Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time...

While Waiting on the Lord. 

This is a thought that has reoccured in my mind...
"You've been given the gift of time. Do not wasted it. Time cannot be recovered. While you are waiting on the Lord you have time. What will you do with that time. Will you sit around bemoaning your situation, watching the clock, wondering when it will be over, and when you can finally moved to this happy new future? If that is the case, when and if you're hoped-for future comes, you will not find it as happy as you want it to be."

I have come to the conclusion that in this life there is no such thing as arriving at a future bliss. Every new phase has its own unique set of problems. 

If I cannot find joy in the journey,
 then I will not find joy in the destination. 

I have discovered three ways that help me make the journey more joyful. 
  1. Use this time as a preparation. 
  2. Find things to be grateful for now.
  3. Do good and serve others. 

In the context of my personal experiences and some things I have observed, I wanted to share my thoughts about using this time as a preparation

Sometimes I am so impatient to get to the next phase of life...

I know that many widows, people suffering from divorce, or singles feel, "if I could only find a lasting relationship, then I would be happy again."

 I have found myself thinking those thoughts. 

When my world was shattered and everything I had hoped and planned for in my future was taken from me, I desperately wanted to reclaim it.  There was no way to reclaim what I had, so I thought I could recreate it.  Once I thought I was ready to move forward, not finding that immediately was a discouraging thing. 

  • I was left wondering if God really loved me
  • I questioned and wondered if there was something wrong with me. 
  • I felt immense loneliness
  • All of these things compounded the sadness and loss I alread felt. 

This was especially difficult when people around me seemed to be happy in their relationships. I looked at them and thought the grass was definitely greener on their side. 

Fortunately I am learning some very important things from other widowed remarried friends. 

  • Second marriage is not easy! 
  • It is not an escape or a way out. 
  • It brings with it new challenges and learning experiences

If you find yourself in this same boat.... 

feeling like you're ready, but it's not happening yet.
Instead of being frustrated and upset about God's timing, 
 ask yourself these questions instead...

What does God want me to do while I'm single?

What things can I learn that will prepare me

 to be a better spouse and parent?

As I seek answers for those questions, God is helping me to see that this time of preparation will help the next phase of life to run more smoothly. The experiences I am having are teaching me important lessons. 

Here are some of the things I am learning...

  1. I have to learn to be happy being alone. I need to find fulfillment in doing good things for others and derive my self-worth from how God feels about me and I feel about myself not from how others view me.
  2. I need to learn how to unconditionally love. Loving unconditionally will help me be more understanding of a new spouse and a blended family. Practicing that now with my own kids and in my relationships will make a new marriage run smoother.
  3. I cannot expect to have a trouble-free life. I have to except that I will have to deal with new challenges in a marriage and with additional children.  With proper's perspective, I need to view those challenges as learning opportunities that are necessary for my growth. This means that I may need to accept situations that are not ideal. 
  4. I need to have the spirit with me so that I can have confirmation that all of my decisions are correct. That will give me strength when things are hard. It will help me to stay in the fight.
  5. I need to prepare my children for the future. This time gives me the opportunity to talk with them about things, to ask them to pray about things and to get all of us on the same team. 
Asking questions and being open to the answers helps me to find purpose in my struggles.  It helps me to move forward with greater understanding and faith.

Friday, June 20, 2014



Just when you think you are on the mend,
 and you think you have things all figured out...


You are shoved back into grief.

Father's Day weekend I just really fell apart....  

I could blame it on all of the stress this past month... the airplane crash investigation, Mother's Day, my second son's high school graduation, the same son's preparations for a two year mission for our church, Memorial Day, two birthdays, the potential sale of my house that fell through, and then Father's Day.  
There has definitely been a lot going on. 

(Plus the thought of my senior son leaving in only 2 weeks for Ecuador is causing me some major anxiety.  I have relied on him for so many things this last year, and I'm not sure what to expect of life without him here.)

I had been trying to keep it together all month.

I kept going back to the things that I rely on... 

  • studying, 
  • praying, 
  • writing, 
  • helping other people, 
  • exercising, 
  • and talking to friends and family, 
  • (We won't mention my daily dose of sugar.)  

Momentarily, I would regain my hope and faith only to have it slide backwards again.

I felt very unstable, and despite my efforts, 
I feared that I was sinking faster than I was rising.

The weekend hit, and I just couldn't shake the cloud that I had been feeling.  All week I had bailed on my exercise routine, my sleep was out of whack.  I went out of town to visit my sister and her family. Despite their kind words, I struggled to be positive... 

Everywhere I looked around me life was moving forward.  Families were doing things together... 
moms and dads and kids.  

My family felt broken.
The loneliness intensified, and I desperately missed my husband.
Everything we did reminded me of my past life that could not be rekindled.  

