Facing Thanksgiving with Forgiveness in my heart…

thanksgiving forgiveBeing an older woman,  I really don’t consider many of my experiences unique to the world.   The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that “there is nothing new under the sun”.  I believe that we all struggle with the same issues over and over again, that life goes on and on, full circle, over and over again.  The happenings, the emotions, the motivating factors are all the same.  It is really just the people, places, locations, names, ranks and serial numbers that change.

At some point in time I realized that I was not alone.  I believe that there are many people/women who have gone through what I have gone through in life.

Today is Thanksgiving day!  I believe that we all probably have our plans or “non” plans made.  There won’t be a lot of surfing on the internet today, at least not in the U. S.

I was just thinking about the fact that not too long ago (maybe a year or 2 ago) that I dreaded the holidays.  I don’t know where that dread originated.  I don’t know when it all began, but yesterday when I was reading during my quiet time, God gently reminded me that the dread in my own heart had disappeared!

I am not anticipating this year’s Thanksgiving with dread, I am not worrying about where the money will come from.  I am actually looking forward to spending time with an “adopted” young family who God brought into our lives several years ago.  We are in Albuquerque today and we love Albuquerque and we love this family!

It amazes me that God does this sometimes, He brings people together, who would not have normally been together to fill in the gaps with one another, when we didn’t even know that gaps were there in the first place.

We had the need to be loved, accepted and wanted by the generation that our children are a part of and God brought that to us in them.  He has brought us other people, too, and created a family of sorts on this earth that we were not “born” into in the physical sense.  I can’t apologize or be anything more than grateful that He has done this for us.

One of the things that used to pop up with me over and over again during this time of year was bitterness that was in my heart and unforgiveness towards a few people…hmmm, maybe a lot of people.

It seems with me, that when I allow a little bit of unforgiveness into my heart towards one person, it quickly avalanches and I start thinking of a lot of other people whom I am or have been developing unforgiveness towards.  Before I know it, I am looking at everyone around me and thinking about what I hate about each one of them and what specifically they have done to hurt me!

I was reading yesterday about Corrie Ten Boom, a woman who had much to forgive.  She was also a woman who forgave those who victimized her and who carried a testimony of this simply important ingredient in Christian living.

Actually, this is an important ingredient in any living.  Hate and desire for revenge will destroy even the strongest of people.

I have been living a life of forgiveness this year.  There is nothing more freeing than to forgive as opposed to holding grudges.

In the Bible Colossians 3:13 says:

bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Ephesians 4:32 says:

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

We each have the opportunity to love our enemy/ies and choose forgiveness towards even the most ruthless of them.

Forgiveness does not excuse the offense.

Hate hurts the hater more than the hated, no matter how justified that we think it is.

I entered a worship gathering a few weeks ago and was overwhelmed with some new resentments that had begun to carry.  I was becoming critical of people all around me.  I just closed my eyes and looked toward heaven and confessed it to God.  I told Him that I could not carry them anymore.  In my mind’s eye I saw some cute little birds fly down from heaven, they were much like the little birds in the Disney version of Cinderella who helped her get dressed for the ball.  They took each corner of those resentments and lifted them off of my shoulders and then flew upwards towards heaven until they disappeared.

Even though it was all a spiritual experience, I physically felt that a great burden had been lifted off of me!

If we can’t let go of every angry grudge then God will do it for us.  He will show us within our own spirits the moment He does it.  All we have to do is tell Him that we can’t do it and He will take control from there.  God’s love in our hearts enables us to show forgiveness that is undeserved.  It ultimately allows others to see God’s infallible love in our own fallible human skin.

Those of us who are Jesus followers read this…

When we forgive someone and release real or imagined grudges,  we look more like Jesus than at any other moment in our life.

May we all face this holiday season with forgiveness in our hearts…

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Seasons, America the Beautiful and a few other tidbits…

Our new fish in preschool named "Kindness".

Our new fish in preschool named “Kindness”.

Here are a few tidbits of what we have been up to lately!

