A Prayer for Your Weekend

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

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We’ve come through several days together, reading and remembering.  Allowing our grief to make itself known.  I know many of you are remembering your own grief and maybe my words are helping you in some way.

For me, acknowledging the goodness of God even in the midst of my grief is a way to remember that he alone is good and he is sovereign.  I can trust him with my grief and my life.

I felt that at this point in the journey I wanted to say a prayer for you, for us. I hope it brings you comfort:

I pray that we will walk in your light, Heavenly  Father and bow our head before you.  Help us to allow your peace to radiate our inmost being and fill us with hope everlasting.

Show us how to practice Thanksgiving in everything and live, arms outstretched, palms wide open to receive your  goodness. With your help we will love others out of the abundance of love you shower on us . We seek to serve generously.

We know, God that you are good and you will be our comfort. I pray that we find the strength to trust you in all things and acknowledge your sovereignty. Help us surrender to your desires and allow you to write our story.

We rest in your arms because that is the only safe haven.  We lay our grief at your feet and ask for healing and peace.

We pray in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Click here for the complete series, A 31 Day Journey through grief.

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Sunday Blessing

I had planned to take Sunday breaks during the write 31-day challenge.  But today at church one of my favorite scripture passages from Isaiah was read and I found it comforting.  I thought maybe you would too.

In our deepest grief or trouble, we can go to God’s word to find strength and peace. My prayer is that whatever you are passing through today you will find comfort in the words of our Holy God.

But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, He who formed you Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your savior.       Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)

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Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Click here for the complete series, A 31 Day Journey through grief.

 

Heaven Is Sounding Sweeter

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30: 11-12 NIV

 

Journal – Around August 23:

I love you, Mama. You were a beautiful woman.  It was a privilege and honor to be your daughter.  So many things on my heart to say but I don’t know where to start.

You were there when I took my first breath and I was there when you took your last. Thank you for allowing me to be there in your last moment.

We were two peas in a pod you and I and I don’t know how I’m going to do life without you.  I think of so many things that I wish could have been done differently but I know you wouldn’t want me to have regrets. You’d want me to remember the good times and smile about them and think of you being happy.  You were happy much of the time.  You had been singing a lot the weeks before you passed.  And, even up to the last you held onto your sense of humor teasing us and making us laugh.

You were my confidant so many times and I was yours.  Everything just feels a little different now. I know God is with me and he understands my hurt.  I know I will feel his peace again and that he will help me say goodbye to what was and accept what is.

I love you so much, Mama. I wasn’t ready to let you go but I am happy for you because I know you are not suffering anymore.  Your mind is clear again and your bones are healed.  You are dancing on the streets of Gold.  I told you when I arrived on Saturday that we were going to dance. We never got to dance, but I’m sure Jesus is a better dance partner than me.

I’m sure you are busy catching up with everybody and telling Jesus how much you love him. You never lost your faith in him. Wait for me, Mama because I will see you again one day.  I truly understand now why people say heaven is sounding sweeter all the time.

Goodnight mama, thanks for everything. I will never forget you and I will always hold you close in my heart my sweet Ladybug.

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I believe the night I wrote the above entry was the night that I listened to Elvis hymns on my phone.  I used to sing songs to my mom at night and sometimes we’d listen to Elvis sing Peace in the Valley. One night after her death I couldn’t sleep, so I listened to Elvis until I was ready to sleep. Music is a wonderful way to remember someone and it can be therapeutic in the grief process.

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Hello

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It’s been awhile and I can’t make any promises.

The blog has been quiet, but life certainly has not been.

I wrote a post on Facebook at the end of September, but never shared it.

Since then, little by little, most people have been updated, but in case you haven’t this happened:

Rocky and I  moved back to Louisville in October of 2017. Rocky has accepted a ministry position at the church we attended while he was a student at Seminary.

Those who know our story may remember that after Seminary, the plan, God willing, was to teach college. Rocky realized last summer that God was saying no to teaching and asking him to stay in ministry.

Six years ago when we moved back to my hometown to be near my parents, we knew that in order for Rocky to have a full time job with benefits, it probably would not be in our small town and would mean possible relocation. We also knew that with Mom’s health and our need to be close to home it would have to be somewhat close.

We kept waiting and all the doors kept closing. We kept saying God has a plan and it’s not the right time. We kept praying for direction and asking God to work out the logistics that were best for everyone. Many of my prayers were a list of what we needed in a job. As if God needed me to tell him.  Then my prayers changed, asking God to send Rocky the job he wanted him to have. Then for awhile I didn’t pray as much, but I kept telling Rocky that God had a plan.

My prayer in recent months had changed and I must confess my attitude as well. I still wanted God to send the job he wanted Rocky to have and I still knew God had a plan.  I trusted Him, but I was growing weary of not knowing and I was still leaning heavy in favor of the college route because I know how hard ministry is and I didn’t feel that I had the stamina for that lifestyle.

