The Lost Ring

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After my divorce, I faced the age old question of what to do with my wedding ring. The ring I’d worn proudly on my left hand for 10 years was now a painful memory of vows unkept and a dream to let go of. It took awhile to take my ring off, but once I did, it haunted me. I knew in my spirit that I did all I could to keep our marriage alive and so in some ways I felt like I still deserved that ring. I loved that ring. I was proud of that ring and what it meant.

Did I have momentary thoughts of flushing it or throwing it out the car window? Yes. But, I just couldn’t do it. It meant too much to me personally. I gave that ring, my marriage, my all. I also didn’t like the idea of it sitting in my jewelry box for the rest of my days and glaring at me like a failure or betrayal every time I saw it. So, I came up with the bright idea to transform it into a mother’s ring.

There was no other way I could afford a platinum mother’s ring with real jewels any other way. Afterall, one of my daughter’s birth stones is diamond. That alone makes the piece way beyond my typical budget. A couple months after my divorce was final, I took it to a jeweler in town and did some refurbishing. I replaced the main diamond with a peridot (my birthstone) and one of the baguettes with an emerald for my youngest daughter. We left the other diamond baguette alone for my oldest daughter, resized it to fit my right hand, and an authentic and priceless mother’s ring was born. I wear it everyday and love it for so much more than how it looks. It’s personal and brings me peace. It reminds me that my 10 years married weren’t wasted. My daughters came from it and that would never change. I turned that sad memento into a beautiful gift for myself.

Yesterday, I was getting ready to leave the house and I couldn’t find my ring in my jewelry box. Frustratingly, I called out to the girls “Did either of you take my RING?” My youngest came in and told me she did to play dress-up. My heart sank. Of all the rings, earrings, necklaces, or bracelets she could have taken, she took the one I could never afford to replace and meant so much. I’ve told her so many times before to stay out of my jewelry for exactly this reason. And, here we are. Frantically we all began to search.

My daughter is four, so her story changed multiple times as to what she did with it and where she left it. She said she took it off in the bathroom because it was too big and hasn’t seen it since. My oldest daughter and I searched both bathrooms and bedrooms high and low on our hands and knees for an hour. Me, crying uncontrollably which brought them both tears. They were so sorry, we all prayed, but I couldn’t compose myself. The ring was monumental to me. I was proud of the strength it took to transform it and continue to wear it. To me, it was a symbol of this strength through the whole ordeal and now it was gone.

I called my mom in tears and sobs. She promised to come over first thing in the morning and help us search. She said “Unless she flushed it or swallowed it, it has to be in the house! Don’t worry we’ll find it.” Still, I went to bed with little hope. Woke up to puffy swollen eyes, made breakfast for the girls, and waited. Mom came over as promised and sent me out for a coffee break while she searched with the girls. I needed that break more than ever.

I came home to heads shaking. They couldn’t find it either. So, I made peace with the fact that the ring may or may not ever turn up. I would let the search go and move on. I would know that my strength is not tied up in a band around my finger, that my story hadn’t changed, just the jewelry on my hand, and that the reason the ring was so special was because of the two girls staring back at me. And that we would be okay.

I started my shower for the day and as I was preparing to get in, what do I see on my bathroom floor, plain as day, the RING!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes, there it was between my sinks.  A place I know I’d looked before. A miraculous reminder that my strength was there all along and would show up when I least expected it to.

While my daughter was helping me search last night, she reminded me that “with God all things are possible”. And she just reminded me again. What a relief and a blessing to see my ring again. I will continue to wear it every day and even more proudly than before.

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A Time for Everything…

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I woke up with a beautiful breakthrough from God this morning. There is a time for everything under heaven. There is a time to struggle and a time rest. A time to share and a time to keep. A time to give and a time to receive. A time to sleep and a time to wake. There is a time for change and a time to accept our humanness. A time to teach and a time to learn. A time to seek approval and a time to act. A time to hold on and a time to let go. A time for spiritual warfare and a time to just be held in God’s arms of grace. A time for strength and a time for weakness. His grace is sufficient.

Jesus died for us because He knew we couldn’t live a perfect life like He did. He knew our limitations. He knows every struggle and temptation we face, and knew we would fall short. We all fall short. He died to cover us. His love is enough. His love allows us to admit failure, weakness, and imperfection. We are all saved by the grace of God alone. We have never been nor will ever be perfect, only perfectly loved. In our struggle to be obedient, we can lose sight of His grace and why He died for us to begin with.

When I find myself struggling with imperfection and worry, I need to remember this. I am perfectly loved by my Heavenly Father exactly as I am today, tomorrow, and I always have been. Weaknesses and all.

