Thursday, November 21, 2013

Be Still.


In a world filled with propaganda and media streaming loud and strong 24 hours a day, is it any wonder that we have lost sight of stillness?  Yes, stillness.  Pause for a moment.  Take a long breath in and wait.  Now let it out slowly.  These moments of quiet, albeit few and far between, may actually be the antidote to our crazed days.  We are a busy people.  Add in a spouse, and a few children locked into their busy schedules, and suddenly you find yourself in a busy whirlwind.  Throw in the hoopla of the holidays, and it is a wonder that we call it, the most wonderful time of the year.

I see it in my own life.  My proverbial 'full plate' is piling higher and higher.  It is so easy to get swept up into the winds of motion.  I want to be present in the now.  I don't want another day to go by without knowing that I actually took notice of this life I am living.  As Christmas approaches how I long to be present in it.  To be mindful of Christ and His humble beginnings.  Still...oh to be still.

Yet there is dinner to be made, work to be done, laundry to do and kids to tuck in.  Time is a thief and waits for no one, and so we race against it.  We buy into the lie that being busy and in motion somehow gets us farther in life.  We are afraid that if we sit back and wait too long, we will miss out.  In the craziness of the season, my prayer is to be still, and to take moments of stillness to reflect, even amidst the chaos, actually despite it.

Gracie loved Christmas.  A dear friend took this beautiful picture of her.  Our two little ones at the time were running, laughing and dancing around her pram and creating a beautiful chaos that only preschoolers can make!  Yet, there she was.  My sweet pea.  She was taking it all in.  She loved the lights of the tree, and she loved the squeals of her siblings.  I remember this moment, clearly.  I watched her, unmoved by the loud play around her, enjoying the soft glow of the lights of the tree, cooing softly.  A cherished memory now held near to my heart.  I am thankful for these moments that I 'come up for breath.'  When we are caught in the busyness of life, it is easy to be vacant and unacknowledging of these simple moments around us.  Oh to take notice more often and awaken to these moments in which we are fully present, where our soul is fully alive and aware.  It is in these moments when we are alive enough to wake up from the daze of life and take notice.  And it is these moments that then become our beloved memories.  

Today, this hour, this minute, this moment...I encourage you to be still and take notice of the moment.  Make time this season to be still.  Don't let time steal away.  More than any other moment, reflect on the one that changed this life forever. The moment when Christ became flesh and entered this incredible love story of restoration with His people; the moment in which our soul felt its worth.  Fall on your knees this season, before the wood of His cradle, before the wood of the cross and remember.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;

It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Re-Post - The Halloween Dilemma

So for many of you out there, I know you struggle with this day called Halloween. As a faith filled mother with young children I too am at odds with this day. In some ways, the pumpkins and the G-rated friendly black cats and cute little kids in costume make Halloween a fun family oriented day. Yet on the other end of the spectrum are the ghoulish looking houses that are dec'd to the brim with skeletons escaping from the ground to bloodied vampires hanging from the roof. a Christian family - what do you do?

Do we point a crooked finger in disgust at these devilish decorations, turn our lights off and ignore it all together? Or do we embrace the fun of the day and smile at the sweet little children coming door to door? Do we ignore the evil and try to solely focus on the good? These questions have been swirling around my mind as I try to gain perspective on this day.

For what it's worth, here's my take.

Even though this day is often used as a day to celebrate FEAR and death, we take this day (and really every day) and try our best to redeem it for Christ. We celebrate His victory over death and celebrate the HOPE of eternal life. We carve pumpkins and explain to the children that we are like a pumpkin in the sense that we are but a shell. Inside of us, we all have 'guck' and when we invite Jesus into our lives He comes and cleans us from the inside out. He then lights our heart on fire and the Holy Spirit shines through us, just as the candle shines through the pumpkin. So when we are out at night and see the glow of jack-o-lanterns, we can relate back to Christ shining in and through us. We have some years handed out candy, blessing the children of our neighborhood with God's love through a smile, encouraging word and lollipops. We have also attended Harvest Parties at local churches for some good ol' family fun and bonding. Good can be found and had on this day, contrary to popular opinion.

