In the beginning, it all came so easy. I started Weight Watcher’s, changed my diet and began losing weight. I was feeling so good. I had more energy. I felt like I had finally conquered, what I call, “The thorn in my side”. After getting married and having children, I always seem to struggle with my weight. This time however, I really believed that the struggle was over. I even stood up before our church congregation and told them that I finally was in a place of victory and I wasn’t going back. WRONG!!!!! Without warning, I was completely blindsided! Like a boxer, in round 2, I was feeling a little weary and out of focus. Suddenly, I was hit with a left, then a right and BOOM, the uppercut made me weak at the knees and I was down for the count! “One, two, three…….” Read the rest of this entry
I find such peace and solace when I look at the sky. I love to capture the beauty of it on my cellphone camera. I am not a professional photographer, by any means. However, I would really enjoy spending a part of my day pretending that I am professional (Does a professional use a cellphone?).
It just seems that when I look up, I see artwork. I see pictures in the clouds, the hues of the light, the sunbeams, the brightness of the moon against the night and the twinkling of the stars make up a story. Each story speaks to me. It ministers to the deepest parts of my heart.
On the day I took this picture, the sun was peeking out from behind the cloud. It reminded me that no matter how dark things may seem to be, all it takes is a little light to brighten things up. Jesus is the light of my life. Although, there may be times that I feel like darkness is trying to overtake me, Holy Spirit always reminds me that He is with me and then, I can see the light peeking out through my situation.
There is no cloud (problem, situation, etc.) that can keep the light (Jesus) out!
Buzzzzz, buzzzzzz, my phone was vibrating and woke me out of a deep sleep. I didn’t recognize the number so, I ignored it. Buzzzz, buzzzz, it vibrated again so I answered. What I heard next, forever changed my life!!!
I was still shaky with sleep and my voice took a second to actually come out. “Hello” was all I could whisper. “My husband is dead”, was the response on the other end of my hello. There was no more sleepiness left in me. “What? Who is this?” I asked half knowing who it was and hoping to be wrong. ” did you hear me? This is your daughter. My husband passed away!”
The details of that conversation will be seared into my brain forever. My daughter, a newlywed, is now a widow at 26 years old. Her husband, 24 was dead. Her father and I in Miami and she was thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, serving our country with the US Army. Her husband, also a soldier, found dead in their backyard in North Carolina. My mind immediately races with a million thoughts. I was taken back to the past, a place that seemed like yesterday. her as a baby. the image of how I would hold her close and she would snuggle into my neck until she fell asleep. Being able to comfort her was all I wanted to do. I had no answers for her “why’s?” No explanation for the situation. All I knew was, her pain was cutting much deeper than any knife could and it seemed, I could physically feel what she was feeling. It had to be the spiritual connection between a mother and her child.
The Army did a great job of getting her on the first plane out of Afghanistan. However, while she was in the air, we were having church service and letting everyone know we would be gone for as long as Rahjanni needed us.There was absolutely no way that we would not be in North Carolina when she landed. I needed to be with her and she needed us.
The travel time to North Carolina felt so long. Eric and I were unable to get seats together and my emotions were on a roller-coaster. I decided to pay for Internet access in order to stay in contact with Rahjanni. Unfortunately, she got stuck in Germany while we were in flight and the only contact between us was through Facebook. I didn’t need to hear her voice audibly or see her face. I knew her face was covered in tears and her eyes were swollen from crying and lack of sleep. I kept seeing myself holding her close and reassuring her that she would come out of this a much stronger person.
Well, needless to say, it has been 3 months since Chris died. Things didn’t go exactly as I imagined them. Rahjanni, is unbelievably strong. Her faith in The Lord, was her strong tower. She didn’t lose control or sight of reality at any point. Like any woman who lost her husband, she had her moments of sobbing and questioning. However, she always pulled herself together. At times it even left me feeling unneeded. I wanted to be the coddling mother, but that wasn’t what she needed. I wanted to lay in bed with her and hold her close. That wasn’t what she needed. All she needed was our love and to know we were there for her.
