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The Twenty-Second.

I am currently in Muskegon at a women’s retreat hosted by a church from Rockford.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a little uncertain about what to expect in terms of temperament, in terms of humor, in terms of level of friendliness.

I HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED BY THESE AMAZING WOMEN.

If I lived in Rockford, I would be attending this church.  If you are friends with me on Instagram or Facebook, I’ll be uploading pics to both sites throughout the weekend.  This retreat is full of amazing women who greeted us with unconditional love and understanding.  We arrived to a pretty huge room beautifully decorated, a great sound guy (HUGE BLESSING), and pretty excellent accommodations.  I don’t think I have ever stayed in a lodge this beautiful before, actually.  My “hotel” room is larger than most, and my hotel room table was wonderfully decorated with chocolates, lotions, cards, and then mints on my pillow.  There is free wifi, food, and accommodations.  My mentor and I unpacked and relaxed for a bit, and then headed downstairs where we found a number of women in a circle praying for us.  They then greeted us with hugs and sat us down and prayed over us.  That was definitely a first for me.  They continued the love fest and hugs into supper.

I am listing all of these things because, I find it incredible, and I would really like to dive into getting know some of these women this weekend.  As I finished my dinner, I got to chat with an 80-some year old grandmother who grew up in Detroit and missed the beauty and accessibility of Belle Isle.  I spoke with women about their decision of which church to attend and how it was influenced by the church’s youth program and support, and I listened as so many women just poured out their hearts and struggles to two complete strangers and didn’t expect anything in return.  They just wanted to share their heart and what the Lord has done.

The last story for the evening that I will share is about a woman whose husband passed away four years ago, and her grandchildren are a large focal point in her life.  As a person works third shift, she doesn’t go and do too many things over the weekends now, however, about three weeks ago, she decided to register to attend this women’s retreat. For some reason, that was the time that one of her children said, “your grandchildren are being baptized on Saturday, February 23rd.”  She was a bit saddened.  Her son said that they would tape-record the baptisms for her, however, this was not what she was hoping for. A short time later, she received a call.  It was a telephone call from both of her grandchildren.  They wanted to ask her a question.  Apparently, a pastor doesn’t have to baptize you; you can choose someone who is already baptized and has had a significant impact on your life.  Her grandchildren chose her.  At that moment, she began to cry.  She was afraid, fearful, not sure of how to respond to them, however, in that same moment the Holy Spirit came on her and spoke to her heart the words of Matthew 19:26 – “…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Out of the Spirit the Lord put in her, she gratefully accepted the invitation for her to baptize her grandchildren.  I think our entire table was in tears at such a great honor.  She has decided to leave the retreat just for the afternoon to enjoy baptizing her grandchildren, however, I was just for some reason so moved by the entire story.  What a testimony.  Can you imagine? The most influential person in your life is your grandmother, and you want her to baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  I’ll be praying for her all day tomorrow and as she goes and as she steps out in faith that the Lord will carry her through and that she will enjoy these moments with her grandchildren.

This was just one woman sharing out of over 35+ women.  I have more stories, but we’ll save them until Saturday or Sunday.

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The Twenty-First.

As we approach the end of the month, I find myself wondering if I will actually keep up writing in my blog with the daily news and things that I have been learning.  I haven’t actually fully made that decision, however, I think it would be good to at least do something at least 2-3 times per month.  We’ll see 🙂

This past month,  I’ve had the joy of seeing that people actually like my posts! It’s very humbling.  I have no idea who the majority of you are, however, I have been visiting some of your blog sites and am honored that some of you have actually subscribed to my blog.  Thank you so very much.

Tonight, I am mentally preparing to go on a women’s retreat that starts tomorrow afternoon on the west side of my state.  I have been looking forward to the trip somewhat, and yet it sometimes just makes me nervous.  It’s mainly because, as someone who has done about six women’s retreats to date, there are sometimes groups of women that I don’t know.  I don’t know what their humor is like, if they will like the style of worship that I lead, if they will like the message that my mentor will be bringing, etc.  At a certain point, I just give up and know that everything really is not in my control.  I just wish that I would get to that point earlier.

My difficulty this weekend will be loving the women that I come into contact with, with the love of Christ and everything that He would like to speak to their hearts.  I really want for them to experience his joy and peace and refreshing during this weekend getaway, and the conference center seems pretty amazing, so all I can do is wait for Him to give me an opportunity to love well.

I often wonder how many people worry about the odd details that I do, but I think that once my worry is turned over to God and I start getting excited for everything that He is going to teach me/us, I begin to find the peace and can prepare my heart.  OK…now I’m getting really excited for the weekend.  You may see some interesting posts this weekend!

ONE LOVE.

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The Twentieth.