We drove home late, and I went to bed blue despite studying the entire way home.  I just couldn't pull myself out of it.  I even prayed for help, but honestly I wanted to feel sorry for myself.  

I wanted to have a little pity party,
 and I even wanted God to pity me.  

I knew I needed to not dwell on such thoughts, but I did not want to let them go quite yet...

Like a child who has tripped and fallen in the mud, I was determined to sit a little longer and slam my fists down.

"Darn it!  I deserved to be sad and troubled!" 
"Who could blame me with all of the stress that I have been under!" 

In my mind nothing was my fault and everything was happening to me.

I had given up my agency to control my thoughts.

Sunday morning I stayed in bed past 10:00.  I prayed, but my prayers were not prayers of hope, but prayers of complaint.  I drifted in and out of sleep.  I cried.  I felt that no on in the world cared about me.  I debated about whether I wanted to show my puffy, tear stained face at church that day.  I prayed that someone would reach out to me...

Finally the words that I wanted to ignore came into my head, 
"I know this is hard, but it's time to get up.  You need to get yourself and the kids going today. It's time."

Reluctantly I pulled myself out bed, checked on the kids and started to do my hair because I knew that is what I should do, not because I wanted to.  I was still debating church. I felt hurt that no one had thought of me, and that made me miss my husband all the more.

Then a text came from a close widowed friend
 followed by a phone call. 

Someone has listened to a prompting from the spirit and had answered my prayer!

That gave me HOPE again.  

I have used the phrase, "Caring Creates Faith,"  but I was always on the caring end trying to create faith in someone else.  This time someone was caring about me and that simple act allowed me to start to feel faith and hope again.

I shared a lot of my pent up frustrations...

I was angry at myself for being so down and weak.  
With everything that I have been blessed with, I wondered why I was still struggling?  I felt very ungrateful.
My friend told me I could just be sad today and to take a few days if I needed it.  That it was okay not to always be strong for everyone else.

I think I needed permission to do that.  I was feeling so much guilt over breaking down. I needed to be reminded that healing and becoming someone better is a process.

I knew I had a choice...

  • A choice to continue on the path I was on and feel alone and sad,
  • or to try to turn my will back to God and allow Him to help me.  
I knew the second was the harder choice, but the one that would bring me healing the quickest, and I also knew that He would help me if I would only make it. 

I know that God can make weak things become strong.

When I got off the phone, I made a choice.  I decided that I was going to go to church and teach my music class.  I knew that serving and helping others always put me in a better place to receive extra help from God.

I decided that I was going to start acting and not be acted upon.

I cried a bit at church, but thinking of the help my friend had given me, I began to text other people who I knew would be having a hard day.  By the end of church, I had been lifted by the smiles of the children I had taught.  I felt lifted from the return texts of friend who were also struggling.  I realized that I was not alone in my sorrow.  

I spent the evening studying and I resolved to start exercising again.  

So I'm writing this Monday night and Monday has been a surprisingly good day.  I'm not saying I'm out of the woods and probably will never be, 

but I'm back to choosing what to dwell on.
  I'm back to choosing faith.
  I'm back to choosing hope.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Waiting for the Fourth Watch... Stretching My Faith and Trust

Waiting for the Fourth Watch... 
Stretching My Faith and Trust 

As I have been trying to wait patiently and have faith and trust in God concerning the sale of my house, a story from my past keeps entering my mind.  I wanted to share it with you and what it has recently taught me... 

When my husband was in medical school in Minnesota, we had 3 small boys.  My oldest son, Alex, had a lazy eye and had to wear glasses to help correct that problem.  One evening in October when my husband was working and I was making dinner for the kids, I let them play in our backyard while it was snowing. When dinner was done I called them in to eat.  Alex showed up at the door without his glasses.  After questioning him, it became apparent that they had gotten snowy and he had taken them off.  We made a quick trip around the yard to look for the glasses, yet we were not successful.  Money was very tight, and I knew that we did not have funds for new glasses. However, I also knew that with my son's condition that it was crucial that he have them.  
My heart began to sink, and the thought to pray entered my mind.
I felt this would be a great way to have my children experience the power of prayer, so I gathered them together and explained that I had faith that God would help us find Alex's glasses.  We said a prayer and went outside to look for them. 
The snow was coming down harder now, so I grabbed rakes from the garage and we began to rake through almost a foot of newly fallen snow.  As the evening progressed, it began to get dark, and I began to worry.  I knew that the snow would not melt until May and that we desperately needed to find those glasses.  I also worried that my children would receive the opposite lesson about faith and prayer that I had intended.  After over an hour of looking and with a very hungry tummy, I cried out in frustration, 
"God, how am I supposed to teach my children about faith if we don't find the glasses?  How could you prompt me to tell them what I did if you were not going to help me!" 
My tone severely lacked faith.
Fortunately, the prayer was in my head and not spoken out loud for my children to hear.  We looked another 10 minutes, and then in frustration, I threw the rake down and told the boys to come inside for dinner. 
As I stomped up the steps, there folded neatly in my path on top of the newly fallen snow, were my son's glasses.  The words, 

"Oh ye of little faith," entered my mind, and I quickly felt ashamed of my earlier accusation.
I gathered my children around inside and explained to them how God had answered our prayers even though my faith had faltered. 
We talked about how God sometimes waits to answer our prayers so that our faith will have the opportunity to grow. Then we prayed to thank him for our 'little miracle.' 

