Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009...A Year In Review...Through Pictures

This is my honey on our last fishing trip together earlier this year. He was so excited to get me back on the water. I fished him under the boat that day...he couldn't have been more proud of me. That was a very good day.
On July 12, 2009, my baby went home to be with the Lord. One day I will see my Love again. I cling to that promise. Thank You, Jesus!
In between the time that Jay passed away and my birthday in November, Jay's brother and Sister-in-law gave their lives to the Lord because they wanted to receive the Lord's promise of heaven and so they could know in their hearts that they would see Jay again. And, Jay's Mom and Dad rededicated their lives to the Lord in August as well, and began going to church in Henderson, NV on a regular basis. Praise the Lord!! I don't have pictures of all of this, of course, but they are definitely significant events that happened this year. I am so happy to be so close to Jay's family now. It has been a blessing.
This series below is from my 40th birthday party in November...

Jay's nephew Josh, sister-in-law Irene, and brother Robert...and me.

Gotta love this beautiful homemade German Chocolate cupcake made just for me for my birthday. 40 is an amazing age!!

Jay's Mom and Dad...and me.

This next small series are photos that my friend took of me...I've never had pictures taken of just me. Jay was always there with me. But this is a year of doing a lot of things on my own for the first time. This was a good day for me. I am encouraged that I can still move forward given my circumstances.

These next pictures below were taken on my actual birth date...I met with family before I went to Disneyland to celebrate #40 with my niece and Mickey Mouse.

Me and my Daddy...

Me and my niece Alyissa...funny faces! Gotta do it! LOL

That's my pretty girl, Aly!! Gotta LOVE the Mouse ears!

My step-mom Erin, my beautiful 89 year old Grandma who is my heart...and then there is me.

This one is out of order, but it's from my birthday party and I just adore my niece. She is my precious girl.

There are no photos from Thanksgiving...
But here is Christmas 2009...

Me, my beautiful Grandma again, and my Mom.

This star is the tree topper that Jay picked out last know the story...

My Christmas tree of God's promises to me.

It has been a year filled with many blessings. I have no regrets. God is faithful to bring His plan to fruition. I have seen and felt the Lord in a tangible way this year, and He has shown Himself to be Mighty and wonderful! I cannot believe all that He has done for me. His grace and mercy are overflowing. May this next year bring about glory to my Father in heaven; and may His will and His work be made complete in me. In Jesus name!
Here is to a new year filled with all that God's promises hold for all of us. Open your hearts to receive his gifts! Happy New Year to Everyone!! May God bless you and keep you!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Future and A Hope - My BIGGEST Promise From God...

Well, I made it....[BIG SIGH]...I made it through most of the major "firsts" in my year of firsts after Jay's departure to heaven. I can't help but look forward to the new year because God promises a future for me. Through Jeremiah the prophet, I have been given a promise of a "future and a hope..." Jeremiah 29:11 has been my life verse since I first discovered it about 10 years ago. I didn't know until this year just how much this life verse would speak to me in my circumstances.

God doesn't just promise me a future, but He promises me HOPE in that future through restoration and a new start. Will I see trials again in my new life? YES. There is no doubt in my mind that I will face more trials but as I lean on the Lord for strength He will navigate the way and I will follow until His plan is brought to fruition. My future and my hope come from being in the will of God. This new start brings about the strongest desire to be closer to the Lord, to be in His will, and to serve His purposes. I don't want to make a move unless it is of the Lord.

Do I have specific dreams and hopes for my future? YES. But, I lift those to the Lord to be sure that they are in His will. There are things I would like to experience, places I'd like to go, changes I'd like to make; but if they are not in alignment with God's plan for my life, then I do not want them. It's nice to daydream, but if the Lord doesn't have a use for those daydreams; I will let them go.

As I ring in the new year, I look forward to letting go of much of my pain by surrendering it to my God so that more room can be made for His blessings and healing. I am ready to surrender all of the sadness and pain. I am ready to surrender the loneliness. I am ready to surrender my grief. None of that will just go away by me surrendering them to the Lord once...I will need to continually surrender them as they enter my heart. That is the only way to receive more of God's blessings and healing.

I am ready to begin looking forward to my life to come. Here is to the year 2010 and what it holds for me.

Happy New Year, Everyone. May the Lord's blessings be abundant in each of your lives.