However, I began repeating a prayer I had prayed several years earlier while Rocky was still in seminary –  a prayer of submission, a prayer that I was willing to go wherever God sent Rocky. I knew that was a bold thing to do, but I knew I had to be willing even if it meant ministry. I was also praying for Rocky to have clear direction and peace.

I knew we’d be fine where we were if that was the continued answer as it had been for the past five years. I knew God would provide. We loved our students who came for piano, Rocky loved subbing in the local schools and he loved serving as a church pianist.

But, I sensed that God was up to something. I suspected when Rocky started losing more students than he was gaining in the late winter / early spring that there must be a reason. It didn’t feel like we were to recruit more students.  I could feel the winds of change.

At the same time I was praying and waiting, unbeknownst to me, Rocky was having his own struggle with the college vs. ministry route. The day in mid-summer that he told me he knew God wanted him to pursue music ministry I could sense his relief. It was like a burden was lifted.

In just a matter of days a potential job in Louisville appeared on his radar and he emailed our former pastor in Fern Creek to let her know he’d used her as a reference. She responded immediately with, “why not come here?”  We hadn’t considered that we should pursue going there since it wasn’t a full time music position.  But, with that simple, direct question we found ourselves considering and praying.

And so, the journey began: interviewing, figuring out logistics and making plans. It was a whirlwind that happened fast. I almost felt like Dorothy who went to sleep in Kansas and woke up in Oz.

Everything had God’s signature on it and we know that this is his best for us. When we had first moved back home in 2012 we knew there were several things that would have to fall in place if we were to be free to take a job elsewhere.  Things such as benefits, help with Mom so Dad had support, close enough proximity to my parents so we would still be able to support them when needed.  We also needed a teacher for Rocky’s remaining students and we prayed that he’d provide someone to play the music at the church we’d been attending. It seemed like a lot of things had to fall in place, but I knew if anyone could orchestrate what was best for everyone involved, God could. And he did.

God checked all the boxes.  We are only two hours from my parents – I’ve been able to go back and stay with them several times.  Hospice has been great to come in daily to help with Mom and we have recently found someone to help my Dad a couple days a week.  A piano teacher was provided for the students, and they only had to go down the street a few houses. And, he provided a musician for the church where Rocky had been playing on Sunday mornings.

God is faithful and that has never been more evident than in the way we were welcomed back into the family at Fern Creek Baptist Church with open arms.  It was a seamless transition and it felt like we’d never left.  On Sunday mornings when I watch my husband lead worship and direct the choir, I have no doubt that he is fulfilling his calling.  This is the place where God has planted our feet.

The future is in God’s hands and we are trusting him to lead our steps. He has never failed to lead us exactly where we need to be. It is so much easier to follow when you are in complete submission to his sovereign will.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight  — Proverbs 3:5-6

Submitting in Grace,

Teresa

 

 

Joy!

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Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7

Yesterday I was holding on to hope and trying my best to be joyful about my colonoscopy.  I determined to practice thanksgiving with every drop of that gutter swill I had to drink.

I was doing my best to put it all in God’s hands and trust that all would be well.  So, I chose to trust in the face of my fear.  Praying about it, clinging to a scripture and writing about it helped.  It enabled me to focus on the big picture instead of worrying about a minor glitch in the road.

If you have ever had any kind of invasive procedure, then I’m sure you well know, that a certain amount of anxiety goes with.  I’m learning that it is not always about getting rid of the anxiety, but harnessing it and allowing God to be in control.  Even if you want to freak out and run the other way choosing to let God handle the situation builds your faith in him.  And, he is faithful.

I’m happy to report that I managed to drink all the nastiness in that jug (minus a few drops here and there).  I managed to keep my spirits up by practicing thanksgiving for the little things such as the pink ladies blooming in my yard, or how wonderful White grape juice tastes.  I reminded myself with every drop that I could do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

I’m further happy to report with joy that even though they found a polyp, it was non-cancerous.  It is being biopsied to find out exactly what kind of polyp it is as that will determine if I go back in three years, or five. Apparently, some polyps are pre-cancerous and some are not.  Not, would get me five years, so that is my hope.

Even with that looming large in five (or three), I still am joyful because basically I received a clean bill of health and the meds didn’t seem to make me goofy and I know that God was with me.  After some initial nervousness and high blood pressure I calmed down and all was well.

Further, it was with great joy that I came home and ate my food with gladness, and drank my wine (ginger ale) with a joyful heart.  Thankful that God found favor with me and answered my prayers.  He is always faithful.

He is always faithful in good times and bad.  Even if my outcome today had been different, I would still rejoice in the goodness of a loving God.  He is always working on our behalf in all situations and if we ask he enables us to find joy in all things.

