Faith, Fun, Fashion, & Family

Faith, Fun, Fashion, & Family

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wrapped in the Stillness of Him...

I fight my nights with a restless imagination, 
and my LONG days are filled with day dreams of silly possible circumstances...
 just think think thinking or what is to come.
What is His plan?
What is up his big giant sleeve?
I trust His plan, yes, but... I want to know His plan RIGHT NOW!
So, I was feeling this way for weeks and finally decided that God is not happy with me.
I pray and tell Him what I desire, then He wants me to just let it go to him. 
He will either make them come true, or has something better than I imagined. 
So, I have felt Him telling me to just rest in Him. He wants me to see this time as a special time to just be with him. He wants me to enjoy and look forward to our intimate quiet time, just as I would with my husband. It should be what I look forward to, what I make time for, and my deepest desire. 
When I do get down and rest with Him, it gives my restless heart a deep peace. 
I never regret time alone with him, but I do regret it when I don't have it.
When the Lord speaks to my soul, he gives me pictures. He knows how I see and how I learn. 
He have me an image of a butterfly pupa, just still and protected. It appears to be doing nothing, but there is a greater change forming inside. Something miraculous is happening that the human eye cannot see. It is a time alone and secret with the Great Creator, the transformer. 
He is making me into something new after this great tragedy. I was happily married for 10 wonderful years to my best friend. These were times I was fat in spirit, eating wildly my leaves of happiness. Then all of a sudden, things changed. 
I was moved into a different lifestyle in the blink of an eye. Now that my eyes are adjusted to this new light, I can see where God is taking me... but slowly it is revealed.

These Verses have brought great comfort to me in my time of restlessness...
May you be blessed by them too.

2 Corinthians 4:18
 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

1 Peter 5:6-7
  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 

Psalm 27:5
 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Psalm 37:7
 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Psalm 46:10
 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Exodus 14:13
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

 I have had this feeling before, but as a married woman. 
Read this post to see how this fast paced world can ruin our spirit...
Hamster on a Wheel, be still...

After my loss of my husband, I was searching for an answer. 
I wanted to see my road...
Where is my Yellow Brick Road?

 I finally understood the meaning of this place I am in... 
as  a new single mom, I was feeling totally lost.
But God is Our Compass!

Here you can see my strange stages of grief, ranging from happy to sad, to confused, to lonely, to content...
A journey of a widow is definitely a Roller Coaster!
Diary of a Young Widow.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Widow's Sanity... how to keep it.

Dear Wounded Widow,

Ok, breathe deep! It is ok to not have it ALL togther. We cannot do everything that we did before our men left and all that our husbands did without going insane. I think our sanity is at the upmost improtance. You have a choice... either
A. let some little stuff go, or
B. let your sanity go.

Ok, make the choice... I'm waiting.

IF you chose B. uh oh, you better go get busy doing those things that in the end won't matter one bit!
If you chose A, GOOD! continue reading.

Welcome back to reading you wise woman...
So, for me personally,
in the midst of raising my 2 girls, housework, bills, a full time job, trying to stay fit and healthy, being an artist, and making time for Christ...  there is not much time to do things that in the long run, don't even matter.  If I did, what would it prove anyway? Some things will have to just be let go. All I can do is my best and let God do the rest. My daily concern is "What is most important today, what can wait till tomorrow, and according to Christ... what is everlasting?".  For example, if I know that I need to water the plants but at the same time my 2 girls are being very needy... I choose to spend time with them. I am the only parent they have left and thier neediness is really a plee to satisfy thier love quotient for the day. Instead of telling them, NO, not now, I am busy, I have to water the plants that will die this fall anyways... I choose to nurture them. Plants will die and do not have spirits... children do. If I know that I should clean my baseboards, but I am inspired to create a painting that may win a soul to Christ or give peace to a hurting friend... I choose to paint. I ask myself, "What will last? What is GOD calling me to do?". We don't know if Moses had a clean house with sparkling base boards, or watered perky plants... but we know he led His people out of Egypt and followed the Lord wherever He led. We don't know if Mary cooked delisious cuisines every night for Joseph and her boys, but we do know that she trusted the Lord despite her interrupted plans. We do know however that Martha was a great host (or so she thought). Her bed was probablly perfectly made and her base boards shined brighter than diamonds, but she DID NOT have it all figured out. But her sister Mary did have things figured out. Instead of running around like a headless chicken when Jesus stopped by, She chose what was everlasing. She chose to worship her Lord. The expensive perfume she washed his feet with would not last forever if it just sat in the bottle... but the lavish sacrifice she showed in using it to clean Jesus's feet gave her priceless everlasting treasures above.

