Friday, May 31, 2013

Stay Calm and Follow the Bubbles

I watched the movie "The Impossible" the other night.  It was the true story about a spanish family who was vacationing in Thailand in 2004 when the big tsunami hit.  It was quite a harrowing story, and there were many scenes in the movie that I pray never actually happened, even though I am sure that they probably did.  It was just so heartbreaking to watch destruction on such a large scale...but even more heartbreaking were watching those who survived trying to find their missing loved ones.  I held my children a little tighter the next day.

But watching the actual tsunami scene reminded me of something my dad always taught me.  He taught me the main cause of death in emergency situations is panic.  When people lose their bearings and start making rash, illogical decisions, it often costs them their lives.  He would say even if you are in a burning building, you should take those precious 10 seconds to first calm your mind down and get your bearings- those 10 seconds of calm could very well save your life if you regain the ability to think clearly and make the right decisions.  Good advice indeed.

The other piece of advice my dad gave me which the tsunami reminded me of, was that if you are ever submerged in water and you lose your bearings, to blow a few air bubbles out of your mouth and watch which way they go- the air bubbles will tell which way is up.  If you follow them, you will reach the surface.

Stay calm.  Follow the bubbles.  Sounds kind of like I am reading lines from the movie Finding Nemo, right?  But it really is good advice, even for life in general.  How many times do you find yourself in a situation in your life that you did not anticipate?  We tend to get into trouble when we make decisions based on the feeling of emergency.  We react, instead of act.  When you react, you are only looking at putting out the most immediate fire, rather than taking in the whole picture.  While it may save you some hurt now, you will pay for it dearly later on when it leads you to more trouble.

So if you find yourself feeling out of control or if you are confused where you are right now, try and take some serious time to calm down.  Think of truth as your air will lead you to the right place if you follow it.  Think on the things you know to be true and let that- not your emotions or your panic- guide you and lead you.  Maybe it will lead you to stay still or maybe it will lead you to change paths, but either way you would be wise to let calm truth guide you rather than hasty emotions.

The Word of God is filled with truth.  No, you may not find a direct biblical reference to the exact problem you are facing, but you most certainly will find answers as to what thoughts you should be thinking or what actions you should or should not be taking.   These are the truths that will keep you from making decisions you will regret later on.  

One of the hardest challenges I have faced in this very difficult time is within myself.  I tend to react, dealing with everything around me as quick as I can in a feeble attempt to "fix" things.  But what I really need to to is calm down and get inside my own head and correct some of my thinking and acting.  I should remember that to keep wandering when you're lost will only get you more lost.  I need to sit down and speak some words of Truth out loud and follow where those truths lead me.

I am so very grateful that there is Someone I can follow who will always lead me in truth and who will do so with peace.   I pray that you would be able to regain your peace regardless of what you face, knowing that it is in peace and truth where you will be able to find your bearings.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let's Talk- Laugh It Up

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday.  There truly are never enough words to express my admiration and gratitude to all those who have served and who currently serve in this great nation's military.  I pray we would have the strength to be nation worth fighting for- I would not want to be a part of the generation that makes a service man or woman regret wearing the uniform.  I am a Christian and a patriot, and as a Christian I am praying that this nation would not only remember why we were founded, but have the courage to live up to it.

On a lighter note, I had a wonderful time these last couple of days with family and friends, and my favorite way to end a great time is by laughing until my sides hurt.  I have done this before, and I am sure I will do it again, but today I want to make you laugh.  Hope you laugh like I did while you read these!  See you Friday!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Story

I stood before the courtroom, confused and a bit shaken.  Just a few simple questions, they said.  All they wanted was for me to help find the man, and possibly help them understand more about him.  But one by one they began asking me question after question.  

“Who do you think this man is?”

“Did you get a good look at him?”

“What kind of man is he?”

You’d think such a prominent council of men would not need to call someone like me in to answer these questions.  Surely such a group could gather this information without my help.  Not that I was any help anyway- I didn’t have the slightest clue what the answers to their questions were.  In fact, I never even laid eyes on the man.

