Eyes rest hidden behind lashes gently shut. My mind drifts to a time before. The wind rushes through dried brown branches and the leaves twirl their circle dances to the ground. I can smell the scent of Autumn. The sun glows bright white, not the white that shines a golden warmth, but a shade that warns winter is upon us – a shade that prompts one more deep breath. My heart begs, time please be still, wait… just one more embrace.

I can hear the crunch of dead brown beneath my moving feet. It crackles with each step. The rake’s wooden handle stings my blister-filled hands. I have piles to go. It doesn’t matter. The comfort of the air drowns out the call of aching muscles and oozing sores. I see glimpses of sky through the branches of a sturdy Maple billowing overhead. Everything feels different. Where did time go?

The answer plunges deep. It’s gone. Just like that. Pangs of regret shudder my insides. I hear it again. It’s gone. Yesterday is gone. You missed it.

I finish my piles and squish them into lawn bags. The growth of the end of season grass has slowed to the point of needing its final lawnmower trim just last week. The barn stores summer’s remnants high on its shelves and the home is ready for its coming season – I, however, am not. I usually do this job with Thale. It seems the year made other plans.


*** When the unexpected strikes and you are forced to pick up pieces of life and death, faced with the reality of time not captured, where do you begin? This was a question I repeatedly asked myself after my husband, Thale, died. I worried about EVERYTHING. I worried about how I would help the children, how I would maintain the home, how I would get through it myself. I worried about every decision I made...was it the right one? Did I do enough? I worried about things I had no control over - from the simple to the horrifying. From how I would dress him for his funeral to what would happen to his body in autopsy. I worried so much I worried about worrying. I worried about how I would ever stop worrying. One day a bible verse spoke to me in a deeper way than it ever had before. It was the day I realized I only needed to worry about my next breath.


Matthew 6:34 NIV tells us, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself, Each day has enough trouble of its own. "


That is a truth I closed in a mason jar to capture its firefly glow. This was a day I let His words hold me. This was a moment I realized one day and one step were just too big. It was the day Jesus reminded me it was perfectly okay to simply take one breath at a time.


Lord, Thank you that you hold our broken hearts. Thank you that even when darkness is all around, your light is always there to guide the way. Thank you for reminding us that you will walk through it with us and that you will not leave us alone. Thank you for reminding us we do not have to worry. Thank you for holding us in your warm embrace and reassuring us that we must only take one day at a time, one step at a time, and sometimes simply one breath at a time. We pray for your closeness as we inhale and as we exhale. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


Just a breath, one... then another.








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The bible tells us to "do good and pray BLESSINGS over your enemies." Well that's easier said than done now isn't it? But here's the deal, in Matthew 5:3-10, the bible also tells us what it means to be "blessed."


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."


If we stop to think about it, wouldn't we want everyone to be blessed in this way?


If we stop to think about it, wouldn't we want everyone to be blessed in this way? ...even those who have wronged us? I mean, wouldn't that sort of solve the problem?


Let's be honest. We have all wronged someone somehow. We have all required the forgiveness of others. Should we not offer the same? Certainly none of us are in the position to cast the first stone. (John 8:7)



Sure, Some Offenses are Big


Sure, some offenses are big and forgiveness does not mean a free pass or even reconciliation, it can simply mean moving on and wishing the person well.





FREE your Heart


Regardless, I know it's hard, but life's too short to waste time on bitterness and resentment.


Free your mind.

Free your heart.

&

Forgive.






by Jenny Muscatell

Author of The Journey of Faith and an Open Heart

Purchase your copy today! HERE





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The Fight Scavenger Hunt 1.3 - Guest Blog by Chrissy L. Whitten.

I am forever grateful to Kelli Marone, NILMDTS photographer (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep). She went above and beyond the call of volunteering. When we spoke to our photographer to get to know her beforehand, she knew we were leery about having pictures done during and after Lilian passed away. Kelli was gracious enough to come take candid pictures of Lilian’s baby dedication at the hospital just in case we made the final decision to not do pictures at the end of her journey.


For anyone facing this fate, I promise you that it will not feel completely right while your heart is breaking and the tears won't stop flowing. Find a way to say yes if a NILMDTS photographer or hospital staff member is available to take pictures while your baby is passing and after. The pictures are hard at times to look at, but there are many moments where I praise God I have them. They are proof she really was here.


I remember having to leave the hospital after the doctor directly informed us that we were starting to do things to Lilian Grace, instead of for her. This had been my line since we sat down with the team from the very beginning—keeping it close to their hearts and decisions since. I had been heard! It felt surreal that we had been walking right beside her progress, then suddenly fell behind in a nanosecond.



It truly doesn't take long for things to drastically stop from going to the positive and reversing to the negative. Her heart defects, weight gain, and infection finding its way to her heart shortened her journey.


The photographs I have in books display God's strength and unconditional love for us. Our love for our Warrior Princess overflows through the paper as we say our final goodbyes. Tears freely flow as I type this, remembering that day like it just happened. I can still hear my voice trying to sing notes to songs for her while hearing my husband and myself letting out our pain and sorrows. I still wish this on no one.


Cherish your moments while you hold on to what you have and let go of what you do not. If you can take pictures in this life, take them. I know I get teased a lot about the crazy amount I take, but I love looking back no matter the circumstances to remember and cherish.

If you are a photographer and can spare some time and share your gift, consider signing up to be an NILMDTS photographer volunteer. Being able to give a priceless gift to parents posting their babies is magical and sacred.


As we keep moving forward, I hope you are getting some valuable information for yourself or others in your life. Now click here to discover what the fourth entry (1.4) in The Fight Scavenger Hunt holds for you! Don't forget to look around this host site to get to know them and learn what they are about. Before you go, make sure to write down a picture that brings back good memories of joy. You will email your response along with the other four responses to chrissylwhitten@gmail.com when you finish reading all five entries over the web. Capturing memories matters, but living in the moment is the good stuff.



To learn about me and all things The Fight book and tour, please visit my website at www.chrissylwhitten.com for more. If you have just stumbled upon this scavenger hunt here, please go to the very first blog post, From Giving to Building on my website to start from the beginning.






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