Sunday, December 7, 2014

Finally Finished

Both of my classes this semester required papers in lieu of a final. This afternoon, I finished proofreading the last paper and made sure the works cited page and in-text citations were correct. I clicked the link to attach it to the email to my instructor.  I then took a deep breath and clicked "send." And just like that, I was finished.

I am finished!  I have earned my degree!

The coursework for my bachelor of arts in English is complete.  It's been years in the making, but now I am finished. I don't know how I expected to feel.  I'm not even sure how I feel right now.  It does not seem real, but it is.

The journey to this degree started in the fall of 1988 with a one hour computer class at the local community college: Intro to PC. I found out I loved computers. I took several more classes, one or two at a time.  I discovered I not only loved working with computers; I loved learning. I was hooked. I wanted to go to college so badly.

Over the years, I went back and forth on the college degree thing. I wanted one, but I wasn't convinced I could do it. My kids all grew up, and one by one they went off to college. I knew I wanted that for them, even though I had not gone to college. I told them as they grew up that they could do anything they could dream. I believed it was true of them.

I didn't believe it for me, though.

Deep down inside, I longed to go back to school. When the youngest went off to college, I was suddenly all alone, and consequently I had time for school again.  Maybe, just maybe I could try...

I discovered I could get grants and scholarships, so I enrolled with the plan of getting an associate of office administration. I went for a few semesters. Then I decided I couldn't do it, and I quit again.

I finally ended up back at the college around 2005, determined this time to finish the associate degree. I found out, however, that the degree I had worked toward off and on had been discontinued, since the college was now a four year university. There was a comparable degree available, but I would have to start over. I walked away defeated. I didn't have it in me to start over.

I talked to a very good friend of mine who helped me see that the courses I had taken would all apply toward an associate of general studies. I just needed to take about 16 hours or so, because I needed some history, science, and humanities courses.

I graduated in May of 2007 with an Associate of General Studies. It was a very happy day for me.  I had not just finished the degree, I had overcome my fear that I couldn't do it.

But it wasn't enough. One day, I caught myself admitting to someone that if I had gone to college when I was young, I would have gone for a degree in English. Now, however, it was too late and I was too old.

As I heard myself say those words, I knew I was speaking a lie. It had suddenly dawned on me:  It is NEVER too late! I had preached "you can do anything you can dream" to my children. It applied to me, too! I could do anything I could dream, too. For whatever reason, my God-given dream was to get a degree in English. I had done a good thing in getting the associate, but I was settling, because I felt it was the best I could do.

So, in the fall of 2007 I enrolled again and declared B.A. in English as my degree. I work a full time job, so I only took 2 classes per semester. It was a snail's pace, but it was a pace at least.  I was moving in a forward direction even if it was slowly.

The snail's pace finally got me to my goal. This coming Thursday, I will walk across that stage and receive my bachelor of arts in English.

Do you have a dream that you are convinced will never come true? If you believe you can't do it, you're right; you can't. But it you believe you can do it, you can. The choice is yours.

What are you waiting on?

"...with God all things are possible." Matt. 19:26 NASB


Monday, November 17, 2014

Time to Let Go

This past Saturday was the end of an era in my life. It was good, and yet it left me feeling a little melancholy.

Last summer, my youngest son and his wife came for a visit for several days. Because we live such a distance from each other, we tend to pack a lot into every visit, and this was no exception. We went to an art museum. We took in some movies, both at the theater and via DVDs. We talked and laughed and just generally got caught up on each others' lives. My son and I quoted scenes from movies, one of our favorite pastimes. It was a good visit.

During this visit, my son made good on a promise to get his files off his college computer and put them on a flash drive. This computer had been stored in a closet at my house since he graduated with his bachelors degree in 2004. Yes, that's ten years. He has long since replaced it with newer and better computers a couple of times. It would seem like I would be overjoyed at the prospect of being able to finally get rid of such an archaic piece of technology. However, I had mixed emotions about it.

As his mom, I still remember the summer after he graduated from high school, and the trip that he, his big brother, and I took to a computer store to purchase his first brand new computer. You have to understand, all through his high school years we only had a word processor that he did all his papers on. It's hard for us to fathom now, but this was the late 90s and the internet was still a novelty. Most of us didn't have it in our homes yet. So the excitement was high that summer day when we loaded up my small, compact car with his new computer. Because his new purchase was still in boxes, it filled the car to capacity. This brand new, state of the art, Windows Millenium Edition operating system computer with its 30 GB hard drive was massive...and the best thing since sliced bread at that moment in time.

Yes, it only had thirty GB. Since the computer I had just bought for myself a couple of months before had a 4 GB hard drive, this seemed to me to be loaded with more space than he would ever need. This makes me smile a little. My phone has a bigger hard drive than my first computer did.

I will never forget that hour long ride from the city where we bought the computer to the town where he was going to college. He was sandwiched into the back seat with no room to move, and barely enough room to breathe. I can't remember now why we didn't put some in the trunk, but it was probably because it wouldn't fit. 

We finally arrived and got it all set up.  He was so proud of that computer, and so thankful that God had provided for him so well. It served him well, all four years of college. 

And then it ended up in my house, where it has lived for the past ten years.  

Yes, I'm a sentimental slob about some things. Anything to do with my children usually touches me very deeply. I knew it had go, and I was ready for it to. I was just waiting for him to get his files. He bought a 32 GB flash drive and put them on it. The flash drive has more storage than the computer did, because technology has evolved so much. 

When I learned that a technology recycle drive was happening in my town, I knew I had to remove the dinosaur from my laundry room. I loaded it into the trunk of my car and drove to the school where the e-waste recycling items were being collected. They had it all unloaded quickly and I was on my way. 

I am not second-guessing my decision to e-waste my son's outdated computer. I have no doubt whatsoever that I did the right thing, but it's still a little bittersweet. As I drove away from the recycling center, my car was lighter, but my heart was a tiny bit heavier, just for a little while.

