Sunday, November 30, 2014

When "Why" becomes "What"

Hi everyone,

It is funny how this week off from work has really brought me back in time…or maybe when we have to walk through storms in our lives, it is through clinging to the rays of sunshine that we once knew that help us endure until the storm passes.

Having spent time around a campfire this weekend, it took me back 30+ years to Thanksgiving spent in the woods with family and friends.  It was an age of innocence.  This Thanksgiving I was also reminded of my first Thanksgiving away from home in Germany.  It is not a holiday celebrated there and doing so on a snowy day far away from my family was a memory I will always cherish.  I guess reminiscing about this time of innocence and my love for Germany just left me with feeling that I wanted and needed to put up a real Christmas tree this year.  Not just any real tree, but my first Christmas tree in Germany was a live tree in a pot.  This year to me it symbolizes bringing life back into my home.  Family and friends have been absent from my home for the past 2 ½ years and being given this gift back – well it means more than any gift that Santa could bring me on Christmas morning.

When it comes to gifts, there is no greater gift than to do things for someone else, though I have now learned the hard way that there are those in this world that thrive on exploiting kindness.  Though I will never be able to answer “why” a person would be this way that I will leave up to the professionals what I do know now is this, during those early adult years God spoke into my heart and told me that I was supposed to be doing something important.  For years though I have not been able to put a finger on what that exactly was that He wanted me to do.  So as November comes to a close, what I am most thankful for is that I now have moved past the “why” that I mentioned in a previous post and am embracing the “what” with the enthusiasm that I had in my young adult life. 

They say that the only way you can help someone go through abuse and recover is if you have been there yourself.  Unfortunately, like so many women in our state I have.  However, I can take my experiences and now use my gift of writing to tell my story.  Abuse knows no age, color or economic status, it does not care about a person’s educational background and it can come in different forms.  However, the common denominator though is 9 times out of 10 always the same – there are red flags which we as women do not see through our rose colored glasses of love.  

If I can use my story to help save the life of just ONE woman, then I have used my talents in a manner that God has intended for me.  I silently prayed and told the Lord that if He would lead me out of the storm, so that I no longer had to just “endure” life, but would finally be able to live it, then I would shout from the mountain tops what He had done for me.  I would use my life to give a voice to the silent and hope to those who feel hopeless.

Though I have been working on 3 books for several years, I think it is of the utmost important to now put all of my energy into this project.  The words are just coming to fast to ignore.  I have been asked does taking on a project like this scare me and my answer is NO because God has this!!  All He ever asks is for us to listen and follow Him when He asks.  So I shall…      

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Finding Forgiveness

Hi everyone!

Well I decided to tackle the topic of forgiveness today.  I have to say this is a tough one!!  It is a quite lengthy post, because it is such a tough topic.  Why am I looking at this so soon?  Well since the writers before me all talk about the topic and the need to reach this place before my life can truly move on, I felt the time was now.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not so naive as to think one blog post will solve this, but life is too short to be stuck in a valley and let the wrong doings of one keep me from moving forward.  So I first looked at what scripture had to say about the topic.  This led me to The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15.

"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ' For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I understand and I do want the Lord to forgive me when I sin, because we all sin, but I cannot help but struggle with what exactly is forgiveness.  Does this mean you just pat someone on the back like a buddy and send them on their way to wreak havoc in someone else’s life?  Given my love of research, I wanted to explore this further and thought I would start with the definition of forgiveness - “to stop feeling anger toward.”   Wait a minute, now I am getting somewhere.  Pastor Rick Warren then really helped me investigate this a little further. 

“There are a lot of bad things in life that are evil. Not everything that happens in this world is God’s will, but that’s why we need God in our lives. So forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened, it’s about finding what good came out of it.”

“What good came out of it” – I am assuming the “it” in this case means the evil.  He goes on further to say that “Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves that allows us to get on with our lives instead of being trapped in the past by resentment.”  Wait, did he just say “gift”???  And isn’t my birthday in 2 days???  So this means that I could possibly give myself THE BEST gift(s) ever??!!!

So what are the gifts that I have received from this “life lesson”?

1) I have gotten to observe just how blessed I am with the incredible friends and family in my life.  These are the TRUE friends and family, not someone just pretending to be.

2) I have also seen once again that God protects His children.

3) God has also shown me that this was NOT about me.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, God can bring people in to our lives for good, but the other person has free will to choose what God has planned or to throw it away. 

4) Sometimes “the enemy” can use those closest to us to keep us from fulfilling all that God has planned for our lives.  But God will take care of this too.  Forgiving will allow me to go where God wants me to.

Joan Lunden once said that “Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth.  Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.”  WAIT A MINUTE – STOP THE BUS!!!  Forgiveness is a GIFT AND will make me look better too!!  Why yes, this is true because my laughter and smile has returned and there is a spring in my step!!  Happy Early Birthday to me yet again!!!
Maya Angelou wrote “You can’t forgive without loving.  And I don’t mean sentimentality.  I don’t mean mush.  I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive.  I’m finished with it.’”  The key phrase being “I’m finished with it” and what exactly is the “it”?  For me “it” means having the courage to stand up and say “I am finished with being taken advantage of and used,” not just for my sake but for my children as well.

