Appointed Turning Points

transitions

Appointed Turning Points

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Ann Grace. Ann sent this to me after she read my June editor’s note, and it was such a blessing to me in my time of transitions! Thank you!]

These days, transitions surround me. Currently, I look at my eldest daughter as she travels through this passage into women-hood. She’s 12 and a half and is getting a hunch that Aunt Flow is about to visit her. She’s a bit nervous about the unknown and continues to earnestly ask the Lord to keep it away for another 3 more years. lol. I totally understand her desire to postpone the dreaded bleeding fest, but at the same time, I want her to be proud of becoming a young woman. But then again, is this really something to look forward to? Is it ok to be scared and ask the Lord to withhold this growth in life?

I personally dread unwanted transitions in life.
But without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I read this scripture the other day and was quickly reminded to not look at my past as a place I want to stay in no matter how easy it was or looked. Yes, transitions are hard and sometimes scary, but the Lord can use our failures and fortunes in life to grow us.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
an advantage to those who see the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 7:8-11 ESV

A few years ago, I was forced to figure out how to function joyfully without a husband, father and spiritual leader of our home. I was thrown into multiple roles I never even planned for! I had to decide whether the Lord was true in His promises. Would He truly be a Father to the fatherless and a husband to this young widow like He said? Many sleepless nights drenched in tears brought me to a place of surrounding my wish to live the way it “use to be.” I had to accept this unwanted change no matter how much I wanted to rewind to my mediocre past. After finally getting the hang of being a widow and raising five young kids, the Lord changed everything on me again.

The Lord would bring me a handsome, God-fearing Air Force officer who would swoop me off my feet and become my second husband. What a whirlwind of change awaited us. New military orders were given and the purging began. This included selling two houses, one car, buying another, moving to a new state, getting pregnant, having an unexpected stillbirth and now expecting a new bundle of joy in a few short months! We are exhausted from the sudden changes in life and desperately want to be left alone.
But the Lord, in His mercy, was and continues to break us. Breaking me from my selfishness and pride. He wants my heart to change. To grow. To rely on Him once more. And that means Him showing me my character. My failures. Me. I need to be reduced in my pain in order to continue to be blessed. I need His strength to shine through my weakness.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

I am slowly learning these days that I can’t just sit back and expect my heart to change overnight. I must work at it. For me, this takes actions that include going to Godly couple’s discipleship and seeking the Lord daily with prayer and reading His Word. It’s been tough to see my fault and failures in life, but it is forcing me to surrender my pride. I am constantly being humbled as I realize the need to apologize daily for the ugliness my heart still has.

I know my heart will never truly be completed and pure until I reach Glory, but in that changeover from this earth to heaven, I take heart knowing that the Lord will walk these hard roads of transitions in life with me making everything beautiful in His time.

I am not a blogger, professional writer, photographer or foodie. I’m simply a mother of five (soon to be six) who has walked a road of grief after losing a husband and baby. I continue to encounter a Lord who is faithful. My desire is for others to know Him like I do and let Him be glorified in all I do say and do.

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Drifting Perfection

drifting perfecction

[This is a guest story by contributor Ann Grace. Ann’s post last month was “Longing for Loneliness” and this post gives more insight into Ann’s spiritual journey after the death of her first husband.]

Drifting Perfection

This week has been filled with tears, laughter and exhaustion. It’s been 4 years to the month that my late husband, Shane, and I took our children to Colorado on a ski trip. For years I wanted to go again, but the fears of traveling alone after my husband died, kept me from ever embarking on this adventure.

Traveling with 5 children is A LOT.

Not to mention going back to the same place that we went with Shane. Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Sigh. To think of the emotional journey alone was just overwhelming!

But we finally did it! After 3 days on the road, the kids and I arrived in Colorado safe and tired. Well, take that back… I’m was tired.  Kids seem to have regained a massive amount of energy and were ready to play in the snow! Haha.

At first, I just figured that the kids could go outside and play with each other as I rested on the couch.  But then, reality hit me.  I realized that they don’t have their father to play with them anymore.

They needed me. Tired and worn out Mom.

So with a quiet prayer asking for some strength from the Lord, I picked myself up and we headed to the snow covered hills to sled and have a great snowball fight! It was SO much FUN!!! It’s been years since I’ve just been able to act like a “kid” with my kids.  For years, it was Shane who was the “fun” one while I took the  “Martha role” of our family.

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ ” Luke 10:38-40 ESV

Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe that my role as a wife and mother was to be that “Proverbs 31 wife/mom” for my family but NOT in the way I believed of having to be “PERFECT“.

I forgot the high calling of just being “MOM” and enjoying my babies.

Did that mean sometimes sacrificing the dishes being washed or the house NOT being spotless?

YEP! But in my quest for perfection, I just couldn’t let “playtime” with the kids interfere with my plans. And now…

Everything in my old world has faded away.

I was talking to a friend today over the phone and as he was telling me about church today.  Our conversation led to my desire to be “perfect”.  Then, in pure love, he reminded me of Christ’s love and how I needed to let the Lord take complete control of my life.  I needed to accept His grace in my imperfections and believe that I am NOT a failure because the kids have mismatching socks! I needed to enjoy life to the fullest! I spend so much time trying to be a “perfect” mom, that I miss out on playing with my kids.

The idea of being a “perfect wife/mother” has now vanished.

Drifted away.

