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A Blessed Romance

A Dance Through Life With The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

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Holy Spirit

The Day I Met Robert

I was pulling out of the grocery store parking lot…and there he stood.

There, next to the highway, brandishing a small white sign that offered a beautiful reflection of the setting sun off of it due to its protective shipping tape coating, he waited.  His bicycle was hand painted, a camouflage pattern, in which I could only guess was his personal handiwork.  The bicycle pulled a trailer, which more favored a Conestoga wagon than typical bike trailer with its duct tape covering, and was painted the same signature camo pattern as the bike.

I did not take the time to read the sign.  I only guessed that he was asking for money.  I did happen to see it referenced a scripture.  He looked as if he might be down on his luck, considering the bike and the trailer, and I hurriedly pulled to the side of the parking lot to approach him.  I knew my tactic.  I would offer him money and ask if I could pray with him.

I reached in my wallet and pulled out a $20, and, if I may be excruciatingly honest, patted myself on the back a little for being willing to give the man my last bit of money before pay day came again.  Carrying myself high, bathed in self-righteousness, I approached him.  His head was adorned with a camouflage ball cap, almost covering strikingly blue eyes.  His short beard was snow white, excepting the yellow tobacco stain circling his mouth.  Around his neck was a delicate silver chain which held a cross embellishing a Celtic pattern.  Beneath the chain was a camouflage sweat shirt, then green shorts, followed by lace up work boots.

I approached him, smiling, and said, “Sir, can I pray for you?” as I handed him the money.  He held out his hand, took the money, followed with an obligatory, “Thank you”, then looked at me.  After a pause he said,

“Yes, you can pray for me, but have you ever thought that prayer might not be what I really need?  Have you thought that maybe to show me love I might just need some of your time, just to talk to you?

He offered my money back to me, thinking he had offended me.  I told him to keep it.  It hit me, right there, like a ton of bricks, a 2×4 upside my head.  I had totally missed the point of our meeting.  What was I doing?  What had I been thinking?  I was so engrossed in myself, and thinking that of course any homeless man would only want money that I had completely missed why the Holy Spirit prompted me to stop.  I apologized and asked if I could have some of his time to talk with him.  He smiled and a conversation ensued that I hope I never forget.

We talked about the Bible.  He was a true student of God’s Word.  He must have quoted 5 scriptures in our first dialogue, one of which was 2 Timothy 3:16:  “All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”  Yeah, that one was meant for me.   🙂

When a car pulled over to give him some money I looked at what his sign said:

Proverbs 15:16- Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.

This man was not looking for a hand out.  He was bringing the Gospel!

He reminded me of Philippians 4:11-13:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I stood in true awe of the man standing in front of me, a man I would normally pity.  He was so happy.  He had healing, real healing from whatever his past was.  As a matter of fact we never talked about his past.  I asked him how he came to know the Lord and his response was,

“The past is in the past.  I was in a bad place, a place I don’t like to go back there.  I’m just so glad he found me.”

He said he wanted me to listen to a song.  He tried to pull it up on his MP3 player, but did not know how, saying he normally just lets is shuffle, so I pulled it up on my phone.  I had the privilege to worship our Most High on the side of the highway with this precious man.  His hands were raised, ever so slightly, his eyes closed, and the reverence and love on his face, oh!  The picture in my head is irreplaceable.  No words can adequately describe it.  His sweet, sweet expression revealed a love for his Savior that so many merely wish to obtain.  So many go to church for years and absolutely miss the love that God has to offer, the same love that had shown through on this man’s face.  They are too wrapped up in the “riches” of the world that they miss what “The Church” is all about.

The side of the road was his mission field.  Anyone who spoke to him was someone with whom to share The Way.  He was bold, but at the same time gentle.  I thought there would be no way he would want to be in his situation.  He felt he had the better situation between the two of us, with the freedom to go from town to town, showing the Good News to people with his sign, and “preaching” to those who actually spoke to him, which, sadly, was so few.

For over two beautiful hours I had the honor of talking with Robert!  I have seen him since and was not able to stop, but I fully intend on doing so again should I see him.  I am so, so thankful he would be my friend, and that he would forgive me for a rocky start.

We often think the best advocates for The Gospel are behind pulpits or among stained glass, but I would have you stop to consider, with his few possessions and one little sign, this man has planted more seeds than the majority of us Christians.

Robert didn’t want what I had.  He wanted to give me so much more.

My challenge to you today:  reach out to someone you normally wouldn’t, the homeless, a neighbor  you do not know, someone who normally wouldn’t cross your mind, and look for the ways God is offering to bless you and that person by reaching out to them!

Hebrews 13:2- Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Disclaimer:  If you DO decide to have a conversation with a homeless man and go MIA for two hours (aka, you do not answer your phone) let your husband know because he will be really upset with you and worried about you if you do not.  😉

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

I’m sitting in our women’s group on Tuesday night.  By some miracle I have a cell phone signal in the metal building, and even made several comments about it.  In the middle of my boasting of having found the “magic spot” in the building (because no one else got signal) I get a text from my best friend.  I will never forget it:

“Call me- emergency.”

