For Moms Like Me

This simple statement speaks volumes. At the end of the day, my kids don’t need all of the emotional baggage that comes from my “need” to be a perfect mom. They shouldn’t suffer because of the unrealistic expectations I put on myself and sometimes on them. They need, they deserve, me at my best. They deserve an intentional, engaged, caring, strong, happy, peaceful, wise mom. A perfect mom? Not likely. The best mom I can be? Absolutely! Praying for all you mamas out there. God’s grace is sufficient!

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21 Day Prayer Challenge – Take 2

It’s been over a year since I abandoned the 21 day prayer challenge for my sons.  After my grandma died I just couldn’t go on.  Like so many things in my life at that time, I gave it up.  Everything around me fell apart when I lost my grandma and I just couldn’t find the strength to put it all back together.  It has taken me this long to even think about picking up where I left off.  Even now, my heart hurts at the prospect of continuing this prayer challenge.  My grandma was so proud of the mom that I am and of my passion for prayer and heart for God.  So while this prayer challenge makes me miss her even more, I know it’s something that I need to finish; if not for myself or my boys, for my grandma.  Even though she’s gone, I still want to make her proud.  So on April 1st I am going to start the 21 day prayer challenge again, starting at day 1.  I think this will be good for me, theraputic even. 

Celebrating the Holidays with Cancer

It’s a new year and what better way to kick it off than to feature a guest writer! I pray that you’re filled with hope as you read Cameron’s story of his wife Heather’s healing. Remember, with Jesus, anything is possible!!

The best time of the year for me has always been the holidays.  I always enjoy seeing my family and friends, giving thanks for our many blessings, and continuing our family traditions.  After seeing our daughter Lily being born in August of 2005, my wife Heather and I were ecstatic about the holidays. We talked endlessly about continuing certain holiday traditions with Lily and beginning new ones that our family would enjoy for years.  Our planning was quickly put on hold three days before Thanksgiving, when my wife found out that she had cancer. It was hard to handle a 3 ½ month old baby and my wife’s mesothelioma diagnosis at the same time.  I didn’t know much about this form of cancer, but what we learned soon after made me realize that our once bright and hopeful future now looked very uncertain.  I hoped for the best, but all along, I was preparing for the worst. We still came together for Thanksgiving, and we tried our best to celebrate the holiday as usual.  Heather’s family celebrated both Thanksgiving and Christmas with us because we would soon be headed to Boston for Heather’s treatment.  After having our holiday meal, I had to endure the conversation I had been dreading for days.  This conversation consisted of how Heather’s family would be able to help us through this crisis financially.   We discussed all of our finances, which bills Heather’s family would pay for us, and even Lily’s childcare decisions.  Heather and I both had jobs before our daughter was born, but once we started dealing with the mesothelioma, our financial situation worsened.  New expenses that we never imagined were piled on, and we knew we would soon be down to a single income once Heather started treatment.  We were barely making it by as it was, and we would not be able to stay afloat for long.  The discussion left me ashamed and embarrassed, through no one’s fault but my own. I never expected to spend my Thanksgiving this way. After many years, I finally understood what this day really meant to me.  During the time I sat at the table discussing all of my family’s personal information, I felt ashamed and overwhelmed.  When in actuality, I should have noticed the love that I received from my family.  My family did not hesitate to help us in every way that they could.  They were willing to make incredible sacrifices of their own to ensure our well being. I did not see this for many years because I was blinded by pride, but now, years later, I see how very lucky I was.   In addition to helping us through this time, our friends and family also prayed endlessly for Heather’s health.  Heather’s mother, especially, prayed as much as she possibly could, and told Heather that God had told her that this disease would not take her life.  
Despite the odds that said otherwise, we clung to that hope throughout that holiday season and the months of treatment that followed. This holiday season, I realize how thankful I am for my family, friends, healthy daughter, and the chance to continue to make new family traditions.  
Despite the odds, Heather was able to beat her cancer with the help and support of our incredible family and friends. Mesothelioma has not been a part of our lives for over six years, and we’ve been able to enjoy many wonderful Christmases together.  We hope that our story of success against cancer can be a source of hope and inspiration to all those still fighting this holiday season.

To read more by Cameron please visit his website:
http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/

His Love Endures Forever

This is for you, Caitlin.  Thank you for encouraging me to keep writing even when it hurts.

