Some Women of Valor

Tonight I am thinking of quite a few Sojourn women- past and present- sending prayers of thanks for their lives, for the grace that they have shown or is being shown them-

>>Nicole Pierson- Son of a sweet 6 year old battling a brain tumor. Tonight on the Caring Bridge she wrote:

” Still waiting for Spring! Enjoying each other in the meantime 🙂 I have learned to never wish your days away, you just never know what tomorrow will bring. Find happiness right now!”

>>Tina Ostroot- past Sojourner in the Elk River group- was running in the Boston Marathon today. She had just passed the finish line minutes before the explosion. So thankful that she is safe along with her husband and friends who were cheering her on. Her joy over running is so evident in her life and the pictures she posts.

>>Liz Martin – walking along side her mother fighting pancreatic cancer. Her love for her mom and the way she is caring for her and fighting for her- so special to watch.

I am sure there are many more of you fighting secret battles. Ones that maybe you aren’t ready to share yet. Or that I just don’t know about. But for whatever reason God brought these women of valor to my mind tonight.

The bottom line is we just don’t know. We have absolutely zero promise that we will have another breath here on earth. But what we do have. . . is His grace. Each and every moment. Let’s breath deep of that grace. Let it fill us. Let it fill our homes and our work places. Let’s let it carry us through the days when we feel like we don’t have enough. Let’s just savor every moment.

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Dear Downton Abbey Addicts (and others),

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One quote from last night’s episode (Season Three, Episode Two) keeps swirling in my mind:

“You are being tested. And you know what they say, my darling. Being tested only makes you stronger.”

It reminded me of Romans 5:3-4, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

And it is quite true that suffering, times of testing, trials do make us stronger.

Or bitter.

And that is the choice that our fictional Edith must make. Will she become stronger? Or bitter?

It also doesn’t escape me that poor Edith was not a bit kind to her sister. . . and often we do reap what we sow. That her character is so deeply rooted already in a bit of bitterness. Jealousy. Disappointment. Although progress had been made toward improvements in those departments. . .

This was to be her shining moment. And it crumbled. In front of the entire village.

I am reminded as I replay that quote over and over in my head that nothing is that simple. And yet it is. Choose stronger or choose bitter. The choice is simple. The doing. . . not so much.

Moment by moment. Each day re-choosing. Taking captive every thought. Having faith that there will be that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It isn’t easy.

Thinking that many of us are dealing with our own crumbling of dreams. And we, too, have choices to make.

Choose to rejoice in the suffering.

Signed,

Your Fellow Downton Addict

Pull a Valentine from your box. . .

Have you ever thought what it would be like if God wrote you a Valentine? What would He say to you?

I see you thinking you are a nobody. But, you are my princess.

When it’s so dark and you can’t seem to see light. . . I’m right beside you even if you can’t see me or feel me.

I hear your cries at night. No one should have done that to you. I love you with an everlasting love. I came to set you free from that.

That hard shell isn’t fooling me. One crack and you think you’ll break apart. Let me in.

That thing. The one that makes you feel like you are choking. Yes, that one. Give it to me. Let me handle it.

I forgave you years ago. Why keep bringing it up? When you asked, I forgave. End of discussion. I love you too much to keep bringing it up.

When you feel unimportant- look at the cross. You were just that important to me.

That deep dark secret- I know it. I so want to help you. Bring it to me. Don’t hide anymore.

That addiction that you try to hide. Quit feeling guilty. Tell me about it. I came not to condemn but to set you free.

Quit thinking you can’t come to me because of your past. I’m all about forgiveness. And I’m more interested in your future. A future full of life.

When you look in the mirror and think you’re ugly. . .remember I think you are beautiful. I made you, you know.

You are more beautiful than you can imagine. I love you with an everlasting love.

When you think you are all alone and no one loves you. . . I do.

I see the sadness in your heart. I want to heal your pain.

I came to give you life. Real life. Eternal life. You don’t have to keep living like this. Come to me.

Pick a Valentine. He’s already sent it to you. Just open your heart to receive it.

Gratitude. Baseball. Generosity.

This week in Sojourn we’ve been talking about gratitude and generosity. As I was sitting out on my porch soaking in the vitamin D and the sunshine (yes, soaking it in to last through the long, cold Minnesota winter) my mind wandered through my memories. And it seemed to sit right on a not so pleasant memory. One I’d just as soon forget. But one that still teaches me to be generous with my gratitude.