We have been in Colorado Springs for 4 seasons now and it has been such a joy to be able to experience “Seasons”. In Texas  (my birthplace) there are really only 2 seasons, summer which usually starts in March and winter which lasts for a few days here and there from maybe November until  the end of February.  The temperature in Texas will dip below freezing 2 or 3 times a year for a very short few hours.

We have a new fish in preschool…

We’re making fall decorations for preschool, too…

We made fall wreaths!

We made fall wreaths!

We made garlands out of fall leaves and hung them up on the glass door.

We made garlands out of fall leaves and hung them up on the glass door.

 

Fall has been amazing in Colorado…watching the leaves turn colors, driving up into the mountains on weekends to check out the progress and make sure that we have not missed anything. Seeing the leaves being blown off of the trees in little swirling whirlwinds of fall color.

 

 

 

 

Finally, a few Saturday mornings ago we got up to see Pikes Peak covered in snow.   We just had to drive up the mountain and get some pics of it, too.

Here are a couple:

Pike's Peak from a little street in Woodland Park, Colorado.  (I don't like the power lines in the picture.)

Pike’s Peak from a little street in Woodland Park, Colorado. (I don’t like the power lines in the picture.)

North of Woodland Park, no power lines.

North of Woodland Park, no power lines.

The verse from “America the Beautiful” comes to mind about “purple mountains, majesty”.  The majesty of God’s creation awes me!  I don’t believe that there will ever be anything more beautiful to me than some of the beauty I have seen in my home country, America.

God always gives us the desires of our hearts, I am convinced of that…  Even when we don’t voice them or know to pray for certain things, He always knows what our desires are and wants to give us those gifts.  I say let Him do it for you, allow Him to.

Here are a couple more shots:

Outside of our home, a doe and her 2 (almost grown) fawns who have been hanging out around here all summer.

Outside of our home, a doe and her 2 (almost grown) fawns who have been hanging out around here all summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Joe likes to feed Mr. Squirrel big fat peanuts and now when Mr. Squirrel gets hungry he lunges at our screen door and clings to it.  That doesn’t make me very happy but Mr. Joe thinks it’s fun.  :)

Mr. Squirrel

Mr. Squirrel

 

 

 

 

 

 

So anyway,  life goes on and we are getting ready to make another trip to Central Asia (in a few months).  More about that at another time!

This blog, which was born out of one of the most devastating periods of my life is from start to finish (it’s not quite finished yet) a living testimony of the miracles that God can do in any human life.

I have been transformed from grief and sorrow that was so deep that I cannot even describe to the hope and understanding of the true identity that God prepared me for before I was even born. I know that I still have not arrived yet, that there are still sorrows out there that I have not been confronted with yet and there are still joys out there that are waiting for me.

At 56 years old, life is not completely finished, in fact sometimes it is only beginning.

Love and Blessings to you as travel on you own journey of Climbing the Mountains!

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Ain’t that America and Wanderlust

Wanderlust:  1.A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel. 2.strong longing for or impulse toward wandering.

I was born with the seed of wanderlust in my heart.

Somehow it took root and began to grow in the 1970’s.  That age of rebellion against authority and everything false that our parents stood for.

I remember as a teenager seeing all of the hitchhikers on the roads, hearing of the hippies who were all migrating to California and Woodstocklike places, looking for something that they knew was out there but just could not seem to grasp.

Songs with lyrics like “are you going to San Francisco?” or “she was standing on a corner in Windsor, Arizona”…listening to Peter, Paul and Mary and ballads about 500 miles and the man of sorrows.

Hearing of the flower children, psychedelic, bell bottoms and Easy Rider.

During that time wanderlust was fully born in my soul.  I longed to travel the country.  I longed to see America.  I longed to be free.

Somewhere along the way, I gave up the dream of ever doing it but I still longed for it.  The longing haunted me.

Then, one day, when things fell as completely apart as they could, that longing became a reality!

I, with the help of my precious Mr. Joe, started exploring America, 1 trip at a time, 1 state at a time.

