Shelly's Spot

The Words That Tumble Onto The Page

Month: August 2016

Letting Go

One of the most important lessons being a mom has taught me is how to let go and trust in God. It started with our oldest daughter, born severely disabled, destined to be total care for her entire life. There was nothing I could do to “fix” her. I could and did take her to therapy and follow up at home, I could and did take her to all the specialists that we could find to have her looked at, poked, prodded, studied and evaluated, all to learn next to nothing about what the cause was of her disability. For years our lives were a series of doctor visits, medical tests, evaluations and new therapies to try, some of them helped a bit, some had no effect, and some were frustrating beyond words.

All of this taught me to let go, to trust that God had a plan for my daughter, and that if I were trusting I would see His will play out in her life. So, I trusted, I believed that God can and does use everything for good, even this. I was rarely sad about it, but when I was, I took that to God and told Him. I was rarely frightened, but when I was I took that to God and told Him. I did pray for Him to heal her, to fix her, to take away this struggle, to ease the burden she carried, to ease her pain, and mine. I did pray to Him, I told Him how I did not like this disability, that I wanted to have my daughter but to be able to do with her the things that had filled my dreams before her birth.

I wanted to be able to walk beside her, holding hands and talking about her day, her dreams. I wanted to watch her dance and sing and take the world by storm. I wanted to tuck her in at night, and say prayers and share that quiet moment before sleep. I wanted to see her walk, and hear her talk on the phone with friends, and I even wanted her to roll her eyes when I was too much like a mom. I wanted to ask about the boy she liked, and to meet him at the door, and to one day watch her fall in love and get married. I wanted to one day hold her first child in my arms and share in that joy and knowledge.  I wanted to have what I had dreamed about, what I had thought was the plan, because it had been my plan, my will. I learned to see the world through a different lens.

I learned to pray for God’s will, I learned to ask the Lord to strengthen me for the road ahead, and to stay beside me as I faced new challenges and trials. I learned to let go of my will and to embrace the will of God. I learned to accept the life I was given and to work hard to make the most of it. I learned to be her mother, and not the mother I thought I would be. Then came our sons and with each I learned again, how to be a mother. With my sons I was able to teach them to pray for God’s will, because I knew how. I was able to teach them that life isn’t always what you thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good life. I taught them to seek God and to see God in the events and people that fill up every day life. I became a better mother, because I became a better child of God.

I learned that in faith, as in parenting, you are never done learning. This journey does not end here, on this world, in this life. I will never stop being amazed by the glory of God. I will never stop being amazed by the gifts that God bestows on me. I will never stop being grateful for the chance to be who he is making me. I am still learning, I am still working on letting go, there are still days when I want to take control, when I want to steer the boat, take up the oar and determine my path. There are still times when I am at a loss as to what I should be doing next, or where I am supposed to be going, because I am human I must constantly be reminded of who I am and how to better follow the will of God. I am better now, though, at letting go, at trusting in the goodness and blessings of God.

What’s The Plan?

I am obese, I know it, have been for some time now. So, why, why did I let it get this bad, go this far, and last this long?
I didn’t plan on getting fat.
I could tell you that I never thought I ate that much. Of course, when you don’t think about what you eat, when you eat or why you eat, you will never know if you eat “that” much. I also ate more “junk” than quality and I know that is part of the problem. Lack of exercise or activity also played a part.
I didn’t plan on getting fat.
I could tell you that after 3 children my body didn’t spring back like it used to be, but I didn’t give it a chance. I didn’t fight for it, I didn’t advocate for that thin girl inside me, I consumed her along with those fries and washed the whole thing down with a chocolate shake. (Or was it strawberry?)
I didn’t plan on getting fat.
I could tell you that my metabolism has slowed down, and while that may be true, I was doing nothing to keep it burning for years before it slowed down with age.
I didn’t plan on getting fat.
I could tell you that weight, like age, is just a number. That is true, but I can’t do anything about one and I can do everything about the other.
I didn’t plan on getting fat.
I could tell you that I don’t mind being overweight. I still like myself, I am still warm and loving, and that is true. I love who I am on the inside, but if I am being honest, I am not crazy about who I am on the outside. I am not a good role model at this weight, and I can’t do many of the things I want to do, because my body doesn’t want to.
I didn’t plan on getting fat.
I don’t want to look 29 again. (An age I picked, because I looked great!) I want to be fit, a thin enough person to be healthy and active, I am already happy. I want to not mind pictures of me, or mirrors. I don’t want to pose in a bathing suit with my abs of steel or whatever the popular body area is, I just want to not mind putting on my bathing suit and going for a swim. I don’t want to look like a model, but I wouldn’t mind being a positive role model.
I didn’t plan on getting fat.
I do plan on getting fit.

