Godwink

Bittersweet

Last week I wandered into an art gallery to look around. I saw inspiration in the watercolors, charcoal paintings, and photography.  In viewing the art one could sense an array of sentiments, including bittersweet emotion; that  one emotion my heart knows too well.

The curator of the gallery greeted me and we started up conversation as it was just he and I in the gallery. I asked the man if his art was displayed and would he share it with me and he immediately walked over to his published books of his stunning photography.  In one of his books he aligned his photography with  poetry that had been written by his grandmother years earlier. Such a treasure.  I commented that I enjoyed writing myself and had also published a book of my own and explained a little of its content. Recognition and sadness could be found in the eyes of the man as my words left my lips.  The pain painted across his face was obvious as he shared that he had lost his son to a drug overdose. That  dad was hurting and as we chatted I could sense the anger frustration and resentment in his dialogue. There was absolutely no joy nor bittersweet emotion to.be noted in that dad.  It came to me that my happenstance into this gallery had been divinely orchestrated.

Of late I’ve been introduced to several people who are suffering from the same circumstance. They’ve lost their children to addiction and drug overdose. It brings such hurt to my heart.  It brings me back to the day I lost my roommate who died from her own drug overdose on New Years Day back in the 80’s.  It was at that time, the most painful death that I had encountered in my young life and I don’t believe I’ve  ever  truly processed it.  To learn now of so many young lives being robbed due to addiction is hopeless and tragic.  For weeks now I have sensed a tug at my heartstrings to write about this very subject and yesterday it became evident that it’s what I next needed to address in my blog posting.

As I sat on the beach yesterday, with my notebook and began to write, my husband shouted: “look out”!  With that, a large beautiful monarch butterfly flew at my face and then circled and landed on my back.  My husband took pictures as this gave me such joy.  For those who have not read my book nor have knowledge of our story, butterflies have been outstanding Godwinks for myself and Kenzie’s friends.  We had a butterfly launch at her would be high school graduation and Kenzie’s “besties” released seventy-seven monarch butterflies following graduation. Butterflies seem to appear as a sign that God is with me and the spirit of Makenzie, as well.  The butterfly in this picture allowed me to hold it and then after it detached I left it sitting on the cooler next to my beach chair.  It actually stayed there on the cooler next to us for over ten minutes.  This was my Godwink; affirmation that what I was inspired to write was His intention. 

Another recent occurrence was that one of Makenzie’s childhood friends shared her story on social media about her addiction and journey back.  I had absolutely no idea!  I connected with her and asked if I could share her story and she agreed.

Here is her testimony:

Elizabeth:

Four years ago today I made a choice to change.  Four years ago today I went to the emergency room thinking that I was dying. I knew telling the truth and admitting defeat would be my only option. I was puking and shitting (TMI) my brains out, shaking like a leaf, couldn’t sit still, my skin itching like there was a million ants crawling all over me.  Staring at the ceiling I was deciding if I should tell the truth or lie. The ER doctor came in and I told him I was going through withdrawals.  I hadn’t had any pain medication in over forty-eight hours and asked him to please give me something to stop that feeling. From that day forward my road to recovery started. It wasn’t easy.  My doctor called me every two hours on the dot for two weeks! I had to take a survey with her on the phone to see how I was doing. She never gave up on me and so I didn’t give up on myself either. Even though I felt like I was being stabbed on every place of my body I knew I only had to get through the next two hours. Time felt like it stood still. It was miserable! I’m four years sober. I’ve not once relapsed.  I’ve not been tempted in anyway to go back. Why? Because I can’t even explain to you what those withdrawals felt like and I NEVER want to go through that again EVER! My life has been so much better not constantly worrying about where I could get them ( pain meds), messaging everyone that I knew. I had a problem that was ruining my life, my relationships, everything. I’m so much better now! I’ve barely had ANY issues with my kidneys anymore ( my debilitating illness being the initial reason for my drug use).  Flare-ups here and there but nothing extremely bad. I will NEVER put another pain medication in my body unless I’m seriously injured and have no choice but to do so! I’m so thankful for my doctor who took two weeks out of her life, her schedule, her sleep to make sure she called me every two hours twenty-four hours a day!  I am grateful for Leo for pushing me into getting help for not him nor Tristan ( our son) but for myself.  I am thankful for my parents for their help in supporting my detox.  I feel bad as well for everyone who had to see me go through that time and I am sorry to everyone that I ever hurt while being clouded by my drug of choice! I’m happy and sober and I will forever be thankful that I stopped before it got completely out of control! I am just thankful for my life!!! I don’t want this to seem like I’m bragging or judging anyone who has been down this road and it may not have been as easy for them. I’m not bragging that I’m not an addict anymore because I am. I am an addict and I will be an addict for the rest of my life, that’s not something that will ever change! But now I’m In control, not a drug! Me!” ❤️❤️

So my message to Elizabeth was this:

“Your post sooo brave!! Thank God you had a doctor who chose to really serve you. Thank God you did not give up on you. You were given a second chance (by God) and you grabbed it. Elizabeth will you allow me to use your narrative in my blog piece? My blog is read all over the world.. perhaps it (your story) can help someone or many.
This my sweet friend, I believe is your purpose.. to share your story to help others “💜

So I’ve been thinking about our God of second chances and wanted to share a portion of the devotional email that I received today:

Nothing that is not God’s will can come into the life of one who trusts and obeys God. This fact is enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy. For “God’s will is the one hopeful, glad, and glorious thing in the world”; and it is working in the omnipotence for us all the time, with nothing to prevent it if we are surrendered and believing.