The Lord just wants the imperfect me! He wants me to be “a Mary” and just sit at HIS feet and bask in HIS grace. The desire to control my world was just keeping me in bondage. I want to rest in Jesus’ arms as tears flood my eyes every-time I feel my life is out of control.

This vacation was our new journey of healing and restoration. It’s exactly where the Lord wanted our family to be.

Broken and Imperfect.

“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’ ”  Luke 10:41-42 ESV

Lord, As perfection drifts away, may I find Your love and grace in my life until the day You take me home and make me PERFECT.

ann graceAnn Grace married her first husband, a Marine and Firefighter in 2002 and they were blessed with five beautiful children. She was widowed in 2015 and re-married in 2017. She had a stillbirth in 2017 and now seeks to share her passion of how Christ rescued her with other grieving women and children.

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Breakthrough

Divas, I couldn’t not share this with you.

This is kind of a #littledivathings post.

I’ve been struggling with my husband’s deployments (yes, he’s been away from us again!) and at night, I’ve been watching Oprah’s OWN Youtube Channel. It’s really inspirational and has a ton of content.

I’ve been doing a lot of running to God, a lot of praying, a lot of listening for the Holy Spirit’s whispers. And there’s been a lot of people in real life that have made a difference for me, too — a breakthrough.

I’m doing better.

Some of my favorites to watch?

Pastor John Gray! Here’s a great video: Joy disarms the broken heart

Dr. Brene Brown! Joy: it’s Terrifying

Pretty much all of the SuperSoul Sunday videos have something to bring to the table!

I hope this can be an encouragement to you today 🙂

PS, there will be no new posts next week.

 

 

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My Doubtful Voice

italian beach

My Doubtful Voice

[Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Devotional Diva on Feb 02, 2016. Due to a glitch, I’m simply republishing it!]

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:6

December 21st, 2015
That doubtful voice inside my head is becoming ever stronger. What if this goes terribly? What if it’s too much? What if my husband is gone more than we expect? What if I am really homesick? What if I don’t make friends and I’m really lonely? Can I even handle this? Do I go through with it?

I remember a time not so long ago when I had these same questions running through my head. Another time when I sat up at night worrying about a big change. In fact, it was also December and January four years ago.

Four years ago, I was newly married and about to say goodbye my new husband, Brandon, for (what I thought would be) 2 months. He was about to go to Navy basic training, where communication to the outside world is extremely limited. I couldn’t imagine not seeing (and barely speaking to) him for that long. I didn’t know how I could possibly handle it.

Of course, I chose to put myself in that situation months before when I accepted his marriage proposal.
And even though I knew for a very long time that Brandon would leave in January, I became more anxious as the date drew closer. Panicked and desperate is a better description.

I begged Brandon not to go; to just forget the Navy and not enlist. At the same time, I was also asking him to throw away his dream and our newly-formed family’s future. He tried to illustrate how good the military life could be for us, but all I could think about was the impending separations (since I knew he would eventually be deployed as well).

Fear was eating me alive in the days before he left, just like it is in the days before we now move to Italy.

Our new life is so unknown to me that it essentially feels like my current life is ending and I’m a beginning a new one. We really don’t know what to expect when it comes to many aspects of our new command. I still don’t know a lot of Italian, and that worries me. I’ve never even been outside the country before. We don’t know what kind of a home we’ll have in Italy, or when any of our belongings will arrive. The scariest thing for me is that you never know what deployments will be like at a new command (or ever really, since it does kind of depend on world events).

I don’t know what my life will be like in the new year at all; I don’t have a picture of our future to play in my head, or any way to plan. It’s kind of freeing, but also terrifying.

Although many of my feelings and fears are just like the ones I had four years ago, there’s one huge difference: I’m a mother now.

For me, that makes everything a lot worse. My baby deserves the best life possible, and I don’t want anything to jeopardize that for him. I don’t want to become overwhelmed or depressed and not be able to take care of him like he deserves. I’m not going to have a lot of support out there in the beginning, and Brandon could be sailing away at any time. It’ll be just me and my little boy.

Right now I’m at the panick-y point of calling it all off – Not going to Italy with Brandon. I figure that I could keep my son in our home state and stay with family, because at least I wouldn’t be completely alone. Or I could cancel our property management deal and go back to live in our home in comfortable and familiar San Diego.

This time I’m not trying to squash Brandon’s dreams, but my own. God knows how I’ve longed to go to Europe and really experience this world. Receiving orders to Italy was my dream come true.

And there has to be a reason, doesn’t there? God doesn’t make mistakes.

What I’m grappling with right now is wondering what God really wants for me. Does He want me to make a big change myself, proactively protecting myself and my family from any hardships to come in Italy? Or to go in faith to my Promised Land of sorts and reach out to grab this opportunity?

Brandon went to bootcamp. I didn’t stop him. Due to an injury, he was there twice as long. But I still made it. Looking back on those days he was gone, I realize that I really grew as a person during them. And I know I’m certainly a stronger person because of it.

I don’t know what God wants. What I do know is that I can’t make decisions out of fear.

So I’ll pray, and I’ll trust. And whatever happens, I’ll know we’ll get through it.

January 20th, 2016

I am writing this little follow-up as I sit in my hotel room in Italy. After writing the above, I felt a lot better and stronger in my decision to go to Italy. I am homesick, but I feel I made the right decision!dd-sig

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