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Forgiveness

Yes, I am still writing on this blog. I thought I was going to retire it, but then I checked and saw that people were still reading it even though it has been months since I wrote a post.. that was encouraging. So I am going to attempt to breathe new life into this space on the internet.

I chose the title “Forgiveness” because the Lord has been leading me towards a greater understanding of what that truly means. Throughout my life I have desired to forgive those who have hurt me and spent many hours praying and searching for tools that would help me let go of any pain that was lingering. I made progress but never felt like I could truly let go of the past.. the wounds were so deep.

Then the Lord took my husband Steve home.. almost 2 years ago.. I lost my home and most of my possessions.. I lost my life. This tragedy could have been prevented.. by God. Yet He allowed it. This was fertile ground for the enemy to turn me against the Lord and fill me with bitterness.. I had to forgive God for causing me so much pain.. it was very difficult. I wrestled with it .. I hated it and I continued to turn towards the Lord and not away from Him.. where else would I go?

August 30th will be the two year anniversary of Steve’s death.. it seems like it just happened and it seems like it was a hundred years ago. In these two years my relationship with the Lord has deepened as I spent hours and days alone with him.. there was Covid and I fell and injured my back.. l was living in isolation. For months I could barely do anything.. no driving and no walking.. then I began to heal.. I can drive.. but not too often and I can walk.. but not very far.. the pain is better but not gone.

So what happened during all that time? I began to depend more and more on the Lord and less and less on myself..as I drew near to Him I prayed for healing of my body and emotions. He gave me the desire to forgive everyone who had hurt me and then provided a way for that to happen.. I found myself forgiving people from the past.. some of them I actually saw in real life.. others I did not, but I was able to let go. I told the Lord that I wanted to be cleaned out and to let it all go.. to be set free of all bitterness and pain.

I am entering a season where there is much more freedom and the past is losing its grip on me.. it is amazing. With this new freedom is a deeper revelation of the forgiveness I have received from Him.. it is all tied up together. So the worst thing that could ever happen to me happened and it is bearing fruit in my life. Everyday is still challenging, I miss Steve terribly and I truly don’t enjoy living alone, but I have hope now.. hope that my trial and journey will help others. Hope that I can truly say to those who are suffering ” He is with you and He will pick up the pieces of your life and make something beautiful.”

Now the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom!

New Season..

Spring is really here. It is a beautiful spring day where I live. The sun is shining and the flowers are blooming. I am grateful for the beauty of this season. It is so comforting to realize that Spring will come every year even if we still feel like we are in a winter season.. that would be me. The grieving season does not end when Spring starts.. but the colors of the flowers and the bright blue sky give me hope. I am thankful I can begin to enjoy things.. little by little.

There are many dark days and nights for me.. I miss my husband every single day but there are also glimmers of hope. Days when I feel like maybe I really do have a future.. when I may actually have a new life that brings me joy and happiness. God has given us His creation and seasons that enable us to feel a certain security in these insecure times.. The beauty of the earth is timeless.. the seasons are never late. He is still on His throne even in the chaos of this broken world and in the sadness of our lives.

This season of my life has been very difficult and I am learning more and more on the everlasting arms. He is my rock and my security. Standing on His promises is the only safe place right now. My hope is in Him.. He is the same .. yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is our protector and our provider. His ways are not ours.. We are His people.. the sheep of His pasture.. He is our Shepherd we have all that we need.

I pray that the Lord is revealing His love for you daily.. that you are resting in Him and that you find the green pastures and quiet streams .. the places where He can minister to you and restore you.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

An uncertain future

It has been a while since I wrote on my blog.. I began this blog in March of 2010. So here I am 12 years later living a life I could never have imagined. If you have been following me, you know that my life turned upside down in 2019 when my husband was hospitalized for early onset dementia and he went to be with Jesus in August of 2020.. during the pandemic.. I moved, gave away everything and eventually ended up where I am living now. On March 30th of 2020 I moved here.. that was our 18th wedding anniversary.. if he were here we would be celebrating our 20th anniversary in a few weeks.

My life started over … living alone for the first time.. widowed for the second time and now facing a very uncertain future. How long will I be here? What lies ahead? Is there another season for me? I was only 51 when I was widowed for the first time and it was clear that I would have another season.. in many ways it was the best part of my life.. My daughter married, I married again and the grandchildren were born. Now I am much older and the grandkids are almost grown.. It is more difficult to imagine that there is more in store for me.. yet at the same time, I am here and I could live much longer. My mother just turned 100 in November.. good genes.