So, leaving the building, I return her call.  Knowing in my heart it was bad, not knowing who it was about, but hoping, praying it was not really as bad as I knew in my heart it was I waited, not so patiently, for her to pick up the phone.  After only a few rings, but seemingly forever, I reach my beloved friend.  Then she tells me, words that you cannot, but so wish you can, un-hear.  There was an accident.  Her brother-in-law is gone.

Silence.  I have no words.  For once in a very few times in my life I cannot speak.  This is not some man who had lived his life of 90 years and went home after a well-served time here on earth to be with his Lord so we all have a party to celebrate a long wonderful life full of devotion to God.  This man was 39, THIRTY-NINE!  He had two boys, precious 10 year old boys.  He has a wife who loves him dearly.  He still has duties to fulfill here.  His mom and dad are still alive.  No parent should have to witness the burying of their child.  Ever.  His work cannot have been done!  He wasn’t finished yet!  NO!

His wife deserves to live a full life with the man she loves.  His boys deserve to have their daddy there for them on their wedding day.  They do not deserve the emotion tied to witnessing his death.  This family does not deserve this tragedy.  Her mom does not deserve to see her child and grandchildren hurt this way, nor does her sister and her precious kids.  No one deserves to have to bear the load that is left by the weight of this tragedy.  Why, God, WHY?

Why do bad things happen?

I have no idea….

And, honestly, people can give you explanations until we are bored and all blue in the face…  Because there’s sin in the world….We live in a fallen world….It started in the Garden…  Bad things will happen until God restores the earth…  It was God’s will…God has a plan…blah, blah, blah.  Yes, some of those may be true, but do we really say that to those 10 year old boys who only really care about the fact their their daddy is gone?  Some of the “canned Christian answers” I have given during trials make me sick to my stomach.  Do not hear me as judging anyone here, but do hear me out.  Words do not change the hurt.  Words do not bring true comfort.  God comforts with words.  Our words fall terribly short of offering peace in a time like this.  People comfort and love by actions.  Give words when you are asked for them.  Just think about that.

In some precious prayer time with my husband that night and sweet friend the following day I allowed myself to cry out to God.  I yelled at him.  This is not a “curse God and die” yell, like Job’s wife offers.  This is a “Daddy, I do not understand” yell attached to a reverent fear but all-consuming love.

In the silence later that day that still small voice calls to me, beckons me to listen and just be still.  I hear “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts” reminding me whose authority I am under.  My feeble mind wants to ask, to just yell at my Savior and say, “WHY?”  like a teenage daughter who feels unjustly reprimanded by her well-respected daddy.   No, God did not cause the accident.  God allowed it to happen.  Sure, there are several reasons it could have happened.  It’s well above my pay grade to guess at those reasons.  What I do know is that we do not serve a God who allows tragedy to happen in vain.  My prayer for this family is peace, and for them to see God at work in the middle of this tragedy, in the middle of their deepest pain.  My prayer is that his wife and boys can one day rejoice at the number of people who are drawn nearer to God and who accept Christ as their savior because of this man’s life, legacy, and essentially his death.

The God on the mountaintop is surely still God in the valley.

If you are not familiar with the statement I just made (about accepting Christ) or if you want to know what real, true love is, please email me (heritagedesigns@live.com).  Message me on Facebook.  Find a trusted Christian.  Do something.  One day in the cause of Christ is better than thousands elsewhere.

Also, please, PLEASE consider a donation to this sweet family as Wendi and her two boys pick up the pieces in the wake of a terrible storm.

This is their Give Forward account:

https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/2qbb/family-of-firefighter-kevin-hudgens?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fb_sharer&utm_campaign=php_fundraiser_main-carebears&og_action=hug&fb_ref=sharer-carebears&t=3

Heartbroken, but still with all my love,

Trista

The Bitter Wife Walk:  The Day God Hit Me, Gently, With a Ton of Bricks

I am an Aggie, the proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2005.  Ags are storytellers.  As a matter of fact, our football “Yell Practices”, which occur the night before any football game at midnight, revolve around “stories” the yell leaders will tell about the upcoming game.  So, in true Texas A&M fashion:

I got a little story for you:

Several years ago I’m walking through my house.  I’m not just walking but I’m doing what I call “The Bitter Wife Walk”.  This bitter wife walk consists of me storming through the house, clanging dishes,  scooting toys to the wall….with my foot….from across the room….Yanking up random articles of laundry off the floor….

All the while I’m muttering not so sweet nothings under my breath.  Things like,

“If he really loved me he would know to do….”

“I cannot believe he….”

“Can he not see that ……needs to be done!!!!”

“I’m just a servant to him…”

“He never knows what I need!”

“He never stands up for me!”

Who am I kidding, I was throwing a fit!

I was absolutely content with the fact I could beat my husband down, to pieces on the floor, right next to the laundry, with my words.  It made me feel better.  In my mind he was not measuring up to the ruler I provided him to measure against.  I was hot, beyond angry.  Things were not going well.

Then, in my bitterness, selfishness and self-righteousness (did you catch all the “self” words there?) God spoke to me.

Has God ever met you where you stand, swinging a bag full of a ton full of bricks, and gets you right between the eyes?  There I was, BAM!  He nailed me.

