Layers

Oh, how I love Jesus … because He first loved me!

Hi friend, it’s that time of year when we celebrate our loved ones.  As we do so, I’m reminded of our Savior and His love for me.  As we get ready for our big Valentines dinner celebration next week, let us also remember first and foremost that we have a Heavenly Father that loves us unconditionally.  Let us devote time to love Him in return, by sharing and singing praise to Him for all He’s done for us.

I am going to share a story that has been weighing so heavily on my heart the past few weeks.  I volunteered for a domestic violence task force, and had the opportunity to meet some incredible people.  Women, in fact, that see the results of violence regularly, legal professionals that see it in the court systems, as well as the battered lives that are trying to heal.  It’s been an eye opening experience, and one particular story that touched my heart in a huge way follows:

I sat in a room in with about 10 other women, each coming for different reasons.  Some to offer help, some as abused victims, some to share knowledge of how to help others.  On this particular day, there was a guest speaker and she came with a bundle of black fabric.  There were separate pieces of fabric, all the same size and color, but many individual pieces.  She went around the room and stopped at each person to begin layering their shoulders with pieces of the fabric. Each layer would represent an incident, something that happened that caused hurt, stress, and additional burdens.  She continued, once piece at a time, until the weight of the fabric became heavy.  As she was doing this, she described the life a young girl who was molested at a very young age.  It was the start of a burden that she would carry forever, in fact, the abuse would become a way of life for her.  She learned to live with secrets, trying to block out the continual abuse and the threats.  However, during each trial, another ‘layer of hurt’ is added.  The cycle is vicious and continues until the weight of it all begins to really wear on the soul.

When she came to me, and began layering my shoulders with one piece of fabric at a time, she would speak a story that represented another layer.  It continued until I honestly felt weighed down and deeply saddened!

It was heartbreaking, and I share this to story for a couple reasons:

We never know what someone else is going through.  Be kind and extend a hand; you never know how a simple act of kindness might impact someone.  It could be the very act that leads someone to a lighter load.

The layers in this story could represent many different things, but as a Christian, I think of sin.  The more we try to hide from God, and do things we know are wrong, the more we add to our load.  If we confess our sins and live for Christ, the weight of the past is lifted.  We certainly still experience trials, but with Jesus, we always have hope and knowledge that we can conquer anything because He lives in our hearts.

Is there something you might do to help a friend in need?  Is there something nagging at you that is making you feel compelled to reach out to someone?   There’s no time like now: share a smile, share hope.  Share what the love of Jesus has meant in your life! Go the extra steps to lighten the load and show someone hurting how Jesus has touched your life.

Remember: Jesus loves us ALL!  Let’s lighten the load and give it all to Him, and spread His love to others along the way!

Love in Christ,  Amy

 

Dedicated to Linda and Brenda-

Your passion for helping others is awesome and was clearly displayed the first time I met you. I pray God continues to bless you both along your journey, and I pray for the many lives you have touched and will touch in the days ahead!

 

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Granny, can we pray?

Bring on the New Year …
I will be the first to admit: What in the world happened to 2014? I do not know about you, but it was a whirlwind for me. Let me just share some highlights and give a praise report for God’s mighty presence and blessings during our year —

He blessed us with a precious granddaughter in February. Madeline Faith Truslow is such a joy to each of us and we love the grandparent role! Thank you Jesus for our granddaughters, Davaney and Madeline.

He surrounded and showed us grace throughout Bill’s cancer news and ongoing treatments. We felt blessed by the outpouring of love and care during this time.

His protection and embrace of Mom during her car accident. Jesus took the wheel, no doubt in my mind!

He allowed us valuable time together with family & friends.image

He blessed us with an awesome little country church that means more than I can even describe.

What’s great about reflecting on the year is the ability to see how far we have come; I honestly cannot imagine how I (we) would have done this without our Heavenly Father. He blesses us with strength, with friends and support systems that are there, ‘just when you feel like you are about to hit rock bottom’. As hard as it may have seemed then, I trust all the happenings were according to His will. Looking back reminds me: life just works best if I lay it all at the cross.

I want to share a special story about a very special someone in my life, Davaney Marie, our 8 year old granddaughter! Early January, just before school started back, she was spending the weekend with us. We had shared a busy day together. Finally, at midnight, I told her it was time to sleep! I turned off the television, and soon thereafter, I heard her soft sweet voice “Granny, can we pray?”