This is the blog entry that I have kind of been dreading.  Now remember, I am not necessarily offering the absolute correct answer.

I know that all of us have had people in our lives that have done wrong to us and that we have done wrong to.  I know that sometimes the wrongs done to us can be almost unbearable to the point where we feel that we can never talk to that party again.  And for a while, it really seems like we never will again, however, there are times when I believe our spirits soften toward them, if only for a moment.  When that happens, I would hope that each one of us would consider the act of forgiveness.

Last year, I went through a time that I never thought would happen.  I cannot go into extreme details, but it resulted in me settling for something temporary and something that wasn’t right.  I’m pretty sure that reveals more than I intended, however, as a result of my misstep, I ended up having to cut someone out of my life.  I am having a problem forgiving them for what they did, and while I know they still love me, I feel that I was taken advantage of.  These things are now being shared to perhaps benefit those that may be going through something similar.  Because I feel like I was taken advantage of, I am having a hard time loving this person through the hurt I am going through.

I don’t know what will happen next, but I do know that God has been ever present during my misstep, during the after-affects and consequences of my sin, and during my healing and moving forward.  I know that at some point, I will let this person back into my life as an acquaintance and not a friend, and I know that while the relationship may be strained at times, it can still be one that honors God.  These aren’t necessarily the best answers, however, I know the Lord desires that we do live at peace with one another.  He knows that we are not perfect like Him, but I believe that’s why He gives us Himself so that we have the Perfect One to lean on and trust in.  The Lord has never taken my heart for granted, He has never sent me in the wrong direction, and He has always loved me perfectly.  I’m the one that comprised and chose the wrong path, but at least He made a way for me to get back to the right one.  I have to confess, truly, it is SUCH AN AMAZING THING when we let the Lord take hold of the reins of our lives and He guides us through.  It brings an intense joy and a wonderful peace, and it has made me glad that I could return to Him.

How do I love the person that hurt me?  I can’t.  I can’t love the person with the love that I have; it’s just not good enough.  The extension of the Father’s love will have to cover it all since I cannot fully love this person any longer.  This might not be the world’s greatest entry about love and forgiveness, but it’s the honest one.  Sometimes sin does considerable damage.  The Lord can restore, though, and miracles can happen.

The Nineteenth.

I am learning so much about love this month.  I learning about how difficult it is, how beautiful it is, how wonderful it is, and how painful it can be.  I kind of want to pool the group reading this blog to ask how it is that they are able to continuing loving people with God’s love.

I almost forgot to blog today because I have been scheduling my days so tightly.  I normally blog in the early morning, however, I wanted a morning off to watch a tv show and sleep in a little bit.  I have found my own spirit a little less-driven to read His word and pray, however, I can almost feel the prayers of those who are thinking of and praying for me daily; I’ve felt it since I left my house on Monday morning. That’s love for the Lord and dedication to His kingdom.  For those of you who have been praying for me and thinking of me, thank you, I really have felt you.

This will be a short post, but I have a free evening this evening to go over some things and so I hope to have something more put together for tomorrow.

Love and Light.

The Eighteenth.

Today is a day I am tapped out.  I normally have a topic that I really wish to share, however, this morning I am finding nothing of love that I wish to discuss.  Know that the rest of my entries this month may not always be like this, however, after taking the time to attend my small group last night and having them take the time to pray over me, there are other things on my heart and mind today.

I wish for everyone who reads this entry today to learn to trust a group of people with the struggles in your life.  If it can’t be a group, tell someone.  We all know that life isn’t a cakewalk, but we cannot go about thinking that other people can’t identify with our struggles.  As I learned yesterday while someone was praying over me…they knew EXACTLY the kind of pressure I was under and prayed to God on my behalf.  Allow people to know you, keep you accountable, and keep you ever striving to be more like Christ.  I guess in a way this post is about love.  🙂

Numbers 6:24-26

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.

The Seventeenth.

There are so many things swirling around my mind right now.  I am thinking about a married couple that found out they may finally be parents via adoption, a married woman concerned about her grandmother’s health, a friend who doesn’t know where his life is going and may leave his home state for another, a married couple preparing their hearts and supporting friends and family for the impending loss of a brother, a friend who strives to maintain purity of mind and spirit, and me, a girl who is just trying to figure out how to love well.

I’m mainly thinking about the pain of loss and how one can maintain a loving and healthy relationship with someone who is experiencing a loss, but also how to lovingly respond to someone trying to love YOU through a loss.

