30 Posts Challenge: #22, God Speaks, I listen.

Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.  – Deuteronomy 1:17 KJV

Today a friend and I were talking about something that has bothered me for quite awhile. I was addressing the fact that important factors about an issue were not MY thoughts when I had believed they were for so long. It was important because it is something that seemed to bother me more that I thought it did in just believing they were my thoughts. As I kept thinking on this while going about my day, and trying to do some reading, the Lord gave me these verses above.

They were verses of God leading His people to a promised land, but there were doubts holding them back. As I got to verse 17, I sensed the Lord speaking to me regarding the conversation with my friend, and the guidance that I had once mistrusted because of the qualifications this person of the past had in my life to make such a judgment, and had my confidence. I doubted the voice of a little girl who knew better. Anger created a new fear…. many fears… fears and doubts that I still try to sort out. But as I read this verse, I hear God telling me to bring what is too hard for me to Him.

While I have a lot of respect for this person who helped in so many ways long ago, my God is telling me NOT to have respect for someone just because he is in a position to judge… to listen to the voice of that little girl who was there. The judge was not. What is too hard for me to understand… or is simply too hard… I am to bring to my God, my Father. It is hard… it is too much… but I bring it to Him and He is faithful to hear. He is a promise keeper. He is arms wide open, and a place to lay my weary head with someone who was also there. He knows better than I.

I thank my God for His word, for His whispers, for His angels He sends my way in friends… like the one I was talking with today… and the one who gave me the challenge to be reading… for those who are willing to listen… to just be there… to help me sort it out. God shows up in many ways, and makes His presence so known.

Self Care Challenge Day 11: Tea

Ooooh, dear Lord, what a sweet idea… a tall cold glass of sweet iced tea. They say it’s a southern thing, but I know tea is loved in many places of the world. Maybe a little differently enjoyed or preferred, but tea is a delight.
When we were younger we used to drink tea from the can with so much sugar. My grandmother however brewed hers and drank it unsweetened. I used to think the heat killed the taste. As I got older and my siblings to brewed some when we were out of canned, I discovered a whole new delight. Since then I have been addicted.

Now I have to admit that I have to watch how much I drink now because of struggling with tachycardia a lot, and the caffeine raises my acid levels even stronger than sodas usually. I drink mostly water, milk, chocolate milk, a caffeine free soda or 2 a day, and juices (orange, grape). Every once in a while I still have my tea, usually a McDonald’s $1.00 tea on a lot of ice because it lasts so long and is so strong to begin with that as it waters down it becomes perfect.. and the ice leftover tastes awesome.

Tomorrow I will drink a glass for the self care challenge… and drink it as I read. 😉

30 Posts Challenge: #21, I Love Singing Hymns

For those of you still following my journey of 30 aspects about me you may not know, we are getting closer to 30. So if there is something you would like to know, throw it at me. As for now, I want to share with you how much I love to sing hymns.

I really love to sing whatever God gives me, but He has placed a special place in my heart for hymns. Most are simply scripture put to music. They help us learn and remember God’s promises, truths, and His love for us. They also remind us of what Christ has done for us, the importance of reaching out to others with the same love given us, and that there will be a day of reckoning and eternal peace.

Now I have been in choirs off and on through school and church, but am NOT a professional singer, and have not been in a choir for years. Choir is therapeutic in that when I did not feel like singing, I still had to. And of course God’s word would lift my Spirits, and my troubles were made small. But life made some changes.

I lost my ability to look people in the eye and speak audibly. I eventually realized the complication but became so accustomed to hiding in the congregation, just lip syncing, and gave up being in choir. It took years for God to work with me in lifting my voice without closing it every time I knew someone could hear it. My health progressed to a point that it is hard to be reliable for a choir, so instead the Lord has me focused on singing for Him… out of obedience… for setting a good example (especially for my son)… to praise Him… with an actual voice… and to gain and keep the confidence I need in Him.

A few years back, my son and I were at church, and his music professor was teaching Sunday School. He challenged and encouraged everyone to read one hymn a night with their family devotions and sing it together. He emphasized that most people don’t know all of the words to one song, not even their favorite. He said it was because they don’t learn the message first. So my son and I started doing just that. What a difference!

My memory is not as excited as I am about the hymns and their messages, but my heart surely is. Sometimes I simply recite them, as best I can. Even when I am hurting, confused, or just struggling to keep it all together. Hymns are as healing and comforting as God’s word itself… and as it should be. The stories of the hymn writers are like reading parables on God’s disciples. I just can’t get enough of either. I am constantly singing around my family and close friends from morning to night. You really should check into learning a hymn! God has some very personal messages in them for you! He loves you!

