The last six months have been filled with trials, unexpected trauma, and a whole lot of gratitude. This gratitude involves the realization that I have life, strength, and decent health. It makes me think of all the things that God made possible that I thought that I may never do again. It is also gratefulness for a new calling in life. I realize that nothing can be taken for granted.
Background on Gratitude Check
After just coming out of a trial on Wednesday of last week, I was looking forward to taking it easy on the weekend. So I thought. I had just attended a meeting at church for the Sunday School volunteers. My daughter and I were headed home.
We made a complete stop at the intersection around the corner from our house, waiting for eastbound traffic to clear so that we could make a left turn. While we were sitting there, I had the words “crash and rental car” to come into my mind. I tried pushing those thoughts out of my head. I began to make a plan for what I would do when I got home: rake the leaves, go for a walk, write out my podcast speech, etc. The next thing that I knew, we were hit. It kind of happened in slow motion.
After about an hour and fifteen minutes of pictures and paperwork, we were able to go home. To be honest, I had to stop and ask God “Why?” I had just recovered from last week’s drama, only to end up with more trauma from the accident. As I sat there, at my kitchen table, I acknowledged that I was mad. There was no point in pretending. Stuffing leads to more trauma, so I wasn’t going down that aisle. I acknowledged that I didn’t feel like making the calls to the insurance company. Then, I had to acknowledge the trauma from the accident that was starting to kick in.
It took me two more hours before I could call and report the accident. What was my gratitude check for Saturday?
God is good.
The car was still drive-able.
We didn’t suffer any major injuries.(My daughter is sore from the accident).
God had a praise song in my head while we waited for all the pictures and paperwork to be done.
The car wasn’t going any faster than it was.
We found out that we were missing some major coverage on our car insurance.
The other driver had insurance.
This accident reminded me of God’s answer to our thoughts and our plans:
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Three weeks ago, this article was featured as “Six things that you Need to Bring the Beachside In”. This post has been updated to reflect “Ten things You Need to Bring the Beachside In. ” This post may contain affiliate links. Today is the last day of August. The last day of the month means preparation for a new month and new beginnings. In one breath, I can’t believe that today is Friday. In another breath, it’s been one long week. I am looking forward to the new things that God has in store for me for the month of September.
The end of the month also means one thing here at Valley of Grace: someone gets a free merchandise freebie. The deadline to will be subscribe will be 11:00 p.m., September 1st. The featured freebie for August is the Weekender Bag that can be used for some of everything. If you’re at the beach, going away for the weekend, or going to fitness class, the weekender bag is right for you. It’s the dump everything in it, and go kind of bag. Adding yourself to the subscriber list puts you in the running for the free merchandise raffle. Starting tomorrow, I will be sending out “Daily Devotions from Valley of Grace” to all of the email subscribers. I will still be posting devotions to Valley of Grace’s blog site on our every other week schedule. Here is a link to where the Weekender Bag can be found.
We’ve all heard of the phrase “Bring the outside In” when we look at home magazines. For this purpose, since I love the beach, I decided that I would do a blog post on bringing the beachside in. When I think of the word beach, I think of my feet in the sand, the water, and God’s big, beautiful sky.
It makes me think about painting the color white on a blank canvas, and then painting the blue sky and water, and tan colored sand. If I wanted to add to this canvas, other things that come to mind is a pier, a chair for one to sit on, minnows in the water, people, rocks, trees, flowers, etc. Take a few minutes to think about what your beach would look like.
Now, let’s transfer this canvas to your home. How can one keep themselves at the beach all year round? Use a room or two in your home as the beach all year round. I am including pictures of how I brought the beachside into my bedroom:
Paint: The walls would represent your canvas. The first thing that you need is the right color of paint. Bright, airy colors are needed to bring your beach to life. For my personal choice, I would have shades of tan, cream, blue, or white.
Pictures: Pictures tell the story of your home. They give your home life, and they keep your friends and loved ones close by. Since this is a beach canvas, people, flowers, trees, sand, rocks, and seashells would be great. However, this is your canvas, and therein lies the fun. This is one of my favorite pictures from when my children were little. They were about one and four years old. Sometimes when I can’t find the colors that I need, I just paint the frames, as well as the furniture.
I found the pictures below at Goodwill for $.99 each a few years ago. I have two sets of two on either side of my bed.
The picture below is one of myself, kids when they were little, mom, and grandmother, who is deceased.
I painted the canvas paintings on the left below. Three pictures were upcycled and painted over since my color scheme changed. The pictures of peonies on the left were taken a year ago. The clothespins and jute string were $1.00 at the Dollar Tree.