How Did I Get Here?

How did I get here in the first place? How did I get to be so heavy, when I wasn’t always heavy, I didn’t struggle with weight when I was younger.

Well, first thing was I quit being as active as I had been, if you quit moving around, your body takes that as a sign that you don’t mind not moving around, if you stay sedentary long enough you will find it more difficult to get back into moving. I also stopped paying attention to what I was eating, I had never been a calorie counter, but I really stopped paying attention. A 6 inch sub or a foot long, well if you get the foot long then you will have some for later, but then you are sitting there with a foot long sub in front of you and you figure you might as well eat it and one day you don’t even consider the 6 inch anymore because you have gotten used to the foot long. This is just one example, like the cookie that you share with someone,then you decide to each have your own, and then you are eating a couple of cookies even when you are alone. I could go on, but I think it makes sense. Did you plan on that? No, but it happened and now you are overeating and you don’t even realize it. I think one of my biggest problems, and I am sure a lot of people can relate, is that I didn’t plan on what I was going to eat and I didn’t keep track of my food intake. It is much harder to over eat when you are aware of your intake. When you wake up with a plan, not so rigid that there isn’t room for spontaneity, but a plan that you will be careful about what you put into your body today. If I am going to splurge at dinner, then I am not going to splurge at lunch or breakfast and I might even need to skip that snack I usually have in the afternoon. If we spend just a few minutes a day thinking about what we have eaten, what we are going to eat and how we feel about those choices, I believe we can make better choices. The big thing is that we have to be communicating with ourselves.

The problem with most diet plans is that they tell you what to do, eat this and not this, but don’t teach you to listen to your own body. You can count carbs or fats or whatever, but if you don’t start listening to your own body, if you don’t figure out what you need to do without that strict list, then you may never really take control. That was my problem, yeah if I cut all carbs out of my diet I lose weight, but I didn’t learn how to control my life, a body needs some carbs and cutting them all out doesn’t teach me how to listen to my body. I can cut fat from my diet and lose weight, but my body needs fat and at some point I am going to have to figure out how to do this without a book in my hand, because I also need to be out there walking or whatever activity I am doing to get and stay fit.

The other problem with a diet is we go “on” a diet with the thought that one day we will be thin enough to go “off” the diet. Look at any diet plan, there are phases, phase one is always the hardest and you give up so much, but that is okay because if you look ahead in the book, phase two lets you add some stuff back into your diet and phase three is even more liberal and so it goes. Why not just decide what life long changes you want to make and do it, and stop dropping me off a cliff with a rope tied around me only to lift me back up over time. I have given up certain things that I have no plan to ever pick back up again, just because I met a weight loss goal. I have started habits that I want and plan to continue for the rest of my life, because I know what can happen if I stop being vigilant.

I do not want to become one of those people who “tsk” or shame other people because of their bad habits, as if once you lose weight you are now the expert in all things fitness and you have any right to judge people who are where you were. I am sure I still have some bad habits and will continue to have some bad habits in my life and I don’t want people to tell me how I could be better if I just did things their way. That is the other big issue with most diet plans, they tell you what to eat, how to prepare your food, when to eat and why to eat, but they don’t address all those bad habits you had, that until you commit to giving up are still there, lying dormant waiting for the day when you let down your guard.