Self Care Challenge Day 10: Books

Lord, I know you’re in this one! I love how personal you are. You know me like a book. 😉 Even the jacket that I put on carefully as a testimony. It is Your testimony, but they do judge the book by its cover… and then unfortunately judge You because of me.
Tonight is make a wish list of 5 books to read. Just today, You allowed 2 books on hold at the library… books You encouraged me to look into, to come in. When I read the Challenge, I smiled with you and asked 5? You made it quickly easy.

1st…You have convicted me to read Your word The Holy Bible through, as any other book I would. It’s all about interest and discipline. If someone called while reading, watching a movie, or online, I would let them know (if I even heard them) that I am busy.

2nd… There is the devotional You had a dear sister at church buy and sign inside to encourage me. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. I will absolutely continue this as every single day, almost every single word has been personal! It’s been Your personal love note to me!

3rd… You’ve been encouraging me to focus on gaining confidence in You and keeping it… not in myself but You as my strength. The only person I know who encourages others to do so is Leslie Ludy. I have her quote as my cover picture on FB.
The most beautiful women I’ve ever observed are those that have exchanged a self-focused life for a Christ-focused one. They are confident, but not in themselves. Instead of self-confidence, they radiate with Christ confidence. – Leslie Ludy
You’ve also been telling me to be confident in You, I need to be set apart. Wouldn’t You know it (and of course you do!), Leslie has a series on being Set Apart. The one You have brought in is Set Apart: Feminity

4th… Her other book that came in is When God Writes Your Love Story. You and a friend of ours are discussing this. And it is the testimony that You have written in my life.

Lastly… I have been trying to finish the Table 41 by Joseph Suglia on WordPress, but have only gotten as far as Table 9

Summary/Wish List
1. The Holy Bible, AKJV
2. Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young
3. Set Apart: Feminity by Leslie Ludy
4. When God Writes Your Story by Leslie Ludy
5. Table 41 by Joseph Suglia

30 Posts Challenge: #20, River Baptism

“Well, Irene, we finally did it! We finally got to one of those river baptisms we always wanted to watch.” This was what came to mind Sunday when my stepdad and I went to a river baptism, something Irene and I had been trying to do for years. She’s been gone 10 months, but would’ve loved it. She would’ve gotten in the water with them. Or she would’ve loved to watch our local church baptize 32 people in that river.
It would’ve started with parking and walking.20638775_10213424618585452_1292797568326556150_n

If you look in the 2nd row, 7 cars down, on the other side of the red truck, that was me and Bobby! When we saw this picture being taken, we were (from your view) on the far right just under the trees, sharing a picnic table with a lovingly family of 6 from Africa. After we had parked, we had a good walk, a rough walk. For those of you who do not know, I have disease and damage all over my spine, and struggle with feet and leg problems as well. Last fall, I was barely walking, unable to lay down or sit back, or move my neck, After a lot of physical therapy, nerve blocks, and medicines, I am at least able to walk better and stand, but for limited times and limited situations. My stepdad had a stroke in April of 2015, and while he is recovered, he too is limited with walking, standing, and struggles with breathing. But the Lord provided a chance to see 32 people “buried in His likeness, and risen in His newness of life.” WE did not want to miss it.

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We walked around to look at the river, saw people along the banks, some which eventually went into a huddle with the Pastor, stood for about 45 minutes, and then  we heard them offering hotdogs. Bobby and I got in line, speaking to several faces we knew and meeting new ones. We got our dogs and a water, then spotted a good friend who offered us to share his table with him, his wife and 4 kids. It was so awesome to hear them speaking their African language to each other as a family, even the littlest ones. The mom had one of the black shirts on that said All In, which meant she was going in.20621817_1295453137244171_2944553135455192380_n
When it was time, the crowds were so long and everywhere along the river. Bobby and I were struggling just to walk, and hang on to see the ones we came to watch. The picture just above is a friend of my deceased brother. He was baptized, then allowed to stand with his daughter as she was baptized, and was offered to help lean her back. My brother would have loved this.
Below you will see 2 pictures with 2 children: the 1st when they were small. They use say hey to Bobby at church when we met them. The 2nd picture is them now. Bobby wanted to see the brother baptized. The older sister told us her best friend was also being baptized, and that the Pastor was letting her help baptize her brother and best friend. 10399057_101394146542125_4718606_n20604278_10154885993810003_4892499631300064305_n

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We did not get to SEE any of the baptisms literally in the water (we praise God for those who took pictures), but we did hear the cheers each time someone was baptized, and all of heaven was cheering with us! We got to congratulate people as they came up the river bank. It was a struggle to walk back to the car, but the whole day was worth it! We are not the least bit discouraged for next time. We are better aware… be prepared with portable chairs and a camera! Praise God for the day He gave us… and all those baptized.
Oh and thank you to everyone who gave permission to use the pictures! God loves you!

