Every day I see the posts, the pictures, the memories~
“Happy Birthday in heaven Daddy.”
“Today is the day God called Mom home.”
“I miss my son/daughter every single day, even more so today.”
Mamas and Daddies, sons and daughters, husbands, wives, grandmas and grandpas.
Loved ones and friends~
The loss of someone we loved incredibly.
As hard as we might try, we can’t escape the date on the calendar. It will always be there. Year after year. A reminder of how much we lost. We relive that moment in our hearts and minds, and it breaks us all over again. The shock of it is as real today as it was yesterday, last year or ten years ago. We hide our tears in pillows or in the shower, alone in our grief because culture makes us believe we should be past this pain by now.
I still find myself gazing at our “Pops condo” in utter disbelief that my dad is really, truly gone. I still have fleeting thoughts that I need to call and check on him. I still look into my grandchildren’s eyes, unable to control my tears as I think about how much my mom would have loved them. I still have dreams of my sister Amy and for a split second, wake up believing she is still with us.
Even though I know God’s Word and His promises to me, even though I know my loved ones are in Heaven with my Savior, even though I know they are experiencing remarkable glory~
I have hope, but I also grieve.
The bottom line is~ I miss them terribly, I still grieve them, I still wish I could talk to them every single day. I still randomly break down and cry. I still feel lonely.
And that’s okay.
It’s okay sweet friend. Don’t let society dictate to you how you should grieve someone who was your whole world, especially if they have never lost theirs.
When it comes to the grieving process, one of the most important things society seems to forget is this~our pain is a direct result of our obedience to God’s second greatest command.
Hold on to this hope~
Jesus will NEVER be disappointed in us because we loved so deeply. He will not leave your side as you grieve. Jesus will not be angry as you cry, sometimes again and again and again. His Spirit knows when your grief is too deep for words. He is touched by your feelings and longs to comfort your broken heart as He whispers~
“It is okay sweet child.
It is okay.
I am with you.”
Today I am here to remind you~
It is all okay.
The tears, the memories, the pain
But most important~ the love.
It is ALL okay.
Romans 8:18, 22-27
I Corinthians 13:13
Hebrews 4:15, 13:5-6
I John 4:7&8
Many years ago when all my children were still living at home, my precious grandma passed away.
A specific moment of that time is etched in my memory. On a drive home with my husband one day, we had a conversation about my parents. Life for us was crazy, 4 children, a million extracurricular activities, being in the ministry and all the demands it entails~ yet my heart was hurting for my mom. I asked Mike if it was okay to call her when we got home and tell her I was coming to stay with them for a few days, maybe a week~just to be with her as she grieved.
I didn’t get a chance to make that call because shortly after we got home, my dad called me~ accusing me of not thinking of my mother and what she was going through. I cried myself to sleep that night. I can remember the deep sadness I felt in wishing there was some way my mom could know my heart for her.
With age comes wisdom. Not because we get smarter, but life makes us wiser. At the time, life had not hit me hard yet. I was naive. I was hurt. Today as I look back on that time I can honestly say that I understand my mom’s pain. The agonizing pain of losing a parent and the grief that seems to engulf you.
People will hurt us. The hurt cuts even deeper when you know within your heart of hearts that you have done everything in your power to love on them and be there for them, yet they accuse you of the opposite.
I spoke with a good friend about this very thing today. Her truth filled words are those we often forget~
It becomes easier if we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and try to understand what they are going through, even if they have accused us wrongfully.
That conversation made me recall a quote I read this week~
”Let’s always treat others the way we long to be treated and remember, we’ve never walked a mile in anyone’s shoes.” My immediate thought as I read this was agreement, and then utter awe and praise to the only One who HAS walked in my shoes. Jesus. Whether we are the one hurting or the one who received the consequences of that hurt, Jesus is literally right there with us, in our shoes. We are never walking alone.
He understands every emotion we are feeling. When we’ve been wrongfully accused and we want to scream “Please see my heart!! See my motives!!~ Jesus does.
When we’re hurting and feel like no one else could possibly understand the heart crushing emotions we’re going through, when we’re tempted to think no one cares~Jesus does.
Jesus. Accused wrongfully, denied by those He loved deeply, then crucified. Enduring more than we could ever possibly imagine. A perfect Savior who could do no wrong, hung on that cross for us.
Sometimes the hurt feels too hard. When it’s the hardest, we need God’s word the most. When you don’t think you could possibly put yourself in another person’s shoes and try to forgive~ “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”~ and put yourself in Christ’s shoes instead.
Not only did He forgive, He loved.
How often do we hurt His cause in our day to day lives, yet Jesus forgives us, He loves us and He understands. He continually walks with us through the “hard” we are dealt. Greater love hath no man than this.
Never forget~Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Put on HIS gospel. Walk in HIS shoes.
Matthew 5:3-12, 41, 44-48
I John 4:4
“I’ve never wanted to breathe for someone else so badly.”
Her words touched me deeply.
I don’t think I will ever forget them.
I’ve been sharing posts this week about little baby Amelia. These were the words her mama posted today. I have never physically met her and she may not know this, but she has been a tremendous blessing in my life.
When I first began my Facebook page, I stumbled across another~ Practical Living for the Christian Girl. I stepped out of my comfort zone and reached out to sweet Meghan, asking for help with my own page. Even though I felt like a complete idiot for not knowing simple things, she never made me feel that way. Instead, she loved on me and helped me and because of her selflessness, her time, and her love~ she has invested in the thousands that follow Holding Hope today.
She humbly allowed herself to be used of God.
And today her little girl is being used to bring thousands to the Throne of Grace.
My own heart has been pricked with conviction this week. How often we waste our thoughts and our words, even our time. We go about our every day moments and mundane activities and don’t even think about talking to God. Even when life may not necessarily “feel” good, it’s normal. We complain easily and forget to be thankful. Quite often we even forget to talk to our Savior throughout our days.
But then a tiny precious soul touches us all and as we do our “normal”, we cannot help but think of her and go to God for her. Suddenly our petty complaints about our normal lives seem selfish, because honestly~
Her sweet mama wrote~ “Where I cannot give her breath or a steady beating heart, He can.”
Amelia has given this gift to us all. A steady beating HEART unified in the prayers lifted on her behalf. She has breathed LIFE into the prayers of thousands, as she fights for her own.
This little one has done mighty things for God.
Let us not forget this. Realize how abundantly blessed you are. As the days turn into weeks and you go about your “normal”, continue to talk to God throughout your day. Use your words to speak to your Savior, and in turn allow Him to speak through you to others. Lift each other up in prayer, but also in purpose. Help those in need. Give of your time. Be selfless. Be loving.
Let your Amen always remind you of Amelia. A tiny soul who changed us all.
Matthew 18:20, 26:41
Psalm 5:3, 19:14, 42:8
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
The tears fell as I listened to him sing.
This wasn’t new to him, his mama often cried when she sang solos or gave testimonies. I don’t think he really understood why though. I could picture him catching a glimpse of me, shrugging his shoulder a bit and running to find his brothers. But he didn’t see me cry. My 9 year old grandson singing about His Messiah, our precious promise. I didn’t think my heart could get any fuller.
Why did I cry?
“Messiah, a baby born to save us all.”
My baby was singing about the Baby born to save us all. The significance of the words resounded deep within my soul.
“All we longed for, all we needed shining in a child’s eyes.” Jesus. Just a child yet a Savior. The innocence of childhood grasped me in that moment. My little Ethan. Ethan who has not yet experienced the pain that this sin cursed world can so cruelly throw at him. The heartbreaks that come again and again as we age. No, right now he is just a child singing about His Messiah. One day though, he will remember this moment. Singing with his mama. The words will whisper to his heart when it’s hurting…
“Hope forever. Death defeated.
Because of this one holy night.”
Why did I cry? Because I have known death. I have known heartache. I know what lies ahead for this little man, but I also know his Hope. Jesus will be with him through it all. Everything he longs for, everything he will ever need. His Messiah.
I listened to his little voice as he reminded me of a future he has yet to live and a promise I can cling to. I don’t need to fear the future. I don’t need to fear the future of my children or my grandchildren.
And I smiled through the tears.
“O come, let us adore Him.”
So many emotions were wrapped up in that moment. That God would use my grandson to remind me of His love in sending His own Son for us all.
The older I get the more I realize how truly sinful I am, and the impact of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness on my life. I realize the hardness of life, but the promise of a Savior Who walks with us, and sometimes even carries us through it. This brings me to my knees. Someday Ethan will understand. Someday he will cling to the words he sings.
Words that show me a future made beautiful by the past.
“Because of this one holy night.”
What a precious promise.
On our knees we fall.
When I was in the third grade my parents told me we were moving. My little heart was broken. I think I cried for a month. I didn’t want to leave my friends, and the home I loved so much. I can remember throwing rocks at the For Sale sign in our front yard, I even pulled it out of the ground once and hid it.
But then we moved, and slowly I came to love our new home. The one we endearingly called “the farm”.
My imagination came alive on that old farm. I began writing stories in the fourth grade. It was a place to dream, and I sat and dreamed a lot.