Friend, it touched my heart – those words just melted me! Of course, I agreed it was an excellent plan. She informed me that we would both pray, taking turns. It was a very touching time and I just thanked God for her. She prayed about things that I never imagined would cross her mind. It reminded me that children are very aware of things all around them, the good and the bad. It was a special time to hear her talking to God; I just don’t think I will ever lose that memory. Thank you Jesus for special moments like this!

My ideas/goals for the 2015 are simple: live life, cherish special times, praise God every day, and share His blessings with others. And if I experience a rough season(s), I plan to revisit that night and Davaney’s sweet innocent voice asking: “Granny, can we pray?”

Is there really a better way to deal with joy, peace and uncertainties than on our knees in prayer?

Let Him shine in all you do,
Amy

9.11

I’ll never forget the day – September 11, 2001. I was working. Suddenly, I overheard chatter of a plane crash, then another, then possible hijacking … I was frightened beyond words. I rushed up to our conference room where employees had started to gather to watch the news. I honestly felt like it couldn’t be real. I was frightened, upset, hurt, and most of all, I WANTED MY FAMILY!

Even though I worked 35 miles from home, and was carpooling on that day, I called home and my Dad drove to pick me up. We talked all the way back home, and I still have vivid memories of just wanting to be surrounded by my entire family. I wanted everyone close … I was frightened for what might happen next. It was a relief to be with my Dad, he always made me feel protected. We talked of our world, the condition of life and how things had drastically changed over the years.

As we approach the anniversary, I reminisce. I miss my Dad; I am thankful for him, for his comforting words and support on that day. I’m happy today that I know regardless of what may happen in this world, I have an eternal home. I will be reunited with Daddy, and the struggles and destruction that surrounds us today will not exist.

I was blessed to read a devotion this week and it talked about God’s love for us. I have been touched by the words, the reminders that are found in my bible. How could we be living in such turmoil? the cruel acts. destruction. war. fighting.

I’m here to confess that 13 years ago I could not take you to a specific place or time when I pleaded for His forgiveness, for His grace and asked him to save me. Today, I do know I am saved! I am ready for whatever my future holds. It’s truly in His hands, and I trust that my eternal home awaits me. For now, I pray for our country. I pray for the soldiers who were lost in battles, those still fighting. I praise God for my family, my church, my freedom to worship and grow my relationship with Him. I pray for those that are struggling. God’s love for us is everlasting (Jere 31:3); it’s merciful (Psalms 31:21).

Praying and looking up tonight as we approach a sad, historical day … may you feel God’s blessings and love in all you do! I encourage you to take time to love Him, to share your feelings with family and friends, to live in such a way you’ll have no regrets. Allow God’s love to embrace all you do…

Radiation treatments are done!

Bill COMPLETED his last radiation treatment yesterday.  Eight weeks, the entire summer, 42 treatments … DONE DONE DONE!

I’m relieved, we are all relieved.   I re-read a previous post about living ‘in the meantime’.   That is what we have done as a family during this time. We have surrounded ourselves with each other, we have been blessed by the outreach of our church, friends, co-workers, and we kept right on trucking along.   I’m not sure I’ll find the words to express our gratitude – every act of outreach was appreciated. I experienced  times when I felt so discouraged, and then I’d receive a text/phone call/card … it meant so much.

So what’s next?   Healing for Bill.  Lots more family togetherness. Lots more laughter and plans for things we all enjoy.  We embrace everything from day-to-day chores, to trips and fun stuff. I received a book mark (which I’ve included as photo) and it truly says so much about cancer.  We, as a family, are definitely on a mission to make the most out of each day … we will not allow the cancer to shatter our hope or our faith; we are moving forward and making lots more memories!

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I would like to encourage you to pray .. for Bill’s healing, for others fighting the fight, for family, friends, our country.  I also encourage you to focus on what makes you happy;  and even what makes others happy.   During the past eight weeks, we have  been so blessed by the outreach  shown to us.  Oftentimes, it was the acts of kindness that gave me /us strength to keep going forward.  Join me in prayer, in outreach to those in need.  It’s great medicine for the soul, and it means so much when you are ‘living in the valley’.

IN closing, wanted to share some good news:  Mom is healing well.  It’s been five weeks since the accident and she’s home and recovering.  Elizabeth started her senior year in high school.  Bill and I will celebrate our anniversary in just a few weeks — 30 years!!

