Blog-iversary

As a writer, of sorts, it’s probably not appropriate to make up silly words like I just did for this title.  But, it popped into my head, so there you go!

This week marked the one-year anniversary of my first blog post on this site.  As with the commemoration of so many key dates, we often are torn between how quickly the time goes, on one hand, and how it has painfully crawled along on the other.

I have some of those same emotions over this date.  In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago when I clearly felt God directing me to work through this deep sorrow by writing about it.  And yet, I’m surprised by the realization that a year has passed.

I just reread the original post and it brought back many of the feelings I had then – excitement, but a bit of trepidation stepping into a world I knew very little about.  Blogging OR widowhood!

While wedding anniversaries are a time of reminiscing over all that a couple has shared together, so this anniversary will be one where I reminisce about all that has transpired from a ministry perspective.

The timing is appropriate because just a few days ago, I gave my newly “retooled” videotaped presentation to a group of friends at my church.  It felt like a new beginning – and one clearly led by God.

Maybe more than anything this past year, that’s what I take away from this.  Even though I’ve been a believer since I was 14-years-old, I have never so clearly seen God open up doors, drop people into my life when I most needed their expertise AND their kindnesses, and time after time give me words to express ideas and concepts that seemed to land in my mind out of “nowhere.”

It’s an incredible, humbling experience to be used by the Almighty God!  And I’m so grateful that He can take this pain of widowhood and use it to help others learn how to bless their hurting friends.  It is so like God to not waste an ounce of our pain, but to use it for good in this fallen world.

I’ve written about how the second year of widowhood is so much harder than the first, and as I was living that reality and struggling with extra difficult weeks recently, I tried to develop the infamous “attitude of gratitude.”  It might be a silly, secular idea, but there is also much biblical support for embracing this. (See my closing scripture.)

So, I decided one of the best ways to escape the daily heartache of this season (widowhood AND this nasty winter!) would be to look for blessings in Every. Single. Day.  It really isn’t that hard.  Every day does have good things and one of the blessings that rose to the top of the list was this ministry.

For the first time in almost 20 years, I don’t have any (human) family members whose care is my sole responsibility.  For the first time since I started working at the Pella Super Valu in 1971, I don’t have a job to fill up my days.  This ministry is now my life’s calling – and I take it seriously!

And the purpose and joy and excitement and insights and spiritual growth it brings to my life cannot be understated.  I’m grateful beyond measure.  If you haven’t been to the ministry website, I’d love for you to visit!

For those who have prayed with me, cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me, and simply hung in there with me through this last year – THANK YOU from the bottom of this grateful heart.  YOU are a blessing that rose to the top as well.

I look forward to the year ahead, not knowing often from day to day what that looks like.  Quite a change for this Type A planner!  But a more sovereign Planner is now in charge and I yield to His vision.

So, whether you spend your days in the workplace rat race, at home with children, in school, volunteering, or occupied by any other busy-ness that the world can throw at you, I pray that you too can put your trust in that same all-powerful and all-knowing Planner!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“You’re Still the One”

Every now and then, my country music roots show up in a blog post.  Usually accompanied by some kind of apology to those of you who aren’t fans!  So, I’m sorry…again.  😊

Now many of you would probably place Shania Twain in some sort of cross-over category and that’s fine.  But back in 1997, I purchased her newly released album entitled, “Come On Over.”  And of course, I proceeded to listen to all the cuts on the album.

When I got to the song, “You’re Still the One,” I immediately thought, “THIS is OUR song!”  So, I excitedly called Dale into the kitchen and told him to listen to this because it was OUR song!  Yes, I did feel pretty strongly about that, can you tell??  Dale wasn’t quite as “over the moon” as I was, but did agree that it represented our relationship pretty well.

There were several lines in the song that especially jumped out at me.

Ain’t nothin’ better

We beat the odds together.

I’m glad we didn’t listen.

Look at what we would be missin’

They said “I bet they’ll never make it”

But just look at us holdin’ on.

We’re still together still goin’ strong.

 As you can imagine, our 20-year age difference caused many to question just how long this relationship would last.  I found out years after our wedding that one of my aunts said this to another relative ON OUR WEDDING DAY, “I’ll give it a year.”

