Let Go


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I can relate to the words of Lindsay McCaul’s song, Let Go. So many times in my life, I held on to things far too long… things that weighed me down… things that made life more difficult. Why is it that we find it hard to let go and allow God to carry the things in life that are too much for us to handle? Nothing is too big, too heavy, or too hard for God, so why do we hurt ourselves when He stands there waiting for us to let go?

My husband is a big, strong guy and he can lift and carry a lot more weight than I can, so when there is heavy lifting to do, he handles that for me. I have some problems with my back and neck that actually makes it even more difficult for me to lift or carry anything of substantial weight. However at times I will lift heavy items on my own instead of depending on my husband and when I do this I usually end up with back pain. My husband reminds me that He would have taken care of the lifting if only I would just allow him. He is strong enough to do the lifting and to carry the heavy stuff with little effort, so He wonders why I don’t just let things go and let him take care of it.

In the same way that my husband is willing to make things easier for me and to help me avoid pain by carrying the load, God stands waiting and willing to carry our burdens, if we will only, let go. My husband can take care of the physically heavy stuff for me, if I let go and hand it over to him. God can take care of all the heavy stuff that others may not even be aware of. There are things in life that we hold on to and attempt to carry that can hurt us much deeper than just causing physical pain.

For many years, I had things in my life that was weighing me down. I was a single mom with a low paying job. I worried about finances and how I was going to pay the bills. I worried about my children because I knew that they were affected by every poor choice I had made. I was lonely, so I tried to fill the void with unhealthy and ungodly relationships. I was angry at people in my past that had hurt my children and me. I was angry at myself for allowing my life to get so out of control. I was ashamed of the person that I saw in the mirror. I was disappointed that life had not turned out as I had planned. I reached a point that I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted and I felt that I could not take another step. I could no longer handle the weight of the load I was carrying.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Phil.4:6-7

I knew the Lord during this time of my life. I was a child of God, but for some reason I refused to let go of the worry, the anger, the guilt, the disappointment, and the shame. Instead of letting go, I stumbled through life with this heavy load and I endured the pain. When I finally fell on my face in exhaustion, I cried out to God and asked Him to please take the burden off me. I remember the feeling of peace that I felt the moment I finally let go and gave it all to Him. Since that day in 2002, life has been so much easier. Life is not worry-free, nor is it pain-free, but life is easier because I’m not weighed down by things of the past or by things that I have no control over. I have peace because I know that God now carries all my concerns about my children, my finances, and my future. Since I let go, God has taken away the anger, the guilt, and the shame of my past. I no longer feel lonely because I walk with God and He assures me that He will never leave me alone.

Are you holding on to something that you need to allow God to carry for you? Let go and give it to Him. God can carry any load that you have. He carries mine and He can handle yours also. You can trust God to take care of your loved ones. He loves them more than you ever can. You can trust God with your worries about the future because He holds tomorrow. Let go and give him your worries, your grief, your pain, your bitterness, your anger, your unforgiveness, your guilt and shame.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

God desires to carry our burdens but we must first let go. He will not pry open our hands and take things from us, but He does gently cradle our hands and assure us that everything is ok and that we can let go and place things in His hands. God wants us to trust Him with all we have… no matter how large or how small. It’s time to LET GO.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

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Blessings in Brokenness



This morning, I listened to the song, Blessings by Laura Story. It’s a favorite of mine and it helps to remind me to look for blessings in every situation, especially in times of trials. Laura wrote this song after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and went through multiple surgeries. I don’t know the entire story behind this song or exactly how God worked in Laura and her husband’s life through this trial, but I do know that God used this situation to inspire her to write this song. The song has ministered to me and I know it has done the same for many others. God is using Laura’s brokenness to bless others.

We hear people often question, why God allows bad things to happen to “good” people. I suppose that this question is really asking why Christians have to experience bad things in life. Christians or “good” people, regardless whether they are Christian, experience trials in life for the same reason that any other human does. We all live in a fallen world. The difference for Christians is that this world is not our home, so we take comfort knowing that the troubles of life are temporary. Some may think that just by believing in Christ, we are exempt from the pains of this life but that was never promised.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

We are not spared the trials that come in life, but because of our belief in Christ, we have hope that sustains us through difficult times and we possess peace that calms the storms. We may not avoid the storms but because of Christ we can peacefully endure them. Perhaps this is the best answer to the question, “why”. If Christians didn’t experience hardships then others would never witness how God provides strength to overcome. It is sometimes difficult to explain in words the peace that Christians have during times of illness or loss, but how we handle the trials can be a testimony of the power of Christ in us.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.  2 Cor. 12:9

God’s grace is sufficient to bring us through any storm and He can use even the most hurtful situation for good. Whatever you may be going through at this time may be preparing you to help someone else in the future.

” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  2 Cor. 1:3-4

Perhaps you are dealing with physical pain or coping with a disease, such as cancer, or perhaps it’s emotional pain, depression, or loneliness. Maybe you are grieving a loss or dealing with financial troubles. Whatever the cause of your suffering, God’s grace is sufficient.

My prayer is that God sustain you through this time; that He comforts you with a peace that only He can give. I pray also that God help you discover the blessings in your brokenness.

Dear Hot Flash: a Dear John letter


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Dear Hot Flash:

The time has come for us to part ways. I wanted to let you down easy but it’s best that I just get to the point. I’m struggling to find words to make this easier for you. I want to say something good, but it’s difficult to find anything positive about this relationship. Honestly, I just want out. I wish we had never met. This relationship has just become too painful for me.

I remember listening to other women speak of you. They talked about their involvement with you and how you affected them in such intense ways. They described your flashy personality and your spontaneity. They told stories about all the sleep they lost because you liked to visit them at night. So many women described how HOT you were. Back then I thought that all the talk about this mysterious Hot Flash was just an exaggeration. I laughed at all the stories, just as many others do…. Then, you walked into my life. How old was I… 45, 46? I’m not sure. At first I didn’t even recognize you. You would show up for brief moments and then disappear for long periods of time. Oh, of course I noticed you; because there is no doubt… you’re HOT!

As the years have passed, you have started coming around more often and staying much longer. I’m 50 years old now, so this has gone on long enough. This relationship has just become way too intense. You have become much too intrusive. You demand too much time with me. You’re smothering me and it’s causing me to feel sick. I break out in a sweat and I get headaches. I’m losing too much sleep because of you. I’m sorry, but this is not a healthy relationship. It’s time for you to move on.

I wish I could say “it’s been fun”, but I can’t seem to recall any fond memories. Let’s just say good-bye and depart as… well, I’d be lying if I said, “friends”… so, let’s just go our separate ways. Please do not call or write and DO NOT visit me again. Good-bye Hot Flash.

Sincerely,

Darlene


Although, we are already almost a week into the New Year, it’s never too late to make resolutions. Whether you have made resolutions to make changes for the better or you gave up making resolutions because, like most of us, you fail to keep them… this blog is worth the read and I found it worthy to be posted on my own blog today.

Unshakable Hope

In the years before I had ALS, I made and broke, usually quickly, more New Year resolutions than I care to remember. I became so bad at keeping my resolutions that I quit making them. But I began making resolutions again about 6 years ago and actually succeeded in keeping a few of them – resolutions like committing to follow a daily Bible reading program, which I’ve done several times and will do this year also. But following a daily Bible is more like a renewed commitment for me so it’s not one of the new resolutions I’m referring to in this post.

ALS has taken away a lot of the things I wanted to change about myself. Unfortunately it’s also taken away many of the things that I didn’t want to change. For example;

  • I am fed through a feeding tube now so I no longer have to make…

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Furry Friends


A new year has begun and for us it means that we have nine weeks left here in Belize. We have started the process of cleaning out closets and store rooms. We’ve begun sorting through books, keepsakes and photos and we’ve started packing things up that we will take with us. As we sort through these items, we of course stop and take time to look at old photos and take a walk down memory lane. Eight years may not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things but a lot of memories can be packed into eight years.

We always knew that one day we would leave Belize and return to Alabama but we didn’t live our everyday life preparing to leave. We went about our life just as anyone does. We bought things, we accumulated “stuff” and we welcomed pets into our family. Not only did we welcome pets but we also rescued many animals in need. Some of our rescues were domestic animals such as dogs and cats but many were wild animals.

During our walk down memory lane, we found lots of photos of our precious furry friends so I put the photos together in a slide show to make sure we never forget their sweet faces.

Today’s blog post is for all those who share our love of animals. Our sweet pets have brought us much joy over the years and they made it easier for us to be so far from our children and grandchildren. They filled the void in our heart at times when we missed our babies at home.

TIME


watchIs it that TIME of year again? Is is TIME already to put 2012 to rest and welcome in a New Year? The final hours and minutes of 2012 are quickly passing, so soon this year will run out of TIME.

For me, 2012 was a milestone in TIME. I turned 50 years old this year. Turning 50 didn’t really feel much different than turning 40, but one thing that I have noticed as the years have passed is that TIME seems to pass much quicker. As a child, TIME moved slowly. The TIME from one Christmas to the next or from one birthday to the next seemed like a lifeTIME.  Actually, any TIME that a child waits in anticipation of anything can make a few hours feel like days. However, as we get older, TIME passes much too fast.