I'm over it now, though.

Thanksgiving is next week, so I believe the timing for this is no accident. God has taught me something about being thankful, and I want to share it. When my son needed college tuition, housing, and even a computer, God provided, as He always does. We have to learn to receive His provisions with thankfulness, always mindful that every good thing in our lives comes from Him. And when the season for that item is finished, we must learn to let go of it with grace.

Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving! 

"God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 NASB

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Can See the Finish Line

Mid-terms are over in my last semester in college.  Time is racing toward The Big Day-- Commencement--at an alarming rate.  I have worked so hard for this for so long, and the fact that this is it has not sunk in.  It doesn't feel real yet.

I'm still caught up in the busy schedule I have kept for the last several years. I'm focused; not looking right or left.  I'm just heading for the finish line.

I am blessed to have classes I love for my "last hurrah" as an undergrad. I have had semesters that I Just. Got. Through. This is not one of those, at least not because of the coursework. It is, however, one of the busiest semesters I've had. Managing my time is something I have worked on for years now, and I am glad I have. I don't know how I would get through this if I had no time-management skills.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.  My classes are Tuesday/Thursday this time, and for the first time EVER they are both day classes.  Well, technically, the four o'clock class is considered a night class, but since I have to leave work early to get there, it's a day class for me.

My Thursday includes having to leave for class about 7:30 am. Class is from 8:00 until 9:15, then I drive to work and stay there for the next six hours with a working lunch at my desk.  At 3:30 I leave for the 4:00 class, which lets out at 5:15. Then I head to my church for praise team practice, which is from 6:00 through about 8:00. I am finally home by 8:30 pm.

Yes, I'm tired.

Thank God this isn't every day.  Tuesdays are like this minus the practice.  I get to head home on Tuesday after the afternoon class. Home!  Yay!  Home to do.... homework! I have budgeted my time so that I am always home working on homework on Monday and Tuesday nights, because I have church on Wednesday and practice on Thursday. I'm home most Friday nights and most Saturdays.

Of course the days I am not in class I have to work an average of 10 hours a day to get my work all done and my 40 hours in, so I'm not getting home real early any night.  I'm not complaining, though.  I have so enjoyed my college experience.  I have said it on here before:  I love school!  I have always loved learning new things, so it's a privilege to me that I get to go to college.

I think my mother would be so proud.  She always wanted to finish high school herself, because back in the Depression era when she was young, she had to drop out of school to help work and earn a living. I told her many times I would help her study for her GED, but she never had the confidence to try.  I must have inherited my love of school from her.  She loved learning, too; she just didn't think it was possible for her to finish her formal education. She always encouraged me to get all the education I could, just as I have always encouraged my children to further their educations.

So here I go; I'm almost there.  Eight weeks from tonight is Graduation; about 56 days. FIFTY SIX DAYS.

I do believe I can see the finish line from here...

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13 NLT

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Have a Confession to Make

It's September 14, and I have a confession to make.  I never thought I'd say this so early in the fall.

I started my Christmas shopping today.

Now, before you that know me very well rush over here to take my temperature, let me just say something. I know it's out of character for me.  I hate shopping. You all know that about me.  I would usually rather take a beating than go all out "shopping."  It's right up there with root canals and watching sports on TV.

I probably just lost a bunch of you. It's ok. I haven't made any secret of the fact that I don't like sports, either. Oh occasionally I can be coaxed into attending a football game here and there, especially if the band is playing at halftime. (Ok, ok, only if the band is playing at halftime).  But I digress... For the 2 of you that are still reading, here is what happened. 

Shopping is a crafty little diversion. It sneaked up on me.  My black every day casual shoes that I wear to work are toast. We are talking holes in the soles kind of toast. So I had to go shopping to find some new shoes.

Side note:  I have a total of about 12 pairs of shoes, which includes four pairs of flip-floppy type sandals that will be put away for the winter very soon.  I am learning to live minimally, which is not for everyone but I'm loving it.  It does, however, mean when the shoes are worn out, I have to replace them pretty quickly.  I have a black pair, a brown pair, short and tall boots, tennis shoe type walking shoes, and one pair of dress shoes. I guess shoes are not really my thing. Don't ask me about purses, though.  That's another blog for another day. 

So, I'm there in the department store and out of the blue I saw something that I think someone on my Christmas shopping list would love. At first I thought, "I have to make a note of that and come back during Christmas season."  But then a crazy thought came to me: Why not buy it now and put it in a designated Christmas gift area at home (so I don't forget about it) and then I don't have to come back and risk it being gone? Crazy thinking for me.

That's how it starts, isn't it?  I know, I know; I'm doomed.  Now every time I'm shopping I'll be on the lookout for gift-worthy items for those I shop for at Christmas. Of course, it would have been better if this revelation had come to me in April or May I guess. But September is better than the middle of December, when I usually start thinking about Christmas.

I don't know what it is about shopping I don't like. Is it the crowds? Everyone knows I don't like crowds. I am a dedicated hermit in the making these days because I'm home studying so much. Truth is, there is no where on the planet I would rather be than home. I am a very content homebody.

Maybe it's the fact that all the good stores are in a bigger city than where I live and it's too far out of the way. With gas being as high as it is these days, I really try to limit my trips to the "city." When I do go, I try to do several things while I'm there.

I do think there is something to already being in close proximity to the stores that makes it a little easier for me.  I was already in the "larger city" a few miles from the little town I live in, since I go to church there.  Maybe that's the key; plan to stay in town after church every two or three weeks and get some shopping done. 

What a concept. 

I know this hasn't been a real uplifting or spiritual post. I guess sometimes you just get a peek inside my everyday life. I suppose that's ok now and then. I never said this blog would always be deep. I do hope it makes someone smile at least, even if it's because they are laughing at me. Laughter is good for you.