As for the scary graveyard and demonic looking inspired homes, we say to the children that even though these homes celebrate death, we as a family celebrate life. We have worked hard to make Gracie's grave a place of peace. Our children would have never thought of a graveyard as a scary place until seeing the front yard of a house decorated as a haunted grave-yard. We celebrate that Grace is now with Jesus, alive and healed! The grave is not a haunted place, it is just a special place on earth where we can go and remember our Gracie. Our kids run and play and giggle at Gracie's grave! They will at times shed a tear of remembrance, but mainly they just love running through the beautifully manicured lawns and throw pennies in the pretty fountain. We don't celebrate Gracie's death at her grave, no! We celebrate her life here on earth and her true life in heaven! As a family we are bent on celebrating hope and life, yes even on this day of fear and death for Christ is bigger!!! Christ has risen, He is stronger than fear, ghoulish ghosts, and death. After-all, He leaves no room for fear for He has defeated it all! So as Christians we do not need to fear Halloween or even fear itself for we hold the Hand of the One who holds the keys to life and death!

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
Hillsongs - Stronger

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Hope in the Storm

Oh the weather has been incredible lately.  Thunder showers followed by breath-taking rainbows...and even double rainbows (what does it mean LOL)?  These beautiful rainbows in the sky always remind me of hope.  Such gorgeous colours spring forth only after the dark thunderous clouds and rain finally relent to the glorious light of the sun.  I have been chatting with a few of my dear friends who have found themselves in such dark, stormy places they never thought they would be in.  Each circumstance differs greatly from the next, yet a common thread of sorrow, pain and grief unilaterally abounds.  When we find ourselves in the thick of such pain, entrenched in thorns and suffocating in vines of sorrow, we long for reprieve.  When watching a loved one in such a place of suffering we long to help.  Yet, too often a well-meaning individual will try to stick on a platitude to somehow bind up the unwrappable feelings of grief and loss.  A friend of mine shared an intersting article with me today on 'Vulnerablity and Christianese' ( ) and how these petty little blanket statements such as "God will not give you more than you can handle" infuriate an already stressed out soul.  Although most of these trite comments do come from a place of good intention, what a wounded soul needs is simply the raw, honest truth with a snippet of hope.  I know it sounds crazy, but too much 'happy' talk ie. "all things will work together for good" can, at times, diminish one's current pain.  For example, I know that Gracie is 'in a better place,' but sometimes that just makes me feel guilty for wishing that place was here.  When someone is given the ground-shattering news such as ' the cancer has returned' or that there is 'nothing more than can be done', we must be quick to hold our tongues and extend a loving hand.  There is an unbelievable urge for us to 'fix' things, but there are some things that just can't be fixed.  There are times in this life that just don't make sense and is just simply unfair.

During our season of Grace, many friends were there for us, some respectfully gave us space, and others were bold enough to ask what they could do or say to help.  As life continues to trickle on as quickly as the proverbial sand through the hour glass, friends continue to ask me, "what do I say to someone whose world has just crumbled beneath them?"  If you are in this place today, whether you are the one in the valley or whether your heart is breaking for a loved one who is, here is a quote that I have found helpful and that I love.  I hope it helps shine a light in the midst of the valley, if not for you, then for someone near you who is in the fight of his/her life.
Father Joe Mahoney
A strong, deep person, wise enough to allow me to grieve in the depth of who I am, and strong enough to hear my pain without turning away.
Not too close, because then you couldn't help me to see. Not too objective, because then you might not care. Not too aloof, because then you couldn't hug me. Not too caring, because then I'd be tempted to let you live my life for me.
I need someone who believes that the sun will rise again, but who does not fear my darkness, or my walk through the night;
Someone who can point out the rocks in my way without making me a child by carrying me;
Someone who can stand in thunder and watch the lightning, and believe in a rainbow.

Monday, September 02, 2013

She Would Be Starting Kindergarten Tomorrow....