My confusion at the situation turned into anger when I saw my parents brought into the courtroom.  The council continued with their questioning, only this time directed at my parents.  Whether out of ignorance or fear I was not quite sure, but they did not answer the questions of the council- instead, they turned the questioning back over to me.

I already told them everything I knew, but they would not listen.  I spoke the truth of what happened, but still they wanted more.  That’s when I knew- these questions were not out of curiosity.  These questions were designed to implicate someone.  The man.  They wanted to find this man guilty without a trial...and they wanted my words to seal the case.

It was as if the very bones in my body started crying out.  How could I speak anything against this man?  I came in here knowing so little, but slowly it is becoming clear to me.

All my life I lived in darkness.  As a blind child, people often overlooked me, or treated me as if my mind was handicapped.  But I listened and heard everything people said to me.  It did not get any easier as I grew- blind men do not easily find work.  So I spent my days near the temple, hoping for someone to toss a few coins my way.  But I also listened.  The rumors; the whispers; the things people say when they assume the blind man cannot hear or comprehend.  

That’s how I first heard his name.

It was quite exciting at first.  People wanted to see him and know more about him.  They talked openly about this man.  But then slowly his name was only said in hushed voices.  The feeling of joy was slowly being replaced by the feeling of fear.  But I did not stop listening.

Until one day.  That one day.  

I didn’t even realize who it was.  Sure I heard them talking- debating you might even call it.  But the voices got closer to me...and that one voice got so close I could feel his breath on my face.  With one swift move of his hand he put something on my eyes.  Then he told me to go and wash it off.  

So I did.  

And my eyes opened.

For the first time in my life I could see.  Trees.  Sun.  Water.  I had to keep closing my eyes and using my other senses to confirm what these things were that I had never seen before.  I, the blind man, could see.  But I never even got to see his face.

And now here I am, trying to be trapped into saying something that could convict this man.  To find fault with the man who gave me everything.  
Was he a sinner?  Was he a prophet?  Did he break some ancient law and should thus be brought to justice?  I have no idea.  I am no philosopher.  I am no great thinker.  Until today, I could not even tell you the color of the sky.

But make no mistake...there is one thing I do know.  One thing that you can never take away from me- the only thing that will ever matter to me.  And it was because of Him.

I once was blind...but now I SEE.


I wrote this as an adaptation of the story in the Bible found in John chapter 9.  It is one of my favorite stories in Scripture because it catches the very essence of what it means to know Jesus. 

I don’t know much of anything.  In fact, as I have said before, the more I go through life the less I seem to know.  But I do know who I once was and where I once came from.  I was blind.  I was lost.  I was a creature separated from my creator.  But then Jesus found me.  With the swift move of His he offered it out to me- and when I took that hand, my eyes opened.  

When I get confused and the voices all around me start to challenge who I am or what I am doing, I simply step back and remember the one thing I know.  Because it is the one thing that matters.

“One thing I do know: I once was blind but now I see.”  John 9:25


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Let's Talk- Be Inspired

Quotes are some of my favorite things to read and be inspired by.  It could be I like them because they are short and to the point (which is a desirable trait for my life at the moment), but mainly I just really love to be inspired.  So I gathered a bunch of quotes that I really enjoy and get challenged by.  I am sure there are a ton I will suddenly remember after I post this, but for now here are some great words of inspiration for your week.  Just remember, a quote is only a set of words- their weight lies in what you do with them.

Now go ahead and light up your facebook statuses today.

"Let's roll." -Todd Beamer

"Some wish to live within the sound of church and steeple bell, but I want to set up a rescue shop one yard from hell." -C.T. Studd

"Life is attitude- if you don't like your life, change your attitude." -My dad

"What we do in life, echoes in eternity." -Gladiator

"Every man dies, not every man really lives." -Braveheart

"A day may come when the courage of men fails- but it is not this day." -Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

"But it ain't about how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  How much you can take and keep moving forward.  That's how winning is done." -Rocky Balboa

"The board is set, the pieces are moving.  We come to it at last...the great battle of our time." Gandolf, Lord of the Rings

"Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know- but one thing I know: I once was blind but now I see!" John 9:25

"Integrity is who you are in the dark." -D.L. Moody

"Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man cease from prayer." -John Bunyan

"It is said that in some countries trees will grow, but will bear no fruit because there is no winter there." -John Bunyan

"I live because I am a Warrior and because I wish one day to be in the company of [She] for whom I have fought so hard." -John Bunyan

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." -Job 13:15

"The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least." -Unknown

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." -Ambrose Redmoon

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought." -Basho

"I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it." -Edith Sitwel

"Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy." -Isaac Newton

"A real christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip." -Billy Graham

"He became what we are that He might make us what He is." -St. Athanasius

"God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." -John 3:16

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Daring to Believe

Live long enough in the trenches and you will forget what the sunlight feels like.