Honestly, it just makes me chuckle now after our 31-year marriage.  And a few years into that marriage, this same aunt, who has since passed away, would often write to me and include this in her letters, “Say Hi to the noble Dale.”  So, whenever I passed the greeting along, he’d say, “That’s a good thing, right?”  Yes, honey, that’s a very good thing – especially coming from my very happily single Aunt Margaret.

So, why write about this now?  Well, for some reason this song from 20-some years ago has been getting some playing time on my country radio station over the past couple of weeks.  And it’s made its way back into my psyche a bit – with a mixture of warm fuzzies for the joy of experiencing that together, and heartache over the loss of that kind of love.

So on this Valentine’s Day, celebrating all things “love,” I’d like to once again claim this as OUR song.  Despite all that’s we’ve gone through, and all the emptiness from these past 16 months, I can still, without hesitation say to Dale, “You’re still the one.”  Thank you, God, for blessing me with a love like that.

I pray that somewhere in your life, you, too, have experienced that kind of love.  If not with a spouse, then through the love of Jesus, which is greater than anything we humans can muster up in our own strength.  Ultimately, HE, Jesus is the One.

Take a walk down memory lane, by listening to Shania here.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

I Lost My Processor!

Don’t panic!  Don’t call the Geek Squad!  It’s not my computer processor that I’ve lost.  I don’t really even have one anymore since it’s all in my laptop.

No, the processor I’m talking about is my husband.  One of the things I’m missing a lot lately is the daily “processing” of our lives together.  Most of it was pretty mundane, if I think back on it.  Just the minutiae of living life with someone for over 35 years.

We were blessed to have a relationship that allowed for discussion on pretty much any topic.  So, of course, Dale was my “go to” guy no matter what I needed to talk about.  And, when I shared something I was struggling with, his goal, like most men, was to get it fixed for me.  My goal was for him to listen to me, and maybe feel just a little sorry for me!

He was the first one I wanted to tell when something wonderful happened in my day.  And he would always celebrate and rejoice with me.

I know men say a LOT fewer words in a day than we women, but I was also Dale’s “go to” person when he wanted to share anything good or bad that was going on in his life.  It was just part of the rhythm of our lives together.

I miss that…every day.

Even when he was at the assisted living facility, I still talked to him at least twice a day on the phone, and went to see him almost every day.  Yes, the processor was losing a little of its battery, but it was still there.

I think that trying to find a new normal in my life has shined a light on this emptiness I’m currently struggling with.  Honestly, it’s extremely lonely.  Yes, I talk to my animals (like Dr. Doolittle…), but there’s not much conversation happening.

I do have friends that I process parts of my life with, sometimes on a daily basis, and I’m extremely grateful for that.  Recently, one of those friends was on an extended vacation out of the country in a very weird time zone 😊, with few opportunities to connect.  That was also a very tangible absence.

All of this caused me to take a closer look at what I should be learning through this.  I know God works through our trials, and I’ve learned to expect insights from Him any time a new heartache finds its way into my life.

I found that the lesson God was teaching me here wasn’t a new revelation.  He has tried to teach me this before!  But, how often does it take multiple knocks on our head to get our attention from God!?  I’m grateful for His patience!!

What He has shown me, once again, is that He is my All-Sufficiency.  When I’m sad or lonely or hurting or grieving, my “go to” guy should be God.

One of my favorite verses is from Philippians 4:6-7 which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

There is so much comfort in this verse, and it’s a great reminder that we can and should take everything that causes us to be anxious or hurting to the God Who knows us better than we know ourselves.  He CAN give us that famous “peace that passes all understanding.”

Yes, He does still bless us with friends and family and Church family who can lift us up during our hard times – and they are from Him – but I must remind myself that God should be where I want to run FIRST.

So, who is your processor?  If you’re married, it’s likely your spouse.  Or it might be a parent or child or best friend.  Someone in your life helps you work through the good and bad of your days.

Just a couple thoughts to ponder here.  As God is trying to teach me, do you find that you go first in prayer to Him?  Or are you processing everything through an earthly relationship?  I have been and continue to be guilty of this, too.