We speak so casually about TIME and often forget what value it holds. Think about all the idioms we use for TIME:

TIME flies

TIME is short

TIME hangs heavy

TIME passes

TIME runs out

We waste TIME

We have spare TIME

We spend TIME

We save TIME

We have good TIMES

We have hard TIMES

We lose TIME

We find TIME

We make TIME

We kill TIME

We live on borrowed TIME

There are 1000’s of idioms for the word, TIME. We describe TIME in so many different ways, as if it truly is something that we can control. The truth is: TIME is limited. TIME is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, rich or poor; TIME doesn’t stand still for anyone. The only control we have over TIME is how we use it and who we share it with.

When we are young, we think that TIME is endless and that there will always be enough TIME later. When “later” arrives, we realize that TIME is short and TIME doesn’t allow us to go back. As much as we like to believe that we can make up for lost TIME, it really isn’t possible. Once TIME has passed, it’s lost forever. We may still have TIME left and we can use that more wisely but we never get back the TIME we’ve lost.

The photo I chose for this post is a photo of my momma’s watch. My momma went home to be with the Lord in 2008 and after she passed, I asked my siblings if I could have her watch. That was the only thing of hers that I wanted. She didn’t wear a lot of jewelry but she always wore a very simple, inexpensive watch. She took it off only to bath and to sleep. I wanted the watch for two reasons. One: Because it was something that she had with her all the TIME. Two: Because it represented TIME.

That watch represented the TIME that I wanted desperately to have with her. I wanted more TIME. I wanted to go back in TIME before she was diagnosed with cancer and spend more TIME with her. I wanted God to give her more TIME on earth; more TIME to spend with her children; more TIME to enjoy her grandchildren; more TIME to meet all her great-grandchildren.

No matter how much I wanted more TIME, there was no more TIME to spend with my momma. She was only given a certain amount of TIME on this earth, which meant that I was only given a certain amount of TIME to spend with her and that TIME had been spent. The problem was, I didn’t feel that I had spent that TIME wisely and now it was gone. The watch is a reminder to me that I should value the TIME that God has given me. TIME is a limited resource that should be used wisely. TIME is valuable but it becomes priceless only because it is shared with others. My momma’s watch is a reminder for me to spend my TIME on the important things in life and to share TIME with the important people in my life. Most importantly, the watch helps me to remember to give God His TIME. It is God that has granted us an allotted amount of TIME on this earth, so we need to spend TIME with Him.

As 2012 comes to a close and all our TIME for this year has been spent, I hope that you can look back and feel that you did spend your TIME in wise ways with the people you love. If you feel that you wasted this precious gift of TIME, I pray that you will resolve to treasure God’s gift of TIME during the New Year and years to come. Don’t allow the things of this world to steal the treasure of TIME from you.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  Ephesians 5:15-17

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.”  Psalm 39: 4-5

Live, Laugh, Love: Guest blog by Robin Townsend


TonyRobin Townsend is my Facebook friend and this blog is a post she wrote today in memory of her husband, Tony. She lost him to cancer in December of 2009.  I have followed Robin’s journey since they learned of Tony’s diagnosis. I asked Robin to allow me to share her post in my blog because I believe that God intends for us to share our journeys with others. Perhaps by doing so, we can make the journey for someone else a little easier.

Thank you Robin for sharing this.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different….”
Three years ago today, our lives dramatically changed.
On December 30, 2009, Tony was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon and Liver cancer. I vividly remember sitting there listening to the doctor. I felt like I needed to pinch myself, for surely I was dreaming and this wasn’t happening to us. The room started spinning and the tears started flowing and I felt my heart shift as he explained our odds — our future. I tried to be strong, but I was in complete despair and even though I loved my Savior more than anything I questioned my faith at that moment. It was an honest feeling during a heart wrenching moment. He was our provider, and we didn’t know if He could fix this. I could barely go through all the motions without tears. They had to call my best friend to be with me because I was so taken aback.  She was my strength at a time when I felt that I had nothing else. I couldn’t hold back my emotions and I cried on her shoulder like a baby.  My heart was breaking for my husband, who I loved overwhelmingly. My tears were real and they were honest. They didn’t make me weak. They proved my strength — they show that my God truly cares about the pains of our heart.
Later as I sat there and listened to the nurse explain the process of what was to come, I will never forget the prayer that came to me at that time, I prayed quietly for a miracle. It is forever etched in my mind.