Keep looking up and letting Him shine in all you do,

-Amy

the phone call . . .

Many of you know about my mom’s recent car accident. It was the phone call you don’t want to receive .. the news you don’t want to hear .. the scene you don’t want to visit.

I’m thankful to report she’s mending after 5 day hospital care ( currently in rehab for physical therapy).  So here’s the deal, I am experiencing days where I  feel like i’m actually sleep walking.  i’m mentally, physically and emotionally drained.  and THEN…I see firsthand how tired Bill is from his ongoing radiation treatments.  I hear the hurt in a mother’s voice that just lost her son to cancer.  I witness a co-worker’s hurt as she lives the cancer journey with her husband.  I hear the pleas for prayer from our church family.  And, I am reminded that our life on this earth is not always easy.  we will face valleys … we will live (so it seems) in the valleys.  we will have times when we don’t feel strength to take the next step.

But what i’m learning, repeatedly, is our Heavenly Father will see us through these times. I’m not sure why this latest event in our life, but i know that in the short 10 day period, my family has strengthened.  we are witnessing the many friends we have — supporting us in prayer, food, transportation … just helping us tackle the tough times.  God has blessed us in many ways, He is still blessing us, and He shows me in ways that just blow my mind.  will this ever make sense to me?  i really don’t know.  I do know, however, that it reminds me how precious life can be.  It reminds me to take time out for the little things … i think i’ve actually written this but it just keeps coming back to me.  And to accompany this ‘brainstorm”, is a verse in Psalms (46:10) —  “Be still, and know that I am God […]”

I have been so guilty of getting caught up in the craziness of life and I am hearing and knowing that I need to slow down, put God first, and embrace His will.  This verse has actually appeared so many times lately … in blogs i read, face book posts … do i think it’s coincidental?  NO, i don’t.  I’m feeling the need to slow down, know Him and seek His will even more;  to  embrace family, memories we make together, times we share —

Since the accident, i awakened early one morning (before daylight) and had the sudden desire to write.  The stillness of the hour, the calm, peaceful feeling, the words that appeared so rapidly on my little ‘note’ page of my iphone … yes, it was my still time with a Heavenly Father that reminded me that I am not alone in any circumstance.  I knew it was time to share and profess.  i have continued to wake early most mornings since then, and i try to use this time to talk to God.  to thank Him. to really just “be still”.

These are random thoughts, feelings … if you are totally confused, just get this one point:  BE STILL and get to KNOW HIM.   Let Him lead your steps.

Family vacation = great memories

Amy & Bill (OBX 2014)

Amy & Bill (OBX 2014)

 

We just returned from an awesome week at OBX. It was such a blessing to be surrounded by family – I experienced times during the week when I actually hurt from laughing. It was perfect … it will be cherished forever. We had four generations under one roof and I am certain we all left with more family memories. It was a time of relaxation, a time to de-stress, and a time to unwind.

Our first week back includes the start of Bill’s radiation treatments, oral surgery for Elizabeth (4 wisdom teeth to come out), not to mention the procedure to remove fluid from Bill’s back (after 9 surgeries). Friend, I admit I wonder how we get through; I get mad at myself for wondering ‘why’. I hurt to see him hurt, to know that under his smile is constant pain. And now, added to the back issues, is the cancer. Bill’s been my strength and coach through my own anxiety, despite his ongoing struggles. He remains so strong in his faith and is constantly reminding me, and others, that God’s got this! I have to tell you, God has worked in powerful ways in our lives! Through all this, even when I feel overwhelmed and share my stories, I do so to encourage … it is therapy for me to write. I am able to record the testimonies of all He’s done for us – and it reassures me things will work out.

We heard an awesome message on Sunday: ‘what to do in the meantime’. It really hit home. We are living in the meantime. And what I understand is simple: in the meantime, as we face these struggles, we are to live each day, each moment, focusing on: the promises of God; His word; our faith; our strong belief that despite the circumstances, we are not alone. Our strength is our Heavenly Father! He is our rock and even though our ground seems unsteady, it really is not! He’s got this.

This morning, as I prepared to leave for work, I admit I was feeling a mess – I was anxious. Bill was headed off for his back procedure (with Elizabeth and Mom).   I was getting ready for work, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Bill raised his hands, waved them around, and said to me:   “God is all around you – He is with us, He is here”.

