Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Different Perspective

Today it's three years since my Kyle Matthew ....... umm .... well,  I'm never sure how to say it:
....  died  -  this is what I usually say
.... has been gone  -  like he'll be back?
....  passed  -  oh I don't know, seems kinda vague
.... we lost him  -  did we misplace him?

It doesn't really matter how I say it. There's no making it any nicer or better. It's been three years since that horrible day. It's been three years since I saw him last. Three years and one day since I've had a Kyle {{HUG}}.

I know I've promised to be as honest as I can here in blog land .... so friend, honestly, it is hard to not think each hour of this day how things played out each hour of that day three years ago.  It sure didn't help any that first thing this morning as I let the dog out back I heard sirens in the distance. There were a lot of sirens - police and EMT's - coming to our house the afternoon my Kyle died. 

But, this year I am trying to have a different perspective. And this I am sure is by the grace of God and the passage of time.  My perspective is:  I am three years closer to seeing my Kyle again!!  Three years closer to seeing that wonderful smile. Three years closer to another {{HUG}}!  Oh, buddy, it will be awesome!!

Just the thought of seeing Jesus and Kyle.....well, it brings a smile to my face and "happy" tears to my eyes. Kyle was so full of fun and energy. I can just imagine him practically bouncing up to me, running ahead of Jesus with that wonderful smile of his and giving me a huge {HUG}.

There is such hope & joy in that way of thinking, even in the midst of the pain of  remembering. And because of what the Bible teaches I have the assurance of it truly happening some day.

A different perspective is a good thing on days like today.

Thanking Jesus and missing my Kyle,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sweet 35

Wow! 35 years!

Yep, hubby & I just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.  I'm so thankful for living this life with him by my side and me by his side.

We've lived in 2 states, 6 cities and 8 homes.
We've had the joy of raising 2 sons.
We've had the pleasure of welcoming 1 wonderful daughter-in-law into our family.
We've had to say "good-bye" way too soon to 1 son who is safe in heaven with Jesus.

When we got married 35 years ago we made some promises to each other and to God. You know the ones, those traditional wedding vows promising to love each other.....

... in Sickness & in  Health ~
Of course, like anyone else we've experienced both sickness and health. Actually, I think it's kind of funny that when we got married hubby had a cast on his foot up to just below the knee from a broken shin bone. (Ummm, have I mentioned that I sometimes have a weird sense of humor?)   Also, hubby has been on disability and unable to work for the last 26 years. As for me, I've fought depression on & off most of my adult life. It's a chemical imbalance type of thing. (I heart Zoloft) But, when you're 18 & 21 years old you don't think about that stuff. Maybe with the whole "cast on the foot thing" we should have?  *giggle*

... for Better & for Worse ~
Well, ya know, life happens and we've had better and we've had worse.  In fact, about 8 years ago, we {our marriage} almost didn't make it.  As I look back on that time, I realize we were each being selfish in our own way. Selfishness has no place in a healthy marriage. It's by the grace of God and fervent prayer - mostly prayed by hubby - that our marriage was healed.

... for Richer & Poorer ~
We are definitely richer! Yea! 
No, we don't live in a mansion. We don't have 3 cars, 1 boat, a maid and go on vacations to Bermuda or anything like that. We don't even have a retirement fund. But, I'd say we're richer now than on the day we got married. After living so much of life together I think it's bound to happen.
We are rich in memories - 35 years of memories. We have a rich appreciation for life and especially our life lived together. We have a richer love for each other. We have a  richer commitment to our marriage. We truly are each other's BFF.

... till death do us part ~
Yep that's gonna be us - together forever.

Actually, I think our computer's screen saver sums up these 35 years together pretty well -
Tom Loves Debbie..... 
& Debbie Loves Tom......
Forever, For Always and No Matter What!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Encouragement Day!

Happy Encouragement Day to you my friend!!

Honestly, I didn't even know that there was such a day. It's a great idea -we all need a little encouragement now and then. Don't you agree?

The wonderful ladies over at (in)courage are celebrating National Encouragement Day and have asked their bloggy friends to help. They are also celebrating their one year anniversary and have been doing it in true blog land fashion - with a giveaway, every day, for thirty days. Wooo Hooo!

For one of their giveaways you could "win" a free pack of ten cards from DaySpring's new Hope & Encouragement line. The first 400 ladies to leave a comment would receive a pack.

I checked real quick to see how many comments had already been left - only a few - and quickly left mine.

Yea! I win!

Gotta say I love the idea for this giveaway. Encouraging others is something I enjoy doing and one of my favorite ways is to send a note or card.

First of all, who doesn't love getting mail. I mean real mail - not bills or mail addressed to "current resident".

In fact, my set of  DaySpring cards came on Friday and so did a card from a friend.

Guess what?!
I opened the card first!

What a neat surprise to receive a note, written just for me, for no special reason.  Just kind words to encourage me. I have her card on my dresser and will probably read it again once or twice before putting it away with some other cards I've kept that are special to me.

That's exactly why I love to send cards.  It's always a pleasant surprise for the person who receives it.  A card is something for them to touch and hold as they read your words..... words of love, encouragement, sympathy, congratulations or hope.

And friend, this blog is not a card, but as you read I hope you -
.... are encouraged
.... know I appreciate your stopping by
.... sometimes have a laugh at silly me
.... understand I care.

If there was a Happy Birthday type of song to sing for National Encouragement Day I'd be singing it to you right now!  Just to encourage you, because I appreciate you stopping by. But because I care -  I won't sing. Silly me!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Walking (not just talking)

You've probably heard the saying:  "if we talk the talk, we should walk the walk"

Within a week of my last post, Stopping Long Enough, I had to make a choice of whether or not I was going to walk out what I had talked about.

Take a look at these two sentences from that post ~
"I stopped long enough to feel His love for me. During those times this week I recommitted all that I had to Him."

Yep, that's exactly what I said. I had talked it and was quickly given the opportunity to walk it.

When faced with the uncertainties in life ~ would I trust Jesus with all that I had committed to Him?

Friday afternoon I was faced with some uncertainty concerning the future of my job. Friday night our A/C went out. That would most certainly put a strain on our already tight finances. Monday I went for my yearly mammogram. What if there are health issues to be faced?  That just can't happen..... because if I don't have a job than I don't have insurance......

.... so what did I do?
Did I cry?  Yes (a little)
Did I want to hide? Yes 
Did I pray? Yes (a lot)
Did I loose any sleep? Yes  (that "yes" was at least partly due to not having any A/C - in Florida- in August)

What did I, the self-appointed "OFP" {official family planner},  do about all of this?
Well, I had to fight the urge to try to plan out all the answers. So, no lists. No plan B.

I just kept reminding myself that when I had committed everything in my life to the Lord it was because I know He is faithful. I know He loves me. I believe He wants what is the very best for me.  And I want what He wants.