She took some time off to grieve. Not as much time as some may have expected, but exactly what she needed. “I need normalcy in my life.” “I want to get back to work.” Is what she told us. There are those that would have taken months, even years of grieving and drowning in sorrow. Not Rahjanni. She made a conscious decision to move on with her life. “Chris, will be the best memory I’ll ever have.” She told me. And what a memory it will be! Not just her memory but our memory. The memories we established while he was alive as well as in his death. The lessons, the love, the laughs and the tears will forever be part of our lives.
Losing someone you love is never easy but, losing someone you love that is young and healthy, is so much harder. The details of his death left everyone with unanswered questions but, even in his death, we all knew that he loved Rahjanni and wanted the very best for her. Knowing that, has helped to comfort me. Rahjanni, will always have the love they shared between them to remember. Even when she falls in love again one day, his memory won’t fade away.
As for me, I can’t change what happen to Chris but I can be more appreciative and thankful for each day I have. I can love harder and give praise to The Lord daily for all my blessings. For everyday that I open my eyes and hear my husband’s and children’s voices, I am grateful. For every breath I take, every sunset I see, every fresh breeze I feel, every good and bad day…..I am grateful!
Today, as I watched a sermon about, The Presence of God, it reminded me of the day I first experienced, the true manifestation of His Glory. It all took place Read the rest of this entry
I haven’t written in quite a while. Not because there have not been things to write about but, because I allowed myself to get distracted by a lot of nothing. Of course, I have been busy with everyday activities; husband, children, chores, errands, etc. However, I’m back and I pray I have not lost your dedicated reading.
I do have something I’d like to share with you. On December 24th, my husband and I, along with our three youngest children, took a trip to New York to spend Christmas with my Father, Stepmom, sisters and their families. Our oldest son, his wife and toddler also went however, they stayed elsewhere. Unfortunately, our eldest child (daughter) was unable to be with us because she is serving our country and currently in Afghanistan. This was a trip we always wanted to take but, as you can imagine, can be very costly. We gave the children a choice of receiving gifts under a christmas tree or the trip. They chose the trip.
Our seven day family trip was very good. We stayed at my Father (Papi) and Stepmom’s (Ivy) 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. It sounds crazy but you don’t know Ivy. She is one of those women that knows how to use her space wisely. She is organized and extremely hospitable. She turned two bedrooms into 4. No, she didn’t use magic. She used love. Her and Papi gave up their bedroom with a queen size bed for Hubby and I. She made a very comfy pallet on the floor with a twin size cot, sleeping bag, quilt, down comforter, and pillow for our son. They Have two queen size air-mattresses. One mattress was blown up and placed in the living room, that’s where they slept. I tried to convince them to give us the air mattress but, they insisted. “This is more comfortable than our bed.” They claimed. The second air mattress was placed in the dining area for our two younger daughters. Ivy covered them with a fitted sheet, a down comforter to add additional comfort and a down comforter to cover up with. My sister, who lives at home, had her room. Everyone was nice and cozy! Although there was only one bathroom and eight people, we some how managed to schedule our bathroom use perfectly. In the mornings, beds were made, mattresses deflated and put away, comforters, etc. put in their place and furniture placed back in its perfect spot. Ivy, being the ‘Hostess with the Mostest’, Always had breakfast, lunch and dinner waiting for us. She always had a spread at the back of the dining area with cookies, crackers, fruit cake, cheese, hard salami and anything else that served as a quick snack or dessert. Let me not forget her wonderful coffee. It almost felt like we were staying in a Bed and Breakfast but with so much more personal care and comfort. The Bathroom was stocked with several different types of soap; bar soaps, liquid moisturizing soaps, exfoliating soap, face soap and anti-bacterial hand soap. “My face feels dry”. “Here, I have a face cream for you”. She would respond. “My Lips are chapped”. “Here is a lip balm”, As she handed it to me. What more could I ask for?
