How to begin...that's a tough question in itself!

This last year has been one with far too many turns in the road, too many to even begin to share.  So, I will begin with what brought me to where I am today...What's in the heart?


Late one Saturday evening, at the end of Spring we received a phone call from our the management company we rented our home from, they were giving us less than 2 weeks to vacate the house because it sold.  Rather than battle the legal timing, etc. we began packing and moving everything to a storage unit.  With no where to live, we were then offered a room at a friend's and one at our son's home.  We chose to stay at our son's.  

We began the process of getting approved to buy a home rather than continue to rent...qualification went through, we then  began the house hunt - can I just say that it looks much easier on the HGTV program!  Yikes, what a process.  During this time, which was really only a few weeks, we found the home we wanted and then the wait for the final approval from the bank began.  

During this wait we discovered our storage unit had been robbed!!!  Someone cut our lock off, stole over $4,000 worth of tools, plus our tv and a family "heirloom"..."my treasured camping box"!!!  How could they? 

Then on July 16th, we signed papers for our home and began the process of moving in!  All of this was miraculous in so many ways, especially since we put an offer on the home May 30th - not even 2 months from start to finish!

BUT...a lot happened during that time and I don't want to bore you with a long list...result came to this:
9/13/14...Our son and his fiance got married in our backyard, it was a beautiful event.  Just a simple country pasture style setting.  The week after the event we began to talk about how now we could just slow down and start enjoying our new home and life here!  We were ready for a break from 4 months of pure STRESS!

My life changed drastically on 9/25/14

I woke up in middle of the night with an urgency to pray, just knowing something was terribly wrong...perhaps one of my children were in trouble, or grandchildren!  I rolled over to ask my husband to pray with me but he wasn't there!!!  I called out in the dark...He was sitting at the end of our bed saying his chest hurt, I prayed over him then he said how his jaw and arm hurt also - I'm scared!!!  RED FLAGS...this can't be happening.  I got ready and we headed to the emergency room.  This was just a few weeks before our 35th anniversary, and it was also the first time I have ever taken him to the ER for anything.

My husband was always so healthy, active:  long bike rides, mountain hiker, etc.,  always doing something active.  Not overweight, no high cholesterol, no family history of heart problems.  As the cardiologist said there were no "RISK FACTORS" no red flags!  In fact, when they ran the tests in the ER it did not even reflect a heart attack, but, the doctor said his gut told him to call a cardiologist because something was wrong.

5 days later my husband underwent a triple bypass open heart surgery!!!  Nothing prepares you for this moment in life, and no one can communicate all the emotions, and changes that you are about to experience.  The hurt in my heart that he may not be with me...fighting the fears and doubts was the hardest.

So, do I begin to stress through this whole process?  What good will it do if we both end up with open heart surgery and unable to care for each other?  Matt 6:33 tells us to not worry about any of these things, so while he was in the hospital prior to surgery I made a decision to just give it up to God.  I didn't know how He could take care of everything but I needed to trust completely and just focus on my husband.

The doctors were struggling as much as I was because there were no answers to pin this too.  They soon discovered once in there that he'd had multiple heart attacks recently - only key connecting point was one culprit:  STRESS  

It's so easy to tell ourselves we're doing ok and getting through each stress point that occurs; but, we lie to ourselves more than to others.  Warning signs were there but we were blinded to them - why?  Because they didn't fit the lifestyle he lived, they didn't apply to him...it wasn't a textbook case!  

Thank God that He brought my husband through that surgery without complications.  I brought him home 2 days before our anniversary - we didn't go out dancing this year - but we were together.  This has given us both an entirely new perspective on life.
For him:
  • John 3:16 means more than it ever did before to him, he already had a wonderful relationship with Christ but this changed it to a deeper revelation
  • Love is what matters
  • People matter - he said that he now understood how I've always felt about every life being valuable
  • Not taking anything in life for granted
  • Slow down and just live - stuff doesn't matter
For me:
  • Reaffirmed that you never take anything in life for granted - it can all change in a split second
  • Pay attention to the warning signs 
  • Enjoy my life with my husband and family 
  • I now have the most amazing God talks with my husband, these are worth more than anything else to me.
  • Opening my heart to believe that others truly care...trust has always been a HUGE issue in my life

This healing journey is a hard one because I want to fix it all for him right now and I can't.  It's been many sleepless nights, discomfort, renewing his mind to not being able to move or do some of the simplest actions we take for granted.  Like opening a glass sliding door, reaching over his head, or just moving one arm at a time - these are all NOs in the healing process. Then my going back to work full time while he's still at home unable to do a lot of things has required even more trust in the Lord on my side.  Financial concerns, daily needs, etc.