Each time thoughts of fear or worry would pop into my head I would stomp my foot and say "No, I gave it all to Jesus and whatever happens He will be with me."  Well, I didn't actually stomp my foot, but inwardly, in my spirit, that was my attitude.  I meant what I had said ~ I committed all of my life, meaning everything to Him.

So how did things turn out this week?  Well, I still have my job. Yea!  We had the A/C fixed and the Lord provided the money without us having to go further into debt. And no news on the mammo results (no news is good news).

However, as my week of walking out what I had talked about came to an end we learned that our next door neighbor is the third neighbor to have a potential sinkhole in his yard. If you don't know what a sinkhole is, it's a hole that can develop under the ground. It can at any time sink in and swallow anything above it. This new info was kind of a bummer since we don't have sinkhole insurance. But, it also is just one more opportunity to walk the walk.  I absolutely know that our home is in God's hands. Whatever the future holds *stomping my foot here*  He is aware of it and He will be faithful to guide me through it.

Now friend, I want you to believe me when I say -  I'm not bragging on myself here.  I just wanted to share how amazing it can be when we "stop long enough" in the Lord's presence. When we commit everything to Him we can relax knowing He is in control.

For me, these last couple of weeks have been another few steps in my journey of Finding Hope and Joy. I so hope that what I share will encourage you in some way.

Here's another saying I'd like to share -
think of it as my little {{HUG}} for you today:
"Don't worry about tomorrow, God is already there"
and go ahead... *stomp your foot*, too.

Love ya friend!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stopping Long Enough

This past week I enjoyed being on vacation for a few days. It actually was a "stay-cation" since we just stayed home and relaxed. A few weeks ago I mentioned to hubby that we needed to plan our vacation. I mean that's what the "official family planner" does, right?  Hubby thought it'd be kind of silly to plan anything since we weren't going away.  Ok, so whatever, I'll plan on my own. Being the planner is sometimes a lonely job.

Of course, you guessed it, I started with a  list.....
~ spend time in blog land
~ organize my coupon folder
~ maybe out to eat just once
~ go over to my parents and use their pool
~ maybe rent a movie
~ perhaps play some mini-golf
~ do a little yard work

About a week before my time off was to start I felt that I needed to add something to my vacation list. This was confirmed the Friday before I started my vacation as I read a post by Bonnie who writes over at FaithBarista .  These two sentences in particular really spoke to my heart: "If we were to stop long enough to really want Him, He would be the prize we’d dump everything for. Just to savor His touch and His words”

Something in my spirit cried out "Yes!"  How I would love to love spending time with Jesus.  As much as I enjoy being busy, Bonnie's post that day helped me realize I needed to “stop long enough”.  I just knew that - spending time with Jesus - needed to be on the very top of my list. I’m talking quality time – not the usual quick “good morning Lord, please be with me today” while I brush my teeth time.

And I kinda hate to admit it,  but I made another list. A little mental list of what me and Jesus needed to talk about. And if you too are a "list maker" I know you'll understand.  If you aren't, well, don't judge. Just love me and pray for me. :)   Anyways, my list basically consisted of a few things I needed to have some direction on.

As I prayed , read and simply spent time with Jesus an awesome, but not surprising, thing happened.  I didn't get to go over much of anything on my list. I didn't get specific answers to any of my questions. No direction to do this or go there. No insight whether I should try this or stop that.  As great as getting answers and direction concerning my little list would have been, I got something so much better.

He again became the one I wanted to spend time with each day.  I stopped long enough to pour out my heart to Him. I stopped long enough to feel His love for me. During  those times this week I recommitted all that I had to Him. And let me tell you that it wasn't easy (I promise to explain a little more in detail real soon). But once I did, it was freeing and brought me to tears. Tears of surrender which turned to tears of joy, peace and love.

So friend,  here is what I discovered - when we "stop long enough", when we desire a relationship with Jesus than the answers don't matter so much. He becomes our answer. Feeling His love becomes our comfort. Knowing He is with us no matter what becomes our peace.

And hey friend, I'd like to encourage you to stop long enough each day. You may or may not get what you're seeking, but you will get what you need.

BTW~ Don't forget to take a minute and stop over at FaithBarista. Bonnie is a great host and I just know you'll really enjoy your visit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yes He does!

Hello friend!  I'm glad you stopped by.  I really want to just sit a bit and share something from my heart with you today.

Do you know I truly care about you?
And, even more importantly God cares about you.
Oh yea. He sure does.
So, do you have a minute?

I'm all ready for a chat - got my coffee with vanilla & caramel creamer (my new favorite flavor) and am all comfy here at my computer with our dog, Lacey.  Actually, she's hiding at my feet and under the desk because there's a thunder storm rumbling overhead right now. She has anxiety attacks when there are loud noises like thunder or fireworks. As long as she doesn't hide too far under there and pull some of the wires out of the CPU we'll be fine.

Anyways,  like I was saying, God cares for you.
Yes He does!

Yea, I know...... life is just really tough sometimes isn't it?  It's more than tough sometimes. And we don't always get the answer that we desire when we pray. 

But friend,
He knows what you're going through,
and He sees you as you worry and wonder,
and He hears you as you cry,
and He feels the pain as your heart breaks.
And He cares about all of it.
Yes He does!

Oh, yes He does care, friend. I know it's true because the Bible tells me so. And because I've lived it.  In the darkest hour of my life - He was there.  Time and time again as I have lived through the process of grieving He has been there - comforting, helping, strengthening and loving. He cares - yes He does!

In fact, earlier today, as I was reading my Bible I read a verse that encouraged me. I'd like to share it with you. Pretty cool I just "happened" to read it today don't ya think?!

Take a look at this:
"And the God of all grace,
who called you to His eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will Himself restore you
and make you strong, firm and steadfast."   
I Peter 5:7

Now, at first I didn't like the part of this verse that suggests we're gonna suffer. But after taking a second and third look at it (sometimes I'm slow - or umm, stubborn) I realized what an encouraging verse this is.

Do you see it? He loves you! 
God Himself will restore you!
God Himself will make you strong and firm and steadfast!
The pain, the hurt, the storms - are just for a little while.
God is already there. He is waiting and ready to step in.
He will take care of  us through life's storms.

Now, I don't know about you....... but I'm ready to shout AMEN & Yes He Does!
(and that's not the caffeine speaking).

Oh friend, I don't know your circumstances. But, I do know that throughout the pain, storms and disappointment that I've experienced - He has been  faithful.
He has held me close and brought me through it all.
I know, that I know, that He loves me and cares for me.

I really want you to know it, too.
If the storm is too scary right now go ahead and hide at His feet.
Believe ~ the storm will pass.
Wait patiently ~ He will restore you.
Yes He will!

So friend, I hope you're encouraged from our little chat. My coffee is gone, the thunder storm has passed and Lacey should be coming out from under the desk any minute.