How are you finding joy today?  Whether it be choosing joy in the midst of a trial, or finding joy in such an everyday occurrence as a cheeseburger and ginger ale just know that the giver of our joy is always with us and he will always lead us right.

I would be remiss if I did not thank all of you that were faithful to pray for me. That too is part of our joy.  Praying for and encouraging one another.  God Bless!

Joy in grace,

Teresa

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The pictures included with today’s post and yesterday’s were taken in Virginia back in June when we took a little trip.  Such beautiful countryside where we were.  I have more pictures I’ll try to post soon.  My favorite way to travel is on the back roads looking for bits of beauty. Isn’t Mrs. Cow lovely, with her babe?

All About The Love (for Rocky)

Love is

It seems to be the season of Love. Christmas was barely over before stores started peddling their wares. Reminding us that we need to shower the one we love with goodies that show them just how much they are loved.

Maybe it’s just me, but I want to be showered with love every day. And by showered I don’t mean Candy, flowers and cards. Although, those are nice and I’m not going to refuse a gift on any day of the year if my love wants to shower me with treats.

I’m all for that of course, but love is so much more than a date on a calendar that reminds us to tell people we love them. Love should be an everyday occurrence. It should be told in all the ways we interact with the one’s we love.

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I feel so blessed to have that kind of Love.  A love that is constant day in and day out.  A love that is not fickle or conditional.  A love that was given to me over thirty years ago with a promise that it was forever.  My love has fulfilled that promise beyond what I could have dreamed.

I am blessed to be living a daily love, so in honor of my husband, who has loved me so faithfully, I wanted to share these words with you.  I wanted to publicly declare that I am so thankful to be loved so well.

Happy Valentines Day, Babe!

In case you need more convincing of just how great this man is and how much I love him, I have posted some links below to other posts in which I’ve written about how wonderful he is.

Prompted By Worship,      This Man,      Love Speaks In Everyday Moments,     A Sweet Curious Moment

Thanks for indulging my mushy side for a few moments.  It is, after all, Valentines Day weekend.

Loving in Grace,

Teresa

Prompted By Worship

Yesterday my husband led a congregation from his hometown in Worship.  I was privileged to be a part of that service.  Because it was truly beautiful worship. We were welcomed with such love and kindness.  Peace was felt within those walls.  Heaven came down and the chords that rolled off those ivories was simply stunning.

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Rocky will be the first to tell you that the music belongs to God.  It is a gift and he has always known this truth.  He has studied, taken lessons and practiced more hours than we would ever be able to count and it shows.  Clearly, it shows, but it is only because God has given the tools and provided the means for him to be good at what he does.

Last year he fulfilled a lifelong dream and graduated with his DMA in piano performance, and although he has the honor of having Doctor in front of his name now, it’s not a title he flaunts.  I will however, tell you about it because I am proud of him, but not just because he received his DMA.

I am proud of him because he is one of the most Christ-like people I know.  He is humble and kind to others.  He shares his gift from the heart.  He shared with me that as a young man, even before he became a Christian, he knew he wanted to use his music for God.  And he does.  He has used his music to minister to others in many churches, nursing homes and senior centers as well as weddings and funerals.  He has used his skill to teach others.

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When he plays it is like getting a glimpse into heaven.  I’ve seen how God uses his music to touch the lives of others. I’ve seen people moved to tears when he plays. I’ve seen faces light up when they hear a favorite song.  I’ve watched as families look to each other and nod their heads when a certain song is played. I’ve seen the comfort his music has brought to those suffering.  I’ve felt the presence of God move through a room full of people with such sweetness that you just wanted the doors of heaven to open.

I’ve also seen the generosity of others in supporting his ministry and it is truly humbling to know that they believe in what he is doing.  They recognize that he simply plays and allows God to have the glory.  Yesterday, after playing with such passion and beauty, he ended the time of worship with My Tribute.  As I listened to his fingers play the notes with such feeling, the words of the song, written by Andrae Crouch, came to mind and I couldn’t help but think what a fitting song to end with, because I know that Rocky knows that all the glory belongs to God.

The glory of God was evident in yesterday’s worship.  Many people mentioned it on the way out the door and over lunch.  For me, to sit in such a sweet space and to witness such beauty in worship and to see how God was using my husband to minister to us, was truly a wonderful awe-inspiring experience.

It reminded me, once again, of my sense of place in the world and how God is the author of where that place is.  Yesterday, it was in a church in a small town being ministered to by my husband and being reminded that it is all because of the blood of Jesus.  Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus. (click the link to hear him play)

Staring out over Cave Run Lake Sunday afternoon after the concert.
Staring out over Cave Run Lake Sunday afternoon after the concert.

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 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11

Worshiping in Grace,

Teresa

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