Well Gerald Jampolsky says that “Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness.  Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions. “  So, the “it” were also my misperceptions and as Jane Austen so eloquently put it “Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope for a cure.”  No matter how hard we might try, we cannot help those with a selfish spirit – there is no cure, so me must forgive and move on.  Tyler Perry knows himself, “It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people.  But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.”  

Courage, Freedom, Laughter, Peace, Power…just a few more gifts that forgiveness is giving me!!  The poet Clarissa Pinkole Estes wrote the following.

“How does one know she has forgiven?  You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him.  You tend to have nothing left to say about it at all.”

I think this is so vitally important and sums this up so perfectly!  I can forgive and yet feel sorrow.  God gave someone such an amazing gift - a home, a Godly wife, and unconditional love, but they chose not to accept or cherish that gift, for this I can feel sorry for him.  And while I approach midlife and find myself surrounded with the most amazing group of family and friends, and I know how truly blessed I am, he feels friendless.  That is incredibly sad, but something that happens when one has spent their life trampling on the hearts of those who have loved him.

Author Lewis B. Smedes said that “You will know the forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”   Because if he could not find love and home with me, as he approached the latter part of life then you can only hope that he finds it before his time here on this earth is done.  I wish him well on his journey and pray for all of those in his path.

Though the MOST precious gift that I will ever receive this year is the PEACE of knowing that I did all that God ever asked me to do as a wife and while that may not have been good enough, God has blessed me beyond measure with the people that I do have in my life.  I forgive because I am not going to waste the life that I have been blessed with on anger.  God taught me a long time ago that He will take care of those who hurt us and betray us, so I will let Him handle the rest.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet shed on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Talents for HIS Glory

Hi everyone!

It has been amazing how God has gently guided my writings over the past several weeks.  When He places something on my heart I take several days to put it all into words.  I think it is important to look for the sunshine in the rain.  Everyone in this life has to go through their share of storms at some time or another and I just think if I can help others to also find a message while they are dealing with a mess that I am putting my talents to the use God intended for them.

We all are given talents, but how we choose to use them is the key.  This can pertain to money or the actual “talents” that God has given each of us.  God explains this very clearly in Matthew 25: 14-30, The Parable of the Talents. 
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Those who know me also know that I have always given God the credit for my talents and how He guides me to use them.  I think it is important to use our talents in such a way that we can teach others about God and thus glorify Him in our lives.  Because I have lived my life this way it never even occurred to me that someone could use their talents in a deceptive manner.  Like the man that wanted to talk about the one talent that was given to him, but chose to not do anything with it.  If anyone uses their talent(s) in a manner to deceive others instead of using them to glorify God then the Bible is very clear of the consequences.  We have reached a point in our society where people tend to try and explain away what the Bible tells us.  However, God gave us His Word for our good, to serve as our lighthouse, and if we do not follow His instruction then we will never find peace in this world.

To me it is incredibly sad when God gives us a gift – the gift of someone who does see your talents and has devoted their lives to try and help you reach your true potential, but the reality is that you never had any intention of doing anything with that talent.  This parable also reiterates the fact that the Lord helps those who help themselves.  I think it saddens Him to see His servants taken advantage of, but I also know that He can take any mess and turn it into a message.
So will this stop me from using my talents to glorify God – oh no!!  For in the midst of sadness it is listening to His gently whisper and guidance that are my comfort.  I have given my best and will continue to do so and that is all that He ever asks of any of us.  For me and my children, I cannot imagine any other way!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wings on the Mend

Hi everyone!

As we get closer to Thanksgiving and I head into the weekend I cannot help but reflect upon the week and all that I have to be thankful for.  I will turn 49 next week and while some people dread the thought of turning 50, I CANNOT wait to see what God has in store for me during the next year!!

In my very full life I have been so blessed with such INCREDIBLE friends to help me walk through life's journey.  Supporting me in good times and bad, encouraging me along the way - well that is all any of us could ever hope for!

When Robin Williams died in August I took it very hard.  I think it was because his words were so meaningful to me...  "I use to think the worst thing in life was to end up alone.  It's not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone."

Sometimes we inadvertently allow people into our lives, who while on the surface may appear to have our best interest at heart, yet in reality all they are ever really concerned about are their own interests - even to the point of making us feel completely alone.  If we are not careful they can bankrupt us emotionally and financially.  Sometimes our true friends have to help us metaphorically throw water on our face in order for us wake up.

Once we take off the rose colored glasses we can then take the lemons that have been given to us and turn them into lemonade.  Slowly but surely our crushed spirit realizes it really does have wings and can fly yet again.

When traveling down a road such as this, the biggest blessings come in the form of unexpected God Winks sent from far away angels.  Angels sent to illuminate all that God has been trying to show me for so long.  Angels, who have also had their wings broken.  Yes, this angel will indeed fly!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Step at a Time

Hi everyone,

As I have struggled over the past several weeks to make sense of all that is transpiring in my life, these words by Oswald Chambers left me saying “WOW”!!