God cares about me finding shoes, and He gave me a bonus. It made me feel good to buy something for someone else, too.

Be blessed and have a great week!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I've Said Too Much, God

I was skimming through some old journals tonight and ran across an entry from 2008 that caught my attention. Even though it was from six years ago, it could just as easily have been last week. Here's an excerpt:

"For the last several months, I have been in a battle spiritually.  I found myself in a hot, dry valley, and I was doggedly trudging around the same mountain....hey, didn’t I pass this way before?  Ever been there?  Ever found yourself trying to conquer something that you thought you had already beaten, only to find that you took a wrong turn somewhere, and now you are back there again?  And there it is, staring you in the face.  All the signs are there....the same fork in the road....same old barn on the right....same landmarks......yep, I recognize the scenery all right.  Hmmm....I think I’m lost.  I guess I’d better ask for directions.

That is where I discovered I was this morning.  I had utterly exhausted my own ways and resources.  I was completely spent when I went before the Lord this morning.  There was simply nothing left of me or my ways.  My logic and reasoning had brought me to a familiar place.  I had to admit that I had been going in circles."

Wow! That could have been yesterday!  For a minute I was discouraged, and I felt like maybe I'll never learn. Maybe I'll keep trudging around this mountain endlessly. But wait a minute; I have learned something in the past six years since I wrote this, and it brings me hope.

For one, I'm not depressed anymore.  I get down sometimes just like anyone else does, but it doesn't last. I am able to get up with God's help and go on.

Another improvement is my relationship with my best friend, Jesus. I depend on Him for everything.  I ask His help in every step. I openly admit to Him I could not take another step without Him.

He rushes to my rescue daily. DAILY. 

This revelation of who He is to me and how valuable He is to me came to me at a high price, through times of deep suffering over the years. With each new heartbreak, I honestly thought I would die, my heart was so broken; my spirit so crushed. 

But no. I didn't die. And as strange as it may sound, I am actually thankful for the times when I had a broken heart and crushed spirit.  Without the pain I would have never sought out a deeper relationship with my Savior.  I would have never been free of the bondage that had me bound then, but that I have been set free from forever. 

So in many ways, there is power in the pain; it leads us to Jesus.

Towards the end of the book of Job, after he and his friends have had so much to say about the whys and wherefores of why he was in the mess he was in, God steps in and has His say.  He spoke to Job out of the "eye of a violent storm" as it so eloquently declares in the Message translation of the Bible.  Sometimes, in the very middle of what we are going through, God will speak to us.  Maybe that is the only time He can get us still and quiet enough to hear His voice! 

God said to Job, toward the end of the book:

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.  Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

"Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness?  For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ’This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’"

During the dark times, I have I found myself telling the Lord, as Job finally did, "I have said too much already, God.  I need to hear from YOU."  He is always faithful, and He does speak to me. 

I have heard Him say, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 NASB

Who am I to question God?  Even in the way it is worded declares emphatically His intent:  surely.  He uses that twice to emphasize His meaning.  Without a doubt, He most certainly will help me, and He most certainly will help you, too.

He is reaching down with His righteous right hand even now. Reach back to Him and praise Him.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ready, Set, GO!

I've been doing homework tonight in preparation for class, since the professor for one of my classes emailed us a reading list and the assignment for tomorrow. I'm taking a short break and decided to write a short post. 

Tomorrow morning I will attend the first class of my last semester as an undergrad.  This is bittersweet to me. I love school, but even I will admit that I am ready to be finished with the bachelor degree.  I'm excited, apprehensive, and determined all at the same time.

I'm excited because the first day of school just does that to me.  I love learning and embarking on the adventure that comes with a new class with its uncharted territory.  New books, new notebooks, new pens, an unexplored syllabus--these things create a sense of enthusiasm in me like nothing else. Call me a nerd.  Go ahead, you know you want to!

I'm apprehensive, too, though.  After all, this is a senior level course that the instructor has told us can be thought of as on the level of a graduate seminar.  He suggested we might even be able to use our final paper as a writing sample, should we choose to go on to grad school.  So there's that. That part is a little intimidating.

Also, I know nothing about the other class, which will be in the afternoon. This one remains a mystery, which adds to the nerves.

However, there's also the determination I feel. This helps me to overcome the nervousness I experience at taking difficult courses.  I didn't come this far to back down now. I have two more classes to finish--TWO! Six credit hours of coursework to complete a degree I used to only dream of.  Oh yes, I am determined.  I am doing this!  I am excited and nervous, but I am up to the challenge.

So, tomorrow morning I will embark on the last leg of the journey. Sixteen weeks from now, I will be finished, and will walk across the stage in December to accept my diploma.  

Ready or not, here I come!    

"Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4 NASB

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's Only Thunder

Yesterday afternoon, a summer thunderstorm came barreling through and demanded my attention.  As usual when it rains, I have to watch even if it's only briefly. I don't have a window at all in my office, so I usually go and stand by the window for a minute when it storms while I'm at work. This one was on Saturday, though, and I could watch as long as I wanted.  I stopped what I was doing and went and laid down on my bed so I could enjoy the show.

It was quite an impressive little thunderstorm.  It boasted a little wind, though not too much, heavy rain, and a LOT of thunder and lightning. My cat was under the bed from the first rumble of thunder. She is terrified of loud noises, and of course, being a cat can't comprehend that this loud noise is not going to hurt her. I didn't see her again for a couple of hours.

That's kind of how we react sometimes, though, isn't it? Some kind of "noise" happens, and we run and hide. Earlier in my walk with Christ, I allowed the enemy to scare me off at the slightest sound. He would say things like:

"You will never overcome your past." I believed him. I considered myself to be unfit to do any real good because I had "failed" at marriage. I hid in the shadows of being divorced, convinced I was a second-class Christian that God had forgiven, but would never use.

