It's been a few weeks since I have written. I started an entry a couple of weeks ago but didn't feel led to finish it. This week, I want to talk about giving. I know that the best gifts I've ever received come from giving to others. Your gifts don't have to be monetary. A kind or encouraging word can a make a world of difference to someone who is struggling or sad. An anonymous card left on a desk or *gasp* sent by snail mail, a hand written letter or note can lift someone's spirit. I'd like you to think about a time when you gave a gift with no expectation of reciprocation. How did you feel? I know that sometimes I struggle with giving... of myself, my time, my words. I need to work on it! I have a friend who is great at it though, he inspires me. Always has kind thoughts, words of encouragement, post cards to let me know that I'm remembered. Those always bring a smile to my face...REAL MAIL. I love real mail! Today, I'm giving you a gift of real mail. If there is someone that you'd like to send an anonymous note to, I'll write the note and drop it in the mail for you. Maybe it's a co-worker who you'd like to thank or encourage. Perhaps it's a family member or friend. Just fill out the contact form with a name, address and your message. If you don't have a particular message then just fill me in and I'll pray about it and compose a message to the person that you'd like send a note.
A few years ago I bought this book titled God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours by Regina Brett. I read a few stories when I first bought the book but there is one story, in particular, that I have read numerous times. It is the first lesson in the book and it's called Life Isn't Fair, but It's Still Good. Now, how many times growing up did you say "That's not fair!" I've even said it many times as an adult. It wasn't until I read the story and reflected that it was true, life isn't but it's still good. I won't retell the story here, but the lady in the story has cancer and sees a man, Frank, wearing a hat that says LIFE IS GOOD. She wasn't feeling that life was so good. She asks Frank about his hat. A couple of days later he buys her a Life is Good hat and takes it too her which she wore through chemo. When she was in remission she shared and passed on the hat over and over with people who had cancer. I love that she did that but it's Frank's words that were so profound. He lives by 2 simple words: GET TO. He GETS TO do things, not HAS TO do things. So I started trying to change my way of thinking. I get to go to work...eh, maybe not such a great place to start. HA! Ok, I get to live in beautiful Okinawa, there much better. :) Actually, I turned my thinking back to GET TO, yes I GET TO go to work. I'm thankful for my job. I get to go to the gym. I'm thankful that my body is physically able. I GET TO take out the trash, that mean I was blessed with cereal boxes, cans, milk cartons, soda bottles, and ALL of the food that came in them. I GET TO call my family. I know some people at thinking, ugh, I have to talk to my mom, my dad, my aunt, my cousin. You get the picture, but you know what, you have a family that cares for you and loves to hear your voice. Be grateful! I GET TO wash the dishes, at least you have dishes and warm water to clean them, plus your doing that from inside your home. I think you're starting to get the picture. I have a little note on my door that I see every morning as I leave for work, it says "Remember, you GET TO not have to."
This is a huge step in learning to love your life. If you have an attitude of gratitude then you'll always feel blessed. God does bless us every single day that we wake up breathing. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Today, I'm thankful for everything, including my life experiences, both good and bad. My experiences have shaped my character and believe it or not I LIKE ME!!
Yesterday I turned 46, as I reflect on my life I realize that I have been given 45 years on this earth. Did I use them wisely? Most of them, probably not, however I have learned A LOT in my 45 years. I've always known that I have a family of prayer warriors who pray whenever I have a request or burden. Last Sunday, I learned that my dad has never, ever stopped praying for my walk with GOD. I knew that he prayed but I but I didn't really grasp that thought until I chatted with Pam, my step-mom. Now let me tell you, she is an answer to one of my prayers. I prayed and prayed for years that God would bring my dad a partner into his life that would love and care for him, and she is exactly that. I can see the love between them is real and grounded in GOD (more about her another time).
