Sweet Surrender

surrender pic

  Surrender.  What a profound word.  It can mean conceding defeat, giving up a seat, or it can mean giving up control.   It can be easy to give up a seat to someone who needs it more; it might be easy to concede defeat.  But giving up control? Who wants to do that? Not I.

    I long ago had a dream to become an RN and I was sure this was also God’s plan for my life. Then the unthinkable happened and I was accused of hurting a child while caring for them.   I didn’t hurt said child, would never do so under any circumstances.  But boy did it impact my life.  I took my RN dreams put them in a deep dark cellar of my heart and shut it with a heavy metal door, securing it tight with the biggest, strongest pad lock I could find.  Did I ask God about this? Nope.  I decided I didn’t want to be an RN anymore,  I was going to do something else. What about God’s plan?  Didn’t care, didn’t want it.  For 2 years I stood over this cellar in my heart with its padlock, arms crossed, daring God to make me surrender.   And for 2 years he let me have my way. 

     Then two weeks ago something happened. Somehow, this dream got out of the locked down cellar and began creeping up into my thoughts.   I admit to being a bit freaked out. Surely God wasn’t asking me to do something I had no desire to do!  The bible says God gives us the desires of our heart (Psalms  37:4) so if this wasn’t my desire why would God give it to me?   I kept ignoring it, thinking it would go away.  Then I got an email about a program that fit my needs.  I couldn’t ignore the thoughts any longer.  I had to do what I didn’t want to do…. Surrender my will and desires for God’s bigger plan. 

      I would be lying if I said I had peace. I didn’t. What I had was a big knot of fear in stomach, and a lot of “ok God here is what I need from you” type of prayers.   God answered every single one of my “needs”, and although I still have a lot of fears, there is also a prevailing sense of peace.   Why did I surrender? In between the dream creeping back up, and the email, I realized a few things.  

  1. Not following God’s plan would be wasting my talent.  God gifted me when it comes to nursing.  I am good at it, and I have a brain for it.  God gives us talent to be used up. That is part of his purpose for us- to use everything he gives us.  To not do so cheats the world around us.   Surrendering to God’s plan opens up opportunities to use everything he gave me.
  2. No regrets.  I decided I didn’t want to get to end of my life and have a case of “I wish I would’ve”, “I should’ve” or “I could’ve.”  Those are the opening words to regret statements.  I don’t want to come to the end of my life and have regrets.   Surrendering  to God’s bigger plan means I can be content with the way my life was lived.
  3.  Jesus gave his life, why can’t I?  This, I feel, is the most important reason.  Jesus surrendered his life unto death to free me from all my sin and shame. He did so out of love and to share eternity with me.  Who am I to deny such a simple thing as going back to school and getting my RN?   It is a small sacrifice in light of what he sacrificed for me                       It was hard to surrender. In fact, I held on fingers bleeding and muscles trembling from fatigue and exhaustion, until the last possible moment.   When I finally gave in and surrendered? Sweet relief.   Surrendering control for God’s will and not my own isn’t and will never be easy, but it will always be sweet.      482
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August 21, 2014. faith, life, spirituality, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Acts Of A Heart

Cam 2

    I take things for granted every single day.  I am not referring to big things like my home or job.  No, I am referring to much smaller things. Soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream… These things keep me clean and make me feel good. But what if I didn’t have these things?  What then?

     There are people who live without these things.  They don’t have time to worry about such things as soap because they don’t always know when they will eat again or where they will sleep.  I am referring to the homeless and hungry.  The people our church serves at Grace and Grits.   This leads me to a story.

      There is a young man in our church who just turned eleven.  For his birthday he requested, not games or toys like most eleven year olds, but travel sized toiletries to give to the homeless at Grace and Grits.   He got about four hundred of them.  I was blown away by this story and even more blown away when I got to take him to Grace and Grits and help him hand them out.   I learned something.   

    Our message the week before had been on Acts chapter 2:42-47.  In this passage we are told the early church and its three thousand new believers sold whatever they could, be it property or possessions, to give to those in need.  They took care of each other and anyone who had need.  Did they do so begrudgingly?  Did they do so with grumbling and complaining?  Not at all.   They did so with glad and sincere hearts.  A sincere heart is a selfless heart; a glad heart is a grateful heart.  As I stood helping my young friend hand out toiletries to the homeless it occurred to me.  A young boy had given up birthday presents (what he had) to give to those in need and he did so with a sincere and glad heart.  The acts of the early church were playing out in 2014.

     I learned what it is to give from a sincere and glad heart.  A sincere heart is selfless, it thinks of the needs of others and ways to help provide for those needs.  A glad heart is a grateful heart.  A glad heart thinks because I am blessed I can give to others happily and willingly.  I learned church isn’t the place I visit every Sunday, but it is people coming together to help others.  Gladly and sincerely.