"You are too broke to buy your own house." This lie held me captive for a long time; twelve years in fact.  I lived in an apartment for all those years because I was convinced I couldn't possibly buy a house of my own.

"You will never finish college. You should have gone when you were young; it's too late now." This one almost had me, and I started and stopped college classes several times over the years.  The God-given dream was alive inside me, but the noise of the enemy caused me to hide out under the pretense that I was too old and not smart enough to ever finish.

I set limitations on myself for years because of these lies.They were like thunder, only making noise to scare me, but never really being able to harm me. The enemy in his craftiness will say things like this, hoping that a well-placed lie here and there will cause Christians to hurt themselves.  I admit, I fell for them for a long time. I endured a lot of pain and heartbreak for years; not because of the lies, but because of how I reacted to the lies.

I still fall victim to a "rumble of thunder" from the enemy once in a while, but I'm getting better able to discern when I'm hearing a lie. With God's help, I have, and continue to overcome my past. I did buy a house of my own.  And I AM finishing college! This December, just hide and watch while I march onto that stage for my diploma.

Today is August 10, and my summer has slipped away.  Tomorrow the teachers return, which always makes for a busy week for me.  Next Monday, school starts, the kids will be back, and it's back to the school-year routine.

The next day, August 19, is the first day of my last two classes.  I'm ready.  I have that nervous-but-excited feeling I always get when starting new classes.  I love school; I'm sure I always will.

I thought I heard a sound earlier, something about how hard it will be to juggle work and classes again for the next four months. But then I realized it was nothing to worry about. It was only thunder.

"Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world."  1John 4:4 NASB

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Puddles are Dancing

I love rain. If you've read my bio, you know that I love rain; it's one of my favorite things. But why? When most hate a rainy day, why do I find it so appealing? I asked myself this question this afternoon, as I sat here watching it rain during a break from the closet cleaning I've been inspired to do this afternoon.

It affects me differently than most every one that I know. For most, it is sad and gloomy, and drains them of energy. For me, however, it makes me happy, even energized. I don't know why this is, but I have some thoughts on what it possibly could be. First, though, the things I love about rain.

I love the sound of rain. It is soothing to me. I love the melodious drumming of the rain as it drips off the trees, house, and carport. All the other noises have to take a back seat as the rain takes over in the music department for a while. Occasionally,  there is even some thunder to add a punch of percussion to the tune.   

I love to watch it rain.  It is calming to me to watch the rain pelt down onto the pavement.  Seeing the rain pour out of the neighbor's gutters is mesmerizing.  Watching the puddles "dance"-- a term coined by my youngest son when he was much younger to indicate that it is, indeed, still raining, when the downpour has become light enough to wonder if it has stopped or not. Are the puddles "dancing?" Then, no, it has not stopped.  

Side note: Apparently, this irritates or annoys him, for when I mention puddles dancing, he still rolls his eyes.  But it stuck with me. And I love that it did.

I love the smell of rain.  There is no better smell than the air after a spring rain.  The air smells and feels like it has been "washed," and the trees and plants look so fresh and clean, even if only for a little while. This makes me happy.

These are some of the things I love about rain. But why?  Without intense psychotherapy, or having it revealed to me by God, I really don't know. I think, though, that it takes me back to a time in my childhood when I felt safe and loved.  

I can clearly remember getting ready for school when I was around eight, with the sound of the pouring rain outside. I was with my mother, and therefore, I was safe in my childish mind. She had to drive me to school when it was raining, and this made me feel loved. I remember being dropped off at my beloved elementary school--the one that I wrote about when they tore it down a few years ago. It was early morning, but because of the rain it looked dark outside from the classroom. This is a good memory to me. Therefore, what most perceive as gloomy is comforting to me.

You see, I don't have a bunch of memories of my mom and dad doing stuff with me when I was little. They both worked all the time it seemed. We were dirt poor, and they both worked long hours in factories to provide for us. In the fifties and sixties, the majority of the moms I knew, other than mine, did not work outside the home. Child-rearing was considered an honored profession in those days. Not that it's not today, but in today's economy, one income is generally not enough anymore.

Too bad that my child mind did not understand that working to provide food and shelter = love. My parents were good, and they loved me, but they never uttered the words to me. Since my primary love language is words of affirmation (even though I didn't know it then), I needed to hear it said, but never did.  So I picked up on the times when they showed me love with my secondary love language, quality time.  

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the happy times when I felt loved and safe were most likely punctuated guessed it....rain. 

I walked to school except when it rained. On rainy days, my mom drove me. Mom spending time with eight-year-old = love.

I could sit on the porch with my mom and dad, and sometimes my grandma, and watch it rain and feel loved AND safe, because quality time = love.

So there you have it.  A glimpse into my heart and what makes it happy. I struggled with this one; but I really, really feel like God wanted me to share it. I live to serve Him and do His will, and I'm honored that He lets me write to express what He has shown me.

Do your children a favor; show and tell them you love them in all love languages, at least until they are old enough for you to know what their love language is. Then you can focus on that one or two. Until then, tell them you love them. Hug them. Spend time with them. It will make you both happy, and what may not seem like anything to you may just be their rainy-drive-to-school memory some day.

Now if you'll excuse me...the puddles are still dancing. I think I'll watch awhile.

"Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies." Psalm 17:7 NLT

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Back Off

I have this thing about being tailgated: I hate it.  

I'm sure everyone would agree that accidents are no fun. I have been in a couple where I was sitting still waiting to turn left and was rear-ended.  I can't describe how I felt when I looked into the rear view mirror just in time to see that I was about to be hit and there was nothing I could do about it. It's been nine years since the last one, and I still get nervous when I'm being followed too close. 

The interstate in my area has been under construction for almost a year and a half. Traffic has been a nightmare, and I have avoided driving on it whenever I had another option.  When I did drive on it, invariably I would get stuck in front of someone who undoubtedly thought I would speed up if they got too close. Nevermind the fact that I could only go as fast as the person in front of me, since each side of the interstate is down to only one lane and there is no passing lane. It's maddening.

