Let Me Introduce…My Greatest Encourager

I realize many who will visit are familiar with blogging, but for the sake of those who aren’t, I’d like to continue the virtual tour I began yesterday. ¬†This also affords me the opportunity for any who regularly visit, to see the changes, as they aren’t in a post format.

Thank you to those who stopped by yesterday, and I look forward to today’s continued tour! ūüôā ¬†And welcome once again to my home on the blog sphere!

Please follow me to the “Introduction” portion of the menu. ¬†Hover over it and you will find a true introduction of the author of the blog – me, as well as an introduction of my main contributor and encourager. ¬†I am very grateful for the hope, help, life, and peace that my Lord Jesus gives, and as I state in the “Introducing Me” page, I would never choose to do life without him. Because I love him so dearly, and because He has given me the wonderful life I possess, I have taken the opportunity to Introduce Jesus, for any who may visit me and find themselves intrigued by this One.

I won’t take up any more of your time today – but please take a moment to sit back and read a bit about me, and the One whom I consider to be my main encourager!

With love,

Robin <3

 

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Thank You!

I really do attempt to make the week of Thanksgiving more than just a time of indulging all those foods I don’t dare prepare the rest of the year. I try to take time to reflect on the amazing gifts I’ve received the past year. ¬†This year, many of the gifts have come through hard fought battles of the heart.

Yesterday, Gary and I joined Evan (my son with autism) at his home for lunch of roast beef, dressing, cranberry sauce, and croutons (he loves croutons, but being gf, they are hard to come by); followed by cut-out sugar cookies and frosting piled high cupcakes. ¬†We really did enjoy one another’s company; and when Gary told Evan, “I love you”, Evan gave him prolonged eye contact. After dinner he sat in his chair quietly playing with his ropes, seeming very content. ¬†A little over a year ago, Evan was still so angry at this intruder into his life that things weren’t always pretty.

Two years ago Evan returned to church of his own choice after a 4 years absence due to his anger at God. Two weeks ago amidst cheers from his church family and friends, Evan was baptized of his own choice. ¬†It was beautiful watching him profess his faith in Jesus, and hearing his family respond with such boisterous love. ¬†Since that day, every time I ask if God did something special, Evan looks at me, smiles and says “yes”.

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After his baptism, there was a peace about his features, and a sparkle in his eyes that wasn’t there prior. ¬†He was even able to look into the camera for the pictures – something that I don’t remember him ever being able to do. ¬†So his more than momentary gaze at Gary yesterday only confirmed God is doing something special. ¬†(Eye contact for those with autism can be difficult at best and painful at the worst, and over the years Evan has given little direct eye contact.)

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Another hard fought battle has been for me to begin building a relationship with my two step-sons of 4 years. ¬†Both sons moved out this summer on their own, and the oldest and his girlfriend have been coming by regularly to do laundry and visit. ¬†Yesterday, they chose to join us for Thanksgiving Dinner. ¬†While David and Gary sat in the living room watching “Forrest Gump”, Holly and I enjoyed conversation in the kitchen while preparing the dinner of turkey, ham, southern style green beans with bacon, northern style dressing (I’m from Michigan while they are all from Kentucky), cranberry sauce, and creamed corn; topped off with pecan pie and candy (a family tradition in Gary’s family of corn flakes dipped in melted Hershey bars and piled into clumps of “candy” and hardened.)

Dinner was so pleasant, with general conversation about jobs and such throughout. ¬†When they left about 2 hours later, after rounds of hugs and “I love you’s”, I commented to Gary, “My bucket has been filled today!” ¬†And I thought, “Thank you, dear Jesus, for allowing me the courage, and endurance to wade through the pain, so I could see this time.”

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Thank you also for indulging me in my revelry today!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Happy Anniversary, Dear!

In time, God can heal the grief of losing a loved one Рturning great sorrow into a beautiful song!

Today would have been my deceased husband, Norman’s 59th birthday. He’s been gone now for just over 8 years.

As I think on this anniversary of sorts, I marvel at the works inspired by the grand love of an amazing God since my best friend left me!

The last 8 years have been some of my most difficult, yet also some of the grandest for getting a magnified view of the character of God.

With every tear and anguish, he has made himself not only known, but felt. He has been so close that I can sense the pressure of his touch to my fingers, and the warmth and smell of his breath as he has spoken peace over my troubled heart and mind.

I am learning that I won’t make the time, or put the energy into the effort to yield and listen and follow my heavenly Father without such painful interventions into my world. My agenda, my control won’t allow his sovereignty on its own. My self centered heart must be captivated. Yet, to begin to experience the beauty of his captivity, and to have the God of the universe pay such close attention to me, with such grace and healing love, now begins to enthrall me.

Only as I begin to quiet and listen with my soul to his Holy words, spoken from his heart to mine, can I begin to realize that the things I fought to maintain control of, in fact only controlled and destroyed me.