       It might seem you don’t have anything to give.   But trust me you do. That night I gave some of my time.  A boy gave up birthday gifts.  Maybe you have some time you can give to help others, maybe you have gifts you can give, or maybe you don’t.  However, you still have something to give.   We can always offer up a smile, an encouraging word, or a prayer.   May we do so with glad and sincere hearts.

     Cam, this one is for you ❤      Cam one

July 31, 2014. faith, life, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Illuminate part 1: The Arrival

              It was quite a dark night.  Cold and shivering, the shepherds huddled in the fields around a small fire hoping to keep warm.   At least a hundred sheep lay by, black eyes watching the shepherds who cared for them.  As long as the fire stayed burning, and the sheep could see their shepherds they knew no harm would come to them.  The shepherds chatted, discussing the next day’s plan, and how soon they would be home.  They looked up at the billion stars glittering like diamonds, having no idea that the light of the stars was nothing compared to the light they were about to see.

                All at once their night changed, because God had looked upon them with favor and chosen them to be the first to hear the birth announcement.   A light so bright it was like the dawn appeared.   Terrified, astonished, and confused, they couldn’t utter a word.  It was the angel of the Lord. He said to them knowing their fear, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you: he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in manager. “ 

   After that announcement, as if they weren’t amazed enough, a great heavenly host joined the angel, and the earth’s first worship service took place. As the shepherds looked on, the angels sang in the most beautiful melodic voices ever heard: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rest.”    Then they were gone, back to heaven.  And the shepherds sat there a few moments mouths agape. 

    Once they got over their shock, they immediately decided to go to Bethlehem.  Here is what I imagine happened upon their arrival. They found the baby wrapped in cloths, at his momma’s breast nursing.  An empty manger sat by, the animals stood in their stalls looking on.  A small lantern lit up the humble stable.   Joseph greeted them, asking what brought the shepherds to them.  They gladly re-told their story, Joseph listened, and Mary smiled shyly. The baby done filling his belly, looked up at them with huge dark eyes.  Then it happened.  The shepherds looked into the eyes of their shepherd, the one who would care for them, lead them, and save them.  “What’s his name?” the youngest shepherd asked.  Mary responded, “Jesus.”   Each shepherd stood there and whispered his name, “Jesus”.   The light of the world had finally come, and would not be overcome by darkness. (John 1:3)

 

 NOTE:  This is the first in a 3 part Christmas series..  the next two will be released over the  next 2 weeks

 

 

  

      

 

December 6, 2013. faith, spirituality, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Grief of a different kind

                       Grief of a Different Kind.

 

 

    There is grief that is just sadness, and then there is this, bone sucking, chilling grief.    I have lost 3 people in my life who were near and dear to my heart.  The 3rd person was just this week. What makes this grief, for me, so different from the other two, was that the person was a child.   And grieving the loss of child is quite different indeed.

                     Ayden was one of my first patients I had as a pediatric nurse. But over time, he became so much more to me than a patient.  He became woven into the fabric of my heart and soul, and I lovingly referred to him as my “little man”.  I couldn’t have loved this boy more if he were my own.   Ayden had a lot of complex medical issues, but despite all that he had quite the personality. He was so strong, fought so hard, and brought joy to everyone who knew him.  Was he ornery and stubborn too? Oh YES, as only Ayden could be. He couldn’t talk but he said a lot with his actions and his eyes.   He would throw toys, pull his trach, insist on watching “Yo Gabba Gabba” or before that became his favorite, “Phineas and Ferb” over and over and even hide under the couch.  If his favorite toy had dead batteries he would bring it to me, and if I laid it back on the floor? He would hand it right back to me until I either put it out of sight, or put new batteries in it.  I can’t count the number of times he pulled my hair with his slimy little hands.  He was my favorite Saturday afternoon Gator football buddy, and I still say he enjoyed watching the games.  Trust me when I say if he didn’t want to watch football, he would have let me know.   I loved the moments when he would crawl up in my lap and snuggle for a few minutes or even hours.  In those moments my heart was so full it was running over.

                           Jesus, in all his mercy, chose to take Ayden to heaven peacefully in his sleep.  While I am incredibly grateful for that mercy, my heart still can’t comprehend it.    This grief feels like the marrow is being sucked from my bones.   My heart has a huge gaping hole, and my arms long to hold him again.  I would give anything to be slimed.   This is what it feels like for me, and I have a feeling it is just a tiny fraction of what his mommy must be feeling. My heart aches for her and the rest of his family.  I have been so blessed to know them all, and so privileged that I was allowed to love and care for their precious boy.  Being able to be his “second mom” has truly been the greatest gift ever given me.