About the time the construction started, we learned a new song at church, "Whom Shall I Fear?" by Chris Tomlin. One day when I was stuck on the interstate, being tail-gated by a bully, the chorus of that song popped into my head:

"I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind,

The God of angel armies is always by my side..."

Immediately, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me, "You don't need to be afraid of someone hitting you from behind.  God is your rear guard and He also goes before you."

Ever since that day, I have had no trouble with tailgaters on the interstate or anywhere else.  I even have peace when driving in heavy traffic.  A few times someone has been a little too close for comfort, but I started singing that song and thanking God for His protection, and they backed off. Seriously, they really did. I was surprised the first time, but I have come to expect it. My God has my back. Really.  

I still don't like being followed too closely, but I have no doubt I will be completely delivered from this fear someday.  Just like everything else He has delivered me from, it is something I have to walk through. I will just realize someday it doesn't bother me anymore.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" Psalm 27:1,2 NLT

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Penultimate Semester

Today I went to the college campus bookstore and returned a rented textbook, bought a scantron, then walked to my 11:00 class, where I took my final in my on-campus class. After work, I was finally able to successfully post my paper that is my final in the online class (last night and this morning before work, the online class program at my college was apparently down and I could not get my paper to post). And just like that, I was done.  I have now finished the penultimate semester of my bachelor of arts in English degree.

That last sentence was for the entertainment of my youngest child, on the off chance that he is reading this. He and I have a private joke about the word "penultimate." For the life of me, I can't remember what made it so funny in the first place, but if he is reading this, I can guarantee he is smiling right now.

I am relieved to have a break from reading, studying, and writing papers for a few months.  The last year has been intense.  There were many required books to read, papers to write, and tests to study for.  Lots of midnight oil has been burned, so to speak, and I am tired. I am ready to do some things that do not pertain to college.

I want to plant some flowers. 

I would like to work om my photo albums, and get caught up on those.

I want to read a book of my choosing and not feel guilty about it.

I want to watch a movie, either at home, or at the theater.  Or maybe both.

I want to be able to leave work when I am supposed to, instead of having to stay until 4:45 or 5:00 to make up for leaving to attend a class in the middle of the workday.

I just need a break.  Then, in just three short months, I will start the fall semester.  I will happily read the required books, write the required papers, attend the classes during the work day, since the classes I need are not offered online or in the evening.  I will gladly stay late on the days I don't have classes to make up for the hours I have missed and stay caught up on my work.  I am extremely thankful to work where I do, where education is valued and I am allowed the freedom to finish my college degree. I am so blessed.

For now, I'm on a break from classes, and it feels wonderful.  I'm going to enjoy not having to spend every minute I'm not at work on homework.

I wonder what's on Netflix?  I'm about to find out. 

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Safe Place

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;he is my God, and I trust him." Psalm 91:1,2 NLT

There is a thunderstorm going on outside, right now, as I write this. According to the weatherman, this is just the "appetizer." There is supposed to be more like this, and worse, in 3 or 4 hours from now. 

Have I mentioned before that I don't like Spring?  This is one of the reasons. I love rain, and I even like thunderstorms, within reason, but I draw the line at tornadoes.  I'm not a fan, and there is a reason.  

In 1996, my two younger children, along with my husband and I, weathered the F-3 tornado that did major damage to hundreds of homes in our area. My oldest was away at college at the time, an hour away, and had to hear about it on the news. We lived in a mobile home back then.  It was a good one, anchored to the ground with a brick foundation, but it was still a mobile home.

We didn't have a whole lot of warning, being out in the country with no sirens at that time. When the power went off, we turned on the battery-powered radio to listen to what the local weather station was saying. About that time, a friend who lived about 20 minutes southwest of us called to say there was a tornado on the ground, headed our way.  

We had nowhere to go. We grabbed quilts, turned the couch over, and got under it. And we prayed. We prayed a lot that night. We could tell when the funnel was over us, because of the pressure drop. My ears popped and it was hard to breathe. It was a terrifying experience, one I'll never forget. But God brought us through it. My daughter, who was 17 at the time, said later that as she was praying she saw God's hand over our house, holding it down. 

The next morning when it was light, we went outside to survey the damage. The neighbor next door and the one across the road both had substantial damage to their houses, their non-mobile homes--one had a whole room gone, the other had about half of their house left. Our huge oak tree was lying in the yard, and had missed landing on our house by just a few feet. Our storage building was gone. The tree by the road was gone. The yard was full of shingles of all colors, along with lots of paper and other debris from the areas southwest of us. 

Our house--our mobile home--beat the odds and was still standing.  It had no damage other than a few shingles gone from along the edge of the roof. The four of us were completely unharmed.

Coincidence? Luck? I hardly think so. It was GOD! Our God watched over us, just as He said he would if we would run to Him:

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." Psalm 91:4

Ever since that night I have not liked storm season. I am not fearful, because I know what the Lord did for me before. I know He will protect me again. I just have a healthy respect for tornadoes. I don't laugh in the face of danger, tempting God to take care of me. He gave me common sense, and I use it. I go to my safe place; either my closet in the center of the house, or the tornado shelter at the school, depending on how bad it is and how much time I have.

And I PRAY. I have been known to speak to the storm, as Jesus did when the storm came up when He was asleep in the boat with His disciples. I have seen storms break up before they get to our area, or turn and go north or south of us. 

Take heart. Yes, there will probably be some storms this afternoon, and many other times.  Run to your safe place, but do not fear. "The shadow of the Almighty" is the safest place of all.  That's where you'll find me.

"From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!" Psalm 61:2-4 NLT 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Hope

"Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all.. You are the hope of everyone on earth.." Psalm 65:3, 5. 