Do you take your processor for granted?  It’s VERY easy to do that.  I’m sure I did that for most of our married lives.  And, let’s face it, not every part of our processing is kind and unselfish and patient and…  Oh no, sometimes processing is just arguing!  So, it’s hard to always appreciate THOSE times.

But I challenge you to look at this part of your life through a lens of gratitude, knowing that someday, you too may lose your processor.

May God ALWAYS be the One you can count on!

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

No “Cookie-Cutter” Grief

I lost a good friend to cancer this past week.  Her funeral was yesterday and it’s still hard to get my head around her absence.  She died about a month after receiving the diagnosis.  Her friends and family all knew that it was terminal and she didn’t have a LOT of time.  But I think we were all shocked at how quickly it went.

I’m not only grateful for her friendship for the past 22 years, but for the sweet conversations we had over this past month.  She had lost her beloved husband unexpectedly 15 years ago.  I still remember it almost like it was yesterday.  And yet, for her, I’m sure some of those 15 years painfully dragged on.

But back to those sweet conversations.  We spent much of that time talking about what lie ahead for her.  Her greatest anticipation was to be with Jesus, in the throne room of God.  Because Heaven and Jesus are synonymous.  You can’t have one without the other.  That is my ultimate hope as well as I walk through this life.  I SO look forward to that.

Maybe because we were both widows.  Maybe because my loss is much more recent.  But we also talked A LOT about the reunion with her husband.  Oh sure, we can often think about how wonderful it will be to reunite with our believing loved ones who have gone on before us.  But I think it can often be on a very ethereal level.  Of course, we expect it to be spectacular, but we don’t always focus on the reality of it.

Even though I don’t THINK my life on this earth will end in a few weeks, I HAVE started to contemplate my reunion with Dale in real time, so to speak.  I imagine what it would be like to actually wake up in Heaven and run into his open arms.  And with the AGAPE love that we would both have?  It’s mind-blowing to imagine how incredible that will be.  That thought sustains me through many lonely days and nights.

So, with my friend’s death likely only a few weeks away, I asked her if she could even get her head around what it would be like to be reunited with her husband after all these years.  To actually see and touch and hear him again after the loneliness of widowhood.  She told me it was surreal to her.  Hard to even grasp the reality that was ahead for her.

Honestly?  I told her I was a little jealous that she would get to see Dale before I would.  I asked her to tell him how much I loved and missed him, and that I couldn’t wait for the day we would be reunited as well.

So focused was I on the immeasurable joy that was awaiting my friend, that I found my emotions around her impending death were primarily…JOYFUL!  Of course, I would miss her and I shed tears over MY loss.  But to a very great degree, that was overshadowed by my incredible happiness for her!

You might suggest that she had the best of both worlds. She knew her time was short and she made the absolute most of that.  She had such precious moments with all her family members and many of her friends.  She was able to plan every detail of her “Celebration of Life Service” including asking me to play a piano prelude for it.  I was honored to do so.  When I asked if she had any specific requests, she said (with a twinkle in her eye), “Something with ‘saints’ in it!”  I LOVED her sense of humor.

So while she had the opportunity to do all the things we all want to do before we die, she also was blessed to go quickly, without the long, lingering death that so often accompanies cancer.  She was ready to go, she knew where she was headed, she and her husband had left a wonderful family legacy, she had lived a good life of service to her Lord, and He blessed her by taking her home quickly.

In the days shortly after she passed, I found myself making some comparisons between her death and Dale’s – and more accurately, my response to them.

All the wonderful things that I rejoiced over with my friend were very similar to what Dale has been experiencing for the past year or so.  He, too, has now seen Jesus’ face.  He, too, is in the throne room of God.  He, too, has been reunited with his believing family members and friends.  They are both experiencing the many promises God has given us in the Bible regarding eternal life.  No more sorrow, no more tears, no more sadness.

So, a part of me was wondering why I didn’t have the same level of joy after Dale’s death.  I questioned if my grieving over Dale’s death should look more like how I grieved my friend’s death.  Was I too focused on the pain of his absence from my life, and not enough on all the joy he now had?

I did chew on that for a while and want to share where I landed afterwards.