He said, “Little Girl, you really do not respect your husband.”

Little Girl is God’s endearing name for me.  Crazy, I know, but I hear it.  I think it just reiterates his desire to not only a Father but my precious Daddy.

My reply:  “God, my husband does not deserve my respect.”  Then I listed off a host of perceived injustices of which I felt I had been served.

God:  “Trista, do you love me?

Me:  “Yes, God, of course!”

God:  “If you love me keep my commandments.”

Me:  “What do you mean, God?”

The conversation ensued.  What God was attempting to get through my thick skull was that even though I felt Caleb did not meet the requirements where respect was deserved, God had called me to respect my husband in his Holy Word (Ephesians 5:33, just read the whole section, it’s good stuff) regardless of how I felt!  God told me because I love him (God) I need to keep his commandment to respect my husband, even though I felt Caleb was not holding up his end of the bargain.  He loved this man enough to send his very son to die for, why could I not give this man my respect?

He also revealed to me that I had used a measuring stick on Caleb he was never meant to live up to.  You see, I was requiring Caleb to fill a God shaped void in my very soul.  I was asking Caleb to be the source of my joy and my happiness.  Of course he was going to fall short of my requests!  He was just a man!

My tongue had the ability, and consistently acted on said ability, to emasculate my husband.  I tore him down in front of friends, family, and co-workers, when he was there and when he wasn’t.  I constantly pointed out where he was falling short, rolled my eyes, and kept a bitter chip on my shoulder.  My words caused much damage, even if Caleb never heard them.  My selfishness would not allow me to see the good things Caleb was doing.  My self-righteousness mottled the path on which God wanted me to take my husband by the hand and follow him down.

So I hit my knees.  I repented.  I did my best to stop tearing down my precious Caleb.  I began to live up to the vows I took when I married that man.  I learned what it meant to cherish him.   I tried to get behind his eyes and see how I could express my respect and love for him.  I fulfilled him physically and intimately, even when I might not have felt like it.  I continually and earnestly prayed for our hearts to be one, for him to boldly step up into the leadership position in our home, one which I feared he would not because  I had taken that position away from him so many times.

I prayed.  I interceded.  I boldly approached the Throne of Grace on behalf of my husband!  You know what happened?   God changed my perception of my husband!  I prayed for God to change my husband and what he really did was change me!  He made me see the amazing qualities of my precious husband.  Yes, he did eventually change Caleb and guide him to step up, but not until I started doing my part!  If you know Caleb you know he is an amazing spiritual leader for our home, a great provider, and an amazing confidant.  He loves me and our boys with a bold love he is not afraid to show.  He is God’s provision for me.  He is a precious gift my savior entrusted to me to live this life with and to, Lord willing, grow old with.  I am a blessed woman, and was the whole time.  I just needed to understand how to receive that!

Sweet sister, it doesn’t matter where your husband does not measure up.  Be the wife you were called to be, even though it is so SO hard!  Ask God to help you forgive and let go of the bitterness in your heart.  Hit your knees for your man, then step back and watch God do an amazing work in you both!

With all my love,

Trista

First Day

My precious son, My sweet, tender, innocent son,

Tomorrow you assume the title you have so longed for, “First Grader”.

I know you are so excited.

I have waited with you, held your hand through the anticipation.  We have talked through the nerves.  We have met your amazing new teacher.   You lunch is ready to pack, your clothes are waiting for you, you dad will cook you breakfast in the morning.

Tomorrow, as I will watch you walk or even run excitedly away from me yet again this year toward your newest adventure I will be reminded once again:

You are not mine.

I am merely a steward of you and your brother.  God has entrusted your father and me to rear you.  For some glorious reason, which we are ever so thankful, God gave you to us for this short time to bring up in His name, to raise to know His truth, to teach you the ways of a cruel Earth, and to find hope in the midst of this ever changing world in the One Steadfast Everlasting Father.

My son, who realized your need for Jesus and asked for salvation not long ago, at the tender age of six, we have you for a short time.  Our Savior has you forever, firmly in His grasp.  Nothing can take that away from you.

Our biggest prayer for you has been answered, that one day you will know your need for the One True God and you will act on the call He places on your life to accept him into your heart.  What a beautiful event that was for your father and I to witness!

Now my prayer for you, precious son, is that you set yourself apart.  My prayer is that you consistently find hope in the Everlasting God.  My hope is that you act in a manner which makes others say,

“This kid has something different.  I want to know more about what he has.”

When you walk through those halls I hope you remind yourself, son, you are God’s child.  I pray you conduct yourself in a manner worthy of that title.

I pray you draw nearer and nearer to your Jesus.  I pray you fall so deeply in love with Him that His is the first face you seek out each morning, the first counselor you pursue when you are in need of advice, the first you ask to hold you when there is trouble, the first you cry out to, the first you rejoice with, the Only which you exalt and make Lord of your life.

I pray you listen to the small voice of the Holy Spirit He has instilled in you the day you asked Him to be the Lord of your life.  I pray you are faithful with little, so that you one day will have the opportunity to be and will successfully be faithful with much.

I pray you have the heart of a lion.

