The Seasons of Life

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I thought the first time prepared me. When it happened again a few years later I was caught off-guard. It is happening again in a few short months, actually, I kid myself, it has been happening for more than a few months and I find myself completely unprepared.

Empty nesting. A season filled with innumerable changes, grief and hopefulness. It is important to allow ourselves to grieve through this process. I am still a mom but my role as mom has changed. My days are no longer dictated by drop-off and pick-up, three yearly two-week breaks and a seven week summer vacation. My days are filled with what I have been anticipating and looking forward to the past twelve months. Time. I have nothing BUT time. I have thought about, dreamed about and chomped at the bit for this exact moment. To have days filled with learning more about this gift of writing, spending endless hours traipsing through God’s word and actually writing, but this empty nest thing keeps getting in the way.

I have been expressing to others that I have been in a holding pattern for the last year and I was wrong. Today God revealed to me one of my favorite verses and one of God’s promises – James 5:17. I’m not in a holding pattern, I’m in between the rains. My responsibility is to be patient and God promises to bring the autumn and spring rains.

In between the rains is where new seeds of truth are planted in rich, deep and dense soil waiting and preparing for the new growth that is about to spring forth.

Empty nesting, like so many seasons in life, is a process. As we stay tethered to Jesus by reading and studying His word and through prayer and fellowship with those who have gone before us, we will learn to trust the process.

Shalom!

©2018TereseJMBelme

Just be Held

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photo courtesy Pintrest.

I was scheduled to speak at a moms event at church, when I received a call from my child’s school counselor. As I stepped outside to take the call, she told me she was calling mom to mom; friend to friend. My child wasn’t in any danger nor was she in trouble, rather this was an informative call.

There was a storm brewing in our lives.

When I walked back into the event, “Just be Held” by Casting Crowns was playing. I DID NOT want to listen to this song. I sat in defiance with my arms and legs crossed, bouncing my leg up and down, up and down in anger and pain. I was upset with my friend, who was the ministry leader of the event, for choosing this song, but she was simply being obedient. I praise God now that she did choose this song, but for a very long time I couldn’t listen whenever this song was playing. 

With tears in my eyes, I was crying out to God, “Why are you allowing this?” The ‘this’ of that moment was nothing like the ‘this’ that was yet to come. The moment propelled our family into three years of a challenging struggle, that without our faith, could have destroyed us. It was a time of sifting, deliverance, and healing and the enemy took advantage, at every opportunity, to cause us to doubt Who God says he is.

I delivered my presentation and life went on. A few years later, I was cleaning up the files on my computer, and I came to my presentation. I was about to toss it in the garbage, when I very clearly heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, “Don’t do that.” I moved the cursor away from the garbage icon and dragged the document back to its original spot on my desktop.

This  morning as I sat and peacefully listened to “Just be Held,” I reflected back to the maelstrom of those years and the Holy Spirit showed me pictures of all the pieces He connected together. How He birthed His will in my life through those tumultuous years. How the presentation I almost threw away became my first ever published piece. 

Storms will rage around us but you have a choice. Just be held.

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held. Casting Crowns.

Shalom!

©2018TereseJMBelme

He Saves our Children

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I love the book of Isaiah, it is one of my favorites! Over the past several weeks this verse has been skipping along in my mind and every time it makes a cognizant appearance, I thank God for this promise.

Last night, our son was delivering for Postmates and there were several glitches in the system. He finally decided to simply go home, well before midnight. Our youngest lovebug was suppose to work until 1:00am but called and said she was on her way home, also well before midnight. Our oldest lovebug had celebrated the New Year several hours earlier and was already safe and sound.

While our son was slightly frustrated that he was trying to earn money and couldn’t, this verse once again made an appearance. This promise that God will save our children, ultimately is speaking about salvation. However, it can also mean, be or live in abundance, placed in freedom or be saved in battle.

I went to sleep last night thanking Him that all my ducklings were home safe on one of the craziest nights of the year. Many times His roadblocks are actually His protection.

Walking in greater faith and eyes wide open.

#pivotalyear2018

Shalom!

©2018TereseJMBelme

Inherent Blessing

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From Eugene Peterson’s broad view of family in Psalm 128. “The illustration is, as we would expect, conditioned by Hebrew culture, in which the standard signs of happiness were a wife who had many children and children who gathered and grew around the table: fruitful vine and olive soots. This illustration is just that, an example that we need not reproduce exactly in order to experience blessing. (We, for instance, don’t try to have as many children as possible-or try to get them to stay home for all their lives!) But the meaning is still with us: Blessing has inherent in it the power to increase.”