My question is this?  Why would anyone ever want to fly from one place to another in the USA?  Only if I was in hurry would I want to do this.  Or…if it was to avoid a road that I had traveled many times before.

We went for a drive a week ago to look at the fall colors and here are some of the things that we saw.  Some of them things that you can only see in America, the good ole US of A!nikon pics fall colors 1 318nikon pics fall colors 1 051

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On our travels we have lost count of all of the RV’s and fifth wheel trailers that we see out on the road.

I believe that many of those people who we see, who are our age, are also fellow wanderers but some have compromised their wanderlust with the desires to live the American dream.

And now for us over the past few years, we have desires for world traveling.  And we have done some world traveling.  Our desires and plans are to do more.  We are not letting anything stop us… no, nothing.

We are choosing to run after, grasp, and take hold of those desires instead of settling for the American Dream.  Sometimes it’s hard because I believe we are judged by some of our peers, but still I believe that our calling to wander the world is God-given and we intend to answer that call…

But still there is “no place like home!”  Wherever home is…and I love the United States of America and every part of it that I have seen!

Ain’t that America!

Love and blessings to you!

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Mr. Joe’s surprise… (and I am learning to push through the pain)

new friend1Mr. Joe came home utterly elated a few weeks ago. He came in from his office and happily told me that he had ordered me a gift.  I have learned to be a little conservative with my own elation when he is acting this way.  I cautiously asked him what it was and he happily told me that he had ordered a really cool, retro looking red, Schwinn bicycle for me.

He showed me a picture.  My reaction was a simple, “Wow!” which only excited him more. Right now just stop and consider that we are very simple people.  It doesn’t take a lot to excite us.

We anticipated the arrival for 5 days and when Tuesday, the projected arrival day, rolled around I waited with bated breath.  That afternoon Mr. Joe came through the door excitedly pushing a huge box with a big smile on his face.

He tore the box open and quickly assembled it.

So, now was the big moment.   “Wow. Oh my goodness!  Thank you!” was all I could think to say.

Me, being the Southerner that I am, I just stood there looking at it, thinking, “I guess I have to ride it, now….to show my appreciation?”

Honestly, I was a little apprehensive about this.  It has been about 40 years since a rode a bike regularly.  Bike riding kept me in really good shape during my teen years.

I did try to get on a simple bike about 7 years ago (it was a “man’s” bicycle with a male cross bar).  I rode it for about 20 feet, while trying to stop it by applying the brake and trying to get my feet on the ground I lost my balance and fell off of it in the middle of the street.  I decided at the time that I would never ride anything but a stationary bike again.  Mr. Joe knew about this episode…

Well, back to the present, all I could do while Mr. Joe was smiling and watching was take it outside, get on it and good naturedly try to ride.  I was sure that I would fall but surprisingly, I did not.  I rode it to the end of the parking lot and back and by that time, was embarrassingly completely out of breath.

Now I have a new friend…

My new friend looks like this:

new friend

My friend and I have been spending time together every morning.  I call her a she because I think she looks very girly.  She makes exercise much more fun than walking and the workout is much more strenuous.  At different times during the ride I can hear/feel my heart beating and I become very winded.  I love the wind blowing through my hair as I ride.

Every day riding her is a little painful because I try to push myself a little harder and a little further each time.

I’ve learned some things in the past few months that I should have listened to and learned many years ago.

There is growth that comes from pain.

It has taken me a long time to learn the truth that comes with the above statement.  I have heard it all of my life, but never really paid a lot of attention to it.  I spent a large part of my life trying to avoid pain.

Even when I worked out, walked, tried to diet in the physical sense, if things got painful I would stop or pace myself to keep from feeling the intensity of the pain.

One thing that I learned early in the year during the 8 weeks of physical therapy while basically learning how to walk again was that in order to become physically stronger, coming to that painful point and pushing through the pain was part of the solution.  At first it was excruciating to just stand for any amount of time.  At first, I had to lean on the bathroom counter in order to stand on my feet while brushing my teeth.  At first, I had to push through the pain of just standing, then walking with a walker, then with a cane and now on my own 2 feet.