When I used to drink a lot of diet cola, and I mean a lot, a number of people over the years felt the need to tell me how bad that was for me. Yeah, I get it, I knew how bad it was for me, almost as bad for me as giving unwanted dieting advice to a person pumped up on caffeine and artificial sweetener. I was polite, mostly, but I wasn’t hearing anything I didn’t already know, I knew that my diet cola habit was bad for me, I knew that it wasn’t going to help me lose weight, I could see that on the scale. I knew that my habits were negative and I even knew that I was setting a bad example for my kids by drinking so much of it, but someone telling me all that, or implying that my letting my kids drink soda was akin to child abuse, I didn’t need that. There are choices I made that protected my kids as well, and I told them that soda was our enemy even as I drank it, and I told them that grown-ups often make poor choices about things, because they are human too. I don’t want to become the kind of person who judges others for their weaknesses, or what I see as weaknesses, I want to be the kind of person who works on my own issues and supports others if and when they ask for it. Now, if you have a habit that you are trying to kick and we are friends and you ask me to nag you,then I will, with all my heart nag and pester you to stick to your guns, until you tell me to stop, but I will do it in a loving and compassionate way, because I know how hard it is to not smack someone who is a know-it-all, when all they know is something you already knew.

Reflecting On Being A Sheep

Psalm 23 says: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Now, when I accept that the Lord is my shepherd, then I accept that I am a sheep. I am helpless and totally dependent, like a newborn child, I can do nothing for myself. Without my shepherd, I am lost, there is no hope. With my shepherd, I am safe; He will protect me and guide me, because He loves me.

I am such a lucky sheep; for my shepherd knows me and He never rests. My shepherd will never falter, never take a day off and He knows what is to come. My shepherd wants me to follow Him, He is patient, caring, gentle and loving, and He will always be there. My shepherd knew me before I was born, watched my first steps, my first words, my childhood unfolded as He knew it would. My shepherd watched me grow up, and He has continued to watch me. He has given everything to be my shepherd, and all He asks is for me to call Him my shepherd.

All I need to do is accept that I am His sheep and that He is my shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

What can I want that God has not given me?

What can I buy that is worth more?

What can I win that is greater than what is given to me?

With God I have everything I need. God gives me life and He saves me. God breathed life into me, knowing that I would need Him to save me from myself. He chose me to be His child; He watches me and forgives me over and over again. He knows I will stumble and stumble, yet He is always there to lift me up. He carries me through.

All I need, He is. Joy, beauty and salvation, He provides those. He does not want me to pay for those gifts, but to pray for those gifts. If I focus my wants, God will be all I want. God wants me to feel loved. He wants me to feel saved and safe.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”

The Lord is my shepherd, He will protect me, love me. He did all this before my birth, He did through my childhood, He has all my life and will when I leave here. Why? Because, the Lord is my shepherd.

I need to remember that I am a sheep. Only my shepherd can lead me and He wants to. He wants me to follow Him to the place that He has prepared for me. When I follow Him, I will find the grass is softer and safer. He will always watch over me. He wants me to rest in Him. I cannot find my own way, it is when I try that I find difficulty and pain.

His way is the only true path, I must be careful to keep my eyes on Him and not fall into just following the sheep around me. I must remember, I am a sheep and the people around me, they are sheep too. Sheep cannot find their own way; they need to follow the Good Shepherd. Many people will try to convince me that they too are shepherds. There is only one shepherd and I must look for Him, I must keep my eyes on Him if I am to reach the green pasture. I must remember not to follow other sheep, because they might be lost sheep.

Dear Lord,

Please help me to remember I am a sheep, allow me to find the humility to let go and trust in Your love and guidance. Please help me to stay true to the one true shepherd and to avoid falling in behind those sheep who have lost their way or who believe they know better than You. Please strengthen me for the paths ahead, and help me to more clearly see where You are leading me, remind me to be patient and mindful of the path I follow, and to never forget that I am Your sheep. May Your will ever be my focus.

Amen

 

Go Out And Make Disciples

That’s right, go out and make disciples. Before you think this is too much for you, remember this, the original disciples were normal men. Of course each one did have special gifts, but so do we. Everyone is given special gifts to assist them in serving God. So…

It is time to start thinking of yourself as a disciple. Disciple means student, so you don’t have to know everything, in fact you can’t know everything, what you can do is trust in God. If you look at the Bible you know that the early church, the church of Acts, was growing daily, everyone was welcome and blessed by what was happening. (Even if it was a dangerous time.)