I have experienced one miracle after another since that moment in such various ways:
  • Fuel gift cards given to me to cover my travel from hospital, work etc.
  • 2 different people contacted me offering to pay my next 2 mortgage payments
  • Co-workers took up donations that totaled multiple thousands of dollars!!! (I don't work with high paying execs.  so this is HUGE in itself, the unselfish giving of others in this way)
  • A friend from church came and blew my sprinkler system out
  • My brother-in-law came and took care of tree branch issues, gutters and taught me how to cover my outdoor water faucets.
  • My son brought out a hospital bed for his dad and set it up
  • My son-in-law came and chopped kindling to be ready for the weather change
  • Meals were brought to us
  • There are so many other provisions...all from a "heart choosing to trust"!!! 

But, here's the biggest miracle of all:  not once have I asked God why?  It's not about the why me in life, it's about the what do I need to do to walk through this and believe you will bring good out of a terrible event?  There are a lot of good changes already occurring and right now we can't see what's on the other side of this; but, I know the One who does and He's got it all taken care of.  I'm choosing to Trust In God with my whole heart - I'm not naive at all, I know it won't be easy, but it will be the safest place for me.

What's in your heart?  Where do you want to be in your daily life?  Think about it...remember, nothing is guaranteed in life except for the gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ.  John 3:16  As my husband now says:  it's that simple!
 
 
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Are you holding on?  What does that mean?  Varies in life doesn't it?

The first thing that comes to mind for me with that simple phrase is the image of these trees.  I took this picture on our Big Road Trip we took this year.  These trees were all over along the Oregon Coast, and they totally fascinated me.  Funny what people notice isn't it?  I couldn't help but stop and look at them each time we ventured to the ocean shore; yet, I saw people coming and going that never gave them a second glance.


I look at these trees and how distorted they appear, twisted and bent out of shape.  Nothing particularly beautiful or perfect about them.  In fact most people wouldn't even want them as part of their landscape.  It's just the opposite for me, I find them fascinating!  I know, many of you are already saying "you would" as you laugh.  



But, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well to me these trees are beautiful.  They appear to be over-comers  victorious, and thriving in life regardless of the storms they've been hit by.


Even while we were there an unbelievable storm hit and winds blew so hard, but still they stood almost as if it never even phased them.  How could they not only continue to grow, but thrive?

How do you continue to grow and live?  In my life as you already know have been many storms and just like these trees my heart has been torn, twisted, and broken apart - BUT - yet I not only live, I thrive in life.  Why?  Because of the one Who was beyond torn and broken apart on a cross over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ.  He made a way with His grace, gift of love and salvation that allows me to walk with my head up and not controlled by the shame I once lived in.  Yes there are many scars, just like these trees, but they do not stop me from living...really, I think they encourage me to move forward.  

This morning on the way to church my mind wandered with the scenery as we traveled through the prairie.  I started with thoughts about the beauty of the land, then to the cows, then to a comment made to me yesterday regarding someone in the cattle business from my past.  Not a good part of my past either, and I was instantly ashamed of the memory of who I was at that time in my life.  But, instead of "holding on" to it and allowing it to take me down to a mode of worthlessness, I chose to thank God that I am ashamed of that time.  Thankful that I get embarrassed, and that I care about what I have done to so many people.  You may disagree with that, but, the old Jaylene definitely would not have been embarrassed or sorry for any of it.  In fact, she probably would have added more harmful actions and/or words to the situation.   See, I had to let go of the past to move forward to place of life this morning.  


Like always, it's a daily choice and I chose to praise and move forward rather than "hold on" to death.


What are you holding on to?  What continues to fester inside and prevent you from letting go of what was and moving on to what is?  There is nothing too big for God to heal, don't allow the lies and fear to keep you holding on to the very thing that robs you of life.  


The only thing we should "Hold On" to is Christ, our refuge, our protector and anchor...He is our Peace in the midst of life's storms.

 

Alone

10/20/2013

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Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt nothing but loneliness?  
Have you asked, "is there really life out there, somewhere, anywhere?"
I have, many times unfortunately...in fact I've read journal entries that I wrote during some of my best highs, on drugs that is - but, everything I felt was opposite of what I was trying to reach.  I thought the better the drugs, the more I used, the more I drank, etc. that eventually I would experience the greatest high there is.  I never did, the things I wrote from a life that was filled with a deep loneliness that can only be described as torment.  No matter who I was with, what I did, how much I got or how much people tried to love and help me, it was still there:  alone, empty, pain...


My life was a lot like this picture:  so much dead debris that it built walls of hardness, barriers that would not allow the tide of life to enter in.  So dark, empty and cold...but, at the same time it could hear life on the outside, just like standing a long an ocean shore and the roar of the powerful waves.  But, it never reached the heart, it just continue to push more death around my heart.


