Word of the Year…

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Word of the year…

Perhaps the word of the year has become the new hype instead of resolutions we often fail at. I hear a lot of people these days choosing a word and focusing on that word throughout the year. Focus and Intentional seem to be what I’ve heard the most lately.

I’d never really chosen a word of the year…until last year. Even then, I didn’t choose the word; it chose me.

Hope.

I’m a part of a beautiful group of ladies along with a dear friend, Suzie Eller. In this group, we were asked to share a word. Honestly, at the time I didn’t even put much thought to it. I just knew the word I was supposed to use was hope. I shared a little story about what hope meant to me at the time and this picture…

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I wouldn’t know at that point just how much the word hope would come to mean. By February of last year, I had lost all hope…Not hope in a God that loved me or would save me, but in a life on this earth filled with peace. I was ready to be with God. I had been for a while. On the night of February 20th, after an evening of laughs with our closest friends, I attempted to take my own life (check posts from February and March 2015 to go back and read about that time). When my attempt failed, admittedly, I was quite disappointed.

Rather than losing hope, I was suddenly forced to find hope. I was still here. I was alive. I didn’t really feel alive, but by definition, I was alive. That wasn’t a part of my plan but that’s where I was.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I had to find something to help me get through each day. This required effort. It hasn’t been easy by any means.

Hope.

It began with just having enough hope to open my eyes in the morning, eventually leading to hoping I could wake up and get out of bed. Slowly other things came…

Hoping I could look at my kids again.
Hoping I could put together a rational thought.
Hoping I could make it through an hour without wanting to die.
Hoping I could make it through a day, a week.

Little by little over the next year, those thoughts of hope have grown. I won’t say my thoughts have completely changed from the plan to end my life. I still struggle to find hope and peace with life here on this earth but I think one thing I learned was I was searching for something that can’t be found.

I will never be the person I was before that night. It didn’t change my thoughts but it did change me.

It’s strange how the darkest, scariest, loneliest, and most painful place can somehow become the greatest. My memories from that time are some of the worst and best of my life. I was searching for peace that can only come through knowing to Whom and where I belong. I now know the answer to both of those. Knowing that is peace.

Peace.

I still struggle to find hope and peace with life here on this earth but I think one thing I learned was I was searching for something that can’t be found.  While in this life, I won’t find peace from suffering, I have found the peace I was meant to find. This journey has not been without reward.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

With that said, peace was added to my word list. By the end of 2015, one more word had been added.

Joy.

Through the darkness of my depression and somehow stumbling back into His light, I learned what true joy is.

True joy.

It’s not happiness.

Happiness is eating a Big Mac without worrying that it will add pounds or a stomach ache.
Happiness is pouring water over your head on a hot summer day.
Happiness is having a few hours to myself when the kids are in school.

Happiness is based on circumstances and things.

Joy goes much deeper into the core of who we are. You have to search for it (again requiring an active part from us) and when you find it, there’s no denying it. You know you’ve found it. Joy is possible in both the best of circumstances and the worst.

As odd as it may sound, I found joy through my suicide attempt and because I have joy, true joy, I can share the good and the bad with you. I learned so much in the past year and in a lifetime of hurt and pain and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it has taught me what hope means, how to have joy through anything life throws at me, and that peace is attainable when you search for the right kind.

So, that sums up last year. Hope, peace, and joy will always have a special place in my heart. I will embrace them and the joy I found through the lowest point of my life. And, I look forward to learning new things about them in the days, months, and years to come.

I can’t wait to see what words 2016 brings. For now, I already have two words.

Faith.

Faith is the word that I’ve chosen, but really, like hope, I think it actually chose me. I plan to focus a lot of faith, growing in faith, trusting the faithfulness of God and those He has placed by my side, and sharing the gift of faith. I’m sure there will be many posts on faith. Along with faith, is grace, extending grace because we all need it. Many stood by me last year in my darkest moment and showed me how to truly love someone. Part of that love was by extending grace. I want to offer the same to others.

