Giving Thanks

I realized just tonight that I began blogging on this site on practically this exact day in 2009. Let me just say that WOW, the landscape of my life looks so different now than it did back then! I’m astounded at the changes and challenges that have occurred, but also at the overwhelming peace and perfection of the place I’ve found myself settled into today.

Who can predict from day to day where life is going to take them? How many of us can look back to even this time last year and see the absences and additions in our lives? Jobs, people, life… it ripples up and down like a slow-moving wave deep out in the middle of a vast ocean. We are all trying to navigate our ships out there, the ups and the downs, and to not allow a rough time to bring so much water into our ship that we drown. 

I’m thankful that I have a personal relationship with the Captain of my vessel. He is the One ultimately responsible for getting us to shore safely. Our job is to listen and follow His instruction. How comforting it is to know that I, in my limited wisdom of handing the ship, am not the one in charge. I have definite responsibilities during the voyage, but He is the guiding force. 

My thankfulness this season begins here… right here.  It is from this point that all other blessings and lessons are determined. 

My wish for each of you reading this is that you have a wonderful day of celebration with people you love. Take a quiet moment to hug everyone a little tighter knowing that this landscape may not look exactly the same next year. We are given these precious moments. They must not be minimized, or taken for granted.  I wish each of you a personal relationship with your Captain. It is through Him that you will have more to give thanks for than you ever imagined possible.

Abundant blessings to you all! Happy voyage!

Let Me Introduce You To My Jesus- a reblog from May 25, 2010

Let Me Introduce You To My Jesus- a reblog from May 25, 2010.

Mother Still

Mother Still.

Catching My Breath

It’s been long since I’ve written.  My hiatus has been less about not having a desire to write, but more about trying to catch my breath from the past few years.  This is the period in time I’ve waited to get to for almost 600 days and I’ve learned something surprising- the landscape is very different here than I imagined it would be.  As I reflect on my world, my environment as it is today some remains the same, but much is changed.  For months, years now, I’ve waited for that light at the end of the tunnel everyone promised me would come.  It’s a very new and different picture I see lluminated by that light.

In my life I’ve learned that during times of great stress and pressure some people are able to take the trip with you while others chose to get off at the nearest stop and continue on their journey without you.  It has been a harsh realization.  Harsh because it has forced me to look at parts of myself I’m not so proud of.  People look for excuses- I know this because I’ve been one of those people.  Truth is we all do it to some extent, at some point.  Embarrassingly one of my most painful and personal example of this took place when one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was diagnosed when we were very young.  Dawn and I had been friends since we were about 6 years old.  There were other friends in and out of that circle, even quiet lapses of time, but she and I were always close.  When I learned of her diagnosis it seemed unthinkable to me.  Young adults don’t get breast cancer.  Surely that disease is reserved only for those in old age.  Not so.  She had it and it was a heartbreaking reality.  Apparently too heartbreaking for me to deal with… sadly.   She lived in Texas and I was in Tennessee.  We talked several times about making plans to see one another, but they never seemed to pan out.  Then, in what would be the final years of her life, I began to distance myself from her when Dawn started acting in ways I didn’t understand and I didn’t agree with.  Today I see what a haughty, self-righteous person I was being.  At the time I completely saw myself in the right- needing to instruct her in what I thought was correct.  It’s unfortunate that it took her death along with some of my own life experience to show me how I wasted- WASTED- this precious and valuable time I could have had with her.  What she needed was her friend and not a critic of her actions.  My friend was in a position that was completely impossible for me to relate to.  She was going to lose her life, lose her sons, and lose her husband.  She had already lost one breast.  Who in this WORLD did I think I was???  She needed me.  I wasn’t there for her.  I had convinced myself that the separation with her was inevitable and that I couldn’t be a part of her new life if it didn’t line up with mine.  What a waste of the short time that we’re given here on this planet.  It haunts me to this day.

None of us are placed here to live life for another person.  We are placed here to forge our own paths and to do what we can with the gifts and the talents God has given us.  I am the only person who will have to answer for my decisions just as you are the only person who will have to answer for yours.  It is ridiculous to waste time sitting in judgment of one another while we are here when we could be offering support and hopefully continuously learning while moving forward.  While we are alive we will have great successes and great failures.  We will experience times of unbridled jubilation and times of utter defeat.  I think that being able to admit our humanness and imperfection is what makes us relatable to one another and strengthens the relationships we have.  It has been healing to say out loud that I feel weak and tired.  It’s been equally as healing to have strong shoulders to lean upon when I felt my strength was gone.