Miracles were happening daily, and people were coming to a relationship with Christ. Disciples were being made. We may not be experiencing what they did, but we are still supposed to be going out and making disciples. Read Matthew 28:16-20, where Jesus gives the Great Commission.

Still having doubts? That’s okay, even the first disciples had doubts. Think about that, after all they had seen, they had lived with Jesus, witnessed the miracles of His ministry, heard His teachings first hand, seen Him tried, crucified and die. They had seen Him rise from the dead, and still some of them doubted. Jesus understands our doubts, because He understands what it is to be human. He still calls us to serve Him, and to go make disciples.

How do we do that? That is what our spiritual gifts are for, but also just by being faithful in our daily lives. If you are going to help people become disciples, then you need to be a disciple. Since disciple means student, you will need to develop some good student habits.

Get and read the text, the book is an essential tool in almost every class, but especially this one.

Get to know the teacher, and communicate regularly with Him.

Attend classes regularly and join a study group.

Get involved in extracurricular activities.

Read the Bible regularly, this is the best way to get to know God, and His story as well as His plan for your salvation. Pray often, this is the best way to communicate with the teacher, and to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit. Attend church often, and take communion regularly.  You might join a small group Bible study as well, and find a ministry or two to get involved with.

Remember, you are not just a disciple on Sunday, strive to be a good role model for people who might be seeking a relationship with God. You never know when your behavior might have a direct impact on another person. Go about your daily business with love in your heart and you may find that by being a disciple yourself you will make some as well.

Dear Lord,

Please bless me as I try to be a good and faithful disciple and as I try to go out into the world and make disciples as well. Please help me to be strong in doing Your work and in sharing my faith with those people who You place in my path. Please help me to discover my spiritual gifts so that I may better serve You and Your church.

In the name of Jesus Christ

Amen

Getting Moving

As I entered the month of May 2016, I felt positive about losing weight, I also felt positive that I could stick with it this time. I am not sure why this time felt different initially, but it didn’t take long for me to know that my body was behaving differently this time. I did not have the cravings I used to have, I did not wander around looking for something to eat at night. I also really drank a lot of water, and I have continued to drink a lot of water.

I started losing weight almost right away, my body and I coming to an understanding. I found, within just a few short days, that I was no longer retaining water like I had for years, my feet were no longer swollen at night and when I looked down I liked that. My body and I were beginning to work together for what was best for both of us, and my cravings and bad habits were being left behind on the curb, thumb out, waiting for me to pick them up again. I am not going back there, I have even burned that bridge, to keep me from being able to accidentally find myself back there again.

I realize as I write this that I really like to mix ideas up, like in a blender and then put them down on paper, it isn’t my plan, it is just how thoughts come out of my head.

When I started this process, I was the heaviest I had been in my whole life, which is not an easy thing to admit. So, since I am writing this up, maybe I should write a how to book for people who want to know how you get so bad in the first place.

Confessions Of An Overweight Me

On April 28, 2016 I decided to change my life, I decided to stop being a fat me and to transform myself into a fit me. Okay, so it kind of started before that, with the small step of quitting my diet caffeine laden cola, who am I kidding that was a huge step. You see that cola had come to be my constant companion, always there for me, and whenever I tried to leave it behind it would call my name, or give me headaches as I went through a kind of withdrawal. So, I had given up the cola, which I loved, but sometimes you love something that isn’t good for you.

So, back to April 28, on that day I started a supplement regimen, aimed at helping me control my cravings and undo as much of the damage I had done over the years to my body as I could. On that day I said good-bye to refined sugar, corn syrup in any of the many forms it takes, to artificial sweetener and to empty carbs. I did not go carb free, I just decided to make smarter carb choices. We had been experimenting with a variety of grains, moving into the old and whole grain section of the market, or on Amazon, as the case may be.

