Through the Door – The Power of Prayer

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Life has a way of transporting us from one moment to the next in the blink of an eye. A certain smell, a song, a glimpse of a photograph can make our senses come alive and take flight like a mother bird from its nest in search of that elusive something that will feed our soul. As I walked toward the sound of frantic whispers, I knew who it was, and looking back I must admit I knew what he was desperately pleading for before I ever stepped through the door to my bedroom. I slowly crept closer to the door, holding my breath and carefully placing each foot down as though I might avoid the inevitable land mine I was sure awaited me through that half open door. In slow motion I crossed the threshold, and what I saw is forever ingrained in my heart.

My seven-year old son was on his knees next to my bed, tiny hands barely reaching the top of the mattress, clasped together in fervent prayer. He begged God to allow us to remain in our home in Texas, rather than have to board a plane the next morning and head back to Puerto Rico where his daddy’s job awaited. As I knelt down beside him, and placed my arm around him, my own tears fell. My heart broke to see my little boy hurting, but it also swelled with pride that in his moment of need he sought comfort in prayer. He didn’t seek out his father, his sister, or even myself. He got down on his knees and prayed. We may be miles away from the tiny church we fell in love with eight years ago, but my son has carried the power of prayer with him across an ocean and hopefully a lifetime.

photo credit: littlemisswordy

photo credit: littlemisswordy

As I exited my bedroom, and gently closed the door behind me I entered a bedroom I haven’t stepped foot in since I was seventeen years old. The queen size bed with the faded brown comforter still held the small tear in the bottom right corner I tried to hide from my mom after my siblings and I repeatedly bounced on the bed in an attempt to touch the ceiling. If I look up I can see the water stains on that very ceiling, the same ones my dad and I would make up stories about when I would cuddle up beside him in bed. One day it was a ship at sea, another day a fire-breathing dragon, each a lesson in possibilities. Yet, the vision of my son on his knees has taken me back to the day I realized my dad wasn’t invincible. I was just a little older than my son is now, the house was quiet, and not one to miss a nap with my dad I walked toward my parents bedroom in search of him.

As I approached the door to the bedroom I could hear frantic whispers. I inched toward the door, not daring to enter, but needing to confirm what I knew in my heart. I saw my father on his knees on the side of the bed, tears streaming down his face, begging the Lord to save his older brother who was dying of cancer. I stood rooted in place though my legs wanted to run the other way, down the hall, out the front door, and back in time to a place where I still held the innocent impression that my father, my hero, was untouchable.

Through the years, I have held that vision of my father as he knelt in prayer and surrendered himself to a higher power. It taught me that none of us are invincible, that in our darkest hour we need to believe in something, that the power of prayer can give us hope no matter whether or not we get the answer we so desperately seek.

This post was written in response to the Weekly Challenge: Through the Door

Spotlight On The World

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Words, when they come to life are an amazing thing. Whether their effect on us is through something we’ve read or by word of mouth, when words come to life they are amazing. When they linger with you for days, tumbling around in your heart and mind like the delicate cycle on your dryer, in constant motion gently nudging you to take a closer look, you must. I have had a string of words shared by a complete stranger floating and twisting around as though windblown for some time. They come close to being still and landing as though the wind died down, yet before I can grasp their full meaning, they again take flight.

photo credit: littlemisswordy

photo credit: littlemisswordy

These are the words: God has given each of us a light. It is up to us to shine that light on others. If you only use your light as a spotlight, you are not using your light to its full potential. If the sun only shone on a small number of crops, all the other crops even those closest to the light would wither and die because they were not touched by the light. As uncomfortable as it may make you, as difficult as it may be, you must shine your light on others.

This week’s events have been disheartening in so many ways. I don’t often watch the news because it depresses me to see so much evil being reported. After the bombing at the Boston Marathon, I’ve been watching the news quite a bit. Just as I was about to retreat back into my bubble, having had enough of the horrific news reports, I heard about the explosions in West, Texas, a town just north of Waco where my son was born seven years ago.

Again, I become glued to the news and what do I see upon further inspection? I see those words come to life. I see spotlights in the midst of tragedy so great that not too long ago would have been something seen on a movie screen or written in a book you can’t put down…something we could imagine because to believe it could truly affect us in the real world was impossible. The longer I watch the news the more those spotlights expand, shining a light so great it reaches out and blankets all of those affected, breathing hope into those left behind to face our reality.

I wasn’t planning on writing about these tragedies, believing there was nothing I could contribute that hadn’t already been shared, believing I could not bring words to life that would offer comfort, believing there was nothing I could say to shed new light on the subject. Maybe there isn’t, but not sharing the words of this complete stranger would be the equivalent of turning my own spotlight off.

How Big Do You Love Me?

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Like many families, the kids and I have a game we’ve played for years. It’s called “How Big Do You Love Me?” and the way it’s played is we try to outdo one another with descriptions of how big our love is for each other. For example I would say, “I love you as big as a rainbow” and one of the kids would say, “I love you as big as a mountain” and so on and so forth. I think the most creative example of Olivia’s love for me at the age of two was when she responded, “I love you as big as the tallest tree with the biggest elephant sitting on top of it.”

