I didn’t know we were family

It’s been a rough year around here. And those of you who follow me (thank you so much!), I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I used to. This last year my emotions have been so raw it’s hard to write and on top of that I am extremely empathetic. If you hurt, I hurt. Even if I don’t know you and I see you cry, it’s a safe bet I’ll be crying, too.

A few weeks ago, Facebook came out with a new feature. It wasn’t the thumbs down button we have all been asking for, but it was five (I think) different choices on top of the “like” button. And I am a child of the 90s, I am (on the upper edge) in the generation that was just young enough to get Facebook and MySpace and live journal (if you know how I can get my hands on my live journal these days I’d love to have those words!), but old enough to not ruin my life on social media.

All of these extra options on Facebook seemed so silly to me when they came out. All we asked for was a thumbs down. And I’m old enough, I don’t even know what all those faces stand for. I know that there is a heart for love (over like?) and a laughing out loud one and a sad one. I’m not sure what the other faces are for.

That sad face. The one with the tears and when you press on it, it says sad. That is the face I have used the most these last few days. Well, let’s be honest. These last 24 hours have been the saddest. I can’t even count the times I’ve pressed that sad face today.

We all love in groups. You have those closest to you and then like a ripple when you through a stone in the water your love expands. And you love every ripple, but maybe you love that first ripple more than the fifth or maybe you love all those ripples and can’t even tell the difference between them. I have always known who is in my first ripple. My first ripple is full of all the people who cried with me when Grandpa John died. It is family and friends who should be family.

That first ripple is all I did (could) focus on when Grandpa died. Those were the people who hurt with me. Those were the people who understood what he meant to me. Those were the ones that clung to me as I grieved.

Today I learned about the other rings. Those people who joked around with me. Those people who bought me a drink when we were hanging out. Those people who served me a drink or two too many and then walked me home because they love me and need me to be safe, and I’m safe with them.  Those people who get a kick out of me when I’m not at my best. Those people who aren’t blood but are better and closer to me than some that are blood.

Today we lost a mother. And while I am so close with her husband and son (they are some of my favorite people), I am not blood. And maybe it sounds bad to say, but before today I didn’t know we were family. I didn’t know how much I loved them. I didn’t know how much they meant to me and how much their pain would hurt me.

Oh my goodness. That’s not what I meant. Or maybe it is. I have this group of people, and I have known for a long time that I love them. What I didn’t know before today was how much I loved them. I always thought it was like anyone loves their friends, (although I have little experience with this as well. I have one forever friend (I’m looking at you, Cassidy!). And then today, my friends lost their mother, I thought they were fifth ripple friends, and then I learned they really are first or second ripple friends.

Now, biologically she was only the mother to one of my friends. However, by love she was the mother to most of the people who I am friends with today. I think of that group of kids that were around when I was young. They called my mom Ratmom because there were so many that loved her. Shirley was the Ratmom of my new group of friends.

There are people who lost their mom young, there are people who never knew their mom, there are people whose mom just gave up on them. And Shirley was there for all of them. It didn’t matter if you needed a mom as a child or as an adult, Shirley would be your mom. It didn’t even matter if you thought you didn’t need a mom. If Shirley thought you needed a mom, you got one in her.  And tonight, so many more than she birthed are mourning the loss of their mom.

Tonight I had the chance to look at all these “kids” in a different light. This is my family. I didn’t know before tonight how much I loved every single one of these people. We all come from different places and backgrounds, but when you put us all in the same room, you can’t tell a difference. This is family.

Maybe in this family, I am the third cousin twice removed. But I’m still family. And they are still family. And I would do anything to keep them from the pain they are feeling tonight. But what I can do is laugh with them, and cry with them. We can tell stories and talk nonsense. We will come up with a plan to take care of Dad (this is so familiar and again I am so grateful Grandma has us to ground her).