I am praying for your courage, for your empathy, for your compassion toward others.  I hope when you see those left out you make a concerted effort to include them.  I pray you forgive where forgiveness is needed and ask forgiveness where it is needed.

I pray you treat all that you encounter, especially those who may look different, act different, and smell different with the same love The Father has for you.  He is especially fond of you, son, and He is especially fond of every single person on this planet, no matter how they look, what they say, or even how they treat others.  He loves them all son, just the way He loves you.   My prayer is that your heart stays soft and you do what one of your favorite songs says:  “Love like you’re not scared, give when it’s not fair, live life for another, take time for a brother, (your favorite part) FIGHT FOR THE WEAK ONES, speak out for freedom.”  I hope you do this not out of a sense of duty or obligation, but out of the desire to love others the way your Father in Heaven loves them, whole-heartedly with reckless abandon.

Son, I want you to hold your head high, no matter the circumstances.  If someone treats you badly, forgive them.  Understand there is normally a reason, something lacking in their lives, that makes their heart hard toward others, stand your ground, but also extend grace the way God has extended grace to you.

My hope is that one day you do not have time to consider what others are thinking or saying about you because you are too busy seeking out opportunities to glorify the Lord.

Son, I love it when you introduce yourself to people at the grocery store, even when they do not respond to you.  I love how you compliment others.  Do not ever let go of that compassion and deep consideration for others.

Son, I want you to have an easy life, but know that “easy” never achieves growth, so I do not pray for that.  I pray, instead, your character is built on a foundation of Christ the solid rock, molded and made beautiful by the Refiner’s fire.

I know one day you will leave our home and come back only for short visits.  If you are called to marry you will have a family of your own.  We wait in eager anticipation for this, son.  You will be amazing at whatever you do.  But now, I bask in the kisses you place on my cheek.  I relish the hugs.  I soak in the conversations.  I love it that you still want to hold my hand.  I am so thankful for every second you will be under my care and will lavish in all the time we will have with you as you grow.

As we prepare you the best we can, know we will mess up.  Sometimes we will fall terribly short.  I hope in those times you can look The One who never forsakes or lacks.  Also, there will come a point where you have to choose.  You have to exercise your free will.  I pray you make wise choices when those times come.

In the midst of it all, son, I pray He blesses your sock off.

I love you very much, more than words this side of Heaven can express,

~Mom

He’s got this.   🙂

firstgrade2

#prayerchangesthings

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Let me lead you back to my past for a short time.  I promise I will be short this morning.

My prayer life was lacking.  It was full of half-hearted attempts to petition Our Savior in which normally I:

  1. Fell Asleep
  2. Got distracted
  3. Got bored
  4. Forgot to finish
  5. Gave up
  6. All of the above

Imagine if you will a scorched land, where the only moisture left is your own perspiration.  This would be my prayer life….lacking….severely.  I did not take into consideration how privileged we are to have a God who wants to speak to us directly.  He wants to hear what we say!  He wants to hear even the smallest things, from praise to fear.  He wants to hear it.  He listens. What an amazing opportunity we have to reverently hit our knees before a God who can answer any problems we ask Him about!  That’s true power, Friends!

Insert the Holy Spirit and, long story short, my prayer life went from desert land to a beautiful oasis in the middle of the Sahara where the waters of grace, mercy, and love quenched my parched soul and poured blessings into my lap, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing.  (Luke 6:38)

In honesty, however, this did not happen until I really started to consider others in my prayer life.  Yes, I saw my own prayers answered, and yes, that was a blessing, but the best blessings, the ones that provided unspeakable joy and supplied supernatural elation, did not start until I began to petition the Throne of Grace for the needs of others: people who do not like me, strangers, friends, anyone.  I prayed for them, not just in name, I confidently and boldly approached my Savior about their needs, them.  I asked my God to bless them.  I started listening to that small voice probing me to even seek out people on the street, asking them if I could pray for them, or just offer an encouraging word.  It has transformed me.  It is one more thing He has used to draw me nearer to Him, probably one of the most powerful things at this point.

Jesus calls us to live outwardly.  He wants, he commands us to serve others!  I have a challenge for you today.  I want you to seek out someone who needs your prayer.  Don’t just quietly go into your prayer closet and submit a prayer for them.  Approach that person, take them to the side, take their hand, and confidently storm the Gates of Heaven straight to your Savior totally on their behalf, and use your whole heart to do so.  You don’t have to know their needs.  The Holy Spirit will intercede with you and will deliver help.  (Romans 8:26) Ask Him for the words, He will provide.

This could even be a private message to an individual on Facebook who has asked for prayers.  Don’t give them the canned Christian answer, “I will pray for you.”  How does that person know you actually prayed for them?  Do it, right then.  Send them a private message and follow through on that commandment to love others!

Be sure to act out your challenge with humility.   (Matthew 6:5)

Sit back and watch for, even the small, things that happen after.

#prayerchangesthings

Prayer changes YOU.

We are so excited to see how God shows up in your walk today!  Share your stories with us!  Let us pray for you!  Heritagedesigns@live.com

With all my love as your sister, grafted into The Family as part of the Bride of Christ,

~Trista

You don’t have to hold a wealth of knowledge of the Bible, even young children can intercede on behalf of others.