Learning to walk again was painful but I had 2 choices.  To walk again by pushing through the pain or to never walk again.

Riding my bike is painful but productive.  I have to increase my heart rate to the point of hearing it and feeling it beating hard in order to strengthen my heart muscle.  I have to feel those leg and butt muscles burning in order to strengthen them enough to go farther every time.

Do I stop at the pain or do I push through it in order to become stronger?  Physical therapists are relentless.  They force you to push through even though it hurts and you think you can’t do it.  And if we are honest, we are glad that they made us do it.

Recovery is painful.  Very painful.  Mental, physical and/or spiritual recovery from whatever is killing us is painful.

There are lots of things that are painful.  This simple truth can be applied to so many things in life.

Ending or pulling away from relationships with people who are pulling me down is painful.

Keeping my mouth shut when I want to gossip or spout off is painful.new friend2

Saying no to that extra greasy food, or those carbs or the sugar is painful because of the emotional dependency.

Saying no to that first sip of alcohol, if it leads to more than we can handle every time, is painful, especially if those around me are indulging.

Saying no to any drug of choice is painful.

But…through the pain comes the growth.  And through the growth comes life that is more abundant than we could ever imagine.

And it’s after we push through the pain that we realize that God is with us and was with us through it all, cheering us on and strengthening us.  We could have never have done it all alone.

Love and blessings to you!

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Venting today about “jerks” in Christian service…

jerk

I have heard it said that spouses take on their partner’s offenses.

I guess you would say that I am guilty!  And, honestly, I don’t really think it is a bad thing to be guilty of this.  After all, when we marry, we are to be one flesh, right?

Yes, I take on the offenses of my husband!  For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means that if someone purposely hurts my husband then you might as well have hurt me because I feel it just as badly as he does if not more so.

I don’t agree with all things that offend him and we discuss it if I don’t agree, sometimes his attitude changes because of my perspective but sometimes I do see things exactly the way that he does.

Just recently he talked to me about an occurrence and because I had experienced the same type of thing coming from this person I could not disagree with him.  I knew that my husband had been hurt.

This offense which I have worked through is what started my wheels turning about this post.  This particular issue is one that is avoided more so than confronted.

I have a question?  And, yes, I am thinking about one particular person right now, but…I have seen this happen in Christian circles all of my life!

Ok, so here is my question…If a person who calls himself a Christian and is even in some sort of Christian service, he may even be in full time service…and he treats the people who he works with “in the name of Jesus” like they are dirt…then why do those of us who know better turn our head and let it go?  Is that being Christian?

For some reason I don’t think so.  It is not being Christian or Christ like in 2 respects.  The one who thinks it is ok to treat people badly is definitely in the wrong and the ones who overlook his behavior are condoning his actions.

Yes, Jesus said turn the other cheek and forgive.  Yes, the Bible tells us to treat others in the same ways that we would want to be treated but does that mean that we just let a jerk be a jerk and act like a jerk all the time without calling it for what it is?  Do we go on and on, day after day without confronting the jerkish person and allow him to get away with what he is doing?  In essence, when we do this we are letting the jerk know that it is ok to continue acting this way.

I have seen jerkish behavior and people in leadership over those acting this way condoning it by being silent over and over again.

Of course I have someone in mind right now and I am venting, but if I acted like this person even one time, I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror, I would sneak off with my tail between my legs in hopes that I would not be reprimanded, all the while, reprimanding myself!  I would repent because I know that it is wrong.

That’s the difference in people, I guess.

How do you handle something like this?  Honestly, to me when there is someone who blatantly acts like this and tries to belittle people or makes disparaging remarks to their face or behind their backs, it is a reflection of those who are in leadership over them. I hate to say this, but the first thought that comes to my mind is that either the leadership approves of this behavior or does not have the backbone to stand up to the person and tell them to stop or get out.

Jerks drive good people away.  They are not good leaders and the only people who can work for them or with them are fellow jerks or those who have an extremely low self-image.  Sadly, those who have the low self-image will take it to heart and believe that they deserve the belittlement that they regularly hear.