It seems so silly, but I didn’t know this was family until today. I had no idea how much I loved these people until the pain was knocking on our door. When we (because I know my husband feels it more than I do) say, “is there anything we can do?” What we mean is, cry on our shoulder. Let us buy you a beer. Just know we hurt so much and aren’t blood but wish there was anything we could do. And then remember that the one thing I knew about Shirley was that blood didn’t matter at all.

Those that are family, those that love us, those that we love, remember that every tear you cry, we cry with you. We feel every pain. And maybe it doesn’t make your pain less, but where she is now, there is no pain.

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Memories To Be Treasured

I am patriotic. I love my God, my family and my country. And although there are some days when things happening make it hard to recognize my country, I still love it. I am extremely proud of our military men and women who give themselves every day to keep us safe and free. And maybe I’m a little bias, but there is this one soldier that I believe is the best.

One week after Grandpa died, my brother graduated from the army’s flight school. He officially flies helicopters for the United States Army. And to say that I am proud of him is a complete understatement of my feelings. We are all so proud of the things my brother is doing.

Throughout the summer as Grandpa’s health was declining and my brother’s graduation was approaching, as a family we started discussing what would need to happen so my parents could be at the graduation. It was an important milestone in his military career and important to everyone that my parents be there. Had life turned out differently, my grandparents would have been planning on being at the graduation as well.

My mom had been at every graduation ceremony since my brother enlisted. We were there when he graduated from boot camp. We were there when he deployed to Iraq. There was no way she was going to miss this one.

It was so hard as we were figuring out who would stay where and who would do what to help with Grandpa. And then in God’s infinite wisdom and timing, Grandpa died one week before the graduation and just days before mom and dad would have left to be at the ceremony.

The day after Grandpa died, my mom, grandma, aunt and I were all sitting around Grandma’s table talking about the coming days’ and it was brought up that Grandma should go with my parents to the graduation. There was some back and forth, but why wouldn’t she go? Well, one night there was a military ball. Not to worry, my brother said that if it was too late to get Grandma a meal at the ball that he would gladly give her his. She didn’t want to go alone? No problem. My brother got her a date. Maybe my brother wouldn’t want her there? Are you kidding? He had her a date and a meal before she had said the final yes that she would go.

I’m so glad that she went. I’m glad that she got to be there. And I know that Grandpa would have wanted her to go and be there with my brother.

What happened over the next few days says so much about the military and how they truly are a family. When my brother went in to pay for Grandma’s meal for the ball, as he had for our parents, he was told not to worry about it. His unit had paid for it. And although there were other grandparents at the graduation, our grandma was the only one the unit had purchased a bouquet of flowers for.

And when my brother said he needed an escort for his grandma to the ball, he had no problems finding one.

grandma and date

Grandma was asked to help my sister-in-law pin my brothers wings on his uniform.

grandma pinning justin

grandma kissing justin

after pinning

And if you look in the background of those last three pictures, you will notice that all the commanding officers were watching my brother and Grandma. I love the smiles on the commanding officers’ faces. You can tell that it meant something to them as it did to us.

On more than one occasion, people came up to Grandma and told her how sorry they were for her loss. It was obvious that they knew how important Grandpa was to my brother and how important my brother is to them.

everyone heli

The memories made that week are some that will never be forgotten and always be treasured. The honor, respect, love and compassion given, not because of anything we did, but because of how much Grandpa meant to my brother is something that even those of us who weren’t able to be there will remember.

The God of All Comfort

This morning I was up with the sun, which is extremely unusual. I laid in bed and watch the sun begin to peek through the skylight in our bedroom. I wanted to be asleep, but the more I tried to fall asleep the less restful it became so I finally just gave in and got up.

I spent the sunrise out on the deck with my coffee and my bible and my God. I needed comfort and strength, and I know God knows what I need so I decided I’d just open my bible and read whatever I opened on. I found myself at the beginning of 2 Corinthians. And do you know what that book of the bible starts out talking about?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

In those two verses, Paul uses the word comfort five times. He describes God as the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. How true is that? All of my comfort comes from my God.