Right now…

My faith is stronger than ever before.
My faith is in Him.

Lessons learned last year…

Find hope.
When all hope seems lost, His love still remains.
Joy is possible…in all circumstances.
Peace is found in knowing to Whom and where you belong.

And…

“Faith isn’t faith until Jesus is all you are holding on to!”

I don’t know where I heard the above quote but it has stuck with me. On the night of February 20th, 2015, nothing else mattered. Not my husband. Not my children. Not my friends. Nothing. I simply wanted to go and be with God. And that next night, as I sat alone in my bare, cold hospital room, striped of everything shy of the air in my lungs, He was all I needed and He was there.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Have you considered choosing a word for 2016? If you have, what’s your word? I’d love to hear from you all on your thoughts and stories!

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Hiatus is over. Changes are coming…

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I’m not sure who wrote the quote on the image above. I couldn’t find the source but when I read it, it made perfect sense. I’ve lived the change that comes with both of those scenarios. My heart has been broken more times than I could even attempt to count. Life is hard. Life hurts.

Change.

I resist change with nearly all of the strength I have. Perhaps it’s because every time things seem to settle into a comfortable place, something changes to shake things up. Maybe it’s the fact that as a little girl, every time I started to feel safe and secure, something bad happened, someone left, people hurt me. Change seems to be difficult for a lot of people.

I’ve learned change happens. It’s simply not something I can control. It comes when we least expect it and when we most fear it. Change means unfamiliar territory. Change means a disruption in routine. Change means everything is different…scary even.

God’s word never changes. God’s character never changes. God never changes. That is the only thing I am sure of when it comes to trusting that something is always the same.

Is it possible that change can be good?  We’re going to find out.  For me, it’s time for a change. It’s time for me to take the lessons I have learned and allow God to use them, fully.  For years, I’ve known I was supposed to write. This blog was my simple attempt at fulfilling that goal but lately, I’ve neglected it.

Why?

Because it meant change. It meant I would change. But honestly, I already had changed. And I’m still changing. I’m growing every day. Things are more confusing and more understandable all at the same time. Things that don’t make sense don’t seem to need to make sense anymore.

My point in all this is…

I’m a writer.

It’s what I do. Some people sing. Some people do math. Some people play sports.

I write.

When I’m lonely, I write.
When I’m bored, I write.
When I’m sad, I write.
When I’m filled with hope, I write.
I write on my phone.
I write in my journal.
I write in my Bible.
I write in my head…all the time…even in the shower.

I’m a writer. It’s about time I get serious about this writing thing, soooo…

With that said, there’s the side of the quote that says, “people change because their minds open…” and that’s where I’m at. God has laid many things on my heart lately, stories I need to share, heart felt words that need to be put into words shared with others. He has opened my mind and made me realize I have been avoiding this writing thing. Maybe it was out of fear of being rejected or not good enough. Maybe it was feeling inadequate. Maybe it was a fear of allowing others to know me too well. Whatever the reason, I’m just going to have to press on because it’s time for change!

Big changes are coming for this blog. I think these are the kind of changes that are good. Things are about to get regular around here. I’ve been on a hiatus for far too long. I’ve avoided writing for long enough. Don’t you agree?

So, I have lots of ideas and even some plans for new series coming. We’ll see where God takes this but I’m on board.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store…

Periscope – fun chats, get to know you, Bible study, reviews
YouTube – Bible studies, reviews, & more
Blog – “Friday Favs” (songs, Scripture, things, people, & more), reviews, real life, Bible studies, etc.
Instagram – Lots of pictures!
Twitter – encouragement, hope, and more!

Facebook? Did you know The Imperfect Princess has a Facebook page? It’s been there for a while and it’s a great place to add your suggestions or ask questions. Is that something you like and would use? Or would you rather have a private group for fans of The Imperfect Princess? Or both?

