Amazed

Reflecting on God’s mysterious ways. This week, I was helping my youngest, who is how a freshman in High school, with her History homework. The assignment was to write about the story behind the song “Amazing Grace”. She had to research the life story of John Newton, all his trials, and the emotion behind the song, and then pick a stanza from the song and analyze it using examples from his life. God took three of my favorite things, Music, History, and my child, and put them together to speak to my heart.

We learned about how after his mother died when he was 7 years old,  Newton turned from the faith of his mother and rebelled, running from God, drinking heavily, and how he was enslaved, beaten, betrayed, and then became a captain of a slave trade ship. We learned how through the course of his life, Newton faced death multiple times, be it due to storms at sea, or sickness, and how God used these extreme trials to draw Newton back to his faith. We saw how Newton’s life was redirected as he went from slave trade captain to minister, and a voice against slavery in the abolition movement.

The stanza my daughter chose to analyze was this….

Amazing grace!

How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! 

I once was lost, but now am found; 

Was blind, but now I see.”

and here is her analysis….

Amazing grace, what is so amazing about grace? To me, grace is mercy, or kindness that is undeserved or unearned. Grace is amazing we do not deserve it, and we can’t earn it because God gives it freely. How sweet the sound; grace that we do not deserve and cannot earn is like music to a hurting soul.

         That saved a wretch like me! A wretch is a bad or very unpleasant person. John Newton was an excellent example of a wretch. He was punished for desertion. He was so terrible as a crew member that one of the crews he served with chained him up, starved him, and sold him into slavery. After he was rescued from slavery, instead of trying to stop the slave trade, Newton became part of the slave trade. Despite the fact that he did so many terrible things in his life, God still heard his cry, and saved him.

     I once was lost, but now am found; In the early years of Newton’s life, he was lost. He was running from the faith he had learned as a child before his mother died. In the later years of newton’s life he became a minister, sharing his story of how God found him and saved him. Was blind, but now I see. Newton spent many years as an active part of the slave trade, transporting slaves and supporting the industry. He came to see how evil slavery was and started to speak out against it, describing how horrible the conditions on the slave ships were, and worked to help stop slavery.”

As I reflected on all of this, I began to look back over my own life. In my teen years, I rebelled against my parents, and ran from the faith of my youth. I started drinking heavily in college, found myself in an abusive relationship with no hope of escape, gave in to all sorts of temptations, and for a long time, ignored the still small voice in my heart. Through all of this, God never once abandoned or gave up on me. He sent two dear friends to show me a way out of the abusive relationship. I joined the Marines , and while at Boot Camp, I cried out to God for strength as I tried to recover from deep emotional abuse scars at the same time I was going through Boot Camp. It all became too big for me, and at one point, I actually told my Senior Drill instructor ” I quit, I want to go home”. I am forever thankful that instead of letting me quit, she pushed me harder. I hit bottom and I cried out, and God met me.

After Boot camp, I went through a period where I returned to my wild side. My young, renewed faith was still there, and I heard the still small voice, but I was not completely ready to stop drinking, and to give up my wild ways. In this time in my life, broken, damaged, recovering from abuse, God brought a young man into my life who would forever change my world. This young Marine would become my husband. He didn’t run from my scars, but promised to stand by me, to hold me through the nightmares, to love me through my fear, to patiently wait as my trust was restored, for when we met, I no longer trusted anyone in the male gender except my daddy.

Grace is truly an amazing thing. As I look back over everything from my past, all the trials and snares that God has brought me through, I find myself in complete awe and wonder that God never once gave up or abandoned a wretch like me.

It wasn’t until after my husband and I were married, that I once again hit bottom. I sank into a deep depression, to the point I intended to end it all, to take my own life. A phone call to my unit from my husband landed me on suicide watch, and forced me to cry out once more to God, to turn back to my faith rather than ending my life. This was the point at which I found my faith, and never again turned away from it. Sure, I have moments when it wavers, when doubts and fears creep in, but I was no longer lost.

Since that moment, I have grown as Trials and storms continue to come. Two of my children diagnosed on the autism spectrum has depend my reliance on God for strength, wisdom, patience, and so much more. Mountains and struggles in my marriage has taught me how to pray for my husband, and more importantly, how to pray that God change ME. I stopped praying ” Lord, Fix HIM”, and started praying that God make ME the wife I need to be.

I am starting to realize that much like God used Newton’s time in the slave trade industry, He is using my abusive past. He has given me opportunities to help other women break free. He is using my stories to help my own daughters navigate the dating world, to help teach them what red flags to be aware of. I have watched my girls grow into strong, self confident young women who love deeply, and who are years ahead of where I was at their age in the ” I am happy with who God made me to be” aspect. This is a concept I didn’t grasp until well into my 30’s. I listened to my youngest thank me for sharing my stories with her and teaching her that her value comes from God, not from some boy.

I once was blind, running scared, broken and damaged….

but now, I am found, loved, beautiful….