This story is very similar to the story in the New Testament of the Savior coming to the disciples in the ship during the fourth watch of the night...
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And ain the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. (Matthew 14 :24-25)
For those of you who do not know, the night is divided into 4 watches with the fourth watch being right before the dawn.  Most of us really want God to answer our prayers in the first watch.
By the time we get to the third watch,
 we often feel our faith faltering. 

It is helpful to remember that sometimes God waits for that last possible moment, not because He doesn't love us, but because he wants to stretch our faith to the maximum amount giving us opportunity for maximum growth.

This is a video clip from a Michael Wilcox,
 a widower who is an inspirational speaker.
He shares this idea of a 'Fourth Watch God.'

The experience of finding my son's glasses and this concept of a 'Fourth Watch God,' helps me to have faith even when I feel like the answers are taking a long time coming... 
even when the "wind is contrary to me, and I toil in rowing again the wind." (see Mark 6:48) 

That is the kind of faith and trust I am trying to have.

What experiences from your life help you to wait patiently when answers do not immediately come?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Getting my Heart completely in the Right Place and Trying to Fix my Mistake

Getting my Heart completely in the Right Place and Trying to Fix my Mistake

So we are back from the Grand Canyon...  

It was an awesome trip with my son and sister!

While we were hiking I had a lot of time to think about the sale of our house and how I had handled the back and forth offers and counter offers. 

I thought a lot about where my heart was and if my motives were really pure.  

I think if we are not pure in our motives and our hearts
 then spiritual impressions are less clear and 
can even be blocked by what we want. 

Previously (in the last two posts I outlined this) I had felt God tell me that our house would sell, but for a specific number that was significantly less than I owed on it.  I trusted the impression and decided to be okay with selling the house for that number. I even told my relator to take an offer down to that number if one came while I was gone.

So I thought I was aligned with God's will...

But the more I thought about it, the more I knew that a part of me was hoping by countering above that number that maybe I could get a little more money than God told me the house would sell for.  

- I had rationalized that they could still counter lower and I would take it.  

- I had rationalized that the extra money would pay the relator fees or possibly repairs that an inspection might find. 

The more I thought about it, the more I knew I was wrong

I spent the night apologizing to God, and promising to fix my mistake.  

When we got back in cell service I called my realtor.  He informed me that the people were out of town and considering what to do.  I told him the whole story...

I told him about my impression that it would sell and what it would sell for.

I told him about my missionary son's impression that the house would sell before he even knew that we had shown it.

I told him about my heart not being in the right place and how I felt that I needed to fix it.

Then instead of waiting to see what they would do, I told him to call their relator and tell them we would take the lower number

I told him that it was more important that I showed God that I trusted Him than it was that I try to get more money. 

I told him several stories of how God had financially taken care of in the past.  All of those stories required me to trust and act before the help came.  I felt this one was no different.

He agreed to call their realtor and relay the message.  After he got off the phone with me, their realtor texted him and said that they had decided to put an offer on another less expensive home.  He called him and relayed my message.  After talking to his clients about the new offer they said they would consider it if things did not work out with the other house.

I spent a few days feeling bad and beating myself up a little.  

I didn't feel bad because our house had not sold... 

I felt bad because I knew that I messed it up because I was being greedy.  

I wasn't trusting God... not completely.

 I was mad at myself for not seeing that more clearly earlier.

I WANT guidance in my life from God... I NEED guidance, and I put myself in a place where I could not receive it well because my heart was too set on money

There I go building my own safety net again!  

You think I would know better by now!

I have spent a lot of time apologizing and praying.  
I knew I needed to write this post, admit my mistake and eat a little crow. 

Is all lost?

No, I do not think so, but I have put myself in a place to feel a lot more stress and grief because my motives were not pure

Maybe if they had been, things would have gone easier. 

Instead, I needed to learn this lesson.  One thing is for sure... 

I'm NOT DOING THIS AGAIN! It's totally not worth it!

I would much rather have peace than money!