I sat at my piano overlooking our beautiful apple orchard. I sat in the apple trees.
I sat in the kitchen shucking corn and snapping beans.I sat on the hills overlooking acres and acres of breathtaking land. I sat in bed as my mom read to me each night. I sat in church and I sat in confessional every week. I sat on our horse and I sat in our hayloft. I sat on our cellar door and on our milk house steps. I even sat in our out house.
I sat and cried when we had to move again.
I loved that old farm.
God had given me something beautiful and then taken it away. It wasn’t the first time little Charisse went through something painful, and it certainly wasn’t the last.
Here’s the thing though,
Today I can sit and I can see why.
Not only did I become “me” on that farm, due to heartbreaking circumstances involving the move, my family came to know Christ.
And today I sit at His feet.
What a beautiful place to dream.
Time and time again I thought God was taking the wonderful things I loved away from me because I did something wrong. Surely He was punishing me. But that wasn’t the case at all. Each time God took something, He replaced it with something so much better.
He did it because He loves me.
And now at the age of 57, I can’t even count the number of times God has done this in my life. Given me something better. With His grace in my heart and His word on my lap, today I sit and smile.
When people invite you to sit, you know that old saying~ “Take a load off”?
That’s literally what Christ tells us to do.
Give Him the load.
Imagine if we made a New Year’s resolution to sit more. I think people would laugh if you told them that was your intention. Sitting is such an easy thing to do. How often do we do it without a thought…
but what if we actually did think about it every time we sat down? Giving all your heaviness to Christ and recalling all the times He blessed you with something better.
Whatever you might be going through today, sit with Jesus. You might not understand things now, but if you will just sit with Him through it, you will see that His “beautiful” is always so much better than our own.
No striving. No trying to figure things out.
Just sitting with Jesus.
What a beautiful place to dream.
what a beautiful place to be.
Psalm 77:1-14, 78:4,6-7
My daughter gave me a precious gift this Christmas. A dainty bracelet with the inscription Proverbs 3:5-6. A daily reminder to me. One that I have thought about so often lately, and one that I shared with my girls on our last shopping trip together.
Back when I was in high school, our school put on a little production. I will never forget one of the production leaders teaching us a catchy tune to the verse Proverbs 3:5-6. That tune has stuck with me through the last 40 years, but the meaning of the verse has grown in its significance as each year passes.
Lately it has been my life line and I find myself wondering why I didn’t truly live it for the past 40 plus years. My words said I did, my head thought I did~
but my heart and soul did not.
I often leaned heavily on my own understanding, especially when life hit hard.
Oh, if I had only truly trusted His sovereignty through everything. Through all the tiny inconsequential mishaps that I allowed to ruin my days, to the heavy grief that seemed to engulf my every waking moment~
My emotions ran ragged.
Worry, stress, irritation and anger took over. Wishing things could be different took place too often, and at times fear overshadowed my days.
I never stopped to fully take in the fact that God was in complete control of every single thing. Nothing was a surprise to Him. Nothing.
If we could only grasp this fact as we head into a new year. Every morning waking up and praying this verse before our feet touch the ground~
“Lord I trust you. Help me not to ever lean on my own understanding, but to acknowledge you in every single thing today so that you will direct my paths.”
Paths that lead to reactions that glorify Him no matter what life throws at us, because we trust Him and know it’s for our good. This simple prayer has literally changed my life. There’s an incredible comfort each morning as I place each future moment in His hands, and fully surrender my trust to Him.
In the beginning God.
January 1, 2023.
A new beginning.
A beginning with complete trust in the God who has been here before there ever was a beginning. The God who gives us no ending. The God of grace and hope and love.
Trust in the Lord of new beginnings.
Trust Him with all your heart.
Last week I wrote about missing my yesterdays…
Let me tell you about my today.
I ponder this day as I reflect on Christmases past. Christmas Eves full of excitement. Trying to get children to sleep so that presents would appear under the tree the next morning. Late nights and early mornings every year. Joyful laughter filling every corner of the house.
Of my home.
As parents around the world relate to this happy noise Christmas Eve brings, others are experiencing a silent night. The kids are grown and the house remains quiet.
I couldn’t help but ponder the moment Jesus was born as I thought on this.
God’s silent night.
The earth’s Holy night.
Jesus left His Father. Despite knowing the incredible sacrifice, sadness did not engulf His Father’s silent night, for the inexplicable love that God had for us took all sadness away. With joy unspeakable, His Son left the happiness of home and heaven. In the gift of Himself, He took away all silence and replaced it with a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God. He gave us glory and hope.
He gave us Himself.
Always with us.
Never alone again.
My kids might not be under my roof anymore. My home may be silent, but my heart can be full. Your heart can be full.
On this night, that excitement that was once a part of my home lives on. It lives in my children as they share hope with a world that can sometimes feel hopeless. As they sing praises to God on this Holy night. As they share the good news of God’s gift with strangers and friends, loved ones and children. It lives in my grandchildren as their parents try to get them to sleep and then a few short hours later, in the laughter coming down stairs of expectation and joy.
Tonight is not silent. Tonight is Holy.
God came down.
He came down to give us expectation and joy. Forgiveness and hope. From the star that led the way, to the cry of a newborn~every moment of this night leads us back to our Father. And oh that our hearts would pierce that silence with our songs of deliverance.
Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace goodwill toward man!!
I miss yesterday.
There’s a strange emptiness inside me at Christmas. A hole that seems to get larger with each passing year~
It’s the memories of Christmases past and the ones who made this season so beautiful for me. A house full of children and magic. Parents and grandparents coming to visit. Cookies baked and Christmas carols playing.
Life has changed so much. It’s not the same. And I miss it. I know I shouldn’t long for the past, but at times I find myself pining for it. I know I should be rejoicing in Jesus, the entire meaning of Christmas, but sometimes I still find myself looking back to my yesterdays and wishing for them back…
I miss my kids being right upstairs. I miss my parents. I miss my In-laws living only a few hours away and their frequent visits to see us. I miss all the Christmas parties at aunt Mendi’s. I miss family. I miss Christmas dinner at Mom’s.
Maybe I’m the only one who feels this type of emptiness. Deep down, I’m a nostalgic sap.
Today I listened to my grandchildren all huddled around me, sharing in their excitement. “Only 10 days till Christmas grandma!!” And I yearn to make my daughters understand how beautiful these moments are in their lives. Right now. Moments with mom and dad right down the road, with excited little voices in every room. With cookies and carols and all the Christmas chaos. I want to tell them to soak it all in. Every last second. Even the exhaustion as their heads hit their pillows each night. Today. Right now. It will never be here again.
What marvelous, majestic gifts God gave me year after year each Christmas. Gifts I took for granted. Gifts I opened each Christmas season, smiled, said thank you to Jesus and then forgot about. Until now.
He is still giving me marvelous gifts, if I will just open my eyes to see them. They might not look the same but in my remembering the days of old, I am reminded that I am a part of the gifts He is giving my children and grandchildren. Gifts they will one day recall and cherish. I can choose to pine away for my yesterdays or I can make those gifts beautiful. The same way my parents, my in laws, my grandparents and aunts all did for me.
In this moment as I sit and listen to the quiet, God shows me that I am looking at Christmas all wrong. I wanted my yesterdays and all the joy they brought, until it dawned on me that my tomorrows are not promised. It’s not what I can get every day leading up to Christmas. It’s what I can give. What will my loved ones and friends remember?
What will your loved ones and friends remember? What will your children and grandchildren remember? Instead of focusing on the memories of your yesterdays, I want to encourage you to focus on the moments of your todays. Ask yourself~ “how can I make the lives of everyone around me better?”
Somehow my parents, my In-laws and my aunts all made magical memories for me. Memories I cherish. I’m sure they were missing their yesterdays now and then too, but they never showed it. They made my life better, sweeter. They taught me how to give of yourself to those you love.
I don’t know what next Christmas holds. Perhaps God will choose to take me home before I celebrate another season.
And so, today I will take my own advice. I will soak it all in. Every second. I will make magic for my children and grandchildren. I will fill that hole to the brim with the gift of giving. Not of things, but of memories. Beautiful, majestic Christmas memories. And one day I pray they will realize,
Those are the best gifts of all.
Today I’m inviting you to my wedding. I’m sharing a video my son made for us 7 years ago for our 30th anniversary…
When you’re young and you fall in love, quite often you don’t think too far ahead. You’re living in the moment. Maybe you talk about children or future plans, but the farthest you get in your thought process is the dream of getting old together, sitting on a porch with a white picket fence and smiling at the wonderful life God allowed you.
Lately, I have continually heard the question~ “How did you know he was the one?” It seems to be a recurring theme on sappy Christmas movies. I pondered that as I thought back. It occurred to me the other day that I actually had that vision of Mike and I when I first got married, the whole “growing old, white picket fence” thing. I never saw that future with anyone else.
A future where I couldn’t live without him.
When I was 20, I never dreamed that someday my crazy, active young man (who could face any challenge and do any thing) would have three major joints replaced within 5 months time. His shoulder, right knee and next week, his left knee.