Of course, there are some obvious differences.  For 30 years I lived nearly every day with Dale.  I saw my friend regularly, but we weren’t part of each other’s daily lives.  And my love for my friend was that of a sisterhood, while my love for Dale was the earthly version of Agape.

But the biggest, most impactful difference in my response to their deaths is the fact that I had a covenant relationship with Dale.  The Bible tells us that when two become one in marriage, it’s a relationship that is intended to last “until death do us part.”  Sadly, I know that isn’t true for many, and for those who have experienced that brokenness, I’m sorry for your pain, too.

The loss of a spouse through death is like having half of your body ripped away BECAUSE of that covenant relationship.  It’s a reflection of the relationship that Christ has with His Church, the body of believers.  Other than the relationship among the three members of the Trinity, I’m not sure there’s a more powerful example than that of husband and wife.

So, it only makes sense that my grieving over Dale’s death is on a different level than the grief over my friend’s.

And that is ALSO a lesson for us.  Everyone. Grieves. Differently.  A zillion factors can go into that, so be cautious about making assumptions about their grief.  Just be that welcome, listening ear when they need to process their unique pain.  It’s such a precious gift you can give during a vulnerable time.  God will bless you in return.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelation 21:4

Sin Taints…Everything

During this past year, I’ve come across so many pictures from my life with Dale.  Some came with sympathy cards, some came from family, many were here in the house and just rediscovered as I go through Dale’s “space.”  Some are just of him, but so many are of the two of us as early as our pre-marriage days.

I can’t help but notice how very young and “in our prime” we look!  In many cases they are a stark contrast to the reality of those last few years together as he failed physically and mentally.  And honestly, I’m no spring chicken either!

I often joked with friends that, when I see Dale in heaven one day, I want him to look like he did on our wedding day, not on the day he died.  And I want to look like I did back then, too.

All of this reminded me of a very real, but sorrowful truth.  From the day we are born, we are dying.  Aren’t I just a ray of sunshine?!  But all we need to do is look around us to acknowledge this reality.  Of course, our bodies are falling apart to one degree or another.  The seasons remind us that much of nature goes through this death cycle.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the Universe tends toward disorder.

And most powerfully, the death of loved ones reminds us of the mortal nature of this world.

Sometimes I think we take this inevitability so for granted that we forget its source.  It happened back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned, and the course of mankind was set forever – until we die or Jesus comes back.

Trust me, this will NOT be a dissertation on sin and its effects, but suffice it to say that everything in the heavens and earth was tainted and headed for decay and death from that point on.  We often spend much of our later lives fighting this reality and the cosmetic and Botox industries thank us very much!

But don’t we all long for the days of our prime?  Doesn’t it seem to be an innate desire in our souls?  Ecclesiastes tells us that God has placed eternity in our hearts, and I believe it only makes sense that we want to be young and vibrant in eternity!

That is speculation on my part, so don’t go looking for scripture to support that word for word.  But we do know that God will make all things new one day.  We just can’t know exactly what that looks like in this life.

Not only do I look forward to the day when we can be rid of these deteriorating physical bodies, but I also long to be rid of the sin that lurks around all of my thoughts, desires, words and actions.  Talk about breaking free from our bonds!  What a glorious day for us to anticipate if we are believers.

I think that may be one of the reasons why I don’t spend much energy on memories from my life with Dale that showcase those sins.  I don’t want to dwell on the times our pride or stubbornness or insecurities or frailties created difficult memories.

I want to camp out on the very best moments of our very best days.  In short, I want to remember those times that, in retrospect, seem near-perfect to me.  Naïve?  Perhaps.

As I worked through this thought process over the past few months, I came to the conclusion that what I’m longing for physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually is…HEAVEN!

Full disclosure – I am studying Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven,” (for the third time 😊) and that is definitely influencing my thought processes lately.  But the promises in God’s Word are true and, as believers, we CAN look forward to a future eternity that is free from physical decay, or any other encumbrance that sin has saddled us with in this life.