Self Care Challenge Day 9: Fear

Fear… my long time acquaintance… unwelcomed… and welcomed. Fear has known me a lot longer that I have known him… terrifying me in the night… crashing in on my world… trying to please my attacker to cease the moment… seeing things that my eyes wish they had never seen so that my memory would have never had cause to remember… darkness that has try to choke me breathless… and plenty of times in there being afraid to say, No.

As I learned fear was normal, and that I wasn’t alone in fear I became comforted but unfortunately expected it… either I created the circumstance and deserved it, or it was so normal I was to bear it because I was no better than anyone else, and if I didn’t someone would bear it in my place. And there was always someone else who had it worse.

Then praise the name of Jesus, I learned the truth of fear: its birth, reason, innumerable faces, and loss of power to the name and blood of Jesus Christ! Amazing Grace is a song many know, but rarely the words… especially to all the many lines. I have been blessed to learn 7 of them. Fear draws us near to God… because we fear what we do not understand. Unbelieving souls will pray to an unknown God they do not believe in. That is okay. He longs for that. When we genuinely go to Him, He is faithful. Even if He does not remove the fear or explain why, He will comfort us, or make an escape for what we think we cannot bear any longer.

Saying no didn’t seem like a fear till someone pointed it out to me once when I was trying to make a change, but kept being pulled back by the fear. His advice, “No matter where you go there WILL be tragedies. It will NOT be because you made a change. It will be easy to think that if you had not made the change the tragedy wouldn’t have happened. It is NOT your fault. Tragedy happens everywhere we go.” His advice made all the difference in the world. It helped me to face the fear, say no, and prefer facing fear head on, with God as my shield.

I would love to tell that was the end of the story, but my life continues, so fear continues. My strength has greatly waned, but I am working on trusting the one who tells me in His word, “Fear Not.” He strengthens me with a song How Can I Fear With Jesus?, His word, my family, His family, friends, and sometimes a good friend who patiently listens to you and doesn’t give up. With an example of God’s patience by my side, I am able to remember the power of God being patient by my side.

I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 KJV

Self Care Challenge Day 8: Water

Praise the Lord! As I awaken today from a much needed sleep after skipping a day of it (unintentionally) and not feeling well at all, I get up feeling a little better, do my devotional (alone time with God and His word), eat a little breakfast, and then check to see what is the challenge for day 8 of the self care challenge. Water! Exactly what I need! Not only for my body but to also meet one of my 2 goals for my dietician coach.  The other being make sure I get breakfast. We realistically shot for 5 days out of the week on breakfast. But the water… a much needed goal.

My doctors have been after me to drink more water for years because I struggle with issues all over my body that always ends up being, “You’re not getting enough water.” Any time I have a procedure or something where I can’t drink after midnight, I end up with a small grade fever within that short 6 hours. But as soon as they give me fluids, it comes back down. The last year or so, I have developed a lot of issues about being dry… my eyes, my skin, my throat, my esophagus, and even with getting simple blood draws. So I have been trying these tricks that seem to help me:
1. Make sure to use water to take any meds with. I take meds all day long so this has made the hugest improvement for me.
2. Try to make sure it’s good and cold, whether straight from the fridge or iced. It helps.
3. The more consistent I drink water from the first 2 the more I prefer it, cold or warm. At least it doesn’t go stale or flat so easy, and is easier to carry every where.
4. When having to eat out, I choose a large iced water. It’s cheaper anyway.
5. Challenges to do with friends… like my coach and the Lovely A 😉
My biggest challenge is to drink at all. No matter what I drink I seem to drink 3 or 4 ounces every few hours. I will keep trying to improve with this challenge.

Self Care Challenge Day 7: What Makes You Happy

Happiness is definitely an aspect at the root of each one of us, whether we care about it or not. Our lives tend to reflect if we are happy or not. Anyone who knows me knows exactly what makes me happy… God. ❤
Watching 32 people be baptized in the river was truly the highlight of my day yesterday. Lord willing, I will blog about that soon. There are many ways and people He uses to make me happy, and to get through times when I am not so unhappy. Writing, music, books, movies, sermons, hymns, and even quiet times are just a few things He uses to cheer and to comfort me. Friends, family, church family, Facebook friends, WordPress Friends, and even complete strangers can be a genuine whisper from God.