When we’re young, we don’t like to think about the “what if’s” of our futures. What if my husband gets dementia? What if my husband gets cancer? What if he has heart problems or lung problems?
What if he is no longer the strong man I lean on, when I really need to lean on him?
My husband is my best friend. He’s the love of my life, but I’ll be honest~ there have been times I’ve lost my patience with him. I’ve lost the spark. I’ve misplaced my dreams, the very dreams that we actually got to live out together.
I remember that childish girl who promised her forever to the man of those dreams. Our anniversary is this week and I remember my “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” I meant every word as he held my hands in front of 500 people 37 years ago.
Truth be told~ I’m sure he didn’t think he signed up for a wife with all my issues either, but he loves me despite me.
This “outward” that we grow old with isn’t truly us, it’s just our physical bodies aging through the process of time. Our true self lies deep within. It is our souls. They never grow old. I fell in love with Mike’s soul 37 years ago.
Today I want to encourage you to remember that soul you fell in love with. The soul God placed in your hands to love and cherish. Some days it’s a lot harder to do, but those are the days we need to remind ourselves that our husbands have hard days dealing with us as well.
You hold his soul in the heart of your actions, your words, your respect, your passion, your touch, your empathy, your patience your tenderness~
and most importantly~
Remember that young girl who couldn’t imagine a future without him.
Whatever you face in the days ahead, whatever reality has squashed the dreams of that naive young bride you once were, don’t let go of that promise to love. No matter what.
I wrote the words to that song we’re singing at our wedding. Mike came up with the tune. I cannot believe shy Charisse even attempted to sing it. That’s what love does to you, makes you believe you can do anything.
With all your heart, with all your soul~
Make each other believe again this Christmas.
I Corinthians 13:1-8, 16:14
I John 4:7-8
I Timothy 5:8
Have you ever prayed for your children, but deep down felt like it would take a literal miracle for it to be answered?
Sadly, I have…
I had a dear friend who used to remind me continually of who Jesus is. Not who Jesus was, but who He is~ the same yesterday, today and forever. The same Jesus who worked wondrous miracles throughout the Bible is the same Jesus working miracles in my life today.
My friend went home to heaven one week before my dad. He was such an encourager. From the day we met him until the day he went home to be with Jesus, he continually lifted my heart when it was down. His words were like presents and hugs wrapped into one. He was always jolly, and I think of him so often.
Today I recall such a day of encouragement. You see, a mother’s prayer has been answered and my friend encouraged me through the waiting.
If you have or had teenage children (or children in general), you will understand. Although it may seem trivial compared to the heartache some are facing today, it can still break a mama’s heart when her daughter’s fight continually and you don’t see any hope at the end of the tunnel. You have visions of them hating each other the rest of their lives. Every holiday get together from now until infinity will be riddled with strife or empty seats because they refuse to celebrate together.
Yes, it was that bad.
For a few years, I think I cried over my bible and coffee every morning after they left for school.
And then one day a miracle slipped in. It was so subtle and although they are completely different personalities, my girls became best friends. And I am in awe. I had almost given up on that prayer. A prayer I prayed for almost 20 years. And when I stood back and watched it unfold, I thought about the words of my friend as he told me stories of his own two girls. How he encouraged me continually, and how his smile lit up his face as he spoke of his daughter’s sweet friendship now.
Today, I am on a Christmas shopping trip with my own daughters. Not just the two I spoke of, but my youngest and my daughter in law as well. It has become a Christmas tradition. Our “girls” trip. We get a hotel. We shop, we eat, we drink lots of coffee, we shop some more, we laugh and maybe cry, we pray, we blast Christmas music…
and this mama rejoices.
My God is so good.
Today I want to encourage you to not give up on the heart of your mama prayers. Today I want to encourage you to be an encourager. Everyone needs a bit of jolly in their lives. You can give them that gift.
I’m so thankful for my friend and I’ll never forget his words to me. Today as I sit and listen to my girls laughter in the other room, I smile through the tears and I know my friend is smiling in heaven right along with me. With a twinkle in his eye I can hear him say~ I told you Charisse.
God can do anything.
Romans 1:11-12, 8:26, 15:2, 5
I Thessalonians 5:11, 17
2 Corinthians 1:5
Psalm 27:13-14, 28:7, 34:17
I want everyone to stop telling me to be thankful. I’m tired of reading it in devotionals, of hearing it in messages, of seeing quotes about it plastered all over social media.
I. DON’T. WANT. TO. BE. THANKFUL!
…Although I do not feel it this year, I have uttered those same thoughts during Thanksgivings of the past. Right around this time, heartache has hit home for me twice in the loss of both my parents. The despair was still raw. I was not angry at God, but in those moments I can honestly say~I wasn’t thankful either.
This past week I have heard some heavy hearts pour out that same ache to me over various situations in their lives. Thanksgiving does not feel thankful. One ache that has manifested itself often this holiday is that of a child who chooses to make the time for everyone else in their life except their mama.
The saddest part of that to me is the fact that the mothers are going through deep despair of their own. And yet, not a call, not a visit, not a hug, not a
“How are you doing mom? Are you okay?”
And it breaks my heart.
I was incredibly blessed to have a childhood many only dream of. We weren’t rich, but my parents made sure we knew how deeply we were loved. As the years went by, my relationship with my mom wasn’t always the best. I felt so justified in many of the angry moments I had toward her and her unrealistic expectations, but the older I get and the harder life becomes at times, the more I understand. She was hurting and I didn’t really get that.
I don’t think children ever really do until they’re putting those shoes on themselves. Mom is always mom. If the whole family is sick and she’s sick too, it doesn’t matter. She doesn’t get a day off. She takes care of everyone else. And for the rest of her life, that’s her role. Taking care of everyone else. Too often children forget that she’s hurting too. That she needs to be taken care of. That she needs someone to say, “Are you ok mom?”
Despite the disagreements, I would give anything to have my mom today. To hold her. To tell her how much I love her. To apologize for being selfish and not calling enough. To show her I understand now.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for so many things. Blessings beyond measure. And I’m thankful for my mom and dad. I hope they always knew that. If they were alive today, I’d make sure I told them again and again.
Whatever your family dynamic is, pick up that phone and call your parents. Go visit them. Ask them how they’re doing. Tell them how much you love them. Try to see life from their eyes and how hard it can be at times. Ask God to show you their perspective before it’s too late.
Both years I lost my parents I faced the toughest Thanksgivings ever. Mom passed in November and dad in October. That’s an ache that no one understands unless you’ve gone through it yourself. I know of sweet mamas going through cancer treatments, sweet moms who lost their husbands recently, sweet moms who are all alone week after week after week.
Sweet moms who haven’t heard from their children.
I’m not going to tell you all the reasons you should be grateful this Thanksgiving. I know God tells us “In everything give thanks”, but I also understand heartache.
I will forever cling to the knowledge that Jesus wept. What a comfort~God understands too. Instead, I’m going to remind you that when you are hurting, your mom is hurting. Sometimes, SO much more. You have an opportunity today to give your parents a gift.
This Thanksgiving weekend, call your mom.
Call your dad.
Give your parents the gift of Thanksgiving. Oh if you only knew how much of a difference it would make in their lives and how much it would touch their hearts.
You might not understand today but,
one day you will and you will wish for today again. Make sure it’s a memory you’re grateful for and not one you will regret.
I Timothy 5:4
I Corinthians 13:4-8,13
I Peter 4:8
My son’s birthday is this week.
What do I want for my son?
More than anything, a child.
My heart longs for it desperately for him.
I thought it was my story to tell when I got pregnant with my son by mistake.
I thought it was my story to tell when the doctor told us he would have birth defects and abortion was a recommendation.
I thought it was my story to tell when we said “absolutely not.”
I thought it was my story to tell when he had a fibral seizure and lost his hearing.
I thought it was my story to tell when I watched him walk to school every day and he would wave at me the entire time, until he was no longer in sight.
I thought it was my story when I watched his tenderness with his sisters, with children and with babies and couldn’t wait to see the day that he would become a daddy. A wonderful, compassionate, selfless daddy.
I thought it was my story to tell when he slowly grew away from God.
I thought it was my story to tell when I prayed for him to return.
I thought it was my story to tell when he surrendered to God’s call. When I prayed for the woman God would have for him. The woman who would love God and my son with her everything.
And God answered.
I thought it was my story to tell when I saw the love she had for children and babies and I knew that one day she would be a wonderful, compassionate, selfless mama.
And I thought it was my story to tell you today that she isn’t, because they have not conceived despite the years of trying. Despite the tears.
Despite the prayers.
It is an unanswered request.
My story wasn’t really my story after all. One day it became my son’s story as he stood behind a pulpit and shared the journey his life took. The road that led him to today. The steps that God directed to this very place in time.
The ache inside my soul for my son and daughter cannot be compared to the empty ache they feel. It is a loneliness and a longing that cannot be described. It is a “hard” a mama never wants to see her child experience.
And yet, if ever that cliche quote were true, it is true of them~
“My story for His glory”.
