The rain is falling outside and it feels as though it is permeating through my veins and swallowing me up in its relentless pouring. It reminds me of fear, worry, and doubt that takes hold and refuses to listen to reason until you are drowning in it and swept away trying desperately to claw your way back to peace. Satan will use any tool necessary to tear you apart from the love of the Holy Father.
As the days blur into weeks and the weeks into months, you will continue to drown in the self doubting and fears until you cry out to the Father. He will rescue you straight from the pit that is swimming inside of you and swallowing you whole. He cannot help you until you ask. He cannot make you come to Him. You must reach out and cry to Him for He is the only One who can save you from the pain that has come over you.
My Father is my strength. When the world around me feels as though it is caving in and I am suffocating with doubt, fear, pain, or worry, He is the only One that hears me without my saying a word. He offers me His Words right in front of me in black and white – I need only to read them. He offers me the words to say to others rather than using my own. He hugs me when I don’t even recognize it. He picks me up off my knees when I can’t stand up on my own and my legs are buckling beneath me. He offers me the power in my soul to stand alone if I need to in His name. He carries me in His arms when I feel like my feet will no longer carry me. He wipes away every single tear that I need to cry and replaces it with hope and a reminder that I am His daughter and I matter. I MATTER. Satan would love for all of us to believe that we are just a no one in this world that has no power and makes no difference. But Jesus was only one – and He made all the difference. He gave us life. He gave us the only life that matters – eternal life. He let His body be ripped, torn, and He bled until He died while hanging on some old boards with rusty nails pulling His hands and feet down. He did it for all of us – for ME.
So while the rain falls and my Spirit threatens to fall with it, I will remember His love. I will feel His power and take back from Satan what he threatens to take from me which is my peace and my strength. I will raise my hands to Him and focus on His eyes that are forever on me watching, listening, and loving. I will hold on to all of His promises and live for the day that He takes me home where there is no more pain, no more anger, no more judgments, no more fear, no more worry, no more sin.
Fall into His hands and let Him lead the way. Don’t wake up for even one day not reminding yourself of the grace He gives us to always start fresh. As the rain pours, let it wash you clean with only His love in your mind and soul. He wants all of you – every broken and twisted part you have because He can make you whole. What an amazing love He has for me, and I pray that I quit taking it for granted and do more for Him and for others.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
There are people in this world who will try to drag you down, remind you of why you’re not good enough, and bring you to your knees in pain. We wonder why. We question ourselves. We look in the mirror and find every fault they have pointed out multiplied a hundred times over. Believers are just as guilty as the non-believers. In fact, the guilt should go deeper if you have given your life to Jesus, for your responsibility to others should be greater.
Why do we do things like this to one another? Is it our own inner insecurities that make it so hard to just love, encourage, and support one another? What makes one person not get along with another? I have pondered these questions over and over in the last several years. I don’t understand why people like to hurt each other or not get along – especially in our churches. We are to be yoked to Christ, behaving like Him, loving as He does. He has forgiven the worst of offenses, eaten with the poor, saved the criminal, loved the homeless, the drug addicts… why can’t we do the same? We are certainly not any better than any of them. We, as believers, should hold ourselves to a higher standard to forgive more easily, love more readily, and serve without question.
We get our feelings hurt and decide to punish by withholding forgiveness. We get angry so we hold grudges. We feel insecure so we gossip. How much sense does any of this make? At the end of the day, you have withheld the love you could have shared, the example you could have been, and most of all, you have disappointed the One who gave you the life you are living and everything in it. And for what? A few moments of personal gratification that is sinful?
Regardless of what everyone else is doing, regardless of your selfish human feelings, regardless of what the world teaches, be the first one to make a move and break the mold. Be the first one to show that Christ is in charge of your life and not you. Be the first to stand up and say, “I forgive you.” Be the first to stand up and say, “I’m sorry”. Be the first to say, “I love you. I cherish you. I support you.” Be the first to pray for the homeless man on the corner instead of trash talking him as you pass by him about how he needs to get a job. Do you know his story anymore than he knows yours?