I leave you with a {{HUG}}
and the hope that as you go through your day you will say
~ God loves me! Yes He does!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bliss defined

Yes, today is the day I announce the winner of my giveaway. Yea!!

But, before we get to that I wanted to gab a little about BLISS. Hope that's ok.....
if not, go ahead and take a quick peek at the bottom of my post to see the name of the winner.
Then just please make sure you come back here.
OK?  Go ahead, I would ..........

So now, ready? Let's define bliss......

What is the dictionary's definition of bliss?
Not surprisingly it is a noun and is defined as:
supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment
So, I guess it would be correct to say:
bliss is a feeling or state of being. 
I think of it as a big sigh deep down inside of me.

What does the Bible say about bliss?
My Bible's concordance doesn't have the word bliss listed.
That surprises me -  I think of the phrase "heavenly bliss".
Nope, guess that's not a biblical phrase. Silly me.
Looking through the concordance further,
I found there were many listings for verses that contain
the words - happiness, joy & contentment.
There are so many that it makes me think it's
important and something the Lord desires for us.
Now that's a blissful thought isn't it?!

What did your comments tell me about bliss?
Bliss for you  has a lot to do with the desires of your heart,
family, love, Jesus and a little bit of chocolate.
I loved reading each comment. Impressive acronyms ladies!

What is my idea of  bliss
I guess it's pretty much the joy and contentment I feel
by spending time with family, knowing I am loved,
resting in God's faithfulness and grace,
accomplishing a task and a job well done
(and that would be the planner/ list maker in me)
and of course a little bit of chocolate and some laughter.

So, friend, thank you for stopping by.
And now to announce the winner of my very first giveaway........

and the winner is...... JoAnn!  Congratulations! 
I'll be mailing out your beautiful BLISS tote later today. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bliss is..... a giveaway!

Hello friend! Whether you've stopped by before or this is your first time at "Finding Hope & Joy" I appreciate you taking the time to visit.

Can you believe it has been six months since I started my little blog? So, I've been thinking - this would be a good time to celebrate!!

It's been a lot of fun creating this space, sharing my thoughts and life through my posts, and connecting with others here in blog land. I've shared about--- Reflections, Challenges, Happy Little Sunflowers, Grief, Clicking, Memories, Gathering, Symptoms, Gabbing, Believing, and of course Hope & Joy. There are even 3 two-part posts. Whew! I never knew I'd have that much to say..... yea, right, you don't believe it do you - especially if you know me or have read the "The Gift of Gab" post.

Ok,enough with the reminiscing already! Let's move on to the celebrating! I may still be fairly new to blog land, but I do know that the best way to celebrate is with a  FREE GIVEAWAY!

And, I guess you probably would like to know:
What I'm giving away (surprisingly it's not chocolate)
and How you can win it (giving you two chances to win).

Here it is:

As you can see on this side it says:
He satisfies the longing soul... with goodness Psalm 107:9

And here is all you need to do to win:

1. Add a comment to this post telling me what your idea of Bliss is.

2. For an extra chance to win just go to my Blessings Unlimited website at: and click on the "Shop Online" tab. Check out the wonderful products. Then come back here and leave a second comment about a product that you liked. In fact you can see the Bliss tote on my site. It's in the "NEW! SUMMER 2010 SUPPLEMENTAL CATALOG" section.

Your comments need to be posted  no later than midnight EST on Thursday, July 22. I'll announce the winner on Monday, July 26th.

Oh yea -  on the other side of the tote  it says:
Let your heart bring you joy in the blessings of God

And friend, that's what I'm wishing for you ~ Blissful Blessings!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Twenty-five Random Things ~ Part 2

Hey, you're back! Ready for part two?

Remember: I've gone ahead and made new comments under each random thing on the list. So, what I wrote back in Jan.'09 is in bold and my follow-up comments today are in italics.

Here are numbers 13 - 25 from my "Twenty-five Random Things About Me" list:

13. I usually drive five miles over the posted speed limit. (only one ticket)
~ No, I don't believe going a little over the speed limit is a sin (I really did have a preacher that taught this. And you don't want to know what he'd have to say about my tattoos! Refer to #4)

14. Friday is pizza day!
~ It's routine. Refer to #1

15. I would rather do yardwork than housework.
~ Oh yea! Even in the Florida heat - I don't mind getting dirt under my fingernails and sweating and.... Ummmm, TMI?

16. I love the beach and sunsets.
~ Don't you?!

17. I love my husband and can't imagine my life with anyone but him. He is my BFF!
~ Always and forever true!

18. I grew up in New Jersey but, I consider myself a Floridian by choice.
~ born and raised a Jersey girl (don't cha know) and Floridian by choice (y'all).

19. I hate to see someone eating by themselves.
~ Like in a resturant and especially if they're old... it's so sad.

20. I do not like to see other people be made fun of or have their feelings hurt (except on American Idol)
~ Simon Cowell tells it straight

21. I do not like trying new foods.
~ Every once in a while I'll try something different... Like parmesean crusted chicken. Yum! But, nothing too crazy, and not fish, and not Chinese, and nothing with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese.

22. I can not smell. Sometimes it's a blessing (my desk is directly across from the men's room at work- wish I couldn't hear sometimes). But I also wish I could smell- Tom's aftershave, roses and if supper is burning.
~ My mom says my lose of smell is because of using too much nose spray. Refer to #3

23. Thankful every day for God's mercy, love, grace and faithfulness!!

24. I am so thankful that TJ & Amber are back in Florida!!
~ They're my son and daughter-in-law who are living with us right now, with their pug (Buggsie) and cat (Jack). They've been such a blessing to us.

25. I love hugs!!
~ And a big {{HUG}} to you friend!

So, it was fun sharing some random things about me. Glad you stopped by.

* * Please make sure you check out next week's post... it's a fun surprise to celebrate six months of blogging! Yea!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Twenty-five Random Things ~ Part 1

I recently found a list of "Twenty-five Random Things About Me" that I compiled back in January of 2009. It's one of those Facebook lists that goes around from time to time. Someone sends you a list with info about themselves and you make up your own list. You then send it back to them and on to your other Facebook friends.

The info on your list can be funny, interesting and even surprising. As I now look over my list, 18 months later, it is neat to see what is the same and what has changed.

I thought it would be fun to share it here on my blog as an opportunity for you to learn a little bit more about silly me. I've gone ahead and made new comments under each random thing on the list. So, what I wrote in 01/09 is in bold and my follow-up comments today are in italics.

Ready? Here are numbers 1 - 12:

1. I do not like random- I like planned and organized
~ True - but why did I even do a random list? And, I think I should add that I also like to have a routine.

2. My favorite food is chocolate. I believe chocolate is an actual food because it's made from seeds from a tree, just not sure if it should be classified as a fruit or vegetable (they grow on trees, too, - so no I'm not silly)
~ I'm standing by my beliefs on this one... as I eat a double fudge chocolate brownie.