My missionary son in Chile reminded me of something that I had momentarily forgotten in all of the beating myself up.
"Don't worry Mom," he said, "The more things that happen to me, the more I realize that God has taken into account our own mistakes.  He still had a plan for you and for the house. I trust you entirely to handle it, Mom.  Entirely. You are on top of this mom.  Follow the spirit and do everything you can. Love you so much."
It's nice to have your son trust you, especially when you are not sure you trust yourself.

So this morning I spent a little extra time in bed praying, and I felt at peace.  

I knew everything would be okay.  

Maybe they will still come back and buy the house and maybe we will have to do God's plan B to fix my mistake, but I have learned an important lesson...

TRUST God 100% and ACT according to that trust IMMEDIATELY.  Sometimes we miss out on opportunities when we are not immediately obedient.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trusting God Brings Me Peace

 Trusting God Brings Me Peace

Today I am driving to the trailhead of Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon.  My senior son and I are backpacking together.  This is one of the perks of not having a husband… I get to do some neat one-on-one things with my kids.  The timing however is not perfect….

We ended up getting an offer on the house…which was very low, so I countered.  They countered back and I countered again.  Of course they wanted to come see it again last night when I was traveling!  This morning as I prepare to go ‘off grid’ for three days, I still have not heard back

Am I a little stressed?

I admit, I’ve had a few lapses of trust and faith… but I keep remembering my past experiences and the things I have felt.  I keep choosing to have faith and trust and to reject fear.

Here’s a little bit of the story…

My son, on a mission in Chile, knew nothing about the house showing or the offer.  When he emailed Monday, this was our conversation...

My son: I was walking back from the supermarket and this just popped into my head. Something happened with the house. I thought it had sold. Don’t ask me how, but I knew something was going to happen with the house today. Anything up? 
Mom: We got an offer on the house on Friday night. It was pretty low.  I countered back.  I haven't heard back yet.  We will see. 
My son: It´ll sell. 95% sure. I got a really, really weird jerk on my train of thought going down the escalator in Lider. I was thinking about something completely different. God let me know. It was about an hour and a half ago. It´ll sell. 
That was a wonderful reassurance to me.  

I had spent a significant time praying and pondering about the problem on Saturday.  I had felt good about countering back, but I had felt that the house would ultimately sell for a lower, very specific number, one that would require me to come up with a significant amount of money to get out of it.

Why would God let my house sell for the lower amount instead of for what I needed?

My answer was this…

You need to let the money go and trust that God will take care of you.
I don’t know how, but that is what I am going to trust in… 
that has been the lesson for me. 

Trust God 100%

Trusting God gives me peace

So how do you get to the point where you learn to trust Him like that?  How do you learn to leap when He commands, not knowing where you will land?

A teacher once told me, “Faith is taking 3 steps in the dark before you see the light.

Experience and Practice are the only way to learn this.

When we are put in situations that are difficult and the answers are not immediately apparent, we are forced to take those steps forward in faith, exerting our trust.

John 7:17- If any man will DO his will, he will KNOW the doctrine. 

It’s important to note that we have to DO first before we KNOW.  This is very contrary to what most of us want.  We want evidence BEFORE we exert that trust.

Last year the process of selling my house was so painful and NOT peaceful because I had my will AGAINST God.  I did not TRUST Him.  I wanted my answers NOW.  I wanted it MY way.  I was going to DO it my way, even if that meant being impatient and irritable with my family.  I was in the wrong, and I felt that my behaviors and responses were justified.  

When I was in that frame of mind, the Lord couldn’t help me.  

I had separated myself from Him because I was choosing to be upset.  

Technically, I really needed to change my behavior and get myself back aligned with Him.  I needed to pray to be enabled with more trust and to get peace.  Bit by bit my experience each time taught me that, and as I began to try to change then I gained the ability to change.

Over and over again we have to be put in difficult circumstances that require us to turn to God and learn to trust.  If we are willing to make changes in ourselves and to exercise that trust, and then in time as we LOOK, we will begin to see the patterns in our lives that show us that God does take care of us.  I say ‘LOOK’ because those patterns aren’t necessarily obvious at first, and our frame of mind determines if our eyes are ‘OPEN’ to see them.

Our faith grows, not by having it easy, but by acting and watching the results.

So last night as I began to feel the pressure of being without cell service I reminded myself..

When you don’t know what to do, go to the Lord.  Ask for ideas of what to do. Be specific in your prayers… pray for strength, pray for courage to do what you need to do.

So before I left for the trail I spent the night praying…

I said, “I’m struggling with my faith. I fear it is faltering… ‘Help thou my unbelief’.' Please help me know what to do and to feel peace.

In the morning I knew what to do.  

I called my relator and told him to take any counter offer down to that ‘lower number.’  I told him if they didn’t counter back to tell them that I would take the lower number.  Then I got in the car and put my faith and trust in the prompting I had received.

So…I guess I will find out in three days.  

I’ll post the results and some pictures from our trip