I know that God has a purpose. His timing is perfect. There is a reason. We do not know what the future holds, only God does. I never imagined a future for my son that didn’t include children. It crushes my heart to even pen the words. It’s a future I do not want to face. It’s a future I have to give to God daily, some days minute by minute. But it isn’t my story to tell. And today I realize, it’s not even my son’s story to tell.
It’s God’s story.
Today I can only tell you my chapter of that story. My son and daughter will continue it and in my heart I want to believe that perhaps one day, miraculously they will repeat it to their child and their child will continue to tell it.
And in the telling, hurting hearts will be healed.
I might not ever know the end of the story, but I’m so thankful God does. Whatever that ending might be, I know it will be good and wonderful and miraculous.
It has never been about me. It’s not even about us. It’s about God. Future generations being brought to a Savior who loves them beyond any human love a mother or father could ever give. A hope for the hurting. Those future generations might not ever hold our namesake, but they can hold God’s, if we just continue to share His story.
A story for His glory.
“One generation shall praise thy works to another, And shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, And of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might. And I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, And shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is good to all: And his tender mercies are over all his works. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, And talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. The LORD upholdeth all that fall, And raiseth up all those that be bowed down.”
Psalm 145:4-7, 9, 11-14
“For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; And his truth endureth to all generations.”
“This shall be written for the generation to come: And the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.”
“Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come, The praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. That the generation to come might know them, Even the children which should be born; Who should arise And declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:”
Psalm 78:3-4, 6-7
“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come”.
“Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, That he might make his mighty power to be known.”
I was a somewhat self centered new bride. Thirty seven years later, and I still am at times. Everything all about me. It’s something I’m constantly working on.
When we were newlyweds, we came up with our own little life plan. We were going to wait to have kids, spend a few years getting to know each other better and then start a family. Two months later I was pregnant. I was 20 years old.
Funny, with my first pregnancy it was all about the experience for me. (I blame it on my immaturity😂) The cute clothes, the big announcement, the first grandchild, the family excitement. The idea of being pregnant was so magical. Until reality hit.
I didn’t just have morning sickness, I had 24/7 sickness. Anytime, anywhere. When it hit, it hit hard. It was no respecter of time or place. And suddenly, it was no longer about that little baby growing inside of me. It was all about me.
I whined. I complained. I cried. I pouted. I felt sorry for myself. I forgot about the “why” because I was so focused on me.
But when my precious little child was born, everything changed.
All the sickness of pregnancy and pain of childbirth was wrapped up in a tiny baby and when that gift was given to me, it was beyond good. She was my miracle.
Her birthday is next week. She continues to teach me what selfless truly means. She is one of the most selfless people I know.
Looking back I realize, if I had taken my eyes off of Charisse and focused on the miracle inside me, things could have been so different. I’m not trying to say that I miraculously would have avoided morning sickness, but a different outlook could have changed my life, and the lives of those around me.
We are human. It’s easy to let the “what about me” feelings seep in and control us. It’s natural to want others to feel sorry for us when life is hard, to want a little compassion and even empathy.
Life is hard. For some, unbearably hard.
But even in the unbearable, we are not alone. There is a Miracle living inside us and His name is Jesus. From the beginning of time He has promised that He will always be with us and will never leave us comfortless.
Some of us might be so focused on ourselves that we completely miss God’s “why”. Others might not ever know the “why” of their suffering until they are home in heaven one day. In either case, we can choose to glorify our Savior if we will learn to continually fix our eyes on Him.
Sometimes we forget that. We take our eyes off the Miracle and focus on ourselves.
My first little miracle’s name is Jessica.
When she was born, everything changed.
The miracle of all mankind’s name is Jesus. The season of His birth is fast approaching. He is our Wonderful, our Counselor, our Prince of peace. He is our Comforter and Sustainer.
All our pain, all our sin and all our suffering was wrapped up in a precious little baby Who took it upon Himself when He died on the cross. When He was born, all of mankind was given the greatest gift of all.
Everything changed. Our past, our present, our future. Our eternity.
All the pain and all the “hard” that we might be going through will one day produce our own miracle. I know this to be true because God promises me that whatever I face is for my good, and I trust Him. I’m not trying to convince you that the hard will miraculously go away if we take our eyes off of ourselves and place them on our Savior, but I am saying that our lives will look a whole lot different if we do.
And the lives of those around you will be better for it.
Focus on the Miracle inside you.
Focus on the miracle of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 13:4-5
Romans 8:28, 38-39
1 Peter 5:7
I’m such a baby.
My husband had his knee replaced on Monday. He came home Monday night. Yes, that’s quick. Too quick. Since he did so great with his shoulder replacement in July, we thought we knew what to expect.
We were wrong. His first day home he overdid the exercises and didn’t take his prescribed pain medication. Tuesday the pain and swelling set in. By Tuesday evening the tears were rolling down my cheeks as I changed his bandages and heard him cry out in pain. Lessons learned for the next knee, scheduled in December.
Wednesday as I sat with him in Physical therapy and watched his face riddled with pain again, I fought back the tears and had this little conversation inside my head~ “Charisse. Get a hold of yourself. Be strong. You look ridiculous crying over this.”
I thought about that a lot today. Me being a big baby. How ridiculous I looked crying over my husband’s pain, how ridiculous I look when I cry about a lot of things…
but then I had a little God moment epiphany~
Who says? Who says it’s ridiculous to cry?
Who has the right to say it is weak to weep when we see loved ones in pain or even when we are experiencing heartache of our own?
God doesn’t. Man does.
Man’s words are continually ingrained into us~ Be strong. Other people are going through much worse. Look at all your blessings, you have no right to cry. Don’t show your vulnerabilities. Don’t be weak. And yet, the majority of the time it’s all a facade.
We are weak. We are human. Tears flow.
And guess what? God is okay with that because in our weakness we find His strength.
God really opened my eyes to that fact in my bible reading this week. I read the story of a woman who was barren. It touched me deeply. My own child is experiencing this anguish and it is a rollercoaster of emotions. Hard doesn’t come close to describing it. Prayers have been poured out. Tears have been shed. An answer has not come.
As I read God’s words to me about the story of Hannah, several things were brought to my attention. Hannah was never reprimanded by God for crying. Hannah cried because of how she was treated by another woman. She cried because her prayers weren’t answered. She cried because her heart was broken. She had bitterness of soul and wept.
Even the man of God judged her.
God did not. There is power in her story.
The hard hit home this week. My husband endured excruciating pain. A sweet friend had breast cancer surgery and another dear friend found out she has pancreatic cancer. There is heartache all around us. Life can be so cruel, but oh how powerful our great God is. He will help us walk through the unthinkable and from our pain He will produce miracles. Others may judge us because of our tears, but God does not. God does not diminish the pain we feel. He does not categorize our tears. He keeps every one of them. He tells us to cast ALL our cares on Him. Not just the big cares, ALL the cares. He understands. God offers grace. He offers tenderness. He offers miracles.
As I got my dad’s old walker out of the backseat of our car and helped my husband into another therapy session yesterday, the emotions were all there. Memories came rushing in of doing the same thing for my dad at countless doctor appointments. It was also the anniversary of my mom’s home going. In that brief moment I wanted to yell at the world~”I’m tired of trying to be strong!!!”
But then I recalled the words of a dear friend, beautifully reminding us all not to quit.
Hannah never quit. Though she had tears, she kept on praying to God for her miracle.
And so, I watched my husband take one tiny step after another and I thanked God through the tears. I know God’s working miracles, but I also know He thinks it’s okay if I cry through the process. I will give the hard to Him again and again, day after day because my yoke might be heavy but when I give that yoke to Him, my burdens become light. I may not see the answers I’m looking for and I might cry like a baby, but this one thing I am confident of~He will hold me through it all and allow me to let the tears fall with no judgement.
He will whisper to my soul~
It’s okay Charisse, have a good cry. Miracles are coming.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I Peter 5:7
Psalm 34:17-19, 56:8-9, 147:3-5
I Samuel 1
Isaiah 40:28-29, 43:2
Can you take out the trash? Can you go to the store? Can you fix the sink? Can you put gas in the car? Can you rub my back? Can you read my mind,
know why I’m in a bad mood without me telling you,
be romantic and meet my every need~ while also allowing me to take out every frustration on you?
Christmas movies are coming back in full swing. I’ve seen the commercials. I’ve heard the comments. “Same story, different town”. This week I reflected on my own Christmas movie moment 38 years ago. All the mushy feelings portrayed in those commercials, I was feeling that Christmas. And then I thought about today…
Each person’s love story is unique to them, but I think the one thing most of us can agree on is that it started out just like everyone else’s. Falling madly in love.
Despite the pressures and responsibilities, despite all the stress life could throw at you, you fell in love. You thought about that person constantly. You made time for each other and life seemed to melt away when you were together.
Today, 38 years later I realize too often that when life throws the “bad” at me, I take it out on my husband. I either want him to fix it, or I want to rehash all my frustrations without him giving me a practical solution. I just want to whine. And through it all I’m yelling
“I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the situation!!!” This can be very confusing for the poor guy. Sure seems like I’m mad at the world, husband included.
