Higher Hope
(Chapter from my book, Ride On!)

“Some see a hopeless end while others see an endless hope.” ~ Author unknown

In our journey of life, we travel on many kinds of roads.

Some of those roads were easy flat stretches with lots of sunshine on which you traveled with much joy, love, and hope. It’s so easy to be strong in your faith during this part of your journey when life offers so much hope.

Other roads posed some challenges of small hills and curves with some storms during which you’ve had your moments of doubt and fear but you stayed strong in your faith and love. You know there is always hope.

Sometimes riding on these kinds of roads prepares us for the more difficult ones later on.

These are those roads that were the most challenging to keep riding on. The hills seemed endless to climb, flat stretches seemed to go on forever, dead-ends, dangerous potholes, and constant storms, but you know you must keep riding on through it all. Even though you’ve reached your limit of frustration, stress, and fear, you know that your perseverance and endurance are being tested. Out of this test, will become your testimony of your faith and love. Because of this, you hold on to that endless hope!

Where is your hope in your journey of life?  Do you see a hopeless end?  Do you see an endless hope?

“To hope is the way we are saved. But if we saw what we hoped for, there would no longer be hope. How can you hope for what is already seen? So, we hope for what we do not see and we will receive through patient hope.” ~Romans 8:24-25

Keep holding on to your hope no matter how defeating your situations seems. “…keep a grip on hope. God’s love is created new every morning. I’m sticking with God. He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.” ~Lamentations 3:19-26

This kind of hope is what keeps you riding on through those challenging roads. It gives you light to lead you, strengthens your faith to trust God, and deepens the love you hold in your heart.

So… “Hold fast to your hope without wavering, because He who promised is faithful.” ~Hebrews 10:23

“Some see a hopeless end while others see an endless hope.”

God is an endless hope that is the highest hope of all.

Ride On strong in your Hope!

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I vacationed in Oahu, Hawaii, I had the opportunity to hike the Diamond Head Crater. Before starting my journey, I stood on my toes in the parking lot, cupping my hands over my eyes, straining to find the summit only to see a very long sloping hill. But I wasn’t discouraged, I knew it was up there and I was going to reach my destination. Already at 200 feet from the base of the volcano, I began my ascent of 561 feet on paved and then rocky terrain that was uneven, narrow, winding, and very steep requiring me to take extra caution of where I stepped otherwise I’d find myself tumbling back down to the parking lot. Not only did I have to endure the tricky paths, I also had to climb four different flights of stairs. The first set consisted of 74 concrete steps followed by a 225-foot dark tunnel where I was faced with a choice: endure the darkness or end my adventure here and turn around.

tunnel in Diamond Head

Determined to reach the top, I overlooked my fear of the unknown and grasped the rail, trusting it would lead me out of the tunnel. After what seemed like a long, long time in the dark, I finally stepped out into the blinding, tropical sun. I stretched my arms and tilted my head back, embracing its glorious light and warmth that washed away the last trace of gloom.  Putting my sunglasses back on, I found myself standing at the base of another set of stairs. I raised my eyes slowly over the steep steps, searching for the top, but I couldn’t find it. I already knew this second set of stairs consisted of 99 steps, but standing there at the base of it brought a new perspective to this magnificent climb! I braced myself for the challenge and began my climb, one step at a time. Halfway up, I stopped and looked behind me. I was amazed at how far I’ve already hiked and knew I was that much closer to my goal. I took a deep breath, tasting the saltiness in the air from the ocean and felt another round of the adrenaline rush through my legs, resuming my climb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Approaching to the top of the staircase, I let out a disappointing groan at my discovery – another tunnel. This is just cruelty. I’m almost at the summit and I have to endure darkness again?! But I believed that my destination would be worth this part of the journey. Taking hold of the railing again, I climbed a steep slope inside the tunnel to a spiral staircase of 43 more steps that led me further up inside the volcano. At the top of the stairs, light shone through openings of the bunker walls used in World War II. I had to slide my body through one of the narrow slits of concrete to get to the outside.

bunker on Diamond Head

Once I found my bearings, I finally saw the observation deck. My steps quickened its pace to match the heartbeats in my chest as I eagerly reached the last set of stairs, 54 metal steps that would take me to the top.