He knows what I need and provides it for me. He knows every tear I have cried and all the ones I’ve held in. He knows when I am broken-hearted and hurts with me. He knows. And He gives me mercy and comfort.

I know that no matter what happens today, one day there will be no sickness and no pain and no more tears. One day, those who love Jesus will be together again with Him, and there will be no heartache and no tears. There will only be joy. One day it won’t matter how broken our bodies become on this earth because one day they will all be healed.

And while I may have tears today, knowing all this does give me comfort. All that we are going through right now is just a small blip in the big plan of God that leads us to Him. And His plan is so good.

And while we are just a small part in His big plan, I know that God cares that we are hurting right now. He feels our pain and knows our sorrows. He loves us more than anyone ever could, more than any of us can imagine. He wipes every tear from my face and holds me in His arms and lets me know that, in the end, everything will be good.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Net Neutrality and Freedom Online

Sometimes there are things that happen in the world around us or in our communities or our country that I feel the need to talk about. Normally I leave politics at the door here. Mostly I talk about faith and my family or my life in general. This is one of those rare times that I feel the need to talk politics.

There is a lot of talk going on right now about the FCC and Net Neutrality. Those in favor of net neutrality are telling us how great it will, how free the internet will be with the government regulating it. Really? I would say that the internet is pretty free right now.

When I decided I wanted to start a blog, I googled hosting websites and came across a couple different ones that were free to get started. I checked them out and finally settled on wordpress.com to host my blog. I came up with a name, put in my email address and chose a password and *BAM* a website was born where I have the freedom to put anything I chose. I didn’t have to ask permission from anyone to start this. I can say anything I want to here. I am FREE to do with this area as I please.

If the FCC classifies the internet as a telecommunication service rather than an informational service, everything changes. No, it won’t change overnight. You won’t wake up the next morning and everything be different, but things will change. The government will suddenly be regulating the internet.

Let’s say you’ve got this great idea to make soaps and lotions. You start out making them just for yourself, but they are so great that you start making them to give as gifts to your friends and family. Your friends and family love your products and tell you that you should start selling them. You think about and decide to go ahead and give it a try. You decided to start a web-based business selling your soaps and lotions. Today you can do it. Find a hosting company to host your website and start selling your products.

When the government takes over the internet, what do you think they are going to want you to do before you start selling your products? Well, what does the government want (force) you to do if you want to start a business in your town? Well, you are definitely going to need a business license ($). There are going to be some fees ($). You’ll definitely need an inspection ($), and probably several of them ($). You did get a permit ($) to make those lotions and soaps here, right?

Let’s say you are a great baker. You love baking cakes and decorating them, and it turns out you are pretty good at it. Some friends ask you to bake a cake for their baby’s first birthday. They take a bunch of pictures at the party and post them to Facebook. “WOW! Great cake! Where’d you get it?” And suddenly, you’re getting asked to make cakes for birthdays and weddings and all sorts of special occasions. You decide to go ahead and give your cake business a name and a Facebook page so you can start taking orders regularly. Maybe you can even make a living out of doing something you love.

And businesses aren’t the only changes that could be coming with government regulation of the internet. Maybe you think the internet could use some regulation. I’ll be the first to agree with you that, along with the many, many good things, there are many, many bad things as well. Although I’ve never looked for it, I am positive that you can find any type of porn you could ever want on the internet. There is probably a site for every type of hate and oppression imaginable. Let the government regulate that, you say. Let the government shut all of the hate down, you say.

Well, doesn’t that sound great in theory. But who gets to decide what stays and what goes? Who gets to pick what qualifies as hate? Right now a lot of people who have never listened to a word he has said would tell you that Glenn Beck spews hate, even though every day he says we should love each other regardless of our differences. But he spews hate, they say. Shut him down, they say. And if you don’t agree with him maybe you think that is a great idea.

But think about this. What happens when we have a different president? What happens when power changes hands? What if those in charge thought that everything on MSNBC is hate and start shutting those people down?