This morning I have a smile on my face and peace in my heart because of His sacrifice, not my own. Not because of what I’ve done or will do, but because of what He’s already done for me. Because He knows my struggles, desires, and needs even more than I do. Because I’m loved no matter what. This is not my war to win. He’s already won it.

There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance with joy. There is a time to throw weapons down and a time to pick them up. There is a time to hug someone and a time to stop holding so tightly. There is a time to look for something and a time to consider it lost. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away. There is a time to tear cloth and a time to sew it. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:4-8 (ERV)

Amidst all our seasons in life, it is ALWAYS a good time to rest in God’s love and grace. We can’t earn it, only receive and be thankful for it. Thank God for such a time as this….

Far From Perfect…

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I’m far from perfect, but I am forgiven and deeply loved.

Being a mom reminds me of this when my kids get in trouble. My oldest daughter got in trouble last week and is grounded this weekend because of it. Downside of having a grounded kid and being a single mom, other than the obvious disappointment in her behavior, is that all our plans were cancelled. This weekend we are all kind of grounded. Upside is that now all our closets are organized!

Her dad and I discussed her punishment with each other and with her. We are standing firm and united in dealing with this situation and taking it seriously. Which is good….and hard! Even though discipline doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to work on it and remain firm because her behavior made me very sad. The nurturing part of parenting comes a lot easier to me. Regardless, this needs to be addressed and followed through with. And we are…

When our kids get in trouble it reminds me of how much God loves us regardless of our behavior. He forgives us and loves us no matter what, but there are still consequences for our choices. Our God is a God of so much grace and love that He does discipline us. His discipline is why so many turn away, but it is because He loves us that He does so. A parent who disciplines their child, loves their child and wants them to learn from it. Discipline isn’t easy! Parenting isn’t easy! It’s hard on us all. But, worth it. Just like God’s discipline. He disciplines us because He loves us enough to. And wants to teach us through it.

My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)

Being a parent opens our eyes to many acts of love. Providing, comforting, teaching, nurturing, playing, laughing, listening, forgiving, reminding, transporting, helping, clothing, feeding, AND disciplining are all ways we show love to our children. As does God, only better. He is the perfect Parent. And, because He is perfect and I am far from it, I am forever thankful that He is helping me raise my girls. I need Him every day.

Just like my love hasn’t changed for my daughter because of what she did, His love never wavers for us. He loves us before, after, and during our mess ups. Our behavior doesn’t dictate God’s love for us. His love changes our behavior. When we KNOW He loves us, we don’t want to hurt Him. The more we know Him, the more we are aware of what hurts His heart. We don’t like to hurt those who love us and He loves us the most. This is what changes our behavior. His forgiveness. His grace. His love.

Live Loved

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For a girl who grew up questioning love, living loved is a phenomenon. Learning about and growing aware of God’s love for me is a continuous life changer. His love allows me the freedom to speak. To feel. To let go of perfection. To walk away. To walk towards. To be me. To really live.

When we question love, we seek constant approval from others. Constantly wondering “Do they love me?”, “Did I do something wrong?”, “Did I say something wrong?” We latch onto those who don’t show us love and try to change their minds or squeeze it out of them. Thinking if they do, we will have proved our “lovability”. This leads to a prison of pain that the devil wants nothing more than to keep us locked away in. Constantly seeking love. Jesus’s unfailing love turns the key to this prison, wraps us up, feeds us, and slowly but surely and consistently loves us back to life. In turn, we long for others to feel this new love we have in our heart. This love that warms and reassures our questioning hearts like never before.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26  (ESV)

I used to think a “heart of stone” meant only apathetic, unloving, uncaring, mean. A hard heart. While, no doubt, God’s love can soften a heart like this and turn it completely around. My “heart of stone” felt opposite. It felt too soft. Hurt and scared. Unloved, desperate, clueless, unaware of this Great Love just yearning for me to take notice and strengthen it. To feel it. To live in it. To immerse my thirsty heart in this unending and unexplainable love. Living aware of His love changes everything! Remember this when you feel rejected or abandoned. He’s still right there. He never left. He’ll never leave. He loves you more than any human being ever has, ever could, or ever will.

God’s love will soften and strengthen our hearts of stone. He will turn them into hearts of flesh filled with His Spirit. Are you thirsty? Hard? Soft? Hurt? Consider the Ultimate Source. His love is the source of unquenchable love we seek. Our desperate (stony) hearts looking high and low for acceptance and approval can rest easy and come to life in His love. Soak it in, squeeze it out by sharing with others, and go for another soak.

Live loved today and every day. Because you are.