A light cool breeze brushed my skin, causing goose bumps to surface as I rushed toward the last step and suddenly stopped, breathless at the view. Bright colors of fuchsia, violet, red, gold, and orange dotted against the greenery at the base of the volcano that seemed to dive into the deep blue waters. Long lines of white waves splashed against the landscape where a lonely lighthouse stood to greet its visitors. My eyes followed the coast of Waikiki Beach lined with trees, sand, and various buildings and hotels.

view of Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head diamondhead lighthouseStanding there at an elevation of 761 feet, the air was pure of the pollution from down below and I slowly breathed in its crisp freshness, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face. I finally made it to the top after such an arduous climb, but the reward was worth each step of the staircases and through the dark tunnels. I couldn’t see the top from the parking lot where I started, but if I had already seen it and knew what to expect at the summit, would I have endured the hike? Maybe, but the sheer joy of my accomplishment and the thrill of the view would definitely have lost its appeal and awe-struck wonder. But if I had chosen something else to do that would’ve taken less effort and time, then I wouldn’t have discovered the courage, strength, perseverance, and hope within myself throughout the climb. I’ll never forget how cautious I was with my footing on the winding terrain or the pain in my legs and back climbing the steps or facing the fear of the dark in the tunnels or nursing the scrapes on my knees from crawling through the narrow openings.

I kept my focus on the goal, determined to endure the troubles and pain to reach the summit.  Before my journey, I stood on my toes in the middle of the parking lot, straining to see the top. I chose hope, knowing in my faith to take that first step, then another one, and keep on going toward my destination. I knew deep down inside my heart the reward of the climb would be great even though I couldn’t see the top or what the journey entailed to get there.

 

Think about some of the things you’ve endured to get to where you hoped to be. Did you endure struggles through the journey? Did you savor those small but amazing accomplishments along the way? Did you find yourself at the crossroad where you had to choose to keep going or turn around and go back? Did you discover things about yourself that you would never have known had you not decided to go on the journey? If you already seen or knew what to expect at the summit of your journey, would you have gone through with it?

 

In the many journeys we endure in our lives, taking that first step in each of them takes a lot of faith but we also have hope. “To hope is the way we are saved. But if we saw what you hoped for, there would no longer be hope: how can you hope for what is already seen? So, we hope for what we do not see and we will receive it through patient hope.” ~Romans 8:24-25

 

Sometimes there will be pain, loss, darkness, and fear in the journey, but believe in your faith – trust God – and stay strong in what you are hoping for – don’t give up. “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope. God’s loyal love is created new every morning. I’m sticking with God. He’s all I’ve got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.” ~ Lamentations 3:19-26.

 

Have faith – take that first step and then let God lead the rest of the way. Don’t give up and don’t quit. The hope you’re reaching for is worth the journey to get there!

 

arial view of Diamond Head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The red line is the hike from the parking lot to the summit of Diamond Head.

 

IMAGE042

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris and me with a good friend who was also our personal guide during our hike in 2005.

A Valentine from God

After watching the news late in the afternoon into Friday evening, I tearfully turned off the television. I couldn’t watch it anymore as the pain of the terrible tragedy grew within me – similar to the kind of mournful loss you feel after a loved one has passed on. I felt it three times in my life and I didn’t think I’d have to bear that kind of pain so soon after my mother’s passing in July. My heart is bleeding again for those innocent children, their parents and families, for the teachers and their spouse, child(ren), families, and friends in Newtown, Connecticut.

Evil lurked, prowled, and attacked beauty and innocence. I cried out, “Why God?! Why?!” Desperately needing to feel hope in the midst of darkness, I put on the movie to feel that hope once again. I curled up in my warm, fleece blanket and began to watch “The Nativity Story.” As the story unfolded, I couldn’t help but feel joy seeing how Hope broke through the darkness and came into our world. Emmanuel. Jesus was Hope then and He is our Hope now.

During this senseless act of violence, evil thought it was winning. But I truly and deeply believe God defeated evil before it started. God turned it around for the good of those who love Him.  ~Romans 8:28

While we all wished the good is the survival of all the children and adults or we wished this just never happened at all… I do believe God was right there with his children He loves so dearly. Even though I knew this within my spirit, I fell asleep in tears, praying for everyone in Newtown and for us all.

I woke up this morning joyful and energetic – quite a contrast from the night before. I kept thinking about the images I saw and wondered, “Did I make this up?” As I got going this morning, I couldn’t put them out of my mind and my spirit is stirred with new hope.

I am not sure if this was a dream or if this is something I just “know,” but I believe before evil attacked, God had already sent a very special angel to each one of his children to protect them from that last breath of fear. I saw angels wrapping their enormous wings around each child and adult lovingly and led them Home to our Highest Hope – Emmanuel.

