Chris Pickens, Carrier Of God’s Word


 Bible (2)

CHRIS PICKENS

His words are stored inside our hearts,

His life has been a work of art.

He’s planted seeds and grown new vines,

And he’s done God’s work all this time.

His eyes reach out and touch my soul,

his body is no longer whole,

this disease has come to take control,

to snuff the flame and take it’s toll.

But, life still lives inside of him,

the light dances, it won’t grow dim!

He still has lessons we must learn.

The fire continues still, to burn!

His mind is wise and he is there,

and hosts a heart, we’ve found so rare.

the numbers climb of those he’s touched,

the ones he’s taught, the ones he’s loved.

We can’t repay all that he’s done,

though if you are one of the ones,

and you are here now reading this,

Please reach out and help our friend Chris.

Diane Reed 2015

When I first met Chris, he had a Bible in his hands and that was always his trademark. He was and has always been the carrier of God’s word. Planting seeds and reaching out to anyone he felt led to approach. I am glad he felt led to our little store, because he changed things up in our lives as soon as he walked through the door!

I have said time and time before that I will never believe that pain and suffering and illness come from God! Or that bad things happen to punish us. I truly believe that God is not sitting up there choosing who to inflict with what. We live in a fallen world and that is just part of the deal. People suffer and die. They have financial successes and failures. Sure, some have brought on their own form of suffering through bad life or business choices or even health choices. But things like babies dying and ALS and meaningless accidents just don’t make sense and probably never will. Though I believe God allows opportunity in every instance and I have known people who have used their pain for God’s glory and Chris IS one of them!!

I will never forget sitting in a pre-marital counseling class when I was 21 with my on the fence non-believing husband to be. Our pastor at the time, Wayne Frase, shared with us something that even I never knew… that his baby son had died earlier in his own marriage. He was sharing the story to teach us that sometimes heart wrenching, life changing events that can come up in marriage, can either break it or make it stronger, and in that moment, I KNOW that a seed was planted in my soon to be first husband’s heart that would later lead to his own decision to accept Jesus as his Savior. At the time though, he was so confused at how this Godly man kept his faith, and yet very intrigued by his faith in God. Later, when my dad who we ALL loved died suddenly of a heart attack, my husband finally made the choice to believe after watching my mom’s strength through losing my dad and all the other little seeds that were planted along the way. Seeds like Chris has planted all throughout his lifetime!

I guess what I am trying to say is bad things happen to good people daily and it is how they handle them that can be used for God’s glory. And that life is not fair. And the formula has never been that bad things only happen to bad people and good things only happen to good people. If that were the case, Chris Pickens would be living on top of a hill in a mansion without infliction! But the fact is that he’s not. He is in need of our support. I have written about my friend before.  (Through Papered Windows) https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/through-the-paper-windows/

But as this horrible disease progresses, my heart was pricked to share again.

One of my best friends, Michele, (Chris’s wife) has been her husband’s caregiver now for about 70 hours a week or more. Chris is totally paralyzed. He can no longer talk and with the occasional flick of one wrist, he is totally dependent. I have never seen Michele complain and she is always smiling. She is now in desperate need of funds to be able to hire capable caregivers to take care of her loving husband and take some of the load off of her. Another friend has set up a fund-raising site for him.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/caring-for-chris/288756 

Also Michele sells Shaklee. We all use cleaning products and need vitamins along with so many other things I never knew they sold that I use everyday!! Please take a look at the millions of things that she sells (on the handy link below) and instead of going to the store,why not support Michele and become a regular customer?! (she is even offering free shipping!) It doesn’t matter where you live within the United States. Why not just decide to order everything you would have gone and bought at a store, through her? And the products truly are so much better than any you might find on the shelves AND…. reasonably priced! If we all did it, we could turn their lives around financially by just supporting their business! Please click on the site below for information there! http://www.healthysteps.myshaklee.com

Michele Pickens

LifeQuest Health

Natural Products Supplier and Nutrition Consultant
714.536.6555 Cell 805.423.2064

lifequesthealth@aol.com

Improving the lives of everyone we touch

If you know Chris and Michele, you have probably read this all the way through because they have touched your life. I remember our friendship when Chris was the one who approached us, invited us to church and embraced our family. Even when they had to move back to Southern California to be closer to family and doctors, I’d hear stories about how he’d take his little scooter to town and witness to many, many people who came to the Lord just by Chris being Chris and sharing God’s Word.

The last time I visited, Chris could no longer take those rides to town and was in a wheel chair full time, by then, but those eyes and that heart still were strong. He is in there, still believing and loving God.  If he has touched your life or if you don’t know him and his story has just touched you… Please pray for them and then if you will,  reach out to him (them) in any way that you possibly can and thank you!!!! And along with just clicking LIKE (which I always appreciate!) How about stopping a minute and looking at Michele’s Shaklee site and perhaps sharing this post on your facebook page or send the link on email to your praying friends and any other site of theirs that you think might help!

And again…

THANK YOU!!!!!

micheld and chris

Chris and Michele before ALS hit hard

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Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff… and is it really all small stuff?


I follow a blog by a fellow blogger and follower of my blog named Dyan, that challenges us to find  things to be grateful for in life. She is faithful in her commitment to write a daily word of encouragement and it has become an easy read. Today’s seemed to trigger a memory for me. It made me STOP and really see what I have been doing for over a decade… I realized that I am afraid to just let go and be grateful. To live in the moment to not worry about yesterday or tomorrow to just be grateful for something as simple as the ability to enjoy jam on my toast in the morning. I know it sounds funny… but some of you GET me so well…  I know you’ll understand.

Here is an excerpt from her post today:

It may be small, like the peach jam on your toast in the morning, pretty flowers that you pass on a walk – or it can be big, like a job opportunity we are presented with.  But if we are watching for things to be grateful for through our days, we will find them.  Living gratefully, purposely taking time to be grateful every day will bring us more things to be grateful for.  That is a great reason to keep a gratitude list every day.

To read the whole thing… here it is:

http://dyandiamond.net/2013/09/03/why-be-grateful/

Well over ten years ago, I remember picking up an article in the waiting room of a medical office where I had my yearly exam. It was an excerpt from the book…”Don’t sweat the small stuff… And it’s all small stuff” We’ve all heard about it since. But it was new to me then. As a child, I always worried. I have since realized I’d become a co-dependent at an early age and always seemed to be waiting for something bad to happen.

I remember really reading every word and deciding that I was going to stop and smell the flowers just as I was called in for my turn… I remember light heartedly changing into the paper gown and waiting for the doctor. We made the usual small talk and then the expression on his face changed. It got more serious. He’d found a lump in my throat. It was strange… I never felt it……….  I think at that moment the whole thing about not sweating the small stuff was extracted from my memory.