Through the years, a similar game has presented itself in my life. This one I call, “How Big Is My Faith?” I’ve encountered this game many a time and have found it more challenging than the one I just described. This game has pushed me to the next level during my dad’s illness and ultimately his painful death, during the trials and tribulations of relationships, when close friends have chosen a path separate from the one we were so blissfully traveling on hand in hand, and even when life has presented me with the difficult choice of stepping back and allowing a loved one to find his way without my constant guidance. It has also presented itself for my family and I when we’ve had to take a leap of faith in a move to what is undoubtedly the equivalent of a foreign country with unfamiliar customs.

However, the real test of “How Big Is My Faith?” came in the form of “The Ultimate Challenge” round. Maintain your faith while giving up everything familiar to you, including a church you called home not only on Sundays, a rector whose sermons stayed with you from week to week, and a family who might not have been related by blood but who came together in happiness, sorrow and everything in between. Your assignment should you choose to accept it is to walk away from that and enter a realm of the unknown, find a new church, a new inspiration, a new way of spiritual satisfaction. Not easy, but that’s why they call it “The Ultimate Challenge” and why if you complete it the satisfaction is greater than anything you could ever imagine. I set out to finish the game, beat the boss, complete the challenge and found many an obstacle in my way.

What I learned through it all is that my faith is bigger than a church and bigger than a sermon, but not bigger than God. I have had more time for reflection and have found inspiration within myself and in places I never dreamed of looking when I was sitting back and letting others feed my soul. I finally embraced my passion for writing and it has become an outlet for me in so many ways. It has fed my soul in ways I could never imagine when I was comfortably contained within my comfort zone. I am walking through life with my eyes more open than they have ever been, and allowing life’s smallest of details to inspire me. When I sit down in front of my computer, and let my fingers travel over my keyboard taking on a life of their own I know I’m feeding my soul and possibly others in the process. I know God is smiling down on me. And, as for “How Big Is My Faith?” well let’s just say it’s definitely as big as “the tallest tree with the biggest elephant sitting on top of it.”

For my friends whose life circumstances have left you feeling tired, like life has beat you down. For those of you who feel like your faith is not as strong as it once was and may question it and even God. We’ve all been there, but don’t be afraid to look around you, to dig down deep. Be open to new churches, new friends, new ways to inspire yourself and feed your soul. And know that as long as God is present in your heart, he will always be present in your soul.

One of my favorite Christian songs is by an artist named Nicole Nordeman. She wrote it for a close friend of hers who was in a place in his life where his faith was lacking or maybe even nonexistent. I leave you with her lyrics and video.

What if you’re right?
And he was just another nice guy
What if you’re right?
What if it’s true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you
And what if it’s true?

What if he takes his place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends
What then?

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What if you dig
Way down deeper than your simple-minded friends
What if you dig?
What if you find
A thousand more unanswered questions down inside
That’s all you find?

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold?

You’ve been running as fast as you can
You’ve been looking for a place you can land for so long

But what if you’re wrong?

What if there’s more?

What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?

What if you jump?

And just close your eyes?

What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?

What if He’s more than enough?

What if it’s love?

project-optimism-e1359093852552

If you’re interested in spreading A TON OF HOPE, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Write about something that makes you feel optimistic.
  2. Post MONDAYS. Start the week off with a positive outlook.
  3. Grab a badge by going to your dashboard and clicking the IMAGE widget. Adjust pic size 200h x 200w. The image URL: (http://keepingitrealmom.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/project-optimism.jpg)
  4. Link over here and invite blogger friends to join in.
  5. Encourage the person who linked up before you. Kindness is contagious!

How Much Stuff Do We Really Need?

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Every year we kick off the holiday season with Thanksgiving, a day when we stuff the turkey, stuff ourselves and give thanks for all the people and stuff in our lives. We’ve barely had time to digest the Turkey before we’re out the door to be the first ones in line to get more stuff to place under the Christmas tree for our family and friends, more stuff to ensure we are the most decorated house on the block, more stuff to find a place for, more stuff to dust, and more stuff to ultimately ignore. When is it enough? When is it too much?

In this video, Father Scott J. Brown references a family in Ethiopia who seems content with twenty-eight possessions in a 360 square foot hut, a very different picture from the average 2500 square foot American household. At what point do we have enough stuff in our lives?

Sarah Book Publishing

Sarah Book Publishing

Scott J. Brown is also a children’s author. His latest book, a must read, tells the story of three kings who face the dilemma of (gasp) having to come up with a personal gift fit for a king when the shops were already closed for the day. Purchase The Gift of You here and share the story with your children this season.

Don’t Give Up Your Dream…You Might Turn Goth.

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Top 5 Reasons You Should Not Give Up Your Dream: Advice From My Kids

5. You will end up working at a job that doesn’t make you happy, like the McDonald’s Drive Thru Window

(Hey, wait a minute! How can you not be happy serving “Happy Meals” all day?)

4.  It will mean you don’t believe in God. 

(I guess there’s still the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and the jolly old fat guy)

Photo credit to dogatesketchbook.blogspot.com

3.  You would just sit there.

(What if your dream is to sit? Although, this chair while ergonomically correct, is obviously making this guy miserable.)

2.  You will be…wait for it…BORED!

(Boredom is like the plague to all kids under the age of 10, and apparently this guy.

I’m assuming it was a guy for reasons that would generate another top 5 list)

1. You might turn Goth

(I admit I asked my 6-year-old to repeat this one, certain I misunderstood. It may be time to give The Cult cd a little break at our house.)