How often we wish for another chance
to make a fresh beginning.
A chance to blot out our mistakes
And change failure into winning.
It does not take a new day
To make a brand new start,
It only takes a deep desire
To try with all our heart.
To live a little better
And to always be forgiving
And to add a little sunshine
To the world in which we’re living.
So never give up in despair
And think that you are through,
For there’s always a tomorrow
And the hope of starting new.

Author – Helen Steiner Rice


Not the End of the Story

1491606_624325770975867_589373496_n What is the part of the story that most readers fear/enjoy most?  That’s right: the end. Sometimes, the end of the story is satisfying, with all the ends tied up in a way that makes sense and gives a feeling of closure to the tale. Sometimes, the ending leaves us wanting to tear our hair out and going, “WTH did you just DO?!” But something that all of us realize throughout the reading of the book, – the ones that are the most impactful, the most life-changing – is that it’s not the end until the end. So when the characters, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine in Alison Weir’s Captive Queen, are going through hell, we as the readers know that it’s not the end, not yet. So we keep reading. We don’t just stop, because the bad times are not the end of the story.

That was the sentence with which I began my week: Bad times or wrong things are not the end of the story. I was sitting in church, this past Sunday, letting my brain and heart work back over the past few weeks, searching the Bible for guidance and encouragement. Honestly, I felt a bit downcast and distraught. But, then, during open worship, a member of our church stood and said something extraordinary that has stuck with me all week. She said that she was so thankful that the bad times or the wrong things that happen to us are not the end of the story. We don’t have to give up because we aren’t at the end yet and we can trust God to carry us through. And that lodged itself in my heart and has stuck there all week. I emailed her that evening to tell her thank you for sharing, that what she said what just what my heart needed to hear, to be reminded of.

A few days later, the above picture showed up in my Facebook newsfeed, posted by a friend. I couldn’t help but smile and say to myself, “I guess this is my theme this week. Bad times are not the end of the story.” And I found myself using that phrase over and over again throughout the week in attempts to encourage others who have been having a rough time. It’s not the end of the story. You’re not done in yet. Just hold on, hang on. Just a few more pages, a few more chapters. The story is not done. Choose each day to end the story as well as you can. End well. That is another phrase that kept popping up in my life this week. The story is not done, you can choose how the next chapter looks. Yes, there will be things in our lives that throw us for a loop, hurt our hearts, and oppress our minds. But we can still choose to write the next pages well, even if it is just in little ways – choosing to give a smile, asking someone else how they are doing and trying to give an encouraging word, spending some time in the sunshine. Little things, day-by-day choices, words on the page. Words add up to sentences, sentences to pages. Bad times are not the end of the story. Keep going. It’s not the end. Not yet.

Defending My Peace

Originally posted on The Well Written Woman, “Defending My Peace”.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on  – “Let It Go”, Disney’s Frozen

Lately, I have been surrounded by situations that provoke my helplessness. Even more so than my helplessness, though, they provoke my desire to take care of things, to help, to fix things, make everything okay. I have thought, I have written, I have prayed, and I have indeed found guidance and followed it as best I can. So everything is supposed to be good, right? Everything is supposed to fall into place, isn’t it? Yeah, not so much.

I feel like a storm, a maelstrom, is roaring around me, and, every time I think it has abated somewhat, that I have made progress or taken a step forward, it blows up in my face again, roaring and bashing against my heart and mind. I take step after step forward, trying to do what I feel convicted about, what I feel God has laid on my heart and led me to do, what’s important and right. When I follow through, it brings me peace. But then, as I try to walk forward, I feel like my feet sink into the snow, into the mud, and the cold. My peace is threatened. I war against my own mind, my own tendency to doubt myself, to doubt my worth, my actions. But that peace glows and warms me like a coal, a feeling that is often so fleeting in our lives these days. I don’t want to lose that, so I have resolved to defend my peace, to fight for it. And that involves something that is very difficult for me, something that is hard to admit and even harder for me to say to myself.

My peace does not depend on others. My peace depends on me doing what my heart has been convicted is right, what I need to do, and resting in that and in God. My peace is on me, not them. While it may be true, it is something that takes me reminding myself every day, moment by moment, prayer by prayer. But those prayers are not just for me; they are also for those in my life, those in these situations. Prayers for peace for them as well in whatever capacity in which they need it.

There are days, the not-so-great days, when my peace is threatened by things inside and outside of these situations, but I will continue to fight and defend and hold on to my peace. It’s a constant work. Worries threaten, as they always have, but I am working on weighing them out. The things that I can control, I will do the best I can with them. The things I cannot control, I have to just let them go because they are not mine to deal with. And it’s hard to let go; specifically, to let go of my desire to fix the things around me and make everything hunky-dory. I can’t do that. It’s not my place nor my job to fix everything. I can deal with things in my own life, in my sphere, but I recognize that my emotional and mental tendency is such that I want to fix everything for others, too. Family, friends, the people who I care about in my life. Admitting that I can’t, that sometimes I am helpless to affect such a change or a fix, is hard. But, if I constantly worry and fear and flail, all I will do is cause myself pain and guilt over something that I realistically had no control over in the first place. Control, true control, over our lives may be an illusion, as some have suggested, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to grasp at it, to not feel quite so helpless in it all. Endeavoring for balance is where I find myself at one point or another in my life. “Let go and let God” is the saying that comes immediately to mind, and that is where I am right now, as I sit in the dark of my quiet house writing this while everyone else is asleep.

I find myself praying more and more lately, when my mind turns towards the maelstrom, when it threatens to drown me again and I feel helpless. That helplessness swells up so strong and hits without warning. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going or standing on my head or my feet, where to turn or what to do. It’s why I follow my gut, that voice within, when I feel led by God to do something, when I feel that sense of direction in my heart and my soul. I follow it because, in that moment, the next place to put my foot is clear to me. Maybe just that next step and only that next step, but it’s there. When I feel that it is the right thing for me to do, it’s not a sense of control necessarily, it’s a sense of “yes, this is right” and that’s where I try to step. It might not make sense to anyone other than me but I believe that it is God’s metaphoric thumb in my back, which I cannot ignore, or, at least, I try not to. When I follow through on that leading, the peace that comes with it more than amazes me in its comfort. I don’t want to lose that.

So, to echo Elsa, here I stand, and here I’ll stay. Let the storm rage on! The cold may bother me but I won’t let it beat me. I won’t let it, let my peace, go.