Memory Bouquet : Pieces Of April

Pieces of April

Published on Apr 7, 2015 (revised from my original post on Youtube)

I originally made this video for a dear friend, a free spirit of sorts, and a nature lover. I loved this song as a young teen/adult, though I was limited to mostly country in our home, there were times, when I was finally able to drive, that I would, as soon as I left the driveway, crank the music up, and it wasn’t usually country. It seems like yesterday I was driving the folks Chevy and headed down the highway…listening to this song, ‘Pieces of April’ . I am thinking a lot about family these days, my family of origin mostly, and how fast time is slipping away. So, as I look through picture albums and video’s lately, I am making ‘memory bouquets’. When I come across a video of my mama’s grin, laugh, mannerisms, or beautiful face and/ or  a video of my daddy laughing and teasing, well…sometimes the tears threaten to come to the surface; other times  I catch myself smiling or laughing…but always I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and love.

So, over the years, I’ve become a collector. A collector of memories, through pictures, video’s and more. I have a Memory Bouquet…full of life, love and laughter. Times of joy and laughter, times of pain and sorrow…but through it all  a wonderful ‘bouquet’ of memories. I’ve learned through the years how, to pray, to forgive, to push forward, to endure, to love, to sing, to overcome, to speak my mind, to break through intimidation and fear and to fight for what I believe in. I’ve learned to laugh through the pain, I’ve wept in times of joy,  praised God in the storm, stood on His Word, and sat at His feet in worship and surrender. God is constantly working in my heart…pruning, watering, breaking up the shallow ground, and shining His light in the dark places. I am ever so grateful He knows how to love me to life, picks up the broken pieces, looks beyond my faults and sees my needs. He tends to me like a well watered garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aging Gracefully

Hi, there folks.

This is me through the years starting as a baby – high school graduation (last picture). A lot of life, love and laughter. I look at these pictures and wonder, where did the time go, and who is that ‘stranger’ looking at me in the mirror every morning and every night: Okay, okay…sometimes I look more often, but at my ‘age’, I see every line and wrinkle; perhaps against all odds, I’m hoping  that the latest ‘anti-wrinkle’ cream I am using is REALLY going to produce a miracle like it says it does. So far, no such luck. Nope. Not til Jesus comes to take me home will I be without ‘spot’ or ‘wrinkle’, says so right there in the Bible. 😉 Well, maybe I’ve taken it out of context…but sometimes if I don’t laugh, I think I might cry, and believe me, after the cataracts came out a couple of years ago, I came close. One day I thought I was looking  pretty good for my age, and the next day ‘bam’, right between the eyes…, I mean right between my eyes, those little crinkly lines, not to mention every crevice and spot on my face suddenly became much clearer! Of course, the up side was seeing colors and everything  more vibrant and alive…who knew that the ‘orange’ facial scrubber I was using, was actually ‘hot pink’, and the shirt I thought was orange was a ‘hot pink’. Thinking how many times I thought I was wearing black with matching black shoes, to find out one was black, the other blue?

Let’s be real here! In a few days I’m going to turn 64 years old. I’m trying to embrace who I am NOW, not yesterday, bite the bullet (we really don’t have a choice), continue to laugh, love and live. The Bible says there’s enough trouble today, so don’t worry about tomorrow (paraphrased), He’s going to be there for all my tomorrows as He was for all my yesterdays, and today! I think it is wise to plan for the future, but it’s never wise to worry (and this is something I have to lay at the feet of Jesus daily…some days I win, others I really struggle).

Forgive me for rambling just a little bit today (you know us ‘old’ folk do that from time to time, eh)? I got to looking at some of these old photos today of myself through different stages of my young life. I started out pretty cute; chubby and wrinkly…and I was thinking to myself, how ironic that I’m probably gonna end up that way too, yeah…chubby and wrinkly, though if someone calls you ‘cute’ when you get older, it’s usually more about your ‘behavior’, or some quirky habit you’ve picked up unknowingly as you’ve aged . Not too long ago I read a police report about an ‘elderly’ woman, 63 or 64 years old, whose car was rammed into by a desperado who was driving a stolen car. I thought to myself, “Elderly?”  What were they ‘talking about?’ I was 63, and that sounded so foreign to my ears! Never would I consider myself or call myself ‘elderly!’ I cringed at the mere thought of being called  elderly at the ‘young age of 63.’   NO WAY was I going to accept what the dictionary (and some of our society) labels ‘elderly!’