The biggest challenge is living in the uncertainty daily. What is God up to ? Will He help me to find a new path.. a new direction.. a new purpose? Well.. He knows me and He shaped me so I believe He will do all these things and more.. but the waiting is difficult. I have never been a patient person.. it is hard to live without knowing. .Yet there is one thing I do know and that is that He is faithful and will never change.. I lost my husband, my job, my things, and even my health has been challenged, but I cannot lose the Lord… the losses are hard, the grief continues , but He seems more real and closer to me than ever before. He is with me, He is for me, He follows me, and He leads me as I trust Him.

The Bible verses on fear have helped me so much during this time.. here is one of my favorites.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Do you face an uncertain future? Look to Him .. He will never fail you.

Dreaming God’s way..

It was hard finding a title for this post. Dreaming is very important in the kingdom of God. He gives us the capacity to dream and imagine. But dreaming our own dreams and letting God give us dreams.. these are two different things. The reason I am writing about this today is because the Lord is dealing with some big issues in me that have to do with dreaming. For most of my life, I have let dreams be a way of escaping pain and suffering. It started in childhood. I was very unhappy with my family and there were many reasons why. I am not going to go into it here, but I needed a way out.. so I dreamed of this perfect life.. a perfect family. One very different from my own.

Unfortunately the path I took to get that perfect life failed. I had relationships with men that were unhealthy and eventually ended up marrying an abusive addict.. but when he passed away.. the dream of a better life was still alive and I married Steve. He was a wonderful man and I had many of the things in my life that I thought were lost forever. If you have been following my blog, then you know that Steve also passed away.. last summer. I lost everything when he got sick and I no longer had that wonderful life that I cherished. It was not a perfect life and for most of our marriage we had financial problems .. there was no real stability.. so I filled my head with dreams of the day when I would get that last piece and live happily every after. Instead Steve became ill with dementia and things became more and more difficult.

Now that he is gone, I am alone and sure enough.. the old dreams came back.. dreaming of another chance to have that life that would be close to perfect.. funny how that could sneak in even at my age! This time, the Lord has stopped me from dreaming.. Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t get another chance.. it just means that He is teaching me to be in the pain and suffering without trying to escape through dreaming. He is helping me to live in the present and be content with not knowing what the future holds. I believe that this is how He is teaching me to rely more deeply on Him. My old dreams are gone but He can give me new ones when it is time and more importantly He is enabling me to believe that everything He has prepared for me is going to be better than my dreams.. It is actually very freeing not to be dreaming and to realize that this season is teaching me so much about our Great God.

I have always loved this scripture.. but finally I feel as though I truly understand it

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Alone with God

 

 

That is the life I am living these days. I live in a room.. like a semi studio attached  to a house filled with a family that rents to me. It is my own private space and I am thankful that the Lord brought me here. I was living here 5 months ago when my husband passed on. I have no idea how long I will be here or where I could ever go since I have a very limited income.

So the challenge is to accept what is and to learn how to spend time alone with God on a totally new level. There are very few distractions or responsibilities in this season. It is a huge adjustment. My nature is to want to take care of people and now I just have my cat and myself. Some days we do well.. other days are so hard that all I do is think about everything I lost. My husband, my home, my things, my job .. the beautiful valley I walked in almost every single day.. all gone.

Days that  I struggle to not be angry at God and probably almost everyone else.. anger is a part of grieving. Other days I am so sad I have to drag myself out of bed and force myself to eat and exercise. My life feels empty and no place feels like home. I am writing this because I want you to know the context of this post. So I spend lots of time alone. I know God is with me but I am lonely for human contact… missing the hugs and kisses that Steve gave so generously. Does it help when people say but you are not alone.. God is always with you.. No it does not help. Why? Because I am grieving and it is painful and it is a solitary road that no one truly understands. There are moments when I know God is close.. but they are surrounded by many more moments when I think to myself.. what happened to my life? Where am I?

Covid life has not made this any easier. People and places are off limits and here in California many churches are closed, so that dimension of life is also gone. I don’t enjoy watching church.. on Zoom or Facebook live.. it reminds me of a bad TV show. So now I am struggling with my relationship with the church.. feeling disconnected and discouraged.. wondering what it all means. I struggled with church all my life as a Believer and got disillusioned over and over but kept returning. This time is different. As I have prayed about it and wondered what to do.. I get the impression God is saying don’t be afraid to be alone with me and to let that be enough. This doesn’t mean total isolation but it does mean not looking to church for support or meaning in my life.. It means not clinging to something that is gone.. maybe not forever, but at least for now.

I often  think about those people who spent time in prison or heroes like Corrie Ten Boom who was in a concentration camp. There are many examples of people who are models of what it is to be a person of great faith. They suffered alone with God and He was enough. Let that be my story Lord in these dark times.