For the next few weeks, appointments for surgeons and ultra sounds all filled the parts of my brain that was going to not sweat anything. I’ve always tried to protect my kids from my problems but somehow my daughter found out and demanded to know what was going on and then promptly prayed for me. It was a sweet simple prayer but ever since she was little, when she prayed she believed that God really heard her and kind of just expected Him to take care of everything. (If only we all could have that childlike faith!) After an ultra sound and a surgeon not finding anything at his exam it all seemed to have been a mistake or had it? Perhaps there had been something there and God heard the prayers of a child…my sweet daughter.
I just know that as I read Dyan’s blog today… it triggered a memory. I think at that moment in the Doctor’s office… I’d decided to truly not sweat the small stuff and then in the next moment… I’d been hit by a Mack Truck… not small stuff by any sense of the imagination. I am not sure what happened… maybe it was a mistake… maybe even the devil… but I think I was afraid to not sweat the small stuff ever again…. I think that I have been sweating it ever since… trying to be grateful… but always with one eye cocked over my shoulder… All I know is that this little reminder pricked a memory about never trusting anyone or anything with the free abandonment of thinking it is all small stuff because it can change at any moment. I guess that since then… I’ve always waited for the other shoe to fall. Nor have I ever completely relaxed since.

I know that life isn’t necessarily without catastrophe. Since that day… I’ve experienced illness of loved ones, earthquakes, and even death. But I have also experienced answered  prayer, good health and the miracle of birth.  I know it’s not all small stuff. But this little daily reminder, this once a day dose of being grateful really made me take a look at where I stopped appreciating the moment and began trying to deny it’s existence. I’ve been seriously robbed by the joy of relaxing in my gratitude. Like a thief in the night it was snatched from me. Today is a new day and I am just grateful to be sitting here knowing it. And I am grateful for all of God’s Vessels who come into my life with messages as way of their blogs. Perhaps this one might remind you to not sweat the small stuff and though it might not all be small stuff… to recognize when it is and to trust God with the rest! Have a grateful day!

Sophia's smile

A baby smiles and I see a glimpse of heaven.

A flower grows from a crack in the cement.

daisey through cement

A stranger holds the door open…

holding door

Are these messages possibly Heaven sent?

A garden’s fragrance, a butterflies wings

little girl in the garden

A sunrise inside the warmth of dawn

sunrise golden clouds

A child’s laughter, a friend’s simple note

laughing

when you thought you couldn’t go on…

A slice of toast with some special jam

toast and jam

warm socks on a cold morning

warm socks by tea

Ahhh such is the joy in feeling grateful

that appears in my heart without warning.

girl running

Diane Reed

2013

Traffic Jam


 no traffic

The other day I was on my way home from Los Angeles. I thought that I’d left early enough to have missed the traffic hour and  was moving along quite well for several minutes, when all of a sudden it stopped. I am not sure why I am ever surprised anymore. But I’d really hoped for an easy drive that day, without a lot of glitches… Though it never seems to fail… something always causes a traffic jam when I am in route!

traffic best pic

Slowly we inched along, maybe a mile in fifteen minutes and then a steady 30 or 40 miles an hour until it slowed again and we passed what was causing the traffic jam. A car had overturned. Though I have seen worse and heard people lived. I prayed as I passed it. I prayed for it to be one of those miraculous accidents where the ones involved survived without a scratch but I gotta tell ya it didn’t look good.

upside down car

As we passed it we all started moving until we were going about sixty miles an hour but I noticed that the other side of the freeway had begun backing up and as I drove further, I saw that the traffic wound around the bend for what looked like miles.

traffic on the 101

Stopped in it’s tracks! And I could see why. It hadn’t even happened on their side of the freeway but everyone on the opposite side was bottle necking to see the overturned car on our side.

traffic

People were almost stopping to take a peek while others behind them began slamming on their brakes and honking

traffic horn

and it was one of those metaphoric moments that come to me every so often that made me realize that you never know why you hit those spots in life that hold you back, what is around the bend… and why things don’t always happen as we expect them too. Sometimes it is our fault and sometimes it is just something we couldn’t forsee and  you can’t do anything but go with the flow patiently trusting that God is ahead of us clearing the way when we finally see the full picture and the mistakes in our life more clearly and hopefully learn from each one!

Jesus steering

Sometimes, life just happens and there’s nothing you can do. Sometimes we focus on the negative, staying stuck. And other times we see our mistakes and learn from them.

Life is all about moving past the accidents,

side mirror

keeping the faith…. and appreciating the ride when it moves along nicely. But knowing that the traffic eventually breaks and if you are patient… and give The Lord the steering wheel…you will always get to where you are going…. And hopefully if we are very patient…. the place HE has for each of us!!

traffic calming sign

Psalm 130:5 — I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

In The Broken Pieces


praying man in pew with bible

Broken by the world, surprised by their angry words

I stand before you Lord, so tired in this world.

Weary and battered, by those I once called “my friends”

please take these broken pieces I now  hold within my hands…

praying bible

You find me on my knees as I begin to ask

Just how much longer you think that I can last…

praying man at sunset

And then I realize YOU’RE  the one who truly knows

the sting in the world’s curses and it’s flailing blows,

and so  I begin to let go, laying everything at your feet

Falling on my face, I know you see the real me.

Jesus answers prayer

As I realize it’s all just a speck in time

and it’s really about the piece of YOU that I leave behind!!!

Jesus' face in the clouds

Soooo Lord~

Jesus comforting man

Guide me as I talk, let your words be ones I choose

For YOU know today this mountain must be moved.

mountain

As I form the sentences let them come from YOU…

Filled with strength and grace and only what is true.

praying man with hand lifted

As I walk in faith, let me find YOU in every choice

And as I seek your will today, let them hear YOUR voice.

Jesus at a business meeting

Take these broken pieces Lord, for they don’t belong to me!

Remind me that in their “brokeness” YOU have the victory!

mustard seed

Diane Reed

2013

A Little More


poverty3

Perspective is such a great thing to consider! But it is all relative.
I am blessed. Though we lost a prospering store in 2003, we were  given the “opportunity” to be able to open up a restaurant shortly after that. Well,  That was a joke. Due to a very mismatched partnership (don’t get me started!!!) We lost the last of our nest egg and were like 20 year olds starting all over again from the beginning. We went about getting “REAL” jobs and until last year when my husband was laid off, we were sitting pretty fat and happy without missing much of a beat except that I had to work for someone else which is something I promised myself that I would never do again. Though… I have gone back on my word with myself on many occasions lately so what the heck~

Most recently, my husband has been working with his dad on a project that has been a lifelong one they began many years ago when they used to work together. Since being laid off last year, my husband has stepped on board again and it looks as if things are going to take off for them. It is an amazing environmental  project which basically takes toxic waste or waste in general, ( it can be plastic, wood, tires, you name it) and turns it into bio char for farming or energy, etc.   I BELIVE in what they are doing, and with so much interest in the environment recently, it has gotten a lot of positive recognition. I  know that in God’s timing it will all come together. But in the meantime, we are living on my paycheck and his unemployment. It has defintely been an awakening. This month, we have come to the end of the line. I have managed to pay all of our bills on time, for all of this time. But next month is going to be tricky. We are going to have to start picking and choosing bills to pay.