3. When I'm sick I hate having a stuffed-up nose.
~ Why I shared this I do not know. Pretty random though don't you think?

4. I have two tattoos - one of which I designed- and I got them when I was 50 yrs old. (Yes they hurt)
~I've found that people who don't have tattoos usually will ask if it hurt

5. I do not like to journal/blog. I prefer verbal communication. Although I like to read other's blogs.
~ This one makes me chuckle.... I heart blog land! I enjoy blogging!!

6. Love iced coffees and hot or iced lattes - carmel, mocha and white chocolate are my favs.
~ Adding McDonald's Frappe to the list

7. I miss my Kyle every day.
~ This will never change

8. I love Facebook so I can keep up with friends and how they are doing/ what's going on in their lives.
~ Even though I still go on Facebook at least once a day... it just seems to be more or less the same stuff day after day. Not so much in love with it any more.

9. I love music - especially praise & worship at church.
~ Still love music. And Praise & Worship is the best! Some extra randomness: I also like Christian rap/hip-hop. Even have taken a liking to some Country music.

10. I like to read- but I mostly like books that I read for a purpose rather than entertainment. Books that have a message, meaning, are life changing.
~ This one hasn't changed much. I did recently read "The Shack" and enjoyed it a lot. I'm now reading "Crazy Love".

11. I want to learn how to quilt. Sounds like a boring thing. But, I want to make a memory quilt from Kyle's shirts.
~ Still haven't learned how to quilt. But, I've decided to make a rag quilt out of his shirts. It sounds a lot easier than traditional quilting. Hope to get started on it soon.

12. I do not like heights. No higher than say the roof of my house.
~ To clarify: I do not get on the roof. Only go high enough on a ladder to paint or clean gutters.

Any questions? Does it make you want to share a few random facts about yourself with me?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Life is Like a Book ~ ~ so don't tear out any pages

Have you ever noticed that life is a lot like a book? If you think about it they are similar in quite a few ways. Understanding how they are alike may be able to help us enjoy life a little more.

Let's see.....
...both have a beginning and an end (duh- easy one there).
...a book is divided into chapters as the story unfolds. Life is divided into stages, seasons and phases.
...both life and books have plots and subplots.
...they both have a cast of characters (some we love and some we'd love to forget).
...a storyline is composed of a combination of events & emotions - good & bad, joy & sadness, hope & regret.

I'm thinking that living life is a lot like reading a book.

Some other ways life and books are similar are: we may turn the pages of a book and go on to the next chapter, but it doesn't mean we have forgotten what has gone on in the previous chapters. In fact, we need all those details to help us see where the storyline is going. All of the events and characters are woven together to complete the story. The same applies in life - we may turn the pages to start a new chapter, but what we have lived previously will still be a part of our story. The events and people in our lives are woven together to make up our life's story.

So, the whole book is the story. Our whole life is a story.

Now, wouldn't it be silly to take a whole chapter of a book and tear it out or skip over it all together? We'd probably miss some good stuff and may not understand what is going on in later chapters. Sometimes in life we want to do just that - forget or deny (tear out) those pages that we don't like. You know the ones. They're the ones that deal with the grief, pain, failure, regret, etc in our lives.

To be honest, I had thought that when I started this new chapter in my life's story, the one titled "Finding Hope & Joy", that I had closed the pages on the last chapter titled "Living with Grief". I believed that I was somehow leaving the grief behind. Not the memories of my Kyle or his life, but the pain. That now the grief would be replaced by hope & joy. But, ya know what? It just doesn't work that way. We can't deny (tear out) the parts we don't like. Believe me, they will still be there. It's part of our story.

We all have a story to tell. I want my life's story to be one of encouragement. A story where the main character {that's me} never stops believing in the grace & mercy of God. Not even in the face of disappointment & pain. I really want others to see that Jesus is faithful, chapter by chapter and through the whole story of my life. So, to do this I can't go tearing out that chapter about grief. And boy would I like to! But, it is part of my story now. In order for the next chapters in my life to have meaning, it really needs to be there. It makes the joy after the pain so much more precious.

So, friend, I'm wondering - what do you want your life's story to say? Do you have a chapter that you'd like to tear out? I pray you will see how it is part of your story. I hope you can find joy and see how Jesus can weave it all together to create a wonderful story. The special story of you. And believe me when I say - He is faithful to be by your side through all the chapters of your life.


Monday, June 21, 2010

The Gift of Gab

Something I've been considering is whether or not to change my blog's address (URL) to match the title of my blog. I've read how this is a good idea. The reason for them to match makes sense, but it's not a must. It's just that, me being me, I want to do things the right way and not get in trouble. I've always been this way. Just ask my mom - her Debbie "was always such a good girl". Honest, that's exactly what she'll tell you. However, that is not what my high school history teacher would tell you. I believe she wrote in my yearbook something about how "class certainly would have been dull" without me. And she wasn't talking about my sunny personality. It was more likely my chatting during class that caused her to write that comment.

OK - so back to my little dilemma.... I guess it's ok to leave things the way they are. What would happen if my blog's title and address don't match? I mean, really - would I get a warning notice from blogger land's HOA?! Silly me!

So, I guess it's safe to keep the address I have. I really do like it - debgab. It consists of the first three letters of my first and last names. And I do think it's kind of cute. It's also fitting because I have been told (more than once actually) that I have the "gift of gab". I guess I've just always loved to chitchat or gab.

Let's see - let me count the ways....
- hanging around and chatting after church,
- gabbing on the phone,
- email
- FaceBook
- I even have been known to gab with the stranger in front of me on line at WalMart (which confused my boys when they were little, because we "aren't supposed to talk to strangers are we?")

And now there is blogger land! A great new way for me to exercise my gift of gab. I love leaving comments on other blogs, getting comments here at Finding Hope & Joy (aka "debgab") and commenting back when you leave a comment.

Whether you call it chitchat, gabbing, or sharing - it's all a way we can connect with others. We all need that don't we? To feel we're a part of something. A part of a community. We need to know that we're heard and understood. I wonder why that is......

So friend, what do you think - do you like to gab? Leave me a comment and I promise to sit down for a chat with you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gathering for Blessings

About ten months ago I became an Independent Consultant with Blessings Unlimited. This is a wonderful Christian company that offers the opportunity for women to have their own homebased business. Think - Mary Kay, Pampered Chef or Tupperware. But they offer more than just a business - it's also an opportunity for ministry. At first, I wasn't sure how I could blend the biz & ministry, but it sounded appealing.

Blessings Unlimited offers amazing inspirational products. Our parties are called "Gatherings". The idea is to gather together with family & friends to share the blessings of God. At my Gatherings I start & end with prayer and read a short devotional. We play games, have a door prize drawing and of course I bring some chocolate. I mean what's a party Gathering without chocolate?!

At first I figured the prayers and devotional time would be the "ministry" part of my new little biz. However, I think it could and should be more than that. Hopefully, it will become much more than that as I make new friends and reach out to my hostesses and their guests.

