The Blessing and Curse of Looking Back

Isn’t it funny how when the Lord is trying to teach you something, it seems to come at you from all directions…..in a book, in a scripture verse, in a song, in a conversation? Well, that’s what has been happening with me lately. It seems like almost daily, I’m hearing this one thing every where I turn.

So, I decided it was time for me to sit down and really listen to what God was trying to tell me. I feel like God has been shouting to me, “Don’t look back!” To be honest, that’s not something I really wanted to hear. But as I sat down and began searching out what God was saying, I realized that what He was really telling me was, “Don’t look back, but don’t forget.” As I prayed and studied and listened, it started to become clearer and make more sense to me. I realized that “looking back” can be dangerous, but it can also be beneficial. It can be a curse, but it can also be a blessing.

Looking back can be a curse because it can lead to sadness and depression. If I am so caught up in the “woe is me” syndrome, then I can’t see beyond myself to serve others. Like Jesus, I am called to be a servant. In Mark 9:35, Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to grieve…I will always grieve. Half of me was stripped away, how can I not grieve?? But if I let grief consume my life, then I can’t be a servant; therefore, looking back would be a curse.

Looking back can be a curse because it can block my view of the future. If I am always absorbed in the past, I will have no goals, no hope, no excitement for the future. I will not be able to trust or believe God’s word when He says, “I have it all planned out–plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jer. 29:11)

Looking back can be a curse because it can keep me from fully engaging the present. I have to make the decision to not let the past steal my present. Continually looking back can cause me to miss what God wants to do in my here and now. Is 43:18-19 says, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” What a curse it would be to miss out on that!

Looking back can be a curse if I live in the world of “whys” and “what ifs.” This world can quickly lead to the sins of anger and bitterness. These sins could easily entangle me and hinder me from running the race that has been marked out for me. (Heb 12:1) I don’t want that to be true of me. I want to run the race with perseverance and finish strong.

Looking back can be a curse if I spend so much time focusing on what I have lost, that I can’t see what I do have. Ecc. 7:10,14 says, “Don’t always be asking, ‘Where are the good old days?’ Wise folks don’t ask questions like that. When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Regardless of what I may have lost, I still have SO much and I never want to be seen by my Father as a child with an ungrateful heart.

But…looking back is not the same as forgetting. Although looking back can be a curse, it can also be a blessing!

Looking back can be a blessing because it reminds me of what a great man Greg was, and how blessed I was to have had him in my life. A blessing to remember all that he taught me and how his love for me truly exemplified how Christ loves the church. Looking back can be a blessing for my girls as they had a great role model of what they want in a husband. And a blessing for my son to know what character qualities he wants to have in his life as a husband and a father. And remembering how he demonstrated not only his love for his family, but also for his Lord as he lived his day-to-day life, and especially as he walked the path of suffering.

Looking back can be a blessing as I remember God’s faithfulness to us as we traveled a difficult road. He promised He would always be with us (Matt.28:20), and He was. He promised us peace (John 14:27), and He gave it. He was faithful then, He will be faithful now.

Looking back can be a blessing as I remember how the Lord has comforted me, so that I in turn may be a comfort to others. “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Cor 1:4)

Looking back can be a blessing because He tells me to ponder and dwell on and not forget His blessings towards me. If I don’t look back, I might forget. “Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.” Ps 77:11-12 “O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” Ps 103:1-2

Looking back can be a blessing because not only does God tell me to remember His blessings toward me, He also instructs me to tell the world what He has done. “So thank God for His marvelous love, for His miracle mercy to the children He loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what He’s done–sing it out!” (Ps 107:21-22)

I know that I will forever look back, but my prayer is that my looking back will cause blessings in my life and the lives of others, and not curses! And as I look forward, my prayer is that I will give my heart permission to beat again.

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Goal #2 For 2016

At the beginning of the month, I talked about the fact that even though resolutions and goals would not be my major focus of 2016, I still have chosen to set several goals for myself. I already shared goal #1 in an earlier post.

Today I’ll share goal #2…..taking control of my health. Many of you probably have a similar goal. I’ll admit, this is a tough one for me. You see, I’ve always eaten anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. I also hate to exercise (or to sweat, for that matter πŸ™‚ ). But as I get older, this doesn’t seem to be working out too well for me. My last physical revealed that some of my labwork was not exactly where it should be. Every morning I seem to wake up with a new ache or pain, and that dreaded scale keeps creeping up. 😦

Honestly, I’ve just not been a good steward of my body over the last several years. So, I’ve decided to try to change some of these things. In order to meet this goal, I have a list of a few things that I’m trying to do.