I find that I look to him as a resource instead of a relationship. I take his love for granted.
I reread one of my own posts this week that asked the question~ “Are you treating your connection to God like a resource instead of a relationship?” When I first posted it, I honestly thought~
Nope! Not me!
So God did something a little different to open my eyes. He showed me all the ways I treat my connection to my husband like a resource instead of a relationship. Once He did that, I realized I was doing the same things with God. My mutterings are too often “Please, please, please” and not enough “thank you” or even just sitting still in His presence and loving just being with my Savior. Too often I want happiness, peace, comfort, love and answers to all my prayers~
instead of just God. I take His love for granted.
Here is the great takeaway though~
God actually WANTS to do all those things for us because THAT’S WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE. And then I thought of all the things I’m constantly asking of Mike and without complaint, he does them. Because that’s what love looks like.
And so, I determined to refocus on my relationship with my husband and with my Savior. I want to pour my heart and soul into those relationships. I want to remember all those feelings I had for Mike 38 years ago when life never got in the way.
There is nothing wrong with asking God to help us love more. To love our spouses more, to love God more. The very first fruit of His Spirit is love. So, this morning before I got out of bed I asked God to show me that love in Who He is. To help me not to just go to Him for “all the things”, but to have a real relationship with Him. I opened my bedroom curtains to a breathtaking sunrise. It painted the entire sky with it’s beauty. It made me realize that God is ALWAYS showing me that love in Who He is, I’m just too busy with Charisse to notice.
We should be one with our spouses, just as we should be one with God. He is in us and for us. He holds our hands and loves us through everything.
As the years pass, let’s not all end up with “same story, different town” in our relationships. Let’s not be so busy focusing on ourselves that we fail to notice the many ways our spouses show us they love us on a daily basis. Let’s bring on the romance when we’re in our 80’s. Let’s love on our spouses just because. Let’s remember all those mushy feelings we had.
And let’s not allow our relationship with God to become a resource only. Let’s think on Him constantly. Let’s allow life to melt away when we’re in His presence, let’s notice the many ways God shows us His love on a daily basis. It’s evident in every single thing your eye can behold. A love so great that all the books in the world could not contain the countless ways He loves us. Let’s sit at His feet and adore Him.
Because that’s what love looks like.
Scripture Reading: Luke 17:12-19,
John 21:25, Romans 1:20-21, Psalm 19:1-2, Matthew 22:37-40
*Thats the view from my bedroom window ❤️
What if snowflakes were chocolate chips?
It was probably a day much like today. The fall of 1976. My husband was in the 9th grade when he sprained his neck during a gym class game of tackle football. And so, he was home from school~ alone, bored and unhappy. He knew where his mom hid the chocolate chips, so he made his way into the kitchen to sneak some before she got home. Wearing a neck brace made things a little tricky but he was sure he could pull it off. Due to his injury, the pain was too intense to turn his head or even bend over. With outstretched arms and bag in hand, he slowly poured some out only to have them spill all over the kitchen floor. A floor with black and white tiles. He found himself in a predicament. He could not look down. The best thing to do would be to back up, look at where the chocolate chips had fallen and then try to go to that spot to retrieve them. Each time he backed up and looked he was able to gather more, until he could no longer see any chocolate chips. Feeling quite proud of himself, he had no worries when his mom got home.
Until she walked into the kitchen.
“I see you got into the chocolate chips Michael”…
He didn’t take into account that from far away, the black tiles made the chocolate disappear.
This morning while I was reading God’s word, I couldn’t help but think of that story. One verse in particular stood out to me~
“He casteth forth His ice like MORSELS: Who can stand before His cold?” Psalm 147: 17.
I don’t know why, but immediately my mind went to Nestle Toll House Morsels. Bear with me, I’m not trying to rewrite God’s word, it just really got me thinking about how we view our lives and what the lesson was in such a crazy concept~
What if snowflakes were chocolate chips?
We don’t see the big picture the way God does, we only have a partial view. We pray and want answers immediately. We complain about our circumstances. We look for joy in things, instead of Jesus. We think that if our circumstances were different or if we could have that ONE thing, life would be better and we would find that happiness that’s missing.
And when we fall prey to that line of thinking, we neglect to remember EVERYTHING God has already blessed us with. We dismiss His tremendous love, understanding and care for us.
Psalm 147 brings out some amazing truths that we need to be reminded of. The entire chapter speaks of God’s glory and power.
~v.3 He heals the broken hearted (crushed or hurt feelings).
~v.5 His understanding is beyond measure.
~v.6 He lifts (encompasses and restores) up the meek (depressed in mind or circumstances).
~v. 11 He takes pleasure in those who hope (patiently wait and trust) in His mercy (kindness).
And this is just a tiny handful of the abundant sweetness God blesses us with.
Blessings that we often forget.
Back to my snowflake analogy. Think about all the petty things we complain about. Winter is right around the corner, and I’ve already heard several disdainful comments about the impending snow. We complain so often about the things we don’t like, myself included. Here is something I would like us to ask ourselves: Do we honestly think God is just sitting up in heaven laughing and saying “I know how to make them miserable, I’ll give them a snow storm!”? It sounds ridiculous to say that out loud, but when we complain about the things in our lives we aren’t happy about, we’re pretty much placing God on a human level and blaming Him for it. We don’t see the big picture because we aren’t God. God has a reason for the snow just as much as He does for the wind and for the rain, for the sunshine and for the clouds. (Psalm 147) What if we looked at life differently, knowing that God put’s everything in our lives for a reason and trusting Him with that reason? What if we viewed snow with the same pleasure we view chocolate chips?
When my husband spilled all those chocolate chips many years ago, he was trying to make a bad situation better by doing something that he shouldn’t have been doing. When he backed up, he didn’t see the goodness that was hiding in the dark areas, he only viewed the light. His brace was hindering him. Maybe if he had taken more time and looked more closely he could have seen the big picture the way his mom did, and things would have turned out differently (He probably would have enjoyed a lot more chocolate chips).
What is hindering our view today? Sometimes we’re put into circumstances that make it hard to see or trust in God’s plan. We feel so far from God and like those black tiles, dark circumstances can make our previous blessings disappear. On the other hand, maybe some of us have simply become a complaining, petty people. Complaining won’t make a bad situation better, it will only make it worse. Whatever the case, perhaps it’s time we decide to step back and try to see the big picture by reminding ourselves of all the amazing ways God blessed us with goodness, even in the moments that seemed so dark. To back up and see where all the chocolate chips in our life have fallen. To go back to that time and retrieve the thankfulness that’s missing. We don’t see things the way God does, but if we patiently wait and trust in His kindness and steadfast love, the more we back up and look, the more we will see.
All the times He has healed our brokenness.
All the times He understood our pain.
All the times He held us close during the most painful circumstances.
And not just a tiny handful of love, but
ALL the love He has poured into us~
Every single moment of every single day.
The more we see, the more joy we have and the more grateful we become.
Our view has to change.
How different our lives will be when all our snowflakes become sweet chocolate chips.
What is a woman?
I am a woman.
When I was a little girl, I never would have imagined that the use of that phrase could possibly cause controversy.
I am a woman.
I am incredibly thankful I am a woman.
Not because I am better than a man.
Not because I want to shove that sentence in someone’s face.
I am thankful because that is who God made me to be~
and I embrace it.
Through various movements of the last century, women have been inundated with two requisites. The first~Women are powerful. The second~Just being a woman isn’t enough.
We need to “be more” and “do more” so that we can prove we “are more”.
The world is constantly screaming “more” in the face of femininity.
The concept contradicts itself.
I have nothing to prove.
I am a woman.
Femininity has gone through all the stages.
From the genuine love of being a homemaker to~
“I am equal to and even better than man”, to “there is no such thing as a woman”. Wives, mothers and homemakers have been made to feel less than, looked down upon and even ignorant.
Definitely not powerful.
This morning as I prayed, my own mother came to mind. I pictured her doing “all the things”. Her arm halfway in a turkey on Thanksgiving morning. The ironing board out every Tuesday and the vacuum and mop every Friday. The home cooked meals, the date nights with my dad, the stories read to me before I went to bed each night.
She loved every minute of it.
I loved every minute of it.
And I wept.
Not because my mom was weak, brainwashed by society at the time, or even ignorant~
But because my mom was powerful.
She gave me the precious gift of a childhood that kids only dream of. She instilled in me a deep gratitude and love of everyday life, the feeling of comfort, security and love. The desire to pass that on to everyone I meet. She had an impact on my life in a thousand different ways. An impact that enables me to say today~
I am blessed to be a woman.
I am blessed to be a wife.
I am blessed to be a mother.
Over and over in scripture God gives us examples of powerful women. Today I read about two. One was a judge. One was a housewife. God used BOTH for His glory. His power was evident in the soft hand of a woman.
Woman and man.
Male and female.
I am a woman.
Any earthly accomplishments or possessions I have at the end of this life will only be wood hay and stubble. I cannot take my accomplishments and possessions with me when I die.