For the first time in years, since the earthquake, I am living  in a place of genuine faith. God has answered recent prayers about health and other personal things and so I know HE is a God of miracles! I have watched other fellow bloggers live their lives in faith and I know it can be done. But I can’t say that I have always been such a good sport about all of this. It is all relative, but if you don’t have it… money becomes more important. And yet I keep trying to tell myself it is character building. Though all you prayer warriors out there, I would appreciate prayer! And I thank you ahead of time because I know I will blogging about a miracle soon!

So anyway, as I was wallowing in my own problems, I read today’s post from my sweet friend whose blog name is : free penny press:

http://freepennypress.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/live-below-the-line-year-2/

poverty2

Talk about perspective! I thought it was a wonderful reminder that it is not all about me! Feeding ourselves on $1.50 a day…. it made me think! I get so caught up in “needing” always wanting a miracle… and usually getting many. God is good and so generous. He always come through in the end, even when I ask for more.

Oh Lord,I’ve found myself

on a pretty selfish path,

forgetting to be grateful

for everything I have~

praising by ocean

Making my prayer time,

all about me and what I need~

Losing my perspective,

consumed by my own greed~

sad woman3

Today… I want to thank you

for the GRACE you’ve given me!

Not seeing my flaws

that I know you might have seen.

swan

May I be reminded

just what I’m asking for

when I forget and come to You

asking for a little more.

Diane Reed 2013

poverty

Rain Check Please


raincheck

We live in a world of microwaves and instant dinners. From the time that I was ten years old we had easy bake ovens

easy bake oven

and creeple peeple machines that baked a cake mix with water or heated up plastic in ten minutes or less. Giving you a little rubber toy or a pretty much; less than edible dessert. But it was all in the “magic” of the minute.

creeple people

Tonight when we go to sleep, we all basically expect to wake up tomorrow. The old saying about ….. “We make plans as God laughs” has always made me smile and yet makes God sound as if He is up there flicking us off the map one by one. And that is not how He operates. We live in a fallen world. And the state of the world is our doing, not His.  Who knows why some of us will be affected by Obama’s new tax on the rich and some of us were praying for the unemployment benefits to be extended? (By the way that was a rhetorical question, not getting political this morning here.)

finger map

The point is, that we all our dealt our own hand. Some of us have disabilities or illnesses, some are born healthy and screw up our bodies due to overeating or smoking or drinking or taking drugs. Some walk out the door and get hit by a bus. Some are born into poverty but somehow come out of it as a bigger success than the ones who were born into wealth and don’t know how to make a living.

God gives us all talents. Whatever our situation is we can do something to glorify Him daily. I was thinking about the books that I fill with gibberish and mourning. Yes even I, the one who pretty much is an open book in all my shame and glory have things I would not want my family or friends to read. They are my pathetic cries to myself, my prayer journals to God, my processing the thoughts in my head. But am I guaranteed that when I walk out the door that I will return to them, the things I wish to hide? Will I be proud of the life I leave behind? Whether today or thirty years from now?

jogger

My dad walked out the door for a Saturday morning jog at 51 never to return. In all of his brief cases and papers, his bills and credit cards, his life seemed in order. He always told me what to do if something happened, where to go, what to find. I remember searching for something more. Not just his insurance papers. I wanted to know more about who he was. Not really bad stuff, just things that would tell me more about what was in his heart. He was a vice president at Mattel Toys and then at his CSC for many years. He had just changed jobs. He was a professor at Pepperdine and taught Computer Science classes as a hobby. I wish I had known him  as a teacher in the same way that all of the hundreds of students who came to his funeral did.

funeral

We plan for our retirement and we expect to grow old. But what if we knew otherwise? What would we do differently? I have met a few people who know that unless a miracle happens, they don’t have a lot of time left on this earth, and they are the people who live life to the fullest. Maybe not physically, but they are some of the most spiritually active people I know!

sunrise morning beautiful

They appreciate the sunrise and sunset and they seem to have a better understanding of God and His word and they have a relationship with Him that I envy, though I know I too could have. The only difference is that they know they are dying. But don’t we all to some extent?  They live like this is their last day and yet they appreciate every minute of it and treat it like a gift when it’s not. Shouldn’t we all live like that? Appreciating that yesterday was not our last and not assuming that today won’t be?? I bet a lot of us would be smiling more and a lot more kinder to one another if we actually took that approach.

lady yelling cartoon

The other day, I heard a lady who rather loudly was complaining about an item that the store I was in, was out of. She was frustrated because she had made a special trip to come and pick it up when she saw it in the paper on sale. No matter how the employee tried to explain it, she was not going to be satisfied. She finally huffed out of the store with a rain check in her hand as we all sympathetically looked at the poor employee who had just been blasted for something totally out of his control. It made me think. Sometimes we treat God like that. Demanding a raincheck for what we think is due us. We don’t like the life we are dealt so we snatch up our raincheck and storm off to live life as one huge hot mess. And what is our guarantee? We don’t get a second chance here. (I am sorry, I don’t believe in reincarnation. My theory is get it right the first time.) We feel that we have missed out and expect God to do something about it. We sit there and wait and wait. Well honey, I am done waiting and expecting and being huffy about it all. Because it really is ugly to watch. I was glad I was there to watch that woman’s little tantrum. I wonder, what do I look like to God?

God sees poem

I know what I am doing when I can’t seem to find the joy in the morning, only living in the past and being too afraid to feel the love again. But do I want my loved ones to find joy in the messages I leave behind or dark pitiful ramblings? I am not sure if any of you who have begun following this blog can relate but as we embrace the new year I will use this post to officially try to embrace every minute. To not just atutomatically expect health or wealth or life but to appreciate it! And next time when you take a rain check for whatever it happens to be… a date to do something later or that thing at the store that is sold out, remember to appreciate when you get to cash it in but don’t always expect it. Because  though we live in a world of instant breakfast and wanting it all NOW…     It’s not always about immediate satisfaction. In fact it isn’t all about us at all. I am glad I got to see that woman stomp away with her raincheck clutched in her tight little angry fist. It made me realize one thing….

coupons

I know that I don’t want to end up with just a drawer full of rainchecks. Do you?

praising God3

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

  Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.