The Plight of an Enemy in Marriage

Our enemy is real and bold.  Our enemy has the utmost intention to cause you harm and to do evil in your marriage.  This enemy is waiting, calculating the next move in which to sabotage a beautiful and holy thing.

The enemy emits a clear and present danger.  The enemy is a scary being who wants nothing more than your marriage to dissolve before The One who brought you together.  The enemy is all of these things, and many more.

But friend, your enemy is not the person with whom you share your marriage bed with.  The one you come together with at the end of a busy and sometimes treacherous day is your partner, your team mate.  Your spouse is the one you are to share a connection down to your very soul with.  (Mark 10:8)  How hard of a concept this can be!  When I first heard this it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I treated my husband like the enemy.  I do still slip up and forget.

I all too often let my arrogance get in the way.  I tell myself I am better than he is.  I all too often conform to a culture that tells us women are the superior authority.  I tell myself, “If he really loved me he would….without having to be asked” or “If he loved me he would know…….”  How preposterous that I would assume my husband would know something in my brain I likely have never told him!  I’ve often treated my marriage like a competition.  Dr. Kevin Leman says, “If someone is winning your marriage, you both are losing.”  He is right.  These times, friends, are nothing more than the enemy using me to place a hard-driven wedge in the middle of God’s sacred work, our marriage.

I often forget that this man, this perfect provision God has sent for me, is on my team!  He wants the same thing I want, for our marriage to be great!  So many things cause me to forget this: fatigue, stress, children, so many of life’s obstacles, but at the end of the day I have to make a choice to receive my spouse as God’s perfect provision for me.  When I easily anger I have to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember this man is on my team. 

The real enemy is trying to compromise the foundation of our marriage from the inside so the he can crumble it with outside attacks. That’s what he wants.  He wants every “good Christian marriage” broken into tiny pieces on the floor at his feet, on display for all the word to behold, to gawk at, to point fingers, and to seemingly confirm a growing belief there is no sanctity in marriage, especially that of a “Christian” marriage.  This is his life’s work, and he’s very good at it.

Here’s how I got started in my process of considering my spouse on my team (this is a repetitive process, and I mess it up daily, so please do not think I have it down):

Repent!  Our Sweet Savior is just waiting on us to ask forgiveness.  He’s ready, willing, and able to forgive and separate us from our sin.  I ask for my spouse’s forgiveness as well.  In the progression I make sure to forgive myself, which is often not easy.

Ask God for clarity– I ask for a clear thought process so I may realize the times when I isolate my spouse, by treating him like the enemy, so forgiveness can be sought or the thought process can be stopped before the event happens.

Put on the whole armor of God– (Ephesians 6:10-18).  As a Christian we are given a specific set of armor that prepares us for the war we wage against principalities of darkness.  Read Ephesians 6, starting at verse 10, soak it in, and apply it.  I ask God to not lead me into temptation and, when temptation strikes, I try my best to use the blessed armor to help stand strong against the devil.

Treat him like we both are on the same team– even though he may not act that way.  The best way to change behavior is for you to change yours first.

Respond in love– in all things we are called to love, everyone, under every circumstance.  This is not withheld just because we happen to reside with someone.  Is this hard?  You bet.  It seems we hurt most deeply the ones we love the most.

We love you, sweet brother/sister, and are happy to pray with and for you.  heritagedesigns@live.com

~Trista

The Peace in The Valley:  A Celebration of Life, But What Comes After?

(James 1:2-4)

It’s August 13th.

A normal day for most, and an occasional day of “Freaky Friday” superstition.

But for us it’s different.

This is the day we celebrate one of two lives we have waiting on us, whom we long to meet in Heaven.

In 2011 we lost a baby by miscarriage.  That child went to be with his or her brother or sister, whom we lost in 2010.  We celebrate the lives of those precious children on August 13th and January 23rd because those were my due dates.  We are not sure of the date they fell asleep and awoke in the presence of their Most Holy Maker.

I have gotten to the point where only occasionally I fall apart.  I lost it in church the other day.  Several youth were on stage speaking on their camp experience.  My heart sank with the sorrow that these two children will never get the opportunity to go to camp.  More importantly, they will never get the opportunity to share Jesus with others…

Or will they?

Those children may never have set foot on the Earth alive, but they were a bold and strong testimony to the power of a Wonderful, Merciful Savior.  They were a catalyst in gently bringing me to my knees, to the source of my deepest pain, and My God was right there waiting on me.  You see, He had gone there before me.  (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Let me explain.  Yes, I am so, so sorry I do not have them here with me.  My arms literally ache for the babies I do not have here on Earth.  However, I do know if I had not lost those children there were so many things I might never have experienced, SO MANY emotions I likely would not have felt, and so many opportunities to draw nearer to my God that I might have otherwise missed out on if those children now resided on Earth as opposed to Heaven.  No, I do not have my children in my arms now.  Yes, I missed out and I will continue miss out on their Earthly lives, but I got the opportunity to experience love, deeper than any fathomable Earthly love, support, in the way of family and Heaven, a correlation to my God, in that I have a very small glimpse of what it’s like to lose a child.