I planned on walking every day, something that didn’t actually begin until well into the month of May, but I got there. The nice thing about the supplements I was taking is that I immediately felt the release of my cravings. I was a sweet addict, always wanting something sweet, looking for something sweet and I was also a bored or stressed muncher. I would regularly wander into the kitchen to see what I could eat, not really hungry but still curious. Within 24 hours of starting the supplements and stopping the sugars, syrups and artificial sweeteners, I had no such compulsion. I did not wander into the kitchen looking for something to snack, I did not buy a candy bar at the checkout lane, because it called my name and when I bought treats for my youngest son I did not feel the need nor the desire to share them with him. I wasn’t doing without, I honestly didn’t want them. That was the difference for me, I had never cut back on anything in my diet without wanting to have it again. Quit diet cola, but I wanted it, could hear it calling me in the store, especially from those dang little fridges in the checkout area. “Shelly, you are thirsty, it is hot out, wouldn’t I taste great, come on, you know you want a soda.” Sad things is, before this I always did want a soda, to feel those bubbles and taste that whatever it is, because I am pretty sure that flavor doesn’t really exist in nature, at least not in food from nature. But this time, this time really was different. Between my genuine desire to really change my life and the supplements that I was taking, I didn’t want the soda, I wanted water when I was thirsty, it is almost as if I started to really understand what my body had been saying all along instead of what the products I had been eating and drinking had to say.

It wasn’t just the soda, I was now free to wander the grocery store, free to check out the produce aisle, to skip the aisles in the middle where all the prepackaged foods, laden with things my body was glad I was no longer feeding it, sat waiting for me. I didn’t hear them. I actually did buy some donuts for my son, and never ate a single bite, and when they went stale, a state which a donut had not gotten to in my vicinity in years, I threw them out, I wasn’t even tempted to eat one, I wasn’t going without, or fighting an urge, I honestly didn’t want one, that was the big difference this time, that is what made me know I could do this, I could beat my food problems, I could begin a fitness routine, I could change my life for the better, because this time my body and I were in this together, this time I was listening to my body and not the food around it.

So began my journey to discover the real me, the thin girl who I had hidden away under layers of fat, fear and frustration. I knew then that I would find her, if I stuck to the path, and in finding her I would free myself and feel better and look better and be better at being me.

Loving Hands

Quite a few years ago now, I was asked to speak at a gathering of women of faith by a good friend who was familiar with my poetry and my love of sharing my faith. I was both excited and nervous about this talk, as it was not something I had ever done before. Two weeks before the big day I broke my leg, a somewhat minor break, but it was an excuse if I was looking for one to skip the event, and hide from my call, and never step out there. I didn’t hide, and I am thankful for the blessings of courage and friendship that made the event both possible and positive.

Now after I agreed to speak, I was given the topic of hands to work into my talk, and of course I could instantly see the hand of God in the events of my life to that point. What I have discovered, through years of writing, prayer and faith, is that I can’t ignore God when He wants me to create something, He is persistent and I am blessed by the gift. So, here is an edited version of that talk, I hope it blesses those of you who read it.

So, there I was thinking about hands, not just as tools to hold things, but more as gifts from God. I am going to ask you to indulge me for a moment and look at your hands, tops and palms. If you are like me, your hands may have a few small scars, some freckles or other marks unique to you. I’m not just talking about your fingerprints here. Perhaps you can see where your blood flows; maybe your nails are painted, maybe not. You may wear a ring or two. When I glance at my wedding ring I am reminded of my husband and our family, of our life together. Just playing with my ring absent mindedly sometimes, can take me back to our wedding day, and I find myself thinking about how blessed I am.

They say the eyes are windows to the soul, well then I believe that your hands can tell your life story, after all a lot of your life is reflected in your hands. I am not talking about reading your palm here; your hands speak of your hobbies, and the work of your life. I have spent much of my life writing; for school and for pleasure, my hand has a permanent mark on the finger that holds my pen when I write. If you garden or sew, I am sure that your hands show sign of these hobbies.

When I look at my hands I am reminded of all the times they have been blessed to hold onto another hand. I remember how my children, as infants, would touch my face with their little hands. How they would reach their hands up for me to hold them. I can feel the warmth of my child’s hand in my own. I can remember the moment when my husband slipped a ring on my finger and we joined our lives into one. When I look at my hands I see my mother’s hands and my sister’s as we all have the same crooked pinkie. Our hands, what we do with them tells a lot about who we are.

When my oldest son was about 7, he is now almost 20; he and I had a very deep conversation about love. As I tucked him into bed, we’d prayed and snuggled, I gave him his sleep sound kisses across his forehead. The room was dark, and I said, “I love you,” and my son faltered.