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day on which Jesus died on the cross for our sins. I can never repay the debt I owe to Him for taking on my sins and dying a brutal death by crucifixion.  But the story doesn't end with His death. On the third day, He arose from the dead:  

"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it...

"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.Then go quickly and tell his disciples: "He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him."’ Now I have told you." 

"So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'” 

"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (from Matthew 28, NIV)

HE IS RISEN!  My Lord conquered death, hell, and the grave and is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)

This is what the scripture in Psalms reminded me of when I read it in my devotions this morning. In my sinful state, I was overwhelmed in my sins. Jesus forgave me, though. So because I have accepted Him as my Savior, I have hope. You can have hope, too, by trusting in Jesus and accepting His sacrifice for your sins. 

I pray that the real meaning of Easter comes alive for you this weekend.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Home Stretch

I won't be a college undergrad for much longer.

Tonight, I came home from work, went to the college website, and registered for my classes for fall. My CLASSES for FALL!  I am now registered in the last 2 classes for my long-awaited bachelor of arts in English degree! I am almost finished!

I spent this evening much like most of my evenings have been spent for the last several years--working on my homework.  Such is the life of a part-time college student with a full-time job. I go to work five days a week, church on Sunday and Wednesday, and college three days a week. This is my life, and I'm actually quite content with it. I have had to become very organized to keep on top of everything. With God's help, I have managed.  

So, I was sitting here trying to relax when suddenly the thought struck me that nights like this are a limited edition now. I have only one more semester of spending almost every evening working on homework. Only one more semester.  Wow.

It hasn't been all bad. As I have said on this blog before, I love school! I always have. I guess you could call me a life-long learner. I was flipping through old journals recently, and I came across this peek into my life 7 years ago. It's an entry from May of 2007, after I graduated with my associate degree:

"It’s been such a long journey. It took me 15+ years of going one class at a time at first, then 2 at a time for about 2 or 3 semesters.  Then I would quit, convinced I couldn't do it.  I would be out of school for 2 or 3 years, then start back again.

"I went off and on. I changed my major 3 times. There was a big push in the mid 90s, another after Jeff left for college in 2000.  Each time I started back, I quit because I was afraid I couldn't do it. I wouldn't try because I was afraid of failure. Last fall, I discovered how close I was and decided I was going to do was a beautiful, wonderful and emotional experience.  It meant so much to me to finish this and actually have something to show for all the years of working 8 hours, going straight to school, sometimes 4 nights a week, and getting home exhausted about 9:00, with homework and housework still to do. Was it worth it? Yes it was! I am already registered for fall. I'm going to get that B.A. 

"I told my kids when they were growing up that they could do anything they could dream. I believed that for them, but I didn't believe it applied to me.  Today, I realized that it applies to me, too. There was so much emotion that I couldn't contain it. That realization kept bubbling on the inside of me until, by the time my row of graduates got up to go receive our diplomas, I'm sure little rays of light were just shooting out from me everywhere. I felt like I was going to explode with joy, happiness, love, and appreciation for those who have stood beside me and encouraged me."

If you are struggling with some kind of goal that you've been trying to attain, let me leave you with this little bit of encouragement. You can do whatever you set your mind to do. Sure, you may get discouraged at times and fall by the wayside. I did that several times.  The key is this:  when you fall down, you get right back up, brush yourself off, and start again.  Never quit.  You might pause for a bit, but don't quit. 

Don't give up.  You can do anything you can dream.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:13.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Pinky and the Ladder

Last week was wonderful, busy, restful, painful, and exhilarating.....yes, all of those in the same week. I was on Spring Break last week and I was determined to paint my kitchen. I've only lived here for 4 1/2 years!  It was time.  I did the bathroom summer before last, and it was all I could do to simply paint the bathroom, which is tiny. So I knew I had a job ahead of me and I dreaded it. Plus, since then have had a string of health problems that have deterred me from jumping in on a project I knew from experience would be all or nothing.  I mean, once you start painting the kitchen, you are committed--no turning back!

I finally got started Monday afternoon with the primer coat, which was necessary because I was painting over dark wallpaper.  It took 2 coats to completely cover it, so it was Tuesday afternoon before I was finally finished with the primer. I actually painted over and behind where the fridge goes so I could put it back in place early the next day. I had a good start on the paint and got both behind the fridge and the entire adjacent wall done before I fell into bed, exhausted.

Wednesday morning, I had just started when the accident happened. No, I didn't fall off the ladder. I'm much more creative than that. I somehow caught my left pinky finger in the ladder--don't ask me how! I have no idea; it all happened so fast.  My fingernail--actually, my fake nail tip--got caught as I stepped up on the ladder and it bent forward, pulling loose from the cuticle with it my real nail instead of simply breaking off. Any of you that wear acrylic nails know that nail tips are much harder than real nails and don't break easily. I was almost nauseous from the pain, as you probably are now as you read this. I did basic first aid and thought about going to the ER, but it would have cost me $250 co-pay, plus other charges. So, I prayed for healing and after about 30 minutes, I was able to resume painting and actually finished all of it.

I did finally go to the walk-in clinic Thursday, since my doctor was out of his office last week. The x-ray showed no broken bones, but the doctor said the first joint moved some during the whole process. He was concerned about infection and prescribed antibiotics--one of the "cycline" types since I'm allergic to penicillin.  Turns out, I'm allergic to it, too. I had only taken 2 doses and started breaking out in hives. I called the next day and was prescribed a different antibiotic. So far so good.

I know it seems strange, but I am not really worried. I have confidence that this will heal completely without complications. The pain is manageable now, and with ibuprofen in me I am actually able to type using that pinky. I couldn't stand for it to be touched at all before today.

Granted, the acrylic nail probably contributed to this accident and there is more damage because of it, but this was just one of those things that occur sometimes in a physical activity like painting. I'm not going to over-analyze this. It was a freak accident.