The change is not just for the blog, but the blog itself is the central focus of all the other parts. Social media better hold on tight because this Imperfect Princess is ready to take advantage of all these resources. Most of them, you’re already able to get to from the links here on the blog. If anything’s missing, I’ll be adding it over the next couple weeks while I’m out of school on Christmas break. I hope to have everything going smoothly by the New Year or at least before I start classes back January 11.

Spread the word…The Imperfect Princess is back and ready to write! Glory to God for fanning this flame! This is change we can all look forward to!

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Anchored.

I love the beach but I’ve never been a big fan of the ocean.  It’s the home of many amazing creatures and while I thoroughly enjoy watching them and find ocean life quite interesting, I prefer to enjoy it through books, photos and a little distance :)

I love the smell of the ocean.
I love the cool breeze flowing through my hair.
I love the colors and the beauty of the sun rising and setting over the water.
I love the feel of my toes digging into the sand.
I love the warmth beating down on my skin, little beads of sweat glimmering.
I love the families gathered throwing a football or frisbee.
I love the giggles of small children building sandcastles and running along the waters edge.
I love watching people and wondering about their lives, their stories.
I love seeing couples, hands joined together as they walk barefoot along the shore.
I love the look of storm clouds as they draw near.
I love the smiles.
I love the sense of peace.

I love how strangers gather from all over the country or even the world and for a moment, life stops…

There are no strangers.
Everyone is there for the same thing…a get away, a time of joy, rest, relaxation.
It’s an opportunity for folks to spend time with their loved ones and enjoy new friends.
People from all over get to know one another.
It’s a chance to breathe.

For a moment.

My sweet friend, Suzie Eller, author or The Unburdened Heart and The Mended Heart (which happens to be the current online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries), offered a blog prompt this week that I knew would spark my desire to pour out my thoughts.  Her prompt for this week was:  Anchored.

I’ve never been a fan of all things nautical.  You know, the navy and white stripes, dabs of red tossed in.  Images of seashells, fish, lighthouses, ships, life preservers and anchors…they haven’t been something of importance to me.  Having lived a mere five hours from the beach my entire life, I’ve been to the ocean more than a handful of times but the nautical trend just never appealed to me.  Every beach house seemed over decorated with nautical lamps, wallpaper boarders, shower curtains, soap dispensers, light fixtures, bath rugs, bedding, dresser knobs and more.  You name it, they had it.

Last year on December 17th, a dear friend gave me a journal she had crafted especially for me.  She knows my love for writing and she knows how quickly I fill up my journals.  It was the perfect gift.  It was even more special because she decorated it with love and wrote a sweet note for me on the inside.  On the outside, was an anchor and a verse…

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This journal was just a plain and simple composition book that was turned into something beautiful, just for me.  She thought of me as she clipped images and words to cover the front and back.  She prayed for me as she thought of the perfect verse to place on the cover.  She had hope for me when I was struggling to find hope for myself.  She gave me hope in the shape of an anchor with these words from Hebrews…

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  Hebrews 6:19

Up to that point, the anchor never really meant anything to me.  When I first saw the journal, I loved it because of who it was from and the meaning behind it but it took a little time for me to grow to love the anchor.  Honestly, I think I just couldn’t understand yet, but God was teaching me.  Thankfully, He hasn’t stopped teaching me.

I had just finished up another journal so the day I received this one, I began filling it with my personal stories, words straight from my tattered and worn heart, letters formed from moments of desperation, pain, heartache, confusion, sadness, and a fading hope and zest for life.

I didn’t feel anchored. 

I felt like a shipwrecked girl lost, battered and bruised, beyond repair, praying for a way out.

