A Grateful Heart

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For the past few years, I have done “30 days of thankful”.   Every day in the month of November I would post something I was thankful for as my Facebook status.  My intent was to do the same this year, until I thought about an old song we used to sing in church, “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”.  We “give” thanks with our mouth.  We speak it.     But do we mean it?

The mouth is a wild animal, often speaking before we can check the attitude of our heart.   The song title suggests that when we do give thanks, we must check to be sure that our hearts are as grateful as the mouth.   I didn’t post something every day for thirty days because I wasn’t sure that in years past my heart was sincere.   So I asked myself a difficult question, am I truly giving thanks if my heart isn’t in it?  God hears me when I talk, but he also sees my heart (I Samuel 16:7).  I don’t feel I am truly giving thanks if my heart isn’t in it.  The words of my mouth and the attitude of my heart must be the same.  Then I am truly grateful.

I made a decision to spend the days up until now thinking of things that I am truly grateful for.   Friends, I give you my heart.

I have not and will not have children come through me but I have many whom have come to me.  They enrich me, challenge me, change me, make me think, and give me more love than my heart can hold.   I am so grateful for the gift that is each one of those kids.   Lil Man- in my heart, every day, forever.

My husband- God didn’t give me what I wanted, He gave me what I needed.  And that is so much better than anything I could have ever dreamed of wanting for myself.  He isn’t perfect, and neither am I, but we make it work.  He is my teammate!

My family- all inclusive!  I am blessed to still have grandparents, and at my age that is a true gift.  I enjoy relationship with them.   My parents are such an example of marriage, dedication, and hard work. To say thanks for not giving up will never be enough.   My brother, in spite of it all, we managed to find our way.   My sister in law- truly grateful for the wife and mother she is!  My nieces, you are quite simply my world.  To the many I didn’t mention- thank you for the things you add to my life. My heart overflows because of each of you.

My friends and church family- What a blessing you each are.  It is a pleasure to laugh with you, cry with you, and live out life with you.  You are a community Michael and l have chosen, and I am happy to say we have chosen well.

Last but not least- Jesus, keeper and savior of my heart and soul without whom I would be lost.

This is my challenge to you, when you are thankful today, consider your heart, and listen to it.  What is it grateful for?b4eabf6d80bdd1a0eee5352c88d05920

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November 27, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Love Wanted and Needed

          I   have had two great loves in my life, the one I wanted and the one I needed. To prevent confusion I will call them Mr. Want and Mr. Need.

          Mr. Want entered my life in the eighth grade.  He chased me, and I still remember the first time he kissed me.  He knew I would be making a visit to the nurse for my asthma med, and he waited on the stairs. Just so he could kiss me.  I let him kiss me but I didn’t let him catch me.  I still don’t know why, but I didn’t.  He moved away which made communication difficult.  In those days we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, cell phones, or Skype.   Each time he came to Muncie, however, he would contact me and we would see each other.   Mr. Want was tall, liquid blue eyes, and a voice smooth like honey.   The summer between our sophomore and junior year we made a pact to marry in seven years, and go to prom together.  We didn’t go to prom together.  Mr. Want blew in my life again the summer after we graduated.  He blew right back out like a hurricane. I was left heartbroken and confused.  I thought for sure he was the one for me.  I couldn’t understand why he had said he felt the same and then left me.  I thought our story was over, finished, but it wasn’t.  Mr. Want came back five years later.   I remember everything about those few days.  All the old feelings came rushing back, but it still wasn’t meant to be.  He left again, where I don’t remember, and for ten years not a word.    He came back around in 2009, and by this time I was living in Florida and had met Mr. Need.   Mr. Want tried to talk me into coming home to Indiana and being with him.  Did my heart skip a beat when I heard his voice? Did all those maddening feelings come back?  Absolutely. But by then I knew a relationship with Mr. Want had always been and would always be like a roller coaster; a fun wild ride that would always come to a thudding heart wrenching stop.  And it was time for me to get out of line, and not ride anymore.  So I chose to stay with Mr. Need.

   I never expected Mr. Need.   He was nothing like Mr. Want or anything I wanted at all. He wasn’t over six feet tall, didn’t wear Levi’s, had a quirky sense of humor, and was divorced and had a daughter.  He was calm, crazy about me, and our relationship wasn’t at all like a roller coaster. It was more constant like the waves of the ocean coming in.  I remember our first kiss, our first date, and what he said to me on our first date.  He bought me flowers just because, for my birthday, Valentine’s day and even Christmas.   No matter what came our way he stood by me. I saw him fight for me, and fight to be with me.   For the first time in my life, I was unabashedly adored.  For the first time in my life I was in a healthy relationship.  There was some drama, of course, but nothing that we couldn’t work through or get over.  Mr. Need was the love I needed and never knew I wanted.  It was gentle yet tough when it needed to be, constant and sure.  I married Mr. Need.

            The lesson I learned in all this is love comes in many forms, and what is wanted isn’t always what is needed.    Mr. Need makes me a better person, still unabashedly adores me and brings me flowers.  Our love is still constant, secure, and sure.  We have been to hell and back and have managed to emerge stronger.  I am so happy I married the love I needed and never knew I wanted.  