eld·er·ly
ˈeldərlē/
adjective
  1. (of a person) old or aging.
    “she was elderly and silver-haired”
    Synonyms:
    aged,
    old,
    advanced in years,
    aging,
    long in the tooth,
    past one’s prime;
    gray-haired,grizzled,
          hoary; in one’s dotage, decrepit, doddering, doddery, senescent;
          getting on,
          past it,
          over the hill,
          no spring chicken
         old people,
         the aged,
         senior citizens;
         geriatrics,
         seniors;
         retired people,
         retirees,
         golden agers;
         oldsters,
         geezers
 ∼

Hmm, Some of these descriptions I can accept, but long in the tooth? Getting on? geezer? decrepit, doddering? I think NOT! Doesn’t sound like me at all, nor most of my ‘elderly’ friends! Not yet anyway, and when that time comes, and I do see it coming, I’ll let you know, or as my sister once said to me, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you!’ 😀  In the meantime, I’m going to dance the dance of life, and celebrate everyday as a gift from God. As His Word says…I will rise up as an eagle, and my youth will be renewed as I wait on the Lord.

In all seriousness, though, aging gracefully is a struggle for many in our youth oriented culture, and has been for me too at times, especially when you feel ‘young’ but the ‘number’ keeps creeping upwards. Inevitably, we all age but one of the most beautiful of women I’ve ever known was my mother…she was graceful, her smile, the way she moved, gentle. She was always there for my siblings and I, and knew when to call and when to come. This is true ageless beauty; to love others and have a giving heart.   God’s word says it best in 1 Peter 3: 3-4:

 3 Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights.

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You Are So Beautiful To Me

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The wrinkles on a time-worn face
Can be symbols of God’s grace,
If through our laughter and our tears
His love has freed us from our fears. —D. De Haan

“Even to your old age, . . . and even to gray hairs I will carry you!” (Isaiah 46:4).

Yes, we can be assured that God will always be with us through every season. My advice: Love Deeply, Forgive Quickly, Laugh Loudly, Be Thankful. In our lives things are constantly changing, but we can be assured that our God NEVER changes and that His love for us is not dependent on our performance, nor what we look like on the outside, or even the crud on the inside. He just loves us. God used this song, ‘I Am’, along with the picture of mama touching my heart gently, to reassure me when I was in the throes of grief, that He is always with me. He is the one constant in life. The words to this song say it all.

I Am

 

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast,
But I will stay
The same through the past,
The same in future, same today

CHORUS:
I am constant; I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy; I am wise
I’m the only one who knows your heart’s desires
Your heart’s desires

Oh weary, tired and worn,
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cause Mine is light

I know you through and through;
There’s no need to hide
I want to show you love
That is deep and high and wide

CHORUS(2x)

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest

Humility

Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”
― Andrew Murray

 

Having Done All… Stand

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I AM STANDING

I HAVE THE VICTORY 

NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST ME SHALL PROSPER

I AM AN OVERCOMER

I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME

I WILL LIVE AND NOT DIE

I WILL PROCLAIM THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD

I WILL NOT BE MOVED BY WHAT I SEE IN THE NATURAL

I WILL STAND UPON HIS WORD: THE SWORD OF TRUTH

I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD

FOR HE HAS HEARD MY CRY

AND HE HAS DELIVERED ME

Ephesians 6: 10-18 (AMP)

10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].

11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.

16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.

18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

It Is Well/ You Make Me Brave

There are times when a song will go to the depths of my heart and touches my spirit in a very profound way.  It draws me into His Presence.

 

“It Is Well”

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regardThrough it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see

And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name [repeat last line during 3rd run]
[x3]

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
[repeat 3x]

It is well it is well with my soul [x3]
ahhhhhhh (softly)

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You Lord
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me.