“Mom,” he said, “I don’t know if I love you.” I’m sure you can imagine how I felt, for that one brief moment, but then he added, “I’m not sure I know what love is.”

Well, I will admit, I probably sighed from relief, while this might not have been the simplest conversation ever; it was also not going to be the hardest.

So, we talked about love. I asked him if he had been thinking about this long, and he admitted that he had been worrying about this for a couple of weeks, but he was afraid it would hurt me to say it, so he had silently worried to himself.

I explained that he had shown love, he had suffered stress and worry to save my feelings, because he loved me.

This allowed me the chance to talk about love, not just as a feeling, but as an act. The act of loving, of giving of yourself, of sacrificing some part of you for another. God, of course, is the best example of this kind of love; we see it throughout the Bible. In John 3:16, we are reminded of that love. The truest form of love is not passive. God acted! He loved us, He continues to love us, and not just passively. He nudges us, and others to be His children, He nudges us back onto that path. I know as a mother, I have often nudged my children. It is that gentle act of directing that I am speaking of. Love, is not just a feeling, it is what we do when we love that defines us.

People use the image of a potter and clay to describe our relationship with God. This is such a great image, that we see it in a few places: Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:6 and in Romans 9:21, we see that the potter makes the choice of what the clay will be. A potter uses his hands to mold clay into the vessel he sees. God molds us; we spend our whole lives being molded as He sculpts us. Working with clay is messy work, clay must be kept moist to be worked, and the potter must use just the right amount of pressure to get the clay to take the desired form. I wonder how many times I have been close to falling off the wheel, or to drying out and cracking. Yet, God continues to work me, to mold me. He will not stop working on me, ever. Of course, He has the ability to correct my flaws, to fix me. He is the potter after all. His hands again.

He is the Father, He nudges us gently to keep us on the path. Sometimes a father must take a child’s hand to lead them to safety. Just as a shepherd will direct his flock. This is an active love, not a passive love. Think about the good shepherd of Psalm 23, in that first line, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want,’ He actively cares for His sheep. We continue to see the shepherd throughout the Bible. He cares for us, endlessly tending to us, saving us from all harm, even dangers of our own making. Read John 10:11-18, this is a shepherd who is active in His care for His sheep. Good news, we are His sheep and He continues to be active in our care. He was, is and always will be our Shepherd.

Active love, how do you show, share and give love?

Look at your hands.

Imagine the hands of a 30 year old carpenter, a young man who had spent years carrying wood. As a child he probably climbed trees, picked up stones, skinned his hands and knees when he stumbled. He would have held the hand of his mother when they walked together. Those hands reached out to invite others to travel with Him. Those hands took water from a woman at a well, and reached out to help others. Those same hands healed the sick and raised the dead. His hands held small children on His knee, they brushed the dust from His robes.

It was the hands of that same carpenter that washed the feet of His disciples, and broke the bread and passed the wine. Those calloused and tanned hands did so much, and yet never reached out to stop those who mistreated Him, when He was beaten for our sins.

The hands of a simple man, a carpenter, a teacher, our Lord and Savior.

Those hands, so much like our own, carried a rough hewn cross through a dusty desert town and up a rugged hill. Those hands were pierced with nails as He was hung upon that cross. When Jesus came back He showed the disciples the holes in His hands. Those hands told a story, a story about love and sacrifice. A story about salvation, my salvation and your salvation. Those hands continue to reach out for you and me today.

Look at your hands, what story do they tell?

I didn’t grow up going to Church; for a lot of my life my relationship with God was quite superficial. I would bring my hands together and pray, some memorized verse I’d learned somewhere. It was a start, but it was never deep enough. The Bible had not been placed in my hands as a child, and I did not pick it up until I was almost 30. I had a vague awareness of who God was, but I did not know Him, there was no relationship there.

I prayed more fervently when I was expecting my first child. Many people who know me know about Jade, but there are more people who do not know about her. Jade passed away at the end of October in 2010, just 5 days before turning 22. Jade was born with an unknown disability that caused her to be completely developmentally disabled. She was total care for her entire life. She was reliant on others to meet her every need, she had to be fed, bathed, clothed, she wore diapers and was in a wheelchair, her entire life. Total care, most people forget soon after their infants become toddlers what total care means. For us, Jade was so much like a newborn for her entire life.