That's how I have felt these past 3 years.  I have forgotten what is feels like to just be at rest, because every day has been a struggle to maintain.  Between waiting on God to move in our lives, to my declining health I just have gotten so used to the drought that I have forgotten what the rains feel like.  

But lately I have looked up at the sky...and I swear I can see a cloud in the distance.

When Jeff and I left Albany three years ago, we were prayed over- and the prayer was that we would hear the sound of an abundance of rain.  That blessings would pour down.  This is taken from 1 Kings chapter 18 where Elijah had prayed and caused no rain to fall on the land for three years.  That was three years of famine and thirst and sickness.  After three years, Elijah shows the power of the Almighty- and calls for the blessing of rain to fall down once again.  So he went to the hills, prayed to the Lord, and sent his servant up to the hilltop to see if the rain was there.  But there was nothing.

No cloud.  No rain.  No promised blessing.

I can think of nothing more crushing that having a spark of hope get snuffed right out.  To believe and hope, only to have it end in nothing.  To know that something should be happening, but never actually seeing it.  Eventually, you buckle down and stop hoping.  Stop believing.

But what happens when, after years of just surviving you start to feel that twinge of hope?  When you start to feel that maybe something really is happening...that maybe the words spoken in the depths of you heart are on their way to becoming a reality?  I feel something.  A small, flickering something.  I want to shut it off because I just don't know if I will survive another let down, but at the same time I cannot seem to control it.  It is there- beckoning me to wake up.  To believe again.

When Elijah prayed for rain to fall again, his servant saw nothing.  So Elijah sent him to the hilltop again- still nothing.  Six times his servant went up to the hilltop expecting rain.  And six times he came back confused and disappointed- torn between faith and reality.  After three long years of drinking the dust, the promise of rain must have felt like a curse- every trip up the hill that resulted in seeing no cloud must have been like crushing tease.  

But when God awakens your heart, He will not disappoint. 

The seventh time.  His servant went up one more time.  One more time he dared to believe.  One more time he risked everything he had inside.  One more time he hoped against all hope that the stirring in his heart was not fabricated.  One more time he went in search of the blessing of the rain.

And he got it.

The seventh time he went up on that hilltop after seeing no evidence that it would rain, he saw it- in the distance he saw a cloud the size of a man's hand.  It didn't have to be big, thundering storms- it just had to be something.  Elijah told him to get down and start running fast or he would get caught up in the torrential downpours.  That little cloud in the distance took only moments to turn into full out blessings pouring down from God.  Because that's how God works.  When you wait on Him, He doesn't just show up- He shows up in such a way that every knee bows down and the memory of all that you went through just gets washed away in His blessing.

In the distance, if you keep looking, you will meet your hope.

I feel it.  I feel like something is happening in the places that my eyes cannot see.  I feel the rain in my bones, and the mist in the air.  I smell the moisture and my body is reacting.  I am straining in the distance because I swear I see something.  Very small- like the size of a hand- but I see something.

Dare to believe again, friends.  Allow your soul to be awakened and your eyes to focus.  Forget the past, forget the hurt, forget the drought that nearly cost you everything.  He promises to restore the years that the locusts have eaten...and restore He will.  You just have to hope again.  Keep walking up that hill top, keep looking to the skies.  

Once, twice, three time...don't stop until you see it.  It will be small and it will be far- but then in the blink of an eye His blessing will simply overtake you. 