When The Struggle is Real

I haven’t blogged for a few days as it’s been a real struggle, not because of a brain freeze, or lack of oxygen (low blood sugar), or writers block …but mostly because of health issues stemming from Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes. I am on an insulin pump, and was actually one of the first 700 people at the time to get hooked up. The pump was huge compared to what I share in the video below (see the picture at the left of your screen, that’s me in the blue, and that SONY DSCblack thing on my side is my first pump). It was so big, people asked me if it was a pager (that’s a big pager), or some kind of radio. You can see in the video below, how much smaller the pump has become. I was thrilled as the size of the pumps began to decrease in size and the technology became more and more fine tuned.

I was probably about 28 or 29 years old when I first started on the pump; our eldest was about two years old (pictured on my husbands shoulders). Our first baby, born 8 lbs 4oz, was stillborn, which had left me wondering if I would ever be able to have a healthy child . In the video below, after sharing some humorous  idiosyncrasies about myself, I shared a bit about that time of loss in our lives. I had not expected to feel the emotional wave that hit me as I recalled the day of delivery. We had known for a week that our precious baby was gone before the scheduled delivery date at the hospital.  Needless to say, it was an extremely sorrowful time. Thank God, we did not give up, and we were finally blessed with two boys, albeit 7 years apart. I am ever so grateful to be a mom (for the most part, “she said with a wink and a smile”). 😉  Motherhood hasn’t always been easy or a ‘breeze,’ especially as they entered the teen years and beyond, but that’s another story or two, for another time. 🙂 Just being real here. Would I do it all again? 100 times over, “YES!”

So, back to why I haven’t blogged, and my own personal struggle…having used insulin pump therapy for about 30+ years, and having wonderful results, I now find myself plagued with all kinds of issues that I never really had before: Extreme highs, and extreme lows.  It started a few months ago, and my overall A1c (blood glucose average over a 3 month period) was hanging around 7.0, which is relatively good. I can’t even imagine what it is now after all I’ve been through these last months. I have never had to call the ambulance except once in all my 50+ years of being a diabetic, but at the end of last December my sugars dropped to 21, and knowing if it drops to 0 you are comatose, your out for the count, no longer here. I could feel myself blacking out, and as I looked up at the nice paramedic, I kept saying over and over…” Please don’t let me die.” He assured me I was going to be fine, but in the back of my mind I thought, he has to say that even if he doesn’t mean it. I have never felt so out of control and vulnerable.  I ended up in the hospital the next day for about three days. From that point on I’ve had trouble stabilizing my blood sugars. In January it happened again, and I ended up in the hospital as my blood sugars kept plummeting no matter how much sugar I had taken by mouth or how much glucose they stuck in my veins. Talk about a ‘sugar rush!’ Since that time, the blood sugars have been extremely high. Last night, my blood sugars reached 490, and target rate for my sugars, being I’m diabetic, are between 100 and 150.  Rarely has my blood sugar been lower than the 200’s since my last hospital visit. Long term health issues can result from poorly controlled blood sugars. I’m eating what I should eat, I’m testing several times a day, and still sugars are climbing,  though they tend to drop some during the evening. Night time is one of my biggest concerns if and when my sugars happen to drop while I’m asleep; this is what had happened the first time I called the ambulance. I can tell you from experience, fear can come in from such traumatic episodes, and it can rob you of your joy and peace in a very subtle way. That’s where I found myself lately…

This week I was so overwhelmed that I told my husband I would not be going to Mid week services at church. I knew what I had to do, I had to go to our room, close the door, put on worship music and cry out to God. I sat there with my head back and I sobbed all my frustration and grief out to the Lord. One of my friends had told me that she had felt God saying to me, let go, free fall, let God carry me through this time and just trust Him.

As, I sat in my room that night, A song by Bethel Worship, began to play called ‘It is Well With My Soul.’  As I listened, I continued to weep and pray. I told God, “I can’t do this by myself anymore”. I hadn’t even realized until that point, that I was carrying the weight of so many losses and unmet expectations from the last several years. All I could muster was, “Help me Lord, I Need You.”  I felt this ball of grief and sorrow come up out of my heart that I know had been stuck there for a long time. God began to bring to my mind those things that I had been holding onto; grief over my mother who had passed away two years ago, losses and unmet expectations, wounds that were still like arrows in my heart, concerns about my grown children and grandchildren, and so forth and so on. When the tears subsided a bit, I grabbed my ‘Passion Translation’, of the Psalms. I felt led to begin a prayer journal with at least one Psalm a day, where I can just pour out my heart to God. I am more than hopeful for what lies ahead. I already feel a sense of release from the burden of what I was carrying, but I know that it is one step at a time, one day at a time. I’m learning to ‘free fall’ into His loving arms; He will always and HAS always been there to catch me.