1. Make healthier food choices. I’ve been eating more salads…which I love, but it just takes a little more effort. I’m also trying to drink several healthy smoothies each week. It’s a good way to get fruits and veggies in. Also, I’m trying to cut back on sweets…so far I’m not doing too great with this. 😦

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2. Eat more flax-seed and oats, both of which help to lower cholesterol. I put flax-seed on my salads and both flax and oats in my smoothies.

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3. Remember to take my Calcium every day. I never take medicine, so I struggle with remembering to do this.

4. Go to the gym 3x/week. I’m happy to report that I have succeeded in this for the last two weeks! I keep hoping that one day I’ll turn in to one of those people that LOVE to go to the gym and their day is just not complete if they don’t go. Well….it hasn’t happened yet. Every single day, I dread going to the gym.

5. And as a bonus, I’ve signed up for my first 5K, thanks to the encouragement of a friend. And the weird thing is…I’m kind of excited about it!

I’d love to hear about your goals for making healthy changes this year! Maybe you’ll inspire me…I need all the inspiration I can get!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Babies, Babies, Babies!!

I loved the baby/toddler stage with my children and I really miss having little ones around. So, I got my baby fix this week by being able to spend time with these sweet little blessings!

We welcomed the newest member of our family, my precious great-niece, Averie Delilah! She was born on Jan. 14 and is so beautiful and so tiny….5lbs 9oz. She really wanted to come to her own baby shower, so she arrived three weeks early. πŸ™‚

Averie Delilah

Averie Delilah

Yesterday Emilie brought Marleigh, the little girl that she keeps, over to the house for a while. Marleigh and I got to snuggle and read a couple of books together…she chose Aladdin and Lady and the Tramp. πŸ™‚

Marleigh and her stack of books

Marleigh and her stack of books

Yesterday evening, the kids and I had fun watching my great-nephew, Zachary, while his mom went out for a bit. We’re trying to get him more familiar with us and our home (and with Chipper!) since we are going to be keeping him for about ten days this summer! We’re just a liiiitle excited about that!

Zachary Gregory

Zachary Gregory

So thankful for the chance to spend some time with these cuties this week! They make me smile! πŸ™‚

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

How Do You Combat Fear And Anxiety??

I’ve never really been a fearful or anxious person, but I must admit, since Greg’s death, I have struggled with these things. My perfect, little world had been shattered…it only makes sense that I would struggle with some fear and anxiety, right??

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed with these emotions? I know that I’ve mentioned here before that my worst times are usually at night. It seems that some nights, as soon as my head hits my pillow, my mind starts racing and I CAN NOT make it stop! I guess it’s not so much fear as it is anxiety. I start thinking about how much I miss him, how much I wish he was still here, how much I wish he was here for the kids. Then it moves into anxiety about my future, anxiety about my present. All the things that need to be done…the things that Greg use to do; the things that I don’t know how to do. I start feeling pressured about my ever-growing to-do list and even worse, the growing list of decisions that must be made just regarding life in general. It was just so much easier and less stressful when there were two of us making decisions together…house decisions, parenting decisions, schooling decisions, financial decisions…life decisions!! I would be awake for hours some nights, just not able to shut my brain down so that I could rest.

So, early on in my days of being a widow, I did the only thing that I knew to do…recite Scripture and remind myself of God’s promises. (Plus I found Advil PM to be my friend!) In the beginning, the anxious thoughts often drowned out the Scripture, but I would pray that the Lord would help me to take every thought captive and I would turn my thoughts back to Him.

One of the verses that I would quote almost every night before I got in bed is Proverbs 3:24….”When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” I claimed this promise over myself almost every night. The verse is very dear to my heart.

When I was having some remodeling done on my house last year, I found myself very sad to see parts of my house taken down and thrown away. Greg and I had this house built 24 years ago and it felt like more of him was being taken away from me….if that makes any sense. So I decided to salvage a few pieces from the house…two windows and the front door…not even knowing what I would do with them.