Favorite things can be a day or the Blue Ridge Parkway. So many people travel so far to see moments of what are our backroads. Whether driving with the windows down, wind in my hair, hand hanging out, just enjoying such a beautifully feeling, or taking walks along the roadside, the bridge, or just looking out over the viewing areas. Such beauty. What a special pleasure God has given us.
I have the privilege quite often to have those favorite things together… riding with my delightful son up to park, and just sit and talk, or just sit and listen and watch. Sometimes I go take a walk across the bridge while he spends his own quiet time with the Lord.

30 Posts Challenge: #19 What Makes Me Happy

Hey, Y’all. I’ve been trying to think of the next aspect to share. I’m also doing another challenge I became interested in, 21 Day Self Care Challenge, which is on Day 7 and asks us what makes us happy. Happiness is definitely an aspect at the root of each one of us, whether we care about it or not. Our lives tend to reflect if we are happy or not. Anyone who knows me knows exactly what makes me happy… God. ❤

Watching 32 people be baptized in the river was truly the highlight of my day yesterday. Lord willing, I will blog about that soon. There are many ways and people He uses to make me happy, and to get through times when I am not so happy. Writing, music, books, movies, sermons, hymns, and even quiet times are just a few things He uses to cheer and to comfort me. Friends, family, church family, Facebook friends, WordPress Friends, and even complete strangers can be a genuine whisper from God.

Favorite things can be a day or the Blue Ridge Parkway. So many people travel so far to see moments of what are our backroads. Whether driving with the windows down, wind in my hair, hand hanging out, just enjoying such a beautiful feeling, or taking walks along the roadside, the bridge, or just looking out over the viewing areas. Such beauty. What a special pleasure God has given us.

I have the privilege quite often to have those favorite things together… riding with my delightful son up to park, and just sit and talk, or just sit and listen and watch. Sometimes I go take a walk across the bridge while he spends his own quiet time with the Lord.

Self Care Challenge Day 6: Work/Life Balance

Work/Life Balance… I like the Life balance term. Life keeps me up and running, but that’s because it comes from the one who created it. God loves to keep our lives entertaining. That’s a good thing. It means we’re living one. Being alive is better than having to lifelessly watch it crawl by you while making you painstakingly stay in one.
Things I do need to work on… better pacing, saying no when needed, saying yes when needed, and taking the rest when it provides an opportunity. Oh and making sure I start the day without skipping breakfast, making sure to get a bite of lunch, and finish with a health supper within a wise time to include a walk afterwards, or at least not going straight to bed. Although I usually try to get my walk in the A.M..

Self Care Challenge Day 5: Lunch

Well lunch did not happen but sleep finally did… causing me to miss a very important appointment. Still getting used to the change in my medicines without it interfering doing life. Everything feels so off, but I feel so rested. Maybe that’s the off… lol. Oh and as I am writing this, I realized I skipped a day of journaling/blogging, so actually this is lunch day 2. That means day 1 was actually just a small bag of Cheetos after church, unless I can count the hot dog about 6pm or so while at a church event to Baptist 32 people in the creek running along the side of the new church property that this church will be moving onto soon, Lord willing. It was an amazing day!
Lord willing, I will get better on sleep, lunch, and all that needs improvement. God can help me do anything, including accepting whatever He gives. I know He wants me to be a good steward with all that He gives… our bodies, our monies, our times, our spiritual gifts, and everything else. I know that He wants me to do my part. And I know He wants me to trust Him. So we will just have to wait and see what the new day brings.

Self Care Challenge Day 4: Fun

I’m not sure where I am note wise on this challenge, but I am trying to catch up. Sleep escapes me at night. I tend to get it late morning or by falling asleep everywhere throughout the day. Maybe if I get my meds back on schedule things will improve, but I have to go by whatever the Lord sends me, and whether He wants me to watch from the sidelines, or to get in the game… of life.

My walk was a local park, not the bridge I like to walk. It was quite early and my body was dragging, but I wanted to get it in before my dietician coach called. I failed to get a picture, but was met in the parking lot by a squirrel. As I got out, he got in front of the car. I think someone is used to people feeding him. Sorry. I had nothing to give. Birds were chirping, singing their morning songs. One landed near as I walked by.

Half way around the field my chest is tight, but that happens. The top of my right leg hurts and I’m tempted to cut through the double soccer fields, but I focus on breathing and how far I’ve come. I keep hurting, but keep going. I ponder to pause, but fear it will be harder. Just keep the pace I’ve been careful with. Praise the Lord I finish. After a break and a chat with Stacy, I want to go again. I got 20 steps before my leg says… Nope! Not having it! Do you want to walk today? Yes, please. Then kindly return to the vehicle!

