Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled- Grief Support

Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of GOD!I came across this beautiful quote a few weeks ago, and it really struck a cord with me. This is for my friends who have blogs or just read blogs. I know many of you are hurting, struggling in silence with grief and loss. I have found a blog worth reading, and that may provide help, if only for support. It is called Faith and Grief. I don't think anything happens by accident. And I don't think that I came across this blog by accident. I hope and pray that it will be helpful for someone. May God's grace, gentleness and His loving kindness sustain you through this- what ever the loss may be. I love you all. Blessings!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sisters and Forever Friends

Amy and Emily
Amy, Emily and their grandma
Emily and Amy with their parents- I took this picture while visiting them in Iowa.

Have you ever had a friend who touched your life in such a way that you were never the same again? -someone who meant so much to you they felt more like family than a friend....I have. We've all had friends that we connect and share the same interests with, or that we enjoy spending time with because we enjoy their company. But, I'm talking about the kind of friend that challenges you to grow, nurtures your spirit, weathers the storms of life with you, holds you up or even carries you when you feel beaten down and trampled upon- until you can stand on your own again, and celebrates the joys and success in your life. We are lucky if through out our life, we find one true friend. I have been blessed with more than a handful, and I know it's a rare thing. They are the ones who remind me of how real, how powerful and how tender God's love is for me.
Last month, Dawn @ Southern Girly-Girl Raising Three Boys, wrote this beautiful post about her friends. I couldn't help smiling when I read it. It touched my heart and reminded me of how many friends I have to be thankful for. So, I have decided to write a series of posts celebrating the different friendships that have blessed and enriched my life. And is the first one!

Six years ago, Hugh and I had just moved to Kansas City, where Hugh was to attend medical school. One evening, we met two girls in our parking lot in front of the apartment we were living in. Amy and Emily were sisters, who were living below us and over one apartment. We all introduced ourselves, and it wasn't long before I joined the girls on their nightly walks around the apartment complex. They were my first friends in Kansas City. We enjoyed getting together and going for coffee, shopping on the Plaza, art and music festivals or dinner and a movie. You could find us, on any given night, in one or the others' apartment, sitting in the floor, drinking coffee and talking into the wee hours of the morning. Whether we had to work the next day or not, once we got together, we could talk for hours on end.

Amy gave me the inside scoop about a job in Gifted education that opened up in the NKC school district, and we ended up working together for the next two years. We helped decorate each others' rooms for the school year and we got together on a regular basis to collaborate and share new ideas. We both share a love for teaching. I think our friendship was made stronger due to the fact that we never competed against each other. We always shared what was working for us, encouraged each other and cheered each other on. Amy is a great teacher and her students are very lucky, because she is very creative and always searching for new, fresh ways to present material. She wants learning to be fun for her students. I think we feed off of each other in that way. We still talk about teaching- every time we talk on the phone. We've also supported each other personally as well. If she hosted a Mary Kay party, I'd help her, and if I had a Taste of Gourmet party, she'd help me. Amy even helped me with the monthly dinner the S.A.A., from Hugh's medical school held at our local hospital for families with children in the N.I.C.U. Amy is just fun to be with. She is bubbly and energetic and she is such a sweetheart!

Emily is soft spoken and graceful. She has a quiet, lady-like quality about her- very charming. Emily can be sensitive and shy when you first get to know her, where as, Amy is more of a focused, take charge woman with a plan type. But it is her vulnerability that endears you to Emily. She was the first person to really seek me out and ask me about my relationship with Jesus. She knew something was different, and she knew she wanted to know more about it. She may never truly know what a high compliment she paid me by doing so. I've had the blessed opportunity to share my Jesus with many people through out my lifetime. And my heart has rejoiced with each one that has come to know Jesus as their own savior and Lord. But, I have never known anyone like Emily. She loves the Lord. She continuously seeks Him out. She desperately wants to know Him and please Him. She has a heart for God that inspires me. I can not tell you what it has meant to me to pray with her and read the bible with her. I love that we can talk for hours about Him and she never gets tired of it. Our friendship is sealed in Christ, and no matter where we go, we'll always be close. I truly feel that way about both Amy and Emily.