I once was lost and alone, but now I am found. I am not perfect by any means. I still have days when the scars of my past haunt me, when I struggle and doubt. The difference is, Now I know how to combat those negative voices. Amazing Grace indeed, that pulled me from my darkest hours and carried me through the trials and snares, even when I was unaware, unwilling, and rebelling.

I will never look at this song the same way again…..It was written by the former Captain of a Slave ship, and God used it in my own life to remind me how He rescued me from the slavery and captivity of abuse.

**I went to You Tube, to find a video of Amazing Grace to end this post with, and found this one….and as I watched it, I got chills, and also learned some amazing interesting facts about the melody that goes with the Lyrics, and So, I will leave You with this….**

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You Matter

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Voices screaming in my head
reminding me of things said
“You are worthless”
“You are broken, a Failure”
“You can’t do anything right”
negative thoughts rise to the surface
This is a daily fight

A new voice grows louder day by day
it started as a whisper
“You are important”
“You are beautiful”
“You Matter”
is what it has to say

Each day, a choice
a decision to feed which voice
Each moment a struggle
suddenly ,like a gasp of air
“It is perfectly Ok to admit that You are not ok”

The inner conflict continues on
yet a new outlook dawns
“You matter”
“It’s ok to hurt”
“Your feelings…Matter”
“It’s ok to cry”
“Your story matters”

Tears may still fall
inner strength creeps from hidden shadows
deep inside the depths of heart shattered
the survivor brushes off the dirt
and takes the first steps
all because someone said
“Your life matters”

~~Rachel E. Brown~~

July 12,2013

A Legacy of Love, a Lifetime of Prayer

*Note , This may seem scattered and random, and should have been posted in April. For reasons hinted at in “Regaining Strength” , i never finished it, but am posting it now, because…even in it’s raw, scattered form, needs to be said. and besides, since when is grief ever “neat and organized” anyway?*
There is a group of people in my life who never gave up on me…
even through my wild rebellious years as a teenager,
no matter how angry I got, or how far out of control I spun,
They never stopped loving me, never stopped praying for me….
This is for them….
My Grandparents,
My Godparents,
my Mom and Dad ,
my siblings
The entire Jones/ Handy Family ( in my heart my 2nd Family).
I know that without all the love and non stop prayers,
my life would be totally different than what it is today,
and I thank God daily for blessing me with so many people who made sure I had firmly grounded roots,
but still gave me wings so I could soar….
The adults gave me roots and wings…
The kids filled my childhood with Friendship,
LOTS of memories,
They say there are people who leave footprints on your heart…
These are people who have left more than footprints…
This IS my Family, and I am Forever Blessed and Thankful….
Thankful for the Love,
the Laughter,
The memories,
the Friendship,
the Prayers and so much more…

Ok, this is for all you people who avoid the Camera,or hide behind it instead of putting yourself IN photos….
myself included…
There are people who love You who will want Photos of you to look back on when You are gone.
Don’t make them wish they had more Photos to cherish.
Finding myself wishing i had more of two special people in my life, both of whom has already left this earth.
This Photo is the only one I have, that I KNOW of….
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My Goal from this point on is to put ME in more photos with my kids….with the people I love.
This week has been one of reflecting, remembering, rejoicing, and mourning.  On Thursday (April 11,2013), I wrote this on Facebook ” As The Lord prepares to call a Precious Very Special Lady home, My heart cries, and rejoices at the same time. You see this dear Lady is my Godmother, and played a HUGE Role in my life. Her Love and Prayers, even when I was being unlovable are part of why I am the woman I am today……I Can’t help wondering if she knows how deeply she impacted my life. I regret not telling her often enough…and though I can’t make it to NY, I want to say THANK YOU, I Love You, and will never forget you!”
April 13,2013: At approximately 12:30 this morning my Godmother, Janice Handy went home to be with the LORD. She was a wonderful, gracious lady and taught us all very well how to survive in the world, but mostly how to live a life of faith. She fought the good fight, she won the race. She sees Jesus face to face. She was one of the Most Influential women in my Life and I am Thankful and blessed that my Parents chose her and her husband as my Godparents.
She leaves behind 25 grandchildren and 48 great grandchildren, three who predeceased her. She leaves behind a legacy of faith.
My Godfather went to be with the Lord my Senior Year of High school. At approximately 12:30 this morning My Godmother Joined him. When I think about the legacy they left, the Impact they had on my life, I count myself Very Blessed.
To Quote My Friend, Their Granddaughter, Jennifer: “My grandfather once felt that he was going to leave nothing behind for his family when it was his time to pass away. In reading all the posts here today, it is obvious that money cannot buy what he & my grandmother left behind. In the 65 years since the day they married, they had 6 children, who in turn had 25, who in turn have had 48. 3 of these met Jesus before they did. Most of these know Jesus as their Savior. Keith & Janice Handy were successful in passing on their faith and their love of family. What could be better than a legacy like this? I should be so blessed to do the same. “
They Truly Built a Household of Faith.