But oh the power in spreading light through darkness, kindness instead of hatred, finding joy in every moment, loving your husband and raising little souls for God’s kingdom. Little souls that will impact the world for a future we may never see.
Souls that can share the light of Jesus.
A light that this dark world desperately needs.
There is power in that. It doesn’t come from the reserve of an accomplished female who checks off all the boxes this world deems necessary to claim the pronoun “she” today.
The power comes from Christ within us.
And with that power we can change the world.
I am a woman.
If I choose, I will dance around the house in my skirts and high heels. I will cook meals and bake goodies with my grandchildren. I will clean my home and be thankful for the million little things God blesses me with on a daily basis. I will love on my husband. I will minister to other women, write blog posts, share God’s word, comfort and love in only a way a woman can do. I will be powerful and I will pass that power of Christ on to the next generation. I will embrace womanhood and shout it from the rooftops, with absolutely no shame.
I don’t have to choose my pronoun because God has chosen it for me from the beginning of time.
I am a woman,
And I praise God for it.
I don’t know when it started, but I became quite the little liar when I was a child. I suppose all children go through some stage of lying, but today I’m faced with the reality that I never really grew out of it.
Up until one particular day, I found I could lie my way out of anything and get away with it.
I asked my mom if I could play outside with my friend. It was summer. I was five. She told me that I could, but not until I cleaned my room. I definitely did NOT want to clean my room. I’m sure I did a lot of complaining because I just wanted to be happy and have fun. I remember this next part like it was yesterday. She said:
“and you better not shove it all in your closet or under your bed.”
Within minutes I called downstairs to let her know I was finished so she could come up to check. “Wow”, she said as she looked around, “you did such a good job.”And then she asked~ “You didn’t shove it all in your closet or under your bed, did you?”
To this day, I don’t know what my little five year old brain was thinking, because I looked her straight in the eye, nodded, smiled and said~ “no mama, I cleaned it all”.
And then she opened the closet door.
I had tried to make it look good on the outside so I could get what I wanted on the inside. Today as I searched my heart, I realized that I continue to do this. I want my life to be happy and fun~ and I want to tag Jesus on to all of it. So I do “all the things”. All the outward things “for His glory”, but the more I do for “His glory”, the less time I spend with Him.
And yet, I want Him to bless it all.
This blog included.
What was I thinking?
I can nod and smile and say “it’s all good”, but I know it isn’t. Too much good robs me of the best. Today, God opened the door of my heart and everything came tumbling out.
Bible study books, Sunday School lessons, Children’s Ministry material, Ladies Book ministries, the search for awesome quotes to post on my Holding Hope page and the search for the best words to write for this blog... They all came tumbling out, and along with them came fatigue and comparison, depression and questioning, complaining and defeat.
And there on the dresser sat my Bible.
The one needful thing.
Doing all the outward things doesn’t make God love us more. Doing “all the things” doesn’t guarantee us a happy, blessed, fun Christian life or gain us brownie points with God. Sometimes satan uses our busyness to distract us from the one needful thing and then he labels it “ministry.”
I fell into this mindset once again and realized I was lying to myself and to others, but more importantly~ to God.
And all along He knew.
I almost quit my blog and Facebook page this week. I looked at the numbers, the likes, the shares, the views and decided God wasn’t blessing it anymore. I looked at the numbers instead of my heart. So, I searched and prayed and opened my Bible and then I prayed some more. And just like He always does, God answered. Whenever I get writer’s block and discouragement over my blog hits me hard, I realize it’s because I am not doing that one needful thing. Looking to Jesus. Opening every door, letting it all tumble out and asking Him for guidance in cleaning it up. He always does. And then He gives me the words to pen.
And He shows me,
they aren’t for the reader,
they are for me.
Because they are the EXACT words I need to hear from Him.
I didn’t get to play outside that summer day so long ago. But my mom helped me by guiding and instructing me on how to actually clean my room the right way. And I got to spend an afternoon with my mama that I will never forget. Even at five, she instilled something in me that has lasted 52 years.
God knows what we’re hiding that needs to come tumbling out. Quit leaning against that door and let God open it. He’s been knocking, but sometimes we’re just too busy to hear. Give it all to Him and ask for His guidance. Every day He will instill something new in your heart that will change you~
Just by spending time with Him. There isn’t a ministry book or blog, a Facebook page or podcast (all the “fruit” that’s supposed to make us wise) that can replace time spent with God and His steadfast love. Don’t let satan deceive you. (Genesis 3:5-6) Trying to look good on the outside won’t give you what your soul needs on the inside.
Do the one needful thing.
Todays scripture reading:
Psalm 108:1-7, 12&13
Psalm 109:4, 21&22, 26&27, 30.
As a child, my family traveled down south for vacation one year and I distinctly remember thinking that I would never live in Ohio~
especially not the Toledo area…
(I’m sorry all you Buckeye fans)
Well, you know the old saying~
If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
Only a few years into our marriage we had moved from Rochester, MI to Stratford, CT and then… you guessed it~ Toledo, Ohio.
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths”. Proverbs 3:5-6
I never saw our path leading us there, but God did, and I’m so glad that we asked for His wisdom and guidance. I’m so glad that we stepped out in faith and trusted Him~because it changed my life. Three short years made up a lifetime of happy memories. Three short years that God used to prepare my heart for the future in ways I never would have imagined.
*Sweet, precious, life long friendships were forged.
*We grew close to our teen group and continually prayed for them, even after moving away. Today we are so blessed to see answers to prayer in the godly adults and parents many of them have become.
*My faith grew tremendously through the trials of sick babies.
*When my husband had to work out of state five days a week, I realized how often I had taken him for granted. Our marriage grew even stronger.
*After many dormant years, I was somewhat forced to take up my piano playing again. I now play for our church every Sunday.
*For a brief moment in time, my children attended a Christian school in the area.
Today, many years later and many, many miles away~two of my children are married to spouses who attended that very same school. Not only that, but while my nephew was living with us he also met and married a young lady from the same school.
*I learned the incredible beauty of a grateful heart.
Through the heartbreaking tears of goodbye and an unknown future ahead, God eventually led us here, to our church family in Caseville. My husband has been the pastor here for 28 years.
Too often we go about our days without truly asking God to direct our paths. Our days are monotonous. In our human minds, our daily, mundane activities don’t seem important to His kingdom. We don’t think of our normal “everyday” as big things for God. Unless something is going wrong within our routine, we don’t always factor God into the equation. But, when we choose to ask God to direct our paths and our steps, He delights in us and leads us to places we might not have ever experienced without that acknowledgement.
Do you know how much easier your life becomes when you give God your days the moment you step out of bed? When you pray and ask God to order your steps and direct your paths, and then you trust Him to do just that? You begin to realize that everything that happens throughout your day was orchestrated and directed by Him, even if it wasn’t what you planned.
Your faith grows. And when your little, everyday plans, or your really big, (sometimes life changing) plans are disrupted~ it’s so much easier to trust God, because you know in your heart that you have given your days to Him and asked Him to direct your paths.
Paths that will take you along the banks of green pastures and still waters. Paths of life and joy. Paths of peace that passes understanding and unexpected comfort. Beautiful opportunities to serve God and blessings that might have been missed had we not asked Him for direction. Paths that lead to our future and answers to prayer that will affect generations to come.
Psalm 16:11, 25:4-5, 37:23, 61:2, 78:6-7 & 72, 86:11, 119:105, Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:9, John 14:26 & 16:13, Isaiah 30:21, 48:17 & 58:11, Matthew 7:7-11, Philippians 4:7.
Every moment is big to God. Every moment can glorify Him.
Every step~ whether that step is in a workplace or inside the four walls of your home~ every single step can change your heart and your life.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths~even if that path isn’t going in the direction you want, or think is best. Trust me on this one. God’s paths will always lead to the very best. Take that step of faith today. Psalm 23
We took our grandsons to Dairy Queen last Sunday evening. My two older grandsons asked if they could share a banana split. I wasn’t sure they understood how large a banana split was, but they assured me they knew, and it wouldn’t be a problem.
They are 9 and 6.
We were in the drive through. Our plan was to go around the corner to our break wall and watch the sun set over the water as we ate our treats. I explained to Gabe (the younger of the two) that while we were still in the car I was going to have Ethan hold the sundae until they were able to sit together on the bench to share. I expected a bit of arguing or even the very familiar words “that’s not fair”. To my complete surprise, neither were spoken. Gabe turned to Ethan and in the sweetest, most precious and sincere voice he asked~
”Could I just look at it Ethan?”
That right there melted my heart.
His sweet sincerity brought tears to my eyes.
I often read devotionals written for moms of young children on how to cope with the overwhelming moments. I remember those moments. I understand. The response of older moms is almost always an encouraging word to cherish that time because it’s over so quickly.
But I rarely read about the “hard” of being a mom of adults~
When your adult children have walked away from God. When your adult children are all fighting. When your children are going through horrendous heartache. When their faith is being tried and their prayers aren’t being answered. When your children are all struggling in different areas and pouring their hearts out to you, but not wanting the other siblings to know. When your children don’t want you in their life anymore.