What if those in charge decide that talking about God is hate speech? Or if you write about being anti-vaccination? Or if you home school? Or if you just disagree with the things that are going on around you? Slowly you’ll start seeing the bloggers disappear. What about all those bloggers that share news and political opinions? What if the government decides that they aren’t real reporter, they aren’t real news sites? And then they disappear, too.

Right now you can go online and say whatever you want. You can take videos and millions of people can view them.

Right now the internet is free.

 

I would ask you all to please go to this website and sign the petition asking the FCC not to take over the internet.

Will you be my valentine?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. How excited are you? It’s a day to force your spouse or significant other to buy you an overpriced card/flowers/candy/gift/dinner. It’s a day to say, “No, Honey. You don’t need to get me something.” and then be mad when you don’t get something.

Maybe that seems a little harsh. Maybe you and your loved ones truly love Valentine’s Day. That’s great for you. I know Hallmark/Hersey/ProFlowers loves it. (Hey, way to go! Yay for capitalism!) As for my family, tomorrow is just another Saturday. No big deal.

I can hear you now. Oh, sure. You say it’s no big deal, but we all know you’ll be upset if your husband doesn’t show up with a dozen roses. If my husband shows up with a dozen roses tomorrow, I’m going to ask him if he’s lost his mind. Don’t get me wrong. If he wants to get me flowers, I would love them. However, I don’t want them on a day that the world has told him he HAS to get them for me. I’d much rather have them on a random Tuesday when the boys have driven me to the edge and nothing has gone right and I have no idea what I’m going to fix for supper. A week old bouquet from the gas station on a random Thursday would mean so much more to me than the nicest, freshest bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day.

We said years ago we weren’t “doing” Valentine’s Day. I told my husband not to get me anything. And you know what? I meant it. If you tell your significant other not to get you anything for Valentine’s Day and you don’t mean it, well, in my house, we call that a lie. And I don’t lie. A lie is a lie is a lie. I do not understand why someone would say they didn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day when they do. Why would you set up your significant other for failure?

Maybe instead of setting ourselves up to fail, we should celebrate love for what it is or is supposed to be. Randomly this week, Connor walked up to me and said, “You know Valentine’s isn’t about presents and candy. It’s about friendship.” Amen!

What if instead of expecting gifts, we offer kindness. “Love suffers long and is kind; love doesn’t envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) What if we love each other like that?

What if instead of walking down that red and pink aisle in Wal-Mart/Target/Kroger, we spend Valentine’s Day following Jesus? “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.'” (Matthew 22:37-38) Maybe February 14th should be about that.

Maybe we are just weird. Maybe it is strange that we don’t “do” Valentine’s Day, that birthdays aren’t that big of deal, that on Christmas morning I don’t need a gift under the tree. I don’t need a big dinner out or flowers or fancy words in a card. I would much rather have a nice (crazy) night at home with my husband and kids. A simple “I love you” is just as good (better) than the sweetest Hallmark card for me.

If you needed/want the dinner out, the flowers and gifts and fancy cards, that’s great for you. I hope you get them. I hope you’ve told your significant other that you need those things. And I hope you’ve found someone who will give them to you. I respect your decision.

In return, I hope you’ll respect mine. If you ask my husband what he’s getting me for Valentine’s Day and he tells you I don’t want anything, don’t act like only an idiot would fall for that trick. If we say we’re staying in on Saturday, don’t feel sorry for us. It’s exactly what we want to do. This is who we are, and we like it this way.

Hope For the Holidays *Update*

Just before Thanksgiving, WANA (a private project where strangers help strangers) was supposed to start again for the fourth year. However, this year it was on Facebook rather than a blog where people could share their needs in a more private way.

I felt moved and decided to host something similar here calling it Hope For the Holidays (since I couldn’t get a hold of the original blogger). I wrote a post and slowly but surely people have showed up with needs and strangers have helped us fill those needs.

