Family

Where Does Your Strength Come From?

My strength comes from God but he gave me an amazing momma to help me along the way…..

Have you ever wondered where you get the strength to go on? Or how you can be strong when others would have thrown in the towel?

I never really thought of myself as being strong BUT I knew my momma was…….despite LOTS of struggles, she came through it.  She continues to shine even on her worst days.  She instilled a sense of faith in me very early.  I know it is her faith which kept her going on the worse days.  Despite my bad choices and in my darkest days, I knew no matter what God had his hand on me and would take care of me.  I am grateful for the lessons she taught me.

Today is momma’s birthday………..

I won’t disclose her age but she DEFINITELY doesn’t look it. The last year has been tough but she has continued to remain strong.  It is her inner strength which continues to guide her even on the hardest days.

Let me tell you a little about this AMAZING woman… I have to admit, I’m grateful for years of blogging since I struggle to remember….

Growing up, Mom was always there.  She made sure our home was always open to my friends – I mean we were the house to go to after a basketball game or when there was no place else to go.  I may not have been thrilled but I was grateful I could pick up the phone and say – I am on my way with 2, 10, 25 or more people.  The house was always stocked with snacks.  After my Junior Prom, my parents made breakfast for over 300 kids.  Yes, the parade of non-stop kids through the house was a little more than this teenager was ready for but mom stood strong.

Off to college I went and there were struggles.  Freshman year, my parents divorced and it wasn’t easy.  I was in Rhode Island while mom was home holding down the fort.  Scrimping pennies to make sure I had a home to come back to.  They were tough years but we had fun.  She often traveled to Rhode Island for a weekend where we toured the mansions of Newport, shopped in Fall River and she even camped out in my dorm room.  After college, I headed home to work locally, moving back in with mom.  We spent countless nights walking the boardwalk in Ocean Grove.  Fast forward to my move to Egg Harbor Township and more years of rough roads.  In my addiction, I admit I pulled away and mom practiced some tough love but our relationship survived the test.  Along came Belinda and in the beginning there were struggles but through it all – mom was there.  She helped emotionally, financially and physically.  Despite some differences and hiccups in the road – she was there.

When Belinda left for college and I moved to Brick, it was a rough time for both of us.  Lives changed – I had a new hubby and the one hour drive to visit in Mays Landing felt like an eternity.  Then came my relapse and again mom was there.  She was there to help me through those early rough days.  Day trips to Mays Landing were done about once a month and there never seemed to be enough time.  Juggling travel up and down the parkway, MS issues, medical appointments, and life always seemed to throw us a curve ball.

Fast forward to 2020, when after a quick unexpected sale of the condo in Brick, hubby and I moved to Mays Landing.  Finally just 20 minutes away. Grateful to spend the holidays together, cooking in our new home.  Now I can actually stop by whenever I want or help out when something is needed.

My memories may be gone but in my heart I know I learned A LOT from my mom. She taught me: how to be strong when life is rough, how to save and budget (okay, so this lesson took longer to learn),  the importance of family and about being a mom.  She reminds me to believe in myself (you would think I would know this by now).  I can honestly say my mom is one of my best friends.

When you think about your qualities – strength, perseverance, or faith – have you thought about where you got them from?  We usually think they are a result of the bumps in the road, and they do help build strong character traits. BUT our family – parents, siblings, extended family – help to shape us as well.  They are the ones who help to mold us into the person God would want us to be.  Remember to thank them.

Mom, thank you for all you have done, continue to do and or always being there.  I love you!  Hope you have a blessed birthday!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

When You Don’t Want to Go Back to the Way You Were

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s  message:

I just got my braces off…again.

I have had braces on my upper teeth three times. Count them. One. Two. Three.

As the orthodontist explained, “Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

As soon as he said those words, I felt convicted. I have a tendency to go back to the way I was.

We all do.

Karen (not her real name) admitted to single handedly destroying her marriage with passive aggressive coldness, destructive words, and disrespect of the worst kind. After her husband walked away from the marriage, she had a Holy Spirit moment and realized what she had done. Karen’s heart softened and she vowed never be that woman again.

She immersed herself in Bible study and began to pray for her ex-husband even though the marriage was over. Karen took on the beautiful holy glow of a woman who knew she was totally forgiven and completely loved by God. Miraculously, her ex-husband saw the change, and the marriage was restored!

However, after a few years, the destructive behavior began to creep back in.

A word here.

A cold shoulder there.

A retreating into self for weeks at a time.

Ten years after the miraculous restoration, the marriage crashed and burned.

“Teeth have a memory. They always want to go back to the way they were.”

Jesus saw this tendency to fall into old ways when He cleaned out the temple. In the beginning of his ministry, after his first miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana, He traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

“In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle, he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.’” (John 2:14-16 NIV)

Three years later, during his last week of life on earth, Jesus came upon the unholy mess again.