Gone are the days that you can lovingly remind them to get back on God’s path when they have misbehaved~ and through tears they agree. Gone are the days when you can send them all to their rooms for fighting, and suddenly they’re giggling and playing like it never happened. Gone are the days that you can rock them as they snuggle in your arms and you tell them everything will be ok, and they believe you. Gone are the days when you are their everything.
You pray and you worry and you wonder. How did things change so quickly? And you watch as each day passes. You find yourself wondering if things will ever be ok. And you want to hold those beautiful days again. The days you believed were overwhelming at the time. You understand now why older moms always told you to cherish that time.
And then one day things do change, but not in the way you expected. Through his tears of heartache you hear your son telling you~ “everything is going to be okay mom”, because he truly believes that his unanswered prayers are “for his good and God’s glory”. And you are in awe, because your own heart saw the hurt he was experiencing. Your own heart could not see the good. His sweet sincerity brings tears to your own eyes.
Not only has God allowed you to just look at His goodness and beauty.
He has allowed you to taste it.
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
Just moments after my grandsons started in on their banana split, I heard them exclaim~this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted” Not once, not twice, but the entire time they ate until the bowl was completely empty.
Oh how often we as moms can ask God if He would just allow us to look and see some semblance of an answer to our prayers for our children and their future. Could we just look and see and know everything will be ok? And then, sometimes without us even realizing, He does. He shows us. We not only look upon it, but we get to taste of His beauty.
Some days a taste of Gods goodness might be right around the corner. Other days it might feel like you’ve been looking at the truth of His words about your children, but have yet to taste of it. And the road seems long.
When it comes to your adult children, you might find yourself overwhelmed, heartbroken or even arguing with God. You might find yourself crying that it isn’t fair. This wasn’t your dream as you held that child so close to your heart and rocked them to sleep. But you can still choose to believe in the goodness God has to offer, even though you have yet to taste it. You can choose to open His word and partake in His promises. To trust in a beautiful future ahead and truly believe that you will one day say~ this is the best thing ever.
As you whisper through tears~
“can I just look at it God?”
He hears the sincere prayers that come from your heart.
Taste and see ❤️
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:18, 28
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, Neither have entered into the heart of man, The things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9
“casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, When my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.”
Psalm 61:2, 5
“I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: And I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.”
“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. O taste and see that the LORD is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, And delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; And saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: But the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”
Psalm 34:4, 6, 8, 17-19
“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: And establish thou the work of our hands upon us; Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”
Our first day of Fall arrives this week.
For many, Fall is a welcome guest. Bring on the football games and sweater weather, hot cocoa and cider, changing leaves and cozy feels~ all wrapped up in blankets and pumpkin spice.
For others, Fall brings with it loneliness, darkness, isolation and depression. It is an unwanted guest.
Until recently, I never realized how many view the arrival of Fall like a dark storm cloud moving in, covering up all the beautiful sun of lazy summer days and long summer evenings.
And it’s hard.
Our mind is a powerful tool. It can make us believe things can’t or won’t get better. As the days become shorter and shorter it can convince you that you will never climb out of the darkness that lies ahead.
You know what’s more powerful than our mind?
The mind of Christ.(Philippians 2:5-11)
The Holy Spirit within us. (John 14:26)
The power of God. (Ephesians 6:10-11)
Satan knows that we are supposed to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of our world, so he convinces us that there is no light to shine. That life will not and cannot get better.
Don’t give up!
Don’t give in to those thoughts!
This is not truth!
God’s words are truth! (Hebrews 4:12)
And so~ with God’s help, I want to help each of us to renew our minds this Fall.
Fall Bucket Lists seem to be all the rage. Just type those words into Google or the Pinterest search bar and you will find a myriad of ideas. For some the lists are full of fun, Fall activities. For others they are only a reminder of their loneliness.
You are never alone because God is in you and for you. (Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6 & 8, Romans 8:38-39, Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 23:4, 46:1, 1 Peter 5:7)
With that in mind, I have come up with a Fall Bucket List to help each of us to renew our minds in Christ.
(Romans 12:2) To change our perspective. To grab a hold of that power and to learn to enjoy Fall in all its glory.
And for those of us who love Fall, maybe this list will be a good reminder that the changing seasons aren’t all about us and how many fun activities we can pack in. A gentle reminder that everything we do~whether we eat or drink or watch football games under cozy blankets~ everything is for God’s glory.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)
Perhaps God wants us to notice a little more, notice the ones who aren’t smiling. Notice the lonely. Notice the sad and broken and help make their lives a little brighter. (Galatians 5:13-14)
As the days get shorter and shorter, don’t allow all your fun activities to overshadow and don’t allow the darkness to overcome. Be the light.
You might truly believe you can’t, and that’s ok because you don’t have to. Christ’s power within you will overcome that darkness. (Philippians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Timothy 1:7, Luke 1:37)
And with the changing seasons, He can change your heart. With the dark, early evenings~ He can and will be your light~ so that you can be His light.
(Psalm 27:1, 2 Corinthians 10:5)
Turn up the lamp of God’s glory.
Be the light~ His glorious light!
Bible apps to listen to:
My mom’s birthday was Thursday. She died in 2003, but it seems like it was yesterday. October is also right around the corner, marking two years since my dad passed away. I haven’t come to the point where I’m able to take my dad’s contact information off of my phone. He died one month before my November birthday. My mom died one week before my birthday. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, second only to Christmas~
but Fall brings all the feelings with it.
I yearn for early cozy evenings by the fire, but I also yearn for mom and dad. Your life changes when you lose both of your parents. It’s like a part of you is missing. You almost feel like an orphan, no matter how old you are. You might have family all around you, yet you still feel very alone at times.
And so, I have my dad still listed under “favorites” in my phone’s contacts. His cute picture with his new glasses, always smiling back at me. Sadly, I didn’t realize that after a year my phone would delete all my texts from my dad. One day they were just gone, just like he was.
I was crushed.
My phone also has an app called “find friends”. Anytime I get to worrying that my husband is running late and I’m wondering if he’s ok, I can look at that app and see exactly where he is. My dad is still listed on that app too, right under my husband. Every day my dad would check in with me. If he didn’t, before jumping to conclusions I would look to see if he was home or just busy running errands. Sometimes the phone will swirl and swirl, looking for a particular person. Every time it locates someone it will show you where they are on a map. As smart as my phone is, it can’t show me dad. It confesses~
“no location found”.
Man, that gets me every time.
I’ll admit, it brought tears for a long time. Sometimes it still does. But I know it holds no truth, because I know exactly where my dad is, and one day I will join him and my mom and so many loved ones there.*
I Thessalonians 4:13-14 I will fall into the arms of my Savior and weep, letting go of all the grief I so readily push down into my pit of “I don’t want to think about this”.
You might wonder how I can know. You might be asking yourself how you can know. How anyone can know with 100% assurance that heaven can be your eternal home? That the arms of the Savior will welcome you there? We can know because God’s word promises us exactly that.* Romans 10:9-10, I may have lost every word my dad sent me in a text, but we can never lose the words of God. They are eternal, just as He is.*Psalm 119:89 They are our promises to cling to through every trial we go through, and they promise that if we repent and ask Jesus to save our souls and give us a home in heaven with Him one day, He will.*
2 Corinthians 5:8
My mom and dad are with Jesus.
As the air becomes crisp and cozy fires are lit, when pumpkin spice everything is everywhere, I find myself missing them a little more. As much as I miss them, I still have all the precious memories of Fall days that they left me with. The week before he died, my dad told me he was planning a birthday party for me. My tears smile at that remembrance.
Fall might be hard for you. The early darkness that comes with the change of time, the cold temperatures and the seclusion can certainly get you down. You miss the sunshine. Missing your loved ones on top of that can make you ache inside. The good news is, this world is not our home and we are never truly alone.
I am not an orphan. I am a child of God.
*John 1:12 You are a child of God. His words of comfort are always available. He always knows exactly where you are, because He is right there with you. He knows your thoughts, He knows your heart. He knows your aching and He knows your rejoicing.* Psalm 139, Philippians 4:6-7
We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to fall into our Savior’s arms and let all our grief and sadness go. We don’t have to push it down into the pit of “I don’t want to think about this”. We can give it all to Him right now. In fact, He wants us to do exactly that.*Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 11:28-30, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4,
Psalm 23, 46:1-2
Whatever hard feelings Fall holds for you, with it’s falling leaves or falling snow, falling rain or…
falling back into the darkness of daylight savings~
Remember these words and cling to them~
Fall into His arms. FALL into His arms.* Matthew 10:29-31
FALL into the arms of Jesus.
What hope that holds and what comfort it gives~ because I know~
that’s exactly where my mom and dad are too.
*John 16:33, Psalm 31:24
The older I get, the more I realize that wisdom comes with age and yet, I am not wise. I don’t have all the answers.* As a pastor’s wife, that can be hard. People come to you for answers. It’s hard to find yourself at a loss for words and admit~
”I don’t know.”