Lord, thank You for the hope I have for my future. May I never forget what You have brought me through; what Jay and I went through together...those are the circumstances that brought about surrender for BOTH of us. My husband resides with You as a result of those trials; I cannot complain about that one bit. I rejoice! My faith was made even stronger as You showed Yourself so mightily to me in those difficult times. I am grateful for who I have become in You. I pray that this new year, 2010, will bring me closer to You still. I give myself to You. Help me to walk in Your ways. Help me to have Your vision. Help me to have Your heart. Reign in me, Lord. I love You so much. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Restoration...The Promise

I have been told by a lot of people that I am an "inspiration" because of my attitude throughout Jay's illness, his salvation, and then his eventual passing...and now in my new life after all of that. I really don't know what to say to them when they say that, except to say that what they are seeing is not me; it's God.

I can't take any credit for surviving some of the worst days of my life. In my eyes, I should have died because watching someone I love so much be so sick and then die from his disease is so devastating that a person should just perish from the pain. But God...ahhh, don't you just love those two words...BUT GOD makes anything and everything possible. And not just that he makes things possible, He promises full restoration.

You want proof? Read the book of Job in the bible. Job was a man after God's own heart. He had everything - wife, children, stability of life with property, cattle, etc. He was a truly blessed man and gave glory to the Lord at all times. Then, in the blink of an eye, everything but his wife was taken away.

All of Job's trials were sifted through the hands of the Father. God knew what was happening to Job; He allowed it! All of it was a test of Job's faith, to see if he would curse God. And guess what? Through the death of his children, loss of all property, illness, being criticized and judged by his closest friends, and even being ridiculed by his own wife - Job NEVER cursed God. As a matter of fact, he repented! Check out this scripture:

"I have heard of you by hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:4-6

WOW! Powerful reminder to remain humble before the Lord and never have a sense of entitlement because we've gone through a trial and come out on the other side.

And then the scripture goes on to say this:

"Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning..." Job 42:12

Job was restored to an even better life than the one he lived before all of the trials came his way. His disease was healed, his family rebuilt, and he lived a long life...140 years to be exact! And the last scripture in Job says this, "So Job died, old and full of days." Praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness!

The story of Job is proof to me that the Lord is faithful to restore what has been taken away; and not just restore, but give back more than what was originally taken.

I have lost my best friend, and in the coming months there will be some other major changes happening in my life that could be considered more loss...BUT GOD is faithful and I know for a fact that I will be just fine and the Lord will meet every single need even before I ask.

It is difficult to imagine what a fully restored life looks like, but I fully trust that my life will be better than it has ever been because my God promises me in His Word and He is faithful to complete His good work as long as I remain humble before Him and give Him the glory in everything.

It is my hope that we will all be reminded that although some not-so favorable circumstances will come our way, we need to be emptied of ourselves in order to allow God to complete His work in us and through us. God is SO faithful to fill the void to overflowing with His love and blessings.

I am not an inspiration. God within me is my inspiration to do His work and be His vessel. That is what you see. Praise the Lord!

Father, I thank You for Your goodness towards me. YOU are my inspiration to do good. YOU are at the core of me and may that always be so! May I never make a move without You. Thank You for the testing of my faith that produces the fruit that others see. I heard of You with my ear, but now my eye sees YOU. I am nothing without You. I praise Your holy name! Amen.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The REAL Story Behind My Christmas Tree...

Needless to say, this has been a tough year. And the past five months, especially, have been the hardest I have EVER been through. Coming into the Christmas season I had the mindset that I just wanted to close my eyes and not open them until it was all over. Watching everyone get excited for the, eating, and celebrating...I just couldn't get into it.

Having a broken heart and missing Jay so much, I would see everyone being happy and joyful; made me want to come unglued! And why is it that when you are suddenly single, it seems like everyone has someone? Walking through the mall would drive me crazy because all I could see were couples. It was then that I started really losing my focus for the reason why I celebrate Christmas in the first place. I made up my mind at that time to skip decorating altogether and not really celebrate anything and just try to get through to January.

Well, God had other plans for me...

In a staff meeting this month, my pastor gave a message that I will never forget. Pastor Paul spoke of what our attitude should be for what the Lord has done for us in Psalm 103:1-5. Here are the verses:

"Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's!"

Well THAT'S a shot between the eyes! Or should I say to the heart? Thank YOU Lord!

After receiving the message from Pastor Paul, I felt a bit convicted regarding my attitude and knew that I needed to do something about it right away. The Lord impressed upon my heart that I need to put my Christmas tree up, and that I shouldn't decorate it as I would normally, but that I would print out a bunch of His promises and decorate the tree with them so that I can look at my tree and be reminded that He is with me...He encourages me...He heals me...He renews me...and above all else...He has saved me. THAT is the reason I am to celebrate this season.