                              The only comfort I can find and cling to right now is the hope of heaven and seeing my little man again.  I know Jesus holds Ayden, and that now he runs,  walks, talks, (and boy I bet he has said A LOT!), and that he is finally whole.  I shall close and borrow the words from a song that has just seemed fitting for this time..

 

On that day when I see

 All that You have for me

 When I see You face to face

 There surrounded by Your grace

 

All my fears swept away

 In the light of Your embrace

 When Your love is all I need

 And forever I am free

 

Where the streets are made of gold

 In Your presence healed and whole

 Let the songs of Heaven rise to You alone

 

No weeping, no hurt or pain

 No suffering, You hold me now

 Hold me now

 No darkness, no sick or lame

 No hiding, You hold me now

 Hold me now

 

In this life I will stand

 Through my joy and my pain

 Knowing there’s a greater day

 There’s a hope that never fails…

“You Hold Me Now” Rebecca St.  James.

  There is comfort in those words, and in my hope.. but still doesn’t ease the pain of the grief.

  I Love you Little Man.. till I see you again,

 

All my heart and my love..

April 28, 2013. faith, life, love, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Acceptance with Mr. Rogers

 

 “There are many times that I wish I had heard that ‘just who you are at this moment, with the way that you’re feeling is fine. You don’t have to be anything more than who you are right now.’ I’d like to think it’s also something that’s happened to me through the years, that I’m more able to accept myself as I happen to be, rather than as somebody thought I should be.” –Fred Rogers

    Confession is good for the soul, so here I am reader friends confessing. I struggle with acceptance.  I don’t always feel good enough, loveable, or forgivable. I don’t often feel like I am ‘ok’ just as I am.   Who I was in the past haunts me.  The mistakes and messes I have made shame me.  They tell me I’m no good, not worth loving, not worth keeping, and sometimes not even worth living.   They tell me that who I am is not acceptable.  They tell me I should be what someone thinks I ought to be rather than who I am.

                   There are times I wish I had heard those words of “just who you are at this moment… is fine” from SOMEONE!   But the next part of his quote is what I find most profound.  His hope was that as the years went on he could more easily accept himself, just as he was.  And that is where the test is.    

    Other people can tell me I am ok and acceptable just the way I am until they are blue. It won’t change what I think and believe about myself at all. It is like pouring water into a cup with a hole in it. It might fill up temporarily, but eventually the cup needs refilling.  It is only when I tell myself I am loveable, forgivable, good enough, worthy of living, and really ok, that I accept myself.   I don’t have to be someone else’s idea of who I should be. That can only lead to more shame and self-contempt.  I just have to be who I am right now. I am acceptable, no matter what I am going through, feeling, or thinking.

                  My hope is that as time passes I will be like Mr. Rogers, more and more able to “accept myself as I happen to be, rather than as somebody thought I should be.”  How do I accomplish this? I suspect the same way he might have- one day, one moment at a time.

Quote taken from the book “Life’s Journeys According to Mr. Rogers- things to remember along the way.”

 

March 8, 2013. faith, life, spirituality, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Rant.

The Rant

 

This I know. This is my truth.

 I am loved, accepted, forgiven, good, and enough. 

So go ahead.

Despise me, reject me, forget me, and treat me unfairly and poorly.

Hold on to that grudge and unwillingness to forgive me.

You don’t define me.

You don’t determine my value and worth.

Your actions or words toward me will not and do not change me.

You don’t determine who I was, who I am, or who I will be.

So go ahead, and hold on to that ugly mess.

I will stand here in the freedom of my truth.

February 19, 2013. faith, life, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

What Is Love?

Love is a lot of things in my opinion. Love isn’t just feelings, for feelings are fickle and fleeting. Love isn’t sex. While sex is an expression of love, sex isn’t love. Love isn’t jealous, prideful, demanding, or rude (1 Corthians 13:4-8). Love isn’t the tingles. So what is love?
Love is a choice. It means loving the person who has wronged you, hurt you, or rejected you. It means hanging in there and fighting till it is worked out. Love is choosing to love someone when they act unlovable toward you.
Love is forgiveness. It means forgiving the unforgivable. It means forgiving and turning the other cheek when you want to retaliate. It means forgiving even when you think you can’t forgive anymore.
Love is unselfish. Love means putting someone else’s needs and wants before your own.
Love is grace. Love means accepting someone for who they are, where they are on their journey, and for what they can give you. It means not expecting more from them than what they can give.
Love is a risk. There is huge risk involved in opening up your heart and letting someone you love see the real you, wounds, warts, and all. Loving someone does not guarantee they will love you back. To love means to risk being hurt.
Love means loving yourself. You can’t love others well if you don’t love yourself. It is impossible. You can’t give nor receive love when you don’t have love for yourself. Love yourself.
Love is a gift. To love and to be loved is precious. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
Finally, at its best love is unconditional and sacrificial. Jesus taught us that. Love means sacrificing and giving your all, even your life if necessary.
This is what I know love to be.