In the center of the circle
 of the will of God I stand.  There can come no second causes,
  All must come from His dear hand.
 All is well! for ’tis my Father
 who my life hath planned.


Shall I pass through waves of sorrow?
Then I know it will be best;
Though I cannot tell the reason,
I can trust, and so am blest.


God is Love, and God is faithful,
So in perfect peace I rest, with the shade and with the sunshine,
 with  the joy and with the pain,
  Lord, I trust Thee, both are needed,
 each Thy wayward child to train,


Earthly loss, did we but know it,
 Often means our heavenly gain.
–I. G. W.

From Crosswalks.com (Aug.  14, 2017)

My visit that day at the art gallery lasted longer than I had expected. I figured that I needed to share my story as well as my faith with that very bitter dad. He told me that he wasn’t religious and that he and God had an understanding. I shared with him how my faith in Christ carried me through the dark times and blessed me with even joy above and beyond the bittersweet. I asked the dad how he was using his son’s tragedy to help others. He told me that he had shared his son’s story years earlier at a few speaking engagements but had done nothing for a long time. And so I encouraged him to get back to it as it could help him with the healing even now, eleven years later, as it serves others in his son’s memory for a bigger purpose.

God will use us in His own pre-designed capacity if we say a resounding yes Lord, send me! What if we said: “Send me out to listen, Lord, send me out to share; send me to reach others with your loving care”? Perhaps by serving one another even when we are suffering in our own despair, He will transform us; change our bitter into bittersweet.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

A Time For…

Sitting oceanside on this exquisite Sunday morning, it almost feels like I am attending church in this beautiful place. In my estimation it is prettier than any cathedral. Today there are no distractions. No cute little babies sitting in the pew in front of me, no standing, kneeling, sitting in repetition. Just me in my beach chair with my open Bible app on my phone and a receptive heart seeking all that He has for me.

So Ecclesiastes came to mind and I decided to look it up. This well known verse from chapter 3 came up (verses 2-8 ) and it seems so fitting for my blog post this week.
Ecclesiastes 3:2-8. NIV
2 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

A couple of days ago we took our grandson to the beach for some fun in the hot sun. As we set up our beach umbrella and all of our gear I noticed a woman sitting in a beach chair near us. Her lavender bathing suit caught my eye and I paid her a compliment. She smiled. So later on I struck up conversation ( I always do.. ha ha) and asked her about the paperback book that she was reading. She was reading some military themed fiction and although she told me it was pretty good, she wasn’t too convincing. So out of the blue I told her that I had written and published a book. ( Geeze, I’m so bold with whom and what I share, but I guess that it’s just part of who I’ve become).  So as she asked me what the book was about and I told her, she shared with me that she had suddenly lost her husband a  week ago. It was certainly a time for a hug. Even though we were random strangers we were both members of a greater family as part of God’s family as descendants of Adam and Eve. We both understood significant sorrow.   My new acquaintance seemed not to mind my hug. As we chatted we discovered that we knew some of the same people even though she resides in Florida and me in Western Mass. I actually knew her brother who lives a few doors down from the place where we vacation.  It is amazing to see how we truly all are connected.

Anyway, I decided to gift my new friend a copy of “Wish You A Goode Journey” and I headed  to my car to get it. As I flip flopped through the hot sand something caught my eye.  A fluttering monarch just beyond my reach.  This, my Godwink, followed me as I treked through the sand.  Really…A monarch on the beach?  A blessed reminder that my girl is always with me as is God.

Anne, my newest friend thanked me for the book and told  me that she was an artist. She mentioned that she was thinking it might be a time for painting. Yes! I thought, a perfect time for painting! I find when emotionally charged, creativity is at its best! .  Anne went to her car and retrieved her water colors while we watched her stuff.

The day played out and we fed the meter several times as we stayed later than Bob and I had originally planned. Our grandson was a fish in that frigid ocean water!  It was just a time for  relaxation and rejuvenation. The ocean always does that for us.

A few hours later, my new friend appeared at our umbrella and presented me with one of her sweet paintings.

It’s title: “Something Fishy”. What a treasure! I exclaimed, as it will be perfect in Makenzie’s room now turned into an office. The walls now a cheerful yellow, the painting will be a happy addition.

Please check out her website to see all her beautiful work.

http://anne-sands.pixels.com

Below is the watercolor she created while we were at the beach.

Low tide ” by Anne Sands

Decided to share this piece (below) , in memory and honor  of Anne’s husband Billl and my dear ole dad “Moe” who was a sailor for the U.S. Navy.  It just seemed fitting to add this to my seashore blog post.

Gone From My Sight                                   by: Henry VanDyke 

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

And that is dying...

There is most definitely a time for every season under heaven. Thank God we have been given the blessing of this perspective and that beautiful verse from Ecclesiastes.