3. Furniture:The next thing that you would need would be furniture that would give the beach vibe. Adirondack, wicker, and bamboo seems to do the trick. If you have more than one style of chair, that would work out nicely. A mixture of texture gives rooms more of a natural feel, along with an illusion of more depth. I was blessed a couple of years ago with the wicker chair below. Next to the wicker chair is a wrought iron plant stand. I got rid of the glass top to place the plants on. It safely holds a journal and wallet that my sister bought me when she visited Europe. I love this journal, but I have to be careful because it can easily rip since the pages are made out of a linen, natural parchment.
4. Accessories: Let’s not forget about the accessories. In the picture above, I have a couple of books resting on top of the ottoman, a pillow, and fun necklaces that help give the beach vibe. You can also add mirrors to the wall, as you can see in the picture above, a little bit behind the wicker chair. The mirror was $6.99 at Goodwill. I also found this mirror a couple of years ago.
6. Plants and Flowers: The last things that you need are plants. They can be real or fake. Hanging terrariums are a nice accent. Using a combination of hanging and non-hanging plants makes your room look even more inviting.
I found the fake plant above at Good will for 3.99. The candle was on sale at Michael’s for $2.00 during one of their lowest prices of the season. It smells just like the beach.
The cream colored flowers below are sitting in a mason jar of rocks. They were $1.00 from Dollar Tree.
7. Wood Ladder
Wood Ladders can be a great addition to any room. I love the idea of using wood ladders for a paint studio. In this kind of setting, you can use the ladder to display and store paint, paint brushes, paint smocks, and even a second drop cloth for messy hands. They are also great for displaying books, flowers, towels in bathrooms, blankets, etc. Another thing about wood ladders is that they give a natural effect against a wood wall.
8. Drop Cloth Canvas Curtains
Just looking at drop cloth canvas reminds me of the sand at the beach. The wonderful thing about drop cloth is that it has the natural look of linen, but it’s not the linen price. It is forgiving, and very easy to wash. The drop cloth in this picture is attached to plumbing materials for a little bit of an industrial look. I use drop cloth for tablecloths, background prop for pictures, and it can even be used to make bed skirts and tree skirts. By the way, I do love linen!
9. DIY Wood Signs
In order to make my craft/painting area more beachy, I decided to make wooden signs. I went to Menards and ordered two 6 foot pieces of lumber for $3.00, and then had them to cut each piece into three more pieces. They charge $1 for every additional cut after three cuts. I used black paint that I already have at home, along with a small jar of acrylic paint that I bought from Michaels for $.99. Whatever makes you think beachy, is what can be written on the signs. These signs are displayed over the walkways and over doors.
The one below is my favorite. Painting these signs was also therapeutic.
10. DIY Word Art
Last, but not least, you can using any material that you have at home, along with jute string, clothespins, and push pins, to hang up any word art signs. In the picture below, I used some burlap tags that I had purchased from Michaels. They had a box on clearance for $2.00. My paint/craft area is small, but just the right space to get away inside. I need to use it even more.
Have a blessed rest of your weekend!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
Today is a dreary, damp day. However, I can look at these pictures and be reminded of how beautiful the last two days were. The weather was perfect for hiking, walking, bicycling, picnicking, you name it. There were about four different times on yesterday in the midst of my crazy, busy day, and long list of things to do, that I kept telling myself that it was time for me to take a walk, stretch my legs, decompress, get some fresh air, and just bask in God’s goodness. It was also a day of struggles with perfectionism trying to reign, and me talking myself down, taking deep breaths, and reminding myself, “Rest in God. His grace is enough. God will give you the grace to get the things done that you need to get done, and then everything else is tomorrow’s grace.” My mind and spirit knew this. However, the trauma started talking, and wanted me giving in to the overall shaky feeling that my body was having.
I took three books to the train station library, and then grabbed one to bring home. My new rule is that if books are coming in, some have to be going out. When I left out of the station, I decided to do what I had been planning for two weeks now: take pictures of the flowers. After taking these pictures, I decided to walk to the beach, and the water was absolutely beautiful. Of course, I couldn’t just enjoy the view. It was so pretty out, that I had to take some more pictures.
As I walked home, eager to do my last thing on the “To Do” list, I heard the screech of a door behind me. I jumped. Someone called my name. It was a friend of mine from my Mom’s group, who happened to see me walking past as she was talking to her children. She invited me to have dinner with them, and then I walked on home afterwards. God’s timing is perfect. If I had gone to the beach any earlier or later, I would have missed this fellowship and blessing of dinner. I also needed the reminder from God to slow down, and take a deep breath, and really, truly smell the flowers. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
For the next two weeks, I am going to do a quick series on the ins and outs of living with trauma on a daily basis. I am not sure how many of you have dealt with trauma in the past or present, however, it is something that is more prevalent than one may think, and a lot of fears have trauma at the root of it.
Women at 10.4 %, are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD. About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma. I have been living with trauma all my life, unbeknownst to me.