And every time I get discouraged that needs won’t be filled, more givers show up to help. And while I have been told no that I can’t share our project in places that seem like they should be willing to help, Matt over at Must Be This Tall To Ride wrote a lovely post about what we are doing and asked his readers if they wanted to make magic with us.

Together we have helped moms and dads, aunts and uncles, families that need just a little help this year. We have sent toys and clothes and gift cards to help with food. Christmas morning there will be presents under trees in houses that Santa Claus would have been missing. Families that worry about how they are going to buy groceries next week can breathe a little easier.

Thank you so much. None of this would have happened without those of you who have helped, by filling needs, sharing the project with your friends and family, and praying for us.

But our work is not done. We still have needs that I would like to see filled.

There is Jo, a mom of two little boys (ages 4 and 6) with a baby girl on the way.

There is a mom who is “looking for an angel” with a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Santa won’t be making a stop at their house without help.

There is Wanda, a grandma taking care of her grandsons (ages 5 and 1). She left a violent situation and they had to leave everything behind.

Heidi is a mom of 6 with one on the way. Not only is Santa missing their house this year, they don’t even have a tree those gifts belong under.

There is Brian who is 16 and has a 13-year-old sister. They know things are tight this year and there won’t be any presents under the tree. They aren’t asking for gifts. They just want to do something nice for their parents and get some help putting food on the table so their parents won’t have to worry so much.

Sara is a single mom with a 14-year-old daughter. Because of illness and missed time at work, things are tight. She doesn’t need things but is wondering how she’s going to put food on the table this Christmas season.

Elaine and her husband have 5 kids, 2 girls and 3 boys. Their car broke down and any “extra” they could come up with had to go to repair it.

Every comment that comes in I read. Every need breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could help every person. We pray for the families that need help and those that are helping. We pray that God would send us help to meet the needs that are left.

If these stories touch your heart and you have a way to help, please go to the original post and reply to the person’s comment. If the stories touch your heart but you don’t have a way to help, please pray that the right people see the needs.

If you have been helped, please go to the original post and update your need.

If you have been helped and are willing to share that story, please email me at 2crazylittleboys AT gmail.com. I’d love to share all those stories (and pictures if you are willing to share those).

Thank you for giving. Thank you for reading and sharing. Thank you for praying.

And as a bonus, my crazy little boys decorating the tree:

IMG_0291

An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

Dear Glenn,

Friday night I wrote a blog post asking my readers to watch your show this evening. I didn’t know what you were going to say. I just knew that God wanted me to share that message. I shared with you what I had written and you replied to me. You said the kindest things about my faith. That alone is a story that I will tell for the rest of my life. It meant so much to me.

This morning I watched the radio program and listened as you gave teasers about what this evening’s show was going to be about. Let’s be honest, it made me extremely nervous. I don’t know that I could have been more nervous if I had actually been on TV with you. I had put myself out there only on faith in God that your message was going to be important.

I was sick to my stomach all day waiting for your show to begin. But at five o’clock as you began to speak, I felt completely at peace. I’m not sure you were more than four or five sentences in before I knew you were going to share about your health.

What an amazing and terrifying story.

I could relate to so much of your journey for I have a similar one. I started having health problems at 19. I started having dizzy spells which would cause me to fall. I had such horrible headaches, and I started having terrifying problems with my eyesight. I was originally diagnosed with an earache and put on medication that caused my heart to race so fast I thought I was going to die.

Eventually I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Psuedotumor Cerebri, a fake brain tumor. It’s hard to diagnose because my body behaved as if I had a brain tumor but there was no tumor in my head. Over a period of eight or so years, my symptoms would come and go.

You told tonight about a doctor telling you that it was your faith in God alone that caused you to be able to get out of bed. During my last flair up, my doctor told me that there was so much pressure inside my head he had no idea how I was able to stand or see. He was sure that there would be lasting, permanent damage to my eyesight.

