Dear Guilt, Leave Me Alone!

Today’s writing prompt from Holley is: What would you say to Guilt?

Dear Guilt,

I’m writing this letter because I feel like I need to clear the air. I will admit, I don’t like you very much. You take up space in my head, and weigh heavy on my heart. You continually make me think of the “could have’s and the should have’s”. Many times you overwhelm me. You make me feel like I am choking, as I sputter out words to cover you up, clean you up, or stuff you away some place. You get on my nerves! On occasion I will think certain things or feel certain ways, and you show up uninvited, making me feel, well…..guilty! Why won’t you leave me alone?!

Sincerely, Me

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT (I know, by myself, I could never meet God’s perfect and holy standard. I will always fall short. Even though the world would consider me “a good person”, I know in my heart that I am not. I am not good, apart from Jesus Christ and His gift of redemption.)

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NLT (I was guilty in my sin, and didn’t even know it, or care, for that matter. I didn’t deserve God’s grace, but He gave it just the same, because of His wonderful love.)

God’s amazing grace breaks the chains of guilt, fear, and hopelessness. His grace allows the guilty to be set free.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT  

He Gave Me A Firm Place To Stand

It is a beautiful, sunny, late spring day. The sky is bright blue, with just a few white, puffy clouds. The grass has been freshly mowed, and the newly potted flowers are hanging on shepherds hooks near the deck. It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It might be the calm before the storm, as we have the possibility for severe weather this evening.

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Isn’t that just like life? Going through life, everything is flowing smoothly, and all is well. Then it happens. It could be anything, just not what is expected. Sometimes it can mean a bumpy ride, choppy waves, or hanging on for dear life.

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“Father, help me to keep my focus on You. When the weather of life is good, I thank you. When life is hard, I thank you, not because I particularly enjoy the difficult things of life, but because I know that You are still there. You don’t leave me alone in the mess. You pull me out and see me through.”
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2 

It Is An Ongoing Process

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I try hard to lead a balanced life.

I am learning it is okay to say “no” to things.

I am trying to simplify, so I can focus on the important.

It is an ongoing process, in my day to day life.

On some days I struggle with it more than others.

The earth at times seems to lean heavy on the hard things. The scary things, the painful. I wish it wasn’t this way. Yesterday, I found out a sweet young friend is struggling quietly with chronic health issues that I knew nothing about, another friend, who is now a grandma, waited last night for her grandson to be born, watching her daughter tense with pain from a 30+ hour labor. Yet, another teacher friend, told of her student who had special needs, that had passed away……and the earth continues to spin, making me dizzy with it all.

While taking a shower the tears flow, mixed with hot spray, both are washed down the drain. Cleansing the body, washing the soul. There is, all too often, much to cry about…..but, I cannot stay at this place.

For all the hard edges of this world, all the diagnoses, the pain, the sorrow, the scary nights, the close calls, and the misunderstandings…..there is still so much more to be thankful for. Being able to see the light in the darkness is a true gift. I consider it a wonderful opportunity to be able to offer thanks.

There are moments when I feel as if time is suspended and I am standing in slow motion, being allowed the privilege to truly see…to live this one life with my eyes wide open to all there is instead of all there isn’t.

The kind of life I will live, has much to do with where I keep my focus.

I am thankful for: 

*pulling the curtains back on a glorious pink and purple morning

*the soft padding of my footsteps as I let the dog out for his morning walk

*the rooster who crows a good morning, telling the world it is time to get up

*emails from friends with good news

*a chill in the air, even in late May

*getting my car back from the garage, driving down Main Street

*rabbits that run across the road ahead of me

*a new cria (baby llama)

*a kiss on the forehead before leaving for work, from my 20 year old son

*a daughter who is graduating in two days

*a husband that I love, and loves me back

*fence posts and wide open fields

*blue expanse of sky that kisses the horizon

*bright red barns with horses grazing

*freshly planted fields that will soon be sprouting

*lovely birthday cards and gifts, and a treat that arrived from Amazon

*phone call with my mom and sister….hearts touch over the miles

*looking forward to a family wedding in June

*Thank you, God. You are the giver of daily gifts. Some big. Some small. All valuable.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 

Birthdays & Celebrations and Life & Death

The month of May is busy at my house. That is busy with a capital “B”. There are several family members with May birthdays, including my own. Then there is Mother’s Day, a daughter’s high school graduation (and subsequent party) and finally, Memorial Day which kicks off the summer months. Shew! I am tired already, and I’m only half way through the month.

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned forty-seven. It is not a “big” birthday, but I always become contemplative, nonetheless. The years have come and gone, and I like to believe during that time, I’ve learned the important things. Quite often I am reminded of how much my life has changed. I asked my husband the other day as we were driving home from town, “Can you believe that we live here, in rural Ohio? Who knew that we would ever end up here.” Anyone that follows my blog, or checks me out on Pinterest or Instagram, knows from my photos that I love my life in the country. I am grateful to God for all the ways that He has chosen to bless me.

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My son’s birthday is tomorrow. He is slipping out of the teen years and into the twenty-somethings. I find myself looking at him, recalling his growing up years. My heart carries a collage of memories. He has changed a lot since May of ’95, and so have I. I am proud of the young man that he has become. Life hasn’t always been easy, but God is always so good. You can read some our story herehere, and here.

Most people know that I am an avid animal lover. My husband teases me with the unofficial title of “Dr. Doolittle”. She walks with the animals and talks with the animals….. I admit, I do talk to the animals that call our piece of country, home. They talk back too, just not with words. When I married Scott on a winter evening in January of 2006, I gained a new family to blend with my own. Not only did I gain a new husband, and children, but several new pets. Joe is a black and white domestic short haired cat. He is now 16 or 17 years old. A few months ago we noticed his face and leg were swollen. After a trip to the vet, we were given the news that Joe probably has cancer. At the time, Joe still had a lot of spunk, but as time has worn on, it has spread and he is tired from this hard journey. It will not be long, and we will be forced to say goodbye. In the midst of our May celebrations of life, we will begrudgingly have to say hello to death. I hate it. Dealing with death never gets easier. Yes, I know that Joe is a cat, he is not human…but, he is loved and will be deeply missed.

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I guess with all my birthday contemplation, and this craziness I call May, I am reminded this month, for me, is a reflection of life as a whole. Life and beauty and celebration. Good memories with family and friends, mixed in with the hard stuff. The painful stuff, that wedges itself into our days. I will be the first one to tell you, that I get that. I really do. Life isn’t perfect, not even most of the time…..but, it is good.

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Life Happening

The morning breeze billowed the curtains back from the windows, allowing sunlight to puddle on the floor. The lawn mower growled in the front yard, dispensing the smell of fresh cut grass through the open windows. The washing machine chugged as it cleaned the bed linens. A beautiful Saturday. An ordinary Saturday. Life happening on this Saturday in May.

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Slow Down

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Sometimes I read something, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is speaking to me. Today’s “Jesus Calling” devotion by Sarah Young said, “Do not search for security in the world you inhabit. You tend to make mental checklists of things you need to do in order to gain control of your life. If only you could check everything off your list, you could relax and be at peace. But the more you work to accomplish that goal, the more things crop up on your list.”

Ouch, that hits me where I live. I am the mental checklist queen, the to do list diva. Yep. That is me.

Just last night I was thinking about how busy the month of May is, and how am I going to get everything done? I had to remind myself that life is so much more than the list of things to do, because let’s face it, there will always be stuff to get done. I shouldn’t allow it to control me, or rob me of peace.

Life is not an urgent emergency.

Slow down, enjoy the moments, appreciate the view.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt. 11:28 &29