwhelmed about the coming year, fearful of what I couldn’t see and a bit sad at some of what has transpired over the past year.  It seems every year is this way.  We get to the end of the year and we think “good riddance”.  While I think it is positive to want to leave the past behind and move into a New Year with an attitude of anticipation, I think we can’t ignore the year we have just gone through or write it off as  bad.  Each year has plenty of both good and bad.

This year was a particularly hard year for me.  At times, I didn’t think that I would emotionally or physically make it through the day.  However, this year also forced me to self-examine in a way I don’t think I have ever done.

There were so many ups and downs.  Some  BIG Ups and BIG downs. But, through those ups and down I learned a lot.

I watched as my daughter went to her first prom, went on her first date, fell in “love” for the first time and brought a young man into our house that seemed to fit like a puzzle piece into our crazy family.

I also watched as she chose to end that relationship and felt the sting of loss as this same young man would no longer be around.

I learned that the once love of my life, the father of my children, the man I had been married to for 13 years (and divorced from for 3),  had married another woman. But I also learned that as I sat there receiving the news, I was not crushed or even shaken because the True love of my life will never be taken from me.

Through both of those situations I learned that the long and deep hurt of my past was still not completely healed, but I also saw the areas where God has worked miracles in me.  I learned that God brings us to things at the proper time for us to deal with them even when we may not want to. I learned I still have a long way to go!

I watched one of my children who had completely walked away from God and church, come back to Him seeing the cries of a mother’s heart be heard and answered. Who but God could work such a miracle?!

I was pushed to the brink of losing it more times than I can count, but learned that each time, God was there to pick me up and draw me back.

I was encouraged by friends who pray for me and with me, who love me through all my faults and I was able to be that same kind of friend to them.  I learned how blessed I am to have these amazing women that God has given me to do life with.

At times this past year I had no idea how I was going to provide for my family.  And while that worry still rears it’s ugly head at times, I have  learned and am continuing to learn to rely on God for everything because HE IS FAITHFUL!

I learned that raising 3 teenagers is too much for one person to handle on their own and I learned to ask for help more than I would like to!

This past year may not have gone the way I would have chosen it to go, but I know that God is sovereign and there is purpose in everything and that He will work it all for my good and his glory no matter how awful it seemed at the time.

As I spent some time reading this morning I read a statement that really helped me out of my New Year’s worry.  At my church we often read books together and currently we are reading a book called “Union With Christ” by Rankin Wilbourne.

Wilbourne wrote:

Union with Christ touches on the highest and most profound truths of the gospel and at the same time reaches down into the depths of the human heart to fill us with more joy and hope, more comfort and strength than anything else ever could.  Is there any truth we more need to lay hold of this day than our union with Christ?”

As I read that, I thought to myself, this is the truth I needed to be reminded of today.  This is the truth that sums up all of last year.  In despair, in fear, in worry it is my union with Christ that brings me hope, joy, comfort and strength.  It is that union that brought me through the dark times of this past year and that union that allowed me to enjoy the bright times of this past year.  It is this union, that can never be broken, that will carry me into the next year and give me the strength to become more of who He created me to be. Without Christ, I am nothing, I can do nothing and without Him I wouldn’t make it through one moment of one day.  However with Him, I can go into the New Year with hope, with joy, and with courage. Thank you Lord!

 

 

 

 

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Being a Mom

kayaking
                           Photo credit:Lori Buck

This week, we had a few days of abnormally warm weather for October.  A good friend and I decided to take the day off of work and finally get out to do some kayaking.  It was a beautiful fall day and the lake we went to was just breath- taking. I honestly hadn’t really taken a day all summer to just go and do something without my kids.  It was a nice break.  However, on the way to meet my friend, my daughter texted me to let me know that I had forgotten to sign a paper that she needed for school that day.  So, we got into the middle of the lake, I had to pull my phone out to make a call to correct the mistake.  My friend and I were joking about how as a mom, it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing we are always a mom!  That proved true again as later that day, my daughter had an issue at school and I had to cut our day short to go take care of it.  Mom’s never seem to truly get rest.

As I was doing my devotional today, it was talking about rest and about Jesus getting away to pray.  As I was reading the story from Mark 6 where Jesus feeds the 5,000, the verses preceding that story really struck me.

 “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.   So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
Mark 6:30-34

Jesus was trying to get away for some time for himself and his disciple to rest, but even then the people found him and he, in his great compassion, took care of their needs first.  There are so many stories like this about Jesus.  Everywhere he went people followed him.  We read this clearly further on in Mark chapter 6

“As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus.They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.  And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.” Mark 6:54-56

As I read Mark 6 this morning, it struck me how much Jesus understood what it means to be a mom.  We know Jesus understands everything we face in life, but I don’t think I ever thought about just how true that statement was in terms of being a mom until today.