I went through the treatment, again. There was a lot of prayer during this time. We prayed not only for me to be well but also for me to be healed. I did become well and my doctor was amazed that I had no issues with my eyes. I remember clearly him telling me that if I had walked into his office for the first time that day he would have no idea I ever had Psuedotumor Cerebri, an uncurable disease.

My journey was much different from yours but so very similar. God truly performs miracles still today.

I remember those times when your programs changed. I remember how odd I thought it was at the time. I remember wondering what was going on. I never thought that you didn’t care anymore. I knew there had to be more to the story than what I had. There was a couple of times I would change the channel or just turn the TV off, but I kept coming back because I knew that whatever was going on it was important.

The message of love is such an important one. It feels as if so much of the world has forgotten that we need to love one another. And sometimes I wonder if people have forgotten what it means to love. Loving someone isn’t always agreeing with them. Love isn’t even always liking someone. Jesus told us to love one another. He never said we had to agree or even like each other as long as we love each other.

Loving someone means wanting the best for them. It is possible to love those you dislike or that dislike you. That is a message that you have been spreading. I love every time someone comes at you with anger or dislike for what they believe you are and you respond with love and kindness, to the point where you even tell them you love them. And mean it. How amazing would the world be in everyone responded like that?

I’m very excited about the stories you’re going to share with us. Man in the Moon was an amazing story. I was disappointed that we were unable to see it live but so happy when you shared it on TV. Not only did I love it, but my four-year old son asks to watch it on a regular basis, and in fact, he got mad at me tonight when I said it was bedtime and he would have to watch it tomorrow. I know you will share stories that I can share with my boys.

I am so excited for our journey forward from here. I am excited to set the world on fire with love and kindness and hope with you. It feels as if so many are feeling as if they are without hope. Hope is an amazing thing and is what keeps us moving forward rather than crumbling under the pressures the world.

In my blog, I try to write about my real life. I’ve talked about the physical and emotional hurts I’ve gone through. I’ve told of hard days I’ve had. Yesterday I wrote about how grouchy I was for absolutely no good reason. And although my audience is so very much smaller than yours, I believe you are right that, regardless of the size, audiences connect when we share the truth rather than just the best of the best.

I told my readers on Friday that I had no idea why God wanted me to share with them that they should watch your show tonight. Sitting here tonight, I don’t know how your show affected them, but I know how it affected me. I know I’m supposed to be doing something. I believe I’m right where I’m supposed to be. This is going to be amazing. God is doing amazing things and I’m thankful for my little part in His big plan.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

#LetsTellOurStory

Raising Boys With Giving Hearts

I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. I was pretty sure summer had just started, and it actually turns out that Halloween is next week, Thanksgiving a handful of weeks after than and then a month later it’s Christmas. Time seems to move faster and faster every year. And it seems like the retailers are trying to move it even faster. This year I saw Christmas decorations next to Halloween costumes.

We’ve talked about the upcoming holidays. The boys want to know what order they come in and how much longer until they get here. They’ve asked almost everyday if tomorrow is Halloween since we got their costumes. And then they asked if we could get a Christmas tree tomorrow. Umm, no to both, but it got me thinking.

The boys have an abundance of toys. They have so many that they can’t play with them (or keep them picked up.) Sometimes it feels as if they multiple while we are sleeping. I’ve been saying for weeks that we needed to go back through them and get rid of the broken ones, put some up for a couple of months down the road, and pack some up to give to Salvation Army. And though I keep saying this, follow through has been a little lax as sitting on the floor is extremely difficult with the cast on my foot.

Yesterday I had enough. We were going to start sorting through stuff. We sat down in front of a giant pile of toys and started talking. I told the boys that there are some kids that don’t have a bunch of toys to play with, and we were going to give some of our toys to those kids.

I have 2crazylittleboys with giant hearts. Their eyes just grew wide at the idea that some kids might not have toys. They both began to sort through the toys.

At age four, Connor struggled a little. He would pick up one of his animals and ask if he had to give it away. I had to explain a little better that the toys that he loves, he could keep. I wasn’t going to force him to give things away. After that he was feeling much better about our project.