A few months before Greg passed away, he had redone our bedroom for me. New carpet, new paint and trim, new furniture, etc. I wanted to hang something over the bed, but I could never find anything that seemed like the right thing. Then one day, I walked past the windows that I had saved from our house and I knew exactly what I wanted! I wanted the frame to match some picture frames in my room and I wanted to have Prov. 3:24 painted or stenciled on the glass. I would hang it over my bed to remind me of the Lord’s promise to make my sleep sweet!

So, with the help of several sweet friends, I got it done and I love it!!

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I still have some tough nights, but recently my nights are filled more with Scripture and less with anxiety and fear (and a little less Advil PM too! πŸ™‚ )

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Goal #1 For 2016

Is one of your goals this year to read more? I’ve always enjoyed reading, but this year I hope to be more intentional about it. I have set a goal to read at least twelve books….that’s one a month. It’s really not that lofty of a goal compared to some of you avid readers! I feel pretty sure that I will read more than twelve, but I want to have at least one goal that I meet (and maybe exceed!), so I’ve decided to keep it at twelve.

And, I’m happy to say that I’ve completed my first book for 2016! It’s okay that I started it in 2015, right?? I started it in December, but got sidetracked with another book and so didn’t actually finish this one until yesterday.

One of the reasons that it took me so long to finish this book is that it just didn’t capture me. It was pretty slow-moving and seemed to not flow real well. But….I am the type person that just HAS to finish a book once I’ve start it, so I persevered. I must say that the last 1/4 of the book did hold my interest a little better, but overall The Syringa Tree just didn’t do anything for me.

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What about you? Did you set a goal to read more in 2016? If so, how are you doing? What are you reading right now? I’d love for you to share. I always enjoy hearing what other people are reading!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

It’s A New Year

“Celebrating 25 years of marriage, my oldest graduating from high school….who knows what else 2011 will bring my way!!! Actually, there is One who knows what 2011 has in store for me and that is such a comforting thought!!! Happy New Year everybody!!”

This was the post I made on facebook New Years Day in 2011. Obviously on that first day of the year, I had no idea that 2011 would also bring with it a diagnosis of melanoma for my husband. Nor could I have known on the following New Years Day that 2012 would bring a recurrence of cancer in his body. And I NEVER imagined on New Years Day 2013, that this would be the year that I would have to say goodbye to the love of my life.

And now, here we are….the second day of 2016. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that I still have no idea what this new year will bring. Heck, I don’t even know what tomorrow will bring! But the one thing that has not changed from my original post from 2011 is the fact that God knows what this year will bring….even what tomorrow will bring.

As I think about the New Year, I have mixed emotions. I still have feelings of sadness about beginning yet another year without Greg. My heart still aches for all that will never be. I still get lonely thinking about a future without him. But, for the first time since Greg’s death, I feel the tiniest bit of excitement and expectation for the new year. I would not even try to guess at what the Lord has planned for me in 2016, but I can say with confidence that I trust that whatever He has planned is for my good and His glory.

This time last year, I could not even think about making resolutions or setting goals for the New Year. I was doing good to get up and make it through each day, so that I could go back to bed and get up and do it all over again. This year I have set some goals. I think it’s good to have something to work towards; something to focus on. They are simple goals….you probably have some similar goals yourself. But my main focus for the year will not be my goals. Instead, I have three things that I feel the Lord has shown me over the past couple of weeks that He wants me to have as my main focus for 2016. One is a scripture verse, one is a prayer and one is a song. These are the things that I want my life to be about and to reflect this year.

The scripture is 1 Peter 5:10 which says: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” I take great comfort in knowing that Jesus HIMSELF will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish me! I am ready for some of that!!

The prayer is one I came across in a devotional. β€œFather, make me more like Jesus. Help me to bear difficulty, pain, disappointment and sorrow, knowing that in your perfect working and design you can use such bitter experiences to shape my character and make me more like our Lord. I look with hope for that day when I shall be wholly like Christ, because I shall see him as he is. Amen.”

The song is one that I first heard recently and just resonates the cry of my heart. I pray you will be blessed as you listen to the beautiful, yet hard words. Sometimes it is so very hard to trust, but He has proven Himself to be faithful and good no matter our circumstances.

My prayer for each of you this year is that you grow deeper in your relationship with Christ, as you realize more and more how much He truly loves you! Happy New Year!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

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