So I’m catching my breath lately.  I’m letting myself catch up with all that’s been happening.  I’m building up my strength again and getting ready for the new path that lays ahead.  I’m counting my blessings for all that I have.  I’ve been forced to reflect upon certain situations I’m responsible for (and some that I’m not) and I must say it has been one of the most trying periods I’ve ever gone through.  I’ve felt sweet support from friends old and new and have been literally thrown face first under the wheels of a bus by others.  There may be times in life I disappoint people or perhaps they don’t agree with my actions, but I have never set out to bring harm or pain to another person.  I have never woken up and thought, “How can I hurt so-and-so today?”  Sadly, I know there are people in this world who can’t make the same claim.  Fortunately for me I don’t have to worry about any of that.  Again, it is something they will have to answer for- not me. 

One focus that I’ve kept through all the trials is how very blessed I am.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I’m so thankful for the gift of my children.  These two little ones are the very reason that I’m here.  This part of our life as a family hasn’t turned out exactly as I had expected, but I have to believe that everything happens for a higher-ordered reason.  Ava and Eli bring me happiness and joy every day and I miss them terribly on the days I don’t have them.  Absence from my children (when they are with their father) is, without a doubt, the most difficult part of this new phase of life.  We trust that God has a plan for us and we know He’s always going to take care of us. 

I’m thankful for a strong, caring person who very unexpectedly drifted into my life and offered support when the battle was at a fevered pitch.  Neither of us could have predicted that a coincidental meeting would have resulted in an immediate friendship that quietly and powerfully grew into something deeper.  He’s tolerated more than anyone should ever be expected to for the sake of simply being with me and my gratitude to him is endless.  I have complete faith and trust in him.  It’s so nice to be able to feel that way about someone.  I am proud of him and the man he is.  How blessed I am to have been given the opportunity to meet him, to be with him, to laugh with him, and to love him.  Thank you, Brent. 

I was taught as a child that when you grow up if you have just a few really good friends then you are considered very lucky.  I always thought that was crazy since my list of “friends” seemed endless.  The older I’ve gotten the more I understand this theory.  Amy Jo, Brandy, and Lori have been with me practically every step of the way and their support has been unwavering.  These girls accept me for who I am.  I will always return the favor.  Amy Jo Powell, thank you, thank you, thank you.  You have been here everyday.  In this time of wavering “constants” it’s so comforting to know we’re in this for the long haul.  You completely get my need to retreat within myself at times, but you always come calling when I’ve been quiet for too long.  My handful of tried and true buddies are precious to me and I value them so very much.  Melanie, I’m thankful God put you in my life and I’m so glad you’re still here.  I’m blessed with sweet friends in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado who are sweet enough to check on me. 

I want to assure everyone that I’m still here, I’m just fine, and I know that there are great things in store.  It’s amazing the strength I’ve come to realize through the last several years.  I’ve not been strong each step of the way, but God has perfectly positioned loved ones in those spaces to carry me when I was too weak to do it myself.  I look forward to 2013 and have confidence that this will be a wonderful year for me and my family.  May it be a wonderful year for each of you as well.

The Lesson of Long Suffering- a reblog from August 10, 2012

The Lesson of Long Suffering – by Amanda Silvers

 
A phrase that I find reoccurring in my communications with my friends of late is this, “We’re never promised this is going to be an easy ride.” Boy howdy! Now there’s a statement I could write volumes about.

Long suffering is described as “patient endurance”. Patience is most definitely NOT one of my strongest virtues and endurance is something that I know the Lord has woven into the tapestry of my being. Endurance isn’t even an option or a choice. It’s a necessity. As Christians we are promised in His Word that there is nothing too difficult or too tedious for us to walk through with His help.

Romans 8:28-29
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Most of us during our time here will experience certain life events which put our patience to the test. A death, a divorce, a crisis…. it is in these moments that our feet are held to the fire and required to make a choice. We can chose to crumble or pull the covers up over our heads and try to keep reality out as much as possible or we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and put one step in front of the other and move….even if it’s slowly…. moving forward.

Another lesson that’s come into play in my own life personally is this- there is only so much we are able to control with our human hands. The big picture is in His hands. We can waste time frustrated and running around trying to orchestrate and rearrange issues in our lives or the lives of others which we don’t understand or agree with, but the truth is those efforts are futile. It isn’t our “control” which matters. We didn’t create the universe. We aren’t gifted with omniscient power and wisdom. It is only a Most High God Who has perfect insight. We are merely human. We have trials. Our instruction is to turn to Him during these times and trust that He is in control.