As I’ve shared before, the months that would follow my days of filling that particular journal, were at best, difficult.  I faced many days of contemplating life, its meaning, purpose, hopelessness.  The depression I had lived with nearly all my life was at its lowest…but I wasn’t afraid.  Maybe that was not necessarily a good thing.  You see, I wasn’t afraid to die.  I was ready.  I spent so much time with God in those months.  I cried out to Him, prayed, read Scripture after Scripture.  I soaked in it.  I breathed it.  I embraced it.  And all that time, I longed to be free.  I ached for my ship to sail.  I begged for God to let me come home.  And one particular night in February, I tried to make that happen.

It didn’t.  And since then, life has been one lesson after another.  I am learning to live.  I am learning to face each day with hope and joy, in spite of my circumstance or my desire to find freedom from life and be with God.

There are verses that were dear to me in those months.  I continue to cling to them.

Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two.  I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me.”

David wrote, “I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done.”  Psalm 118:17

While I spent months preparing to die, God was preparing me to live.  He was teaching me.  He was drawing me closer to Him.  I truly believe I had to experience those months of darkness, difficulty, pain, sorrow, grief, hopelessness, and loneliness in order to understand just how much I needed Him.  I knew I wanted Him, but I wanted Him as an escape, as an end to a life of suffering.  I wanted out.

He was preparing me for something more.  He’s still preparing me.

It’s only been in the past few weeks that I could truly appreciate how much that anchor would mean to me.  Now, I can’t stop myself from looking at anchors, trying to find things with an anchor on it.  In fact, the anchor anklet I purchased last week is also in the image above with the journal.  I’ve developed a new love for all things nautical because for me, they symbolize the stormy seas of life and even through the storm, the anchor holds.

You see, I had let go.  I had given up on life.  I had given up on allowing God to use me even though I knew my purpose.  I’ve known for years now that I’m supposed to write.  I’ve known most of my life that God was going to one day use me to help others who had been hurt, who felt alone, who needed a safe place to cry.  But I was willing to give up, perhaps out of fear or desperation or something else.  I still have days where I find myself unsure of whether I want to face the day.  I may always.  But I know there is purpose, His purpose.  I know part of that purpose is like Paul said, “…for your progress and joy in the faith.”

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When I had let go on life, God refused to let go of me.  An anchor holds.  An anchor keeps a ship in its place.  Until the anchor is detached, the ship is secure.

God is my anchor. 
He is my security. 
He is holding me.

When you have no understanding of the trials you face, when you question purpose and plans, when you find yourself doubting if God really cares or if He could love someone as broken as you, know these truths…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8

“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

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

The things that have taught me the most, I have learned through the most difficult moments.  The times that have brought me the closest to God, have been the times when there was nothing else.  Through the pain and suffering, through nightmares, memories, flashbacks, excruciating pains deep in my chest, loss, abandonment, neglect, depression, hopelessness and more, I have learned that God is the One I need most in my life.  With Him, I am confident that everything will work out.  He is the One who holds me up.  He is the One who keeps me going.  He is the One that hasn’t let go of me.

In Philippians 1:6, Paul said, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

And I believe that is the greatest thing I could have learned…that I am confident.  I’m not confident in myself but I am absolutely confident in Him, in the One who holds me, keeps me on shore, calms the storm, parted the sea.  I can face each day because…

He is my anchor. 
He is my refuge.
He is my strength.
He is my hope.
He is my comfort.
He is my peace.
He is my joy.

In Him, I am anchored.

It’s a daily choice.
It’s a daily battle.
It’s difficult.
I don’t know if it ever really gets easier. 

What I do know is that through all the ugliness I have seen in my life, God has softened my heart, given me compassion and understanding, a desire to help, support, and comfort others.  He’s given me the need to write and filled my heart and mind with words aching to be bound between covers.

Again, it’s a choice.  If you’re facing a storm and you can’t find your anchor, perhaps He is the one holding onto you.  I hope you will embrace and trust Him.  I hope you, too, can see that He is your anchor in the storm.

I purposely titled this…

Anchored.