Give Me a Sign

Throughout my faith journey, I have asked God to show me signs to let me know He is near, as I ask for guidance through my prayers of supplication. What does that mean? It means that I humbly ask God for His help through what I now fondly refer to as Godwinks. Sometimes it is a simple conversation with my creator that says, “Help, Give me a sign”!

I remember the anxiety that I felt when purchasing my first car, a used 1969 Volkswagon beetle bug.   I lived in Houston, TX at the time, and had no one there like my dad to give it a good look over. I had saved up $1000.00 of my hard earned money to make this purchase and couldn’t afford to buy a lemon. There were no lemon laws in Houston, TX. So, I went to the seller’s house, an elderly gentlemen, to see his beetle bug. He was from Poland and spoke with a polish accent and I found it difficult to understand him as we conversed. Also, to my dismay I learned that the car was a standard transmission so I would need to learn to drive it as well. The man took me for a ride in the car and showed me the ins and outs of it. It was very plain and in thinking retrospectively probably not the best choice for city driving on the super highways, but I chose it as it would be conservative on gas. I asked the man for a minute and he walked away to give me time and space. I prayed. I was so very nervous about this purchase and asked God to give me a sign. I remember standing there under a big pecan tree in that back yard and looking up could see the sun streaming through the leaves of the tree.   While looking at the leaves I could see an image and I remember that It looked like the face of Christ to me and I felt an immense peace come over me. My anxiety was suddenly gone.  I will never forget that experience.   And so I decided to purchase the car as I negotiated a lower price ( it’s what we New Englanders do) and the elderly gentleman and I finally shook hands. I was young, 19 years old, but the lesson of prayer that my parents instilled in me at a young age has proved to help me find solace in every situation.

Living in Houston was a time of growth.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I can see now how God used the trials in my life to mold and strengthen my faith.  As a young adult I lived superficially worrying about outward appearances and about joining friends at the next happy hour.  Yes, we partied in excess!  Because of this, I eventually experienced a deep emptiness and a real drought in my spiritual life.  On December 31st, (New Year’s Eve) I lost my young 19 year old friend and room-mate Lesa, to a drug overdose.  This was a life altering experience for me.  To say it woke me up would be an understatement.  Following Lesa’s funeral I took a little trip alone to Corpus Christi,TX to sort things out for myself and I remember inviting Jesus back into my life amidst my thoughts. As I stared out at the vast ocean I just knew that He had bigger plans for my life.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 2:9-11

When we relinquish control of our lives to God amazing things happen.

I googled Corpus Christie to learn how it got its ‘name and found this:

In 1519, on the Roman Catholic Feast Day of Corpus Christi, Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda discovered a lush semi-tropical bay on what is now the southern coast of Texas. The bay, and the city that later sprung up there, took the name of the feast day celebrating the “Body of Christ.” 

So I thought it intriguing that Corpus Christi was the place where I gave my heart to Christ

A song played on my livestream today and as I paid attention to the lyrics it gave me a smile and I wanted to share a few of the lines here:

The song “Keep Your Eyes Open”,                by: Need to Breathe

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown
Open up your eyes, keep your eyes open

So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me
To keep your eyes… Open, my love

So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I’ll never let you fall apart
If you keep your eyes… Open, my love
Keep your eyes…open

So grateful my God has given me an open heart to receive all that He has for my life.  His plans are so much better than mine, I will wait patiently and when He Gives Me A Sign I will give thanks.

 

Flying the Friendly Skies

My dream as a young girl right up through my teens was to become a flight attendant, I know, I wasn’t dreaming big enough!  I’ve never really been a person who chased fame and fortune but was always attracted to travel. At the time I figured that it would provide a means to see the world. If I recall correctly I went on 29 interviews with various airlines in pursuit of a flight attendant job.. When I saw an advertisement for an initial meet and greet with an airline that was hiring, I always went. As I sat in a roomful of a hundred or more hopefuls and we were invited to stand up and introduce ourselves and tell a little bit about ourselves, I was the person that always jumped up first. I figured that this initial display of self-confidence would assure me a second interview, and it seemed too.  To be hired with an airline as a flight attendant you needed to make it through four interviews. I usually made it through three and actually was invited back with two airlines for their fourth interview. I remember being flown first class to Dallas for my fourth interview with American but somehow managed to screw it up. I also was invited to a fourth interview with Pan American Airlines to interview for an international position and had to take two foreign language exams. I chose French as I had studied French in high school ( I also studied Swedish in college, but to this day I am not quite sure why, except that the language intrigued me). Anyhow, they told me I aced both my French written and conversational exams and was invited to meet with the Executive board as well as the Vice President of Pan American Air for a final interview. I was an extremely nervous nineteen year old seated at that board room conference table. I remember how nervous that I was as I kept a smile pasted on my face and my lower lip quivered. At that final interview, I had to answer a series of questions about how I would handle certain situations such as screaming babies and unruly passengers. But then the question came about what I would do with the passengers if I learned from the pilot that the plane encountered mechanical difficulties was going to go down and probably crash. My answer was thoughtful and from my heart, but not what this host of executives was looking for. I explained that I would probably tell the passengers what was happening and try to calm them and would invite them to pray to God with me for His perfect intervention. I knew as the words escaped my lips that I would not be flying the friendly skies with that organization. They thanked me and politely escorted me out of the conference room.