I don’t know why beautiful, Godly souls have suffered tremendous loss, sometimes over and over again. I don’t know why precious wives with longing hearts plead with God for children year after year, yet remain barren. I don’t know why marriages crumble despite prayers to God for restoration. I don’t know why depression or anxiety can grip you for no apparent reason, and wake you from a sound sleep.
I do know that if you typed any of these things into Google, you would have a myriad of answers, many from a biblical perspective. A sin cursed world is the obvious answer, but there isn’t a human being alive that can explain why heartache hits home for some~yet not for others. That answer is entrusted to God alone. God’s word tells us the comforting promise that everything we go through is for our good, but quite often it doesn’t feel good at all.* I have heard people say~ “just give it to God” or “God is in control, you just have to trust Him”.*
Easier said than done.
So many times I will read these things and all my heart can utter is~”how?” How do you just “give it to God”?
Recently I have woken from a sound sleep in complete panic. That’s another hard thing for me to admit. I honestly have no idea why it is happening. I don’t feel like I’m stressed or anxious, yet it has happened more than once. My heart races and sleep doesn’t come again for hours. And so, I will pray and pray and ask God to take it all~ anything I’m holding on to. My marriage, my children, my ministry. Anything that might be causing this. Any control issues I am not aware of. Over and over~”I give it all to you God.” And yet, sleep eludes me still.
Night after night I felt I was failing. I expected the anxiety to magically disappear when I gave it all to God. I felt like a disappointment to my Redeemer who loves me so much. I questioned whether I was truly surrendering everything to Him. What was I doing wrong?
These uncomfortable moments are but a blip in time compared to the years of anguish and questions some sweet Christians go through. Questions with no answers.
Today He reminded me of a beautiful truth. Out of nowhere a memory came to my mind of the many nights my children would have bad dreams when they were very little. Dreams that would wake them. Dreams that caused tears. Quite often they would either cry out for Mike and I, or come down to our bedroom crying. My mama heart was so incredibly tender toward them that the tears would swell up in my own eyes. They would snuggle in with us in bed, and eventually fall back asleep.
Did I reprimand them or get angry with them if it happened again the next night or if the tears would not cease? No. I never did. My love was so great for them that my heart shared in their pain. Did my presence take away the bad dream? Did my words make it magically disappear? No, but my presence and my words brought them comfort. Knowing I was there next to them is what made the difference.
And I think that’s the answer for us, even as adults.
That unfathomable love I have for my children is nothing compared to the love God has for us.
I don’t know why so many go through so much, but I do know that I can say without a shadow of a doubt that you will NEVER go through it alone.* God is always there. His words of comfort and strength are always available to us.
Does that magically take the heartache many are enduring away? No. But what comfort it brings to a weary soul. We are never alone. I may wake up tonight with a grieving heart over missing my parents and loved ones. I may wake up tonight with a heavy heart for the things my children are going through, I may wake up tonight with a deeply sad heart, or a racing heart for no apparent reason, but I need not fear or be anxious or wonder if God is disappointed that it has happened once again. His grace washes over me like a sweet lullaby and His joy warms my heart like a cozy blanket. I need only snuggle in with Him and realize that He may not take this away, but He will never, ever leave my side as I deal with it.
Whatever heartache, anxiety, unanswered prayer, devastation and loss you are experiencing~ you are not alone. Nightmares will never cease no matter our age, but you are His child and as little children we can cry out to our Father knowing He is closer than our very thoughts. Knowing that He shares in your pain, knowing that the bad dream won’t magically disappear but that we can snuggle into Him and He will hold us through it~*
That knowledge is good. It is glorifying. That knowledge will make all the difference, and that is a comfort to cling to.
*Psalm 131:1, Romans 8:18-23 & 28, Proverbs 3:5-6, Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:38-39, Psalm 139:1-18,
I have a hard time getting rid of things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hoarder.
I have a very easy time throwing things away, a little too easy… 😂😂
Organizing and purging is a great past time of mine, but I’m also very sentimental.
Today, one of my baskets caught my eye. There’s really nothing special about it, in fact it doesn’t even go with my decor anymore. But when I looked at that basket, a memory rushed through me. A memory of antique shopping with my mom and dad. My dad bought me that basket and in that split second I was transported to that time, as if I was watching a scene from a film of my life. I was able to relive that moment with my dad and it made me smile.
I probably wouldn’t have thought about that specific moment in time if I didn’t have that basket.
Things of no significance to others can spark magic in our hearts by striking the memory of a beautiful moment.
There are times that I will be antiquing with my daughter and she will find something that brings her right back to her childhood and moments she shared with my mom. And her heart longs to own that piece that struck that memory.
Quite often we are admonished as Christian’s to not care so much about stuff. About things. Because they’re only things. We can’t take them with us when we die. But I see so much more when I look at things. I can’t take them with me, but I can create happiness all around them that I will leave for my children and grandchildren. Happy moments they will remember and talk about. Memories that will make them smile. Just by looking at one thing.
I don’t think God ever intended our lives to be stark and void of beauty. He intended our souls to be flooded with joy and happiness because that joy and happiness glorifies Him. All you have to do is look around you to realize this.
There is so much beauty God has given us that we take for granted. He didn’t have to create such beauty in a sunset or a field of flowers. Such awe in a starlit sky or the sand upon the seashore, the green pastures and the still waters, the lilies and the sparrows, the secret place of thunder and the little hills that rejoice on every side. (Psalm 23, Luke 12:27, Matthew 10:29-31, Psalm 81:7, Psalm 65:12)
When we recall these things in our mind’s eye, why do we smile? What purpose is in their beauty? Because God delights in joy. God delights in us and through that joy, He is glorified. (Proverbs 8:30-31, 11:20b, Psalm 18:19)
His beautiful creation screams His majesty to the entire world and we are in awe. (Psalm 19:1, 104)
Just as I am in awe of the simple basket at my feet. A basket that holds a precious memory beautifully wrapped inside. A gift from God that belongs exclusively to me. What a wonder to think upon.
They may be wood hay and stubble but don’t feel shame for the joy these sentiments bring. Instead recognize that these tiny treasures of joy are gifts from God. We aren’t meant to worship the gift, but the Giver.
I still have my mom’s old roaster, her big old frying pan, her Christmas dishes and candy jars. I have my dad’s glasses, the ones I helped him pick out just before he passed away. It makes me smile to think of how “spiffy” he felt in them. I cherish each one of these things, and so many more because when I look at them I am flooded with a thankful heart for the memories of happiness they evoke.
They aren’t just stuff. They are beauty to me. They are gifts from God. They are treasures from heaven. Just as His creation, I will always find myself praising Him when I think on them.
Find yourself praising God on a daily basis. Find your own basket and fill it with joy until it is overflowing. The more we recognize God’s amazing gifts all around us, the more we glorify Him and lay up treasures in heaven.
Those things and those memories? When I think on them, I weep with the knowledge of how much God loves me.
Moth and rust can never take that knowledge or those memories away. They are beautiful gifts from God that exemplify the meaning of glorifying through gratefulness. Gifts that we can leave for generations to come.
When my grandson was only 3, I wrote a blog post entitled~ “Before You Blink”.
I really wrote it as a reminder for my daughter, because I remembered. I warned her how quickly time goes by. To cherish every moment with her little one. I warned her not to blink.
But then I blinked.
Six years went by.
Last week we took our 5 oldest grandchildren up north for a few days and on the way we stopped for lunch. The restaurant wasn’t particularly busy so when my 9 year old grandson asked if he could refill his drink all by himself, I allowed it. The other kids and I were in the play place as I watched this little man wait patiently in line and then use the large pop machine to mix his lemonade and iced tea.
As I stood behind that glass partition, a flood of emotions enveloped my soul. I love him more than words can express. He is so precious to me. I would die to protect him. I’m so proud of him and the kind little man he has become. His desire to love the Lord brings tears. I felt every feeling in that moment as I watched him.
My eyes gazed over at all my grandchildren and I almost cried standing there in that playroom.
What a love. This is what love looks like. It is so powerful that the most eloquent words ever written cannot capture that feeling my heart has for them.
And right there in that moment all the noise of customers and laughter of children faded into the background as I felt God telling me~
“That love. Magnify that love over and over and you still will not know the depth of love I have for you, or how much I love you Charisse.” The realization of that and the thought that God would remind me right then and there was overwhelmingly beautiful to me.
That love? The most eloquent words I have ever written could not capture the magnitude of love God has for me.
And for you.
I will often read that old post I wrote because it’s such a good reminder. It is relatable for anyone you love deeply. Cherish every minute. I don’t want to blink. I want to celebrate every beautiful, precious moment with my husband, my children, my family and my sisters and brothers in Christ. And I want to hold on to every breathtaking moment with these grandchildren of mine. I want to soak up every word as they talk to me, because I know how quickly time passes.
And as I think on this, I cannot help but think of my Heavenly Father loving me like that. I have no eloquent words this week. No long text with multiple scripture references. Just one thought. Just one verse.
God loves you.
Three words that say everything.
God loves YOU!
“For God SO LOVED the world…”
Maybe you needed to be reminded of that today. I know I did, and in that moment as I watched my little man…when I was trying not to blink, yet blinking away the tears…
God reminded me.