Joy in the journey!

Joy in the journey!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Today God sent a miracle my way. Her name was Emily.

I was so honored to be asked to help with a special needs gym class today with Holly (my service dog in training). These children are not disabled, that word just doesn’t describe these children. They are some of the most abled children I have ever met. There was one little girl named Emily who wanted to run around the track so badly with all the others, but went very slow because of her crutches and could never make it around. We found a way! Holly walked beside her and the little girl leaned on Holly the entire way for extra support. At times Emily would stop and just wrap her arms around Holly and kiss her on the head. Holly was in heaven, and the connection between these two had me wiping tears. Holly worked like she has never worked before. It was like she was one with this precious child. The smile on Emily’s face was as big as the smile on Holly’s face. It was the first time Emily ever made it around that track! When we finished, the little girl grabbed my hand and said “Mrs. Lisa, do you know that Holly loves Jesus?” Choked up I got out a “why yes she does!” Then she said, “Mrs. Lisa, you love Jesus too!, do you know how I know?” I replied....”How?” And those big blue eyes looked up at me and said, “because I see your hearts, and there’s sunshine in there....that’s where Jesus lives....isn’t that neat?” “Mrs. Lisa, I love Jesus too! He makes me happy everyday!” OK, so by now I am in one of those ugly know where you are gasping for air? I hugged that sweet little girl with everything I had, and Holly did too! She had no idea how deeply she had just blessed my heart. After a morning with these precious children....I honestly don’t think my heart could be any more full. And I honestly love Jesus with a more wild abandon love than ever because of what Emily taught me. How could one be around a child like Emily and not want to love Jesus more? I asked her teacher if she was always this happy. And her reply was “She’s the light of the classroom”. Her disability hinders her the most physically, but her spirit makes up for it all. I have never seen anyone more alive and happy and abled in my life. I have thought about Emily all day.

It is days like these that remind me of how much I want to run from negativity, drama and strife. I want to focus on what really matters and never waste a second of this life. It is but a vapor, so very short. As Emily said I want to live in the sunshine where Jesus lives, and I want to make the moments matter. On the way home I looked over at Holly, and she looked at me with that angelic grin that only Holly can give, and I knew she was feeling that same joy I was. It was definitely a day full of sunshine! We were both basking in it together......

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can I do this Lord? The journey I faced as a single mom.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.....that drive from Texas to Tulsa almost 20 years ago....with 2 babies. My son just a few months old, and my daughter just 22 months old. It was just the three of us now. In her sweet little voice, my daughter whispered to me “Mommy, are we going bye bye?” My heart broke. As my parents drove the van, I sat in the back seat and hung onto my babies for dear life. My world had literally stopped. How could I raise them alone? They were babies! How could we have been left? Why? How could he leave us? My husband had chosen an affair over his family and now, I had to pick up the pieces...I had no choice. Of course my self esteem was shattered with all the feelings one has when an affair occurs. But I can only say that it was at that moment, when I passed the Oklahoma state line, that my world changed, forever. I heard the still small voice of the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart....”I will carry you now Lisa. I will take you to new places with your children that you never dreamed possible, and I will open doors.....I will heal and I will guide and teach you things that will change your life forever....don’t let go of your dream.” Don’t let go of my dream? What? But Lord, my dream was shattered? He saw much further than I did, and He knew the dream He had placed in my heart all along. He wanted to bring it to pass. It was my job to let Him. It was my job to give Him the brushes and let Him paint the new picture on this blank canvas before me....with my babies. Little did I know it would be more than just a picture, it would be a masterpiece.

I remember those days like they were yesterday. Working two jobs, getting those babies up everyday and getting them to school. I remember being so tired that my toenails even hurt, and knowing I had to get the kids home, get homework done, get dinner on the table, and spend quality time with them. I remember the pressure of making it financially on my own. I remember the lonliness when the kids were all in bed and it was just me.