Friends, I got the privilege to experience the Peace that surpasses any and all understanding for the first time in my life.  A deep and passionate romance with the Holy Spirit was cultivated in those tender, raw moments of pain and agony.  I got to feel the strong and mighty arms of my Savior wrap around me, like a daddy whose little girl fell off her bike and skinned her knee.  He held me until the pain was more bearable.  I fell off of the bicycle of life.  HE took on that pain and encouraged me to get back up, dust myself off, and keep living.  When no one else understood, when it might have slipped into the back of other’s minds, HE never left.  He was there the whole time.  How did I get that?  I did nothing more than pray earnestly for it, friend.  There was nothing more I did or could have done to receive such a precious gift.  You see, Our God gives freely, all we have to do is ask.

I also received the gift of compassion.  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) I get the privilege now of coming along side other women who have lost a baby, particularly to miscarriage, and loving on them in their dark, cold, isolating, painful valley.  I have the privilege of saying “This hurts, sweet lady, I can relate, though I might not know your pain exactly, I know how badly it hurts to lose, and I am there for you every step of your way.”  What wonderful gifts God gave me through those beautiful children!  (Matthew 10:8)  I have a deeper appreciation for the fragility and sacredness of life and am (I hope) able to amplify that through my relationship with my children whom I have gotten the blessing of raising.

For me, dying and ascending to Heaven is more than a reunion of loved ones gone before, Heaven, to me, will be a Glorious meeting.  It makes Heaven, for me, a little sweeter.  First, I see myself asking to behold my Beautiful Savior.  As soon as He has kept me in his arms for as long as He can possibly stand it I will run to those sweet children, whom I know I will recognize, and hold them both in my arms for another eternity, until it is time for them  to meet their two brothers.  I will thank those babies for their bold witness to the goodness of our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

One of the most powerful television events to me was when the Duggars lost their little one in-utero, little Jubilee.  It wasn’t the loss but that the Duggars IMMEDIATELY were able to thank their God for the time they had with their daughter, to thank Him for their daughter, that made this such a profound moment.  This was something that took me YEARS to do.  Now, I’m thankful for every second I got, every physical and emotional pain, every hope, every crushed anticipation, all of it.  It still hurts, friend, it doesn’t mean the pain goes away, but I fix my eyes on my  Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my God in whom I take refuge, my Strength, and the Horn of my Salvation, and take things to him, without anxiousness, in prayer and supplication, and He grants me the blessed peace that surpasses all understanding.   And I know there was a purpose, those little lives had meaning, and they were most precious to Him.  (Psalm 18:1-2) (Philippians 4:6) (Psalm 139)

There’s another thing I would like to address.  For a long time I felt like I did not have the right to grieve.  I miscarried, there was nothing to bury.  It was very early in this particular case.  People are unconsciously cruel and saysometimes well-intentioned yet hurtful things.  I even overheard some moms talking about their friend who had just miscarried, one said, “It’s not like she lost a real baby”.  Sweet sisters who may have heard something like this:   It was your baby.  It was a child, who, if did not already, was soon to have a real heartbeat and already had a real soul.  That child’s days were already written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life and every fiber of his or her very being was woven together by God Himself.  Do not ever, EVER let anyone tell you differently.  You grieve your loss.  Do not push it down or discount it because someone else does not understand how marvelous our God is to create life the way only He can!

While writing this post I was able to go back to the posts on my old business blog from when we lost our two little ones.  We have come so far.  Here they are if you would like to read them, but then again, you already know how wordy I am.  Maybe save them for later.

http://www.hdstatements.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-life-to-be-celebrated-no-matter-how.html

http://www.hdstatements.blogspot.com/2011/01/to-everything-there-is-season.html

Until we meet again, my cherished little ones, you have all the love one Earthly being can give.

Friend, do you have pain; is there a deep longing, an ache in your soul that nothing has quenched?  Let me encourage you to fall head-first into the arms of your loving Savior.  Pray for peace and rest.  Dive into scripture.  Seek out the words He has waiting for you!  If you need someone I am here to pray with and for you.  Just email heritagedesigns@live.com

~Trista

James 1:2-4: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Deuteronomy 31:8 – It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Matthew 10:8:  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give

Psalm 18:1-2:  I love you, Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Philippians 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing; but in ever thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

Draw Me Nearer

So, after my first post declaring myself available to serve Our Savior I hit the proverbial writer’s block.  Who am I kidding, it was a brick wall.  It might as well have been the Great Wall of China.  I had a few posts started but couldn’t muster the mindset to finish them.  Then, words came to me, for a completely different subject, when I was in the bath one day.  Don’t worry, I got out of the tub to write:

Recently I have been praying to draw nearer to our precious King.  I have a taste of the love affair He offers and I want more, so much more.  I am so excited so see what He brings to my future of service to Him.

The two things he has laid on my heart recently, two things that keep us from being completely engrossed in His goodness and by His side, are unconfessed sin and unforgiveness.  That said, I have been praying for God to reveal to me the areas where I have that unconfessed sin and those places in my life where I have yet to offer forgiveness, pure forgiveness, not just forgiveness in lip service and then suppressed the event(s) for which I was to offer forgiveness.  I’m touching lightly on unforgiveness and the re-visiting of painful memories in this post.