I kept thinking about the song, “O Come Emmanuel” and really looked at the words. I have goose bumps all over as I read each line thinking of Newtown, Connecticut and of everyone affected by senseless evil violence.

Please… take a moment and look at these words with me:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel (everyone affected by senseless violence)
That mourns (the spouse, parent, child, family, friend) in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel. (Newtown, Connecticut)

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny (everyone affected by senseless violence)
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave (to lead them Home)
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel. (Newtown, Connecticut)
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer (Angels wrapping their wings lovingly)
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel. (Newtown, Connecticut)

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high, (Angels bringing them Home)
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel. (Newtown, Connecticut)

I believe Emmanuel came that morning and all the other moments before such evil attacked. My heart goes out to everyone as we, “out of heartfelt sorrow, pray, stretching out [our] hands, [and] hear from Heaven where [our] Home is. Forgive.” And that we “do not let evil defeat [us], but conquer evil with goodness.”
~2nd Chronicles 6:29-30
~Romans 12: 21

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Take a real good look at these words: Happy Thanksgiving
Happy     *     Thanks     *    Giving

Giving     *     Thanks     *    Happy

GIVING THANKS to the ONE and being HAPPY, realizing just how BLESSED you are!

A friend of mine gave me this great idea to dedicate each day in November to give thanks to God for the blessings in my life. While I do spend time – usually at night before I fall asleep – giving praises to God for the special blessings He gave me that day and for those I continue to be so grateful, I thought this would be a good blog to keep up each morning for this month.

I am challenging you to dedicate several minutes each day to GIVE THANKS and discover how HAPPY you are and how many BLESSINGS you have in your life already.

Please feel free to share with me in your comments below or if you’d prefer to keep it personal, I’m HAPPY that you’re doing this with me and I’m willing to bet God is too!

Happy Giving Thanks!

Day 30 ~ On this last day of November and my 30 days of giving thanks, I realize that I am not even close to finish thanking God for my blessings.  I’m not sure how many more days I would need to thank Him for all He has done and continues to do for me!

About half-way through this amazing journey, I began to feel more joy and happiness in my heart and the excitement growing in my spirit as I reflected and offered thanksgiving to God.  Even though I shared my 30 days of giving thanks with my Ride On! fans on my website blog and with family and friends on Facebook, I will continue to give my thanks and praise to God privately.

Thank you for joining me on this adventure.  I hope you discovered many wonderful emotions and experiences through your 30 days of Thanksgiving and I pray that you will continue to give your thanks and enjoy the many blessings in your life.

Ride On!

Day 29 ~ This number, 29, is one of those numbers I’ll never forget.  It is part of the date of Chris’ Going to Heaven day: January 29, 2009.  I am dedicating this 29th day of the month to my husband who was my true love and best friend.  Thank you God for blessing me with such a wonderful man who taught me how to live with strong perseverance, optimistic hope, humor, unwavering faith, and above all how to love deeply, compassionately, unselfishly, and unconditionally.  God answered my prayer through this man who became so much more than I could ever imagine to have spent a part of my life with.

I will always love you, my beloved Christopher.  Ride On!

Day 28 ~ I couldn’t help noticing God’s amazing natural wonders of the full moon rising against the eastern darkening skies as the sun sets below the horizon last night and again this morning seeing the mixture of morning hues of the sun as the moon dips in the western hemisphere.  I love these two times of the day when I imagine God up in Heaven painting the skies for us to enjoy as I watch in awe of His creativity within His own creation.

Thank you, God, for creating so many living and nonliving things that help beautify our planet.  They are such wonders that are beyond comprehensible words to express the awesomeness of his creations!

Day 27 ~ I’m thankful for God’s mercies each morning.  I know I can start over and try again if the day before wasn’t to the best of my ability to do the things I was supposed to do, should have done, or didn’t do as well as I think I could have done.  I now understand why it’s so important not to go to bed worrying, angry, or upset.  It interferes with the peacefulness of my sleep and then I’d wake up feeling exhausted from those thoughts and emotions.  I’d rather enjoy waking up to a new day filled with new possibilities by the grace and mercy of God and feeling blessed for getting another chance… again.

Day 26 ~ I’m dedicating this day to thank our doctors, nurses, and paramedics who work tirelessly and unselfishly to help us.  Where would we be without their care?  They are always there, whether it is just to give us advice or suggestions to heal our ailment or to treat us.