You know what is amazing though? When I look back on those years of single parenting now, and I see the picture God was painting all along, I stand in amazement. It was at that very moment of being left and alone and clutching onto Jesus with every fiber of my being that taught me the greatest lessons that I still lean on to this day. And what exactly can one learn from being left with 2 small babies to raise?

I learned that 2 Corinthians 12:9 is true. He pours out His grace in proportion to what we need. And I needed a truck load of grace. He cared so deeply for me and saw my extreme need for Him as His opportunity to provide. And He had more than enough grace to walk me through this journey. We were tucked safely under His wings. And He was not letting go.

I learned how to forgive. Oh this was a biggie for me. My children could pick up on the angry feelings I had and carried. I will go so far as to say I not only walked through anger, I walked through rage. I was mad! When I wanted to speak badly of their father, I knew I couldn’t. He was still their father. God literally took my hand on this one and step by step peeled away the layers of unforgiveness until I walked in freedom. I could not have done it without the Holy Spirit guiding me every step of the way. There is freedom in forgiveness. I knew the second that weight was lifted off of my shoulders, I had forgiven. I could breathe! I realized that forgiveness can be a daily journey though. When tempted to take that anger back on, God was there to take it for me.....daily. There were some days on that journey I literally had to say, Jesus, right now I can’t do this, can you? And He would take it from there. The Holy Spirit became real to me in ways that forever changed my life. When in my own strength I couldn’t, He could. 2 Corinthians 12:10

I learned how important getting involved in a great home church really is. Not only was it a place for healing for me but I realized that I could be used by God even in my broken state! We were in church when the doors opened, and we were involved. I developed friendships that were healthy and life long. My children were involved and loving it! Singing on the praise and worship team was instrumental in so much of my healing. We were surrounded with love and support, and this was literally a life line for us. God used that church to help us in more ways that I can even express.

I learned that there is laughter and joy, even in the hard times. One day, feeling overwhelmed, I started to cry. I cried one of those “ugly” cries where you can hardly breathe. I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and how my face was all shriveled up like a prune, and how ridiculous I looked. It cracked me up! I went from uncontrollable tears to uncontrollable laughter! My kids came in and we just laughed! In fact I could not even remember why I was crying in the first place. It was at that moment that I realized that I could laugh! It was healing! And I could teach my children how to laugh! I remember funny dances we would make up together, silly songs we would sing, bible verses we would memorize with hand motions, cookies we would bake with silly faces.....and laughter filled the house. And you know what my kids remember to this day most? The laughter and the love in our home. And when we talk about that love and laughter during that season, it gets me every time. They remember it with detail.

Laughter is healing. And I learned that even when my heart was breaking, I could laugh, and the joy of the Lord really would be my strength. Many have asked me how I find laughter in tough journeys. I found it during this season of my life. It was what got me through. This kind of laughter comes from the soul, where Jesus has a grip. There really is no adjective to describe it. It carried us through the journey then, and it carries us through our journey now.

I think the biggest thing I learned through this journey was to not let go of my dream. Even though it seemed the dream was crushed, it was not. God was just going to find a different way to bring that dream into fruition. Trust me, He will blow your mind. Just don’t let go! Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy that you will never see that dream come to pass. As I gave the Lord those brushes to paint my masterpiece, He did! And what a masterpiece He painted! I have 4 children and a daughter in law now who are all passionate for Jesus, a husband who was sent from heaven, and 3 dogs who, yes, are also part of that beautiful picture! I look at that dream everyday in awe and wonder and thankfulness. I also remember those things I learned in the 10 years I walked through the journey of single parenting. I could not have made that journey without Jesus.

To all my dear friends walking through the journey of single parenting, I want to encourage you! There is hope! There is laughter! There is strength! There are miracles! There is a dream to be fulfilled! There is a masterpiece in the making! Just let go of the brushes and watch Him paint! I promise you, you will be amazed! Van Gogh and Divinci have nothing on what God is painting for you and your children.