God’s captivity, thus frees rather than chains me.

In the last eight years God has protected me from my own foolish choices, and has also blessed me with gifts I am still learning how to unwrap. I have been blessed with a husband I now call best friend. He is kind and thoughtful, and we are becoming all God has made us for, through the joys and the sorrows of the good life we share. God has extended my family with two sons. Our story together has only begun, and God is using our struggles in becoming a family to reveal more of his grand character to me.

God has held and kept my son, even with the severity of his autism and personal pain through the many losses he has endured, even before losing his dad. He is growing and maturing more than most thought he ever would.

I have so much to be thankful for as I look back on this anniversary. Thank you, Lord Jesus for these amazing reminders. Thank you for the opportunity to begin to see a grander scheme encompassing the pain! God, you are amazing!

For any who may be struggling with the death of a loved one, GriefShare is an amazing organization full of amazing people who have been where you are, and who can walk with you through this time. ¬†If you would also like to share with me, I’d be very glad to listen and pray with and for you.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. You may also wish to read: White Picket Fences and I Do Matter

The Gift of Freedom

ADVENT, DAY ELEVEN

This morning Gary and I found ourselves walking the hallowed grounds of the Crownsville Military Cemetery, located in Crownsville, MD, as we participated in the “Wreathes Across America” annual Christmas wreath laying. ¬†There were over 250 former soldiers, fathers, sons, wives, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, scouts, and grateful citizens in attendance, and each were given wreaths to place on the grave of their choice. ¬†Over 1100 wreathes were placed today at this cemetery alone. ¬†My uncle fought during Vietnam, and so I looked intently for a Vietnam Veteran’s grave to lay my wreath, in honor of his heroic service to our country. ¬†No one interred in that cemetery would question the cost of freedom. As the speaker today stated,

“Freedom is never free”. ¬†

Freedom is always at the cost of someone’s life and blood. Continue reading “The Gift of Freedom”

The Gift of Gratitude

ADVENT, DAY NINE

I truly have so much to be thankful for.  Yet, all to often, I find myself focusing on the inconveniences and difficulties of life.

I love the morning hours after all have left the house. In the peace and quiet I can sit and read my Bible, talk to Jesus, worship him, and write.  However, yesterday morning was anything but that.  Both boys were home with their TV blaring comic strip voices which, in my mind, droned on incessantly.  In addition, I was preparing a special lunch for a friend to celebrate her birthday later that day.  The extra stress of trying to make things perfect for her, along with the comic voices and their activity below interrupting my solitude, I found myself wanting to throw a real live adult tantrum!

Fortunately, Jesus knew not only my frustration, but my heart. ¬†He also knew the needed remedy. ¬†As I read Psalm 33:5 “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”, I realized my heart was anything but full of “unfailing love” at that moment. ¬†It was full of angst and frustration over my inconvenience of not having a “peaceful, normal” morning.

Three things began to change my outlook:

  1. I chose to journal the issues irritating me – spreading them out before the Lord.
  2. I confessed within the pages of my journal the fact I wasn’t looking like Jesus at all at that moment.
  3. Finally, I began to record all of the blessings that He had given me within the past 24 hours, hoping, as I wrote, to find some peace and quiet within.

As God’s word began to re-orient my thinking, I realized God had given me some pretty special gifts within the past few minutes.

  1. The sun was shining through the back door next to me, warming me by it’s rays.
  2. “You are all we need , your love has set us free” sang melodiously through the radio on top of the fridge.
  3. The lovely ginger-lemon tea I was sipping sweetly flavored my tongue while the scents of baking cornbread and chili bubbling on the stove wafted through the air.
  4. I was wearing a beautiful brand new, tags still on it when I bought it, sweater from the thrift store.
  5. Friends were coming for lunch – an activity I had long been wanting to restore to my home – showing hospitality.
  6. Another friend had just called to remind me we were riding together that evening to the long awaited LH Church Women’s Christmas Dinner.

My list went on for quite a while. ¬†So by the time I was finished, all the frustration had ebbed away, and even though my surroundings hadn’t changed, my heart had been. Transformed by gratitude.

Philippians 4:8:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

God calls us to “fix our thoughts”¬†not because he wants to control us, but to give us freedom – freedom to live and enjoy all he has given us, through gratitude.

Dear Jesus, I am often anything but grateful. ¬†It is so easy for me to focus on the difficulties and inconveniences of life while overlooking the many daily, simple blessings you have given me. ¬†Please change my heart so I more readily and easily see the gifts in the day. ¬†Thank you. ¬†In Jesus’ name, amen.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Note:¬†Ann Voscamp, is a New York Times Bestselling author of “One Thousand Gifts”. Her testimony of severe depression because of childhood trauma, and her transformation through growing to see God more clearly, and learning to practice gratitude, is amazing. ¬†I have found the things I learned from her pen, blessed by Jesus, have truly had a major impact on how I view life.