Most of the time, I like to add … to my titles.  My reason for using the period with this title is because…

With Him, I have all I need.
With Him, there is hope.
With Him, I am who I need to be.
With Him, there is purpose.
With Him, all things are possible.
With Him, there is a plan, a perfect plan.
With Him, everything falls into place, even when I cannot see or understand.

In Him, I am anchored – and that is all I need.  Period.

And as a special treat, here’s a beautiful “Anchor” song for you…I hope you’ll listen to it and feel His embrace as He is holding you.

Hillsong – “Anchor”

 

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The Reality of TV…

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I’m sure by now, most everyone has heard about the newest reality TV tragedy…19 Kids & Counting.

If, by chance, there’s still someone out there who hasn’t heard, I’m going to assume they aren’t here reading my little blog either…because they’re much more likely to stumble across numerous Duggar stories than they are to stumble across my tiny portion of the internet.

So, the latest is that eldest Duggar child, Josh, admittedly made a “mistake.”

First off, I will in no way support Josh or his actions, whether he was 14 or not.  Having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse for most of my childhood and having dealt with my own fair share of family drama, I’m going to say, I have a right to use my voice in this.

Josh made a choice.  Was it a mistake?  No.  It was a choice.  His choice.  Was it the choice of the girls he molested?  From what I’ve read, he was older than all of his victims therefore, he was responsible for his actions.  They are not at fault.  Period.

The fact that the Duggars call this a “mistake” really grieves me.  A mistake it buying Colgate toothpaste when you meant to buy Crest.  A mistake is choosing the wrong size pants.  A mistake is driving past your road and having to turn around.  A mistake is an accident, doing something you did not mean to do.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a mistake as:

to understand (something or someone) incorrectly
to make a wrong judgment about (something)
to identify (someone or something) incorrectly

At 14, sheltered or not, boys know the difference between their bodies and a girls body.  By 14, they are maturing, changing, and growing.  By that point, especially in such a conservative family where premarital anything is discouraged, I’m going to guess, Josh knew that sexual conduct was inappropriate, wrong, evil, or whatever you want to call it.

The choices Josh made were choices.  They were not just mistakes…they were choices that impact the lives of those he molested in every single way imaginable.  I know because I’ve been there.  I know because I’m still there.  It’s not something that ever really goes away, no matter how much counseling or support one may have.  There may be healing, but it becomes a part of you.  Josh’s choices were not mistakes.  They were choices.  He could have chosen not to act on the feelings he had.

Are his choices unforgivable?  No.  That’s between his victims and God.  That’s not for me to judge or say whether he’s been forgiven or not.  If his victims choose to forgive, then good for them.  Forgiveness has the ability to free them from some of the burdens caused by him.  It has nothing to do with Josh, but freeing themselves from the chains of His choices, giving them room to heal.

Enough about Josh.  What he did was wrong, no matter how old he was.  And he knew it was wrong.  He admits that.  Period.

Let’s talk about the victims.
Let’s talk about the media.

The media is spilling this story all over the place.  Frankly, there’s not one family that’s ever walked on this big planet that didn’t have some kind of saga, scandal, or secret.  Not one.

If anyone ever thought the Duggar’s were the one family that escaped that, then that’s their own fault for thinking they were without issues.  Everyone has issues.  Everyone!

Believe it or not, the Christian life is not perfect.  I know many Christians who “appear” to have the perfect life.  I was one of the girls who envied (yes, I’m a Christian who has been envious of others!) others because they seemed to have the perfect life.  The thing is, when you start to get to know people, you realize we’re all just a bunch of messed up, broken people in need of a Savior and a whole lot of grace.

What burns me up is how the media is broadcasting this story as this huge tragedy and scandal, how cruel Josh was to victimize his sisters and other little girls, what a disgusting person he is, blah, blah, blah.

While I agree to an extent, the media is victimizing these girls all over again.