So God had an alternate plan for my life which did not include flying for business in that chapter of my life, and I settled on a position as a travel agent for awhile, and afterwards working in the hospitality industry in sales and marketing. I was blessed with a few very sweet positions including a director of sales and marketing position where I had the opportunity to plan and work on the PGA tour at a prestigious golf course. It was fun, but not rewarding. I have learned that its not about serving celebrities nor the monetary gains in life that have provided me with the most happiness. I have found the biggest blessings in the opportunities presented where I can get to know someone personally.  It warms my heart when God uses our story to inspire others by sharing, encouraging, listening and building them up.  It’s wonderful to witness the rekindling of their faith.

Today, I had to get on a plane headed to St.Louis. As I jumped out of my car, on an impulse, I grabbed a copy of my book, Wish You a Goode Journey. and stuffed it in my bag. I just knew God would place me in a position to share it at some point in my travel. It just happened to be the very first segment of my flight. The person seated next to me was on her way to San Francisco on business. We started to chat and she mentioned  that she was not so religious but that she did pray everyday. As we continued to talk, she started to open up to me and eventually she was sharing with me about her faith in God as she shared many of her own examples of God’s faithfulness and provisions in her life. I shared with her about Makenzie; about God’s perfect plan for her life and mine too. I shared about Kenzie’s gifts and the lives she saved and the woman next to me got very sad and tearful. She told me that her sister had just lost her son only two months earlier and about the sadness that surrounds her sister. She also told me that her nephew, her sister’s son helped and even saved fifteen lives! Wow! It was nice to hear about this selfless guy who friends gravitated to in life for help, advice, and a listening ear. And as I was flying the friendly skies, God in His perfect seating assignment placed me in seat 10 D and the woman next to me in seat 10 C. ( I love that he used row 10… a perfect Godwink)! My new friend and I exchanged information and of course a copy of Wish You A Goode Journey inscribed to her sister Martha. She has already requested a get- together with she and her sister and I, in August.

So I realize now that God is using me in a different capacity as I am flying the friendly skies. His plan is so much greater than mine. He is allowing me to serve others in a much bigger capacity for Him,

When I personally autograph the book, many times I include this scripture and so I want to share it here:

God”S Amazing Grace to You,

Marcy

It’s All About…

Finding Hope

Lately a pervading thought and phrase keeps coming back to me “It’s All About…”. Last week I ventured a bit south to a friend’s beautiful boutique for a little shopping and an opportunity to simply catch up. I had never visited her at her shop which is called “It’s All About…Me”. Her sweet little boutique was filled with treasures to include clothing, jewelry, trinkets and other niceties for women. I had fun shopping, sharing and conversing on that afternoon. But for some reason the name of her store consumed my thoughts.

The following day, while listening to the radio during my drive time home from work, I listened to a talk show and the title of the program that day was “It’s All About …You”. The question/ core of the message was: are you living a life that is all about you? It certainly stopped me in my thoughts and made me give mindful reflection of my own life and actions. Am I living a self-centered, me first, kind of existence or am I using every opportunity to point others to Christ?

Today during my devotion, I read from a book called The Message which I recently acquired. It is a book compiled of the New Testament but which is written in “layman” terms which I found to be easily digestible text. The scriptures that I read were from Phillipians and II Timothy; which told about when Paul was held prisoner because of his faith but used his imprisonment to point others to Christ. His imprisonment back fired for his captors as Paul was sharing the gospel with the other prisoners and even the guards. Wow! Paul was living his life sacrificially and it was not a life of “It’s all about…” me but moreover a life of “it’s all about …” God, as he pointed others to Jesus; and still does so many thousands of years after his life in prison.

(The above text shared from:  The Message)

I find it intriguing the people that God places in our paths for His purposes. I recently received a friend request from someone that I did not know ( it happens a lot) and I accepted her request and we began texting back and forth. I learned that she had lost her son to an accidental drug overdose. I learned that our life paths seem similarly aligned and that she too has the understanding of her purpose now in this unimaginable tragedy that has hit her where she lives. My new friend is using her voice to bring this horrible epidemic to the forefront locally and at the state and national government levels. God willing her voice will be used for His amazing purpose, and in the end it’s all about… Him.

The above text shared from:  The Message

I like the lyrics of a song by one of my favorite bands “Casting Crowns”. Thought I would share a few stanzas here and the link to their Youtube video also:
LIFE SONG By: Casting Crowns

Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
Now joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight
May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
I want to sign your name
To the end of this day
Lord led my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to you

Click on the link to hear this beautiful song in full

Hoping you will prayerfully ask God for the compass to His purpose for your life and that you will come to a joy filled knowing that in the end “it’s all about…Him”.

 

Photo by: Brendan Foery

Sent from my iPad

Living Light

As I was reading my daily devotional, memories came flooding back to me about the origin of my Living Light devotional; of how I acquired it.