Dare to believe again.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Let's Talk- Sound of Music

After some deliberation, I have decided to share this video that my hubby took of me and two of my friends sining a special at church this past Sunday.  The sound quality is not great, but this song is just so deep and so moving, I wanted to share it.  And since I posted in on facebook, I guess it's not private anymore anyway!  It is a little weird for me to share this with you, mainly because sining is one of those things that a lot of people do not know that I do.  I do love to sing, but with my husband's work schedule, I just don't get a chance to do it that often.

Music is a way for the soul to communicate.  It can capture feelings and emotions that plain words just can not always express.  This is a song by Meredith Andrews called "Not For A Moment" and it talks about God's faithfulness even in the toughest of times.  You may not see Him or feel Him, but He is always there...and after all is said and done, He proves faithful.  Hope you enjoy.

Erica on piano and vocals, Andy on guitar, me singing, and Kara singing

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hot Date?

I went out on a date with my husband.  We planned on doing dinner, then the Recovery Room to watch some of the Mets game, followed by a late showing of The Great Gatsby.  It seemed really good in theory, but how it actually played out was that we went out to dinner, then to Walmart to pick up our new bed that just came in, and then we came home to set up the bed and laid down in it.  By 8:30 the babysitter was gone and we were in bed.  I'm still not sure if it was great or lame.

That's just the way things are now though.  At this stage in the game we are just too stinkin tired to be cool.  I'm ok with that.  One thing Jeff and I talked about over dinner was how overwhelmed a particular phase in life can feel...and that when you are in it, it feels like you will never get out.  Parenting young kids is just one example of this.  I feel like I have been living underground for the past 7 years and am only slowly starting to see that maybe there will be life above ground one day.  That maybe I won't be this tired forever (or maybe I will be, who knows!) and maybe I will one day do something other than change diapers and kiss boo boos.  I am by no means trying to rush this phase- I know that they grow waaaaaay too fast and I am going to miss them terribly when they decide the fly the nest.  I'm just. so. tired.

But pass it will...and with it all the memories of tiredness and hard work will pass with it.  That's the great thing about time- it has a way of removing the bad and leaving the good.  Time dulls the aches and pains and leaves us with a clearer, more pleasant view of the good things about what we went through.  Time is a very important ingredient when it comes to personal growth and maturity.  You may know the characteristics you want to develop, but there really are no short cuts.  It is the very things we go through that are not always pleasant that really refine our character and build our foundation.  Life is a crock pot, baby, so just slow down and let it happen.  Don't resist the times and the seasons, but instead do your best to walk through them with grace knowing that one day you will look back on it and have a clearer picture of what it was all for.

So for now, I will gladly go to bed earlier than my grandma.  I may be insanely tired, but not a single day is given to us to waste.  Every moment is one we are meant to live- some are more exciting than others, but all can be for a purpose.

Is this sage advice, or just the late night ramblings of a tired mama?  I will let you decide.  ;)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Let's Talk- Life Before Kids...and the winner is...!!

Hey guys!  Hope you are all doing well today.  I am feeling light-hearted, and wanted to put a little smile on your face.  I hope you all know how truly amazing I think my kids are, and how happy I am to be their mother- that said, every once and a while I reminisce about the things I was able to do before I had kids!  It's not that I miss my life without kids- not at all.  However, there are some things I miss being able to DO (or not do!) now that I have kids!

So today I have a few random things that I occasionally miss from before having kids!

14. Waking up to the alarm clock- yes, this is still preferable to waking up to a poopy diaper or crying   

13. Leaving the door open- any door- without worrying about what little person might get in to (or out 

12. Sleeping in until 10am and still trying to decide if I absolutely HAD to get up. Then staying in bed  
      for another hour!

11. Shopping…for myself.  Alone.

10. Going to the bathroom.  Alone.

9. Being able to leave chocolate in plain view and knowing it’ll still be there when I return to it.

8. Not having to share said chocolate when I returned to eat it.

7. Eating my dinner while it was still hot and having it be something more elegant than chicken   

6. Having extra money.

5. Not having to think about how full anyone’s bladder was before leaving the house.
4. Needing to vacuum only occasionally.

3. Having mark-free walls and adult decor.

2. Spending days reading books or watching a movie straight through from beginning to end.

1. Being able to watch the news  (or anything really) without getting emotional and thinking about how it could have been my kid.
Pretty much doing anything without the all-consuming thought about somebody else!

