Friday, May 14, 2010

How do you handle the joys and sorrows of life?

Anticipation, joys, disappointment and sorrows are part of our life. The good times are great, but how do you handle the tough times?

Our anticipations and joys start off simple: Mommy or Daddy coming home after being away, going to school for the first time, or making the new friends of our own away from our parents. Then as we go through our childhood into your adulthood, we have all the up and down emotions of growing up and going through our teenage years. Those exciting high school years are some of the best years of your life and you don't even know it. There is the joy of graduation and the eagerness of moving into the next phase of our life.

As we get launched into adulthood, we have the thrill of finding love for the first time, making new friends, moving onto college or the workforce, getting married, having our children, buying our first house and the list goes on and on. Life is full is of much so many emotions and so anticipation, especially in our younger years.

As you move through your twenties, of course, you think you have life pretty much figured out. It's so much fun to be out from underneath your folks and living apart from them. You want to participate in everything and try anything. Those years can be time of self-discovery and figuring out what you want to do with your life. Being with friends, traveling, learning, exploring and opening up to the world and all the possibilities that exist. Life is full of so much anticipation during these years, and it is so wonderful. They say youth if for the young, and that is a very true statement.

In their thirties, most people have settled into the routine of life, holding down a job, raising a family, working to keep food on the table, mortgages, watching the little ones grow and experiencing life through their eyes, which is always such a blessed time. There are many fun and adventurous family days, running around a lot shuffling kids here and there, and in this decade, I think for most folks are gladly looking forward to their future and their the future of their families.

When you hit your forties, life usually starts taking some wrong turns. You are thinking about turning 50 and what that means to you. Half a century is staring you square in the eye! You may be experiencing challenges with teenagers and their problems, may have lost your job or jobs, have problems with your own health, have financial challenges, have problems in your marriage or handling aging parents and all the changes that can mean in your life.

Since I'm only 54, I can't tell you what it is to be 60 or above, but I know that for me, handling the joys and disappointments up to this age has made me more aware of my need for someone other than myself to rely on. Specifically Jesus. Life is like a living organism, always growing and always changing. It's a roller coaster ride, and man, do you need something to hold onto!

In my health crisis in 1997, God cut me right off at the knees and said "Hey Nicki, pay attention to what "I" want you to do in with life I given you, not want you want to do." SLOW DOWN. Look at all the blessings and gifts I've given you. How are you using them to my Glory? Woah - that is was an " ahha moment " for me!

I think at some point in everyone's life, the Lord brings them to their knees. No matter when you experience challenges or changes in your life, at some point you're gonna say "I need help... please help me, God?" Save me God, how many times have we asked that of the Creator of the Universe..usually when we hit rock bottom.

And then we make promises to Him, "Oh God, if you will only save this person, or make them well again, or take away this intense pain I'm feeling, I promise I'll do anything you ask. Did you ever notice how God is always there, patiently waiting for us to approach Him. He's such a gentlemen. He doesn't barge into our lives and say "Hey, pay attention to me will ya?" He just stands by and wait for us to reach out to him." He knows how it's all gonna play out.

Then life settles back into the familiar routine, but how many of us strive to keep those promises we make when God rescues us or someone we love? And if it is in His infinite wisdom, He decides not to grant a positive answer to your prayer request - how do you react? Do you blame Him for things that happen in your life? Please don't.

I have tried my whole life to give the Lord my best. May times I've fallen down and disappointed Him, but He is always there for me. I haven't always been there for Him, but He has Always been there for me. All I have to do is talk to Him, confess my sins and we move on. Seek His Face, and He will open himself to you. What would I do without God in my life? I don't know and I don't want to find out. He is everything to me. He gives each breath I take, He is everything I am. He has blessed me beyond measure and far beyond anything I deserve,

Invite Jesus into your life! Having a personal relationship with your Creator gives such peace during good days and bad. It makes the joys of life fuller and He will pull you through the storms, being by your side, all the way. I know first hand that you can endure anything when you have Jesus riding shotgun. You will welcome anticipation and handle disappointment with a new attitude, and be thankful for everyday He gives.