Being a mom is an all-day, every-day, forever job.  You don’t stop being a mom even when you are trying to sleep, or trying to use the facilities, or trying to take a break in the middle of a lake.  You don’t get to stop being a mom when your kids are grown and taking care of their own kids.  Once you become a mom, your life is never fully your own again.  But, Jesus gets it.  He understands exactly what it is like to be a mom.  Wherever he went people followed him.  He couldn’t even eat a meal without people coming to him.  I can’t even imagine having crowds of people consistently looking to you to give them something.  Yet Jesus gave, with compassion.  Now I don’t know about  you, but there are many times when I do not respond to my kids with compassion. There are many times when I feel like I am really failing as a mom.  However, Jesus understands my struggle.  Hebrews 4:15 reminds us:

 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”

Jesus truly understands what we are going through and He is always there to help us, to lead us, and to show us how to rest even in the craziest seasons of life.  True rest, the rest we need as moms comes from Him! So when the struggles and trials of being a mom seem to overwhelm you, look to Jesus, He will give you rest!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

 

 

 

 

 

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Will I Ever Get Better At this?

 

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As I woke up this morning and wrote the date in my journal, I realized that today would have been mine and my husbands’  17th wedding anniversary.  The realization didn’t really bother me in any way, but as it always does, days like this make me think about things.  As I looked back over some of my past blog posts, I read one that I wrote a few years ago entitled Summer Sadness   As I read through it I realized that this summer has pretty much gone the same way.  This summer has really been a tough one for me.  As usual the summer starts with all these hopes and dreams of how it is going to go and then we get to this point and I realize that nothing went as planed.  Now of course, that is pretty much how all of life is and thankfully, we have God to direct our steps through this minefield of life.  However, this summer, I have pretty much felt like I am lost.

As I read through the post I started to think…Am I ever going to get better at this single-mom thing?  Am I ever going to learn how to spread myself across  a job that was meant for 2 people?  Honestly, I don’t know!  This summer is the 5th summer I have spent as a single-mom and honestly, it has been one of the hardest ones for me emotionally, physically,  and at times, spiritually.  In my mind I thought that as my kids got older, I would find it easier to navigate the “single-mom” waters.  I have found the opposite to be true.  Older children bring bigger problems.  My kids can pretty much take care of themselves for the most part, which gives me  a certain amount of freedom, but it also makes it harder to spend time with them and connect with each of them.  This summer I have seen a distance in the eyes of my sons that I honestly don’t know how to fix.  My boys and I have always been super close.  We like the same things and usually spend quite a bit of time together.  My daughter is more of a loner and while we have always had a close relationship, it has always been a rocky one.  However, this summer the tables seemed to turn.  My summer has been spent much of the time with my daughter and her boyfriend, doing things with them or carting them around.  As weeks went by I realized I had hardly spent any time with my sons and they noticed as well.  I also realized, there is only 1 of me, and trying to spread myself between 3 kids, taking care of the house, and work seems to be an impossible task.  Add to that the fact that their father bailed on them almost every weekend this summer and has hardly seen them or talked to them and it seems I have not had a break.

As I sat to write this, I was asking myself, why are you writing this, it sounds like you are just complaining and this isn’t helpful to anyone.  But I realized that I am writing this because being a single-mom is tough and too often we feel alone and we feel like everyone else has this figured out and we are the only ones who are messing it up.  So if that is you and you feel that way, I want you to know you aren’t alone!  I want you to know that as single-mom’s there is no blueprint to follow to get us down this road.  We do the only thing we can do.  We get up each morning by the grace of God, cry out to him for help and learn to keep our eyes on Him.  We do the best we can in each given moment and when we make a mistake, we pick ourselves up and ask God to help us again.

 

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I Complete You

colossians

 

From the time we are little girls, we tend to imagine the day when we meet our “prince charming” and the man of our dreams comes and makes us feel complete.  Hollywood also loves to get in on this, you see it in movie after movie.  If you are old enough you probably remember the infamous scene from the movie Jerry MacGuire  where he says “…you complete me.”

When you met your spouse, perhaps, like me, you felt like you were finally complete.  Like they filled in all the pieces that you felt were missing from your life.  My husband and I actually wrote our own vows,  and I remember both of our vows making mention of no longer feeling like anything was missing in our lives now that we had found each other.  So what happens when what you thought made you whole is suddenly stripped away from you?  What happens when you are torn in half?  It is completely devastating to say the least.

The Bible clearly tells us that when 2 people are married they become 1.

“...and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:8

So yes, it is like being ripped apart.  It is like having  a part of you taken away.  However, the lie I think we all believe is that we were complete because of our husband and now we are no longer complete.

I have been doing a single-mom devotional this past week on YouVersion.  This one was entitled Single-Mom Strong by Pam Kanaly. (If you click on the title it will bring you to the page).  Something in today’s reading really struck me.  At the end of each day she has a short paragraph written to single-moms as if Jesus was talking to them and today it said:

“Your deepest wound leads you to the discovery that I alone complete you

When I read that, it felt like everything that I had been thinking was finally put into words with that statement.  It really felt like Jesus whispering to me that I didn’t have to feel like something is missing, I am complete because He makes me complete.