A jerk drives the good customers away, too.  If they are in leadership, their employees/students reflect their attitudes.  Their families reflect their attitudes.  Allowing a jerk to get away with acting in certain ways by turning a deaf ear to their belittling remarks is doing no one a favor.  Think about it, are you in leadership?  Do you have a jerk who is subordinate to you who you constantly allow to get away with treating people badly with their words and actions?

When I dig deeper and think about it, I believe that a large part of this is about confrontation.

There are not very many people who like the conflict that is often created by confrontation.

So, what happens?  The jerks are allowed to continue to act like the jerks whom they have become.  It gets to a point where the jerks are the only ones who confront regularly and their confrontations are based on the biased opinions of their own egos.

Correction has never come to them and so they think that they are right.  With most jerks there is a serious absence of consciousness that their behavior is wrong or hurtful because they are so seldom corrected.

So, I am finished with venting, I have gone back and changed some offensive things I had written.  The main things that I changed were that I replaced one of the words that I had continuously repeated with the word jerk.  You can use your imagination as to what word it was.

Don’t take this personally because I do have a conscience and I know that I have probably stepped on a few toes.  Believe me, if you are reading this you are not the person who set me off.  You may know him but I doubt that you are married to him.

There is not enough talk in our Christian circles about to how to confront these types of issues.  We all get really hush-hush and go off saying that we are going to pray about it.  We tend to end up sweeping it under the rug.

Christians have a foundation that they can use to confront this issue.

I would ask that you take this to heart and if you are in leadership over a group of people, correcting the jerks would probably be a good idea before they run good people off.

Love and blessings to you,

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Beauty for ashes, it’s as simple as that…

beauty for ashesI have been feeling somewhat apathetic about the things that Mr. Joe and I have been passionate about for many years!   I have still been thinking about the future but the things that I used to want are drifting away from my desires.  New desires are coming forward and this honestly makes me a little uneasy.

I was in worship yesterday and I started praying about passion.  I started asking God about my own passion and I asked Him to give me back passion for something even if it was something different.

As I was praying, I started thinking about the things that I had been passionate about in the past and all that I could see in my spirit were ashes all around me.  The dreams that I have had in my life for myself and other people were a part of these heaps of ashes all around me.   I looked up to heaven and asked God, “Why do all of the things that I have been passionate about end up becoming ashes?”

One of my daughters lost her home and most of her belongings in a fire several years ago and I remember driving out to look at the damage.  When I first saw the ashes, all I could think of was the devastation of it all.  I wondered how in the world she and her baby daughter could replace everything that had been lost.   Everything that she possessed except what was in her car and at the babysitter’s had quickly become ashes while she was at work.

Seeing every dream and passion that we have possessed burned up and all that is left is a heap of ashes can be pretty devastating, too.

Back to what God was showing me while I prayed, I was surveying all of the ashes that were around me.  The ashes that were the dreams and people that I had invested my passions in.  I looked down and God reminded me that I had once been ashes by showing my feet to me.  My feet were still in the ashes.  He reminded me in a flash about who I once was and who I am now because of the fires that, at one time, had made me into a big pile of ashes.

I could see who I am now, standing in the midst of those ashes as if I had grown out of them and He reminded me of the scripture that I have held very near and dear to my heart.  The scripture that promised me that I would not be ashes but beautiful one day.

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of beauty for ashes 2vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Isaiah 61:2-4

He has made something beautiful in me from those ashes and now it should be no surprise to me that all of the dreams and people that I have been praying for have been reduced to ashes.  It is only from the ashes that He does amazing things.

Those of us who have been students of the Bible for a long time know that God talks a lot about fire in the Bible.  We also know that the Earth (as we know it) will never be destroyed by water again but will be destroyed by fire when God deems that it is time.

After the fire that destroys the earth, we will see the promised “New heaven and earth” and my guess is that it will emerge out of the ashes of the old one.

beauty for ashes 1And now after He showed me these things I change gears and go back to this apathetic attitude I have been having.  I ask myself some questions…

Is it time for me to set all of the dreams and people who I have been passionate about aside?