In that journey so far I have been taken back, so far back, even to my early youth, around the age of 10.  I have visited memories that draw feelings of embarrassment, shame, fear, uncertainty, heartache, anger, so many emotions that prove overwhelming at times.  He has taken me to places I never wanted to visit again, to things I intentionally have forgotten and suppressed so far down, events my mind never, ever, wanted to remember.

In the midst of reliving this harsh reality it has also provided beautiful opportunities for My Father to unveil to me exactly where He was during some of the worst times in my existence and just some of the ways He was working in my life at that time.   He has shown me the sweet, tender moments and profound times He was doing exactly what I needed at precisely the right time.  In that, I feel much gratefulness.  It causes me to thank Him for what He has done, to praise Him for that goodness, and, in essence, draw nearer to Him.

Our precious Lord is good.  His love is the only love that endures.  Any and all human will fail you, albeit unintentional possibly.  Humans are just not designed to fill the God shaped hole that lingers in all of us.  The surefire way to get hurt is to have any relationship with any person.  It’s just going to happen.

God wants to meet you right at the source of your deepest pain, as a matter of fact, our sweet Jesus is waiting on you there, arms open wide, just anticipating, patiently sitting, but longing for you to embrace Him there.   He wants you to crawl up in his lap and review those events that bother you, with Him.  He wants to show you where He was during the most treacherous moments of your life.  He wants to show you what real, pure, true forgiveness is and how it will set you free.  He wants to wrap His arms around you and offer a Peace that surpasses all understanding.  Friend, let Him hold you.  All you have to do is ask Him to do that.

Do you happen to have an event that keeps torturing you?  Maybe something you have done, something someone has done to you, or maybe a severe event that you just can’t shake?  We all have struggles.  Everyone.  We used to attend a church whose pastor said “You’re either coming out of or going into a crisis.”  Spot on!  I am by no means a counselor or pastor, but here is what I have been doing when these things come to the surface of my psyche.

  1. Ask for clarity.  Ask God for the reason this even keeps coming to your mind.  In doing this I may not always get the answer, at least not right away, but sometimes it gives light to deeper meaning behind the event.  It also sometimes gives me the idea of what I am supposed to do with/because of this memory.  Sometimes this means I have to ask for recall to fully remember.  Sometimes I do not get that recall (just FYI).  Sometimes recall comes in small pieces.  I feel like this might be so I can process it just a little at a time.
  1. Ask for Peace. God wants you to pray to Him, often, actually constantly.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)  He wants to give you Peace that surpasses any and ALL understanding (Philippians 4:6-7) Ask him to give you peace from the things that bother you.
  1. Ask God to show you where HE was during the event. Ask for Him to show you how HE was at work and what He did and how He was there for you when you were enduring these trials.  Because I know one thing, God does not allow us to suffer in vain.  There is a purpose for everything.  (Romans 8:28)  If you are going through something now ask Him the same, to reveal to you where He is.  Chances are He will show himself in a big way.    : )
  1. Offer forgiveness where it is needed (Matthew 6:14). Forgiveness is not only something we can offer to another person, it is something God has instructed of us!  This is SO HARD, especially if the person sees no need to be forgiven.  I’m not saying I have come up to someone and said, “I forgive you for…” in every circumstance.  However, if you are being called by the Holy Spirit to do that then you should by all means visit that further.  Forgiveness allows me to love harder.  It allows me to love my neighbor, including those committing the offense, more fiercely than I could have without that forgiveness.

Forgiveness = FREEDOM

Forgiveness may not be what you think it is.  True forgiveness is taking your hand away from the perpetrator’s throat.          In true forgiveness you remove your right for justice.  You take away your “right” to hold them in contempt.  This does          not mean you have to embrace them or allow them back into your life, but it does mean it will allow God to unroot the          bitterness in your heart toward them, should you let Him.

Friend, this also means to forgive yourself.

  1. Ask God what HE would have you do with this memory.  Maybe it’s an opportunity to confess unconfessed sin.  Maybe it’s an opportunity to forgive.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s Him revealing to you how His work has impacted that event and to give you the chance to sit in his lap, lean in to His embrace, and just cry out to Him.
  1. When the memory is dealt with (which might take some time) I put it behind me. God does not want us to beat ourselves up with our past.  That teacher I mentioned in my first post?  He used to tell me “Don’t should on yourself.”  He’s right.  God forgives us and separates our sin from us, as far as the East is from the West. We should have the same compassion on ourselves. (Psalm 103:12)

I’m not saying I am re-visiting every little bad thing I have done or that has been done to me, what I am saying is there have been some key events He wanted me to re-live, with Him, even events where no one is a fault.  These are things he has brought to the forefront of my mind.  I’m also not living in the past.  If something comes to my mind, I am dealing with it and only re-visit it when it comes back, if ever.  The same event can creep up time and time again, at any time.  That’s ok.

Friends, this is a journey!  Just remember you are so loved.  Our precious savior is especially fond of you.  He loves you enough to DIE for you!  He proved it, over 2,000 years ago.  There is no pain too big for Him to help you handle.