Nothing earth-shattering or profound to share this week.  I think I'm just supposed to give thanks to God in all circumstances.  So, here goes.

I am thankful for several things:  It's not broken.  I can finally type again, though it still hurts and I am still using my pinky sparingly.  The doctor found an antibiotic that I can take to prevent infection.  It's my left hand, not my right.

And last but not least, I'm thankful and glad that I was able to paint the kitchen with God's help.  I think it looks good, and it makes me happy to have it the color I had wanted for over 4 years.  I am slowly but surely making the improvements I have wanted to make this home my own.  It's coming along.

Have a blessed week!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finally Out of the Mud

This week, I really feel like I am supposed to draw from journals long ago, so I went through some of them. This is what jumped out at me. It's a segment of an entry from March of 1999. Please bear in mind that back then, my emotions were a train wreck. I hadn't been divorced all that long then.  The hurt was still pretty fresh, and I needed acceptance and affirmation badly. Prior to this entry, I had been crying out to God for help for weeks.  

March 20, 1999—I have continually asked the Lord to fill the emptiness in me...This morning, the Lord started speaking to me before I could have any conscious thought. He said so much, I will not be able to write it all down:
     --He is pleased with me.  He has seen my pain.  He knows what I am going through is painful, but it is necessary for what He will do through me (like the firing of a clay pot). Now I have given of myself, sometimes it hurts a lot. No one seems to notice. He said that soon, I will be giving of Him and His love, not simply drawing on my own resources.  He will pour into me, and I will quite naturally pour it out on others.  I have cast my bread on the waters (Ecc. 11:1) and now it is about to return to me, many times multiplied.  Soon, I will have more love pouring through me than I can know or thought was possible.  

I wish I could tell you that things got better for me immediately after that writing, but they did not. Part of the reason was my own fault; I was my own worst enemy in those days. As bad as I hate to admit it, things continued to go downhill for me for four years after this before they took an upward turn. It wasn't until 2003 that I came to rock bottom and had nowhere to go but up. Those were dark, dark times in my life.

Depressing, huh? Well, it's not meant to be.  Actually, I am writing this today to give you hope.  You see, the promise that God gave me that day was the truth.  He actually said that to me. I remember waking up, feeling His presence and knowing He was speaking to me. I remember scrambling for my journal and finding a pen; the urgency to write it down was very strong. You might wonder why it took so many years for me to start seeing these words come true. I believe it is because I wanted God to heal my emotions, but I wanted to retain control, like a headstrong child who refuses to let her mommy or daddy help her when she falls down. I went along taking two steps forward and one step back for quite a while after this. So, because of my pride, I wandered in this wilderness longer than I should have.  

I needed a heart change in the worst way. Oh, I was a Christian and God had forgiven me, but I still had so much pain in my heart! It affected everything I touched and everyone I came into contact with. God, in His mercy, finally allowed me to hit the bottom so I would stop and reach up to Him. Thankfully, He had been healing me all along, and the process sped up drastically once I let go of the control and let Him be in charge.

The good news in this story is, those words are finally coming true in my life! He does pour into me everyday, and I do my best to pour it right back out, just like He said I would. Sometimes the words for this blog come faster than I can type because He is pouring into me, and I can't keep it in! I have more love in my heart than I can contain, more blessings than I can count, and I know for certain that I am not only loved by God, but my family and friends love me, too. It's all I can do to not cry right now when I think about it, but it's not tears of despair anymore; it's tears of joy.

If you are struggling right now, take it from me, a former emotional wreck. If He can heal my heart, He can heal anybody's!  If you have turned your life over to God, rest assured He is working on your problem. You may not feel like He is, but feelings lie. 

Feelings can't be trusted, but God can.  So please trust Him.  He knows what He is doing.  

"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord."

Psalm 40:1-3 NLT

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Live to Say This

"God you reign, God you reign, forever and ever, God you reign..."

We sang this song at church this morning.  We've sung it countless times over the last few years, and yet I discovered something in it today, something I hadn't noticed or felt before.  The first verse is about God, what He has created, and how that creation in turn praises him.

"You paint the night, you count the stars and you know them by name,
The skies proclaim, 'God you reign.'
Your glory shines, you teach the sun when to bring a new day,
Creation sings, 'God you reign.'"

Here are the words to the second  verse:

"You part the seas, you move the mountains with the words that you say,
My song remains, 'God you reign.'
You hold my life, you know my heart, and you call me by name;
I live to say, 'God you reign.'"

It never occurred to me until I was singing those words this morning, "I live to say, 'God you reign,'" that this is what I do. I sing His praises, and I write about him and his glorious works.  That's what this blog is: an avenue through which I can get the word out about my God and what he has done for me.

As a believer and follower of Jesus, I am commissioned, as all Christians are, to "Go and tell:"

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" Mark 16:15 NIV

I may not literally preach from a pulpit, but I believe strongly that God has placed a desire in me to write in this blog. Sometimes it may seem silly, and we sometimes get to have a laugh at my expense over the stuff I've experienced. Other times, it may  bring readers to tears. Whatever the subject is in any given blog posting, I know beyond any doubt that I am to testify about my Lord and tell what he has done in my life. This is part of my ministry. My job is to point others to Christ, and I always try to do this in every posting.

May you let God reign in your life!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Come On In


My cat Isabel has a bad habit of sitting outside my bedroom door some nights and meowing after I've gone to bed. The door is open, and she knows she can come in and hop on the bed and go to sleep. Still, she sits just outside the door and times her meows perfectly with each time I fall asleep. I'm a light sleeper and the slightest sound wakes me up.