It’s been three and a half months since my grandma passed and maybe a month since I have seen a yellow butterfly.  I feel like I’ve been abandoned for good and it hurts. I’ve spent the past month begging God to:  show me more butterflies, to shower me with his love, to open my eyes to wonderful things in his law and to remind me of my grandma’s continued love and presence in my life.  God is faithful to answer His children. Last night, I had my very first dream about my grandma since she passed. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but I remember this one. Grandma came to me as I was crying for her. She just appeared out of nowhere, like a messenger from above. I can’t picture her face now, but I see her hands and I felt her presence. In my dream, I watched as she pulled a small piece of paper out of nowhere and lovingly wrote, “Psalm 118:3”. Even now, I can still see the words so beautifully scrawled on the small, gray scrap of paper. I would recognize the handwriting anywhere. It’s the same handwriting on all of the birthday cards and recipes she gave me over the years. It’s funny how something as simple as someone’s handwriting can bring you back to another time and place. Her handwriting brings me back to happy times, times when she was still alive. When grandma had finished writing, she gave me the slip of paper and then she left as quickly as she had come; and I was once again alone with my sadness.

When I woke up this morning, all I wanted to do was see my grandma and feel her arms around me; I miss her hugs.  I wanted to breathe her in and just be near her. But instead, I sobbed in the shower and cried out to God. These days my prayer time consists mostly of crying and talking to my grandma. This morning was no different. As the water ran over my face and intermingled with my salty tears, I told my grandma how much I miss her and I begged God to make things better. Again, my Father answered and over the sound of my cries I heard, “I love you,” and I saw the scrap of paper that grandma had given me in my dream, with Psalm 118:3 written on it in the handwriting that I love so much. Though this act of love from my Heavenly Father didn’t take away my pain he was answering my tear-soaked prayers. He was sending me word of His unfailing love. After my shower, I looked up Psalm 118:3, it reads:  “Let the house of Aaron say: His love endures forever.”

What an awesome and mighty God I serve. How humbled I am that not only does He see and hear my pain but He answers me. This verse that the Holy Spirit gifted to me through a dream of my grandma is God’s way of reminding me of His unfailing love and His continued presence in my life. Even though things are dark and gloomy right now, His light will always shine on my family and me. He loves us and He will never leave us or forsake us because He promised and my God is always true to His promises and loving toward all He has made. Psalm 118:3, written in my grandma’s handwriting, is just a sweet reminder of a God who knows me intimately and loves me on a deep and personal level. A deep enough level to know that all I really wanted was a little bit of my grandma’s love and attention. All I really wanted was to know that she is still with me. So though I still hurt so deeply and though I know that this is not something that will pass quickly, I am still so thankful that God gave me this dream, this verse and I find such peace in knowing that no matter what, I will always have His love.

Before & After – A New Mindset

“Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer,” Romans 12:12.

In the midst of the battle with death, with fear, with sickness, with cancer…

♥ I rejoiced in hope.  The hope that I had in God’s ability to heal and save.  The hope of my prayers being answered.  The hope of my faith producing the outcome I desired and believed I would receive.  The hope of another miracle. 

♥ I endured in affliction.  I endured through the pain of my life changing.  I endured through the pain and helplessness of seeing my loved ones suffer.  I endured through the exhaustion of the fight.  I endured through the emotional trauma of watching a loved one go through chemo.  I endured through the season of hardship.  I endured because of the hope to come; the healing I knew was coming.  The healing that was promised to my loved ones, to my family, to me.  I endured because of hope. 

♥ I persevered in prayer.   I persevered in prayer when I was tired.  I persevered in prayer when things looked hopeless.  I persevered in prayer because of my faith in God and his healing power.  I persevered in prayer because I believed God’s word to be the truth.  I persevered in prayer because faithful prayer brings miracles; I needed a couple.  I persevered in prayer when I was tired.  I persevered in prayer when I didn’t feel like praying.  I persevered in prayer because faithful, persistent prayer moves the hand of God.  I persevered in prayer because my loved ones needed it.  I persevered in prayer because God requires it.  I persevered in prayer even when it felt forced.  I persevered in prayer because I needed God to come through for my family and me.  Because I needed something from him…

Since grandma’s passing…

♥ I rejoice in the hope of glory.  I rejoice in the promise of eternal life.  I rejoice in the promise of seeing grandma again.  I rejoice in breaking free from the curse.  I rejoice in all that awaits me in Heaven.  I rejoice because my suffering is not in vain.  I rejoice in God’s grace and love.  I rejoice in Jesus’ sacrifice. 