Let me pray with and for you!  Email me if you like.  heritagedesigns@live.com

With all my love and prayers, resting in His firm grasp,

~Trista

Verses:

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Philippians 4:6-7:  Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:28:  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Matthew 6:14-15:  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, for if you do not forgive, neither will Your Father who is in Heaven forgive you.

Psalm 103:12:  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Here I Am, Send Me

I love words.  Always have.  Always will.  In my opinion there is nothing more important than a word in the proper place at the right time.  Words encourage.  Words breathe life where there once was lifelessness.  Words instill peace and hope in a valley filled with despair.  Words heal.  Words are a powerful means of changing that which was broken into newness.  Sure, words also have the ability to break down, destroy, and condemn, and I have been guilty of all of those, many times, but that’s not what I am here to talk about today.

My love affair with words started in high school.  I hated writing.  Hate is a strong word.  I was your normal teenager who had a lazy streak, who was always a pretty decent writer, but never put it to much good use.  Two teachers helped me overcome my distinct disdain for the written word.  One, my Freshman English teacher, who was also one incredible coach, had me writing about everything from country songs to Shakespeare.  I loved her, and secretly appreciated what she was “making” us do.  The second, my English, English Lit, Spanish (oddly enough), and Journalism teacher, he probably taught a few other classes I was in but have forgotten about (it was a small school, teachers wore a lot of hats).  This guy MADE me participate in UIL writing.  He MADE me, and not something easy like Headline Writing, NO, news writing, editorial writing, and whatever else he felt like signing me up for, or so it felt at the time.  Honestly, our relationship evolved into more of a mentorship over the years.  He was an unwavering source of support during a time of my life I am confident I would not have survived had it not been for God’s Grace supplying that mentorship.  He was a reintroduction to the goodness of our Savior, and an introduction to the Holy Spirit. He will likely never know just how grateful I am for him and his sweet wife, so much so that when Caleb proposed to me there was no one on Earth I wanted more to marry us.  My inability to express my gratitude, my friends, is an opportunity when Earthly words simply fall short of emotion.

So, as that sweet teacher wrote on one of my more “wordy” papers in large red letters (had to get that word count in):

“Get to the point”.

Those opportunities to write began to divulge a small talent.  I received a journalism scholarship in college.  I didn’t take it.  Why:  again, teenager, lazy streak.  I eventually started a business helping others display words that “speak” to both them and to me and, due to nothing less than the Grace of God, it turned into a full-time gig.  I wrote my grandfather’s obituary and the funeral director offered me a job.  Here and there I have been asked to write various letters, articles, etc.  Mine and Caleb’s heart happens to be in marriage ministry.  Have you ever felt a calling, responded with “YES” then ran away from it 100 miles per hour?  Think Parable of the Two Sons, we were the latter son.  But that’s a different story for another time.  While serving in the “marriage ministry” capacity I met a precious new friend.  She asked me what I had planned to do with my passions.  Ouch!  God used her to gently call me out, to start a search for my niche.  I rarely used my “gift” and even more rarely used it to the Glory of the Lord.  I am not claiming to be a great writer who holds the secrets to the most Holy mysteries in the universe.  What I am actually doing, in this very draft, is a proclamation, begging my God to use me, take me, mold me, and make me into what He would have myself and these messages to be.  I am asking for Him to get me out of the way and show up, show out, and use this effort as He sees fit.  If one person, just ONE, receives refuge in the Holy Spirit though this effort, then it is all worth it.

This blog was originally intended as a marriage ministry.  I cannot tell you that this is primarily our purpose at this point.  The name “A Blessed Romance” is misleading.  It has nothing to do with the husband/wife relationship.  It has EVERYTHING to do with how God pursues us and how He wants to be seen in YOUR eyes!  My husband loves to dance, so I naturally think of dancing as a method of pure, innocent romance.  God wants to dance with you.  Imagine a Father/Daughter dance at a wedding and multiply it by infinity.  He wants to be in a love affair with you (again, another post), a pure, open, honest, tender relationship in which He is primarily what your thoughts turn to at any given point during the day.  He wants that, He really does!  We want that for you as well.  We want you to walk, day by day, in the rest of the Holy Spirit.  We hope this effort will help direct you to that!

I would like you to walk through life with me.  Here I will be putting my walk with the Lord on display for the entire world to see.  That’s unnerving.  🙂  It’s not a place where you will hear preaching (unless it’s a guest writer).  You will hear my prayers, God’s response, struggles, triumph, and whatever else He sees fit.  This is my testimony, on screen.  It is a place you will see me mess up, often.  It is a place in which I will be held accountable.  It will be a place I ask God will use to mold me.

We are here for encouragement.  We are here to help you seek answers to questions.  We don’t know all there is to know by any means, but we can help you pray through for answers and seek Biblical wisdom.

We are here to pray for you and would love nothing more than the honor of boldly approaching the Throne of Grace on your behalf!  (use the email address)  Please know your situations will be held completely confidential and will be treated with the utmost respect.

We love you already and are so excited to begin our journey together!  Come and join us!

Trista

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