Aarrrgghhh! I had gone to bed early tonight, before the news went off, because I was so sleepy I could not hold my eyes open.  It has been a stressful week, and I was exhausted.  I decided that I should go to bed and try to get ahead on sleep, since we will have an hour stolen from us tomorrow night. I fell asleep quickly, and was subsequently awakened by Isabel. I called out to her, "Izzy, it's bedtime. Come in and go to sleep."  Usually, this is enough to make her come on in and jump up on the foot of the bed, where she sleeps for at least part of the night.  She didn't come in, though, and I guess I dozed off again, because the next second I was rudely awakened again by another pitiful meow. I called to her again to come in, but she didn't. So I fell asleep again.


Grrrrr. I was pulled from sleep again, and I got up and yelled at her. Then I laid back down and couldn't go to sleep.  So here I am, writing. Does God have something He wants to talk to me about?  I am here and waiting to hear. I'm not sure if that was it, or was I just supposed to share this little story. I see a comparison here that I feel I need to point out.

Isn't that what we do with God sometimes?  We know we can go right on in, but we sit outside and whine about being outside. It makes no sense at all when you realize that we can go in and vent to Him to our heart's content.

"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."  Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT.

God is waiting patiently for us to come to Him.  He has the answer to our problems, but we won't go ask for help. Unlike my frustrated reaction to my temperamental cat, He doesn't yell at us or slam the door if we don't come when He bids us come. He is the perfect Father and He is patient and loving. He is just inside the door, waiting, hoping we will come.

Maybe this was why the cat woke me up tonight.  Someone needed to hear this...probably me.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Never Disconnected

Wednesday night, I got into my car after church and put my phone in the empty cup holder.  Except it was not empty. In the dark, since my cup holder is beside the driver's seat, not closer to dashboard like in my previous car, I hadn't noticed that I had left a cup with the lid off and about two inches of Coke left in it. To add to the horror, I didn't realize it until I was about halfway home.

[insert facepalm here] Epic fail.

My phone did not survive the swim it took. So I got a lesson entitled Where NOT to Stash Your Phone While in the Car, together with its co-requisite, Why You Should Always Have Lids on Your Travel Mugs, and eventually I had to buy a new phone.

I spent approximately 24 hours without a phone.  Fifteen years ago, this would not have been a big deal. We all walked around phone-less all the time, oblivious to the fact that we did not have any way to reach anyone, and no one could reach us.  And we were happy.  We didn't know we were lacking anything.

But you know how it is now.  We are so used to having our technology at our fingertips.  We carry our phones with us everywhere, and some of us even have our tablets and computers with us most of the time. We love being connected. So, I came home and realized the harsh truth:  I am disconnected.  It's an eerie feeling, knowing you couldn't reach anyone if you needed to.

Fortunately, everything was fine; I made it through the night without a phone, and the next day, after learning the awful truth of my phone's demise from a repairman, I bought a phone.  I hadn't planned this purchase until this fall, but it's not the end of the world.

In my prayer time this morning, I reflected on the past week with all its ups and downs. I got a little down thinking about all of it. I wasn't upset at the loss of a material thing so much, but I felt stupid. So I had just spent a couple of days kicking myself for being so careless, and feeling like a total failure. I could have easily let myself be sucked in to the lies that the enemy was starting to whisper in my ear.  Stuff like:

"You're so stupid.  When will you ever learn?"

"Why did you take your phone out of your coat pocket? You should have left it there."

And my favorite:

"First you lost your W2, then the Roku remote, now you destroy an expensive piece of technology?  What's wrong with you?"

Yes, I'm still subject to his lies. Once in a while I find myself entertaining a thought that he put there, and I even fall back into beating myself up over dumb stuff I do. We all do this.  We are human, and vulnerable.

So I ran to my Father this morning, and talked it all out with Him. Then I came across this in my Bible reading:

"My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming.'" Psalm 27:8 NLT. Then a few verses later, "Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.  Do not let me fall into their hands.  For they accuse me of things I've never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living." Psalm 27:11-13 NLT

My Father in heaven wants to talk to me!  It says so right in His word.  He wants me to pour out my troubles to Him, and He listens with compassion and love. He is a good listener, and He can fix any situation.  I just have to trust Him, and run to Him when I mess up.

I may be disconnected from others sometimes, but I am never disconnected from Him.  Never.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Valentine Loves Me

"God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 NIV. 

I wasn't going to post anything today.  In the past, I have posted about this day, and the pain in my heart always managed to show through.  If you've been married but are now single because of death or divorce, you know what I'm saying.  I tried to have a healthy outlook, but I always fell just short of the mark.

Earlier tonight, I was sitting here, watching the Winter Olympics and eating my supper, alone as usual.  And yet...not so alone.  I have the love of Christ in my heart.  I am not alone, because HE is with me always. There's a stirring in my heart, and it's a strange but good feeling.  It's something I haven't felt before, and yet it feels familiar.  Then it dawned on's JOY.  I wasn't expecting to feel happy and joyful today, but I do.

It's unclear to me just when the transition in my heart took place.  I have gone from just enduring this day to actually enjoying it.

I can't take credit for it.  I didn't do it. This is what happened:

"...we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." Romans 5:5 NLT

It's the love of God in my heart!  He has been at work as I went about the regular business of life. I turned my life over to Him in 1994, and He started to work in me.  He's STILL working in me, and always will be until I'm with Him.

I'm not "there" yet by any means.  None of us have "arrived" until we set foot on the other side and are in His presence. But for the first time in nearly 20 years, I didn't dread Valentines Day.  I have no more bitterness toward happily married couples.  There is no animosity in my heart anymore.  I don't know when it left, or when the bitterness evaporated.  It's just gone.

If you're struggling with being alone, whether it's your first Valentines Day alone, or your 20th, let me encourage you. God loves you with an everlasting love. Give your heart to Him, and He will fix it. He will be at work every minute of every day, putting your heart back together.  It may not happen overnight, in fact, it probably won't.  But one day you will realize your heart doesn't ache anymore.  You will feel joy again, and you will laugh again.  You just have to give it to Him and trust Him.

"I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself." Jeremiah 31:3 NLT

Happy Valentines Day!