What I didn’t realize is that a lot of my trauma manifested itself as fear during my younger years. After having compounded trauma within the last six and a half years, this fear effect gets multiplied. Unfortunately, when this happens, we can definitely pray, and start to take deep breaths to help ourselves calm down. However, the fear is so strong, that you would think that you are in an all out fight for your life. The fear gets multiplied by fifty.
About three years ago, my kids were at youth group at church, and a tornado swept through parts of the town where I lived, along with some of the other nearby towns. I was at home by myself. Praise God for community! My friends and I texted and called one another to make sure that everyone was okay. This discussion took place as I stood in the bathroom with the door closed, begging God for the weather to pass over.
My mother called to check on me since she heard that the tornado was headed our way. I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was nervous. I called the kids at church, and they stated that one of the youth leaders, who was a fireman, told them where to go, and what to do. I knew that they would be fine, but I kept wondering if I would be okay. The townhome that I was living in was surrounded by large evergreens on all sides. I kept thinking to myself, if they were just here, then I would be okay.
Deep down, I knew that my kids couldn’t control God’s weather. However, I knew that it would make the out of control fear that trauma had placed on me to loosen up. I shifted between being okay, and feeling like my whole entire body had been tied up because my muscles were so tense.
Thank God that the weather did let up. The tornado didn’t hit my side of town, but it did hit all around the church. God protected the church. All the while, as I stood there in that bathroom, God had praise music going in my head. I knew that it was his sign that everything would be okay. However, because of the fear from trauma, I must be honest, my body was saying a different story. My kids made it home safely that night, and it was just another testament to God’s faithfulness, as trees had been knocked down everywhere from the tornado.
Have a blessed night!
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23, NLT
I love the story of Joseph, and I love how God’s favor was all over his life. When I think about Joseph’s coat, it makes me think about my favorite coat as a kid. It was coral blue with a red heart just below each shoulder. I called it my “Heart to Heart” coat. It is good to know that even when we are in our worst of times, God’s favor can still rise above the situation. God can still put us in situations where people are doing things for us, and they don’t even know why they are doing them. Praise God for his favor!
Coat of Favor
It was Joseph, it was Joseph, he had favor don’t you see,
It was favor from our God from the Lord Almighty.
Coat of favor, coat of favor, filled with stripes, awe, and wonder.
Filled with power from his dreams that the brothers would bow under.
Feeling lost, hurt, rejected from our daddy don’t you know?
He can’t stay here …let’s just kill him, he can’t stay here… he must go!
Sold in slavery, faked his death to our father, and he grieved.
Oh thank goodness… he is gone, and we are granted our reprieve.
God of Joseph, Slave of Pharaoh, gave him elevated power.
Wife of Pharaoh, full of needy, stripped it all within the hour.
Put in prison, with the baker and cupbearer of the king.
Placed in charge by the warden, God’s good favor it would bring.
These two prisoners, had their dreams told, to them then, right by Joseph.
Don’t forget me, with the king, need release from this low self.
They forgot him, yes they did, till the king had his dream.
Couldn’t sleep, someone help, can you tell me what it means?
Oh yes, Joseph, he can help you…he can tell you what it means.
Oh no, God, he’s the Father and interpreter of dreams.
Oh then, Joseph, oh yes Joseph, told the king what would happen
You’re released, you’re promoted, get this plan right and mapping.
And he did, with God’s help, he saved Egypt from the famine
Saved his brothers, Growth in character, and his faith, as you imagine.
2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.
Everybody has a name that is special to them when they think of their grandmother. For me and my family, my grandmother was always referred to as Mudear. Yesterday was her birthday, and if she were alive, we would have been celebrating. Her death occurred a little over five years, right when I was at the height of a series of traumatic events going on. Due to trauma, sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday that she died, and other times it seems like it has been longer.
Mudear was the pillar of the family. She taught us how to enjoy life by doing the simple things. She didn’t wear fancy clothes or buy fancy things. She wasn’t afforded this luxury, and even if she was, it wouldn’t have been her. She liked wearing her “house dresses”, as she called them, scarves tied on her head, getting her long fingernails polished, and watching her favorite television shows.
We were graced by a woman who showed us what it meant to have community. On any given day, she would stretch six dollars to feed us for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with there being the job of several trips back and forth to the local meat market by my cousin and I. She welcomed people from all walks of life into her home, and even with all the drama that went on, we knew that there was nothing that dancing, singing, and good old laughs couldn’t cure. She loved her children, and having all of her grandkids around her. There was joy in simplicity at its finest.
Mudear wasn’t one who had to raise her voice in order to get her point across. She just used her old sayings from the South. If you looked nice, she’d say, ” You look sharper than Dick was when Hattie died.” If you sat inappropriately as a young lady, she’d say, “You are sitting mighty high”. If you didn’t clean up behind yourself, she’d say, ” Oh, you must have thought today was your birthday.”