 

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” 

Almost 18 Years

Next Monday is March 30th.. it is our 18th anniversary. I probably will not get in to the skilled nursing facility because of the ” shelter in place” rule.  It is sad but when I finally get to see Steve again I just know it will be a celebration. Since hospice became  involved in our lives.. things are better than they were. Steve is holding his own and in some ways improved because of the extra layer of help. I am doing better because I have other people who are monitoring his situation and will step in if he needs it. I actually did not realize that hospice can extend the life of people because they provide comfort care and extra attention which enables the patient to feel more love and less stress.

As I have been sheltering.. I feel like I am seeing new things in our situation. God’s timing has been miraculous. 7 months ago there was a big change that forced me into the situation where I had to put Steve in the hospital and then the skilled nursing. Just last month hospice became a part of our journey. The Lord knew what we would need at this stage. He knew this pandemic was coming and exactly when and where it would hit. He know that Steve was vulnerable and that I would not be able to visit him every day .. so last month he enabled hospice to come in and do the things I was doing.. He also knew that I would eventually need to find a place by myself.

I stayed with my daughter and family for 3 months and with old friends for 3 months..the second place is only 5 minutes from Steve’s . Now that he is being watched and cared for by hospice.. the Lord has provided a new place.. my own small place back in my hometown.. close to my daughter and only a few freeway exits away from Steve.. it seems to be just what I need.. and want. So here I am having plenty of time to sort through things and prepare for this move since I can’t really go anywhere.. sounds like God’s plan for sure.

So on our 18th anniversary I will be moving into my new place and hopefully, God willing, it will not be too long before I can visit my husband again.. God is directing our steps and taking care of both of us separately just as He did when we were together.. I am so very grateful.

I hope you are surviving this season without feeling too isolated or lonely and that you are having the time to see God at work in your circumstances.. God is still God.. He is still in control and you can still trust Him. He is Good .. so very Good!

I am reminded of this story in Matthew.. this is from the Message:

The Wind Ran Out of Breath

 Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

 Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

Let’s decide to be in absolute awe of Him as we sail through the storm that is upon us..Our great God!

Surprises in the dark

This is us in Maui 7 years ago.. a wonderful memory!

 

Dear Readers,

If you have been following my blog you know that I write about the struggles of this life.. disappointment.. grief and loss.. disillusionment etc. I feel like there is a need for that type of transparency and sharing. However.. there is more than just acknowledging the trials and the pain we face. In the midst of these trials, God promises to show up.. to reveal Himself to rescue us and to renew us.  This was a week when God showed up in my life in a very surprising way.

As you know, my husband is suffering from a type of dementia and we have been grappling with what that means for the last year.. since he was diagnosed. A couple of months ago I decided to take our wedding movie to Costco to have it put on a DVD. We have never seen this movie since it was shot with a super 8 camera with no way to view it.. time to do something about this. I wanted to make sure that we watched it together now..in case Steve is unable to take it in later.. but at the same time I felt like I was going to lose it when I saw how things used to be. We have been married for 17 years and both of us are very different from the way we were on that day.

It seemed as though the Lord and Steve wanted to see it.. so I just hoped that I could recover after it was over. God surprised me.. not only did I recover, but I was totally encouraged as I watched and also amazed. The important moments were all there.. views of the guests.. many of them are with the Lord now.. including my Dad and Steve’s sister. It was wonderful to see them again and to remember them.. Then there were the vows.. showing the close up of my face and I saw the joy that God gave me as I married this wonderful man and promised to be faithful to him no matter what happened.. in sickness and in health. Wow.. so thankful that I made those vows and that God is giving me the strength to keep them. The pastor gave a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13.. the love chapter. It was a prophetic word for us.. emphasizing that love was to be at the center of our relationship.. It was as though the Lord knew we needed to file that away and keep it for this season. So awesome to realize that He knew what we would face and that we would walk it out together. I was strengthened by the words of the pastor as he told us that he could see God’s handiwork in our relationship.. it was confirmation to me that nothing that is happening is a surprise to God.. He knew what we would walk through and that we would cling to Him and each other.

Yes! It was a surprise in a dark time and it came in a surprising way.. I cried and longed to relive those early years of our marriage.. but these years matter too and I want to live fully as they unfold.

I just had to share this with you.. I hope it brings life and hope to your heart!

Love,

Alicia

Romans 8:28

20190427_160410-effects

“We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”

This is a quote from the Voice translation of the Bible.. I love the way this is expressed.. so clear and easy to understand. I learned this verse when I was a new believer and have held on to it ever since.. over 40 years now. Lately I have been doubting that it could possibly apply to my present circumstances. How could the Lord bring good out of this? My husband losing so many abilities and words and me losing him little by little.. impossible to see that turning into something good and beautiful.