Cameron understood a little better what we were doing. He has an ambulance that makes noises, lights up and with the push of a button will drive backwards and forwards. He plays with this truck regularly. He picked it up and put it into the give away box. I asked if he wanted to keep it, and he told me no. It was for the kids with no toys.

We got very little work done before it was time for me to fix supper so I told them we would finish the next day. By the time that bedtime rolled around, the ambulance and a couple of toys Connor had said to donate had made their way back out of the box and onto the floor. I wasn’t surprised, but I wondered how we’d ever get through everything at the rate we were going.

This morning I was drinking my coffee and taking a break when the boys came running up to me from their room. They started pulling on my arm and begging to clean up the toys. I hadn’t even thought about toy sorting yet but they were so excited. I finished my coffee and off we went.

They were dancing around so excited to get started. I walked into the room and the empty box from yesterday was once again full with the ambulance and other toys that had been removed from it. “We’re giving those to other kids.”

I can not explain how my heart filled with joy in that moment. They were so joyful to be giving toys away, and not just toys that they never play with but toys they had been playing with moments before.  By the time we were done for the day, we had filled four boxes with toys and a garbage bag full of stuffed animals.

 

A Giving Heart

 

Most people probably look at giving like my boys did that first day. You pick out the old or broken stuff to give. Maybe you put “good” stuff in your box to give away, but then pull them back out to keep.

And maybe it’s not stuff you have to give but time. You’re willing to donate your time to help someone, but not the “good” time. I can give on Tuesday from two to three but not Saturday afternoon. Or maybe you give the “good” time, but you give it grudgingly.

Maybe it’s not stuff or even time that you are giving. Maybe it’s a listening ear. Maybe it’s a smile or wave. Maybe it’s your understanding of patience. Maybe what you’re being called to give is as simple as letting the person with one item in front of you and your full cart at the store.

When someone mentions giving, we normally think about money or things or even time. Those, while they may seem hard to give, are the easy ones to give. Maybe we should start bigger and harder. Let’s start giving our patience, our understanding, our love.

The most important thing, regardless of what we are giving, is the way we are doing it. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

I want to give like my boys did today. They picked out toys that they were playing with to give to little kids they don’t know. And they were excited to do it. They gave with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts.

In just over a week, my newsfeed on Facebook and Twitter are going to start filling up with people sharing what they are thankful for. Let me get an early start. Today I am thankful I have two little boys who are cheerful givers.

Just Be Held

 

 

This song seems so fitting for this week. By now, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you have heard that Robin Williams died this week most likely by his own hand. Death is always hard. Suicide is always hard.

This death has left us all talking about depression and suicide. It’s left us wondering how someone who seems to have it all could be left feeling so hopeless, how someone who brought us so much joy and laughter could have been so alone inside.

And maybe it’s not fair or even right that this death is getting so much attention over others. I know to me it’s almost like I knew him. He was a part of our worlds through his movies and television shows. One of the first movies I really remember seeing in the theater was Hook.

There’s been a lot of talk on social media saying if you haven’t experienced depression, if you haven’t contemplated suicide, you shouldn’t be talking about this. I read Matt Walsh’s blog in which he said that Robin Williams didn’t die from depression but made the choice to end his life. I was shocked and horrified by the number of people who commented on it saying Matt should be killed or kill himself.

I’m not sure if the masses will think it’s ok for me to write about this or not. I have suffered through intense bouts with depression to the point where I have little to no memory of those time periods. However, I have never considered suicide.

I have suffered through periods of intense despair. I have laid on the couch in tears until there are none left feeling unable to move. I have felt alone and that no one else could ever understand what I was going through.

I have had times where I was so lost in the storm that I forgot to look to the cross.

But I have also had hope and faith and love surround me during those times. I’ve had people to talk to and help pull me back up.

Whether it be depression or just a hard time you are going through, there are times we all feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. We have this need to be strong. Don’t show them your weakness. Put on a happy face. And you can only carry that kind of weight for a time before your knees give out.