The holidays at Mudear’s house were filled with music, dressing, turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, and let’s not forget her homemade four layer chocolate banana cakes, coconut pineapple cakes, and caramel with pecan cakes. Although we all miss you, we know that the love you shared will never be forgotten. Thank you God for gracing us with Mudear.
One of the main things that the enemy uses against people is self-worth. His tool is a cycle of our brokenness, insecurities, and self-condemnation to continually run to people and things to fulfill us, instead of running to God. He blocks out the knowledge that these things will only give us a temporary high, and lead to more emptiness if we are not being filled by God, our Living Water. He makes us forget that our dependence on these things and people lead us right into the never ending game of idolatry.
Towards the tail end of last week, I had what I described a surreal moment of God’s presence. The last time that I experienced something so profound was when I was in the midst of extreme physical illness about three years ago, and I literally felt like I was going to black out. I’d sat on my bed, criss-crossed, and lightheaded, and starting praying to God for help and deliverance.
The situation was so intense, that I laid hands on myself and prayed. I am not kidding you, sometimes desperate times calls for desperate measures. I remember asking God to please deliver me as he did the Hebrews boys in the fiery furnace, but if he didn’t deliver and heal here on Earth, then I knew that meant healing for me in heaven. I knew God was listening. Immediately, I heard a praise song in my head. It was literally like a radio playing in my head. Then, I felt God’s presence all around me, as if he was covering me with himself.
Fast forward back to last week, and to the point when I was working on a blog post, I could feel the presence of God all around me. It literally covered me from the crown of my head to the sole of my feet. After working for so long, I decided that I would go for a walk to the beach, and get some fresh air. His presence continued to cover me like a blanket. I watched the sunset, and enjoyed seeing the clear water, and communing with God. I walked home, and listened to gospel music, and had a worshiping good time in God’s presence.
Little did I know, God’s surreal presence last week was to assure me for this week that he had my back. It was the peace before this week’s storm. Thank you God for your love and protection, and giving us what we need when we need it.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10
Every now and then, we tend to have those bad days. When I say bad days, I am speaking of bad emotional days where you know that the only thing that you can do is to ride them out. Last week was one of those weeks. Praise God that this week is starting off better. Along with praying and reading God’s word, I took a walk to the beach, and let the sand and water run through my feet. I notice that for me, it tends to happen when I already have a few issues that I am dealing with, and then unfortunately, a few to several more are taking place. These are those days when I thank God for Lamentations 3: 22-24, which says:
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” NKJV
This verse gives us hope in knowing that every morning we get a new set of mercies, and that although we feel like our state is going to last forever, it isn’t. God is gracious, and joy does come in the morning. Praise the Lord!
There are several things that I have found works for me when I am having a bad day:
Saturating myself in God’s word. Sometimes we have a favorite book of the bible, or a favorite verse that we can recite over and over.
Praying to God for relief and provision during this time. Sometimes I’ve literally laid my hands on myself, or laid out prostrate for God to break through, reciting his word back to him, and reminding him that he promises that his word would not return unto him void. I also pray and ask God to help me to get to the root of what is causing this if I am not 100% sure of the cause.
Getting outside for fresh air. It’s good for the adrenal glands, and an overall good feeling. If the sun is out, we get free Vitamin D.
Going for a walk. When we walk, our blood is flowing, oxygen is running through, and it gives our bodies an overall good feeling.
Taking an additional Vitamin D if needed.
Going out with friends and having a discussion about some of the issues that are going on, along with talking about things that you like to do that will help to lift your mood. Remember, we weren’t made to bear all of our burdens on our own.
If you live close to a beach or pond, watching the water gives a calming effect.
Journaling: Writing down a list of the things that you are dealing with, and going to God in your writing can also help release some of the weight.
Creativity: This could include painting, upcycling, poetry, scrapbooking, etc.
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. 4 Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. 5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth— 7 Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”
Sometimes we are so busy doing things in the house, running around with the kids, and taking care of business, that we forget to take a break, and really soak in the air, the animals, flowers, and all of God’s creations. This morning, I was busy doing things in the house, and I decided right then and there that I would stop what I was doing, and get some photography in outside. It was literally a breath of fresh air.
Last year, as the peonies were blooming, I decided that I would go out and take pictures, and bring a few flowers inside. That never happened. By the time that I finally decided that I would do it, they were already dying. I had waited too long. I was waiting for the perfect moment. This really made me sad, since photography is something that I enjoy. Waiting for the perfect moment can cause us to miss out on the right now, filled with simplicity and God’s perfect grace for today.
Unfortunately, the roses didn’t bloom this year. This was also sad. However, God blessed me with six more flowers to plant within the last three weeks. Don’t forget to get out today, even if it’s just fifteen minutes. Have a blessed rest of your week!
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.