One of the main reasons I started my blog in the first place was to have a sounding board after the death of a very good friend, Lisa Radtke.  Stories can be found in earlier posts dating back to 2007 or 2008, however, it still remains as the most difficult part of my life to walk through.  Current circumstances of life are really difficult for me, however, the death of a friend is permanent, and I will never see her again.  As I have often shared with friends, she displayed the very presence of Christ to me.  She loved like the Lord wants us to love.  She saw the strengths in me that were from the Lord and she encouraged me to use them for His glory, but also called me out when I wasn’t doing things in line with the Lord’s will for me.  She was a great lover of the Savior and His word.  She was incredibly funny, full of life, and I miss her….I miss her so much.

When I got the call about Lisa, I was getting ready to go out to run errands.  I heard a frantic and hysterical voice of a friend on the other end.  At first, I thought she was laughing, but instead was screaming and crying about a woman who called from Lisa’s phone to say Lisa had been killed.  I couldn’t believe it.  I mentioned to the friend to stay where she was and that I would be coming over.  When I hung up, I almost immediately got a phone call from Lisa’s cell phone.  A concerned voice began talking, but it was one that I didn’t recognize.  It was a cousin of Lisa’s, who had her phone and was calling the contacts to let them know.  I asked her for more information and then instructed her to stop calling everyone in Lisa’s phone as it was very distressing to the people she had already contacted.  We hung up and I then began going through the details.  I don’t remember the trip to the friend’s house who was frantically telling me these things about Lisa, however, I remember feeling that this was going to be a lot to go through, a lot to process, and a lot of crying was about to take place…A LOT.

What I will ALWAYS remember about that week that we lost Lisa was THE LORD.  The Lord, Him alone, gave me an incredible peace that I cannot describe.  An immediate forgiveness for the person that took Lisa away from us, the ability to think clearly and communicate to those about her death, and the ability to help with the funeral and memorial preparations as a family friend who took part in family communications.  I don’t remember every single moment, but I do recall a lot of sitting in dark bedrooms with crying friends, offering up prayers as they laid in my lap and wept and were sometimes inconsolable, and lots of hugs and comforting words.  For those that were too overcome, we would sit for hours. Just silent.  Sometimes no words will do for something like that…you just need the peace of  hearing weeping or hearing nothing.  That was my existence for almost five days.

At night when I went home, I would lock my bedroom door, and pray to the Lord that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night because I would be reminded of her death.  I knew that I would not be able to go back to sleep after that point.  I locked my door because I was afraid of the night and what could happen.  One night, I did wake in the middle of the night, terrified to move, and overcome with sorrow.  I had comforted, I had prayed, I had sat with many, but I hadn’t cried yet; I wasn’t ready.

The morning of Lisa’s funeral was the worst morning of my existence.  I had almost no interest in getting up out of bed.  I just kept thinking “today is the day that we bury her” and I couldn’t face it.  An hour after waking, I got up out of bed and prepared to go to the funeral.  I wasn’t prepared for so many people.  The funeral home wasn’t even prepared for so many people; the overflow rooms….overflowed.  So many people, so many people that she loved and loved her.  She loved very well.

I had made it through the funeral and we were all getting ready to head to the cemetery.  I don’t remember too many other details from later that day, however, I remember getting ready to leave for the cemetery.  During those times, I had two pretty sweet friends, Janni and Burrill; we were thick as thieves (still are) and they LOVED and SUPPORTED me that day because they knew what I had been going through during that week of preparing. They just stood with me in the funeral home parking lot.  Very few words were spoken, but they knew I hadn’t truly begun to mourn my Lisa.  They knew I wouldn’t cry in front of them, but they wanted me to know they knew.  I wanted so much to acknowledge their support, but all I could manage was a ‘Thank You’, but that, as I found, was all they needed.  They just needed to know I was on the right path and their support was acknowledged; I was so grateful for them.  As we gathered to bury her, I knew the Lord had prepared a time for me to speak with Him and cry and plead and shout at Him.  That time came two weeks later, and He still had such compassion and love and patience with me.  God knew exactly what moment that I needed and he met and loved me perfectly.

The Lord’s way is perfect.  Deuteronomy 32:4 says- “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”  Psalm 18:30 says – “As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.”

I gotta take my hints from the Lord on this one.  There is no way we can truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ when they experience a loss without the divine intervention of the Father so that He can put His hand on us and steady us as we enter into mourning, into the darkness, into the sadness of losing someone close to us.  We cannot do it without Him; I don’t care what grief book you read, I don’t care what counseling you took…ok, I might care, BUT, you cannot do it, you cannot even think of going through the process without His presence.  He is the Center and Safe place in this process. Loving during loss and accepting love during loss requires Jesus.  You need Jesus.

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(A few of Lisa’s belongings)

The Sixteenth.

I wish, I wish, I wish…still not gonna happen.

BONNIE RAITTI CAN’T MAKE YOU LOVE ME

Turn down the lights, turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me, tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize – don’t patronize me

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these lonely hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t
‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t