Be the first to reach out to the quiet person who you assume is a snob or thinks she is better. Do you know what is in her heart anymore than she knows what is in yours? Be the first to speak to the elderly or serve them. Can you just imagine what stories they could share with you from the life they have lived? They look in the mirror and see the child, the teen, the twenty-something, the forty-something… they once were. They look in the mirror with wiser eyes, matured heart, and full of lessons learned. Oh what they could share with us about how to live!
Step out of your comfort zone. Step out on faith. Jesus has never left you and He never will. Every step you take He is right beside you holding your hand with more love than we could ever feel from one another. He will guide you in loving, encouraging, and serving others for it is all for His glory. So go ahead. Be the first!
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Have you ever just had the feeling that you must have some giant sign on your forehead that says “beat me down some more” or that dreaded sign every kid hated in school on your back that says “kick me”? Yeah… that’s me right now. Now don’t read this and think, “oh what a pity party she is having!” Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are just some things in life that you come to a point where you just have to let go of things that you know you cannot change or have control over whether it be feelings, monetary things, circumstances, or other people. So where does that leave you? It leaves you as a stronger person. It makes you an incredible follower of God’s promises and the faith of a believer who is confident that what God has promised – He will deliver.
Now saying that is the easy part. Letting go is the hardest part of all when every human instinct tells you to hold on to that sadness, that grudge, that loneliness, that urge to lash out in all the wrong ways. For sure this is one of the most difficult things we have to do in this life. But no one knows who you really are on the inside except for our God. No one knows the long hours that the night holds or the struggles behind closed doors. No one knows the deepest longings in your heart to give to others what you don’t have yourself. Yes… letting go is hard. But it can be done.
God didn’t make His promises and then abandon us. He is working inways we can’t see. He is loving us all the while we are feeling unloved. We have to let go in order to SEE. We have to let go in order to FEEL. We have to let go and TRUST that though there are so many things we want to share and want others to understand, they never will. Why? Because it’s not their life. And that’s okay. Everybody has a story and many of those stories we will never hear. I find it quite a shame, actually. As people of God, we are called to share with one another and to lay out our burdens before God. We are to love each other as brothers and sisters and pray as a family for each other. I have some brothers and sisters in Christ whom I believe are doing just that for me. I know they will stand beside me with thanksgiving and praise our almighty God with all of their might for the blessings and yes – all the hurts of this life.
Letting go of some things (and feelings) in my life are a daily struggle. I don’t see it being magically gone with no more worries or heartache. But what I do see is my God easing it day by day because though others may come and go, He will never leave me.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I have felt compelled to open my heart and continue to share the many thoughts, ideas, frustrations, blessings, etc. that roll through my mind on a daily basis. We are at a crossroads in our life that has brought us to His complete mercy. I awaken every day to wonder what my purpose is and why I am here. I know that God has a purpose for me. I know that it is by no accident or coincidence that I have lived this life and am still here to do so. But there are always those nagging thoughts of “am I doing enough?” “Am I doing what He wants me to do?” “Did I miss something He has tried to tell me or direct me to?”
Rarely do I find the answer to these questions because God knows and sees everything. He sees when my neighbor goes through a bad day and just needs a friendly face, and I happen to be the one that walks out my door as just the right time for a friendly “hello” and “how was your day?” It is no coincidence. He sees when the lady in the grocery store is struggling to reach something with her bald head under a cap, the signs of chemo and strain in her face, and a man comes along with a helping hand and strikes up a conversation to relieve her burden for a brief moment by allowing her to share. It is no coincidence. He rises the sun, forms the clouds, blows the wind through the trees, creates our babies and allows us to hear their precious giggles or unending curiosity. He breathes life into every facet of the world, every ethnicity, every single glowing soul that needs only to be opened and touched by Him to live forever with Him. Indeed, it is no coincidence.