She would be starting Kindergarten tomorrow.  Her hair would have been washed and braided just like her older sister's hair tonight.  Her little uniform would have been laid out at the bottom of her bed just like her older brother's is tonight.  Her backback would have been packed with shiny new inside shoes.  Her lunch kit would have a little yellow note reminding her that she is loved and  like her sibling's notes it would be decorated with bright red heart stickers.

Tonight, the pendulum swings and I am filled with that familiar beautiful pain.  Once again, I take the step of accepting a new chapter, and a new milestone.  Tonight I remember.  Just as Samuel set a monumental stone ( ’Eben hà-ezer)  to remember how the Lord had led the Isrealites to victory, I too, figuratively set a monutmental stone tonight.  I raise this 'stone' to remember how the Lord has in His strength and only by His grace brought me thus far.  There were days I did not think I would make it through the pain of one day, let alone four years without her.  A victory?  For me...yes.  It may sound ludicrous to think that simply living is a victory.  Yet for me, looking back on the last four years, I see it as nothing short of a miracle.  I have, by His grace, learned not only to survive, but to live again.  Days like tomorrow can often feel like I am taking a few steps back.  Yet by mentally marking it with a 'stone of rememberance,' I am choosing to remember just how far I have come.

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I've come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
(excerpt from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)

And so my sweet pea, I choose to remember special days like tomorrow, marking it with gratitude as I reflect on just how far we as a family have come.  We are another day closer to joining you safely 'at home' on those celestial shores.  What a day, glorious day that will be!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Best is Yet to Come!

I don't know about you but boy am I digging my heels in summer this year.  I know the incredible weather and the lazy days are coming to an end and I am not quite ready to embrace the pumpkins and falling leaves of Fall just yet.  It's like I can't quite get enough of a good thing. Summer has become comfortable.  Fall means change, and change means letting go.  Yet parts of me shudder at my own pettiness as I complain of the 'busyness' ahead and the questions of when the pumpkin spice latte will be released to mark the season change!  Talk about first world problems!  What I need more than the acceptance of a seasonal change is the acceptance of a perspective change.

Why does my heart continually tether to such ideas of entitlement so easily?   It is a constant battle to re-focus my lens on the joys of my reality.  Today I am alive.  Today I have a husband who adores me.  Today I will tuck my beautiful children into bed.  Today my family is provided for.  Today I live in freedom.  Today I remember my sweet angel awaiting me.  Today is nothing short of a miracle, filled with blessing upon blessing.  Today I am blessed so that I may be a blessing to OTHERS! Yet here I stand pouting about the summer ending.  It's like I know what I need to do, but still don't do it.  Sigh.  I am like the author Paul in Romans when he says (Rom. 7:21-23MSG) "It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge."

Thankfully, there is hope.  I am not left powerless to my own ego-centric ways.  I can reverse such a rebellious heart.  We see in verse 25 that it is only through Christ and His strength that I can (if I so choose to) refocus my lens, and re-adjust my heart back to His.  I can cut the strings of entitlement and despondency and embrace the beauty of today.   If you too are feeling the waves of apathy with the upcoming change in season, I encourage you to shift not only your seasonal wardrobe but your perspective as well!  Ultimately, I am reminded that life here on earth is just a blip on the timeline of eternity. We are made for more than this. We only have so much time to do what God has called us to, so we must make our lives count for more than just our own selves.  One day I will no longer struggle with the balance of living fully here on earth with a part of my heart already in heaven. One day I will be in wholeness, and all will finally be made right.  The enemy may trick you into thinking that the best has come and gone, yet we know the best is yet to come! So come Lord Jesus Come!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Never Once

Have you ever heard a song or read a poem that pricks you to your inner most core?  You know, the part of you that you don't often allow room for because when you do it overwhelms and overflows?  For me, as many of you already well know, it's the deep chasm of grief in my heart.  Thankfully, I experience this pain far less than I did in the early stages of grief, yet once in awhile something will trigger memories and the portal of pain re-opens.  I know it sounds like a negative thing, but truly it isn't.  I have learned to live in the balance of this pain through the grace of God - day by day.  Yet, there are times, and I suppose there always will be, when the floodgates open and I remember.