    I don’t know why I decided to write this today, maybe because Valentine’s Day was just the other day or maybe because I have just been thinking about the difference between want and need.  It might be because Mr. Want recently contacted me via social media.  I don’t really know.  I just know, for whatever reason, I am reassured that Mr. Need was and still is the perfect choice for me.

February 19, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Grace Extension

                           I like receiving grace.  Receiving grace makes me feel good, because it frees me from my wrongdoing, my selfish nature, and allows me to keep moving forward instead of staying stuck.   But when it comes to giving grace?    I am like a spoiled child with my favorite toy, I am not about to give away my grace.   Why? Because giving grace away requires much more of me than receiving it.   Being on the receiving end of grace is easy; being the one to have to give the grace is hard, sometimes beyond my human ability.   Instead of doing the hard thing and giving, I act like a child and keep it.   And the act of keeping grace  keeps me bound.  

                    God’s second greatest commandment to us is to love our neighbor as we love our self.   We easily love our neighbor (those around us) when our neighbor does everything right.   When our expectations are met, when we are loved the way we want to be loved, when they extend grace to us, when our neighbor doesn’t show us their brokenness, we love them.  We are happy.   We easily give them grace, because things are good, nothing hard is required of us.   Then the “uh-oh” happens. They disappoint us, they hurt us, they don’t meet our expectations, and they show us their brokenness.  In these moments something more is required of us.  They need our unconditional grace and love, given without restraint and expectation.   When we are handed hurt and disappointment the last thing we want to do is give these two blessed gifts. Instead we want to be angry, hurl hurt back, and do everything we can to hurt them as bad as they hurt us.   And in doing so we cause more destruction.

   This is not God’s will for us at all.  First and foremost we are called to extend grace and love without condition or expectation because Christ first gave it to us. Secondly, you give it because it keeps you free.  In Galatians 5:13 Paul states that we are called to live in freedom, not to serve our sinful nature, but to serve one another in love. Notice he doesn’t say only when you are happy and things are good, in fact he gives no qualifiers or conditions to this call at all.   It is simple.  You extend grace and love because it keeps you free. Free from bondage of sin, free from the bondage of destroyed and broken relationships. 

      Lately I have found myself asking how I can live in the freedom of giving away love and grace, especially to people who have hurt me or not extended me grace.  As I previously said, I am a spoiled selfish child, grace and love my favorite toys.   Then yesterday the answer smacked me between the eyes.  I can give grace because God gives it to me, and his word tells me that His grace is sufficient, and that his power (strength) is made perfect in my weakness ( 2 Corthians 12:9).  I have no strength to give grace on my own, especially amidst hurt.  So I admit my human frailty and throw myself on HIS GRACE, and HIS STRENGTH.  Then and only then can I give grace and love with no condition and no expectation.  And I am free.

                        

October 2, 2013. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Randomness

   My husband says I always write things emotionally heavy and deep.  He’s right, I do.  He says I need to write something funny.  Funny is something I am occasionally, when the witty words hit my brain they come out my mouth. I enjoy my funny moments. I love a good hearty belly laugh.   So I am going to deviate from my emotional blogging and show you my lighter side.  

     1) I love kids, and they are cute.. but seriously, I can literally feel my ovaries shrivel, and hear them shouting “NO..” every time I hear a baby crying or a kid having a tantrum.   

    2) I have decided not to become a mom. Darn, this means I will never be part of the “exclusive mommy club”.   Gee, that makes me so sad (please detect major sarcasm)

    3) I am a step mom, and an aunt:  those roles fit me perfectly.   Love them, spoil them, and send them home.

   4)   I love sending boxes of goodies in the mail. And cards too. I love sending people cards.   Who doesn’t love to get good old fashioned mail?  It makes me sad that technology has taken away some of our good old fashioned ways of communicating.  Never under estimate the power of a hand written card, letter, or box of goodies to let someone know you care. 

   5) I love decorating said cards with stickers.  I put on happy stickers like flowers, rainbows, smiley faces, butterflies etc.  I don’t know why, and it has occurred to me that spending a few dollars on stickers to put on envelopes people just throw in the trash is a waste of money, but I can’t help it.   Maybe this goes back to the love I had for stickers when I was a child?

   6) I can spend hours upon hours alone, not speaking to anyone, and be content.  What do I spend the time doing? Oh you know, reading, writing, but NOT arithmetic.  Math makes me shudder.

   7) I have discovered a genre of books called “cozy mysteries”.    They have charming characters, and a good murder mystery. I love reading a good cozy with a glass of moscato.

    8) I love the library.  I could spend hours in one browsing books.  I have always loved to read. I hope to read 1000 books before I die.

   9) I am addicted to Pinterest..  now if only I could cook all those meals, bake all those goodies, make all those crafts, and completely clean, de-clutter, and organize my home….

10)   I believe there is nothing a cold glass of moscato or margarita, a chocolate covered strawberry, and a side of Xanax can’t fix. Well, at least temporarily.  And once that temporary solution wears off? As Scarlett O’Hara said “I will think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

 

 

 

August 7, 2013. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.