Restoration of everything that’s tainted in our earthly lives is an incredible hope we can cling to.  I honestly don’t know if it’s wrong to create these rose-colored memories of my time with Dale.  But it feels like a comforting way to bridge that gap until I step into eternity.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

(Revelation 21:5)

 

I Don’t Have THAT Sorrow

As I write this, Christmas is just starting to appear in the rear view mirror – New Year’s is straight ahead.  How did your holiday season go?  Boy, we all have stories from that, don’t we?

Mine was definitely a mixed bag.  Some very tearful times as this was my first Christmas at home without Dale.  And yet some times of blessing, too, with friends and family.

But this post is not about the holidays.  I’m moving on from those pretty quickly.  Grateful to have survived!  I want to share a revelation, of sorts, that I had while reading one of my daily devotions in ‘Streams in the Desert” this past week.

This particular one was encouraging the reader with the promise that God is always by our side no matter what we might be feeling.  The author asked the questions, “Do you feel like God has turned His back on you?  Do you feel unloved by God?  Does it seem like He doesn’t care about what you’re going through?  Do you feel forsaken by Him?”

I could honestly, and gratefully, answer, “No, I do NOT feel like that!”  Despite the great sorrow and loss of this past year – and other difficult times in my life – I do not doubt God’s love for me.  I rest fully in the promises I find in His Word.  They are what sustain me in my darkest moments.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to God.

Because, ultimately, He is the one who has blessed me with that faith.  It’s nothing that I’ve conjured up out of my own strength.  It is something that He has mercifully bestowed upon me.  Oh sure, it definitely helps that I have sat under solid biblical teaching for years.  And that helped me get my theology (what I believe about God) in place before the deepest trials hit.

But I can take no credit for it.  If you find yourself answering, “Yes” to any of those questions posed earlier, I do have some encouragement for you.

I have to take you to another Christian holiday to illustrate my point.  Fast forward to Easter, or more accurately, Good Friday.  If you’ve ever read the excruciating details of what Jesus physically suffered through the scourging and eventual death by crucifixion, you know that it’s about as bad as anything can get.

But an even deeper suffering that Christ endured was evidenced by His words on the cross that fateful day; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  When Jesus took the weight and the penalty of our sins on that cross, God DID forsake him while that penalty was being paid.  This article from the Desiring God website does a great job of fleshing that out a bit, if you’re interested in more depth.

But back to the devotional.  As I read the comforting words about God never forsaking us, I realized it was BECAUSE Jesus was forsaken on that cross, that I don’t need to feel alone in this life.  I may be suffering from many other sources of sorrow, but I don’t have THAT sorrow.

He paved the way for us to have unbroken fellowship with God forever, if we confess our sins and ask Him to be Lord of our lives.  He has already done the heavy lifting.

So, when you start to question whether God loves you or would ever forsake you, be reminded of the great lengths and depths Jesus went to so that you could be spared that kind of sorrow.  Please don’t take it lightly.  He wants us to fully trust His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.  It’s not just a simple platitude; it’s a truth borne out of Jesus’ suffering on our behalf.

Now there’s a Christmas/Good Friday gift that we can all be grateful for!  May you know that truth as you finish out 2018 and head into a new year.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,

for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.

He will not leave you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

 

 

Roller Coaster Lessons

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on a pretty steep roller coaster ride.  And I’ve thought there were worthy blog post topics at the peaks AND the valleys.  But just when it seemed the time was right to put pen to paper, so to speak, the ride would change directions and either plunge me down or lift me up, and the writing just didn’t happen.

I’m sure I’m committing a cardinal sin of blog-writing, but I’ve decided to combine it all into one blog post.  Because I think there is a lesson, not only in the peaks and valleys, but also in the whole ride.

So, buckle up – we’re actually going to start at the top!

As many of you have probably seen, I recently launched the ministry site – Be a Blessing to Your Grieving Friend (at lynnehoeksema.com).  A lot of behind-the-scenes work went into preparing for that and it was such a blessing to see it come together earlier this month.  I’m excited to see how God will use the ministry for His purposes.  Definitely a top-of-the-coaster event.

Then, of course, there’s the expected let-down after a big event.  Not a huge dip on the ride, but one of those partial hills.  You know the kind!