On a Sunday morning a few months back, I heard for the first time a powerful song by Matt Redman entitled Never Once.  As the words swept over me and I stood silently praying, memories began to swirl and it was as though moments were flashing in my mind's eye of pivotal memories of when I felt I was walking alone.  Although I knew Jesus was with me in those moments, for it was only by His strength that I survived that road, I often wouldn't 'feel' Him near.  I often felt alone.  I felt alone in the hallway with the Drs. when they told me there was nothing more they could do for Grace and that I would have to call my family (including Andrew) to come and say their good-byes.  I felt alone when I couldn't stop the seizures from happening and the Doctors had given up on our precious babe.  I felt alone, helpless and abandoned so many times throughout the journey of Grace.

More than any other moment, the time when I felt as though Jesus was no where to be found was when they (the funeral directors) took my precious baby from me in that black car.  I don't think I had ever felt such dark despair in my life.  The pain in that moment was often too hard to think about.  Whenever that thought came to me I would push it far down back into the deep chasm of my heart for I simply couldn't bear it.  In the days after Grace died, there were things to be done and so life in that place of grief becomes a cloud of adrenalin, exhaustion and mere survival.   By the grace of God we do things like plan funerals and write obituaries.  By the time we had her service, I felt the peace of God once again - and I know it was your prayers for me.  SO many of you my precious family & friends were praying for me and I am forever grateful.  Even though the funeral & graveside were painful (there were many beautiful confirmations that day) when we buried that precious little white feathery casket, I felt hope.  There was a peace in knowing that although she was no longer in that human vessel that once had contained the most beautiful, sweet spirit,  her spirit was finally free and whole with Jesus. So as hard as those days were, it still did not light a candle to the pain of the day they took her from me.  I have never in the last 4 years allowed myself to think of that moment when she was taken from me, that moment in which I felt truly alone.

So as this song flooded over my soul would that Sunday, this memory came to mind.  I could see it in my mind, and I share it here as my most vulnerable moment yet, here is what happened that painfully dark day....

As Grace was transferred out of Canuck Place that cold and grey morning, I remember feeling as if the ground had literally fallen beneath me.  You see, I knew Grace.  I knew her for I was with her nearly every moment of her little life.  I did not trust people with her, for her needs were so intense.  So to allow her tiny little body to drive out of my sight was more than I could humanly bear.  I felt the blood drain from my face as I collapsed into Andrew.  I felt as if I had fallen so deep and so fast into such unspeakable darkness that I couldn't breath.  I felt like I was drowning in the pain, every breath felt like a gasp for air, every second was in excruciating slow motion.  I felt so alone, and so betrayed by the One who was supposed to save the day. I had never felt so far away from God as I did in that moment, and never had I experienced such painful darkness, complete failure and utter abandonment.

Yet as the words of this song were being sung over me, I allowed myself to remember and as the image of the black car came to mind I began to see the picture differently.  The pain was still very real, but this time I saw Jesus.  He was there.  He was weeping with me and crouched down beside me, cradling His arms around me.  His every breath in sync with mine.  His every tear mixed in with mine, and although I couldn't see Him past all the pain   Not only did He see me, He entered my pain.  Although I didn't feel His strength, He held me up.  When I felt as though the ground had collapsed beneath my feet, He was my firm foundation.  Even there in my darkest hour, even when I believed the taunts of despair by the enemy of being abandoned and betrayed, never once did I ever walk alone.  He was there.

If you are going through a valley today or if you are in a place where you are questioning if God is really there or if He even cares, I want to encourage you that you never walk alone.  As you read through the lyrics of this song, or listen to it - I pray that God will show you as you quiet before Him, the unseen love He has for you.  As you bravely open the door to your pain, I pray that He would in His great love and compassion illuminate the truth in the darkness.  As I learned through our amazing journey of Grace, God doesn't always answer in the ways we hope and long for, but He does promise to never leave us.  My prayer for you is that you know deep within your heart and soul, that even at your darkest, most painful never walk alone.

Never Once - by Matt Redman

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Saturday, March 02, 2013

It Is Finished.