The Other Shoe


Please excuse me while I am waiting for the other shoe to fall. I have been doing that pretty much all of my life. Never really enjoying the good times… There has always been a disaster looming around the corner and I have always been waiting for  that other damn proverbial shoe just hanging from that freaking foot to fall. You  know the saying… “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” Well, it has in my life, a few times… and I have grown accustomed to knowing or at least expecting that it will again… And so as I throw away my 2o12 calendar I feel as if I am throwing away a lot of missed opportunities, and oh how I wish all of my mistakes could go in that trash can as well. Let’s see my book would have already been finished and submitted. I would have reached my weight goal rather than have spent the year going backwards…and I would be in a better financial position… Ahhh what do they say about the best laid plans? All in the trash with that old falling shoe!

shoe falling

It is January seventh, two thousand and thirteen.  And speaking of calendars… I just noticed that my old-fashioned wall calendar that I have always continued to keep, (regardless of the latest technology of a calendar on my laptop or Smartphone.) Is still on December. As I turned to the next month, I realized that there are no pages left. And it is so metaphoric for me.

calendar

I open the blinds to see the sunrise, only to be met with a very blustery and  stormy Monday morning. I need to start editing my book and yet knowing I am not going to post more of it here seems to make it more work than fun.

Okay now… before I lose you… I just went and put a pot of coffee on so maybe that will boost my mood.

coffee and computer

I live right near the gate of our gated community so I watch as the cars pass on their way to work, I imagine the life of each one as they pass by. I actually like the busy-ness of the street. I know that it might not be a selling point for some when it comes time to sell this house, but I have always loved that part of living on the corner here, as well. I have always  thought it would be nice to live in one of those high rise apartments right smack dab in the middle of the city. I like the bustle and activity. It makes me more creative. I guess I have the best of both worlds, I live in the country close to a lake. It is a vaction community for a lot of people. Some, may even come here to write. I live here and I am grateful. And yet it is funny, the part that most people might be negative about makes me almost happy. I watch each car as it drives by and wonder who they are and where they are going. Yes, I am a writer and so I think like that…  I wish I could say that I am praying for each one as they drive by me. Perhaps when I think of it… I do. I would love to tell you that I just sit here and do that every day. That would be a wonderful thing to tell you…. but I am wrapped up in this narcissistic feeling cacoon right now and feel those walls going up again as if to dare someone to climb over. I hate when I get like that.

 cacoon in the rain

Okay, now I have taken my first sip of coffee. Funny how that can clear my head like Xanax can for other people.

Smile.

writing just hand view

I guess that sometimes, life just happens. I can be going along perfectly okay, even with a raging cold, and not feel down and then something just hits me. A part of my life that I feel that I can’t control and WHAM I am down for the count. I felt it creep up today. I am learning to see it coming. That out of control feeling. I have come to realize that I am not causing it, I almost try to forgive myself, thinking that I can’t control it. It comes upon you like a messy closet. But then… even a messy closet is within your control. Ya know?

 I got up early to do the bills. Maybe that is what put me in a slump?

bills

My husband is going on whatever month it is being one of the jobless. (I have stopped counting.)  But so much potential is in the business he is pursuing. I just need to learn how to be patient. And yet sometimes, I wonder is my middle name Job?

job

Okay now, I know… you can all stop searching for that tinest violin. I have heard it all already! And I see that God is a God of answered prayers.  When the other shoe drops… He has always provided another pair! I know… I know…  I’m just tired of the other shoe always dropping. Ten years ago I was dealing with an earthquake, and a few more decades before that, my fiance’s mom killed herself, all in the time frame of this week. It isn’t the happiest of memories. Maybe that is it… I guess around this time of year, somehow even after all these years and all the blessings in-between I have always waited for the other shoe to fall. Always.

shoes in a pile

I know how bad it can get. I know how blessed I am. Even where we are now financially, I see hope and yet I want to be able to just relax, to find that formula that lets me just lean back and trust. And so I went on a little journey inside my own head… wanting to truly dig my way out of the pile that I had found myself under…. and it’s funny when you really do get to a place where you want to hear someone telling you that it really is going to be okay there is always a place that leads us to this place….  a Voice much clearer than the ones in my head telling me to be afraid…

Bible (2)

And as I read… I followed the light and found these…

And looked out my window and saw this…

rainbow

2 Corinthians 3:4-6 “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

Psalm 91:2 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. ”

2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”

Psalm 7:1 “O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:”

Psalm 25:1, 2 “Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”

Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”

Psalm 9:10 And they that know thy name will put  their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek  thee.”

Psalm 22:4 “Our fathers trusted in thee: they  trusted, and thou didst deliver them.”

Psalm 37:5 “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust  also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Psalm 56:3 , 4 “What time I am afraid, I will trust  in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not  fear what flesh can do unto me.”

Psalm 71:5 “For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou  art my trust from my youth.”

Isn’t it funny how I started out? So whiney and clingy and feeling all sorry for myself? Now I am feeling rather foolish. I will leave you with this wonderful quote that  I am reminded of today:

In the darkest of nights cling to the assurance that God loves you, that He always has advice for you, a path that you can tread and a solution to your problem–and you will experience that which you believe. God never disappoints anyone who places his trust in Him.   Basilea Schlink

All I need is someone bigger than me… saying “It’s gonna be okay.”

shoes in a closet

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-trust-20-helpful-scripture-quotes/#ixzz2HJ1aFw1Y

Little Jewel


I wanted to come on and thank my blogging friends and followers and wish YOU all a wonderful and thankful day… maybe by writing something profound…. but I have to admit by the time I got here, once the dishes were washed

and all had gone as successful as possible with about four different families, extended and such, all connected by marriage or somehow~ all under the SAME roof….with the usual eggshell walking and  family dynamic tensions~     In the end… I felt blessed and yet pretty weary for the wear (having to have worked Wednesday and then knowing that I was back to work for another 8 hours bright and early tomorrow) I have to admit, I didn’t feel too inspired…

 And so thought I would just share something I had already written. Sooo, I was going      through some of my old poems and songs, and I found this one. It made me realize that I sometimes forget that I am nothing without Calvary. And so as we go around the room and rattle off what we are thankful for…. I am glad I am not so tired to remember the gift that Jesus gave us…. our everlasting life….on a hill far away, on an old rugged cross. And even when I am grouchy or fail to be exactly the person I wish I could be, or don’t get it right… even when others see me as clueless because I don’t see their point of view in exactly the same way…  (can ya tell I had a taste of family dynamics along with a helping of cranberry sauce??! smile…)

“HE” sees me soooo differently, not because I am or deserve it… or did anything special other than to simply believe… And for THAT~ I am so grateful!

HOW could I have ever felt uninspired??

About 25 years ago or so, I wrote this song with a friend. We really thought that we were going somewhere. Who knows where “somewhere” ever is? Today was Thanksgiving and I had 20 for the celebration. At first, I was overwhelmed but then I got into it. My daughter peeled 10 pounds of potatoes!  Later, when I realized that we had no center pieces, she actually gathered all the candles I had in the house, filled glasses with popcorn and went out and hunted down some pretty cool looking pinecones… and then for free… with what we had in the house, she made these beautiful  centerpieces that looked like they had been ordered!