Tonight I spoke to someone that lost their spouse during the holidays; so this year they're dreading the season.  Trying to figure out a way to get through it, but at the same time feeling guilty about hurting peoples feelings that are inviting them to spend the holiday with their families.  It's a tug of war that goes on through the heart that is already torn and scarred by the battles of life and loss.  Do they need to choose to please others by accepting their invitation?  Or do they seek out a hide away place to spend time alone remembering, crying, trying to understand?  Is there a correct answer of right and wrong in this scenario?  When they described how they truly feel right now, the statement that got me the most was the one I once lived in:  "even when I'm around people I am alone"!  My heart broke for this person, because I know in my heart what they need, but, I cannot choose the path for them.  It's heart wrenching.


I realized after I hung up the phone that if I lost my husband to death there would be a huge difference.  I would know where he is for one thing; the other, I would not be alone.  God's Word assures us that nothing can separate us from His love, and He will never leave us alone, not ever.  Now, we can choose to walk away from Him, but He will not leave us.  I would most definitely go through a season of deep pain, grief, and probably even crying out "why God"...but, I know my God and I know that His grace would see me through to the place of me on my knees crying out to Him to just hold me and direct my path once again.  I can't say how exactly I would feel, but I'm human so I know there would be some kind of struggle.  


My friend I spoke to needs Christ in their life, please be praying they come to that place of saying "yes" to Him so that healing may begin.  I know that I am going to be more diligent about lifting them up to the Lord, and thanking Him in advance for their salvation.  


Let's never take for granted the daily moments we have with those we love, not one single person is guaranteed a tomorrow here on earth.
 
 
Have you ever went through situations that bring you to that place of saying "REALLY GOD"?  Of course you have, we all do at one time or another.  Maybe you're like me and it's like a repeated offense where it becomes "habitual"!  Sorry, just being real about it.


So this last week I attended a family reunion, something I never look forward to; so, I often don't appear at family functions.  This time I decided to go, but not only make an appearance, I was going to camp out the entire weekend with the others there and with a GOOD ATTITUDE...no faking it stuff.  It was genuinely a heart attitude of excitement and great expectations!


BOMB!!!


Well, let me clarify, yes there were multiple bad points in relationships, but, there was also an event that I wouldn't have missed for the world.  You see, there are 7 children in my family:  4 that are approximately a year apart then about a 12 year gap and three more.  I am the oldest.  My dad (step dad, but he's been my dad since I was born) came for a few hours and the highlight was sitting in a circle with him, and us four oldest kids plus a cousin.  It was the first time we've all been together in over 25 years.  No big hurrah events, just together and it was a brief time of my life that I will always treasure.  


The bad parts?  Well, let's forget about them and accept the fact that some people choose attitudes and behavior that affect others painfully.  However, I have to be responsible for how I receive it and whether or not I allow them to have any control in my life.


Kayaking is one of my favorite outdoor activities, it doesn't matter what time of the year it is, I love it!  I've been out in the freezing winter on the river and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty all around me as I paddle, views I wouldn't see if in a vehicle some where.  That's the similarity to life choices I want to share today:  Paddling Through Life


Recently I've been struggling with "me"...too many areas to begin to go into; however, it's had me in an emotional tormenting place that was coming between not just friends, family, etc...but me and God.  People do not think before they speak most times, unfortunately, and words are so damaging...or life giving.  Things had been said recently that were sucking me back to my past, plus I was dealing with past issues and it was becoming a prison of lies.  There's a song that I remember that says "a picture paints a thousands words"...you know what, you can look at a picture of a person (me for example) of years ago and think things like:  pretty, thin, nice smile, etc.  BUT  all you're seeing is the shell of a person in a photograph, you can't see inside their thoughts, heart, personality - all you see is an image frozen in time!  This morning as I was in prayer I realized the battle I've been fighting is foolish.  Why would I ever want to be the person in those photographs?  I remembered who she was:  dark, tormented, angry, depressed, consumed with death and violence.  There was nothing beautiful about her, she was so full of pain and loneliness, unable to love or be loved.


This morning I realized what I have been missing the most:  just being me, the daughter God created me to be.  It's not about other people accepting me.  My husband's love for me is not based on how other people view me, but he sees me through God's eyes.  It doesn't matter if I'm the weight I am now, or thin and "appealing"...actually, why do we as wives desire to be appealing/sexy to others?  Hmmm...never thought about that before - future blog :) 


I love the person I am today, and yesterday is just that - it's in the past and it's where it belongs.  I am choosing to retain the good lessons I've learned from the past and incorporate them into who I am today.  But, I will never be that person again, nor will I ever live the life I once lived (thank God).  Memories can be so deceiving, destructive actually and too many people are ruled by yesterday's memories that have been altered by the mind, or repeating them in conversations over and over till they forget what really happened!  