I’m especially thankful to the doctors and nurses who refuse to give up on their patients who still want to keep fighting for their lives.  It’s a very difficult career but I know it also comes with many rewards and celebrations.  Most especially, thank you to Dr. Needles (Chris’ oncologist) and Dr. Chehval (Chris’ urologist) who persevered along with Chris in his fight against the cancer.

May God bless our doctors and nurses with wisdom, patience, courage, and grace.

Day 25 ~ Today, I am feeling the joy of Christmas discovering the songs, decorations, and reminding myself the true meaning of the holiday – Christ Jesus.

This year, after three very silent seasons, I am celebrating Christmas.  Already, the lights are up on my house, wreathes are on the doors, red ribbon encircling the white poles on my porch, and pine wrapped around my pine mailbox with red bows on each side.  Inside my home, the tree is trimmed carefully in gold, red, and white beautifully arranged against the pine and white lights and the dining room table is decorated and ready for my dinner guests next week.  I still have a few more items to put out, but right now I’m savoring what I’ve accomplished, thanking God for putting love, laughter, smiles, and happiness of Christmas back in my heart again!

Day 24 ~ I am very grateful to Catholic Supply Store for inviting me to two of their stores for author appearance/signing during the busiest shopping weekends of the year.  I met some wonderful people and reunited with a colleague of mine whom I admire so very much!  I believe God puts us where He wants us at the most precise time to be there for others or to meet someone.  That was my experience at both stores today and I’m blessed!

Day 23 ~ Today, I am thankful for several things that is not of great importance in my life however, it feels so nice to be able to enjoy the little things.

  1. Left-overs from Thanksgiving dinner.  I can make lunch or dinner to repeat the meal again and not have to cook anything today.
  2. Being able to sleep in and still be in my pj’s at 8:30 on a Friday morning.
  3. Freedom of choice today: To Stay In wearing my comfy pj’s for the day or Shop on Black Friday (that is if the Armageddon rush is over)?

Day 22 ~ As I prepare the last of things to do before going to my sister’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I am especially thankful to God for blessing me with my family.

Thanks mom and dad for adopting me and giving me a sister, two brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins, a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

Thank you to my special friends who included me into your family – making me like a daughter, sister, and auntie to you.

And thank you to Chris’ brothers for reminding me recently that I’ll always be your sister.

I’m truly blessed on this Thanksgiving Day.

Day 21 ~ Inspired by a video I just saw, I want to dedicate this day thanking God for the gift of hearing through my hearing aids.  Born with sensorineural loss in both ears, I heard my parents’ voice for the first time when I was two years old and then discovered a world of sounds.  I remember that day as if it was yesterday and still have tears recalling my excited emotions.  Even though I had to overcome the many challenges of my hearing disability, my parents always reminded me of this: “Stephanie, never, ever make an excuse of your hearing disability that you can’t do something.  You can do anything you want to do as long as you put your mind to it, do the best you can, and not let anyone tell you otherwise.”  I’ve lived my life following those words that has helped me to be successful in many areas.

Thanks mom and dad for encouraging and supporting me in all of my endeavors.

Thank you God for the gift of hearing!

To see the video, go to: http://www.wimp.com/hearingaid/

Day 20 ~ As I plan my day, figuring out my route to the places I need to go for my book, Ride On!, I am very thankful that I have a reliable vehicle that can take me where I want to go. In this car, I feel safe, can turn on the heat when I get cold, and I can enjoy the drive comfortably while listening to the radio, a CD, or to my I-Pod. I know it is a bit silly to be thankful for a car, but today, I am especially appreciative of having my own vehicle, the freedom to move around when I want to and wherever I choose to go, and the ability to be able to drive safely.

May God bless all the drivers on the road to be safe, focused, and courteous of others – especially during this Thanksgiving week when many will be eagerly traveling to their families.

Day 19 ~  As I think about my niece’s confirmation tonight, I can’t help but be in awe of feeling a part of God’s Spirit within me.  Jesus told his apostles that He would send His Helper to each one of them (us) so that they (we) can share His message with others.

His Spirit is a part of me (and you) with gifts He’s given to me (and to you) to do His will.  His Spirit shines a light of His wisdom and grace so that we can handle difficult challenges with His courage.  His Spirit guides us how to deepen our faith – trust in God, hope – without ever giving up, and love in Jesus through it all.

Thank you Lord Jesus for sending me (us) your Helper to do all things through You who strengthens me (us).

