Faith in the First Step

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Taking the First Step2

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A Good Kind of Ledge

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Keep Looking Ahead…

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Blessed

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Seasons of Joy and Heartache

PeaceDoveThis is the season of joy-to-the-world, Christmas trees, elves and reindeer, snowmen and snow angels, baking and making and sharing, decorating and gift giving. It’s a time to celebrate the greatest gift ever given, demonstrated in Nativity scenes around the world – the birth of Jesus.

It’s also a time that many people suffer through. To see so much joy – to be faced with everyone else’s happiness, a reminder of what they may not have – can be truly painful when heartache overshadows everything else.

Emotional distress can destroy our physical, as well as emotional health. We are not meant to live for long in our grief, but to pass through it when the time is right.

In an interview with Jeremy Statton, Alece Ronzino approaches this subject from the viewpoint of someone who has made the journey:

Everyone eventually goes through a season of shattered dreams.

The greatest thing I can pass along to someone who is in that place right now is something a friend said to me, “Don’t bring building supplies to the graveyard.” There will be a season where all you can do is sit in the grief and the heartache. You have to face it and feel it, and not try to shortcut around it. But eventually – and you, or those you trust to speak into your life, will just know when that time is – you have to start taking steps forward.

Give yourself permission to grieve. And then give yourself permission to hope again.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

I hope this is a season of joy and peace for you. If not, I hope you will reach out to the One who understands you better than you understand yourself, because He made you. The One who named and numbered the stars. The One who counts every tear you shed, and is always with you.

Wishing you joy in the simple things and hope for better days.

Consult Not Your Fears…

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The Courage of Mothers

To me, mothers are some of the most courageous people I know. In every part of the world, they fight for and defend their children and their homes – many give their lives for both. Sacrifice is a daily offering.

Many women long for the experience of motherhood. They have a deep need to nurture a baby. Their mother’s heart will not let them give up even after the devastation of miscarriage or stillbirth.

Two years before I came into the world, my mother gave birth to my oldest brother. He was born with a handful of physical defects, one affecting his tiny heart. My mother brought him home to a newly painted nursery filled with a secondhand crib, crocheted baby quilts, and the hopes of motherhood. She cuddled my brother, loved on him, nursed him, and made his few days of life as comfortable as possible. Then she tried again – not to replace her lost son, but because she had a mother’s indomitable spirit, a mother’s heart that would not be stopped even by the heartbreak of loss.

It is easier for some people to understand what a mother goes through with the loss of a child she has held in her arms than the loss associated with a miscarriage. But the pain is no different.

In the following excerpt from the website Raising Paityn, Tiffany describes her experience with miscarriage. For the full post, click here.

The grief of a miscarriage is often a hidden pain…not soothed by platitudes…not soothed by logic…but time does bring clarity to grief. My baby is in a better place. I love to picture her in the arms of Jesus, her soul flying from the loving warmth of my womb to his gentle arms. It was an image that I think put me on the first step towards healing.

A piece of my heart is forever missing, flown away to heaven with my baby…I whisper words to the child I never met but I feel I know. I send hugs and kisses and love to the baby I still long to embrace…But for the moment, I sit with my loss in the comforting embrace of the night. Daylight is unfriendly towards grief; sunshine and warmth seem incongruous with the ache of sadness. In the dark, grief sits by me as a friend, acknowledging my right to shed tears and feel this ache in my heart. So I embrace it. No platitudes, no logic. Just tears that bring healing.

Some women will never physically bear a child, but their mother’s heart is evidenced by their love and nurturing of others, whether of adopted children, friends and family, or furry creatures.

And not all mothers are “good” mothers, not all live sacrificially for their children. But for those who do, they are true heroes. And for those who try again after miscarriage or stillbirth, I salute the courage and steadfastness of their mother’s heart.

Tumble-down Places

This summer I stumbled upon the Hoodoos (but not true pinnacle-type geologic hoodoos), “overturned, topsy-turvy” boulders covering about one square mile of Yellowstone National Park.

If there had never been a heaving up and throwing down of a once unbreakable mountain, the seed would never have found a place to cling. If the crack had been too narrow or too wide, it would have found a different path. If the sky had not sent just enough tears to sustain, if the sun beat too cruel and the winters clung too long, the seed would never have sprouted or survived.

If I had passed by with no desire to slow and return, I would not have stood, awed, by the jumble of rock and time. And without moving closer to see, I would never have noticed the tree whose trunk – the same color as the stone – grew out from the crack, over and around, then straight toward the sky.

I have wondered at a flower growing in the crack of a sidewalk, or on the jagged edge of a cliff, but this was different. This was a tree that had grown from a seed, against all if-then’s, everything coming together “just enough” year after year. But I knew it wasn’t chance that had brought it all together and placed it in such a place.

Though many had most certainly seen it before, at that particular moment it was just for me. This tree, once a seed, caught in the rumble and tumble of a broke-apart mountain, had been placed there for me to contemplate. Resiliency in nature. Beauty amid destruction. Life from death. Perhaps to show there is purpose in tumble-down places. And to marvel at the hand that made them.

Have you found the purpose to your tumble-down places?

Live More, Fear Less: Living with a Purpose

I’m the kind of person who roots for the underdog. I like movies where the little guy comes out on top and books where the hero wins in the end.

The thing about underdogs and heroes is they DO something. They’re working towards a goal, often while trying to overcome a personal shortcoming along the way. Even if they give up at some point, they always end up getting back on track. Heroes and underdogs don’t always get what they start out wanting. They might have to shift focus to see what’s really important. And usually what’s really important is something or someone outside of their me-world or I-want way of living.

Another thing that heroes and underdogs have in common is facing their fears. And deciding at a particular moment that something is more important than fear. You can bet firefighters are afraid just about every time the alarm sends them out on a call. They have a purpose in life that is beyond themselves, and so they push through.

Not everyone knows what their purpose is. Some people know early on what they want to do with their life, but some of us are still searching. For me, my faith tells me I’m here in this world at this particular time in history for a reason. God has a plan for me and he knows what it is even if I don’t (yet).

When I start letting my “not knowing” get the best of me, I search out an underdog or hero story. Nick Vujicic is one such person who fits into both categories. Born without arms or legs in 1982, he tried to drown himself at 8-years-old and then fought depression for many years afterward because he didn’t know why God made him the way he is. Then Nick found purpose in his faith. For a truly inspiring story, I hope you’llcheck this out.

Who inspires you to live more and fear less?