Proverbs 19:21
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

 

Our Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. He has given us His Word, our instruction book on what to do when things feels too much or too unbearable. In what I imagine as a perfect world we would all live together in harmony. We would help those who were suffering and love those who were struggling. There would be no judgment and no condemnation. We would realize that none among us is any more important or special than anyone else. God views us all the same. We were all created in HIS image. Not just a few of us- of you- ALL of us.

My prayer is that each of you will have a wonderful week and weekend. Take time to be quiet and listen to Him. Turn your cares and concerns over to the Father and let Him carry your burden for you. He wants to so much. All we have to do is ask. Be blessed!

Dipping a toe into the “uncomfortable”

A lesson I’ve been learning for years which keeps screaming out to me recently is that we will all find ourselves in uncomfortable places at times.  A comment we wish we had made, a job we wish we had applied for, a moment we wish we could do over.  How many times do we wish we had a second chance to correct an action or a word… To take something back?  I’m thankful that one of the benefits of getting older is that things seem to become so much clearer.  In our younger years we are so driven by what other people think.  In our older years that concern fades.  It’s very freeing, actually.  Unfortunate that we couldn’t have this knowledge in our 20’s when we all think we are invincible and bulletproof, and our driving life force is the desire to be accepted.  I much prefer being in this space of self-awareness and self acceptance.

A promise I’ve made to myself in the last few years is this- if I feel it I will say it.  I don’t ever want to imagine anyone who falls into my circle of life during my time here ever has to question my intention.  My mother has always jokingly said that “Amanda has never had an emotion which she didn’t express.”  That’s a pretty dead on description.  I can tell you that this truth has sometimes caused me heartache, but it has also brought me streams of happiness and blessings that make me thankful I found the boldness to act upon.

If we choose to love- let’s love fully.  If we are going to lose- let’s lose completely (giving it everything we’ve got).  If we’re going to try- let’s try full heartedly.  If we’re going to dream- let’s dream monumentally.  My fervent wish is that when my life is over there should be no one who questions their importance to me.  No wish I have should ever go unattempted.  I tell my family and friends as often as I can how much I value them and how much they mean to me.  When I have a goal I try all that I can to attain it.

It should be said that such “boldness” comes with a price.  You won’t always get the responses you hoped for.  Desired relationships many never come to fruition.  Desired hopes and dreams may never come into focus.  But the heart of the matter is that if we don’t try- if we don’t take the risk- we will never know what could become.  Moving forward in boldness requires a certain gut-level moxy which may take years to grow into.  It has for me.  I only know that when I look back and I pinpoint the regrets I have in my life most of them can be attributed to a floundering sense of security I had in myself.  I’m not that gal anymore.

This woman has decided that she’s going to be a risk taker and a goal setter.  It is easy to second guess ourselves when we can look at a past history of disappointment and doubt, but you’re never going to know if you never try.  It’s truly as simple as that.  Take your risk.  Don’t be afraid.  If “no” is the worse we ever hear surely we are strong enough to move forward and proceed.  At least we can rest in the knowledge that we made an effort.

John Mayer has a song called “Say What You Need to Say”.  It has always spoken to me.  Life’s simply too short for us to not say what we need.  None of us are promised a tomorrow.  Don’t we owe it to ourselves to make our TODAY the very best that it can be?  I think so.

Finding the strength

If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would describe myself as a “strong” person I don’t know that I could have.  I would have described myself as loud, fun-loving, adventurous, and friendly.  Today if you asked me I’d probably tell you that I pretty sure I’m nothing short of bionic, made of kryptonite, and a super ninja warrior.  It’s nothing I’ve done personally to gain those titles, but more so what life has brought me through.  I’d like to share with you where I found my strength and to encourage any of you who may be struggling that you can come out on the other side stronger, better, and happier.

Just as most (dare I say “all”) of us have experienced throughout our brief layover on this planet there are certainly going to be times of stress, trials, and hardships.  That may come in the package of a divorce, a death, a loss,  or a disappointment.  You just fill in the blank with whatever meets your specific need.  I’ve said many times that in Scripture we are never promised this will be an easy ride, but we are promised that it will never be more than we can bear.  I’ve gone round and round with God on that one a few times, but as much as I balk and protest He always ultimately proves Himself to be true.