When I'm in my kayak paddling up a river, I see everything through different eyes.  I see the beauty that few take the time to appreciate.  I enjoy the quiet and the feel of moving along against a current that wants to push me the other way, but, I choose to be different - to just be me.  I let go of everything else that is going on in life around me.  When I turn my kayak around and allow myself to be drawn home where I belong, it reminds me of being drawn into my Savior's arms.  That's where the real peace of life exists, not in a quiet, war free zone, but in Jesus.  That relationship is the only pure healthy one that will ever exist.


This week a special woman in my life left this earth, my heart ached not for her but for myself.  I thought of so many different times in my life where she taught me life lessons, how to put up a tepee make fry bread, to bead and yes to choose to go a direction that by many was unacceptable.  Even then she continued down the path she chose, while I may not have understood it or accepted it, I never turned against her.  I always loved her.  Recently we were at a wake for a nephew and I  remember sitting next to her in the quiet and she just held my hand and kept rubbing it - at that time it felt like such a safe place of love and a healing balm all in that one little action of kindness.  Too often we take for granted that those we care about will be here tomorrow, or even at the end of the day, STOP and spend time with those you love.  Even if it's to write a note, make a phone call however you do it---JUST DO IT!  


Let go of what was, learn from yesterday, and live for the moment today...tomorrow will always be different than anything you could have imagined...or for some, it may not come.  Life is short compared to eternity, choose to live it not survive it.  I know about surviving, I've done it too many years and thankful that I did; but, now I want to paddle through and be thankful for the currents, and eddies that have only helped to make me who I am today, and I want to continue to draw closer to the Lord.  It's foolish to think we can do it all in our own strength and alone...why would you want to?  See lately I've been my own worst enemy, because I am the one who has allowed false expectations to rule in my life.  Unrealistic expectations really, and also judged others by how I perceived they were treating me.  Like the pictures image, things aren't always what they appear to be; we have to stop, listen and really see the truth in situations.   Just like out kayaking and seeing the beauty, choose to see the beauty of someone's life - even if they are not living the way you think they should.  It's not your life, it's theirs and they have to paddle through the journey they've chosen just like you do your own.  Get a good paddle that fits you and enjoy the journey!
 
 
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The journey of healing in my heart continues…I think it will till the day I leave this earth.  Mother’s Day was coming up and I spent the entire week prior to it praying about reaching out to my mother.  We haven’t had a strong, close relationship and there’s been so much past hurts; but, I wanted to continue to walk towards life and bring change.

Sometimes you can just show love with your actions and eventually the heart will line up and follow…but, I wanted it to be different this time.  I wanted what ever I did for Mother’s Day to be from my heart.  Then I came across the scripture “honor your mother & father”, this has always been difficult for me.  So, I did what I knew was the best course of action – put it on the table before the Lord.  After several days of prayer and meditating on this, I got this revelation:

Honoring someone is not based on their works, quality of life – how good or bad of a person they are.  It’s just like respecting your spouse, it’s not based on their actions – but – they are a life that God created.  Regardless of whether she’s a picture perfect mom, or one that you have felt you didn’t deserve, you can still honor her.  I know this sounds hard and unfair, especially when it comes to those who have suffered abuse (mental, emotional, physical, sexual, etc) but hear me out.  I am not saying that we are to put ourselves into a position of further harm in any way, just that you can extend kindness in different ways to honor that person.  It’s the same principle as forgiveness.  Forgiving someone who has harmed in various degrees is not a stamp of approval for what they’ve done; nor is it forgetting about it. It’s acknowledging what they’ve done but asking God to help you to forgive them so that you can heal and move on.  It’s really not for the one who’s hurt you, it’s for your heart and your relationship with God.

I made the decision to take my mother out to dinner.  At first I was concerned about where to take her and costs.  Then I had this picture come to me about when someone says they just want to bless you with clothes they have hanging in their closet.  You get excited about adding  something new & different to your wardrobe; however, when you receive the clothes they are far from being new, let alone nice…you just replaced the goodwill drop box.  The person didn’t mean it to be hurtful or offensive, but really?  Did you feel honored when you pulled those clothes out of the bag?  I felt God was showing me it’s the same thing about where to take my mother to dinner, to honor her with something nice.  So I took her to a nearby resort restaurant that is definitely nice in every way with great quality food and service.  The view of the lake was perfect, complete with valet service.  It was a stretch for me in every way, financially and emotionally; but, I would do it again in a second.  My heart was in it, just as I had prayed and I really did want her to feel special.

It opened another door of healing for my heart, now, will our relationship improve?  I don’t have the answer to that, but it wasn’t an action I put in place to receive something in return.  I was just choosing to honor her and give of my heart unconditionally.  No strings.

Our forgiveness of someone needs to be the same way – no strings attached, just letting go and moving on to healing and life.