Day 18 ~  Today, I am grateful to be able to do many things physically: crawl, walk, run, ride, dance, sit, lie down, write….  I can go on and on thinking of all I can do.  So many are in a prison of mobility, but they find ways around it that is so awe-inspiring to me.  They are one of the most courageous people who can persevere through their own personal race day after day.  It’s so amazing how they do it!

I pray that I always be thankful for all of my physical capabilities and for God to bless all those with physical challenges with strength, grace, and hope. 

Day 17 ~  I’ve spent some time earlier this morning to remember some very special people God blessed me who are no longer here, but I know are with Him.

My parents, Bill and Helen DuFour, who adopted me and gave me a home, clothes on my back, food in my belly, education and most of all their  unconditional love for me.  Dad has been gone for 27 years and now my Mom for 3 ½ months.  It gives me such joy to know they are together again.

My beloved husband and best friend, Christopher, has been gone for 3 years and 9 months.  I know he is riding on, still looking over his shoulder with that smile of his that made my knees quiver and watching over me.

Today as I remember my loved ones, I thank God for blessing me with them.  I know my life would have been completely different without them.

I love you Mom and Dad.

Chris, I will always love you!

Day 16 ~ Today, I am feeling so very blessed to have a job.  But it’s not just the job in itself I’m so fortunate to have, it’s the people there who makes coming to work so wonderful.  Even though I’m part-time, I am so welcomed there as a part of the staff that makes you feel like you are one of them.  I am deeply humbled to be among people who are passionate in what they do and love doing it!

Day 15 ~ Today marks the half-way to thirty days of giving thanks.
When I started this two weeks ago, I knew how blessed I was, but seeing it on paper is making me realize just how fortunate I really am and I’m not even finished yet.  I’m overwhelmed.

On this day, I am deeply thankful to God for blessing me so much. Above all this, I thank God for His amazing love to send his Son, Jesus, to teach us how to live with faith, hope, and love and for His incredible self-sacrifice for our sins so that we will someday live eternally with Him.

Sigh…

Such an Amazing Love.   Thank you God! Thank you Jesus!

Day 14 ~ Today, I am so thankful to be alive.

Over the last several days, I’ve been thinking a lot about my physical and mental health. I know many people are battling cancer or other type of illness, stress and anxiety, depression, and grief. My heart goes out to you!  Seven years ago, it started with that dreaded diagnosis of Chris’ cancer that led to everything else I’ve endured. Now, after what feels like a very long time, I am healthy again, I am able to handle many physical and mental tasks again, and I have finally found stability and happiness within my heart. It has been a long, struggling journey but I couldn’t have made it here without God putting the right people in my life, for giving me the strength to keep riding on no matter how hard or painful it was, and for His love, grace, and mercy to persevere through it all.  This day is the day the Lord has made for me and I’m giving Him praise and glory for giving me another day.

Day 13 ~ Today, I am deeply thankful for all my friends, but most especially to those who were there for me during the happiest time of my life AND stayed by my side during what was the hardest period of my life.

My dearest, closest friends ~ Thank you so much for holding my hand, lending your shoulder to cry on, and for being with me during what was the greatest sadness of my life.  I struggled a lot through it, but you refused to let me go.  You patiently and tenderly supported me in all the ways I needed and above all  you’ve done for me,  you let me feel your love that brighten the tunnel of darkness I was in.  God put the most special people in my tight circle knowing you would allow His love to flow through you to share with me.  Two weeks after I buried my husband, I knew God was the only One who could heal my grief so I prayed for His help, mercy, strength, courage, and most of all to feel His love.  He answered my prayer by surrounding me with His special angels.  Thank you.  I love you.  God Bless you!

With love & hugs, Stephanie

Day 12 ~ Today, I am thankful for my pets: D’Artagnon and Bridget.  D’Artagnon was Chris’ dog – a purebred 8-year-old Alaskan malamute who exhibits the goofiness learned from him.  After you get passed the 90+ pound caliber, you fall in love with those big brown on such an adorable face.  I can’t help but smile whenever he brushes his cold, wet nose along my cheek to wake me up in the morning no matter how early it is and I look forward to hearing his greeting every time I come home.  Bridget was my mother’s dog and she definitely exhibits that feisty personality of my mom’s.  She’ll be 15 in December and is still going strong even though she has a tumor in her spleen and cannot hear anymore.  She’s an amazing little 9-pound Yorkie who loves big.  She still plays with her favorite toy “The Cowardly Lion” even though she can’t hear it growl anymore.  She’ll snuggle up next to D’Artagnon and they both sigh deeply in such content to be so close to each other.  There’s a reason why God created animals to be your pets – as another way to share His unconditional love for you that you feel from them.