They’re not just destroying Josh, putting him in front of a firing squad and pulling the trigger, they are traumatizing his victims all over again.  No matter what happened, which none of us really know and that’s only for his victims to share if and when they want to, they deserve to live without all of this.  What we’ve done by putting this family in the light based on this scandal, this trauma, is destroyed them.  We scarred them for life…as if they weren’t already scarred enough.

By bringing this to light, we haven’t stood up for victims rights.  We’ve crushed them.  We’ve said shame on you and your family.  We’ve condemned the whole family.  We’ve demanded their “show be cancelled.”  TLC agreed to take Josh off the show but we still scream…”screw the family,” “take all of those whacks off the air“.  What we’re doing is victimizing the entire family based on one or two or three (parent’s, not the victims) people’s choices.

The family handled the situation years ago.  Whether we agree with the rumors of how they handled the situation or not, they dealt with it.  Perhaps these girls had gone through counseling.  Perhaps they had found at least some peace and healing.  I even hope they have been able to forgive.

My point is that what we as a society have done to them is not punish Josh for his crime.  We have punished his victims for his crime.  We have traumatized them all over again.  We have poured salt into their wounds.  We have crippled, maybe even destroyed their future.  We have impacted their entire family and the families of those connected.  We have slandered their name, dragged it through the mud.

All because of one boys stupid, inexcusable (as Josh even stated) actions.

What he did was wrong.  But two wrongs don’t make a right.  The media bashing this family, all the nasty comments on either side…all that’s doing is destroying these people.  We are no better than the crime we’re complaining about.

Think about it.  Does this affect Josh’s life?  Yes, it already has as he had to resign from his job and has been let go from TLC.  Is that all?  No.  Now the whole family is under fire.  Now the victims are exposed…maybe not by name but their lives, their pain, their suffering…are out there, exposed to the whole world and not by their choice.  We have rob them of that choice.  They have been violated all over again.

Next time you want to spread a story to attack someone who’s hurt another, think about the victims.  They need support and prayer now, more than ever.  I don’t care what you think about Josh, what he did, whether you defend him because he was only 14 or whether you want to see him burn.  His judgement and the punishment for his actions are not up to me or anyone else on this planet.  He has to live with the choices he’s made.  So do his victims.

The reality of this is that no one is perfect…no one.  Just because a family may appear perfect, doesn’t mean they are and if anyone ever tries to say their are, call BS because they’re not.  No one, Christian, Muslim, Athiest, or whatever religion or belief or human out there can claim to be perfect, having made no wrong choices ever.  And we’ve all suffered because of our choices and actions.

The issue here is that there are victims who have already suffered enough and all we are doing by dragging this family’s drama out for all to see is making them suffer more.

Now that we’ve already done that, where are the people standing up for victims rights?  This would be a great time and opportunity to talk about how devastating childhood sexual abuse is, how it destroys lives, how it robs its victims of peace, security, trust, hope, and often much more.

Instead of focusing on how disgusting this boy’s actions were and how we like or don’t like Christians, homeschoolers, skirt wearers or whatever piddly things we can think of to throw daggers at the Duggars, why don’t we take this opportunity to speak out about how light needs to be shined on the victims, to give them hope, not to destroy them or traumatize them all over.

The reality is…

Just because it’s a reality show doesn’t mean it’s real.  We don’t see behind the scenes, behind closed doors, etc.  Not one family can claim the reality of perfection.  Period.

The reality is…

Sexual abuse sucks.  Period.

Peace out…

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Estate Sale…

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Back in January, my 95 year old neighbor passed away. 

It was bittersweet. 

She was ready. 

My family was not.

This weekend, there is an estate sale at her home which got me thinking.  People have flocked in from all over town to sift through Mrs. Helen’s belongings, only they don’t belong to Mrs. Helen anymore.  All of the things she treasured, enjoyed, collected in her time here on earth…

They’re just things.

She is gone and those things are left behind.  The crowds of people who have elbowed their way through her home didn’t know Mrs. Helen.