So far at my Gatherings I've seen:
~young moms exchanging parenting ideas,
~a few ladies stopping to pray with one who was weeping,
~someone pausing to listen to the stories of a precious widow.

And I've come to realize:
~as we encourage, pray, listen, share, laugh - we are blessed.

As I sit here and write this, I feel the Lord speaking to my heart. As I prepare for my Gatherings I need to spend more time praying for ministry opportunities than how many people will attend. I feel the Lord truly cares more about my actions and heart towards the ladies than how much fun or how interesting my presentation is. I think He cares more if everyone feels blessed afterwards than if they got some chocolate. Whoa! Now that's pretty extreme - no chocolate?!

I'm seeing my new little biz in a fresh way. When I typed the title to this post I wasn't sure if I'd keep it. But, I now feel that Gathering for Blessings is the true meaning and purpose of my biz ministry within my biz. Whatever and however the Lord chooses to bless us as we gather together is what I desire.

Wishing you many blessings and some chocolate,

Monday, May 31, 2010

I Heart Blogger Land

Isn't blogger land a wonderful place!? I just heart (love) it!

Ummm ... not so sure hubby would agree. But I love the creativeness it allows me to have as I design my blogsite and as I write.

This week I have met a new blogging friend named Cate. What a sweet lady and inspiring writer.

Today I've spent most of the day (reason why hubby doesn't heart blogger land so much) giving my blog a few final tweaks.

The other day I finished reading a book about blogging. A book that hubby got me for Mother's Day - silly guy.

Since, I've already shared the fact that I'm a planner and love being organized, I guess it's no surprise that I have lists and plans for my blog as well. Right? Right!

One of the satisfying things about making a list is checking things off as I complete them. Lots of things checked off today. Ahhh - sigh of happiness from the planner in me......

A hint for successful blogging is to have a few posts already written and ready...... I have two pages of ideas in a note book and a few outlines drafted.


Also, to keep visitors interested you need to post at least three times a week...... I really don't have time for three posts a week. And of course I'm blogging for joy and don't want it to become a chore I check off my "To Do" list. However, I think I can manage twice a week. Details on this soon.


Plus, add pictures. I am not much of a photographer and hate dragging a camera around. Now, hubby, he's the photographer. Perhaps a new camera for Christmas and he'll join in this blogger land fun with some pictures for my posts.

Future Check!

And don't forget the occasional contest or giveaway. Now this one I am really excited about! I plan on having a giveaway in July for the six month anniversary of my blog.

Happy Check!

Yes, I heart blogger land and the joy, creativity, friends and fun it brings me. I'm wondering what do you love about blogger land?

So, friend, please know I heart you, too!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sometimes it's just the little things ~ Part 2

Sometimes it's just the little things in life... like my happy little sunflower. Last week I shared how it makes me smile. This week I'm thinking about the little things in life that stir up memories.

Little things we see, hear, taste, smell, etc can bring back a memory - good or bad. Even though I want my blog's focus to be about the positive things in life that bring Hope & Joy, I also want to keep it real. So ya know - life is just hard sometimes. And I find that the painful memories can overtake the joyful ones.

This month of May is one of the harder months of the year for me. Both Mother's Day and my Kyle's birthday fall in May. So I find myself with tears in my eyes or a lump in my throat a lot. Sometimes it seems that everywhere I turn there is a reminder of my son. It's just pretty much the normal every day type of little things that stir up these memories.

Like seeing a big black Ford F150.... that's what Kyle drove and was so proud of
or drinking an iced coffee... Kyle introduced me to flavored iced coffee (with extra cream & extra sugar of course)
or driving past Taco Bell.... his favorite was a double-decker taco with nacho cheese on it (at least twice a week)
or hearing a siren in the distance.... there were a lot of sirens the day Kyle died
or just any "little thing" and every "little thing"

Now, any of these little things can bring back a good and/or a bad memory. I am finding that most times I am able to focus on the good, but not always and it can be hard. It is a choice that I make each time. It's hardest when I can't link it to a good memory and I'm left remembering only the pain.

When that happens I go to my "bottom line" and remind myself that my Kyle is with Jesus and I will see him again. My "bottom bottom line" is he is now safe and happy. Because of his addictions to alcohol and drugs, he had pretty much lost all joy and hope. His choices brought him many regrets and much sadness. He wanted so much to change his life. We worried about him constantly. So, my knowing he is now safe and happy is maybe a little thing, but for a momma who soooo misses her son and loves him even more - it is a big thing. And a comforting thing.

So, friend - there is no denying life is hard and sometimes it's just the little things that bring the tears. But, I can still find hope & joy in life. I can... if I choose to. Sometimes it takes going to my "bottom line". It's my choice. After the pain and after the tears, it's the little choices of faith, hope, and prayer that makes the difference. Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a post for another day - "Sometimes it's just the little choices in life".

Wishing you happy "little things" in life,

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sometimes it's just the little things ~ Part 1

The last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that sometimes it's just the little things in life that can make all the difference.

While I was giving my blog it's facelift I told hubby I needed to get a sunflower. Then he could take a picture. Then I could use that picture to make my grab button for my blog. I'm not sure he totally understood why I needed to go get a sunflower or what a grab button was.

He was so sweet to go with me to the store on a Sunday afternoon. He knew how hard I was working to pretty up my blog. Of course, me being me, we needed to take my picture by the back fence before the sun went down. And so he went outside and took the perfect picture for me. Actually, he took about ten to give me a selection to pick the "perfect" picture from. After 34 years of marriage he knew I would definitely need more than one picture. He realized long ago that I am a bit of a perfectionist.

When we were done I put the sunflower, in it's cheap little pot, out on my back porch. I could see it from my kitchen window. I watched the buds turn into flowers. And each time I looked out there I smiled at my little sunflower. I can't explain it, but it made me happy just seeing it sit out there.

I never really knew what a happy flower the sunflower is. But, I think it made me smile more because of what it represented to me. It was just a little thing that my husband went out to the store with me. It was just a little thing for him to take the pictures. Ummm... and maybe not such a little thing that he was patient to get supper a wee bit late that evening. All of this shows me in little ways that he loves me in a big way.

Now, when I sign on to my blog I see the happy little sunflower button I made and I smile. It's a sense of accomplishment for me. Before entering "blogland" I didn't even know what an HTML was, never mind how to edit it. It also reminds me that I've been blessed with a great hubby.

Sometimes, it's just the little things - that makes us smile, feel joy, bring hope and know we are loved.

So friend, I am wondering.... can you think of a little thing that has brought you joy? I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lead, Guide or Walk Beside?

Lately I've been spending quite a bit of time giving my blog a facelift. I've learned a lot, enjoyed being creative and have had a blast personalizing it. One thing I've added at the bottom of the page is a cute little button with sunflowers. It says "Lead me, Guide me, Walk beside me".