Blessing being inherent is the character of God, belonging to His nature. And His power is in each blessing, maintaining the ability to increase the blessing and spill into the live of others, whether we have children or not and whether our children are able to live on their own or not.

You are blessed to be a blessing regardless of your earthly family situation.

#beablessing

Shalom!
©2017TereseJMBelme

The Face of Mental Illness

wildflowers_zydeqDY_.jpgDoes mental illness actually have a face? I suppose many of us, if asked, might sketch something dark, melancholy, even abstract, however, I am beginning to see mental health concerns from a new perspective.

Imagine with me buying one of those big containers of wildflower seeds from your local gardening supply store. In late winter or early spring, after cultivating your garden soil into a deep, dense and rich haven, in which your newly bought seeds will begin to grow and flourish, you wait with great expectation for late spring or early summer when all your flowers begin to bloom and you have a carpeted menagerie of Dahlia’s, Zinna’s, Sunflower’s and more. This is how I am beginning to view mental health awareness.

A collective of beautiful minds that:

  • think deeply.
  • feel on a deeper, rawer level than most not only for themselves but for others and this can be very overwhelming,
  • have HUGE compassionate hearts that bruise, break and agonize easily.

What I have learned and am continuing to learn:

  • outbursts are not about you. They may be directed at you but most likely they are situational in your loved ones life.
  • when your loved one is experiencing a downward spiral help out in any way possible keeping as close to a routine as possible. Maybe that means doing things for your loved one that they would otherwise be able to do for themselves. Something as simple as offering them their medicine, making their meals or doing a load of their laundry.
  • find a support group or start one.
  • lower your expectations. Not of your loved one but for yourself. You may not be able to ‘do’ all the things you want to accomplish and that is okay. Tomorrow is another day.
  • Take care of you so you can take care of your loved one.
  • You are not alone.

Together you can bloom where you are planted.

Shalom!

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Prayers of a Pastor

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There we sat, the room empty, except for one other man. The light was dim and dingy. Off in the corner the television was on and bleating louder than it ought to have been. She sat next to me doubled over in pain with tears streaming down her face wondering what was taking so long. It was 3:30 in the morning. The man brought my attention to the rain that had started again and the howling of the wind.

I sat feeling helpless trying to control the panic beginning to creep in. I closed my eyes and began to pray. I simply said, “Jesus we need you.” The door opened and we were called back. The man came right up next to me and followed us. Just as I was beginning to feel unsettled about this, he said, “I want you to know I was praying for your daughter.” With a relieved smile, I answered, “Thank you.” He said, “As a Pastor that is my job.” I thanked him again and told him there is something special about the prayers of a Pastor.

As we sat in the exam room engulfed by the privacy curtain, listening to the activity of a busy ER, I marveled at HIM. His lavish love poured over us creating a sweet perfume for our souls. Before I ever uttered a word in prayer, God had already answered and placed that Pastor right near us.

If that isn’t love, what is?

Precious One, God is ever close, his love knows no bounds and he is always listening to the sweet tinkling of your voice.

Shalom!

PS she is fine and God is good….ALL the time.

The Privilege Of Prayer

hands-pack-2-4This morning one of my sweet friends messaged me a prayer request and I messaged her back with a prayer for her request. This led me to reflect about why I pray. For obvious reasons because God’s word says by prayer and supplication make all your requests known to God and his peace that transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind. (Philippians 4:6-7).

As I think about these verses I realize I don’t pray because of what I will receive from God, I pray simply because his word tells me too. Yes, I am a bit of a rule follower, hey, every family needs one! But, I don’t look at this in a legalistic rule following kind of way. As I reflect further I also realize that my reasons for praying are quite honestly selfish.

Praying makes me feel close to God. I like the way I feel when I pray. When I pray it’s just me and God, even though many other people could be praying at the same time that I am, but in that moment it is just me and God. It’s as if I am an only child, which I know isn’t the case, but God has a way of doing that with his kids! That I also receive his peace when I pray is a beautiful gift from a good, good Father.

Praying also reminds me Who God Is. Praying reminds me how powerful a weapon God has entrusted to us to do his kingdom work.

I remarked to another friend that many times God will show me things I don’t necessarily need to know and when I ask him why his answer is always the same, “So you’ll pray.” Think about that for a moment. God shows us things not because we are entitled to know but because he trusts us to pray! That adds another skip to my step!!

Precious One it is a privilege and honor to pray for others. Who will you be in prayer for today? Ask God to show you!

Shalom!