I had coffee this week with a friend who also has a ministry and we were both looking at some down time with nothing on our schedules.  No presentations or interviews to prepare for.

She planned to spend this break in her schedule by studying God’s Word and drawing closer to Him.  I thought that was such a meaningful way to fill up what could have been wasted time.

It reminded me of a devotional I read several months ago that has stayed with me, partially because it has a musical theme, but also because it’s very insightful.  The author talked about how important the rests are in a musical composition.  Whether it’s a solo piece or a full orchestra composition, the rests are integral to the making of the music.  It could be a short sixteenth note rest, or 32 measures of rest if you happen to be the timpani player in an orchestra!

But without them, there is no color, there is no depth, there is no rhythm, there really is no song.  That’s one of the reasons that God wants us to also take the appropriate rests in our lives. (Or allow Him to place them there!) Especially hard to do this time of year, but I’m sure you’d all agree that it’s vitally important to maintain any semblance of sanity.  Don’t look at these times of rest as an interruption to your life, but as a way to bring more beauty to it.

So, now we’ve just coasted for a little while.  What could be next?  For me, it was a deep plunge down.

This past week has been extremely difficult.  I’m sure that’s partially due to the upcoming holiday.  Both of my parents died right around Christmas so there’s always some melancholy associated with that.

I also received some difficult health news from a good friend this week and got some semi-bad health news for myself the next day.

But what really sent me down to the valley were the two days where I spent hours going through a lot of Dale’s personal items.  Every time I went downstairs, it just made me sad because that’s where his office was and all of his stuff.   I knew I had to deal with it at some point and since I didn’t have much on the schedule, I decided to go for it.

Of course, much of it made me smile, and there was a LOT of memory lane strolling.  Many items that I didn’t even know he had kept.  For example, he still had his very first pay stub from Northwestern Bell from February 18, 1956!  I’m keeping it, too.  And five envelopes of his high school graduation announcements.  I don’t even have any of my own!

But the hardest part of this project was that the totality of all the things I went through was such an overwhelming reminder of everything that made Dale who he was.  A folder full of jokes that illustrated his great sense of humor.  Job evaluations that highlighted why he was so often their “go to” guy to handle problem situations and people.  Books and articles that covered everything mechanical – no wonder he knew how to make or fix anything.  Photos that showed his love for his friends and family.  And so very much more.

The stark contrast of all these reminders with the reality that he is never coming back just felt like a body slam.  I was in tears for so much of this past week and missing him deeply.

This was truly the very bottom of the coaster ride.  On Saturday morning I literally cried out to God to bring something into my life that would bless me in this sorrow.  Because, I was so emotionally spent and so tired of the tears.

The night before I had signed up for a free webinar on how to find places to do public speaking –no matter what your subject was.  I thought it might be handy information and had set it up for 10 am Saturday morning.

So, I dried my tears and opened up my laptop for the webinar.  It was put on by a man who is currently a professional speaker, but used to be a youth pastor.  Extra points for that!   In the hour or so of the webinar, he shared some great information and helpful tips.  But, as these things always play out, the REAL meat of this subject could be found in his on-line training classes which were NOT free.

But the detailed information covered there was exactly what I needed for this next step in the ministry.  Finding the right places to bring this message of blessing those who are hurting.  I also never want to be “taken” by a sales pitch, so I didn’t immediately purchase the class.  But I must admit I was really excited about what this could mean for the ministry.

I actually went to my Bible app and did 4 different studies on finding God’s will!  I also talked this through with a good friend.  She felt that it was an almost immediate answer to my prayer and encouraged me to go for it.  This was no small amount, so hence the bit of agonizing I was going through.

That’s when God reminded me – as He did this summer – that this ministry is what He has for me at this stage of my life and that I need to take it seriously.  I had once again fallen back into a waiting game to see what God would bring to me.  He wanted me to take action.  And so I did.  I signed up for the classes and can’t wait to delve into all that I will learn through this training.

I might not be back at the top of the roller coaster, but I have learned (again!) that God faithfully walks with me through the valleys and brings blessings that lift me out of them when I need them most.

Thanks for hanging on for the ride!  If you’re on your own right now, just remember Who’s at the controls.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:12-13