I love the pictures this song paints. How amazing would it feel if instead of holding on to all the stresses and hurts we would just put it down and let God hold us? There have been times these past weeks where I’ve been stressed and things aren’t going as I would like. And then I listen to this song and I can feel myself letting go. It’s almost as if His arms are physically around me.

If you are suffering, I would like to remind you that even if you are literally alone in this world, you are not alone. If you go to Him, God will hold you and never let you go. Instead of looking at the storm, look to the cross.  Let the cross be a symbol of love and hope.

 

 

Just Be Held

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you hanging on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
You’re world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
You’re world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

 

 

 

You can find all of the Worship Wednesday posts here.

**Depression is a serious disease. Suicide is not the answer. If you are considering suicide, please know that there is always hope and someone does care about you. I care about you. Find a preacher, a priest, a doctor, a friend, a family member or even a stranger to talk to. There is always a choice. There is always hope.

This Is Now

I love music, and I will listen to almost any kind of music. Because of this, it makes sense that my favorite form of worship is song. Worship through music, whether in a church service or in my truck, is when I feel closest to God. He speaks to me through song more than any other way.

After my last post, my mother-in-law brought me the newest Casting Crowns CD, Thrive.  Today I was finally able to listen to it since we spent a good amount of time in the truck. The crazy little boys love music and were more than willing to listen to “Grandma’s music” (although Lion King music was requested once).

It is an amazing CD. I can’t say I love every song on it mostly because I haven’t listened closely to them all. When I find a song that moves me, I want to listen to it repeatedly. We found such a song today.

 

This Is Now

Standing at the water’s edge
I dropped my dreams when I dropped my nets
No hesitation, no regrets
I followed You
But that was then
And this is now
You washed my feet and You changed my name
I swore I’d never be the same
But just like the tides, I guess people change
‘Cause that was then
And this is now

[Chorus:]
I wish I could go back but I don’t know how
I remember when I stood my ground
I swore I’d never let you down
I want to be that man again
But that was then
And this is now

I watched a blind man lift his head
And look his Savior in the eyes
I heard a dead man take a breath
Dropped to my knees as I watched him rise
And I felt the sea beneath my feet
As I stepped out on the angry waves
But You s the storm raging within
You reached out and calmed me then
But this is now

[Chorus:]

Just when I thought my sin had closed the door
I see my Savior standing on the shore
With arms open wide
Just like the first time You called my name
You said that was then
And this is now

My child, I bore your cross, I wore your crown
When you couldn’t come to Me, My love came down
So take My hand, I’ll lead you out
‘Cause that was then
And this is now

My child, I bore your cross, I wore your crown
When you couldn’t come to Me, My love came down
So take My hand, I’ll lead you out
You’ll never be that man again
‘Cause that was then
And this is now

The song is based on the story of Peter. Peter, the disciple who loved Jesus. He was a fisherman who became a fisher of men. He was the man who said, “If I have to die with You, I will not betray You!” to Jesus (Mark 14:31 NKJV) and then went on to betray Him not once but three times.

How must Peter have felt? How have we all felt when we’ve fallen short, as we all do? Those moments of doubt when we can’t believe that Jesus could still love us. Those times when we realize we’ve strayed from His path and think there’s no way back. That He loved us once, but that was then, before this happened.

Every day Jesus tells us that this is now. The past is forgotten. He knows we will all fall short. He knows we will make mistakes, that we will stray. And He loves us anyway. He bore our cross. He wore our crown.

Jesus knew Peter was going to betray Him. But even knowing that, Jesus told Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church.” (Matthew 16:18) If Jesus could use Peter to build His church after Peter had denied knowing Him in His time of need, what could Jesus use us for if we would just follow Him?

Jesus doesn’t ask us for perfection. He asks us to love Him and follow Him. And when we fall short, He tells us to repent and to go and sin no more. Ask for forgiveness, and the slate is wiped clean.

That was then.

This is now.