Today, memories flood my heart, stir my soul, overwhelm my thoughts, and cause my physical body to be still and remember.  I remember when such grief overtaking days, were the 'norm'.  I remember when it took me twice as long to do anything, and simple chores seemed like monumental tasks.  I remember the insatiable urge to sleep, to stay in bed and pretend as though Grace was still in her crib.  I remember the sweet voices of my little ones urging me to get up and play.  Thank God for them, for it was because of their need for me to still be a mother that I prayed for God to stir from deep within me the strength to get up.

Hard days such as today are few and far between, a testament to God's mercies and healing in my life.  It doesn't mean I don't think of her daily, it just means the balance has become somewhat manageable.  I have learned the 'unforced rhythms' of remembering and loving Grace while still being present in the current moment.  There are days, like today and tomorrow where the balance is thrown off because of the mere depth of pain surrounding the day, hour, minute...second.

I remember the wise words of my grief counsellor, reminding me that I do not have to re-live the trauma of the final hours.  I can remember GRACE, I can remember her journey home, but I needn't relive it because it is already done.  Her journey home is finished.  And although my heart and mind is constantly trying to re-live what was happening four years ago, my spirit is choosing to listen to the whisper of hope.  IT IS FINISHED.

There is no other day, time, moment, second,  that I will ever be more thankful for the resurrected power of Jesus Christ than March 3, 2009.  The day that my sweet Grace passed from my arms into the arms of the One who holds the key to LIFE.  Gracie's Heaven Due Date -is  the date I will forever be most thankful for. The day that made real the sacrifice of my Saviour all those years ago on a wooden cross when He took on my sin and exclaimed those words "It is finished" so that thousands of years later when my heart was broken and my most precious treasure was poured out, I too could look to the heavens and say through tears of immense pain mixed with sincere thankfulness...."that it is finished and today my sweet Grace is with You in paradise."

Broken and spilled out 
Just for love of you Jesus 
My most precious treasure 
Lavished on Thee 
Broken and spilled out 
And poured at Your feet 
In sweet abandon 
Let me be spilled out 
And used up for Thee 
-Steve Green

Monday, January 28, 2013

Living on Borrowed Time

It may be the dreary skies, it may be the after holiday blues, and it may even be that we are again entering the winter season of grief but I am feeling emotionally strung out.  I feel raw, exposed and vulnerable this rainy Monday morning.  As the familiar dates begin to re-appear, I am feeling the weight of loss and although I am getting much better at the balance between the sadness of yesterday and the joy of today (thank you God), there are certain days that will always prick me to my heart's core.

January 25th for instance is one.  Four years ago on the 25th of January we dedicated our sweet baby to Jesus along with an early birthday party bash at the church.  The church was packed with amazing family and friends - many of which traveled to be there for this celebration.  4 years ago we were celebrating Grace's 1 year birthday and this year we will be remembering her 5th.  Insert long *sigh* here.   The 25th of January, 2009 was such a bittersweet day.  We were told earlier that week that she was in fact regressing, and we were given the words 'palliative care' and 'keep her comfortable' but we hadn't bought in just yet.  There is a strange dichotomy that comes to those in such peril; to those stuck in that proverbial rock and hard place.  You long and hope for the best outcome, while all the while a nagging feeling of the opposite keeps rising within.  It was in this balance that we found ourselves that beautifully painful day in January.

We dedicated and released our littlest lamb to Jesus trusting that He would make all things beautiful in His time. Ecclesiastes 3:11  This dedication was not like the ones we had experienced before when we brought our healthy children to the Lord and asked for guidance to rear them and love them.  No, this dedication was a turning point for us.  We released our baby girl to the Shepherd and His will for her.  Did we still hope she would make a full recovery?   Most assuredly, yet in the moment captured in the picture below, a painful shift occurred in our hearts.  Gracie was indeed living on borrowed time.

My heart's memory flashed back to that hospital hallway where I pleaded with God for more time with my baby.  I realized in that lonely hallway that Grace was on the edge of her life and that all I wanted was for more time with her.  So I pleaded like never before and although God did not answer my prayer for complete healing for here on earth, He did grant me the gift of time.