Autism Awareness~30 Days of snapshots: Day 8

to watch a Miracle League Game is TRULY a Blessing…

a lesson in Love….

determination….

Awareness…

Baseball….

for the love of the game in it’s PUREST Form….

*I get to play BASEBALL!*

*Joy*

*Time with Daddy*

*Forming Friendships*

*Dreams do come true!*

*Baseball friendships*

*Big sister and Baseball Buddy*

*”BASEBALL!!!!!*

To all the people who make this possible…

THANK YOU!

Autism Does Not Define My son

As I was wandering through the  vast village of fellow Mommy bloggers, reading all the stories, and posts on what Autism Awareness month means to them, I came across a poem that JUMPED off the screen at me.  I am in the process of  a month long series of posts of what Autism Awareness means to me. I have LONG said Autism does NOT define my son, and am grateful to the people in his life who see PAST the diagnosis, who see the CHILD. He is a Precious Gift, He is Different but NOT Less.  He was Fearfully and wonderfully made, and God does NOT make Mistakes!

Psalm 139: 13,14

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

*********************************************************

Autism Does Not Define Me – A Poem by Karen Krejcha

(Posted with permission)
Accept me for who I am,
Understand that I may not always get what you’re saying.
Trust that God has me here for a reason;
I am an amazing human being.
Socially, I might not fit in with society’s expectations.
Mentoring can help me along the way.

Don’t forget that I have feelings even if I don’t express them.
Opportunities for my happiness are indeed possible.
Educate and encourage me without prejudice.
Show patience and kindness along the way.

Never give up trying to “get” me
Ostracizing me will just shut me down.
Take time to try and come into my world.

Defining me as my diagnosis ignores my essence and best qualities.
Emerging talents may arise when you least expect them.
Friendship and honesty is valued to me more than you can imagine.
I am in need of love and tenderness too.
Never let me give up, especially when you see my mood shift.
Expect the unexpected and watch me enrich your life.

Many people will read this and I pray millions will act.
Embrace and empower someone with Autism today.

Autism Does Not Define Me

Written 4/8/2010, copyright 2010, Karen Krejcha
Karen’s Blog:  Aspierations – Come as you are… Let your light shine!

Karen’s original Posting of the Poem

Faith Deployed….

I had responded a few weeks ago for a chance to review a book called “Faith Deployed, Daily encouragement for Military Wives” by Jocelyn Green ,and had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of my book  since I got a response that It was on its way.  I Follow the Faith Deployed’s Facebook Page, and her blog as well, and find alot of encouragement from both places.

When I first found out I was going to have the chance to review this book, a voice in my head said “what are you thinking?! look at all those yet unread books on your shelf” As a Military wife, and mom of three kids, one with special needs, finding time to read without interruption is a luxury…and a rare one at that! As I sat down and opened “Faith Deployed, Daily encouragement for Military Wives” , I was instantly impressed with how easy it was to read. Each story is 2 pages, starting out with a Bible verse and ending with a Prayer. A Daily Dose of God’s Love and Truth , matched with a short story from Military life.

Right away I found myself encouraged, and at the same time realized that there were things I needed to face in my life. The Mixture of scripture passages, a story, and thought provoking questions and a short prayer makes each segment like a daily dose of encouragement for the challenges , emotional struggles, and battles a Military wife fights…and not JUST when dealing with deployments and separation either. Here is an excerpt from the Introduction: “If you have ever felt overlooked and undernourished as you strive daily to meet the needs of everyone around you-in a culture that largely does not understand your stressful lifestyle-this book is for you. Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives is not a guide to long-distance relationships or a how-to on navigating through the military culture. It does not offer “ten easy steps” for an easier, painless life. Instead, through squarely addressing the challenges you face, Faith Deployed will equip you to respond biblically to the daily struggles that threaten to wear you down.”

“The Foundation of this book is the unchanging Character of God. Our Hope is not tied to shifting circumstances, but is anchored in the person of Jesus Christ”

Military life is full of “Hurry up and wait” , we have to learn to be “Semper Gumby” (Always flexible) while still balancing kids, school functions, jobs, housework, and life in general. Thankfully we have a solid rock to stand on when our faith rests in Jesus. This Book is a refreshing reminder that we are NOT alone, and is presented in a way that is manageable to read, a true daily dose, with questions to think on through the day, and a prayer to go with each segment.

If you get nothing else from what I have said here, read this….If you are a Military wife,  I HIGHLY encourage you to get this book!! If you are a Civilian searching for that perfect gift for a Military friend….This is IT!!!

For More Information, Please go to the Faith Deployed Website

Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives won:

  • Bronze Medal, spiritual/religious category, Military Writers Society of America (award presented in Pittsburgh on Oct. 2, 2010)
  • Bronze Medal, inspirational category, Branson Stars and Flags Book Awards (award  presented in Branson, Mo., Nov. 6 )
  • The book’s Web site, www.faithdeployed.com, won third place in the blog category this year from the Evangelical Press Association, too.