I found this list online- actually it is a mix of several lists plus my own input.  I find this funny, because after having kids for  a while I think I sometimes have this fantasy version of my life before kids.  Like I used to spend my days sipping champagne while reading a book in a hammock every day.  Funny, but I don't think life was really like that!  While sometimes I am tired, I truly would never want to go back to a life that did not include my amazing children, nor would I want to go back to being the person I was before becoming a mom.  

I hope you got a little chuckle today...but now to announce the winner of the $25 Amazon gift card!  I wanted to do this give-away as a thank you to you all for supporting me and my writing.  I had my husband draw the number out of the hat, and I am excited to announce that the winner is Erica Kenna!  Congrats to my wonderful friend- you deserve it!  

Hope you all have a wonderful week, and I look forward to seeing you Friday.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Being Jo

I LOVE to read.  It is one of my favorite things to do.  There are really few things I enjoy more than being engrossed in a good book.  I have read many, many books over the years but my all-time favorite novel is Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  I read it annually.

As with many good novels, there are several characters that depict different character traits.  Little Women is about the coming of age of four sisters, and without a doubt anyone reading the book will probably identify with one of the sisters.  Meg is pious and dignified, Jo is restless and eccentric, Beth is quiet and good, and Amy is spoilt and reserved.  I have always been, much to my chagrin, a Jo.  All throughout the book Jo never quite fits in.  She cannot accept being and acting the way she is “supposed” to, and instead always finds herself challenging the wind and constantly searching for the great things she will do with her life.  She is haphazard and lacks self-control, and her greatest example and confidant is her younger sister Beth, who is the embodiment of love and servanthood- something Jo is desperate to be more of.  

Every time I read the book, I find myself identifying much too strongly with Jo, all the while desiring to be more like Beth.  I have always been restless...always looking for mountains to climb, challenges to conquer and dragons to slay.  While this can be a good thing, it often times kept me from developing the gentler side of Christianity.  I lack mercy and love, peace and self-control.  I know these are things I want to develop, but I always had trouble seeing past “Jo” long enough to believe that I could change.

I think sometimes we get locked in to who we think we are, or who we have always been told we are.  We grow up and discover that we either type A or type B, fast or slow, extroverted or introverted, etc.  It’s ok to know a thing or two about yourself, but I don’t think it’s healthy to get locked in to “who you are”.  You hear a lot these days from teenagers and young adults- they want to go out and “find themselves”, and it drives me nuts the emphasis they place on who they are.  The truth is, you never find yourself- at least not permanently.

Life and personhood are transient things.  They are ever changing and ever evolving.  You may know who you are today, and tomorrow your world changes and you become someone else.  You find who you are at college, but then you graduate and you have to find out who the post-graduate you is.  Then you find out who that person is and you get married- now you need to find out who the married you is.  Then you have kids, and it’s a whole new you to discover.

Growing up I was always referred to as haphazard and scatter-brained (with good reason, lol).  Today, I am referred to as organized and prepared.  All the years I was branding myself as a hopeless Jo I was actually developing into a Beth.  We cannot get ourselves so locked in to who we think we are that we do not leave room for ourselves to grow and change.  Yes, God gives you certain gifting and characteristics- but He also beckons you to grow in Him and to allow Him to mould you and refine you.  

I am grateful that I am not chained to the person I thought I was, but that I am free to grow and change.  Don’t ever feel that you are forever bound to the person you always saw yourself as- or who you were always told you were.  Close your eyes and live your life, embracing the changes that you face.  Know that God is the Master of making the impossible possible- He is the ultimate Craftsman and Refiner.  Allow yourself to change.  Allow Him to move in your life and accept the beauty of the fact that you are not a finished work of art, but one that is being pained every day.

Be the ever changing, beautiful you.

**Don't forget to enter the give-away!  You have until Monday night to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card...all you have to do is go on my facebook page (Ashley DeLeo Tyler) and click "share" on one of my blog posts.  Any blog you share will enter you in the contest, just make sure you actually hit the share button otherwise it won't keep track of who shared or posted it.  Good luck, and thank you again for all of your support...winner will be announced Tuesday!**