Cherish Time With Loved Ones by Sonya


​Going into the Thanksgiving season, it causes me reflect on the several loved ones that have passed away in the last year and being the thankful for the time I had with them! These grandparents were precious to me and I cherished the time we spent together. They taught me so much about life and to always look at the glass half full and embrace all of the goodness that life has to offer. Loved ones are a gift and blessing from God and so thankful for the time I had with them as they lived a full life. Our family was able to share a lot of memories with them over the holidays and our visits to go see them and hear all their stories. Theses stories made me realize that time was precious and that is one thing you can give to loved ones that mean the most to them is “your time.”​Taking the time to spend with the ones you love is a gift and you can’t get it back. I felt many times God nudging me to go see a loved one and when I did God filled me up in ways that I can’t explain. That time allowed me to refocus on what is important and pause in the busyness of life and focus on the ones that really matter. Investing this time in your loved ones is so essential and blessing as God has surrounded us by so many people that do care about you.  This Thanksgiving, really take the time to spend with the ones you love and tell them how much they mean to you! Alot of times we take our family and friends for granted and they don’t know how much we appreciate them. Don’t miss out on those opportunities to love on them and care for your family and friends that are close to you. God has given them to us as a gift and lets celebrate that gift this holiday season. ​”Not neglecting to meet together, as in the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

Letting Go by Sonya

Can anyone relate that this time of year is hard? School starting up again and not ready to let go of my four kids going off to school. They are entering in 9th grade, 7th grade, 4th grade, and 2nd grade this fall made me think how fast time is going. We had an amazing summer and made so many memories together as a family that when school comes it is so hard to let them go. I am honored to be a stay at home mom so that means being with them each and every day which makes it harder to see them go off to school and gone all day.    I now have a freshman in high school and that just makes things become more real that time is going fast and I don’t have much longer with her at home and only a few more summers too!  I thought each year would get easier but it is harder letting go knowing that how fast they are growing up. You want time to stop as a mom and if your in my shoes you know the feelings and emotions that go with it.​

God has reminded me to turn to Him to carry me through this time. Also God is helping me understand the journey in letting go so He can use them in mighty ways. That is my prayer for my kids to be a “light” in the schools and be God’s vessels. I feel God gently nudging me to get out of the way so He can use their gifts and talents for His glory. Detaching is hard and doesn’t come easy especially as your kids get older since they don’t need you as much. As mom, in some way want to feel needed and wanted by your kids.  So I am learning to let go and slowly give them their independence. It is not easy but with my faith, God is guiding me through each stage.

​Lastly , don’t underestimate the power of prayer because prayer is what gives me peace when they are at school that God is taking care of them. We prayed for certain teachers for our kids and God answered our prayer and we got the teachers and some friends they wanted in their class. So remember to pray for your children and remember who is taking care of them and protecting them. God will be strong in you as a mom and be the protector for your kids. Don’t forget, Joshua 1:9 ” Have I not commanded  you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”​​

Face Time by Bombi

It’s the end of a busy work day and my husband and I decide to grab a quick sandwich from the local sub shop. As soon as we start to eat I notice the table next to us. There’s a father with his two adorable sons. A few minutes pass, no one says a word. 10 minutes pass, still nothing. By the time we finish eating barely anything was said.

What was wrong with this picture? No-one seemed mad or upset. There was no tension in the air. Dad was on his phone, scrolling away. Teenage son was texting, and the little one was on his pad watching a movie. I wondered if there was something missed. What if teenage son was worried about his test at school earlier that day? What if little one had learned something new from his teacher to share? What if dad had something meaningful to say, even encouragement to give to his sons? But there were no conversations happening at that table. 

So of course I start thinking about growing up and how other than a little television set, there were no other technological distractions around our dinner table. Matter of fact my parents intentionally left the t.v. off because it was important to them to hear about our day. They wanted to offer moments of guidance, and yes they wanted to encourage us if the moment arose. Even if we were eating out, no old school Gameboys to pass the time. It’s sad to think that this is now becoming some type of ancient practice, but face to face conversations still matter today as much as it did yesteryear. Nothing can replace it. 