OK, back to my point. I was raised in church, saved and baptized at an early age but my walk with God has wavered many times. There were times when I was so far from God that I'm sure those around me would have thought I walked with the devil and honestly, I probably did. I know my dad prayed for me during those times but he never preached at me, he just prayed. I would go through hardships that would cause me to call out to God for relief, for God to help me, to fix it. Well, what do we do when the problem is gone? We forget about it, and usually along the way I forgot who fixed it. Thus, starting my decent into that undesirable life again. Time after time, I have called out to God and He has been there and fixed it, whatever "it" was(it might not have been the way I would have preferred it to be fixed but see Jeremiah 29:11 again). I have decided that this time that I don't want my walk to waver, even when I face the highest mountain I know I have an earthly father who will pray for me but also a heavenly Father who is with me and will never fail nor forsake me (Joshua 1:5) . And He hasn't, EVER, even though I fail Him daily. One time someone scoffed at me, "you call yourself a Christian." I cried myself to sleep that night. I had failed God again. I decided then that I wanted the love of God to shine from me, I wanted my words and actions to honor Him. Believe me, I know life get tough, so tough that we wonder where God is. He is right there beside you, you only have to believe and have faith that He is for you and when He is for you no weapon forged against you will prosper (Isaiah 54:17), His love is unfailing (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). I know that I'm far from perfect but My Help Comes from The Lord, I'm so blessed to begin another year...birthdays are good! :)
HMMMM, where to start, I'm not exactly sure but I'm feeling led to start this blog. Sitting around the lunch table the ladies were talking about people they knew who had great relationships with their ex-spouses. I listened for a while but the only comment I could make was, "My ex hates me." That made everyone laugh including me, so I shared the story with my adult daughter and she asked "Did you tell them you don't hate him?" Well, since that conversation I have been feeling led to write this blog about forgiveness and love. I have tried to walk away from this recurring thought daily. My self talk has consisted of, "Why would anyone care what I have to say?" Who's going to read it?" "Is this for me or someone else?" Honestly I don't know why I'm writing this, maybe it's for someone else, maybe it's for me to study God's word more and apply it to my life. I will tell you that the new series at church is entitled ARISE. It's about Arising to God's plan for your life. Last week's message was Hearing God's Voice, I learned that God speaks to us in many ways 1) through His Word, 2) through the Holy Spirit (which could be a recurring thought- DUH!) 3) through our relationships. I just keep hearing, "Write the blog Michelle!" Every time that thought occurs it is louder so here I am writing thinking "Ok, God this is Yours but your gotta help me."
In 2004, I was living in Germany with my husband and two teenage children. You know, the typical American military family living abroad while supporting my husband as he served his country. Little did I know my life was about to fall apart. August of 2003 as I was lying in bed next to my husband I had this terrible nagging in the depths of my soul. Did I really want to ask the question? Would the answer be what I was looking for? If it wasn't could I handle it? I asked that question and the response destroyed me on the spot. I instantly felt physically ill thinking that I was going to lose the only life I had ever known as an adult. (I won't air my family's dirty laundry because that's not the point) I called my dad distraught and devastated looking for solace. Day after day I begged my husband not to destroy our family. I went to the doctor, went to counseling, went to church. I went everywhere seeking help, but to no avail. In December, my husband started sleeping on the couch, we legally separated in the Spring of 2005, he moved back the the US and I moved to Okinawa. April 21, 2005 our divorce was final. Could I really be a divorcee'? This was not what I had planned for my life. *see Jeremiah 29:11*
In the following few years I was so angry, cold and bitter. I wondered who am I? All I had ever known was WE, US, OUR. .I immersed myself in my job and pursued a master's degree. It's probably because I didn't want to deal with my new reality. Shhh, don't tell anyone but I was improving myself and didn't even realize it. I tend to throw myself in to some kind of project when the storms roll in. Time continued to pass, they say time heals all wounds. I believe it, however I also know that wounds that heal leave behind scars. I have scars but each day even the scars fade and become less visible. As I write this I think emotional scars are sometimes hard to see, especially if you put on a mask to hide from the world. How do I know my scars are becoming less visible? It all began when I decided I need a couple of days away so I booked a room at Okuma. I had planned to just relax but I keep hearing this tiny voice saying, "Spend time with Me." So I sat on the beach looking out at the ocean listening to the waves break that voice said "I want you to pray for your ex-husband." I said, "I don't want to." I meant it too. I sat there for a little longer and walked back to my room, again "I want you to pray for your ex-husband." Me, "I don't want to." I meant it again. "Michelle, I want you to pray for your ex-husband." Finally, I could no longer take it and I knelt beside my bed in that hotel room and began to pray telling God I didn't want to pray for him, he didn't deserve it, he hurt me, destroyed my family. I began to cry and God said "Forgive him." I did, I forgave him for all that I felt he had done to me and our family. A wave of indescribable peace washed over me and I felt years of hurt and anger wash away. The next morning my message from God was quite different it was, "Love this life I have given you." I walked along the beach that morning and noticed letters in the coral. I was finding the letters to "LOVE LIFE." I know it was GOD. I lacked a single E in this message, I searched every where. Nope, no E. I shared with my friends that I needed an E, during one of our trips to the beach my friend, Michael, completed this message with an E he had found that day. This has become my mantra, LOVE LIFE, but only after I learned to forgive.