So, things like making the bed... if nobody is going to see your bed but you, then don't make it! I actually walk by my unmade bed with pride, knowing that I won't have to go through the annoying pointless process of throwing the nicely stacked decorative pillows on the floor that night and fold down the sheet just to finally rest. And if some unexpected visitor were to see your bed unmade accidentally, if they judge you for not making it... it is thier problem, not yours. You, lovely lady,  have more important things to take up your time than wasted worry.

Listen to this song, "I want to leave a Legacy" by Nichole Nordeman... It inspired me to look to what's most important. How will they remember me?

For more comfort and understanding from another widow's perspective... read here

Cocoon of Change...

I have been so anxious (since recently being widowed) to see what God has in store. I knew, even though unexpected, that Shannon's (my husband) death was the will of God. I had a peace that passes understanding and He is comforting me through my grief. I know He is present every second of my day. I know He has plans, but I can't help to roll around on sleepless nights just fantasizing about what is to come. I make up these stories in my head of all kinds of thing that COULD happen. Till a part of me gets restlessly impatient with Him and says, "God, HURRY UP!". Then I have to get back and check and remember that He has his perfect timing. He knows my end and my beginning and how best it is arranged. He makes my path straight and lit for me...
Here is my thoughts on His advice to me...
Cocoon of Change...
Sit tight and rest in your cocoon
being wrapped in my loving embrace
Allow my warmth to soften you
and let my hands to mold you anew.
What you were before was just the start,
you were content with your belly full of leaves
but now it's time for a change.
Part of life is growing and it requires change,
trust me with the pains that may come from it.
I know you feel the change coming
and are excited for your wings,
but slow your squirming for a while.
Be patient for a bit...
enjoy the miraculous process of what I am doing now.
Breathe deep and soak in my light.
The plans I have require strength, tools, and skills
you have not yet acquired.
So, let me nourish you in this state
and you will be amazed.
Crawl into my cocoon of comfort and let me cradle you
till your every squirm as been relaxed and you fall fast asleep.
I love you so much and can't wait to see
your face when I am through.
Cause that's when you will realize
that I know best for you.
You will see the light more strongly waiting there for you
and the new gifts I will have sewn on you
will help you soar so free.
But for now I want you to close your eyes, rest your fears,
and trust my molding hands.
Be Still, Be Quiet, Be Mine...

Below are previous colore pencil drawings I had created
that relate to the words above...

WIngs to Fly
 The Maker Molds
Click here to see the poetry to go with the two Jesus Illustrations above...
These below images are pictures from my book,
The Lost Sock

Click here to see more of the roller coaster of emotions a widow goes through
while being fastened in with a seat belt of faith...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Lord is our compass...