The same goes for our relationship with God. Nothing can replace just talking to Him directly or spending time in His presence. No vlog, or blog, or social media post about our love for Him can take its place. I’m saying this to you and to me, don’t forget to interact face-to-face with the ones you love. Don’t forget about the original and actual “Face Time”. The next time you’re tempted to zone out at the dinner table take a moment to remind yourself, “I can never have this moment again. I can make this moment memorable with the ones I love because they are worthy of my full attention.” The world can call it ancient practice but we know it’s essential to an abundant life. 

A Love That Conquers All by Trish

 

This month will mark two years since my mother’s transition to heaven. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday but most days it feels like it was an eternity ago. I still have vivid memories of her final days and the interactions, words exchanged and precious moments shared.

It was an urge or unction to be with her when she celebrated her birthday on November 14thof 2016 and I arrived at the University of Iowa hospital the day prior. She was pretty weak and groggy when I arrived and although her body was exhausted, she perked up when she saw me walk in her room. As we celebrated her birthday in the hospital, two of her grandsons sang to her “Happy Birthday” and she mustered up strength to smile and give hugs. I didn’t know that life would hit me hard two days following when a team of doctors and specialists surrounded her bed and said there was nothing more to be done. I don’t know if it was denial or ignorance, but I then asked what my options were for her home health care, or a facility.  It took them saying it twice as they were carefully trying to tell me she wouldn’t be leaving the hospital and we only had days left. My mom looked at me and said, “I’m going to die, aren’t I?” I nodded my head and then buried it in her pillow next to her face as she said, “At least I was able to go to your wedding.” I cried using the pillow to muffle the noise but when I lifted my head up, a supernatural strength and grace empowered me for what would be her last seven days. When I asked what her goal was for her remaining days, she said, “I want to be here for Jeremiah’s (my nephew) birthday,” which was November 20thand on November 21stshe took her last natural breath.

 

The days following November 21, 2016 has had its share of ups and downs. I found myself as a new bride, stepmom and now a daughter missing the only person who has known me since my life began. My mom was a single parent and so I felt this immense void when the one person who provided andprotected was gone. When days were tough, she was there, when days were good, she was there. No matter what, she was always there and now, well, she was gone. I had to adjust to a new normal.

Although I missed her dearly most of what I was dealing with came from external sources. I was having to balance many things at one time.  There were days I felt as though my back was against a wall with so much pressure pinning me there. I wasn’t depressed or emotionally weak, I was grieving.

Yet in the midst of all of that I would feel a strength on the inside of me pushing me to do what was necessary day by day. It was that same type of strength I felt come in the hospital room the day the doctors delivered their report.

You see it’s a strength that doesn’t make sense. It’s a strength that surpasses the natural and enables you to do what is uncommon.  Though I may have felt weak, God’s strength was being perfected in me as I leaned on Him.

My mom was not a perfect person she had flaws and frailties just like each one of us. Yet, she had this incredible and undeniable faith that even astounded the doctors as she transitioned. That faith, that strength and that hope can only be found in Christ and she shared that gift with us from the time we were born and testified of it until her last day on earth. In her final days, I saw love perfected in her. I saw love conquer so much of what she struggled with even in her physical being. I saw love surround her with such a peace that it filled the atmosphere and drove away all fear.

Two years later and I miss her just as much. The memories are so dear and I long for the day when I get to see her again. But until then I lean on the love that carries me and will see me (and you) through.

This love that encompasses such a strength is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is not a character we read about to children during bedtime story hour. This person, holy person of Jesus Christ came to redeem us and reunite our heart to the Father. The immense love He has for us will strengthen us in our time of weakness, give us hope when there is none to be found and conquer every battle we face. This love will chase us down when we want to run and hide. This love will break every barrier around our heart and not allow the pain we experience to harden it.  This love will bring healing to the very core of what you thought would destroy you. This love will hold you when you’re broken and will restore what you thought was lost forever.

You may feel pain and experience loss or hurt but lean on the love that is waiting for you found in Jesus. This love will conquer all.

As I close out this article I’m reminded of the lyrics to “Reckless Love.”  Read the lyrics or listen to this version of the song and be reminded of a love that conquers all and allows you to move forward in life  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjIsfyBzywg

 

Reckless Love -Songwriters: Caleb Culver / Cory Asbury / Ran Jackson

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Photo credit: Freepik