Do I want to be safe? …or…

Do I want to take chances?

Is it time for me to retire and rest for the rest of my life?

Or should I just go til I wear this old body out?

Is the eternity that I have been promised enough time for me to rest?

I know that the dreams and passions that I once held dear to my heart are still there, I have just not been allowing myself to feel them, lately.

I believe that eternity is enough time…

And so, I will again take up my cross and follow the one who has given me “Beauty for Ashes”.

Love and blessings to you!

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peace and the seeking of it…

peacePeace.

Finding peace seems like a mountain but it is really a very small hill, not a mountain at all.

How many of us want peace?  How many of us dream for a life full of peace?  A peaceful heart?  How many of us never see the way to truly achieve peace?

Has anyone ever asked you what you want out of life?  What the most important thing is to you/for you to have?

I know that many people think that money is what would make them happy or Mr. Right coming into their life or being able to live in a place other than where they currently live or if they had a different job or if their spouse had a different job.  The list could be endless!

For many years when I thought of it or when someone asked me about it, the first thing that came to my mind that I wanted was peace.

Funny thing is that I thought that peace was something that had to be achieved.  I thought that all of my ducks would have to be in a row in order for me to receive peace.  I thought that certain people in my life would have to be acting in certain ways or even removed completely from my life and that my financial status would have to be at a certain level before the achievement could be possible.

We, as humans, do things that cause chaos in our own lives and because of this sometimes it seems that peace flees from us.

I have finally found that peace is from God.

Peace can also be a state of mind, a choice that we make on our own.

I struggle.

There are certain family situations that I have tried to understand.  I would analyze them and the people that they involved.  I would try to figure out what must have happened to those people to make them make the choices that they make.  I would analyze their families and try to understand why they thought it was ok to treat me in certain ways, act in certain ways and make the choices that they have made.

I have struggled with trying to understand why certain people whom I love struggle with drug addiction, alcohol addiction and mental illness.

I have spent hours trying to figure out why people whom I love dearly have struck out and purposely hurt me.

God created us with a brain.  We are the most intelligent mammal on this earth.  He gave us reasoning abilities and one of the mistakes that we make is trying to figure everything out.  Instead of achieving peace in our hearts about certain situations, the analyzing and thinking too deeply develops turmoil in our hearts.  It stirs up bad feelings.   It causes depression.

Depression, bad feelings and turmoil are not of God.

There are many things in this life that we cannot figure out and even if we are able to peace2figure some things out, in a short amount of time, there is something else in the back of our minds that comes forward and we take it up to try to figure out.

The bottom line is that we don’t really have to figure anything out.  God knows all of the answers and if we are supposed to know certain things He reveals them to us in His timing.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 says this:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart     and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

If I believe that what the Bible says is true, what is this scripture saying to me?

It is telling me that all I have to do is trust God.  My own personal understanding will do nothing for me when it comes to getting to a place of peace or anywhere else that God has made available for me.  Letting go of all of those desires that I think will give me peace is the first step to receiving the peace that God has for me.

What is it saying to you?

Romans 5:1 tells me that:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

This tells me that if I have faith in God that I already have peace.  Peace is not the elusive goal that I think it is.  I don’t have to search high and low for it or figure out how to get to it.  It is already a tangible possession of mine.

2 Thessalonians 3:16

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

As I look to Jesus , the Prince of Peace, I gain awareness that He is all I need in order to gain the precious Peace that I so desire.

Struggling in our minds with things, relationships, situations is fruitless.  When we are struggling, we are in turmoil and we are never at peace.

peace3The opposite of struggling with these types of things is Acceptance.

Acceptance brings me peace automatically.

The truth is that I cannot change anyone but me.

I can choose to change me.

I can choose peace and grasp it close to my heart.  If I do this enough times it will become automatic.  Peace will become a part of me, a way of life.

Peace is a gift and it is up to me as to whether or not I make the choice to grasp it for me.

I have found peace and it was always within my grasp.

Love and blessings to you!

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