Some people are morning people. They love the quietness of the early morning hours and have already exercised and had breakfast before the sunrises. I, however, love my snooze button, exercise in the evenings, and enjoy a great sunset.
While I’ve never been a morning person, one thing I do look forward to each morning is having a cup of coffee. I started drinking coffee when I became a teacher, as I quickly realized that caffeine was a necessity in order to keep up with a room full of energized elementary kids.
During the school year, my mornings are rushed, and my coffee is often cold before I have a chance to finish it (as I’m often busy helping my students). During the summer, though, life slows down, and I find great comfort in being able to sit and enjoy a cup of hot coffee.
As a single adult without any kids, my house can be very quiet. I know some of you would crave to have a quiet house for even a few hours. For me, silence has always been hard, and so I often have the TV or music on in the background. Recently, though, I have been more intentional about embracing the silence.
I have found myself turning off my TV or music and using that time to read, pray, or write. As I drink my coffee each morning, I have been reading Coffee For Your Heart: 40 Mornings of Life-Changing Encouragement by Holley Gerth. (*This devotional was previously published as God’s Heart for You.)
Although I love to encourage people, encouragers also need encouragement. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s hard for me to look in the mirror. I don’t always like what I see. While it’s easy to focus on outward appearances and to compare ourselves to one another, God has used the Coffee For Your Heart devotional to remind me what He sees.
I may look in the mirror and see someone who is not tall enough or thin enough or who feels alone and forgotten. God sees someone who is wonderfully made, beautiful, and is known and chosen.
I may look in the mirror and see my struggles and past mistakes. God sees someone who is forgiven, redeemed, and loved.
When I look in the mirror, I want to see what God sees. Some days I do, and other days I need reminders. Those are the days that I’m especially thankful for this devotional. In each chapter (which only takes about 5-15 minutes to complete), Holley Gerth shares a personal story, a scripture passage, a truth about who we are in Christ, 3 reflection questions, a prayer, and some encouraging words.
Through these daily devotional times and being more intentional about turning off the “noise” around me, I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the silence. Maybe it’s because the silence allows me to hear the One voice that matters the most.
His voice is always comforting….just like a hot cup of coffee.
We began the weekend as strangers, but left as friends and sisters in Christ.
From the outside looking in, it wouldn’t appear that we have much in common. Some of us are young adults. Others are grandmothers. Some of us are single. Others are married. Some of us do not have children. Others respond to little ones calling them “Mom” on a daily basis. Some of us live in the area. Others traveled great distances.
Despite our differences, we quickly bonded because of a common thread in our stories: All of us have experienced mother loss.
Loss often causes people to isolate themselves, but this time it brought us together at the Motherless Daughters Ministry Journey Retreat.
The Journey Retreat is a chance for motherless daughters to learn about the effects of mother loss and how to handle grief as it appears throughout our lives. We also learn how a mother’s absence shapes our identity and how it influences our style of mothering and our relationships.
Some of our mothers have passed away, while others have living mothers but do not experience nurture and care from them. Our stories of loss are different, but we all miss having a loving mother.
At the retreat, those of us who were leaders first shared our stories of mother loss, and then we listened as the participants bravely shared their stories. We were no longer strangers once we knew each others’ stories.
Our hearts broke for one another, yet at the same time our hearts started to heal.
Instead of ignoring our grief, we expressed it.
Instead of pushing others away, we allowed others into our pain.
Instead of feeling alone in our grief, we finally felt understood.
Throughout the weekend, we honestly shared our emotions and opened up about other struggles and parts of our lives. Being vulnerable will often give others the courage to be vulnerable.
We supported, listened, encouraged, comforted, and prayed for one another. We laughed with one another. We cried with one another. We gave each other permission to grieve and to be authentic.
And then we watched as God fulfilled His promise from Psalm 147:3 – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Sharing our brokenness in a safe and loving community allows God to use our stories in a powerful way.
Even though we’ve experienced mother loss, we found healing and hope.
It’s available for you too.
Our next Motherless Daughters Journey Retreat will be on June 21-24, 2018. We would love for you to join us!
It was one of those “perfect” weather days – mid-70’s, low humidity, the sun was shining, and a light breeze was blowing through the air. I was walking the trails at a nearby park (one of my favorite things to do), listening to Pandora radio on my iPhone, and admiring the beautiful scenery. Life was good.
The song, “Take My Hand,” by Shawn McDonald started playing through my earbuds, and I was singing along inside my head as I continued walking the trails – “Take my hand to the promised land / And on you I want to stand / Cause I cannot do it on my own / You’re what I need and I need to be / Right by your side cause I cannot hide / Lord, I know I need you…”
Then, right before I was about to take my first step across a bridge, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I looked down and saw this…
My foot was within inches of stepping on the tail of a snake! Some people might scream. Some people might run away. I froze. Fear stopped me in my tracks.
But I didn’t stay frozen for long, because a few seconds later I remembered, “I’ve come across snakes two other times walking this trail. In the past, I stepped back, let the snake slither away, and then I continued walking. Everything turned out okay. I should do that again.”
So, I stepped back, took out my camera, snapped a picture, and watched this long snake slither across the bridge and into the grass.
I continued walking on the path, but this time I was looking down more frequently, in case that snake had any friends in the area. As I was walking, I realized a few things:
A snake stopped me in my tracks. Maybe something else has stopped you in your tracks - financial difficulty, an unexpected medical diagnosis, dealing with trauma/painful experiences from your past, stress at work or at home, worrying about a loved one or the future, etc...
When fear stops you in your tracks, extend your hands – to God and to others.
When fear stops you in your tracks, use it as a moment to reflect on God’s faithfulness.
When fear stops you in your tracks, remember that God already knows what’s ahead and He promises to stay by your side.
Fear temporarily stopped me in the park that day, but I’m thankful I kept going. Otherwise I would’ve missed the beautiful scenery that was waiting for me up ahead.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.