Years ago when my children were very small, our family had an opportunity to purchase an older camper on a seasonal sight at our favorite lakeside campground. The circumstances in which this opportunity arose was a sad one. Another family lost their dad after a heated basketball game in the campground basketball court. The man, his name was Burt, died at the young age of 53 after suffering a heart attack. His older model camper that we purchased had seen many summers of fun and laughter for this other family beginning when their kids were young right up through their teens. We felt blessed to have it, but it came at the significant cost of someone else’s heartache.  I observed how very sad it was for this woman, her name was Connie, to  part with her family’s beloved place. She walked us through all the  regimens of opening and closing their camper, their treasured second home, as she showed us how everything worked. She also gifted us some of their family camping items including a perfectly placed hat hook for her husband’s baseball cap, a Pit family card game that came with a metal bell, and a daily devotional called “Living Light” As you can see from the picture below,  it is well worn as it is well read, and to this day my favorite daily devotional.

That  little camper was our family’s first experience at camping as a family and led to many fun days and nights spent at Pilgrim Pines. There is no place nor adventure on earth like family camping, especially at Pilgrim Pines. I recall countless hours of our vacation spent at the frog pond with my children knee deep in mucky muck as I waded in, in our attempts at netting the biggest frog for the weekly frog jumping contest. The frogs were always promptly put back in their pond and I have to wonder what those croakers thought of that weekly ritual. Family camp consisted of a variety of activities offered each day. I remember learning how to bake Swedish Limpa bread with my kids and did some basket weaving, took paddleboat rides, and ty dying too.  We climbed Mount Monadnock and also picked blueberries at Pitcher Mountain. On every Friday at the end of each family camp week, a family triathlon was held.  As I remember,  Kenzie swam, Sean ran and I biked the two miles around the lake. Their dad was there to cheer our family on.  We never won but had some good laughs trying.

A favorite time was during the evenings, taking our lantern lit walks around the camp roads in the darkness as we peaked in at the other camp sites while walking by. We heard laughter and singing and spied card games and campfires, flaming marshmallows, and sing-alongs too.  We oberved sweet memory making of shared times that cannot be replaced. I remember one of those walks with Kenzie when she was about ten years old. She had just returned to us from spending a week at Camp Squanto, the Bible camp just up the road. As we walked and talked my daughter asked me out of the blue if I believed in angels. It did not take me long to answer,affirmatively as I  asked her why. She explained that at the end of week campfire that night before, as the kids sang their camp songs and prayed, some even giving their lives over to Christ, Makenzie saw an angel sitting on the big rock; it was living light and it was glowing. I have never questioned that she  saw an angel as I believe she did. God’s promise to her ( and me) that He would always watch over her.  His living light in our darkness.

This is a recent pic of the traditional Friday night camp fires at Camp Squanto… makes my heart smile as tradition continues

The autumn after Kenzie died, I received a surprising picture text from my brother-in-law Dave who is the Maintenance Superintendent of Camp Squanto, the Bible Camp. He and his crew were in the process of painting the camper cabins and came across some graffiti written on the closet wall of Cabin Five. It was Makenzie’s handwriting!  You can probably imagine how it made me feel to see it. He promised that as long as he was in charge, it would not be repainted..

Senior Girls Gone Wild. Chelsea forever. Peace Kenzie and Kayla 2009

A few years later I returned to Camp Squanto and ventured up into the woods to the area where those weekly end of camp, campfires were held. It was a cool November day and the camp was deserted and very quiet. I saw the big rock where Kenzie had seen the angel years earlier and thought about where she may have been seated in the campfire circle. While I was there visiting on that November afternoon, I prayed to God, I cried, and I talked to Kenzie too. Often I ask why she had to leave us as I still can’t make much sense of it. As I was leaving, I felt compelled to turn around and I saw the beautiful sunlight streaming through the woods and decided to snap a couple of pictures. Later when I looked at the pictures, I saw my Godwink! Do you see the purple on the big Angel Rock ? (Truly when I was there, there was no purple painted on the rock).  And also look at the unusual shape on the tree.  I believe that it was my angel’s calling card to me.  God’s living light left as a reminder of the hope that I have in Him.

“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people”. Revelations 14:6

Do you read daily from the Word of God?  I find that for me, reading from the Bible or a Bible devotional is a great way to start and/or end each day, as it helps provide daily perspective as I walk in His Living Light.

Below is a poem that I just found in some things that I have collected over these past years .  I believe my sweet friend Norma sent it to me. We serve an amazing God, Jesus Christ, our only  Living Light in a sometimes dark world.

Do you need Me ?
I am there. 
You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by.
You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.
You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands. 
I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.
I am at work, though you do not understand My works.
I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries. 
Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me
as I AM, and then but as a feeling and a faith. 
Yet I am here. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.
When you need ME, I am there.
Even if you deny Me, I am there.
Even when you feel most alone, I am there.
Even in your fears, I am there.
Even in your pain, I am there. 
I am there when you pray and when you do not pray.
I am in you, and you are in Me.
Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for
only in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine”.
Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me. 
Empty your heart of empty fears.
When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.
You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.
And I AM in all. 
Though you may not see the good, good is there, for
I am there. I am there because I have to be, because I AM. 
Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of ME does the world go forward.
I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded. 
I am the love that is the law’s fulfilling. I am assurance.
I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by.
I am the love that you can cling to. I am your assurance.
I am your peace. I am ONE with you. I am. 
Though you fail to find ME, I do not fail you.
Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never
wavers, because I know you, because I love you. 
Beloved, I AM there.