I really like that saying. I so want to walk out my life in a good way. I rely on the Lord to show me that way. It is a comfort to know I can go to Him for help and guidance. However, as I've considered my blog button a little more - I'm thinking I only really like the first two parts of that saying. The last part I'm not so sure about.

The reason is, when I need to make a decision, especially a life changing one, I want a "yes" or "no" answer from the Lord. I want an open or closed door. I'm cool with either one - just let me know what I am to do. I guess that way of thinking is pretty much part of my personality. Perhaps, those of us who see life in black & white, right & wrong are just more likely to feel this way. As I have thought about my cute little sunflower button, I realized that it's this part of my personality that doesn't like that last part.

The "lead me" part is easy. Go ahead Lord show me what to do, lead the way and I'll follow the best I can.

The "guide me" part is simple. Just guide me.... a little nudge this way, a detour that way and I'll go down the right path.

At first "walk beside me" sounds so comforting. What a better friend to have walking beside me as I travel through life. Right? Well, yes, of course. But, I want more - I want guidance. Give me answers.

As I consider all of this, I'm beginning to wonder - could the "guide me" part actually be the best part? When hubby and I take a walk - we walk side by side. No one leads. Neither guides the other. We just enjoy the time together. It gives us some much needed exercise. While we walk we talk - about problems, decisions and our dreams. It is one way we stay connected.

Well now, I think I'm going to change my mind on this one. I see that as the Lord walks beside me we have sweet fellowship. That is the time I share my dreams, hopes, worries and ask for guidance. When I don't get those yes & no answers I must exercise my faith. Not a bad thing. Best of all - as we walk along we stay connected.

So, friend, what part of my cute little sunflower button do you like the best? I'd love to know - Lead, Guide or Walk Beside?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Click,,,, Click,,,, Click,,,,

I have made a discovery! Something that started out innocent enough has taken over my life. Well, maybe not my whole life, but a good chunk of time each day one click at a time.

Over the last few months I have developed, now don't laugh, a pretty awesome Country Life farm on Facebook. Those of you who have farms, cafes, islands, etc will understand what I am talking about. Those of you who don't will think it crazy of me to feel the need to feed my little cows, cute rabbits and adorable sheep. As well as, spending a lot of time click,,,, click,,,, clicking on my crops to harvest them and re-clicking on each spot to replant more seeds. And that would be roughly 552 clicks just for my crops! Yikes - I think I need help! Bet you think so, too.

During the past few weeks I have noticed I am farming more and more. Clicking on the crops, to click on the cows, to click on the cheese maker - click,,,, click,,,, click. I squeeze in any free minutes I can to get enough points to advance to the next level so now I can plant... oh, my, gosh - raspberries! For those of you who don't know me well -please read that last line with a moderate amount of sarcasm.

I don't understand this obsession at all. But what I have come to understand is - it is stealing from me. It is stealing time, money and even joy. Ugh! This is not good!

It is stealing time I could be spending with others. I have found myself half paying attention to family members and co-workers. I have gotten pretty good at timing how long until the jars of jam will be ready before a few more clicks are needed to get them into my barn. So, I can talk than click,,, click,,, click and than turn my attention back to the conversation. The truth is I hate it when I am half ignored by someone while they answer their cell or return a text. And here I am doing it to others with my CCD (Compulsive Clicking Disorder).

It is stealing money. Since I work a half day on Saturdays I voluntarily take a short lunch the rest of the week in order to make my forty hours. However, more than once now I have clocked in later than planned because I was waiting for the cute little bees to hover over to the clover, make it back to their hives and then for the little jars of honey to appear so I could click,,,, click,,, click on them to store them in my barn.

It is stealing some joy from me. Now, that is really not a good thing. The most important thing to me in life has always been my family and especially time spent with them. The love, laughter and memories we share, as we live life together, is so precious to me and brings me a lot of joy. I also enjoy sending cards, notes and emails to friends and family as a way to share my love or bring encouragement. Who has time when they have a farm to run?!

Well, I have made a decision.... my farm will stay at level 28 with a partially built greenhouse. I will never get to the level needed to plant strawberries. But, I am not going to stop click,,,, click,,,, clicking. No way! I will click out emails of encouragement. I will click out promises to pray for my friends on Facebook. I will click out posts on my blog. And you know what? I'm  feeling more joy already!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Still Believe

I have come to realize that some of my biggest questions in life may never be answered. And I am learning to accept and live with that.

Because I have some BIG questions they are directed at God. He is a BIG God and He is the only one who could possibly know the answer.

After my Kyle died I honestly didn't lose my faith. I didn't question my salvation. I still believed that God is loving and sovereign. But, I did have some BIG questions... Why did my Kyle die? Why didn't you stop those things from happening that day? Why didn't you heal him? Do you really have my back God? Any guarantees I'll never have to feel this fear and pain again?

After 28 months, I still don't have the answers. I don't think I ever will have the answers ... at least not this side of heaven. And to be honest, I don't think my "mommy's heart" could hear any answer good enough to explain why my son died so suddenly and violently that day. I also don't think that I could understand the wisdom of God with my human mind. Even if somehow He did sit me down and explain the answers to my "Whys?" - I still wouldn't get it.

Maybe God didn't give me answers, but what He has given me I am thankful for. He has given me comfort and strength, assured me that I will see my Kyle again, given me a deeper empathy for others who are hurting and a new appreciation for my family and friends.

About eighteen months or so into my grief journey I realized that my not understanding the "Whys?" certainly didn't change WHO. Not having the answers didn't change the truth. It didn't change who God is or anything concerning His character. So, because of that I am able to say - "I am thankful for God's love, grace, mercy and faithfulness. Even if I don't understand all the "Whys?" in life - I still Believe!"

I want to encourage others to trust Him with their Big questions. I want others to know that God is loving, faithful, gracious and merciful. And even if we don't get the answers to those Big questions in life, we can trust a Big God who knows the answers (even when He doesn't reveal them). We can still believe!

Keep Believing,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Let's treat the symptoms

I must admit I am really enjoying blogging. With having a goal of posting once a week, I find I tend to pay closer attention to the happenings in my life each week, trying to find the lesson learned.

This week hubby ended up in the ER with a super, major, horrible migraine and his BP was 197/107 on our home BP monitor. He does have high blood pressure which is usually controlled by daily medicine. He also suffers from an occasional migraine. But this headache was so painful and his BP so high he asked me to take him to the ER.

At first, he was given two different medicines that would work together to ease the pain. A third medicine was later needed. Finally, after three shots his pain was pretty much under control. After a CAT scan his problem was diagnosed as an acute case of sinusitis. Sinusitis can be very painful and the OTC medicine he had been taking for a head cold most likely gave him the high blood pressure.

While we were there I guess the ER nurse sensed we were very concerned about the high blood pressure numbers. He told us they "treat the symptoms, not the numbers". He went on to say that hubby's BP numbers were high, but not alarmingly high. Sorry, but they alarmed both me and hubby.