My husband went and got tables and chairs…  my sister who is usually the first to leave, stayed and helped clean till the very end… everyone pitched in. I got up at 4AM and I am just checking in to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who I have met here that I am truly thankful for.  And the fact that I am so unworthy of all I have and yet HE blesses me anyway!

Here is the poem…

Little Jewel

Just a pebble in my own life

scarred and scratched upon the sand

but then you found me worthy

it’s still hard to understand

You refined the roughened edges

brought a glow for all to see

and yet you used my broken life

Jesus, all in spite of me

Chorus: I can hear you softly saying Little Jewel shine for Me Little Jewel shine for me

So unworthy in my own eyes

still uncut within your hands

like a jewel amidst the pebbles

hidden in the rocky sand

So unworthy in my own life till you died and set me free so you died for just a pebble made a jewel on Calvary!

(repeat chorus)

Words by Diane Griffin ’85 Music by Linda Hurst

Mrs. Anderson


I am in a place in my life right now where I am just plain stuck. I have written about mid life crisis and empty nests until I am blue in the face! I know that I have to get over it. But it is kind of overwhelming when you think back at all the plans you had, all the dreams and the mystery of not knowing what your life held felt kind of like magic. Wondering who you would fall in love with, even how a kiss would feel, never experiencing making love or getting married, giving birth or moving into your own home and where it would be…  It was as if you had this empty book handed to you by God and you could write anything you wanted in it. It was a feeling of possibilities, of dreams come true. And now I sit with many volumes of filled pages. Feeling as if I have experienced it all.

It is overwhelming to think about it. The emtpy books that God has handed to the doctors with great cures and authors with life changing ideas and Oprahs and Presidents of this world who all had that same empty book opportunity and filled it with wonderful accomplishments. It makes me thumb through my own pages and sigh and wonder what I have accomplished. Why my books aren’t filled like that. Or even why I still have not written the book I have been finishing and wanted to write for over two years now.

I am in quite a selfish place right now. Stuff that I have been going through the last few years has sent me in a tail spin that has been hard to recover from.  If you put too much on my plate, I want to run. I don’t make the effort to be a great friend. I don’t normally volunteer or contribute a whole lot in my life right now. But at a weak moment I was asked to be a Team Kid leader. It is a little like a weekly Vacation Bible School. In the beginning the groups weren’t assigned. We all kind of just fell into place and in turn became a TEAM. Hence; the name, Team Kid. But we actually have become a little family.

Slowly we felt our way through the last several weeks, getting to know each other. I have the 4th and 5th graders. I really love that age. I remember that when I was around that age, I had mentors in my life that I remember to this day. Mrs. Anderson taught me about Jesus in such a way that made me listen. She kind of raised up my spiritual awareness a little higher, from being stuck comfortably in my childlike faith and challenged me tolook at it all in a more mature way and encouraged me to apply the stories we learned to my own life. With Mrs. Anderson she stretched us. She pricked our hearts. It wasn’t all about the  paper we got at the end with the cartoon version of the memory verse for the week.  It was different with her. And when I look back, I think that she was about my age now when she taught my 4th grade Sunday School Class. Now that I think think about it… When I said yes I would be a leader, I guess maybe  I wanted to give a little back and perhaps  try to be a Mrs. Anderson to my little team.

The other day, I was so tired, as other leaders were falling out of their commitments I have to admit I was a little  envious. But then one mom after another came up to tell me things that their kids had been saying about me and it surprised me. Maybe I could make a differnce. These little kids were at such a great age. Teetering on innocence still goofy kids and yet so moldable and wise with thoughts and ideas and profound thoughts all of their own. I realized what an awesome responsibility it was. To be able to be a smidigen of a Mrs. Anderson in their lives.

Last  night was Team Kid again. My coworker was late so I had to work past my time. I was running late getting to the church and already tired from an over 8 hour shift and not really looking forward to a late night. When I saw my (little family) kids. They had already gotten my Team Kid bucket and placed it on “our” team’s pew and saved me a seat. One little boy came running up to me and sighed a big sigh and said “Oh Good Coach Diane, you are HERE!”

Okay so how Good is God? I am thinking that I am doing something for these kids…  How silly. They are doing something a thousand times fold more for me! Making me feel that I am important.  And God used them as HIS little messengers to tell me so.

If you are feeling a little blue… doing something for someone else will change that in an instant!

What I have learned in all this? It really is not all about me and I still have pages to fill in that book I was handed years ago. I may not ever be Oprah or maybe not even Mrs. Anderson but I can be someone’s Coach Diane.

The Ring


The first time I got married, we bought our rings at Gemco. I still remember, they were just little bands of gold. Mine fit perfectly inside of his. Our Pastor made up a quick little off the cuff sermon about them when they were placed in his hand. Something about, how the circle was unbroken and how the man protects his wife. Well, that didn’t work out too well now did it? The circle was eventually broken and as for protecting… well my heart was shattered into a million pieces and so I think not.

I remember once after we had separated, I had taken mine off. It had been almost as painful as removing my actual finger. Over the years, after we were more financially stable,  he added to that little band of gold and had given me a beautiful diamond engagement ring  for Christmas one year. Several years later, the diamond fell out and I had been devastated  and stopped wearing it until we could replace the diamond. We never did. But I always wore that little band of gold. Always, till I didn’t.  I remember noticing that he still had his on long after we had separated and it kind of tugged at my heart in such a way, I still can feel it today. There is just something about a man wearing your ring after you have taken his off that gets to you.

I have since remarried and  was given a new beautiful diamond ring that I’ve worn since. It has weathered many years. Last year, the band broke, it had just worn down and split right in the middle. It kept pinching my finger and so I finally took it off. My husband (the giver of that ring) and I were going through some rough times and so it was kind of apropos. I placed it in my jewelry box and I remember feeling sad but kind of free. Though when I saw my husband wearing his ring, I felt that same pain that touched the core of my heart again. And yet, I reasoned that my ring was broken and so it remained in my jewelry box.

A ring has a lot of symbolism for many of us. We all probably could share a story or two about a ring  in each of our lives. I won’t go into exactly what was going on in my life, but I went ringless for almost an entire year. All I will say is that it was timely and pretty sympbolic. But every time I would see my husband’s ring on his hand, something struck me. Perhaps it was his loyalty and steadfastness, because no matter what happened, he kept that ring on.

Christmas was on a Sunday this last year. My husband had to work. We had done presents earlier because we knew we had to go to church and he would have to leave early from there to go to work.  I was not expecting it when he squeezed my leg to say goodbye and pressed a little velvet box in my hand. I looked down as he walked out of the church. I opened the box and there was my shiny diamond ring with a brand new band. I sat there holding it. Feeling as if I did not deserve the ring nor the husband.