Paper Dolls

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When I was a little girl I would spend hours playing with paper dolls. The dolls came in a book similar to current day sticker books. Some had perforations around the dolls and their clothes making it easier to take them from the book and some had to be cut around and along the dotted lines, causing the anticipation of playing with them to grow and grow, until finally, they were free from the book and ready to be dressed and played with! The clothes had paper tabs on them that were folded over and that is how they hung or clung to the paper dolls.

I had a clique of paper dolls, they all hung out together and were nice to each other. I was the DollChainsDiagonal170mom, I led by example even at that early age. Sometimes I would line up my paper dolls as if the were holding hands, something like this picture.

What do you suppose it would look like if, spiritually, I held your hand and you held another’s hand and they held another’s hand and so and so on, until all around the world the hands of believers in Christ were held by each other and we began to pray for the lost of the world? I believe fear would be afraid and run and hide. The eyes of fear would be opened to the heavenly host and chariots of fire surrounding it on the mountain ridge! I believe millions will be saved, having heard the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A few weeks ago, as I sat praying, I asked Papa to show me who around the world was praying the same thing that I was praying. Every afternoon my husband calls me, while on his long commute back home from work, and we talk about our day with each other. On this day that I asked God to show me who was praying like I was, my husband told me he was praying for a certain group of people who were persecuting others in another country and it was exactly what I had been praying for that morning and neither of us knew it until that moment of conversation. What makes the moment even sweeter is that my husband is a private person and doesn’t usually share what he is praying for or about.

Do you believe that God is omnipotent? If you do then you have to believe He is capable of doing anything, even linking the hands of his children offering up the sweet sacrifice of prayer together, united by Holy Spirit, throughout the entire Bride around the world.

20150702_094747-1Here’s my hand, will you take it?

Shalom!

Now That’s Italian!

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All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Judges 2:10.

I grew up in a very large, very full blooded Italian family! Both sets of my grandparents emigrated to the United States from Italy. My father was a California transplant from Rhode Island, my mom was born and raised and lived her entire live in San Jose.

I have very fond childhood memories of family. All my father’s siblings remained on the east coast but my mom’s large family were all in San Jose. I remember on weekends we would rotate whose house we would be at for visiting and a meal. We didn’t call to ask if we could come over, it seems the women in our family simply knew who would be hosting on any given weekend. And, Sunday’s, oh Sunday’s were for the traditional pasta meal, usually accompanied by homemade meatballs! Sometimes the adults would speak in Italian, usually when they didn’t want the kids to understand what they were talking about, and, unfortunately, they did not teach us kids the language of our native tongue. But, there were stories and traditions galore! To this day, although I do not practice my Catholic upbringing, I still remember St. Josephs’s Day and all the cooking that went along with it and the little old Italian lady, who, for days would be preparing all sorts of food and desserts for this special day. I think my mom was secretly pleased when one of our lovebugs was born on St. Joseph’s Day!

The nucleus of our family mostly remained in San Jose until the generation before us passed on. Now we are scattered around the nation largely due to affordable housing and job opportunities elsewhere. But, I have kept the stories of my childhood alive by retelling them to my children. An oral tradition that I know they will pass onto my grandchildren.

Before the Bible was a written word it was a verbal word. The stories of God’s faithfulness and the Mosaic Law and what it looked like to be obedient to God were all handed down generation to generation by the telling and retelling of these truths.

A generation, today, is typically thought to be about 25 years; from the birth of a parent to the birth of their child. In the Bible during the Old Testament a generation was typically 40 years.

How is it that the generation mentioned in Judges 2:10 above, a generation that crossed the Jordan River and took possession of the Promised Land, which some estimate was at least one million people, a Jerusalem from the North 1839generation that included Joshua and Caleb, who were great warriors; mighty men of God, had produced a generation that neither knew God or knew of God’s mighty deeds and faithfulness to his beloved Israel?

Did the generation that crossed the Jordan River simply stop retelling about their faith and trust in God to the generation of their children? Perhaps, but I don’t believe so. The Jordan River generation had wandered the wilderness with the generation before them until the wilderness generation had died and God brought the Jordan River generation into the Promised Land he had vowed to give their ancestors. The Jordan River generation experienced the supernatural power of God and witnessed His deliverance and fighting for them. Those stories would have been some of the greatest they would have retold about God’s love, protection and provision over them.

A generation that did not know God or what He had done for Israel. Yet, God in his sovereignty and unfailing love provided a remnant generation to generation. So that, you and I now have the hope that as we tell our own stories of God’s faithfulness in our life to our children and grandchildren and the generations to come, we are establishing a foundation for the base of their own faith in Jesus.

FootprintDirect your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6.

Shalom!