Over a month ago ( July 17, 2013) my husband and best friend left this world due to cardiac arrest. He was young (35) and left suddenly with no signs or warnings. Although I believe regular Dr. Visits and medicine could have prevented or delayed his death, there were things that God used to give me peace in knowing that this was His plan. When I found Shannon, my husband, laying in the yard, he had been working hard to make things beautiful outside. He LOVED working in the yard! He had told me just a week before that his time in the yard was his time to talk with God. It was when he felt Him closest and heard Him the clearest. While he was mowing, weeding, and pruning... i was busy inside that morning with our 2 girls, Maisy (6) and Madelynn (2), fixing lunch and was working on a project for Shannon. I was making him an IPAD cover from some vintage hunting material he loved and wanted to surprise him by getting it done while he was working. So, when I wasn't tending to my girls, I was focusing on finishing my creative project. We had a great morning, week, month, even year as a family. Shannon and i were up late the night before trying to dodge things on our Summer "to do list".  we spent an hour or more the night before, after the girls were asleep, organizing hundreds of family photos holding memories of fun, family, friends, and faith. We laid on the living room floor, laughed and talked over photo boxes about how blessed we were in our life. We then got ready for bed and laid down at midnight, remembering we still had to read our Sunday School lesson to teach that very next morning in church. shannon and i had felt the Lord calling us to teach an adult Sunday School class earlier that year, and we were enjoying our studying time together. The topic that night was unforgiveness and grudges. We talked about some that we once had, but were great full that they had left our hearts and we were now free from their bondages. Shannon and I had been through a rough bump in our marriage a couple of summers before, and the wounds took some time for recovery. This recovery would not have been possible without Christ as our rhird chord. In hinds sight, I see now that God put that bump there at that time, giving us enough time to heal and be rebonded before Shannon's departure.
That next morning Shannon had excitedly pre-planned his yard work. We all woke up, drove to McDonalds drive-thru in our p.j.s, and ate breakfast on the porch while daddy pulled sticker burs from the ground. He wanted us to eat outside to keep him company for a while before he mowed. The company was short because of the bugs and heat. Maisy could not handle it and started to whine to go in.  Little did we know this was the last moments to spend with Daddy as a family. But after we came inside, I had Maisy take a big tall bottle of ice water out to the porch for Daddy. She waved big to him so he would see her with her refreshing gift. He waved back and smiled at her. Even this small detail gives me peace. I didn't want her last words to be whiny with him. I am forever greatful that she took it out to him rather than me, so he could see her happy one more time. This whole year was full of seasons of renewal, growth, hope, and healing for our marriage and family. My prayers for spiritual renewal had been answered...
Things were finally feeling... Well...
 Perfectly orchestrated by His great hand! 
I must Backtrack now to something very improtant...

Five years prior to this day (August 2008),  my life took a major spiritual awakening, and I knew The Lord in an entirely new way.
See here for my illustrated (yet incomplete) Testimony...
 I wanted Shannon to know The Lord the same way I had begun. He was a man of faith, no doubt... But he was quiet about it. I was usually the one to initiate giving, read the Bible to the girls, and tuaght them (well Maisy mostly) how to feel and hear God. I had been the spiritual leader. I knew that if he knew The Lord as intimately as I was now doing, he would not be able to be so timid about his faith. But, he had just not gotten the experience personally yet. I depserately wanted him to have what I had. (I desperately want EVERYONE to have it!) So, I began to write and pray about The Lord "shaking" his faith! I wanted him to wake up to the unseen spiritual side of life here on earth.

Sketch of Vision
(done after Shannon's departure)
One partitcular time (fall/winter 2012) As I prayed, The Lord gave me a vision. He showed my heart a picture of me, Maisy, and Madelynn walking alone in a forest of trees. It was on the verge of darkness and we were alone with nothing but the compasses of our hearts... And I was the navigator with no map. I felt a sudden urgency to take His word into heart and digest it. It was important that my " map" not be something that I held in hand, but rather heart. But in my mind, I felt urgency to tell Shannon to step it up and get things together! I thought at the time that God gave me this message for Shannon, to warn him to be more of a fearless spiritual leader rather than a quiet observer. I was not sure how to tell him about this peculiar vision, so I took notes on a yellow pad to get my thoughts together before I confronted him with it. I couldn't go to bed without letting it go. So, as we laid down, I laid it all out. He respectfully listened to the message, my suggestions, my feelings and  seemed open to stepping it up. but... In time, his actions proved he was not confident in how to do this. I knew to be patient. sadly, he did not have a strong male faithful figure to follow. He was lost... with no compass, disconnected to true North. So, I just kept praying and let God take control. This was about winter of 2012. That spring, our church youth group was searching for a male adult to be a leader of a group called UM Army. It is where a group of teens and an adult go to different arranged locations in a community to do labor projects for people that needed help. He was excited to go work for The Lord because he loved to build and be outside. But, he was not excited about the idea of leaving us girls for an entire week of summer. But, I did not mind at all knowing that this may be the answer to my prayer in "shaking" Shannon's faith.