These are the girls that stood by me through some of the darkest moments of grief over my mom and dad's deaths. And they have rejoiced with me in the birth of both of my children. Amy was the one who coordinated the S.A.G.E. staff, when my dad passed, in showering me with cards, gifts, flowers, and condolences. (I still have my comfy purple pants and jacket, and the peace lily you gave me AM!) (And I still have the card and book on Heaven from Emily and the Willow tree ornament you both gave me.)There are so many memories of them I hold dear. The two most important are the hand made quilts from their grandma and our girl's weekend back in their home town. What a crazy, wonderful weekend!

We drove up to Davenport, IO and the girls put me up at"The Lodge"(the old "Jumers"), it's a hotel with a German accent/decorations. It was fabulous! I highly recommend if you're ever in the Quad city area. The first night I was there, we had dinner at a restaurant called "Johnny's Steakhouse", in the John Deere Commons area near the river. The next day we took a boat ride on the "Channel Cat Water Taxi", over to The Village of East Davenport. We walked around and visited the cutest shops. My favorites were the Isabel Bloom store and Country Manor Candies, where we each got coffee mugs and magnets to remember our trip. We met the girl's parents that night for dinner at Granite City, and then we went to see the movie The Notebook together. We went back to the hotel and stayed up half of the night talking and laughing. It was the best slumber party I've ever had.

When Hugh and I moved here to Ohio, the girls gave me a beautiful quilt, handmade by their grandma. It is so dear to me, because she doesn't make them any more.I feel like I have a piece of them with me, always. They were kind enough to bless us with another beautiful quilt, when our Trey was born. Quilts are a heartland tradition, and are very much a part of their family tradition. In fact, when Amy and Emily's dad lost his battle with cancer last February, they donated one of their family heirlooms to Journey Quilts.
Lori Bruning, RN, a volunteer coordinator at the hospice house, said the Journey Quilt project is a way for deceased patients to leave the hospice house wrapped in love for their final journey. For that reason, the name “Journey Quilt” seemed appropriate. She later happened upon a Bible verse that seemed to perfectly describe its purpose. The verse was Judges 18:6: “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” . The above link is an article written on their family and the quilt they donated in his honor. Friends are a special gift from God, and I have been so blessed to have Emily and Amy as friends. I think we should take the time to celebrate the friendships in our lives. I can't take credit for this idea, because I was inspired by Dawn. But, I would love to read your stories! There will be many more from me- in the coming weeks! Blessings to all!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Little Romance

So, how is the romance in your life? Well, as many of you know, I have committed to make the effort this year to put, shall we say, a little sass-a-frass back into my marriage. And, how is it going, you ask? rrrrRRRRrrrr!!!! (hee-hee!) So well that uh- I forgot to post all about it last month. Seriously, I've been a little too busy living it, to write about it. But I've got a little time to share-so let's get started. This has been such a great challenge. Thanks Maria! I must say I have been pleasantly surprised and I can't wait to see where this takes us as the year goes on.

I have prayed for the Lord's blessing on our marriage. I have gone before Him, daily in praise for the gift Hugh is to me. I ask the Lord, everyday, to make me worthy of my role as wife and mother. I ask for His continued guidance and protection (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.) And I ask that I might find favor with Hugh. That his heart would continue to be open to me, and that we would treasure one another and the covenant of our marriage. I have also committed myself to studying the "art and beauty of marriage" biblically. This is what I have learned, and begun to put into practice....

I can love my husband more deeply by showing my respect and reverence for him and his role in our marriage.

I respect him by submitting to his authority and leadership of our family.

I show my submission by deferring to his judgment in making decisions for our family. In this way, I am showing him respect and my trust in his knowledge and opinions.- Let me say that this has not been an easy thing for me to practice, especially when I think I'm right. But, I know in my heart that if I am to be pleasing to my Lord, then I must trust Him in this matter, and do what he has asked of me. I must trust His design and plan for my marriage if I want it to be all it can and if I want to be truly happy and fulfilled.