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers’” (Matthew 21:12-13 NIV).

How did the corruption happen the second time?I don’t think it happened all at once. After Jesus cleared out the temple initially, I suspect it stayed that way for a time. But one day, a money changer set up his table. Then another brought in a few birds, followed by a couple of sheep, and then here came a cow.

The next thing you know, the temple wasn’t any different than it was before Jesus cleared it out and cleaned it up three years earlier. In three years it had reverted back to an unholy mess.

And God whispers in my ear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).

Sometimes I am that messy temple.

Swept-clean sinful behavior, ungodly thoughts, and jump-off-the-cliff emotions are itching to creep back in at all times. It is up to me (and to you) to keep the temple clean.

Perhaps you’ve had a Holy Spirit moment at some point in your life—a moment that caused you to make a major lifestyle change.

But for the moment to maintain momentum, we need to be constantly aware of our tendency to revert…to go back to the way we were.

I am so thankful that Jesus went back to clean out the temple a second time. It lets me know that He will graciously return to my messy self again and again with broom in hand.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to go back to the way I was.If you’re willing to take a few moments and ask God if there is something you’ve allowed to creep back in, join me in praying Psalm 51 in the prayer below.

Then leave a comment and say, “I’m doing it today!”

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

No More Shame

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I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.            Isaiah 61:10 NIV

Debbie’s paternal grandparents had both a housekeeper and groundskeeper who lived in their basement apartment. Nina and Silas were like part of the family and had lived with the grandparents for as long as Debbie could remember. On many occasions, when Debbie’s parents and grandparents went out to dinner, she and her older sister were left in the care of Silas and Nina. The girls’ parents had no idea that Silas was molesting their precious children time and time again.

From the time Debbie and Beth were three and six years old, until they were ten and thirteen, Silas fondled and sexually molested the girls in the basement apartment lit only by the black-and-white television blinking in the background. While Silas ravaged Debbie’s body, her sister held her face in her hands and told her stories. Together, the girls escaped to a land faraway while the worse nightmare imaginable was played out before them.

Silas warned them, “If you tell anybody, I’ll hurt your brother.” So the girls suffered in silence.

When Debbie was ten years old, she and her sister spent the night with her maternal grandmother while her parents were away on a business trip. The elderly grandmother paused at the opened door to watch her precious granddaughters kneeling beside their bed. With arms wrapped around each other they began to say their prayers.

“Dear God, thank You for Mommy and Daddy and Kevin, and Grandma and Grandpa Wilson, and Grandma James. We pray You will protect us from Silas and keep him from hurting us and touching us in private places. We pray…”

The stunned grandmother clutched her heart, rushed to embrace the girls, and sobbed uncontrollably. The rest was a blur.

A few hours later, in the wee hours of the morning, their parents came back from their business trip…two days early. The girls could hear their parents crying in the next room, but nothing was ever mentioned about Silas. All they knew was that the next time they went to Grandma and Grandpa Wilson’s house, Silas and Nina were gone.

Years passed with little mention of the years of abuse by Silas. Like old war veterans who never mention the horrors of battle, the girls never mentioned the molestation again. However, the chronic pain of the past was an undercurrent to their total existence. Debbie felt dirty, used, and cheap. She felt like damaged goods.

Debbie accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior when she was a small child, but she had a difficult time believing Jesus could accept her. She didn’t see herself as a precious holy child of God dressed in robes of righteousness. She saw herself as a dirty orphan dressed in tattered rags. Then one day, she went to a Bible study and heard for the first time about her identity as a child of God.

“I didn’t feel like a holy child of God, but that’s who the Bible said I was,” she explained. “I read and reread that list of who I am in Christ. The more I studied about my new identity and the truth that sets us free, the more I began to accept it as true. I began to realize it was Satan who held up the picture of Silas and what he had done to me to remind me of who he wanted me to believe I was.

“But that was a lie. God took the truth and massaged it into my broken heart like a healing ointment. He placed a crown of beauty on my head and washed away the ashes. He gave me the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and dressed me in a garment of praise instead of despair. No longer was my identity determined by what happened to me as a child. My identity is determined by what happened in me through Jesus Christ.”

Debbie accepted her new identity. It was there all along, like a cloak waiting to be placed on the princess’ regal shoulders. She received the robe of righteousness and now walks with the confidence of a dearly loved child of the King.

This devotion may have been difficult for you to read, but it is very important.  Have you accepted your new identity? Are you ready to start believing the truth? Are you ready to put off the ragged robes of shame and put on the robe of righteousness that Jesus purchased just for you with His own life? He’s holding it open for you right now. Slip it on. It’s just your size.

Thank you Sharon Jaynes