It wasn’t as romantic as it could have been. He hadn’t stayed to slip it on my finger or even to see if I would do it myself. I felt kind of empty sitting there looking at it as he walked out the door. There I sat in church with my sweet daughter who had come for Christmas, sitting beside me. She knowingly watched me. she had known, been in on the “surprise” she knew too much as it was. I put on the ring and smiled at her. She smiled back. The singing stopped and we sat down to listen to the sermon. So much was going on in my head,  I don’t think I heard any of it that day.

Today I look at that ring. Several months have passed. Several emotions and conversations later and it still remains on that finger since I slipped it back on, in church that day. Yesterday, I was noticing that in all the rings I have ever worn, this one just seems to fit perfectly. Maybe it is the great job the jeweler did in fixing it, but just maybe it is the ONE that is supposed to be on my finger. The one that The best “REPAIRER” of  all rings and hearts and all good things is still working on.

A Thing of Beauty in an Unexpected Place


Our little historical clocktower building before the earthquake

Every once in a while I will run into an old customer that asks me if we are ever going to re-open our little gift shop, Rose In The Woods (the name was supposed to mean A thing of beauty in an unexpected place) that was destroyed in the San Simeon earthquake in 2003. The other day, someone asked me that again, they even told me that they saved an old receipt from my store that day and that she still carried it around with her all these years later, as a reminder of just how short life is.  That is when I  realized that I hadn’t talked about it for a long time.  But it is good for me to be reminded where we have been and where we are now and to remind myself that even  today… I am a survivor. Maybe you could even refer to my whole journey as a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

But for those of you who don’t know my story…. I will tell it here…to share with you and to remind myself once again… to be grateful. And hopefully soon I will get this lesson I am supposed to be getting or quite possibly should have already gotten!!!!

It was a few days before Christmas, my daughter Brooke and I planned to drive about an hour away to a neighboring town with a mall, to go Christmas shopping. As I wrapped up each customer’s purchases in our special bags with ribbons and tissues, they would announce that “this was their last gift that they had to buy.” And I’d think to myself, how I hadn’t even started shopping yet and panic just a little!

 We’d planned to leave our little store in the hands of our employee and sneak away to take a stab at our own Christmas shopping that day and were looking forward to spending the day together shopping at other people’s stores!


As I drove up in front of our store, my daughter Brooke who was 15 at the time, asked if she could wait in the car. It was before ipods and maybe even texting but I knew that she could entertain herself with the FM radio and CDs for the time it took me to open. I used to put cookies and hot apple cider out during the holidays and for some reason, I was able  coax her into coming in that morning, explaining that if she helped me open, the sooner we could get out of there. Our employee happened to be late getting there that day and so she surprised me by jumping out of the car agreeing to help, and followed me in.

As we were opening,  a customer walked in and the Federal Express guy pulled up with a back order of quilts for me as my daughter pleaded, “Pleeease mom, DON’T open that package NOW!”  I used to hang all my quilts on a fat dowel with ribbons in order to be displayed better, and I told her that I had to open them because it was so close to Christmas and they were already late but that we could just price them in their plasic zippered bags and asked her to just put them in a basket up front to at least have them out.

About that time, our employee showed up as another customer walked in and my husband who was in his office across the street, above the chamber, called and asked Brooke to run an errand for him. We both rolled our eyes as if to say “We are NEVER going to get out of here” but she ran out the door to do as he asked. As  I finished pricing the quilts and my employee started dusting,  we heard a loud bang that exploded outside, shaking our building.  For some reason, I yelled for everyone to get in the back and they did. At first we thought it might be a bomb because we were in the midst of talks about terroists during those days back then, but as soon as the ground began to rumble and our painted little wooden floor seemed to roll like a wave was beneath it, I knew it was an earthquake. The women screamed. It was all just a little too surreal. Suddenly everything stopped after what seemed like minutes and once it was over, a wall of bricks fell through our roof right where my daughter would have been placing the basket of quilts.

Outside was mayhem. As we stumbled out, unhurt, I found my daughter crying as my husband held her and I ran to them and hugged them both tight. Brooke was in the middle of the street when my husband  found her still clutching the coffee cup that was an order for a customer, she’d been bringing back over for pick up . She watched the whole thing. She said after she walked down the stairs and started crossing the street, she heard the building crack and then saw our awning in the front of the store snap around to the side of the building and then felt the rumble and watched as the clock tower fell from our historical building

and then saw the roof slide down onto all of the cars below.

Someone told me later that my husband barely touched the stairs as he flew down them, knowing that our daughter had just walked out the door and went to find her. He immediately asked “Where’s your mom?” And she sobbed, pointing  across the street where the wall of bricks had just fallen into our store. They just stood there for what seemed like hours but was maybe just a few minutes until I opened the door and we all ran out.

My husband’s  brand new truck, was parked a few spaces from mine. The dust was similar to what happened during 911, it was hard to see. People immediately started pulling bricks from cars and my heart stopped as I saw my car and pulled the sleeve of a good samaratin explaining through my tears that no one was in that car. It was flattened to about the height of my waist. No one would have ever survived. (It is the blue Explorer above)

And that is when I realized how God had spared my baby, our whole family. Sadly they found two women who were working at the store next to ours. They had run out the front door and were found in-between our car and another. For several weeks I kept hearing how people had thought that they had been Brookie and I.

Cars Parked on Park St. after the earthquake

I am not sure why I knew to tell everyone to get in the back but I know it was not me. My daughter told me that she had cried to me later asking “Why did God make this have to happen to us?” And I replied. “He didn’t make this happen. He SAVED us.” A conversation I don’t remember ever having but one that impacted her in a special way, ever since.

I have no doubt that God sent HIS Angels that day

For a while I thought that the experience would have changed me. It has in a way. I realize that those two women could have been us. I realize that my baby could have been waiting in the car that day or putting the quilts in the front of the store where the wall of bricks fell. I realize how everything was finely orchestrated that day. Every step, every phone call, right down to our employee being late to the spot in the road where my daughter safely stood as if Angels surrounded her there as she watched the world as she knew it, come crashing down around her with not so much as a scratch on her.

I don’t know why not us when the two other ladies were found dead, but I know that I learned that day that stuff is just stuff and even though we lost everything materially (though our vehicles were covered by our insurance)  this story would be totally different if it had ended another way. I know that dents in cars, spots on carpets and material things are not as important as they used to be to me. I also know that we were pretty spoiled back then and I didn’t appreciate then, what I do have half as much as I do now. And that if nothing great happens ever again. THIS is ENOUGH.

 I don’t know why bad stuff happens to good people, but I do know that God did save us and He can take anything and make it beautiful again. Even a little rose in the rubble. Even me. As I am…..still and always will be…

a work in progress!