When I meet the day with these thoughts of my current purpose, I have to dig deep and push my worldly thoughts aside. There will always by the naysayers who have their ideas of what your present and even your future should look like and be, but God is the only One Who knows what my days hold. As I look for strength to meet the day with courage and enthusiasm and patiently wait for my God to give me instruction on what move to make next, I am lambasted with a startling reality that was sitting in front of me all along. God doesn’t want me to sit around and wait. He wants me to live in the present and give glory to Him, serve Him, and serve others in whatever way I can in that moment. I don’t have to wait for God to tell me to speak to my neighbor, help the lady in the grocery store, or love my children. He has given me these duties and purposes as a Christian living in Him and has given me His love to share. I need only pick up my Bible and the words are waiting there for me:
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14
As you begin your day looking ahead and doing your daily planning, remember to open God’s word and see what His plans are for you. Remember as I will that He sees all, knows all, loves all… and there are no coincidences.
Days all begin to run together and emotions run high when you’re a patient or a caregiver in the hospital. Today my husband, Kevin, spent the day with me and our son, Jonathan on our tenth day at the hospital. When it came time for Kevin to leave, I hugged him tight as usual and told him I would talk with him later. I watched him with his bags as he headed out the door and down the hospital hallways. From our window on the ninth floor, I can see the walkway and entrance to the parking garage way down below. I watched as my husband crossed the street and began the trek under the covered walkway to the parking garage. My heart hurt watching him because I know how tired he is, how useless he feels leaving us behind, and just how much he hates getting in that car to leave us. And then of course, panic set in at the thought of him driving 30 miles to the apartment in heavy Houston traffic. I think of how much he means to me, and after all we’ve been through, how our relationship has only gotten stronger. I quickly sent him a text message and told him that I could see him from my window and that I loved him. I saw him as he stopped, grabbed his phone out of his pocket, and read the message. He turned around and knowing that he could not see me nine floors up , he waved into nowhere knowing that I would see him. Then he sent me the message “I love you MOST”. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched him slowly turn and head out of my sight…
Have you ever watched someone you love walk or drive away and you were suddenly gripped with an unexplainable fear that you might not see them again? I have always been one of those people to think outside of the box and be guilty of fatalistic thinking at times. I’m a worry-wart for sure. It has been especially difficult in the last two years since Jonathan has been sick and in the hospital so much.
Each time the kids come up to the hospital to visit, it tears my heart out to watch them leave. I am flooded with so much love for them and wishing that I could have them all together to show them everyday. My heart walks away with them, and I miss them every second that I have to be away from them. I know that seems overly dramatic in the everyday scheme of things. We all have daily comings and goings that are just part of life, right? Dealing with life and death everyday for us has brought out fears and emotions that we didn’t have before. Watching my kids and my husband get into an elevator waving “Bye, Mommy” and “Love you, Honey” is sometimes overshadowed by thoughts of never hearing it again. This is when it is time to look to God for the peace and strength only He can give. I have to let my fears fade away, trust in Him, and hold on tight to my faith. Yes, just like everyone else, it is really hard sometimes when all I want to do is grab Jonathan and jump in the elevator with our family and leave hospitals forever and never look back. But life just doesn’t work that way. We were put into this situation for a reason, and we will continue to hold tight to His love and mercy knowing that our lives can only be better for it. God bless each of you as you hug your loved ones goodbye. Have a healthy fear that will remind you to make the most of your every moment with your loved ones, but don’t let it rule your emotions. God is in every moment with you, and in His world, there are no goodbyes.
Isn’t it crazy how certain smells, tastes, sights, sounds can trigger memories of specific events or moments in your life? I remember being pregnant with my little boy, Jacob, and the intense smell of a bush at my mother’s house that nearly made me lose my lunch everytime I smelled it! To this day, if I smell that bush, it makes me feel queasy! At other times, I can see something and suddenly have a flashback of another time or another place that seems so vivid it’s like I’m back in time. You can especially have these moments when it is something traumatic that has happened. I bet a lot of you can remember where you were on September 11th when you heard the World Trade Centers had been attacked. It is moments like those that become etched in your mind and memory. I was reminded of those attacks just today as I watched an airplane from our 9th floor window look dangerously close to our building, even though I’m sure it was farther away than it looked, but it sent a shudder up my spine nonetheless.