During the next few days I kept thinking about what the nurse said and pondering how it could be applied to life in general. Here is an example I came up with.... our "symptom" could be worry. And sleepless nights, headaches, and crying would be our "numbers".

Now, we can treat the numbers with sleeping pills, aspirin, and shopping therapy. Or we can treat the symptom. The symptom of worry could be diagnosed as not trusting that the Lord is in control. Now that we know the facts we can than treat the symptom with a "shot" of Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him". It may take a few "shots" to really get that worry under control. Another one perhaps from Psalms may be necessary. Psalm 121:1-2 reminds me that "I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth". I am sure after this treatment our worry will be under control.

I'm thinking this can help with many of the problems we experience in life. So, this week's life lesson is: when life gives you a migraine make sure you treat the symptoms and not the numbers.

So, friend, can you think of any other ways to treat the symptoms and not the numbers?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reflections of our hearts

What are the reflections of your heart? By that I mean - what do you really value in life? Holley Gerth says "Our values are a reflection of our hearts and God has made us unique in what we respond to most." By values she means what is important to you, not morals. I believe these kind of values are things that bring hope and joy to our lives.

Not too long ago I was doing some serious thinking about what I would do if I knew I only had 24 hours left on this earth. Now, don't worry, I wasn't thinking in a depressed sort of way. Life had just gotten way too busy. I was really needing to figure out what is important and what is a priority. If it made the list of what I would do in my last 24 hours than it is truly a priority of priorities.

I love going to the beach and watching sunsets..... that would be nice.
I love chocolate and mocha lattes..... yummmm.
What about my "bucket list"?...hmmmm.

As I became still and allowed my heart to reflect on what is important to me, what I truly value, it became pretty clear - it is simply family and close friends.

Phooey on my "bucket list"! It isn't a very long list and I only have one thing crossed off so far. But things like taking a spin in a Nascar race car, being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and learning to quilt just aren't that important compared to spending time with my family. In case you're wondering, the one thing I have checked off my "bucket list" is get a tattoo. Actually, I have gotten two - both when I was 50 years old. The second one I drew and so I am a tattoo artist. And yes, they did hurt.

A major step in restoring some hope & joy in my life happened this past Christmas season and it involved special times with my family. It was the first year since my Kyle died that I even felt like celebrating. We didn't do anything big or special. We spent less money than in past years. But the time that was spent with family is priceless. The memories we created from our just being together, sharing food, love and lots of laughter are what has helped bring healing to my heart. It is these things that have helped me move on to the next chapter in my life.

I believe Holley's statement is so very true. These times with family are things I value and are a reflection of my heart. The Lord used the thing I value most to begin my journey to finding hope and joy. I don't know if hope brings joy or joy brings hope. I think it works both ways.

And I believe if I knew I had only 24 hours left on this earth you would find me with my family and a few close friends laughing and sharing and loving. Maybe we'd be at the beach watching a sunset and drinking iced mocha lattes. Priceless!!

BTW~ So, friend, what would you be doing? What are the reflections of your heart? Leave me a comment.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finishing the Challenge

If you have read my very first post you know I never thought I'd find myself in "blogland". Well, maybe as a happy observer, but not as a participant.

Now, even more of a surprise, I have recently completed a 21-day challenge in "blogland" led by Holley Gerth. The series was titled "The Rest of Your Story". Holley led us through eleven days of preparation before we even got started with the challenge. There was so much discussed, thought about, discovered and learned that I can't begin to describe it all here. Be assured it was truly a blessing and each day I looked forward to what the next challenge would be.

By the end of our challenge we were to have written a personal story statement. This is like a mission statement, but since God is the author of our lives the word story makes more sense. The simple formula Holley gave us was: To bring + (what) + (who) + (how)

I keep struggling with this task. So far all I have is: To help restore hope and joy to those who are hurting and discouraged by ....... hmmmm.....

I have had a very hard time figuring out that last part. Maybe it's because of that perfectionist tendency I have that I feel it needs to be worded just right. Maybe I am over thinking something that's simple.

So, as I reread the lists of strengths and skills from the challenge, the word encourage keeps coming up. Ok, maybe that's what I'm looking for. I do love to send notes and cards of encouragement to someone who is having a hard time, is sad or discouraged. More than once I've given an encouraging word to the new cashier at the store when I see them struggling. Even as a child I wanted to help and encourage others. I remember encouraging a classmate in kindergarten (a really long time ago) who was too afraid to say "here" when the teacher called the roll call. I talked to him and told him it really wasn't so scary to say that one word when the teacher called his name.

I believe I'm onto something here. Let me try it again - To help restore hope and joy to those who are hurting and discouraged by encouraging them ..... hmmm...

Stuck again! Ok, so back to the list and ideas and let's try this one more time - To help restore hope and joy to those who are hurting and discouraged by encouraging them with acts and words of kindness.

Whew! I did it! Ummm..... now how do I put this into practice in my life's story? I'm not totally sure. I guess I'll just keep being the me that God created me to be. Because Jesus is the author and He's writing my story.

BTW ~ you can visit Holley Gerth at: Heart to Heart with Holley

Monday, February 8, 2010

Running ahead

When my boys were little they sometimes would run ahead of me when we were out shopping at the mall. They knew we were going in a certain direction and would just take off. They never hid or got lost. I think they were just excited because they knew the fun we'd have. The mall ment time in the arcade playing games, lunch in the food court, and a snack from the Cookie Factory before we'd go home. Usually somewhere along the line we'd stop in the toy store. Kyle would choose a Hot Wheels car (back when they were only $1.00) and TJ a pack of baseball cards.

When they'd run off they may have known what direction we'd be headed in, but not necessarily the destination. They wouldn't always know which store we'd be going to next. Or when it was time to stop for lunch. Or just what was the plan and what was on my list. I'd let them go so far and than call them back to me. Sometimes they'd run back to me, other times they'd stop and wait for me to catch up to them. Then we'd start off again in the right direction together. As a result, we have some wonderful memories of the fun times we shared at the mall.

The past ten days have been pretty rough for me. I've been tired, crabby, slightly depressed and missing my Kyle a bit more than usual which makes me sad. I think I have finally figured out why...... I am running ahead of the Lord. Just like a little kid who thinks they know which way they're headed I just took off. In my journey to finding hope & joy again in life I thought I knew which way to go. So off I ran. Knowing it will be fun and wonderful and exciting. And wait.... I really don't know the plan, or list or destination. Yikes! What am I doing running off like this?!

So, I have stopped. I need to go back to the way I know the Lord was showing me to take. This is a rebuilding time in my life. Rebuilding of my faith and relationship with the Lord. Rebuilding of my focus on my husband and family. Rebuilding of how I live my life. Rebuilding my convictions. As I start out again on this journey I'll listen better to what the Lord says are His plans for me. I'll try to follow what's on His list of things for me to accomplish. I want to journey with Him, knowing that is when I will find true hope and joy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Three simple words ~ Part 2

The plan was to share a little more about the title for my blog. However, as the week has progressed I have discovered it is important for me to remember why I started this blog and what the purpose for it is.