"If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; or even if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential will of God means a hard and difficult time for you, go through it...You must go through the trial before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because by going through the trial you learn to know God better. God is working in us to reach His highest goals until His purpose and our purpose become one."
~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

Ok, let me examine this a little closer.

If the providential will of God means a hard and difficult time for you, go through it... because by going through the trial you learn to know God better.”

I have to admit this is tough for me on so many levels.  In part because I have so many questions that will probably always be unanswered.  Up until this point in my life, when life has thrown curve balls my way I have done a good job of asking God “WHAT do you want me to learn from this” and not “WHY”.  This time it is all the unanswered WHYs that haunt me.  I have always been one to focus on my relationship with God and not a certain religion.  So I guess that is why my dialog with Him these days resembles more of that between a parent and a heart broken teenager.  Just like our parents know what is best and we have a hard time grasping that concept when we are in our teens, so now do I have a tough time grasping all that has unfolded in my life.

Dr. Dobson’s book, The Strong Willed Child, states that “The difference between life as it is and life as it out to be is a frightening and distressing bit of reality.”  I cannot help but smile through the tears – boy Dr. Dobson, did you ever get that right??!!!

While there have been days when I have wondered if my heart will ever heal, I find comfort in knowing that when we indeed follow God’s guidance He will restore all that has been taken from us.  For me, that makes me so thankful this time of the year.  Yes, He can take a mess and turn it into a message.  One step at a time!!  

Thank you for walking along this journey with me.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Time and A Season for Everything

Hi  everyone!
This morning as I walked my dogs I could not help but notice the changes in the leaves.  Oranges, reds, and various other colors paint such a mosaic in the forest trees.  That is the beauty of living in my little corner of the world.  
Fall has always been my favorite time of year having spent many days in the woods camping and hunting with my family.  I was reminded of the seasons that we all go through in our lives as well.  God captures is perfectly in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (NIV).
1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

I could not help but notice this morning as I watched the leaves fall to the ground that they make a graceful dance.  Sometimes the changes that happen in our lives happen at a slow and graceful pace, almost like a dance.  Yet when the acorns and Hickory nuts fall on my neighbor’s tin roof the sound is very abrupt and sudden.  Sometimes too, changes happen more suddenly and abruptly in our lives.  

Fall can be used to symbolize the falling down and shedding of different things from our lives; while winter may be seen as a stark and cold time for us.  There is also a side of these two seasons that is not so drab.  These two seasons, just like cold seasons in our lives, are also a time for us to draw near to the ones we love and treasure the gifts that God has given us.  We can hibernate, if you will, with God’s word and let it fuel us until spring returns again. 


While some view winter as a bad thing, the seasons, just like us, need winter so that we can appreciate the beauty that spring brings.  Just like the season, we will have a spring in our lives where new and beautiful things are brought to life.   We cannot control the seasons that surround us, which is all in God’s timing.  God’s timing also determines the length of the seasons in our own lives.  The key to it all, draw close to Him and cherish each season for the good it brings forth in our lives.

As I watch the leaves fall I will sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy the view.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

God Gave Me You

Hi everyone!

This post has been weighing on my mind for about a week now.  I have just been trying to find the right way to put it all in words.  For the past 2 ½ years this was a dialog that took place in my life – “God gave me you” – to which about a year ago the reply became “You don’t feel jipped?”   It would be easy, as life has spun out of control over the past couple of months to be angry and say “YES, I feel jipped,” but this is where this post must now begin.

The thing is…God can bring people into our lives and while HE means it all for good, they have their own free will to both accept and embrace the gift HE gives them or to throw it all away.  The toughest part for me is the realization that the past 2 ½ years have been a lie.  Do I feel “jipped” – well no because all I did was look for the best in someone, saw their potential and how God could use our talents for good.   Sometimes the darkness that is part of a person’s life though cannot come into the light.  God did not jip me, He tried.

“Unless you get your house straight, Curiosity Cottage is a lie.  It is in your heart, but it needs to be for real.”  Little did I know at the time of this statement that a disorganized house was the least of the lies that existed under my roof.  I feel like I am in the middle of a Lifetime movie.  However, this one will have a happy ending, because the truth has indeed set me free… Set me free to create and truly bring Curiosity Cottage to the place it was always meant to be.

Will I ever trust again…well I really doubt it at this point.  I could handle the “in sickness & in health; for richer and poorer,” part of marriage, but the curve ball that I have been given has just been too much for me to bare.   I have had to come to the realization that what God meant for good was really just a pit stop in a stepping stone of schemes. 

So how do I take what was meant for harm and turn it into good?  Well it again goes back to what I said at the beginning of this post – God can bring people into our lives for good, but they have the free will to either treasure the gift or to dispose of it at the local Goodwill store.  When we have lived our lives like God has instructed us; listening and obeying His guidance, then we just have to trust Him with what He has planned for us. 

Yes, Curiosity Cottage is my very being and it has been in front of me all the time.  Now it is time to bring her where God has meant for her to be!!



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