This weekend the Lord showed me that He is still living up to His words in this verse. My two step sons and my grandson came to visit us. The back story is that there has been almost no communication with his oldest son for many years.. the last time we saw him was 9 years ago and there have been almost no conversations for the last 17 years.. since we got married. I don’t know what happened.. but now it does not matter at all. As they were driving here from Idaho I decided that I wanted to welcome them with a dinner and I drove to the store.. While I was there I questioned the whole thing.. what would it be like? Would we all feel very awkward, would there be anger? I distinctly heard the Lord say ” It is a celebration” and that we were welcoming home the prodigal son. Wow! Really God? Sounded good to me and I bought what I needed to make the dinner and went home wondering .. what next?

They arrived a couple hours later and when we opened the door.. it was exactly like the story of the Prodigal son.. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  …The room was filled with joy and the weekend continued to unfold.. with many tender moments and many tears.. I was stunned.. never expecting to see this moment and never imagining it could happen right now!

For me it has lifted the depression and despair that has surrounded me for the last year…my faith was getting weaker and weaker and I was crying out to Him daily.. Save me. . I saw that the Lord is bring good out of the suffering of this season.. I know now that the Lord has been at work even though there was not a single sign of that.. He was doing things in everyone, preparing us for that moment when He would move and do what He does best.. bring Healing and Reconciliation!

I see how God is using my husband to bring us all together.. this man I married is an instrument of sacrificial love for the whole family.. He is still giving so much to us as he is losing everything.. For the first time since we got married I feel grafted into his family and they are becoming more and more precious to me every day.. what a wonderful gift.

I hope this encourages you.. I know what it feels like to lose hope and to wonder if God even knows or cares.. the trials of this world can devastate us.. He will show up and surprise you, just as He just did for me.. This season is never going to get easier, but my desire is to continue to Trust Him and to believe He has more gifts to shower down on us.

” He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.”

Safely Home

Today we were making our way through Exodus at church.. a very interesting book that is often overlooked. The Israelites’ relationship with God is similar to the way we often relate to Him. He rescues them and then provides for them and yet they long to go back to Egypt.. Somehow they are unable to truly grasp His love for them and accept His plan for their lives.. Sound familiar? Why is that we get amnesia when it comes to remembering His goodness? We all have a story and in that story God has come for us over and over again.. yet we doubt and wonder and worry.. I am absolutely guilty of this. Where are you God? Why would you..? How could you??

So as I listened to the teaching today I heard something that I needed to hear.. it was a new way of stating an old idea that I have heard over the years.. but somehow today it was much more clear than it has been.. Maybe I am just more ready to hear it now than I was when I was younger.. Our walk with God is often clouded by our own desires..we want what we want.. guilty as charged. The Lord uses all of this desire for things that are not Him to draw us towards Him.. sounds strange doesn’t it? What I mean is that we long for the things for this world.. homes, jobs, money, etc.. and every time we get any of these things, they fall short and another desire has to spring up… It is an endless cycle until we realize that these things are never going to fill the emptiness or take away the loneliness.. We are in a broken world and we are not here to have this perfect life.. so why are we here? The message today was that we are here to make it safely home .. back to the God who created us.. That’s right to walk with Him all the way to the end..staying close to Him, following Him, and keeping our faith alive.. until that day!

It was so freeing to hear that today.. Many of my old dreams have died and many of my longings will never be fulfilled in this life.. but I can do this thing.. I can walk with Him every day until the end is here.. I can long for that day to come and still live fully now.. trusting Him and knowing that He is with me.. You can do that too.. you can look back and see how He has been there over and over and remember how you have seen Him at work in your life and in the lives of those around you. You can decide to stay on the path until He takes you safely home!

 

The Lord is in the whisper

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. “

So this scripture was going through my mind today.. I truly cannot tell you the last time I was reading 1 Kings.. but it was not at all recently.. I heard the words and then had to look up the passage because I did not even know where it was in the Bible.. The reason I was hearing these words is because I finally understand, at least a little bit, about what it means that God is in the gentle whisper. For me it was the revelation that the big things that we hope will reveal His presence often do not happen.. we want the big miracle or sign that He is with us.. that proves to us  He is present in our circumstances so we do not fear or falter. If we read about the life of Jesus in the NT we find that all those signs and miracles still left the disciples and others wondering. Who is this man? So obviously they don’t always have the desired effect.

God has been revealing His presence through small things that are big to me.. I see Him at work in my circumstances through the way people are stepping up to help me over and over again. I see Him at work when He brings me back to scriptures that speak to my heart over and over again.. when He answers prayers that I barely remember praying.. when He shows me that He is at work behind the scenes and all He is asking is for me to trust Him with everything!!.. He is constantly whispering ” I am with you and I have your back.. I will deliver you and fight the enemy for you.. come to me with everything and trust that these whispers are saying … I love you with an everlasting love”   ( Jeremiah 31)

In John 4 Jesus said this to the Samaritan woman at the well.. and it is for us as well.

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 

Lord.. give me ears to hear those whispers.. to recognize your voice and to drink the living water that you are offering me.