Jade, though, reflects God in ways most people never can. It was through mothering her that I learned to know God better. I realized how superficial my relationship had been. I learned about love; the act, not just the feeling. Being Jade’s mother, I learned to pray, really pray. At first my prayers were still fairly simple, I would just fold my hands together, and pray. Then I grew as a mom, and as a Christian, and so did my prayers.

Did I ask God to heal her? Yes, but I also accepted that it was His will, and not my own that mattered.

Did He heal her? No, He healed me.

He reached into my heart and into my life and He healed me. Funny thing was, I didn’t even know how much I needed healing until I felt His touch. It wasn’t a quick job, but God is both persistent and patient. He kept at it, and I grew in faith.

God touched me, He healed me and He led me.

My daughter brought me to a place where there were only two choices, decide what to believe. Was she a blessing or a curse?

I chose to believe that God had a lot more faith in me than I had ever shown in Him. He trusted that I would see His love in the gift of her life, and I did. I am grateful that He had faith in me enough to trust me with Jade. Through mothering her, I came to know and trust God, and I came to know and trust myself as well. Since then He has continued to touch my life, and I am much more accepting of His touch today than I was all those years ago. I invite Him to touch my life, and look forward to seeing where He will nudge me next.

Do you invite Him to touch your life?

When you gaze at the cross, or when you receive communion; do you feel His touch? I’d like you to imagine the cross for a moment, can you see Him up there, hands pierced, arms stretched wide? He is open, waiting for us. He still stops to reach out with those same hands to save us, to lead us, to teach us. When we bring our hands together to pray, He opens His hands to answer. In the Bible we can read Psalm 103:11-13 and know that God has removed our sins from us. Jesus took our sins with Him to that cross, look at the cross, those nails that pierced His hands, they hold our sins there. We are saved because we are loved, that was and is an active love.

Have you ever had a splinter in your hand, and it hurt so much your eyes watered? Nails pierced His hands for us. Blistered from working in the yard? He carried that cross through town, after He had been beaten. His sacrifice reminds us, that there is no sacrifice that we can ever make that will bridge the gap, only He could do that, and He did. Do you ever wonder why? Love.

What are your hands doing? Look at your hands, what story do they tell? Can you see your life in your hands? Can others? Do your hands reflect His glory? Do they work for Him or for you?

His hands, your hands, our hands, all working together can change the world. With our hands we can express love and we can care for others. We can heal people, lift up people, and serve people. With our hands we can show direction, teach about life, prepare food, write a poem or a kind note, climb a mountain. He was held tightly to the cross by the hands of men, while other hands hammered the nails. He was slapped by hands, pushed by hands and killed by hands. But, remember, it was hands that gently lowered Him from the cross, hands that wrapped Him, hands that prepared the oils that would anoint Him.

Hands that saved us from death. He is reaching out still, to each of us.

He has given each of us, some skill, some desire, some ability, that we can use to fulfill His will.

So, ask yourself…

What will your hands do this week to further His kingdom, to fulfill His will?

What will your hands do to make a difference? To change the world?

Will you reach out to others, or keep them folded on your lap?

You can do so much with your hands, all you need to do is try.

God blesses us, gives us gifts and opportunities to serve Him. It is His will that we will serve Him, but he gave us free will, which means we must decide what we will do. Just as I decided to thank God for my daughter.

When I was expecting our third child, our older son Q was so excited about being a big brother. Every night he prayed for twins, then when I had an ultrasound he discovered that we were only having one baby, not the twins he had been praying for.

Q asked why God had not given him the twins he’d prayed for, and we talked about God doing what was best for us, that He alone knew what was best and that He had elected to place only one child into my womb. That night Q had a choice to make, he could accept God’s will cheerfully or with disappointment. His prayer went like this, “Oh, and God, I was only joking about the twins.” God’s will and the faith of a child, how simple the combination.

We choose to follow God’s will or not. We choose what kind of Christian we will be, active or passive. We know what kind of Savior we have, and we know what He wants. We can choose to be active, we can choose to be loving and we can do good works.

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