Day 11 ~ I will be forever indebted to our United States Veterans who gave their lives selflessly to protect our precious Freedom.  Many were sacrificed.  May God Bless them and their families who are missing them so.  Many were wounded physically, emotionally, and mentally and trying to live their lives as best as they can.  May God Bless them with strength, mercy, and grace and their families loving them through it all.  I am proud of our Veterans and I want to say Thank You! 

Day 10 ~ On this beautiful day in St. Charles, I am thankful to Main Street Books for hosting “Ride On!” signing.  I am excited to meet new readers.  It’s amazing enough to hear my family, friends, co-workers, and church members want to read my book, I can’t imagine how much more incredible this will feel when customers come into the store to browse around, actually pick up my book to look through it and then purchase it.  I know God will bring in people this afternoon and do great things for us all!  For more information, click on this website: http://www.mainstreetbooks.net/event/2012/11/10/day

Day 9 ~ Over the last two days, I’ve subbed in a preschool classroom full of 3 to 5 year-olds and as stressful as it was at times, there were moments of pure joy that lightened my heart and just made my day.  Some of those priceless few minutes were when a child grabbed my hand to hold onto and looked up at me with their big, adoring eyes while smiling as big as their little mouths would let them.  It’s no wonder how an adult can get wrapped around a child’s finger!  I am truly grateful for the innocence of a child who is so eager to love, to accept, to laugh, to trust, to hug, and to hold hands with you.

Day 8 ~ I am thankful for music that can stir emotions deep within my soul from tears to smiles.  During a time of great sadness in my life, a dear friend gave me a CD binder full of beautiful songs to awaken my soul again.  Most were worship and praise albums with several relaxation CD’s.  Even though my heart didn’t feel any joy to worship, I did listen to some of the CD’s and eventually, the songs began to stir my soul.  Now, I can’t get through a day without listening to Christian music.  Thank you, God for bringing music into our world!

Day 7 ~ Today as I honor one of my niece’s birthday, I thank God for all of my nieces, nephews, great-nephews, and this year great twin nieces!  Even though I may not get to see them as much as I would like to, I think of them often and hold each one close to my heart.  My gratitude goes even deeper – I wouldn’t have nieces and nephews if my parents hadn’t loved me so much to adopt me into their family, making me a daughter, a sister, a niece, and a cousin.  Thank you, God, for my family!

Day 6 ~ I am appreciating my freedom here in the United States of America – especially my freedom of speech.  Today, on this important Election Day, I am thankful for my voice to be heard.  I am indebted to the men and women of our military who has fought, suffered, died for all of my freedom rights ~ thank you!

Day 5 ~ I am thankful for my house where I always feel its warmth, security, comfort, and joy.  I love my home and am truly thankful to have one.  In my prayer of thanksgiving today, I pray for God’s special, supernatural blessing on everyone on the east coast and all those who are without their lovely homes.  May we all join in the efforts to pray and support them in the best way we can.

Day 4 ~ In this morning’s church service, I listened to Jesus’ Words: “[L]ove the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”  After hearing these words during church service this morning, I am feeling overwhelmed and deeply thankful of God’s love for me.

Day 3 ~ I am thankful for my neighbors, whom I call “Cul-de-Sac Angels.”  They were there for Chris and me in so many ways that took away some of the stress and made life easier for us.  Then they were there for me with so much support and love.  They are the best neighbors who have become my friends.

Day 2 ~ I am so thankful for the freedom in United States of America to pray, worship, and learn God’s Word at my church.

Day 1 ~ I am thankful for the beautiful weather here in St. Charles, MO on the first day of November.

Ride On!

What does it mean to you to fall in love?

Each of us has our own definition of love, but take this time to explore what Love means to you.

Ask yourself:  What is Love?  What does Love mean to me?  How do I share my Love to my spouse, my child, my parent, my sibling, my friend, my co-worker, my enemy….  Do I share my Love to God?   Or perhaps you’ve been so hurt, betrayed, disappointed, or brokenhearted that you’ve closed your mind, heart, and spirit to love.  It is a risk to love because of those negative side effects, but remember there is no fear in love, perfect love drives away that fear.  ~ 1st John 4:18.