 

God has always used humor to help me through many difficult times. Learning to laugh at myself, to be transparent and real is a must for me.

I’ll Be Loving You

Below is a video, one of my first attempts at editing, along with the caption that is below the video on Youtube.  My husband, Lee, and I will have been married 41 years on August 7th, 2017. I am in disbelief at times how fast the years have flown by. There are times, of course, we struggled and still do, truth be told, but commitment to one another and to God is the key to lasting relationships. I honestly cannot imagine my life without the love of my life.  Have there been times I wanted to throw in the towel, oh, yeah, but God would remind me, after I would complain to Him, that if I wanted peace in my life, that I needed to forgive and to bless.

One thing I have learned and experienced concerning love over the years, whether it is in a marriage or with other relationships ; true love is God centered, it is based on ‘action’ and not on pure emotion. It’s always a choice to love, especially when others have wounded us deeply. It’s not easy.

The pictures of family and friends captured in this video below, only tell a partial picture. In spite of the seemingly carefree and loving environment depicted here; it was not always so, though there were undoubtedly good times where we laughed and loved, there are also countless untold memories of heartache, disappointment, and hopelessness (not just for me, but for all involved at various times).  As I watch this video again, my heart is overwhelmed with gratefulness for God’s Presence in my life. He promised to never leave us, nor forsake us.  I am also very grateful that a loving God sees past our human frailty, sinful nature and our faults (our imperfections) and has made a way for us to experience His forgiveness, love and peace through His son Jesus.

 

 

“Through the Good Times and the Bad Times, God is Always Faithful. As Christians, we cannot really learn to love until we’ve learned to forgive others, ourselves and even God. I have had to repent many times for not walking in love and forgiveness. There is NO LOVE like the love of our Savior, Jesus…and He is calling us, as Christians, to take the high road as the scripture says below, to lay our lives down for Him, and that means to let go of all bitterness and hurt and let God come in and heal our hearts. He is calling the sinner to come and rest and experience the Greatest Love of all time, Jesus, the Lover of our Soul. There are too many broken hearts. I do not regret the storms of life…for in them God has shaped and molded me and I desire above all else to have a pure heart and follow His ways, not because I have too, but because I Love Jesus. This is dedicated to my wonderful husband who is the love of my life, and a special thank you to my friend Sean who made it possible for me to learn to make video’s…and especially to my Father in heaven, and my VERY best friend Jesus, the Lover of My Soul.

Joh 15:9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 
Joh 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 
Joh 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 
Joh 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 
Joh 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 
Joh 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you. 

Special thank you to Dave Gregoire, Jenni Springer and LadyJane Fontaine for the use of some of the pictures…I appreciate it..”

The Lighthouse

A few years ago, I started learning to edit video’s (by no means am I an expert but a few were special to me). I will feature some in my blogs. This was made during my trial and error time, so others could have done better, as I said, I am no expert, but this particular video spoke volumes to my heart and spirit.

The video features Kimberly and Roberto Rivera : a song called ‘Amore’. They are singing in the spirit. I found this clip when I went looking for sea animals (dolphins, whales), while desiring to do another video for a friend. This came to me as I was searching and I knew I had to attempt to do a video with this song about Jesus, the Lighthouse. There have been times in my life, where the waves of despair and sorrow have threatened to overtake me, to leave me in a state of hopelessness: no light in sight, sinking, desperately clinging to God’s Word and His Promises .  During these seasons, where my faith was being tested, it was as if I was standing on a quagmire of  shifting sand, flailing at times, trying to stay above the water as not to drown. Had it not been for the mercy and grace of my Abba Father, the loving support of family and friends, and my faith in the Lover of My Soul,  Jesus, I would surely have succumbed to the darkness I felt swirling about me.