— James Dillet Freeman
Sent from my iPad

Reflection

Reflection

Often as I drive to work, I feel compelled to stop and take pictures. My drive to work through New England countryside is so beautiful and yesterday I could not pass by without stopping to take in this majestic view. They call this God’s country. God’s reflection from heaven?  It’s beautiful.

I sometimes wonder how creation can be explained away.  I find it too far reaching to think that the world as we know it in its stupendous intricate life forms just happened over time. For me, the only concept that I can hang my hat on is that there is a God of the universe and in His omnipotence created everything we see and more. So incomprehensible is the magnitude of His perfection to every detail and this God of the universe wants to know me and has become my friend.

This week I noticed a tiny little finch fluttering up and down at my window when I got back from work in the evening. I couldn’t fathom what it was doing and dismissed it as I went on enjoying my evening. The next morning I noticed her again, only this time she had perched herself on another window and was just tapping away at the glass. It then occurred to me that she had made friends with her reflection. This went on for the entire day until dark. I actually captured several pictures as I sat intrigued watching this sweet bird and thought about God’s constant care even for this tiny little finch. I recall a passage from the Bible taught to me as a child.

Matthew 10:29-31
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don?t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
(NIV Bible)

As a Christian I am no longer my own person, as I now belong to Christ who lives within me. I remember as a younger person wondering what that truly meant. I was encouraged from a young age to invite Christ into my life, but it was a concept that I could not grasp. I guess the reason I did not feel it or understand it was because I could not completely relinquish my control to God; meaning that I could not truly let go allowing Him to fully come into my life and change me. And honestly, I don’t believe I completely let go until my daughter died. I believe when she died, I died too. I died to self. But the incredible thing that happened is that I changed. I had no hope left for this life as I knew it, as I contemplated how everything had changed; life as I knew it. But then my faith in God became so real and beautiful as I beseeched Him in prayer, imploring Him to help me find my way. I believe that God desires for us to need Him. I think about the amazing journey I was given as I stumbled along in life as He placed people and circumstances on my path to encourage me. My faith grew.  There are many dimensions to God in His loving care and provision for my life and yours too. From the simplest Godwink to the remarkable signs, and answers to my prayers, as I communicate, trust and experience a meaningful relationship with the God of the universe. Wow!

I believe that God uses us as instruments of His peace love and charity if we recognize His voice and calling when we sense a nudge to do something differently. Life is anything but dull when we are followers of Christ. As we step out of our comfort zone to walk on water, we need to expect to do just that as He uses us for his magnificence. And I need to add here that when I depart from prayer and daily devotion because life gets busy, I find that my day is just not fruitful. It becomes dull and stagnant or the opposite, chaotic and stressful until I pause and reconnect with God as He breathes new life into me.  I no longer accept each day as ordinary. What an adventure it can be when we say yes to that God nudge or wink that gets our attention.

A few things have caught my attention this week to make me question my faith walk. I heard a podcast and the speaker mentioned babies. He suggested  that babies walk before they talk. That got me to wonder if I am indeed walking (first) what I am talking. Is my life a reflection of Christ? Then also a devotional with a scripture came up on my phone to make me consider the same:

James 2:14-26New King James Version (NKJV)

Faith Without Works Is Dead

So I wonder about the little finch that came to our window trying to connect with its reflection. And when I look into the mirror of my own life, can I honestly see God’s reflection?   I ‘ve come to the conclusion that I better get busy.

 

Sent from my iPad

Lily of the Valley

Enjoyed some much anticipated hot weather this week, and loved it!  As i took my daily walk on Monday through the Vermont neighborhood surrounding my place of work, i was captivated by all the spring flowers. I recently learned there are over 400,000 different species of flowering plants in our world. I am thinking God had a blast with His creations! ( Here I am picturing God wearing a French artist beret, with his huge paint palette). Ha ha, and why not? So as I inhaled the beauty, I picked a random tiny flower to enjoy its fragrance throughout the remainder of my walk. When I returned to work, I decided to gift it to the lunch lady in our work cafeteria. She beamed as she commented that that was the nicest thing anyone had given her as she manned the lunch line, that all she usually gets handed is an empty creamer waiting to be filled. So I was happy to offer her this simple Lily of the Valley blossom.

This little story reminded me of a Godwink years earlier on another noontime walk at a previous job. On that particular morning, a volunteer for the American Cancer Society had visited our office selling bouquets of Daffodils to benefit the Cancer Society. The cynicism in me prevented me from taking part and I declined. You see my mom had lost her battle to cancer that very year and I was feeling defeated and bitter that her life had not been spared. Anyway later on that day as I took my work break walk, I was dwelling on my bitter emotions surrounding her death and then my knowing that she wouldn’t have wanted me to be feeling that way. My mother was my beam of sunshine on any given cloudy day.  So as I was walking, there in my path just feet away, lay a random bouquet of yellow daffodils. There was no one around anywhere that I could see, it seemed as though that daffodil bouquet had been dropped there for me! This was a Godwink.