My verse for today is one of my favorite from Psalms 100:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He that made us, and we are His, we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving, and His courts with Praise. Give thanks to Him and Praise His Name. For the Lord is good and his loves endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.

My prayer for today:

Lord Jesus:

I am in the anticipation mode! I am excited about leaving for NC tomorrow. I pray this will be a joyous time for me. I pray that me and my friend Michelle will have a relaxing, uplifting time together. Help us draw close to you. Help me to have a meaningful time with my family. Give us safe travel. If I have trials while I am there, help me to lean on you :)

Help my husband with the strength he needs to do everything He has to each day. He has such a full plate. He is such a loving, giving man and I am so blessed to have Him and my boys. Bless them all. Thank you Lord for all I have.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our God Sustains Us :)

The last few days have been filled with tremendous amount of joy and also a lot of pain. The prayer breakfast last Friday was awesome. Being in a huge roomful of women praying for our leaders, our nation, our soldiers and our own families is humbling to say that least. The Lord's presence was pallitable.

Saturday morning brought a different occasion, but still the presence of God was upon us.

Last month a dear prayer warrior friend of mine, Diane from my church, was preparing for a family reunion to celebrate her and her husband's 50th Wedding Anniversary!They were excited about the prospect of seeing their entire family together again. Her husband hadn't been feeling quite himself of late and reluctantly went to the doctor. They quickly discovered cancer, and he was gone in very short order. He died on April 7, one month shy of their 50th anniversary. They had decided to postpone his memorial service until this past weekend because everyone in their family was planning to come anyway to help them celebrate their 50th. This was an unexpected change of events. But, was God in this? You tell me?

The service on Saturday was the "greatest" funeral I've ever been too. That might sound strange to hear, but it truly was a wonderful celebration of his life, not a mourning of his death. The service was longer than most - it lasted about 1 1/2 hours but it was filled with so much love. The first two pews of the church were filled with family. Our pastor made it clear that the family wanted to celebrate Tom, not mourn him. His brothers got up and spoke quite lovingly about their brother and told stories of who he was and how he impacted their lives. His niece sang a beautiful rendition of "Look to Jesus," that left us all in tears. But, the most poignant thing for me were his granddaughters, who got up and talked at length about their endearing relationship with Gumpa (I think that was their name for him) They almost put on a little skit, which was so entertaining and really helped us get a clear picture of this man and how he related to his family and the world. It made a tremendous impact on all of us, and through this service we could see this man Tom, who was very quiet and kept to himself most of the time, in a totally new light. Jesus was shining through this entire family to all of us in that church. Tom was gone, but Jesus was there. They were in pain, but Jesus was there! Praise be to God! Yes, I could see the Lord in all this, very clearly.

I was thinking about how God works. Only the Lord knows how all the pieces fit together in this giant puzzle we call life. He knew when he wanted Tom home. He knew his wife and daughters would all gain tremendous strength by being together. Unfortunately, Tom and Diane did not get to celebrate their anniversary together, but I think many people were impacted through Tom's touching celebration of life service. They were talking about the service and how wonderful it made them feel. I have a hunch that many lives were impacted from Tom's service and maybe Jesus deeply touched the hearts of some of those that attended. Thanks be to God for His Glory!

I have another dear friend, who has been battling stage 4 esophigal cancer, just found out that the cancer is back. She had been going through quite an ordeal since last August, much chemotherapy and a few months ago, they declared her cancer free! She has had thousands of friends and family members praying for her and supporting her through her Caring Bridge website. We were all celebrating her healing with her, but now, sadly, the cancer is back. Beth is a unbelievably strong woman of God, but I know she has to be discouraged at this point. Please Lord, be with her and give her your peace. Heal her body and soul. You are bigger than cancer, and all disease!

I just got off the phone with my Mom. She is down about my Dad. Pop is back at the nursing home, after another operation, but sleeping most of the time. She is worried about my brothers and her grandchildren, who have never seen their grandpa like this. We prayed together.

I think that God gives us all a tremendous amount of strength in our suffering. He brings people in and out of our lives to help us through the tough times. I have learned that over the years, living with MS. God has always provided the right people at the right time. I totally rely on Him for everything. What a blessing that is :)

I pray that my family members and my Pop will have God's strength to get them through these difficult days. My Dad has been through an abundant amount of sickness these past few months, but only the Lord knows how long he has, not us. Pop is still here for a reason, and we don't know what that is, but our Heavenly Father does.