Then, before I could get out of our driveway, I received a message that a friend had sent to our prayer warriors, asking them to keep Bill in prayer this week. That, my friend, is the power of God that provides our strength! Just when things feel like they are crumbling, He provides the next bit of strength, to get us through the next moment.

We are living our life in the meantime … cancer cannot steal our beliefs nor our spirit. We serve an awesome God who can handle all our issues. I encourage you: remember the meantime – praise Him, even in the storms!

Do you know Him?

I receive numerous devotionals, and this one really hit home!  Our journey here is challenging, the times we are living in are difficult, and sin surrounds us. This blog presents the plan of salvation and encourages us, as Christians, to do our part. I encourage you to check it out.

http://www.ibelieve.com/blogs/courtnaye-richard/sharing-salvationits-time.html

I made sure it was ok to share Courtnaye’s blog, and she was thrilled.  It’s an awesome feeling to reach out to a complete stranger, realizing that we do have a powerful connection: Christ.  That is priceless.

Encourage others. 

Share the news. 

Reach out to the lost.

 

 

This is God’s Country …

this is god's country ...

A beautiful spring Saturday spent with Bill and Davaney – one that just took us around a big loop! It was truly ‘living in the moment’. We left home that morning, just the two of us, with a plan to visit the local farmers market. After a phone call to Amber, our plans quickly changed. We decided to invite Davaney to join us, which landed us at their home. We were able to see (hold) sweet Madeline Faith and steal some kisses, then we grabbed Davaney’s overnight bag, and our journey began.

What an incredible day! We shopped for some edible plants to add to our property (kiwi and grapes); we enjoyed buying fresh produce from the farmers market; we enjoyed traveling across the mountain and sharing stories with Davaney; we had lunch at a local eatery, then we ended up at the local strawberry patch.

So what’s so special, you may ask – I think it was the idea of climbing back in the truck and thinking “ok, what next? What can we do? Where will we stop?” It was the spontaneity of it all; it was seeing Davaney’s excitement about our next stop. The very special moment for me, and one that prompted my urge to write was a statement by a complete stranger: “this is God’s country”!

We were busy picking strawberries, and admiring the absolutely breathtaking views. We saw many different folks along the rows of berries, and one couple commented on the beauty of the area. As it turned it, they had relocated to Virginia from Texas, and she expressed her unhappiness about their relocation. When I heard her say “this is God’s country”, I couldn’t help but ask where they lived in Virginia. It turned out they resided in the city. Surely their views and surroundings were quite different from the mountains we are blessed to see daily, but what I later considered was simple: God’s country is everywhere. He surrounds us. The issue is whether we live in His country – and if we allow Him to live in ours!

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So yeah, I will admit: I’m partial to my surroundings. I absolutely LOVE the mountains; I love the fresh air; I love living on my great-grandparents farm. All these things remind me of God’s presence, but I’ve been in cities and other places and He’s always there beside me! He surrounds me … but I had to ask Him first to be part of my life. I have to remain in tune with my surroundings to ensure He’s always there. I’ve learned that even in what seems to be my darkest time, He is by my side.

With the recent trials my family has experienced, I consider these reminders from Him. God speaks and directs my path; He reminds me when things seem tough. I need only focus on the moment, living out the adventure of the present time and consciously acknowledging the blessings of that time. It is days like this that just touch me in a way that only comes from Him.

Thank you Lord for many blessings … my family; my home; the mountains that surround me; the freedom to get up and drive out and witness your beauty!

"Paint the Trail" 5K

“Paint the Trail” 5K

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May 4, 2014

I was blessed to participate in my second 5k walk … but what was totally priceless was the fact my girls went along and we did this one together!! Even Davaney (my 7-year-old granddaughter). The pictures I’ve shared were taken the day of the event — a before and after pose. The event was called “Paint the Trail”, and at each 1/2 mile marker, we’d get ‘splashed with color’. The terrain was a challenge, in fact, the course was originally made for a cross country team to use. I admit I was worn out after only one (yes, 1) mile, and felt a little discouraged as my girls decided to jog and suddenly I found myself “alone”. At this point, I honestly felt like I’d reached my stopping point. The problem was: I was in the middle of a wooded trail, 60 miles from home, with real NO CLUE of my exact whereabouts. I pushed onward, and focused on the time to pray. I recalled the purpose of this walk: to benefit Relay for Life and the many cancer fighters. I decided my discomfort and thirst was nothing compared to what cancer patients endure in their fight. I began to lift names to God of family and friends battling, some that had lost their fight, and soon realized: I can do this and I will finish. I made the entire trail and I used the challenging times to lift names of many cancer fighters in my life!