Yesterday I took a walk and noticed one of the physicians where I work, sitting on a park bench with his face to the sky and with his eyes closed. As I approached, he opened his eyes and I asked him where was he in his thoughts. He slowly smiled and told me a lot of places. So I asked him if he cared to share and he told me he was deep in thought contemplating his patients, their illnesses, and their families. I believed that I had probably interrupted his conversation with God, as he prayed.  I shared with him that I had been called a prayer warrior as  many people have asked me to pray for them. I explained that even though I might at times have too many on my mental prayer list with difficulty remembering them all, but God knows. The doctor smiled and replied, “yes, He knows”. So I am figuring that this doctor is a blessing to his patients; and perhaps the lily of their valley, as he treats, cares and prays for them.

This morning I went to breakfast again at work in the cafeteria. As I paid my favorite cafeteria lady, I noticed a paper cup sitting at the cash register with the single Lily of the Valley blossom that I had gifted days earlier. Its fragrance filled the space there as my friend commented on it not realizing that I was the one that had actually picked it. She asked me to please pick more! I wonder how many people that single flower had blessed with its simple beauty and sweet aroma.

Bernice, my favorite cafeteria lady enjoying more Lily of the Valley

Makenzie’s birthday was this week also.  Even though seven years had gone by, it still seemed as though I should be planning a birthday party for her.   I did plan the day as I usually do, to stay happily distracted.   My friend Deb and I kayaked and had a picnic at Kenzie’s favorite lake.  We toasted her life and even ate a slice of strawberry chesecake in her honor.  As I think of it, the flower for the month of May, Kenzie’s birthday month, is the Lily of the Valley.  Like the flower, Kenzie added sweetness and infectious joy bestowed to those who were lucky enough to cross her path.

Our God is an awesome God.  To gift us so many of life’s simple pleasures. It is wonderful to be able to reach others with simple dialogue, time spent with a friend,and precious gestures as we serve one another by loving on each other. Perhaps you will be a Lily of the Valley for someone in your path today.

Christ is our Lily in life’s valleys

Song of Solomon 2:1

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”

As the Lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.  I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

King James Version

 

Sent from my iPad

Abundant Peace, Abundant Life

I wanted to share a Godwink from a couple of weeks ago.  I had answered an ad on a Craig’s List site and decided to go look at some items at a stranger’s house.  My husband was out of town and so I invited my friend Mary to accompany me.  I also had a plan B in place, as I provided the location and address to another friend Sue, with instructions to find us if she had not heard back from me by a predetermined time.  Yes I was worrying! Our ride took us out to a secluded town and area in the woods as we drove on dirt roads that turned onto unmarked camp roads.  We were a bit nervous up until the car’s GPS announced that in 400 feet we had reached our destination.  Out of the blue just before the base of the driveway popped up a street sign.  There were no other street signs.  I announced to Mary that I just knew everything would be fine now as this was my Godwink!

And everything was fine.  We even made a couple of new friends including a rooster named Jo Jo!

As I laid in bed the other night, I awoke out of semi -conscious sleep to a loud bang and my immediate thought was that my husband had just returned home from his trip out to the mid-west. It sounded like the garage door hitting the cement floor as when our automatic garage door closes. But then I heard another thunderous ripping bang as it shot through the sky followed by streaks of lighting cursing my window shade. That  was a bad storm. My thoughts then went to panic as I thought of my husband who was traveling by airplane home and then driving the long drive from the airport in those wee hours. I prayed. I prayed for God’s safety net over him as he traveled, and then I thanked God for his protection. I thanked Him for His abundant peace, abundant life.

So it had me thinking about worry and how useless an emotion that it is. I even wondered about the invention of a thing called a worry stone. I “googled” worry stone to understand a little bit about it’s origin and learned how it is used in reducing anxiety.  “Have you ever wondered how a worry stone works? Can it actually help reduce anxiety – or is it just a novelty item? It turns out, psychological theory supports the use of worry stones. According to the principles of cognitive behavior therapy, the use of a worry stone can be a healthy self-soothing exercise that can help counteract negative comforting habits like nail or lip biting for example.  Worry stones are often used in combination with other relaxation exercises. The presence of the stone serves as a reminder to use affirmations, visualization or other coping tools. If you rub your worry stone while focusing on a positive affirmation that counteracts whatever you are anxious about, simply seeing the stone reinforces that positive message. It develops a series of habits and positive reinforcement that can help empower you in any situation”. ( taken from thenewagesource.com- June 6, 2014).  

My immediate thought here is what about prayer?  To me the thought of placing my trust in my own thought process and/ or a little rock or worry stone seems far reaching.

Sunday of last week, I traveled to one of my favorite little Vermont country churches to attend service. The Pastor there is a sweet friend and now his congregation too as they welcome me each time I come back for a visit. Pastor Rick’s message was hand delivered to my heart. The pastor spoke about our thoughts and the words that we use and how powerful they can be as they become us. He spoke about negative talk that manifests in our lives if we continue to repeat and dwell on the same.  Pastor Rick then spoke about the alternative, positive words; affirmations and truths as we allow God’s spoken word to become us. His message cast light on my own thoughts and spoken word and how they invade my life bad and good. I believe that positivity is a magnet and as we allow it to surround us it brings so much good to our lives.  I also believe that God places thoughts in our hearts and in our minds to act on.  Pastor Rick spoke about prayer and the importamce of BELIEVING when we pray, to always be thankful  as we acknowledge God’s provisions in our lives as we await HIs answer to our prayers.  This is by far better than to worry, to have the comfort of His abundant peace,abundant life.