February 14, 2013. faith, life, love, spirituality, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day. Leave a comment.

A Gorilla and his blanket

It was a beautiful, sunny, seventy degree, Florida January day. The time was 2 pm, nap time for the animals at Disney’s Animal kingdom. As I was walking by and watching the gorillas I witnessed a gorilla picking up his blanket and taking it with him to another spot. Yes, his blanket.
I stood there giggling thinking to myself, “That gorilla is not going anywhere without his blanket, wherever he decides to lay himself down, he wants to be sure that blanket is there too.” I pondered that for a moment, and then I started thinking about Linus from Peanuts, and his blanket. Linus never went anywhere or did anything without his blanket. He held on to his blanket like a life line. Then it hit me. Don’t we all have “blankets” in our life?
“Blankets” are the things we hold on to, like our life depends on it. We take them everywhere we go, home, work, school, the movies, even out to dinner. Now obivously as adults we don’t actually carry around a physical blanket. No, the “blankets” I am referring to are the “blankets” in our hearts and minds.
What are these “blankets” ?? Bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, jealously, insecurity, lack of trust, unhealthy friendships, negative thoughts,an abusive past. Really our blankets are anything that stands between us and living life to the fullest. They weigh us down and encumber us.
The harsh reality is we don’t really need our blankets, and they aren’t good for us to hang on to. But without them? We feel naked, scared and unsure, confused. Holding on to our blankets means we don’t have to change, we don’t have to do the work it will take to let go of those blankets. Holding on often feels better than the pain of change. But the truth? The pain of change is worth the letting go, and living life unencumbered. The pain of letting our blanket go and learning to live life without the blanket, soon becomes our new normal. After awhile we realize that we don’t need that blanket anymore after all.
I have let go of many blankets. All of them have been hard, but I don’t miss them. I still have more blankets to let go of. Some of them I have let go bits at a time, and I continue to hold on to the last few remants. But I continue to work at letting them go, and leaving them once and for all. I have come to realize that some blankets just require more work and a longer time to let go of. And I am ok with that.
I would encourage you today to search your heart for your own blankets. And start that journey toward letting them go. I promise you it is well worth it.
And the gorilla? I don’t know if he will ever be able to give up his blanket, as it probably is, in all reality, necessary to his physical comfort. However, next time I go back and see that gorilla, I will remember the lesson I learned from him and his blanket.

January 27, 2013. faith, life, spirituality, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Dare I dream?

  I confess to being a pessimist. I am a glass half empty kind of girl.  That in turn makes it very difficult for me to dream, or to hope.  I have to work at it, I mean really work at hoping and dreaming. 

  I will have hope when I can’t bear the burden of anything but hope. If I am daring to hope for something, I want it about as bad as I want my next breath. I have hoped for healing,  I hope for restored relationships, I hope for my papa to see the end of the year. Those are the kinds of things I will hope for.   But dreaming? I don’t often go there. 

  Dreaming implies something quite different. Dreaming is going big.  Dreaming for me is going beyond being hopeful. Dreaming is about me. It is me daring to ask God for BIG things.  Things my pessimistic nature says ” there is no way that will ever happen” to. Dreaming is daring to ask and then having to trust God with said dream.  

  I have thought about this since January 1.  It seemed I saw so many facebook post about dreaming,trusting, and asking God for things. And over and over the scripture “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Matthew 19:26) Then on Tuesday, a blog.  Rather than a new year’s resolution, make this year about working on one word. One word. The writer chose submission. I sat there thinking “what’s my word?” Then today my word dropped like a bomb into my heart, dream.
DREAM. It was as if God was and has been for days now saying “Dream Mindy. Dare to dream. Ask me. Figure out what your heart desires and ask me.”
My pessimistic nature popped it’s head and said, “but what if they don’t come true?” And in the came the whisper, “Have you forgotten the dreams you had that have come true?” Remember Psalms 37:4? “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Desires equal dreams.
That’s my one word this year. This year I am going to dare to dream. When I figure out what dreams and desires are laying there in my heart, I am going to dare one step further and ask. I am going to dream and I am going to ask. Then I will do the most risky thing of all and believe my dreams are going to come true. Maybe they won’t exactly how I ask for them to, but they will exactly how they are supposed to in God’s master plan for me. I can and will be content and happy with that.
I am off to dream.

January 12, 2013. faith, life, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.