Colossians 2:10 reads

So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

No matter what, we are complete because Christ is the one who makes us complete.  We never need to worry that he will leave us because he promises that He won’t and He keeps His promises! So today, sit quietly before Him and hear him whisper to you,  I complete you!

 

 

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Look No Further

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Fear, it is something we all face in out lives.  At times, that fear can overcome us, it can stand up as if it has a life of its own and capture us.  If we focus on fear, we will never find peace.  We all have different things that we struggle with when it comes to fear.  However, no matter what  fear we are staring down,  the answer is still the same.  Seek the Lord.  Psalm 34:4 has long been one of my favorite verses.  In fact, many years ago, I memorized Psalm 34 and to this day, when I am struggling to sleep at night, I recite it to myself.  The words are a great reminder of where our hope is found, where our security lies, and whom we should seek in the dark nights of our soul.  As I was doing a devotion this morning, Psalm 34:4 came up.  As I read it and began to write about it in my journal, I felt God speak these words into my heart:

Your future is not out of my hands.  When you seek me, I hear you and I deliver you from your fears.  Look to me, come to me, remember, I am your loving Father, I am your creator-God, I am the longing of your soul, the deepest desire of your heart.  I am your light in the darkness, your safety in the storm.  It is I who holds you, carries you, and comforts you through the dark night of adversity.  Look no further my child, I am all that you need!

“Look no further”  as I wrote that it really hit me.  How often do I go to God with my troubles and then go a million other places as well to find the solution only to end up back on my knees before God crying out for his help?  Look no further…..God is not only the first place we should run, he is the only place we should run.  He will guide us and direct us through the dark path ahead and will hold our hand every step of the way.  When we turn to Him with our trouble, we truly need to look no further, He is all we need.

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The Looming Step of Deep Down Hurt

staircase

So for the past month or so, I have really been struggling with some deep-rooted hurt.  It is funny how years can go by and you feel great and then all of a sudden something brings past hurt to the surface.  When something traumatic happens in your life that is very unexpected and life altering, you deal with what you have to but you also do what you have to do to survive.  Often that means pushing something aside because you can only deal with so much at a time.  Then as time goes on, and things settle down, those hurts resurface.  Now, while I know that this is for the best and God uses this to help us to heal,  the process is often a slow and painful one.

It is like that wound that you have that has dirt in it.  You know if you don’t clean it, it is going to get infected and cause more hurt and more pain, but you also know it is going to hurt something fierce to clean it out.  That is kind of how I feel right now and that cut, is the deep cut of rejection and mine seems to be filled with “dirt”!

When my husband left, the hurt and pain were  overwhelming.  I dealt with what I had to and moved on, because 3 kids were depending on me and I couldn’t afford to let them down.  Each step of the way, God has led me to the next step in my healing.  I talked about this a few years ago in my post Another Stair Climbed However, after nearly 5 years of being alone, I thought that I had pretty much climbed that staircase.  That was until Mother’s Day hit this year and the hurt and pain of rejection came with it!

One of the hardest things about walking through a “deathless grief”  is that the person you lost is still alive and can continue to hurt you!  This Mother’s Day that is exactly what happened and the scabbed over cut of rejection was broken wide open!  I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but to say that my “ex-husband” was inconsiderate is an understatement.  He left me feeling utterly trampled and that my friends, is no easy feat!

As the days went by and I noticed that this was still bothering me, I decided to talk to someone about it.  When I went and talked to our counseling Pastor who is also a very close family friend, she reminded me that I had been through a lot and there were things I couldn’t deal with because at the time, I had to survive, but now God was bringing things to the surface to help me to heal further.  There’s that staircase again!

As the weeks have gone on, more things have happened that have broken this cut open even further. Some of it is things that have happened to me and some is things I have watched happen to others that bring that pain back fresh and real.  I have spent more time crying in the past month or so than I have the entire year before!  While God has brought people across my path that encourage me and remind me that I am loved more than I know, I am still struggling with  this deep down hurt.

So, I have been doing and continue to do  the only thing I can do.  I wake up each morning and cry out to God.  I pour over the scriptures and look to God for guidance, for peace, for strength.  I remind myself over and over that God is sovereign over every area of my life and He knows exactly how deep this wound is and how much it needs cleaning out.  I put worship music on and sing when I can and cry when I can’t. I pray often.  I do the hardest thing for me to do and turn to family and friends for encouragement and help.  I wait in expectation to see what God is going to do. While this doesn’t always make the path easier,  it certainly makes it lighter!

The truth is the time has come and I have to climb these stairs of deep down hurt, but Thank the Lord,  I am not climbing alone!

 

 

 

 

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