♥ I endure in the affliction of grief.  I endure in the face of doubt.  I endure through my heartache.  I endure through crippling fear.  I endure through confusion.  I endure through the battle of keeping my faith.  I endure through this new season of questions without answers.  I endure through this learning process.  I endure through these growing pains.  I endure through the pain of seeing my family torn apart.  I endure through the pain of broken-ness.  I endure through my Father’s discipline.  I endure through blind rage.  I endure through hopelessness.  I endure through rebellion.  I endure through the, “why me’s?’.  I endure because I have no choice…

♥ I persevere through the temptation and hurt so that I can continue to pray.  I persevere through the doubt and confusion that have been brought on by unanswered prayer.  I persevere in the face of failure.  I persevere in the direction of a new faith.  I persevere in my relationship with God.  I persevere through the pain of reading the Bible and going to church.  I persevere in my walk with God.  I persevere in keeping my heart and mind open to the truth of God’s word.  I persevere in listening to God’s voice.  I persevere in keeping my spirit open to God.  I persevere in my family relationships.  I persevere through the struggles of daily life.  I persevere so that I will overcome.  I persevere because God promised me hope and a future and he promised me good.  I persevere because the alternative is quitting and I won’t quit.  I persevere in my journey to know God more.  God won’t give up on me and I refuse to give up on him.  I persevere because I know that God is still good.  I know that he still loves me.  I know that he will never leave me or forsake me.  I persevere because I know that God has a plan that is far beyond my realm of understanding.  I persevere because this is the life I am called to.  I persevere because Jesus did and he is my role model.  I persevere because I am not called to an easy life.  I persevere because those who hold on until the end will reap a harvest of blessings in Heaven.  I persevere in prayer because prayer is communication with God.  Without God my life is meaningless.  Without God I am lost.  I persevere in prayer because I know that God is the only one who will heal my heart and restore my family.  I persevere in prayer because my grandma would want me to.  I persevere in prayer because I miss my grandma and she is with God.  I persevere in prayer because I want to know God more.  I want my faith to grow, no matter how painful it is.  I want to be who I am called to be.  To go where I am called to go.  To fulfill my destiny in Christ.  I want all that God has for me and without prayer that is impossible… 

Maybe this is what it’s all about.  It’s about spiritual growth.  It’s about gaining godly wisdom and understanding.  It’s about the purpose of trials.  It’s about the outcome of suffering.  It’s not all about me or what I want.  It’s not about my plans, my hopes, my desires.  It’s about the life God has called me to.  It’s about the Kingdom of God and the greater good.  It’s about the life to come, not this one.  It’s about storing up treasures in Heaven and not on this earth.  It’s about salvation.  It’s about getting free of myself and my “junk”.  It’s learning how to let Christ strengthen me so that I can do what he has called me to do.  It’s about living for him, by him, and with him.  It’s about being salt and light in this world.  It’s about obedience and surrender.  It’s about what God wants.  It’s about his master plan.  It’s about dying to myself and being alive in Christ.  It’s about so much more than the here and now.  It’s about change and transformation.  It’s about fighting for faith and fighting with faith.  It’s about a new kind of trust, a deeper and more secure trust.  It’s about a new me.  It’s about letting God use me.  It’s about the process and what it will produce.  It’s about giving myself to God – honestly and completely and not looking back.  It’s not about what I can get from God but what I can give to God.  Ultimately, it’s all about God, not Aimie.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here,” 2 Corinthians 5:17!

 

Helpless

I hate that I am questioning things that were always just a given as far as I was concerned.  Things that seemed so simple are now incredibly confusing.  I have so many un-answered questions.  My mind reels from the constant barrage of questions and the  flight of thoughts that ensues.  I have been thinking in circles and confusing myself even more.  If this madness doesn’t end my head may just explode.  Or I will end up in the loony bin; sadly, I don’t know if I would mind that so much.  Maybe they would hook me up with some good drugs, much-needed quiet time and my own therapist.  My stresses and mounting “to-do” lists wouldn’t matter there.  Or maybe they would.  I have no idea.  I have no idea what to do or say about anything any more.  It’s so weird.  I’m pretty helpless. 

My kitchen isn’t finished so my house is in total disarray; the boys and I moved in with my parents until the house is livable again.  I can’t fix the Haley situation; there are way too many layers there.  I can’t fix things for grandpa no matter how hard I try.  I guess part of me thinks that if his house is always clean and he always has food on the table, things will be better.  If the boys and I spend time with him every single day then he will be happier.  But I don’t know.  Sometimes, the more I’m there, the angrier I am.  Sometimes it’s harder to be there because I miss grandma more and other times it’s nice to just be in her house and around grandpa.  I don’t know what I want or need.  My poor kids are in limbo.  I’m supposed to be able to make things ok for them.  I’m supposed to be able to give them a stable environment.  But I can’t right now.  My environment isn’t stable.  My mind isn’t focusing.  My heart isn’t whole.  I’m just not myself.  I just wish things were happy and normal again.  I just want grandma back.  I want my life back. 