I can feel the Lord's presence here in the middle of all these joys and difficulties. Can you feel the presence of your Creator upon you when your life take a wrong turn and things go upside down? It happens to everyone of us. He's there, right beside you all the way, if you can only slow down and see Him. He can use your darkest hours to build your faith and let you be a light for Him in this world. How will the world see you as you face the adversities of life?

My verse for today is from Hebrews 12:2-3

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross, scorned it's shame and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

My prayer for today:

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for these past few days and being able to recognize Your Hand in the occasions that have taken place. Lord, I pray for my friends Diane and Beth and their families. I pray you will be with them during these trying days. Give them strength, help them not to grow weary or lose heart.

I pray for my Pop. Thank you for His life and the wonderful legacy he has given all of us. Heal my Dad if it is Your Will to do so and let us all trust in your faithfulness and goodness. I pray for my Mom, my brothers, and all of my family in TN. Give them your Peace that surpasses all human understanding to help them through these difficult hours. Only you know what is going to happen and when, but we are thankful for any days that you give. Help me to be Your light in this world, always.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Celebrate Mothers & Celebrate Life!

Today was Mother's Day and I had a wonderful and relaxing day, with family and a very dear friend Michelle. I received a card and phone call from my oldest, a dozen roses from my youngest, and a delicious dinner and swim with my hubby and Michelle.

Plus, I got to talk to my Mama, which is always great. She sounds good and pretty cheerful for someone 82! She has so much spunk and vitality, and I love her for that. She can't walk anymore and is in a nursing home now, but that hasn't diminished her spirit. My Dad has been through a rough ordeal these last two months, but she has remained strong and steady. As I look back at my childhood, my Dad was a hard worker and always endured long hours, but I think my Mom was always the strong and steady one...the stabilizing glue in our family. She is an amazingly strong lady. I think I get a lot of my strength from her, and I am so happy and blessed that she is my Mom. I'm very fortunate to still have her in my life and am looking forward to seeing her probably within the next 3 weeks, which is always exciting for me! I was thinking alot today about my Mom and the tradition of Mother's Day and wanted to share a few things I learned online tonight.

Mother's Day is centuries old, and can even be traced back to the Ancient Greeks, who celebrated Rhea, the mother of the gods, with festivals. The early Christians named it Mothering Sunday and it was a day to honor Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. It is still celebrated as Mothering Day in England. Then in 1872, there was a day organized for mother's, dedicated to peace.

The real Mother's Day movement began in this country in 1907 when a dedicated schoolteacher, Anna Jarvis, began to organize and petition for an official day to celebrate mothers, in honor of her own Mom, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis. After continued persistence and petition, in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared that the second Sunday in May was officially a National Day to honor Mom's and so the tradition began! Did you know all those things about Mother's Day? I sure didn't~~

How did you celebrate your Mom today? If she's still with you and lives nearby, I hope you were blessed enough to be able to spend some time with her. If she's far away, I pray you were able to call her and tell her how much you love her, and thank her for everything she's done for you over the years. If you are physically separated through death or estrangement, I hope you said a prayer for her and thanked the Lord for the life she gave you.

You only have one Mom and one Dad. They are the ones that gave you life, celebrate it! If they are still in your life, please celebrate their special days and say thanks while you still can. Happy Mother's Day Everyone!

My verse for today is from Ephesians: 6:1-3

"Children, obey your parents, in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother---which is the first commandment with a promise---that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on this earth."

My Prayer:

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for this Mother's Day. Thank you for my husband and the two beautiful children that you have blessed us with. Help us to remember that they are only on loan from you, that their lives are in your Hands.

Now that they are all grown up they need your protection most of all. Thank you for the good times and bad, and helping all of us get through them, knowing that "all things work together for good for those who love you and have been called according to your purposes" Romans 8:28 Please protect my children. Give them wisdom Lord, especially wisdom in this crazy world we live in now and the strength to endure each day you give.

In Jesus Name I pray,