In the last few years I’ve learned that a few things are vital to our successful survival here in this tornado of chaos that we call “life”.  I don’t want to give the wrong impressions- life has been so good to me.  I am blessed in so many areas and for those glimpses of fulfillment I am so very thankful.  I’ve learned that much (if not all) of the “chaos” in my life can be attributed to poor choices on MY part.  Sure, we can’t control death and certain other unfortunate circumstances which quietly creep into the corners of our lives, but we do control other factors which can lead to many complications.  I’m going to speak to you as if I were speaking to my friends, so let me share with you what I feel each of us as humans must possess in our aresenal of weapons to defeat and conquer the “ugly” in our lives.

First, it is imperative, IMPERATIVE that you have a strong faith in Jesus Christ.  I’m telling you that without Him a successful, peaceful, planned out maneuvering of this daily life is impossible.  I became a Christian at the age of 10 and from that moment I’ve had an ace in my pocket which has brought me through 42 years of this life thus far.  He is Who I turn to when I simply feel I can’t take another second.  He is Who I cry out to when I desire nothing more than to pull the covers up over my head and simply lay there and let life pass me by.  I’ve never ever been a person who would consider suicide because I simply think that is the most selfish act a person can commit.  A permanent solution to a temporary problem and that’s the key.  As badly as you may feel today- as hopeless as you may feel- you won’t always be swimming in this sea of despair.  As a teenager, during times of stress, I began visualizing myself literally crawling up into His lap and saying “I can’t do this anymore”.  I would close my eyes and just feel His arms engulfing me, pulling me in, and telling me that everything was going to be okay.  This is a visualization that I’ve found myself melting into so many times over the last few years.  He is our Father and He loves us unconditionally.  There is nothing- absolutely nothing- we can do that will change how He feels for us.  I find such peace and comfort in that.

Second, friendship.  I don’t think you need to have a million friends.  I think we all need to have one or two TRUE friends who aren’t afraid to be straight shooters with us.  We shouldn’t seek to surround ourselves with “yes” friends- people who will agree with every statement we make and every decision we come to.  I think the truest friends are those who aren’t afraid to have the uncomfortable conversations with us out of love by saying, “What the hell are you doing?”  If everyone in your circle thinks all of your decisions are wonderful then I’d be tempted to tell you that you may need to reevaluate your relationships.  Some of the hardest and most difficult conversations I’ve had with people come from my truest friends who only want what is best for me and aren’t afraid to rock the boat a bit to tell me.  We aren’t flawless.  We all make mistakes.  We are supposed to sharpen each other “as iron sharpens iron.”  Iron is strong.  It can be painful.  Listen to those well-intentioned friends and count your blessings that you have them.  The Amy Jos and the Kell’s and the Loris and the Jessicas and the Carolynns in my life were strategically placed here to help keep me grounded.  I am undeserving of them, but so eternally grateful for them.

Third, you have to find your purpose.  Mine, easily, is being a mother.  On my hardest days it is the fact that I am a mother which keeps me pushing ahead.  I prayed wanting to have these babies for so long.  I don’t take the responsibility of motherhood lightly.  Moms often joke that as mothers we don’t have time to be sick.  A mother can have a temperature of 103 degrees and still get children bathed, dressed, and ready for school- pack lunches and attend a PTA meeting.  It’s our calling.  On the “impossible” days those two sweet faces make getting out of bed possible.  I have no doubt that they were “gifted” to me as an acknowledgement of responsibility and as a requirement of growing up- maybe even quicker than I expected.

I hope if you’ve read this that you’ve taken something from it.  A year ago I literally couldn’t see even a day ahead without my heart racing and feeling sick to my stomach.  I cried out to God, to my friends, to my family and I was heard.  The loveliest part of my support system is that while they listen and hear my pain, instead of laying in the floor and crying with me and wallowing in sorrow, they are strength for me and immediately ask me “So what’s the plan?”  They are eternal encouragement to me and help guide me through the muck and the mire.  Sometimes it takes someone outside of yourself to help you pull yourself up by your boot straps and move forward.

I want to offer encouragement today.  Peace can be had.  We must be patient, make wise choices, and be still enough to listen to the quiet, but ever-speaking voice of God.  Don’t be afraid.  Even during the struggle you are facing you can rest assured knowing that He is already there on the other side waiting to guide you through.  Find your peace.  Allow it to come.  Be obedient.  Listen.  Calm yourself.  The reality is our future is already in His control.

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