It has been almost two years ago now since Jonathan was diagnosed with cancer, but I can take myself back to the moment I received that fateful phone call from the doctor as vividly as if I were still sitting there in my car, answering that telephone…
It was the first day of school for the kids. My oldest daughter was excited to be starting her Senior Year and we were overwhelmed with all that entailed. Our 16 yr old, Jonathan, was being homeschooled that year and I had a ton of work lined up for him, but he wasn’t feeling well and would be going to his third doctor visit for tonsilitis. Our 13 yr old was excited about starting 8th grade, and our 9 yr old was heading into 3rd grade. Each child was at a different school campus, and it was a typical first day at school with busy traffic and harried moms dropping off kids who were carrying backpacks of supplies that probably weighed as much as the kids did. After dropping them off, I headed back home to start my day with a 3 yr old and make a doctor appointment for Jonathan with the ENT that day.
The day went by fast, and my husband texted me from Jonathan’s appointment saying that the doctor was unsure what was going on with Jonathan’s tonsils, so he decided to draw some blood for lab work, start him on stronger antibiotics, and see him back in the office in a few days. They arrived back home just in time for me to scramble into the car and head to each school to pick up the kids and hear about their first day. I had just picked up the last child and needed to go by the tire shop before heading home. We were stopped at a red light on Hwy 96 in front of the Discount Tire Shop. I answered the phone as I was listening to the girls chatter away about school and what all their friends had done over the summer.
“This is Dr. O’Mara … “
“Mrs. O’Malley, I just got a phone call from our Pathologist. I am so sorry to have to tell you this over the phone and wish there was some other way…. but you need to get Jonathan to the hospital. The Pathologist is sure that your son has Leukemia…..”
My stomach dropped. My hands went cold. My body felt numb. I was sure I had to have heard wrong, but the doctor was giving me instructions on where to take him and that he had already called the hospital and they would be expecting us. My girls stared at me as I hung up the phone. I must have cried, “Oh God, no..” because the girls were saying “What Mom? What is it?” That was the longest red light I ever sat at in my entire life. I told the girls as I began to shake and cry. They, too, began to cry.
I needed to get home which was less than two miles away. I wanted to rush there, but then again I wanted it to take forever because it would keep me from having to look at my husband and tell him our son had cancer. How in the world was I going to do this??? I picked up the phone and called my Mother in law whom I had just been on the phone with. I cried into the phone what the doctor had said. She helped calm me a little as I drove towards home. I then called my Mother and shared the news with her. “How am I going to do this, Mom?” My husband had already lost a first wife to a terrible disease when our two oldest were very small. How could I march in and tell him this devastating news? I was about to break his heart and his world into a million pieces, and I just wanted to hit the rewind button and for things to be back where they were before Jonathan started feeling bad.
When I pulled into the driveway, fear took over and I rushed into the house yelling my husband’s name. I passed by Jonathan’s room and glanced in. There was our dear sweet boy who by all accounts was an exemplary teenager who gave us no trouble other than the occasional smartmouth. He was laying on his bed with his head of curly hair sticking out from one of his beloved camo caps and he was playing a game on his PSP. I rushed into our room where I had already scared the daylights out of my husband. “What is wrong? What is it? Calm down, ” he said. “The doctor called. He says Jonathan has Leukemia.” There it was. So much for trying to put it gently. I spit the words out like they were poison. My husband stayed calm, but I could tell I had just hit him in the gut and at some point it would all spill out. We went to Jonathan’s room and told him there was something wrong with his lab results and they wanted us to get another test. We held his hand and we prayed. After settling the other kids, we headed for the hospital for a follow up test which confirmed our worst nightmare. Our son had cancer.
Thus began our story that is still being written. I still get an incredibly sad feeling when I pass through that intersection or sit at that same red light. That was the day our lives changed forever. But it is also a day that I will never forget as one that began a journey of many lessons, heartbreak, triumphs, smiles, and deep faith tested but still standing and stronger than before. We still have a long road to go and I hope to one day put it all together in writing so that other families who have children with cancer may know that they are not alone. Hopefully, it will also help others who have perfectly healthy children have compassion towards these families or just teach them to simply be more thankful for what they have. Because it can all change in an instant with a simple phone call while sitting at a red light.