I loved watching Papi and my husband Eric, spend time laughing and talking about anything and everything. Everything felt so stress free. We laughed a lot, we ate a lot and we walked a lot. If you know anything about New York City, you know that it involves a lot of walking. Of course, I am not complaining because I’m sure it helped to burn some of the extra calories off. My younger sisters spent as much time as they possibly could with us and our personal tour guide was my brother-in-law, Sandra’s husband Gregg. Wow! He had so much patience with us. He drove us around, he took us by train, by bus and on foot. Whatever we wanted to do, he never complained! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Gregg! My other sister, Karen and her husband George, had us over for a winter BBQ. Yes, you read correctly….a winter BBQ. Apparently, my brother-in-law George is a fan of frozen fingers, a runny nose and smoke in his face but his food was great! Thanks George for battling the wind and cold to feed our bellies! Karen, was so busy making sure everything was okay, that I had to remind her to take a break and relax with us. We took some pictures with Papi and Ivy. We took some sister pics and some silly ones, too. Every moment that we were there was filled with family, good conversation and lots of love.
My very favorite part of the trip was the opportunity that The Lord gave us to have a bible study. Ivy asked Eric (Hubby) if he could please hold a study on Friday with the entire family. Of course, he did not hesitate to say, YES. It was an answer to my prayer. I asked The Lord to open a door for us to share His Word with them. I wanted it to be the perfect situation so they wouldn’t feel pressured. I wanted them to WANT to hear. Apparently, they were all touched by what what Eric taught because, my sister Karen asked if he would be willing to do another study the next evening at her house. YES! Lord, you are so good! No, your better than good, You are GOODER!! not only did he open the door once but twice for a bible study. My sisters all agreed that it was time to have The Lord in their lives and my brother-in-laws also felt the same. Even my Nephews and niece seemed eager to hear.
Since returning to Sunny and warm, Miami, Florida, I have received text messages from my sisters. They are excited about the door that was opened to them. They are eager to find a good church and begin their lives with God in it. Knowing that, made my vacation even more worth while. It made it GOODER!
Isn’t it a great feeling to be in the presence of someone you love and that loves you? To have great conversation, a few good laughs or even share some tears? How about just sitting in silence but knowing that the one you are sitting with understands you and accepts you? However, how would you feel if you were in a room with that same person but they never even looked your way. What if you were telling them how much you loved them but, they were preoccupied with something else? What would it be like to wrap your arms around that person, to let them know that you are there for them no matter what and they began to complain that they need more? Wouldn’t you feel irrelevant or insignificant? Of course you would! I would too!
Just recently, Sunday to be exact, I had an awesome experience, an experience that reminded me of how much I was loved, really, really loved. There were no words to be audibly heard. There were no physical gifts given. There was only the PRESENCE of God. I was completely wrapped in a blanket of love. The weight of His Glory felt like heaven had come down to meet earth and I was there in the midst of it. I was not alone in the room, I was in the middle of leading worship but it felt like I was alone in His Presence. I was reaching for my daddy because I wanted Him to know that I truly love Him. I took myself away from self-pity, from worldly stresses, from my own fleshly selfishness and just poured my love on Him with no strings attached. I put all my focus on Him and took the focus off of myself. In the midst of my worship, I realized how many times I had ignored Him as He spoke to me. I often expected from Him just because I felt like, “it was His job”. I complained of not being understood and feeling worthless at times, even though His Word clearly says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It also tells me how much He loves me and how He would never leave me or forsake me. In all my brattiness, still, He was patient with me. Still, He received my worship and in return, He poured His manifested presence down on me. That’s all it took, my surrender, my worship, my appreciation, recognizing Abba for who He is and not for what He does.
Although I have always loved worship, Sunday brought me to a new place in my worship. I became a desperate worshiper, a God Chaser. I will desperately chase after Him, not for things but just because I love Him and long to be in His presence. I don’t ever want to be that selfishness, unappreciative, complaining daughter again.