Writing is my fun, poetry my first love. SO to keep this simple and catch up, my journal will be my fun. Besides I wrote 2 new poems… Persuasive Reflections and Empty Pleas.

Self Care Challenge Day 3: Outdoors

As usual, I stayed up pretty late last night. Not so sure it had any thing to do with being productive. I’ve been up several nights just crying or being depressed in the last week so. The whys don’t really matter. I have been trying to use music, reading, and other distractions, but they do not help. I am praying, and trusting things will work themselves out or that I will at least deal with whatever my days are in a better way. I do take a lot of medicines, and have just changed from one med I was on for over 10 years, and then tapered onto the new one.
I was blessed to be able to sleep in again a little. But tonight life will get regular again. Even now as I type, I know I need a shower, will take my son to work by 4am, prepare for an appointment at 7am that will ask me first thing if I kept my goal of having breakfast every day, then off to another one and another, as well as picking my son up, paying bills, and errands that I hope I remember and complete. Lord willing, I will get the walk in there somewhere and note tomorrow.  I usually have PT on this day but have had a break for a bit. God will let me know when the day is done.

30 Posts Challenge: #18 I Mourn, I Grieve (Edited)

Friends, many of you know what I am talking about because you have experienced or are experiencing the same thing…. loss. We don’t talk about what’s going on inside sometimes, but have the hardship of not even being able to share memories of a loved one or a friend because the other friends and family that would understand are gone too.

Of what is commonly called the immediate family, mine started off with 6, of which 3 are gone… Mom, Dad, and my baby brother (killed at 37). My grandparents are gone. It would be a long list to name all the aunts, uncles, and cousins who have passed.

At 15, we gained a foster brother to our immediate family. He moved away so long we are strangers. At 18, my son came along, and praise the Lord he is just fine. Our brother-in-law came to our family. He’s in hospice care. In 91 we lost a cousin whose death effected every person in the family.

Then the Lord blessed our family with a season of more gain than loss to our family… more cousins, uncles, family friends, and even family pets. Now Death still visited… but I was different. My relationship with Christ was stronger. There was no fear in death, no sorrowing with no hope, no wishing someone back to this wretched earth knowing they had gained better… peace.

Then I lost my Dad, several close aunts and cousins, my baby brother, close coworkers and friends, boyfriends, too many dear children, church family, my mom, and a dear friend who was like a sister, and a woman I called Ma. The world tells me a large number of deaths couldn’t be meaningful. That world told my loved ones they were a burden, so we watched the horror in their eyes as they tried to be brave. It is so common we say, Who’s next? Then the one joking joins the ones we grieved over together.

Now I am not one to dwell. I hate that because it does no good. I walk with God, ready (mentally prepared) for the next one. But I share this as I am doing these aspects because it is hard NOT to think of others with birthdays no longer to celebrate, missing faces at family events and holidays, and when ones who knew inside jokes are gone too.

SO what do I do now? I hang onto the ones who ARE still here. I hang onto my faith and the hand of my Lord and Savior. I live. I breathe. I do whatever the Lord gives me. But I do mourn. I do grieve. I thank God for the generous abundance He gives me in loving friends and church family. The Lord uses them greatly in my life.

Each day belongs to the Lord… in all of our lives. We are not the Author, and we are not the Finisher. But there is that sweet consolation of knowing one day we will no longer die, grieve, or miss our loved ones. I long for that day.

Self Care Challenge Day 2: Sleep

I know I stay up so late because it is the best time I think, am able to get things done, and the only time to myself to do anything. I try to make sure to take my meds near bed time since they are sleep inducing, but having to take so many they tend to keep me up having to way for the time to take the next. By the time I narrow down a schedule, I have become immune to them being as effective in inducing sleep. Trying to getting anything done on a schedule is hard to as my life doesn’t seem to understand what a schedule is.

I also like to use music, or reading the bible, but I actually try to turn everything off and use silence. Distractions of any kind keep my mind going. I find if I turn off the world, and think on something like bible verses, hymns, or simply praying I fall asleep in the middle of whatever I was trying to remember. Last night I was up quite late, but had an unusual opportunity to get some much needed sleep in through the late morning to afternoon. My body even cooperated, which can be a challenge. I awakened refreshed, like I actually slept. It was a nice change. How ironic that I should come across this challenge at such a time. I am definitely curious to see if it can benefit.