Is there such a thing as a perfect love?  And where does one find that perfect love?

One answer:  God.

My dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love has not known God, for God is love.  How did the love of God appear among us?  God sent his only Son into this world so that we might have life through Him.  

This is love: not that we have loved God first, but that He first loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another.  Not one of us has seen God, but if we love each other, God lives within us and His love spreads freely among us.  [Chris and I] have known the love of God and have believed in it [together].  God is love.  He who lives in love, lives in God and God in him.  So, let us love one another since He first loved us.  ~1st John 4:7-19

It’s hard to explain, but that scripture from 1st John says it best.  I suppose it should… since it is God’s Word.

Let Love be in all of your life!  ~1 Cor. 16?14

For Love hears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  ~1 Cor. 13:7

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
~Pedro Arrupe

Ride On! in Love

How many of you feel like you’re traveling on a road..

… in the glorious sunshine?

… paved and easy to walk, run, or ride on?

… with joy, laughter, and love?

… that is calm and peaceful?

… that is straight?

… an easy pace down a hill?

If this is the kind of road you’re on right now, take the time to… Thank God.

Take in the sights, sounds, and beauty all around you.  Take the time to treasure that beautiful sunrise or sunset – especially now during the fall season when it is most glorious.  Spend a few extra more seconds in the hug or holding hands.  Say, “I love you,” one more time to your loved one.  Cherish all of these special moments.

Take this time to also support someone who needs a listening ear, a hug, or your hand to hold onto.  Find a way to make someone feel happy, accepted, and loved – even if it is just a phone call, a smile, a card in the mail (something that is rarely done now-a-days), an e-card, or tagging him/her with a great photo or illustration on Facebook.

Embrace God through it all because He will not let you walk alone.

 

How many of you feel like you’re traveling on a road…

… under constant storms?

… with detours, potholes, and dead ends?

… with sadness, tears, and despair?

… that is windy and chaotic?

… full of twists and turns?

… with a strenuous climb up the mountain?

If this is the kind of road you are on right now, remember…You are NOT alone!

Hang on to your faith.  Trust God and know that He is right there with you.  Let Him take your hand and lead the way.  “…for in You alone I put my trust.  Show me the way I should walk.”   ~Psalm 143:8

Keep on going in your hope.  Don’t give up.  No matter how steep your mountain, how treacherous the path is, or how strong the wind is blowing against you – stretch out your hands and let God pull you through.  “Have hope. Be patient in trials and pray constantly.”   ~Romans 12:12

Love one another through the journey.  Don’t turn against him or her and don’t isolate yourself.  You are NOT alone!  Hold your loved one’s hands tightly, vow to one another to hang in there together – no matter how difficult the road becomes – and thank God you have each other every day and night.  “So let’s do it – full of belief. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love.”   ~Hebrews 10:22, 23

Let God embrace you through it all because He will not let you walk alone!   “Be valiant and strong, do not fear or tremble… for Yahweh, your God is with you; He will not leave you or abandon you.”   ~Deuteronomy 31:6 and Joshua 1:9

~ ~ ~

Please click the Facebook icon below to go to my Ride On! page to hear the inspirational song and see the video, “You Will Never Walk Alone” performed by Point of Grace; words and music by Lowell Alexander.

Remember…

You will never walk alone
As long as you have faith
Jesus will be right beside you all the way
You may feel you’re far from home
But home is where He is
And He’ll be there down every road
You will never walk alone

Ride On!

Yep, you read the title correctly: “Dance with God!”

I’m sure you’re wondering how can one possibly dance with God?

It is through our faith – by trusting Him to lead us – is how we can dance with God.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about God’s will for me. Many years ago, I truly believed it was God’s will to be a teacher. I became very passionate in my mission and did as much as I could to help my students learn, improve, and grow. Suddenly that passion changed into a new calling for me. God put in my heart to share Chris and my story of our faith, hope, and love through the most challenging race of our lives. And so I obeyed His call, prayed to Him for guidance, and followed His lead over the next three years to write our story.

The book is finally published and I sit here wondering what God’s will is for me now.  Am I supposed to go back to teaching again? Is this book “Ride On!” going to take me places?

I’m way out of my comfort zone here. I’m the kind of person who likes to be proactive and have a plan. I don’t have a clue on what to do with my life!

Below is a story I found entitled, “Dancing with God.”  I have no idea where I found it or who wrote this beautiful message.  After reading it, I realized that I need to open my arms to God and enjoy the dance as He guides me and leads me in the right direction.