It has always been JESUS  I clung too that finally led me to safe harbor even in the midst of the storm; He has done this time and time again in my life. There will be smooth sailing for awhile, and then another storm will arise, such is life. Thank God there is Joy in the journey, and it’s not dependent on our circumstances! There are many scriptures in the Bible telling us of how Jesus is the Savior…the Light of the World. What a tragedy if the ships ignore the lighthouse or cannot see the light…and crash upon the rocks and lives perish. King Jesus is the One that will guide us to safety and will lead us to heaven. He and ONLY He is the Light of the World, and when we are going through the ‘storms’ of life…He has promised to be with us, to guide us and keep us safe.

 

The LightHouse

 

Peace

Do you have peace? Do you ever wonder if true peace is even attainable? When I was a young teenager and a new Christian, I once said to my father, that we can have perfect peace. He just looked at me and said, “Perfect Peace,’ is not possible. Young and inexperienced, I felt a little deflated, and perhaps a little intimidated. Understand, daddy wasn’t much of a church goer at the time even though he had grown up in a strict Baptist household, his daddy being a preacher. I think he was skeptical and a bit disillusioned with the church overall from his own personal experiences. Walking away from my father that day, my heart sank, a feeling of hopelessness tried to overwhelm me. I NEEDED to believe that God would give me peace, and lift the oppression and depression that had settled on me a few years earlier when I was diagnosed with Juvenile (type 1) diabetes at the age of about 12 years.

Leading up to the diagnoses, I had all the tell tale signs of having diabetes. I drank lots of water and my thirst was NEVER quenched, I lost weight, dark circles under my eyes, and overall moodiness. I remember clutching my daddy’s side, probably leaving a bruise, as we went to the lab to have blood drawn. Little did I know needles, labs, Iv’s, hospitals, and doctors would become a way of life for me. Laying in the hospital bed that first night, my mom and dad and other family members staring at me, with mournful looking faces, I was hardly able to acknowledge them. The doctor said I was lucky to be alive. They shoved books into my face that talked about losing limbs, shorter life expectancy, blindness and finally at one point I just shut down. Fear gripped my heart and my life: fear of dying, fear of losing a limb, fear of going blind, fear of not being able to have children, fear of needles etc. etc. etc. The carefree days of childhood were essentially over and the stark reality was more than I could bear at times. It took years for me to walk in the freedom and peace that I walk in now. I haven’t totally arrived, but I thank God this was not and is not the end of my story…

At that time, though, the depression was getting worse, and I remember crying at the back of my maternal grandmothers house, unable to describe the unbearable pain that was in embedded deep in the hollows of my heart.  The tears were unstoppable. She took notice but did not press me, and even if she had, I would not have known how to answer.  I am certain, that once I had left for home, she got down on her knees and cried out to God on my behalf. How grateful I am to this day for those powerful prayers. A few years later, at the age of 16 years old, lonely, feeling isolated, angry and miserable, I came to know, through a dear cousin, the Prince of Peace, Jesus. She took me to a meeting in Redding, California, and for the first time in my life, I had a supernatural encounter, face to face, with Jesus. I felt His Presence physically and emotionally that day.  My spirit came alive! Joy came into my life, and I began to experience the Peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). I began to understand through the ensuing years, true peace was and is always about trusting in Jesus, through the good times and the bad times. My peace came by looking full into His face: staying focused or centered on Him, by talking to Him (prayer), listening to Him (quiet contemplation), reading His Word,  being obedient to His Word, and through praise and worship. Philippians 4:7 says it best: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3…”You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You.”  (The Voice) Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc.

I decided many years ago, after our first child was stillborn (8lbs 4oz) due to diabetic complications, that when trials or tribulation came, I would ‘run’ to Him not ‘away’ from Him. I would choose to look to Him, to worship Him regardless of my brokenness. To surrender to His Love and Mercy. There is Peace in knowing Jesus, as John 14:27 says…27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
As I sat and listened to this video today (as I have many, many times over the years), I felt such a peace come over me. There are so many looking for peace today, for many it’s a false peace, some kind of Utopia, or perfect world. We will NEVER achieve that here on this earth, but as the darkness begins to get darker, we can be assured, as believers, if we KEEP our eyes on Jesus, He will never leave us nor forsake us, and we WILL walk in supernatural peace that the world knows not of. Much love and prayers…Karen