My husband was coaching baseball. The year before his team had won the championship. This year, well, it wasn’t looking so good. At the beginning of the year the parents were so generous with their gratitude. But as the season progressed and the record tipped, something happened. The generosity turned to muttering. The gratitude turned to bitterness. As I sat in the middle of the parents I heard comments that made my skin crawl. I kept thinking “Surely they don’t realize the coach’s wife is in their midst.”  I sat and thought about how my husband would drive 35 miles home from work to coach their sons and then turn around and drive back to work at times. I thought about the hours he spent on the phone calling parents, on the computer emailing and making line-ups, on the practice fields and the game fields. I thought about how he encouraged each player and tried to pull out the best in each one and made each player feel valuable.  But that didn’t seem to matter. All that mattered was one thing, winning.

I couldn’t believe what some of these parents were teaching their kids. Their actions, their comments, their attitudes.  My heart was breaking for these parents and these kids who were so lost in this silly season that no one would really ever remember and yet the seeds they were sowing into their kid’s lives would be there FOREVER. Seeds of ingratitude. Seeds of selfishness. Seeds of discontent. Seeds of disrespect. Seeds of dishonor.

It was a sad season. Not because we lost (actually we started winning at the end and it turned out not so bad). But because the opportunity to build character in these young men was lost as parents were unable to be grateful for the things that really mattered.

It made me think about life in general. When I complain, I am ungrateful. When I complain, someone suffers because of my ingratitude. Is that what I want my life to look like? Is that what I want my kids to see?

Generosity. Gratitude. It’s really a cycle. The more generous I am, the more grateful I am. The more grateful I am, the more generous I am.

A life of gratitude on my faith journey.  That is what I want.

Made to Create

Women were made to create. In one way or another. We were made to create beauty.

Cooking a delicious meal for family

Scrapbooking  memories for generations to come

Knitting warm gifts for our friends

Baking cute cupcakes for a birthday party

Decorating a comfortable home

Sewing a frilly or perhaps not so frilly dress for a child

Photographing a scene that will capture our hearts for years

Picking out accessories for our teen that will make the outfit

Creating. Beauty. Around. Us.

After all we were made in the image of the Creator. Made in His likeness.  Made to be creative.

Sixty-Four Box of Crayons, First Steps and Faith

Every September the one thing that I looked forward to the most as a child was the new box of 64 crayons. 64 different colors.  Each crayon sharpened to perfection with a sharpener build into the box for when the crayons would become dull on the end. Each crayon just waiting to create something, to bring color to something. Each crayon holding a world of possibilities.

Sojourn is a world of possibilities. Possibilities of new friendships. New places in the heart. New journeys to launch.  Possibilities of letting go. Of leaving the old behind.

God is full of new possibilities. It just takes a step toward God to start opening those possibilities.

The thing about taking a step toward God. . . the step must start with courage. Resolve. Determination.

And faith.

Faith.

Just a little bit of faith that the step will indeed open up a new world of possibilities.

Train Ride… Memories… Journey

I can still feel the red cushioned seats sinking under my little five year old body. I can hear the clackety clack of the train moving down the track and the whistle blowing ever so often. I can see the treats in the basket that the conductor brought down the aisle and my mom shaking her head and instead pulling sandwiches from a bag. Sitting with my mom and my baby sister, the adventure of taking a train from Virginia to Alabama was something only dreams were made of in my five year old understanding. At one point I asked to move across the aisle so I could sit by myself. Not surprising considering my independent nature that was brewing even at that age.

I found a seat next to a window and pretended to be a grown up. Given to wild imagination it wasn’t hard to conjure up a whole new identity for myself.  I can still remember the excitement of pretending to be on my own, taking a journey through the dark on a train bound for some foreign place.  As I nodded off to sleep, I felt such contentment as the train lulled me off to sleep.

Today I feel that same sort of contentment, that same kind of peace. Yesterday, I hugged my son goodbye as he began his own new journey, entering into college life with a whole lot of promise and excitement over the future. With a still wild imagination, my mind had conjured up all kinds of ideas for him and for his future. Some brought laughter, a few tears. My excitement over his new adventure at times left me almost giddy. At other times left me in a pool of tears as I realized this kid that I had poured so much of my life into was off on his own journey; one that was independent of me as it should be. As I drifted off to sleep last night, I was lulled by the knowledge that my son won’t be alone on his journey. That his relationship with God would likely flourish, would likely be challenged, and would likely grow in ways I couldn’t imagine. And that left me with a strange sense of peace that only comes from a journey of faith.  Wondering if anyone out there is saying good-bye to an old journey and saying hello to a new kind of normal?