Shannon at UM Army with his youth team
standing on the wheelchair ramp they built together...
Shannon and Mike
his instant new Brother in Christ BFF!
This was his hardworking group he was blessed with at the UM Army.
He bragged on them nonstop after his return from the trip...
This was the answer! After he came home, he was able to now talk with me about spiritual things, the Bible, Heaven, and life through the eyes of Jesus. I was so excited! We started to go deeper into our Bible studies, he was stepping up with prayer more, and had confidence in his own faith. We talked a lot about our individual thoughts on Heaven and what we were expecting it to be. He said he imagined it like a shore that we come to where we meet all of our loved ones and family. While my version of Heaven was full of art supplies, stained glass window, trees with exotic fruit, bike trails neverending.... his was just simple. His was family. We talked about how we woudl die if we got to choose. Neither of us wanted to be old or go to nursing homes. He wanted to just fall and go home like his dad and grandfather. He wanted it short and sweet, no pain, no fear. He even told me he always felt like he would leave young. He reminded me about a week before that he wanted "Spirit in the Sky" played at his feuneral as they rolled him out! He was ready in his heart for home.
That day he left was planned out by God. I found him laying under a tree, peaceful and still. He was not struggling to stay with us... he was gone already. His heart is what failed him because it was not built for this earth, it was built for Heaven. In the moment I paniced (or course), I SCREAMED... but the girls never heard me from inside the house. They did not see him. God protected them and took care of them. But as the help came and minutes that seemed so long passed, an unexplainable peace came over me. God was telling me that it was ok to let go. He was home and in His hands. I didn't have to beg or make deals with God to keep him here with me... the more time passes, the more I realize that Shannon's death was  beautifully orchestrated by God's hands. 
I did feel in my stress, abondoned by Shannon. I selfishly thought that he left me with so much to do... and it was things that I had no idea how to do. As I came back home with an overwhelming feeling of stress... I started making a new "to do" list. I grabbed a yellow pad of paper and mapped out all the things I needed to do in this new life we are forced to live in . I filled page after page after page, until I discovered some notes I had written in the back just 2 seasons before. It was the notes about my vision of Me, Maisy, and Madelynn in the trees alone! After reading over the notes I had read that night to Shannon, I realized I had misinterpreted them! God was not showing me that SHannon must lead us... but that Shannon was leaving us. He was preparing my heart for the future! This vision was of what our family would become... I would be the one to take full responsibilty for leading my girls through the dark paths of our future with nothing but His Word in my heart. Just days after I realized the meaning of the vision, a Christing collegue and firend gave me a verse that she had found and felt that the Lord needed me to have it to confirm something He had showed me. SHe knew NOTHING about my vision. The verse she gave me was,
Isaiah 32:16
"And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into lihgt and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do. I will not forsake them".
As I read these words of truth in private... I cried tears of pure joy.
I suddenly felt that altough SHannon had left, we had to fully rely on our faith to get us through uncertainty. I had been wondeing weeks before about our road before us as a family.
I knew that he would lay it out, just like the Yellow Brick Road for Dorthy in The Wizard of Oz.
But here it says, that He will make our road smooth and light our way as we walk.
The road is uncertain, laid brick by brick, and we do not know the way, but He does. He will be our leader, our light, our compass in times of confusion. All I have to do as a mom, is trust His promise!
Now I see that Shannon left us to do something more important. He is getting things ready for us in a life that we will have after this life is over. He did not abandon us at all, he is preparing for our forever future that we can only see with eyes of faith! He is waiting for us there at the end of this Yellow Brick Road...
and I will be wearing my ruby red slippers.