I show my love for my husband by doing all I can joyfully and with a servant's heart. The Lord is looking at not only what I do in obedience to Him, but, also my heart's motive and attitude. This, by far, has been the hardest to practice, if I am totally honest.- The flesh side of me doesn't want to be a servant or slave. The "worldly woman" in me wants to be adored, pampered and romanced. My mind and mouth say, "I am a valuable person too. I need someone to care about my thoughts, opinions and needs too. Well, you know what I found to be true...I didn't lose myself or any of the things that I need. The Lord has supplied my needs and the desires of my heart, because I chose to seek His kingdom first. Yes, that's right...I tested it and found His promises to be faithful and true! While I was busy fruitlessly squandering my time and energy on worrying about me and what I'm going to get out of it all- He picked me up and lovingly shook me out of my pitiful, self absorbed state.

He quieted my anxieties and gently placed this promise in my heart. Tiffany, I AM taking care of you. I AM loving you with the deepest love possible. I AM giving you my best , my all, because I want every good and wonderful thing for you. And He continues to quiet my fears with His love. (See Zephaniah 3:17 and 1 John 4:18.)

Hugh has been more gentle and tender hearted towards me. Our communication is more open and honest. He has been more complimentive and thoughtful in his words and actions towards me. He really listens to me, giving me his time and attention. Which in itself means the world to me.The effort is not only there, but we are growing! We are building a healthy, Christian marriage, one romantic gesture at a time. And in doing so we are honoring our heavenly father, and drawing closer to His heart!- Thank you Lord Jesus, from the bottom of my heart!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Celebration of Spring

Behold, I make all things new. (Revelation 21:5)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I love how the Lord uses even the seasons to remind us of His promises. I love that we celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ in Spring time. All around me His promise and His love are Alive. Glory be to God- He is Alive! I am filled to over flowing with the joy of Jesus' love for me. I am in awe of how through out my life He has pursued me, because of His love for me. Even when I disappoint and fail Him, He gently woos me back to His heart. Spring reminds me of a love song that engages all of our senses. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am able to slow down enough to enjoy the small wonders that make up the season. That is my challenge to you this week.
- Open your window in the early morning, and let the cool breeze sweep over you.
- Walk barefoot through the grass, and get your feet wet in the morning dew.
- Stop and smell the flowers.
- Listen for the birds, frogs or bumble bees.
- Put out some grain or seeds for the squirrels and birds.
- Plant flowers this year that will attract butterflies.
- Find a near by duck pond and go for a quiet walk and feed the ducks.
Stop! If only for a moment and take it all in. Praise His name for the Lord is good and His blessings are many!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Memory Verse Monday

Memory Verse Monday is a beautiful way to start the week. It was started by Karen @ Karen's Ramblings. The aim of "Memory Verse Monday" is to:

1. Memorise a passage (or passages) of scripture.
2. Share why you have chosen the verse or verses that you have.
3. Encourage one another with God has been saying to you through this verse.
4. Share the ways in which you find remembering verses works for you.

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. - Isaiah 32:17

I am reading A Quiet Knowing by Gigi and Ruth Bell Graham. As I opened the book, this beautiful verse began chapter one. I have been praying, since the beginning of the year, that the Lord would help me to develop a "gentle and quiet spirit." (1 Peter 3:4) I want to be pleasing to Him, (my Lord.) So many times we make New Year's resolutions that we give up on, and then we get frustrated with ourselves. (I have sooo been there. And like everyone else, I have really beat myself up over it too.) But, I think that is because we try to do it ourselves, by our own strength- separate from God. So, I decided this year, I was going to ask the Lord to "clean out my temple." (Because if Jesus dwells with in us, our body should be a temple of the Lord.) I have been on a mission to seek out and surround myself with scripture, music, books, blogs, and people who can help me in the following areas:

1. developing a gentle and quiet spirit

2. a clean heart

3. refine a respectful nature towards my husband

4. a servants heart for my husband and children

5. a deeper knowledge and love for my Lord- true intimacy

Has it all happened or been accomplished in my life yet? NO, most certainly not. But, the Christian life is not about having it all together; it is a commitment to a process.-(Gigi Graham) I find myself trying to take control, which is usually about the time I mess things up, and I have to stop and give it back to Him. Thank goodness failure isn't final. (-thanks Gigi) So I press on. I'm going to be memorizing and meditating on the verse from Isaiah as I practice a little serenity this week. The following is taken from the book A Quiet Knowing-Serenity- that inner peace that comes with the certainties of knowing in whom you believe, what you believe, who you are, and where you're going- a sense of total well-being. As we nurture our relationship with the Lord, we are in turn blessed with a peace that "passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).
Blessings to all!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

DON"T Believe the LIES and DON"T Fall Away From the Truth. The ONLY TRUTH IS JESUS!

I realize, as I write this, I will probably lose alot of readers and ruffle alot of feathers. This is something that has weighed as a heavy burden on me spiritually for a few months now. I have prayed about it and have come to the conclusion that I can NO LONGER support, endorse, or even watch Oprah Winfrey. This is so hard for me, because I have admired her for so long. I have been inspired by her wisdom, generousity, and kindness in giving to others. But, I believe that she has been decieved by the LIES of the devil, and she is leading others through her influence into believing those same lies. And THEY ARE LIES my friends- straight from the pit of hell! There is only One God and One way to Him through His son, Jesus! Jesus said himself, "No one comes to the father, except through me." And our God IS a jealous God- not of us, but in the way that He says, "You will have no other gods before me!"

In the book of Revelation, in the Bible, it says in the end days, there will be a great falling away among the faithful. I WILL NOT BE ONE OF THEM! And I have resolved to guard my mind against even the most subtle influence her words may have on me. Revelation also talks about a "Jezabel," who will be embraced as a great teacher. Now, I am not saying that Oprah is the Jezabel, but it scares me to think how her image and influence line up with the picture of a "great teacher." When I heard a couple months ago about her spiritual online classes, I thought it was a joke. That is until Hugh and I found a link to it on her offical website. Then a few weeks ago I found a VHS tape of one of her old shows that my mom had recorded years ago on The Last Temptation of Christ. Amidst the two opposing sides, Oprah introduced an author, who she credited for "changing her life." He shared his veiw and that of his book being that God is every where...God is in all of us...we are all children of god and Jesus is our brother, therefore god's deity is in all of us. WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS?!? And if that wasn't enough, take a look at the following....It's just scary!!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Little Help From My Friends

The following words are a small part of a today's post by Rachel Anne @ Home Sanctuary. This is "one small thing" that she has done today to inspire me. It is part of the reason why I joined Company Girls. It is never too late to join...I personally don't keep up w/ the points or enter them in every month, but ya know- it's nice to know that there is someone out there that you can share the day to day tasks with. Even the mundane can come alive in a creative new way, when you share it with a friend! And we can all use a little help from our friends now and again, even if it's just encouragement to say hang in there, keep going- I'm with you(supporting you!) I hope her words will inspire you as well! Blessings!

You see, the minute we offer up just a tiny bit of effort, He springs into action to bless it. Because it's not just our action He's looking at.

It's the heart that goes with it.

When we serve in small ways, when we give of ourselves, and when we choose to love in ways that require a little bit of sacrifice, we are really worshipping God. With all of our hearts and our beings. We are living in the true spirit of an incredible God who is blessing what we put our hands to.

You've been given people and things in life that are to be treasured and cared for. You may never really do it perfectly or with the style and panache you'd like, but no one can do it like you can. You're someone's mommy, someone's daughter, someone's wife, someone's friend . Each Small Thing is a way of expressing love and gratitude for the wonderful gift of being part of someone's life.

It's worship and service and love and even fun, sometimes.

It's God working in small ways to make something great happen for you. Because that's just the way He does things.

He is the I AM- and that's all that needs to be said!