This morning I had a little song in my heart from my childhood days attending Sunday school where we would sing songs.  The song I was thinking on goes like this:

I’ve got the joy joy joy joy, down in my heart ( where?) down in my heart, down in my heart.  I ‘ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay”.  Then the second verse starts: “I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of jesus, down in my heart….” and then the final verse is “I’ve got the peace surpasses understanding, down in my heart…”  The melody stayed with me all day and truly put a smile on my face as it invaded my thoughts.  That, my friend is dwelling on the positivity, and is a gift from above.  When Jesus left this earth, He promised His disciples ( and us), that he would ask His Father in Heaven to give us a comforter who provides truth, this gift from God, the Holy Spirit, who will dwell within us, (all who are believers). This is where my abundant peace, abudant life is found.

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting with an acquaintance having a conversation and all of a sudden she announced to me that I had a protective army of angels surrounding me. She said it emphatically and with joy
as if she could see the angels. Wow!  That gave me chills but then I can claim that assurance of God’s arms of protection which surround me, with His abundant peace, abundant life.

The other night my husband asked me to pray for him, for something that he has had on his mind continuously, that causes him worry.  I did, but then discussed with him the useless emotion of worry.  I told him to leave it with God to deal with; and to trust and thank Him for answers too.  Only Jesus is peace; peace that surpasses all understanding.  One cannot get that peace from a worry stone.  Christ is abundant peace, abundant life.

So when you start to worry, you need to pray and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. With His abundant peace, abundant life; life is good(e).

I Have This Hope

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

Lyrics from the Song: I Have This Hope
By: Tenth Avenue North

I heard this song on the way in to work today and felt the need to share some of its lyrics. Some friends and acquaintances have told me that I am the strongest person that they know. But only those who have the same deep understanding and faith in our loving God truly recognize where my strength comes from. And my closest friends and family also know that I am not the same person that I was before Makenzie left us. My heart always remembers this Bible verse:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” John 14:16-17.

Finding positivity in the midst of deep sadness is not easy. We all need help and encouragement. I have been blessed with appointed individuals who were sent along my path at just the right time to give me hope and to help me find the positivity. And I feel that I too have been placed along the way as others try to find their way through their own personal grief journey.

Sharing the Godwinks gives me hope and even joy. Little affirmations in my life that help keep me moving in the right direction; so that I know that I am not alone. Many people have shared their Godwinks with me and it gives me delight to see the handiwork of our amazing Father in Heaven. So, I thought that I would (with their permission), post a few of the Godwinks shared with me, by some of my acquaintances whom I now call my friends. One of my newest acquaintances, Sherry, posted her Godwink in memory of her son, Austin. Here is what she shared:

“Out of nowhere my heart became heavy today. I decided to go to the park and sit on my son’s bench to feel close to him. As I got out of the car I saw a white haired lady sitting on a bench with her little white dog. The dog was not leashed and it headed straight for me. The lady stood up and asked me to help her get her dog into her car. I said sure, what is your dog’s name? She looked at me with a smile and said “Angel”. That was my sign of comfort from my son. Love you my son”.

Another new friend shared her Godwink this week by sending me this picture. In loving memory of her son Jacob, Jennifer shared this:

“My son was a passionate and talented guitar player. I was drawn to stop on a walk last week and looked down and found this stone right at my feet; a perfect guitar pic”.

What a treasure find!

During one of my “Wish You A Goode Journey”  book talk events,David an organ recipient, shared that he had always had a dream of going to the Grand Canyon but due to his dibilitating illness never had the chance to go. After his double transplant and recovery, his parents gave he and his wife the gift of a trip to the Grand Canyon. David also shared that one of his favorite musicians is Dave Matthews and that he learned later on that his donor, Kevin, also loved Dave Matthews’ music. When David and his wife got on the plane to take their trip to the Grand Canyon, David plugged in his earbuds and the song that he heard first was a song sung by Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews. The song’s title: “I’m Alive and Well”. Wow! What a perfect Godwink!

So today I am serving as a volunteer for New England Donor Services  at a fundraiser called “Weezie’s Walk” in memory of my friend Louise Johnson.   I love to share my daughter’s story to allow people to see what a BIG difference organ donation makes in the lives of recipients and their families,  but also in the lives of donor families and friends as they share their loved one’s story.  What a legacy my daughter has left!  As Kenzie’s mom will never let her be forgotten.

Brenda Taylor….walking in Kenzie’s memory

April is National Donate Life month.  If you have not registered please consider this either as a living donor or as an important last gesture of love that you can gift at the end of your life. Below is the link where you can read more and register.

Pictured above is Stephanie (left) who gifted her dad a kidney and pictured (right) is Jody who gifted her mom a kidney.

And pictured below is a new friend Joyce who works as a kidney transplant coordinator for Baystate Hospital.

There are no coincidences, only Godwinks!  Because of Him, I have this hope.  I adore the Godwinks.  LIFE IS GOODE.

www.donatelifenewengland.org