Friends, it’s that time of year in my community where we promote cancer awareness, host relays and fund raise to support the American Cancer Society. I have battled this disease as a caregiver … and lost some very special people to it. I stayed by my Dad’s side during his last days on this earth, and witnessed his last breath. It was so hard to let go, but his suffering was also so difficult to witness. I’m preparing to support my husband, Bill, in his fight. After 9 back surgeries, we recently learned that he had prostate cancer. It was a difficult time, and the reality of this is still sinking in – and I still often wonder how he really feels each day. It’s a struggle, but I have to continue trusting and believing in God’s plan for our lives. Whatever we’re facing, He’s totally in charge — whatever lies ahead, well, He’s got that all figured out as well.

For today, I pray for strength … I pray for my family and many others that are suffering from cancer. For those suffering from other forms of pain. I pray for the Murphy family, as they await the verdict, still not having many answers.

I encourage you to share your comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Don’t hide . . .

Friends, let us pray …

     and pray

            and pray some more.

We are living in such a tough time. The news is sad. I still do not want to believe that TODAY, May 1, 2014, there is a murder trial going on right here in our small little county. It breaks my heart as I think of the Murphy family – I truly cannot imagine their emotions. Their innocent 17 year- old daughter was doing what any teenager would enjoy, just heading off to do some shopping on a Saturday afternoon. That particular day, Alexis would leave home for what would turn out to be her last departure from there.

I have struggled with this. I hurt for Laura Ann and Troy (parents of Alexis), and her extended family. Why do people do mean things? What has happened to our world that we cannot do routine ‘stuff’ without the fear of being attacked? I’ve always considered myself protective, but this has caused me to be even more so – I cannot preach enough safety to my girls. I am also more aware of my surroundings and people around me when I venture out to new places.

So yeah, this morning, I’m just heavy-hearted. I have prayed and will continue doing so. There are many that are suffering and experiencing their own valleys. Our world as we once knew it is changing. In fact, turning on the news has become more about learning what ‘bad stuff’ did happen in the community, and how to maintain our own safety.

It saddens me, but I know that only thing I can do when I get so burdened is to hold on to the truth from my Heavenly Father. He is with me, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He promised to never leave nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I know because of Him, I can do all things (Phil 4:13). I know I can seek refuge through Him (Deuteronomy 33:27). The only thing I can really do in situations like this is pray … to fall to my knees and cry out to Him, asking for strength to conquer the next steps. I cannot hide, I must face the obstacle and keep on keeping on, staying focused on Him and allowing Him to lead me through the tough times.

We had an awesome service last night about ‘hiding from God’. I do not want to reach a point in my life where God has to question “where are you Amy”, as He did with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:9). If I get myself in bad places, I pray for His forgiveness and mercy. I strive to have Him as my focus in all I do; to surround myself with people and situations that encourage my spiritual growth. In times of temptation, I pray that I can step back and seek His presence even more and let Him take control. In times, just like today and this week, when things are falling apart around me, I pray for His presence and guidance, that I may not fall, but stay even closer to Him.

Thanks for allowing me to share my random thoughts this morning –they’ve been weighing heavily on me all week – I am restless, I am weak. I need to feel His presence in a very mighty way. Please join me in prayer …

“Heavenly Father, I am hurting this morning Father. I love you and praise you for so many blessings in my life. I ask that you forgive me of my sins and just lead me Father along the straight and narrow path. I pray that when I am weak, as I am feeling today, that you might give me support and strength to get through the next steps. I pray today for your mighty, powerful presence in the courtroom today Father, surround the family, the jurors … many names and requests were lifted last night and I just pray you will surround those families as well. Lead and guide me today and in the days ahead that I become stronger in your Word and can find peace that only comes from You. To my friends that are experiencing their own trials, you know their names, their needs, I lift them to You. I pray for our country, our leaders, and the church. I pray that I can stay focused on You and our church, growing more spiritually that I may face my trials and burdens suited up with the armor that comes from You. I am needy Father, I need YOU today and always. I need direction on decisions I am facing … I need strength for my family. Thank you for the beautiful sunshine today; Thank you for saving grace. I love you and thank you. Be with me, be with my family, my friends… in His precious name I pray these things, Amen.”