 ~ ~ ~

When I meditated on the word Guidance, I kept seeing ‘dance’ at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God’s will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn’t flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It’s as if two become one body, moving beautifully.

The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.

When I saw ‘G‘: I thought of God, followed by ‘u‘ and ‘i‘.

‘God, ‘u’ and ‘i’ dance.’

God, you, and I dance.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God’s blessings and mercies are upon you on this day and everyday. May you abide in God, as God abides in you.

Dance with God, trusting Him to lead and guide you [through each part of your race in your life].

And I Hope You Dance!

(Author Unknown)

~ ~ ~

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6

“I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” ~Psalm 143:8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” ~Jeremiah 17:7

Trust God to lead you.
Enjoy the dance.
Be blessed!

Ride On!

Yep, you’ve read the title correctly!  I can’t believe it! I’m still pinching myself.

A little over three years ago, I started this journey to share Chris and my story. There were many hills to climb to get to my finish line but I never once thought of quitting. God led me and guided me in His Words and sent me many butterfies to help me through the process. He even let me feel Chris’ presence within my heart to be with me – to find his voice in the story.  I almost wished I was still writing… just to feel Chris again.  But I know he is still watching over me and it is time that I now ride on and discover new possibilities and opportunities.

I finally crossed the finish line of this race.  While I feel kind of lost – thinking what do I do now?  I know that I am not lost, I’m in a transition.  It is my time now to find myself, my place in where I am suppose to be and in what I’m supposed to do with my life, and keep riding on.

I’m so excited about this book – feeling overwhelmed with such hope that Chris and my story will inspire you to dig deeper in your faith, hope, and love as you keep riding on in your race.

You can NOW order your copy by scrolling to the bottom of the page and click “here” for the link to my publsher’s website. It will take you directly to my book’s page!

RIDE ON!

This is so true and I can testify how God will give you the strength to keep going in your race through Chris and my story in Ride On!

Chris and I endured many struggles during our race against the cancer.  But we kept riding on when we could have given up.  This is where my testimony begins of how a person can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.

When Chris was diagnosed with Urethra Cancer back in September of 2005, there was no consensus among the top cancer centers around the country on how to treat it.  Should we try chemotherapy?  Risk radiation with the tumor located just on under the skin?  Or surgically remove it and then try a chemo regimen?  Which chemo should we try first?

Can you imagine sitting in the patient room, listening to the doctor explain that Chris has a very rare type of cancer?  Then hearing how the doctors from some of the top cancer centers around the country do not even know how to begin to treat it and they couldn’t agree on where to begin to treat it?  And then later, you decide to do your own research to try to make sense of all this and read how a patient with this type of cancer had 1 to 2 year life expectancy?

Can you imagine?

I remember feeling fear attack my mind and my heart sitting in that room, listening to the conversation between Chris and his doctor.  Chris sat up straight and tall.  Nothing the doctor said deterred him, “I’ll do whatever it takes to fight this thing,” he said confidently.

Throughout our race, fighting this cancer, Chris’ faith, hope, and love amazed me each time when the road got tough.  No matter how difficult the news or how unbearable the physical, mental, and emotional pain was for us, Chris would continue to trust God to take care of it.  There were times when Chris would stop, raise his hands up in prayer and give it all up to God, knowing God was in control over everything.  Then he would feel a deep sense of peace flow through his body, his mind became clear, and suddenly he’d gain strength to pick up his pace and keep riding on.  Chris exemplified this.  And even though there were times when he thought he couldn’t take the pain anymore, each of those times became a moment when he discovered his true inner strength that came from God so he could persevere on in his race.

Remember: “God will provide you with everything you need,” if you will trust your faith – trust God, believe in your hope, and love your family, friends, and God through it.

Whatever course you’re on in your race, don’t give up – no matter how difficult or how painful it is or how long you’ve been on it – keep walking, running, or riding on!

Please go to my Facebook page or Twitter page to hear a song by Matthew West, “Strong Enough.”  The video that was made with this awesome song is very powerful. 

Remember: even “if you have fallen and feel like you have reached the lowest point in your race, stretch out your hands and God will pull you up.  Brush yourself off and keep going as best as you can.  God will take care of the rest.”

Look up to God who will work wonders within you and for you.

“Labor and struggle [in your race] with the energy of Christ working powerfully in [you].”  ~Colossians 1:29

Ride On!