They may never have seen her smile or heard her many words of wisdom (and correction!).
They didn’t watch as she knelt down and hand picked acorns out of her yard (and mine!). 
They didn’t see her smile as she kindly acknowledge the annoying dog next door (yes, mine, lol). 
They wouldn’t know how she always wore a jacket when she was outside working in her yard…even when it was hot to everyone else. 
They don’t know she spent the last days of her life in a hospital after cancer invaded her body or how two years before that, she had fallen, broken her hip, recovered, came home and still worked tirelessly in her yard (at 94!). 
They never tasted the yummy deserts she baked and brought up to my house.
They didn’t walk into her kitchen and see the photo of their children proudly displayed on her refrigerator.
They didn’t notice the Bible and notebook spread out on her kitchen table each morning.
They didn’t have the joy of welcoming her into their living room, cherishing the next few moments of conversation  between two women separated by nearly six decades.

What those people are getting…

They’re just things.

They really mean nothing.  Sure, they brought Mrs. Helen joy while she was here and I hope they bring others joy as well.

In the brief three years my family got to know Mrs. Helen, we gained so much more than things.  We didn’t spend a lot of time with her but every minute with her was like an hour of history, wisdom, and blessings.  She was 95.  You can’t live that long and not have a lifetime of treasures tucked away in your mind.  I’m not talking about the treasures these people are fighting over like it’s a Black Friday sale.  They missed out on the real treasures.

Stories of…

Raising two sons.
Losing one of them too soon.
Loneliness.
Joy.
Fond memories.
Annoyances (that would probably be my loud children messing up her yard, lol.  Sorry, Mrs. Helen)

Mrs. Helen is leaving behind treasures.  Today and tomorrow, many people are glancing through her treasures and maybe even taking a few with them.

Me, I’m holding onto them tightly.  I’m treasuring the moments we had with her next door.

The smiles on my five year old daughters face when we’d pull into the driveway and she would bolt out of the car, run down to Mrs. Helen and give her a big hug.

The determination in my boys as they were challenged by Mrs. Helen to see who could pick up the most acorns out of the yard.

Watching her, admiring her strength.

These are moments planted in my mind that I will treasure.

The things she left behind are not what makes Mrs. Helen’s life a treasure, but who she was.

Today, Mrs. Helen is reminding me that who I am matters more than the things I leave behind.

Who you are matters more than the things you leave behind.

The imprint you leave on another person’s life is priceless.

Mrs. Helen gave me a second chance.  My grandparents raised me.  When they passed away, I was 19 and 21.  I was beginning my own life and  was too busy to treasure those moments with them.  I’ve spent my time without them, regretting that I didn’t soak in every ounce of wisdom they could have poured into me.  Mrs. Helen gave me a chance to get to know their generation again.

Thank you, Mrs. Helen, for your wisdom and your acceptance of the loudest neighbors on the street.  We love you and miss you.

Mrs. Helen, your estate here on earth may be up for sale but the eternal estate you’re living in now is priceless, just as the treasures are that you gave to me.

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Nothing is Wasted…

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In the past couple months, I’ve shared some very personal struggles.  The responses have been overwhelming.  Many have expressed thankfulness and encouragement and I am very appreciative of all the kind words.  Some have shared their own struggles, told stories of how alone they have felt, how my voice gives them hope and strength.

That is what matters!

That is why I shared.

We aren’t meant to walk through life alone.

God is using this darkness for something good.

Nothing is wasted.

Over the past couple months since I have been home and trying to adjust to actually living life, rather than waiting to die, one song has replayed over and over in my head.

Shane and Shane – “Though You Slay Me

John Piper says, “It’s not meaningless!

Your pain, your suffering…they are not meaningless.  God is using them or will use them for something good.  You may not be able to see it but somehow, someway, He is using it.  He will use all the hard parts for something good…if you will allow Him too.  And sometimes, even when we fight Him, He still takes hold of those things and uses them for our good and the good of others.

Nothing is wasted.

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