 

 

From Breaking Dishes to Breaking Free

Breaking thrift store dishes is a great way to release tension.  I know that now.  Thanks Holly!  It felt so good to feel the weight of the dishes in my hands and just throw them without a second thought.  Hearing the sound they made as they broke apart was even better.  I love that sound.  It’s so freeing.  Hearing something break gives it’s demise a sense of finality.  It makes it real.  Maybe that’s why breaking things is a good way to deal with anger.  It’s just not a solution.  Nope.  The release isn’t permanent.  The stress that was relieved by breaking dishes yesterday returned just as quickly as it left; it was all too temporary for my liking.  But I guess it wasn’t supposed to fix the problem.  It was just to help vent some of the stress and crazy emotions caused by the problem.

I wish all of my negative emotions were as tangible as those dishes.  I want to hold them and feel their weight.  I want to look at them and then, without regret or hinderance, I want to throw them.  I need to see them explode as they hit the wall.  I want to watch as each horrible, painful shard scatters on the floor.  But more than anything I want to hear them break.  I need to hear that beautiful, freeing sound.  I need that sense of finality.  I need it to be over.  Like taking out the trash; I want to take the trash out of my life, out of my spirit.  Get lost anger, sadness, doubt, fear, regret, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, inadequacy, confusion, aggravation, frustration, loss of control, emptiness, misery, jealousy and un-forgiveness!!!!!  I picture myself reaching deep within and pulling every soul-binding, evil, deadly emotion from my soul.  They’re sturdy and thick, like the dishes.  I allow myself to hold them, to control them, staring at them as I plot their ruin.  I pull my arm back, ready for the pitch.  My emotional baggage feels cold and heavy in my hand; I can’t wait to get rid of it.  Without hesitation, I throw them, one by one, as hard as I can; satisfaction welling up inside of me as my hand lets go and they rocket toward the unforgiving, cement wall.  Words can’t describe the awesome sound of victory as every piece of my emotional baggage breaks against the wall and falls to the ground in pieces.  But even in my daydreams it’s not the end.  The emotions keep coming back.  My arms grow tired as I try to keep up with the mounting dishes.  I break and break but they never go away.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t break them all. 

Somehow I need to stop the spread. I need to get to the root of this crap and get free.  I need to stay free.  To actively avoid offense and embrace forgiveness. To trust that vengeance and punishment are God’s.  I need to focus on him and his love.  I need to let go and walk away; I need to figure out how to walk away.  But first I have to commit to this.  Am I ready to do this, to let God all the way in?  To let him be my  healer?  Can I really hand over my deepest hurts and most intense rage?  Will I?  I don’t know yet.  I do know that the path to freedom is not easy.  I keep fighting and striving for something that has already been given to me.  The battle has already been won.  I need to be still and rest in God’s truth and love.  Peace comes with trusting him and putting faith in his word but I’m not so sure that means that I have to be devoid of emotion.  Rather, I need to let God help me harness my emotions.  They can’t lead me.  They can’t dictate my life.   

God, help me.  I don’t understand all of this.  I don’t know what lies ahead.  I just know that I trust you and your plan for my family and me.  I know that you will never leave us and you will bring us to the place you promised.  You will bring us into eternity with you.  Until then, I need your love and peace even more than yesterday.  I need it to be visible, tangible and personal.  I need it to be real and relevant.  I need it now.  My family needs it.  Wrap us up and put us in a cleft in the rock.  Let trouble pass us by as you shelter us with your feathers.  Let your wings be our refuge.  Be our shelter and our deliverer.  Be our peace of mind and strength of heart.  Be the anchor to which our ropes of faith and hope are tethered.  You are our life line.  Support us and provide our every need.  Carry us and mend our hearts and souls.  Let this growing season be also full of hope and your light.  Don’t let this pain drag us down; take it away and heal us.  Restore us and lift us up.  Let us prove faithful.  Let us endure and persevere.  Let us make you proud.  Dole out your grace and mercy and understanding in supernaturally large measure.  Let it overflow.  And don’t let any of this go in vain.  Use this; our pain, our disappointment, failure, weakness, doubt, fear, weariness, and bitterness for your glory.  Turn it around.  Out of these ashes we will rise and we will be stronger in you.  We will have a more steady foundation in our relationships with you.  We will not grow apart, but together.  Let our testimony be filled with your praises.  Show us how to overcome and give us the strength to do it.  Help us to apply the Balm of Gilead in good measure to our wounds and let it bring a break through.  Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in each and every one of us and let our harvest be great.