First of all, let me explain something about me... I am a Planner. I love lists, post-it notes and having a routine. I almost always have a plan A and usually a plan B for "just in case". It's just the way I work best- rules, lists, order and organization. That doesn't sound like I am a very fun person. But, I am also sometimes silly, love to laugh, and enjoy time with family and friends. I can be fun! Maybe soon I'll share a few pictures to prove it. :)

So anyways, at the beginning of last week I already had an outline for this blog post. And buddy I had a bunch of Bible verses about hope and joy all ready to go. It was a great list!

Then on Tuesday morning I woke up around 5:00am and started thinking about my blog. I felt the Lord reminding me this is not about having a Bible study. This is not to be about lists and rules and order. This is all about the next chapter in my life's story. It's the one after the chapter titled "Living with Grief".

This was confirmed later that day as I read a blog by Holley Gerth that I'm following. She has given us a 21-day challenge titled "The Rest of Your Story". That day her question for us asked: Are we a Princess, Procrastinator or Planner? She talked about letting the Lord lead us as we walk out our life story. The one He has already planned and designed for us. We are to know we can rest in Him and His love for us. No need to be the perfect princess, no need to be afraid and procrastinate and no need to have all the details planned out.

So I guess those three simple words - "Finding Hope & Joy" are simply the title of the next chapter of my life's story. And yes, I do have a list of ideas for future posts..... but I promise not to get too carried away with my planning. I am really going to try to allow this chapter to be one I enjoy one page at a time. Hope you will follow along and see where this takes me.

Three simple words ~ Part 1

Three simple words.... finding - hope - joy. Three little words that can have a lot of meaning. I didn't even realize how much meaning when I chose them for my blog's title.

On my way to church the first Sunday of 2010 I asked the Lord to speak to me during the church service. Speak through the worship music, the message or a friend. Let it be encouraging, insightful or correcting. How or what wasn't as important as just hearing something from the Lord.

I was almost there when the thought came to me that maybe I should give Him the whole day to say something. No, He is God and could certainly figure out how to speak to me on such short notice. Silly me. Another thought came as I pulled into the parking lot - who am I to give the Lord a time limit? No, I was seeking not demanding. Silly Satan.

As I walked in to church the worship team had just started the first song. The words being sung encouraged me. They reminded me the Lord is with me in the good and hard times. He will not let go of me. I will continue to trust Him.

During the worship time the leader read Psalm 71:14. "But as for me, I will always have hope, I will praise you more and more." The word "hope" stirred something in me. Yes, I will take a stand and praise the Lord because He is my hope!

The message that day was a recap of what the Lord had done during 2009 and the vision of where He was leading our church in 2010. I honestly didn't think I'd hear from the Lord during an informational type of message. Silly me.

The pastor read Psalm 51:10-12. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me." The last verse especially stirred a desire for renewed joy in my life. And again a commitment to take a stand and live totally for Jesus. These verses have become my prayer for 2010.

I had asked the Lord to speak to me and He did. He spoke to me in that hour in more than one way that all fits together. He reminded me that as I go through life He is with me no matter what life brings. He inspired me to take a firm stand and never give up - hope. He encouraged me to seek - finding. He planted a desire for - joy.

Another thing the pastor said that morning was we should "draw a picture" in our minds of what our lives could be like in 2010 and then Just Do It. This statement and challenge made me really think. As I thought about it, I became excited about the future and what the Lord wants to do in my life. I have always had a heart for hurting people and love to encourage others. During the past year I have been so blessed by some blogs I have been reading and was now thinking of starting my own blog.

So, I am going to - Just Do It! And do it with Hope & Joy, because He won't ever let me go and is leading the way!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I was thinking.....

I was thinking..... since I named my blog "Finding Hope & Joy" does that mean that I had lost my hope & joy? That is an odd thought for me, because I am usually happy and have a smile to share. I generally look for the positive, and if that can't be found, than the humorous in any given situation.

And the answer I came up with is..... yes, about 24 months ago I guess I did lose my hope and joy. I lost it to grief. On November 20, 2007 at about 2:00 in the afternoon my 25 year old son died suddenly and violently. I am so thankful that I got to be Kyle Matthew's mom for 25 years, six months and one day. He was a wonderful son and dearly loved. Perhaps, in future posts I will share with you more about his struggles and life.

I am sure I will share some about my journey with grief. I guess it is a journey. It sure isn't a choice. Not a partnership. It is something I am working through, navigating around and finding my way past. Finding my way back to hope and joy. So, yes, the word "journey" best describes it.

Now, getting back to my original thinking..... I did lose my hope and joy. The good news is that I am again finding hope and joy. There is healing in the journey. Next time I'll share a little more about "how" I chose the name for my blog. For now the question is answered of "why" and I'm on my way. I'm looking forward to the end of the journey when I'll see my Jesus face to face and get a hug from my dear son, Kyle. Miss those "Kyle hugs"!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Blogland" here I come.....

Welcome to my blog! I don't know if that statement surprises you, but it sure does me. I never thought I would enter "blogland". At least not as a blogger. I do enjoy reading other people's blogs. I have found them interesting, funny and even inspiring. However, I have tried journaling now and then over the years, but have never kept one going for long. And since blogging is online journaling I figured it wouldn't be much fun and a lot of effort.

After my best friend, Vera, read something I wrote for my homebased business she suggested that I try my hand at writing. "You wrote that? It was really good" she said. I guess I didn't look very convinced that it was anything special and probably looked a bit surprised. "At least pray about it?" she asked. I replied that I would and just so I didn't lie to my best friend I said a quick prayer.

A lot of my prayers over the next few weeks concerning life in general were me reminding the Lord how busy I am. How can I get some balance between family, work, church, my new business and have some time for me? How do I prioritize when everything seems like a priority? As far as this whole writing thing - well, I would share with Him my list. And I do love lists! Have you ever done that? You know, a list you give the Lord of the "whys" and "why nots". Well, my list consisted of things like - how I never was good at writing, what would I write about that would be of any interest, and how busy I already am. I admitted it would be neat to have a blog, but no, not me. I could not ever be as funny, or encouraging, or interesting as some of the other bloggers out there.

I love how the Lord just sits back and listens until I am all out of reasons. It's like I ask Him something and than tell Him all the reasons it cant' possibly work. He waits patiently until it's His turn. He lets me get it all out. Then He starts to work in me. He did answer me, but not right away and not all at once. Little by little over the next few months He let me know that I could do this. I so love how He leads - gently, patiently and lovingly.

So, ready or not "blogland" here I come. And I hope you will feel free to come by every now and than and see where He is leading me.