The Love Template


When I was nine, I wanted to write a novel. When I was twenty, I thought I was ready. I thought I knew it all. Now I am twice the age and I am sure I know even less than I thought I did, over three decades ago. I have always loved the concept of, what I know for sure…. Because the statement alone does not profess expertise of a certain subject, it only explores what I think I know about it as it relates to me.

Take love for instance. If I could go back and rewind my life and insert wisdom in different periods of it, how would I live it differently? What would I tell the younger version of me? Would I have listened? I wonder. How funny it would be if this older version of ourselves could pop in during different crisis in our life and tell us what to do. Would we even listen? I guess, maybe once we realized it was really ourselves, someone who had lived through the messes we got ourselves into and had the wisdom of hind sight, we might, I mean who argues with themselves? Well, cough, choke and sputter. I think I do, every day of my life. I reason with me every day. I berate myself for the insane choices I have made at times and want to ask myself; “Really?” in regard to half the dumb moves I have made over the years and very recently as well.

And yet, I wonder, what have I learned? I question myself all the time. Do I have good advice for myself, let alone anyone else? Do my mistakes and the lessons I have learned from them, hold any value in helping others not make the same mistakes? If I had to say what I really know for sure what would I say?

My advice right this minute is to be true to you. I am not sure that I can truly say that I have done that. But I know that I am working on it. I wish I knew then what I do now. My heart is full as I am filled with regrets. I wish that I would have been stronger and listened to my heart. I am angry now with the adults in my life that pushed their own agendas on me. I understand that they only wanted the best for me. I really do. And yet, it was their version of the best. I was not brave enough then to ask them….”And how is your version of the BEST working out for you?” Because from where I stood… my response would be “not great!” All I know now is listening to them was not being true to me, to what I wanted. It was not just me being young and not wanting to hear what they had to say, it was actually not always the right advice. Just that simple.  Just like today, my kids have to learn for themselves what is right for them. I can’t push my own agenda on them. What might be perfectly right for me, may not be for them. I can share my lessons and hopefully they will have less hard ones by what I share but we all need to learn by our own choices. God gave us that right. It was His idea. We get free choices. Sometimes I wish that He would just tell me what to do but in His wisdom, He gives us all a template, it is our choice how close we stay inside the lines of it.

I  guess it sounds kind of vague when I say that I wasn’t really allowed to love the people I loved, I was pushed and nudged and berated. And I stupidly listened to all the white noise, the voices that criticized me, as my heart was screaming to be heard. All of my life, I have let others tell me what to do. I never really ever relied on where my own heart led me or my gut instincts. I have felt things with my heart and then second guessed myself, asking others what they thought. Now I wonder why did I care so much what others thought, I mean really why? I can’t believe that I put so much weight on everyone else’s opinion but mine.

It started as far back as I can remember. I was told that I should forgive, I was told to look the other way. And then I was told to not forgive, to run as fast as I could, to shut doors, and move on. I fooled myself into thinking that shutting doors was empowering, and giving second chances was forgiving. I put up with things far too long in the name of forgiveness and not wanting to be called a quitter. I stayed in situations that I never should have and yet the time finally came when I was not just hurting me, I was hurting the ones I brought along in my crazy making and I had to save them.

My childhood was filled with uncertainty. I was always worried. I was in such a hurry to grow up so that I could control my own destiny. Mistake number one! Who in this world ever controls their own destiny? And if I was controlling mine, I was sure making a mess of it. And if my template was what I learned growing up, that was mistake #2.

The first time I fell in love, I fell hard. And I think that I have been trying to survive that love ever since. It was intense and new and exciting and terribly, terribly damaging. The abuse that I endured was not so much physical though there was some pushing and shoving and yeah a little more than that, but it was so much more than that. It was so emotionally challenging that I constantly felt as if I were at the bottom trying to reach the surface in order to come up for air.

Everyone had their opinions about that one and I finally succumbed. Between the abuse and people’s well meaning counsel I conceded. We were engaged by that time, so it didn’t mean just a break up, it meant relinquishing a dream we had built together. When it was over, I thought I had died. And I definitely thought that I wouldn’t survive the pain. But when I finally was able to let go, I felt what I thought was empowerment. As I look back, I realize that I was mistaken, what I thought was strength, when the pain seemed to subside, was more like just being numb to it. Now I think it was just part of my heart dying.

Next, there were a handful of guys who I dated, some I remember more than the other, but for the most part, the emotional pull was not there. Maybe I was just not going there again. Falling in love had once been all I ever wanted and now it was something my heart seemed to avoid. Love meant pain I conceded.

Until, I met the boy, a boy who rocked my world, different than all the others. He was quiet and yet, a leader among his friends. He commanded respect without demanding it. He was so different than anyone I had ever known and for some odd reason he loved me back. All his friends were blown away and told me so this boy could have any girl he wanted. Everyone thought he would be the last of the friends to marry. And yet he ended up becoming my husband.  He was tan with broad shoulders and very distinct features. He looked a lot like Michael Landon with a little John Wayne mixed in and he took my breath away for years. But it wasn’t just about looks with him. He was special. He had this wonderful heart that I got to see. He had views and opinions and yet he didn’t push them down your throat. He only offered them if you asked. He was perfect in my eyes and I was thrilled that somehow he had chosen me. He would walk into a room years after we were married and I would feel giddy. I loved him so much.

But what do they say? If you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you are destined to marry an alcoholic. That made me so angry when I heard that because I heard that after I had married him. This wonderful boy had one flaw, his very own pain, not to mention the little gene in his genetic makeup that caused addiction. I couldn’t believe that I had found myself in the very place I had run from. I was worrying about him coming home okay and driving drunk. I was worried about his health and safety, not to mention his job that he had worked so hard to grow in.  And I was the total textbook codependent. An enabler, trying to re-fix what had been wrong in my childhood. This time, I thought I was going to make it work. I think I tried with all my heart until I almost lost it, my heart that is. Finally I realized that I could not save him. But I could save me and I could save my kids and so I did.

Where my dad was not a raging alcoholic, my husband was. I had bitten the head off of the proverbial chocolate bunny and I was in really, really deep. There were a few times that I almost left and my mom talked me out of it. Some of my well meaning friends from church persuaded me to try, guilting me into it by reminding me about all the things I already knew about vows and loyalty and forgiveness. But this time I had my kids to think about. And it was only getting worse. I finally pulled the plug. We had tried before and he was stubborn. He was not budging and so I took my kids and walked away before it was too late. . But I always wondered if it was too late. The guilt I still carry because of my divorce is excruciating. I have read verse after verse in the Bible trying to get some relief at no avail. Intelectually, I realize that God would not have wanted me to stay in the situation that I was in and that all I need to do is put everything at the foot of the cross. I know that and have and do daily, I know, I know once is enough, but I will always second guess myself and wonder “if just perhaps,” I might have left but not been so quick to divorce, if things might have turned out differently. Like they say, hind sight is 20/20. We see things much more clearly after the fact. Yet,  in a way, I don’t. I used to be so sure that leaving was always the right answer. Abandond ship, take no prisoners, sink or swim, every man for himself. And yet with all the tools we have now days, I am not sure that not exausting all the tools is not an option before sealing the deal? It has been a thought I have wondered about since finally relenting and recently going to therapy myself. If nothing else, it has brought up a lot of questions I have begun to ask myself.