“I will sustain you, I will rescue you”

The big “C” word had rocked our lives not once but twice now but this time it was different. Tony wouldn’t be able to have surgery to remove the cancer like I did. When I finally got to see him in recovery, I tried to hold back the tears but I couldn’t. I remember him taking my hand and telling me, “we are going to beat this” God brought us to it, He will bring us through it. Have faith Robin, that God is doing His will in our lives. We’re not going to tell God how big this storm is, we’re going to show this storm how BIG our God is.” That was the beginning of a journey that we had no idea would end just a short ten weeks later.
As I look back on the short time we had together, I find myself thinking there are many things I wish we had done different. Quality of life would have been much better than trying to add “days” to his life. The chemo and radiation weakened his already distressed body. Oh, for the time we could have spent enjoying those days and accepting God’s plan for Tony’s life had we known.

We were meant to travel the journey we went on and while it was rough and even harder to say goodbye, the whole journey was a blessing. Tony showed enduring strength and perseverance through our storm. It seemed every ray of hope brought a cloud of despair but he NEVER stopped fighting. He never lost his faith and no matter how much pain he was in, he always had a huge smile on his face. When friends and family came to visit to cheer him up, they walked away with the bigger blessing.

The past 3 years have been hard. Today is painful. It’s not been just “one day at a time”;  it’s been “one breath at a time”,  and trust me I feel the pain every time I inhale. Even though Tony is in a much better place than we are, we still miss him and while it’s selfish of us, we wish he were still with us.

He was my hero.

I am ever so thankful for the 28 years I had with Tony. The trials and tribulations were easier to bear not only because we serve an AWESOME God but because I had an amazing husband who in spite of his trial had an attitude of gratitude and a big heart and who taught me those last few moments of his life to never give up no matter how hard it might get.

Have you ever heard the analogy of a string of pearls? If  you look back on the circumstances of your life and string them all up like a string of pearls — when you go through a new trial, you can go back and touch every pearl and say “This trial was preparing me for now.”

“All that befalls us on our road to heaven is meant to fit us for the journey’s end”

I love that quote by Charles Spurgeon. It speaks volumes to the Christian life, and how we as believers don’t have to worry about our circumstances. That doesn’t mean that we won’t, it just means that we don’t HAVE to. All we have to do is trust.

Trust that He is doing what He promised he would do. Trust that He is working everything out for our ETERNAL good. Trust Him Unconditionally… Undeniably… Unknowingly.
Trust, so that when the big things happen in our lives, (sure there will be fear and anxiety) we will not have to question who we can run to. We will not have to question who holds our future and our hearts. We can run straight into the arms of our Savior.

It’s all in how you look at your circumstances. I choose to look at them with awe and admiration of how my God is truly sovereign. He is truly working everything out for my good. And no matter what happens to me in this life, this truly ends well for me — truly. Our life is truly the plan of our Master.

The Plan of the Master Weaver

Our lives are but fine weavings
That God and we prepare,
Each life becomes a fabric planned
And fashioned in His care.

We may not always see just how
The weavings intertwine
But we must trust the Master’s hand
And follow His design.

For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While we must look from underneath
And trust in Him to guide…

Sometimes a strand of sorrow
Is added to His plan
And though it’s difficult for us
We still must understand

That it’s He who fills the shuttle,
It’s He who knows what’s best
So we must weave in patience
And leave to Him the rest…

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why –

The dark threads are as needed
In the Weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

I’m blessed that my Weaver poured His grace out on us, for now we take these dark threads and we patiently wait for His skillful hand to lay out the pattern He has planned for us. We glorify Him for everything in our lives for He knows what’s best. He’s already given us the most precious Guardian Angel we could ever have asked for.

Life is not a race — but indeed a journey.

Be honest. Work hard. Be choosy.

Say “thank you”, “I love you”, and “great job” to someone each day.

Go to church, take time for prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh.

Let your handshake mean more than pen and paper.

Love your life and what you’ve been given, it is not accidental — search for your purpose and do it as best you can.
Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be.

Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free.
Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming.

Forgive; it frees the soul.

Take time for yourself – plan for longevity.

Recognize the special people you’ve been blessed to know.

Live for today, enjoy the moment.

I challenge you today to reach out to the ones you love, tell them how you feel, hug them and LIVE every day as if it were your last. Live a life of no regrets or “what if’s”, but “oh well’s”…. take the time to enjoy the little things in life and be thankful for everything you have…every single day. We are not promised tomorrow, so live each day as if it were your last. If you don’t wake up tomorrow and it turns out that today is your last day on earth; Would you be proud of what you’ve done in this life?

Think about it.

Always remember to LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE!

Robin Townsend