Every so often my spirit is still nudged and reminded that we all are living on borrowed time.  Every breath we take is given to us it is not ours to determine the days, hours or seconds.  When one is in crisis this thought of 'living each day like it's your last' is suddenly slammed into your face like a cruel, unexpected wind that takes your breath away.  Yet when the winds of crisis settle, we fall back into this deceptive thought that life is ours and runs on our time and in our control.  The reality is that we are all living on borrowed time.  I am reminded this rainy Monday to love Christ and others with all that I have so that when crisis comes, I will have no regrets about loving this life I have been given.  I am challenged today as I think and pray for the beautiful brave souls going through all sorts of differing crises today.  I am challenged to love my family and community around me so that they know who I belong to, not only in times of crisis, but in the beautifully mundane moments of the everyday as well.

Friday, January 04, 2013

New Year Musings

Yes it is that time of year again, where we take stock of the past and look to the future with doe like eyes of anticipation.  A new year is a time of fresh starts, new hopes, and most of all a clean slate.  Last year at the beginning of the year, I met with a dear friend who shared with me that she chooses a verse each year as a theme verse!  What an awesome idea!  So I followed her example and I chose the verse "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13  Instead of setting up 'goals' for the year, I chose to live my life through the lens of this verse.  Working as a substitute teacher was a HUGE step for me in my grief journey.  I actually thought I would never return to teaching after our journey with Grace.  Going through the process of being hired and entering new situations everyday as a sub is draining in every way.  It's hard being the new girl in the staff room every day and there are days when I leave the classroom with a migraine and a broken heart for the hurting kids I encounter.  Don't get me wrong, there are other days where I leave uplifted, feeling like I had made a difference in the life of a child.  Yet, as a sub, you never know what kind of situation you will be walking into.  The stress of it is hard, and after experiencing such deep grief, these normal stresses earlier on in my grief would have left me paralyzed.  

So as I entered 2012, strength in HIM who carried me through the darkest valley of my life, became my daily lens.  Each day, I cinched my waist with the belt of truth, His word and prayed that He would be with me in every situation and circumstance.  
So as I look back on this year I can see so clearly how God has strengthened me and has brought yet another level of healing.  I am in awe some days that we are coming up to Gracie's 5th birthday in just a few short weeks.  Five years old seems, well...old.  In my heart she will always be baby Grace, but in reality, she would be 5...entering Kindergarten in the fall.  My heart misses her, aches for her, and will always grieve for the years lost.  Yet, simultaneously I am also so incredibly thankful for the year I had her.  Although the pain of her loss hasn't dulled, I know that God has done a miraculous work in me for I am finding joy in life again. Although in the early days of grief I still found joy in my children and my family, the joy of 'life' had gone. Things that used to make me laugh were somehow dimmed.  For example, Nerf gun fights at Christmas with the Evans Family have been a long standing tradition that my brother-in-law started when we were just teens.  We would rampage through the house, shooting through Christmas tree branches and hiding in stairwells, laughing until our sides hurt.  This is the first year since Grace died that I actually joined in on our family Nerf Gun fight.  Now this may not seem like a big deal to an outsider, but in my heart it was representative of something great.  Everyday joys are returning and what makes this notable is that I can experience this joy without the guilt.  You see, when you lose someone you love so deeply, you feel guilty when you enjoy life for your heart is torn by the opposing emotions.  How can I possibly feel happy when my heart is so very sad?  Learning to balance these opposing emotions is getting easier, and through HIM who gives me strength I am finding joy without guilt more and more.

John 15: 4 is my theme verse for this year.  Now that I have found the strength in HIM to do things I never thought I could, my heart's cry for this year is that I lean into Him in order to do all that He has called me to do.  I was just talking about this thought with my sister the other day.  I want to be the 'me' He created me to be.  So here it is...."Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me."  

If you do choose to join in on this challenge... what will be your verse for this year and why did you choose it?  May the year 2013 bring us closer to Him and His will for us!  Oh how I long to be who HE sees in me.  As I look to this year in hopes of being pruned and branched out by the Father I leave you with a  quote from dear ol' Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - "I'm not a bit changed--not really. I'm only just pruned down and branched out. The real ME--back here--is just the same."