I was so in love with my husband and yet year after year, the things I had to deal with helped chip away at that love until it almost went away. I had to wonder if I had ever really been in love or if I had just loved the fantasy. My first husband was a man’s man. His friends came first. I know he loved me but he loved himself more. Years later when he was dying, he asked for me to forgive him. And now, especially after experiencing a good therapist, I have wondered if things had been different, if we had found a Therapist like I have now,  if we could have survived without divorce?

The thing is I was always so concerned about what others thought and yet was so stubborn. It was a crazy making dance I would do. Now I realize that I just wanted their support but not necesarrily their approval.  But at the time, approval seemed so huge. Now I know that it’s not what your mom or your friends or anyone else thinks. It has got to be between you and God. Even though I know I prayed and took it to God or thought I did,  I don’t really think I knew how back then. When my marriage fell apart, it was surreal, I felt as if I was in slow motion. I felt in labor again, the pain was inexplicable. The unfathomable had happened. Like the first break up, though now we owned a house and had kids together. It was so much more than a dream. It was a life, my life, dying. A nightmare except I could never go to sleep to escape.

No one ever taught me to fight. When I was growing up, I lived in this Polly Anna existence. I hardly ever saw my parents even argue and I don’t think they ever did. The handful of things I did manage to see, rocked my world and usually were related to my dad’s drinking but other than that. My mom seemed to just suck it up and take whatever my dad dished out. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was amazing but there was always this underlying piece that just didn’t fit.

I remember thinking as a young girl, I am never going to let anyone treat me like that. I am not sure why I thought that. I mean my dad really loved my mom and she adored him. There was just this perfect little world I lived in that almost teetered on the edge of abuse. Not physically, but in a much more ambiguous sense.

Now fast forward what seems like a thousand years and here I am, still struggling with another man, my wonderful husband who loves me. This time, I had learned, no alcoholics! So I did a one-eighty and found someone almost perfect. He loves the Lord, has never done drugs. He drinks a bit but I have never seen him drunk. In fact, he is always the designated driver for me! He came along when I was drowning. He was God sent, I am sure. He saved us. He loved us. Sure he has his faults but I have to wonder if they seem bigger to me because  of all the ones who came first. When is it his turn? Is my heart so numb that I forgot how to love the right way?

When I realized this it made me think. I know a woman who I prejudged. Not in the worst ways but it is something I don’t like about myself. The ones I usually don’t connect with at first, end up being lifelong friends. I know that about me and so I also know that my first knee jerk reaction toward someone isn’t always right on. After several casual conversations, we finally had a chance to really talk and I learned that she is slowly going blind. I mean at this point in my life, and considering my own weary eyesight, I guess we all are to some degree but she really is. She told me that she has chosen her profession to set herself up to be able to support herself since touch and not sight is the necessary tools she needs in her career choice. But no pun intended; this little piece of information made me see her in quite a different light.

That little ephiphanie has led me to a whole new platform, something I never considered before. Something I am very passionate about now. I think that the key is that everyone has a story. I wonder now if I had stayed with my first love and if we had gotten the necessary help, if it would have been different. I know now that he was dealing with his own childhood nightmares, much different than my own. My heart breaks for him as I have learned his story.  I wonder….what would have changed for us if someone had counseled us? An entirely differnt story might have played out for both of us. I do know that even though  it seemed like hell back in those days, I also look back now, at a lot of those days as “the good old days” and challenge anyone going through their own version of hell to not make such  hasty decisions. Because our first loves mold us in ways that never leave us. And if it is really true love, and really worth the work perhaps if you could get help, in the beginning, just perhaps you could not bring baggage to all the other places you end up that aren’t going to measure up to the good old days. And if nothing else, at least you will be satisfied that you tried. Because believe me, the baggage you bring from each relationship to the next becomes pretty heavy!

When I was struggling therapy used to be a dirty word. Oprah was not a household name and self help books told you to meet your love at the door naked, wrapped in cellophane. But when you were wondering where your husband was at 2 in the morning, that advice was about as helpful as telling me to jump off a bridge which was where I was headed when there was no one walking in the door for me to meet in celophane!

But today we have resources. We have counseling and mentors and churches that have much more to offer than they did when I was grasping at nothing but the white noise that bombarded me with the advice I didn’t ask for. In the end, hind sight is 20/20, you never know whether to really stay or go. I wish there was some life line that we could go to and really get God on the line and ask HIM what He would have us do. And in a way there is, He gives us prayer and the discernment to hear Him and yet it is a hard place to get to when you keep getting in the way of the answers. It takes patience and a listening spirit.

So what have I learned in the last three or so decades about love? I would say without a doubt that the Author of Love is God. Now that I am a parent, I understand the ultimate sacrifice of His love in giving His Son to us because He loved us so much and wanted us to SEE the Light. I mean if I know anything for sure, it is that God’s kind of love is the true template for all the others that come after;

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

What I know for sure is:

Love is patient, it puts up with a heck of a lot in it’s own name. It is kind, plain and simple, it is not mean.  Love does not want to see the other one hurt and avoids it at all costs. It is not jealous.  it is satisfied with just being loved back  It is not all puffed up and boastful, it does not brag and cares more about their loved one than themselves. They are proud of , and gives all the credit to the one receiving our love. They care more about the comfort of their loved one than themselves. Love does not lash out or belittle, it does not want to hurt back when their feelings are hurt and it is not easily offended. Love keeps no record of fights and arguments and wrongs we feel were committed against us. It remembers nothing negative. Love does not rejoice in sin or immortality. It is not malicious or violent. Love is honest and  celebrates the truth and everything about it. It protects and shelters the one they love, watching over and caring for without complaining.  Love puts aside it’s own wants and desires and puts the one they love ahead of themself. Love is loyal and true and can be trusted till the end of time because it never will fail or fall short. True love never gives up, it is forever.

And even though I am constantly working on it, and know that I will never measure up to this beautiful template of love we have been given. I am just happy that Love does not keep any record of my wrongs and the very good news is…. I can keep trying and I will because I am finally getting to know the Holy Spirit Who gives me HOPE to be better and love greater.

So I guess my advice would be to never give up. Sometimes it is not how you are loved but how you love that changes everything.