So, yesterday I put my tree up. I attached all of the scriptures that I printed out...added a decorator plate with the one word that sums up what the Lord ultimately gives me...'HOPE'...and then I topped the tree with the star that Jay picked out last year for our last Christmas together. What a blessing to be given the insight that it would be our was important that Jay pick out the topper so that I can be reminded of him for every Christmas to come. When I look at it - it reminds me that he is with our Savior, singing joyful praises to our Abba. Thank You Jesus for Your faithfulness!

Praise the Lord God Almighty for sending His Son to be born, to die, and to ascend to the right hand of the Father so that I will have eternal life. YOU are the reason I celebrate Christmas. May I never lose sight of that!

Merry Christmas, Everybody! May the Lord show Himself to each of you in a BIG way this season! My love to you all. God bless you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In the Lord's Care...

Sometimes I just need to step back and let some time go by in between writings. It is too easy to get caught up in writing for the reaction of people as opposed to doing it to glorify God.

I write because it helps me to express what it is that I am going through, or how the Lord has ministered to me. I pray that the Lord can use my writings as a way to encourage someone else who may be going through a trial of any magnitude, but my bigger prayer is that I don't just make this about ME. That is why it is good to step away for a time of refreshment.

I can tell you that the one thing that keeps me going...keeps me taking one step in front of the other and the Lord's promises. The bible has thousands of promises for us to cling to in our time of need. I hold tight to the promise that my God will take special care of me. Being a widow, a title that I still struggle with, the Lord is faithful to let me know just how special I am to Him and the lengths to which He will go to protect me and care for me. Check out this scripture promise:

"Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless." Exodus 22:22-24

Wow...that is a powerful scripture promise to me, and warning to anyone else that might do harm to me. Even in my deep sorrow, JOY resides in my heart knowing that I am covered, sheltered and protected by His wings. I praise YOU God!

I can't tell you that I have walked perfectly upright, but even in my struggles with moving forward, the Lord has been faithful to meet me where I am at and help me to take those steps of faith. When I have been unable to pray; Jesus makes it known that HE has interceded on my behalf. When I have not been faithful to get into the Word, my ABBA, has brought scripture to me. He never allows me to be alone. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Thank You Father!

In this season, my Christmas season...I have found it difficult to set my eyes solely on the things from Above and to remember that the ONLY reason I celebrate Christmas at all is because Jesus CHRIST was born. It has been all too easy to look around and focus on the busyness of gathering presents, putting up decorations, and all of the holiday baking that happens...and the TRUE meaning of Christmas is quickly forgotten.

In addition to the madness that is commercial Christmas, I have suffered the loss of my Jay. That makes it very difficult to even grasp the desire to celebrate anything. As a matter of fact, my grief brings about the desire to hide more than anything else.

Sometimes it seems like life would be a lot easier to deal with if I could just go hide somewhere until enough time had passed that I could face everything and everyone with some ease. BUT, where is my lesson in that? If I hid from everything, the Lord would still minister to me where I am at, but how could He really use that situation to show me what He is capable of, as well as speak to others and encourage them that they can make it through their trial too, and not only make it through, but receive true healing in the process? How does hiding glorify God? Bottom line: It DOESN'T!

So, where Thanksgiving was the holiday where I hid myself away almost that entire weekend; my Christmas will be dedicated to Jesus. I am choosing to be seen. I am choosing to allow the Lord to move through me. Speak through me. I may not "feel" like I'm in the Christmas spirit, but what I feel does not matter. The truth of the matter is this...CHRIST was born! And on December 25th, HE is to be praised, thought of, prayed to, and thanked for all that He has done for us and given to us.

Let this be my focus:

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2:11-14

It is through the birth, death and resurrection of this Savior that my husband was saved and is spending this Christmas singing praises directly to God, the Father. And although I grieve, I cannot help but have the most beautiful visual of Jay in his perfect heavenly body, singing praises with the choir of angels to the Lord Who SAVES. That is where my focus needs to be! The birth of my Savior brings about HOPE in my heart. Without Jesus, there is NO hope.

Forgive me, Father, for my lack of focus on the real reason why I celebrate Christmas. I turn my eyes and heart to You now and ask that You refresh my soul as You are faithful to do so. Thank YOU for loving me so much that You sent Your son Jesus Christ to be born and to die for me, so that I may be forgiven of my sin and receive eternal life. Thank You for protecting me, guiding me, providing for me, and carrying me through this time in my life. Thank You that I need only to give my grief to You and You are faithful to exchange it for YOUR joy. Thank You for helping me to dream again. Thank You for Your HOPE. I commit my life to You and I commit this Christmas to You. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.