H.O.P.E. = Hold on, pain ends.

When I first began counseling, I was asked to read the book, “Truefaced – Trust God and Others with Who You Really Are.” It was all about my adult survival skills that included wearing a mask to hide my true self, and the book talked about exactly what I had done my whole adult life. I had chosen to try to please God every step of the way, rather than trust God every step of the way. And because of that, I failed, over and over again. I was never good enough, and no matter how hard I tried, I always felt like a failure. Early on, I began wearing masks. I put on these masks to show the world how Christian I was, how happy I was, how good I was, but on the inside, I was a miserable mess. I am so grateful for this Navigator’s book that was so enlightening and was like a slap in the face – that slap in the face was a good thing.

I am grateful that God directed me to my counselor who has been with me, with us, every step of the way. We were just talking on Christmas Eve about how she has such a way of getting me to see my issues, my sins, my shortcomings, without making me feel completely worthless and condemned. She leads me to realize my tendencies and encourages me to do the right thing, to rely on God, to TRUST God rather than hide behind my old masks. She has been instrumental in holding a mirror up for me to see my true face, and to bare my true self to the world, and she has led me to a place where I can say with confidence, “I’m okay with who I am now.”

All that to say that I am grateful for my devotion this morning:

I am the gift that continuously gives – bounteously, with no strings attached. Unconditional love is such a radical concept that even My most devoted followers fail to grasp it fully. Absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth can cause Me to stop loving you. You may feel more loved when you are performing according to your expectations. But My Love for you is perfect; therefore it is not subject to variation. What does vary is your awareness of My loving Presence.

When you are dissatisfied with your behavior, you tend to feel unworthy of My Love. You may unconsciously punish yourself by withdrawing from Me and attributing the distance between us to My displeasure. Instead of returning to Me and receiving My Love, you attempt to earn My approval by trying harder. All the while, I am aching to hold you in My everlasting arms, to enfold you in My Love. When you are feeling unworthy or unloved, come to Me. Then ask for receptivity to My unfailing Love.

I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.
– Psalm 13:5 (The Message)

I am grateful to have remembered this video last night on the way home. Watching this little girl made me think of Parker and Zak, or Reilly and Zak. I hope they had the best Christmas ever…

Sweetest little bedtime song – You Belong to Me.

I just can’t quit listening to her sweet little voice.

I am grateful for Marlene’s kind words yesterday… Hang on. It gets a little easier.

I cried a lot yesterday – sometimes visibly, but constantly throughout the day on the inside. It has carried over some today. I’m still working on not letting my emotions get the best of my mood/tude. I can so easily slip into depression and dwell on the sadness and loss. Which is why, although I am EXTREMELY grateful for a DVD I received in the mail on Christmas Eve from Parker and Reilly and their parents, I cannot watch it just yet. I need to be alone where I can just cry for as long as I want.

I am grateful for little shiny confetti that has fallen off the artwork that was in the envelope with the DVD, and for a beautiful one-of-a-kind signature that spells P-A-R-K-E-R.

I am grateful for acceptance.

I am grateful that I was able to talk to Steve yesterday. He sounded so good.

I am grateful for cardinals and hummingbirds and bluejays and finches and orioles and all of the memories of Mom and Dad feeding their birds. I think I will save some money next month and make that a birthday present for myself – a bird feeder, so that I can feed Mom’s birds. It’s been quite a while since I last saw a cardinal.

I am grateful for memories of getting a parakeet for Christmas when I was a little girl.

I am grateful for memories of our canary that we had in Eagle Pass. She sang the most beautiful songs in the mornings although she drove our cat, Topo, wild.

I am grateful for Dwight’s email yesterday, another reason for my tears. Here is part of his beautiful gratefuls:

“On my very messy desk, laying right in the middle, are a few sets of tubing made for use with oxygen for patients. They are left over from the supplies for Mom. I am grateful for the daily reminder of her struggles to breathe, and the look on her face when she would feel that oxygen enter her body.

I am grateful for a job that involves helping to provide that oxygen for people to breathe. For over 30 years, I have made the comment that if I wanted an assembly line job, I would have moved to Detroit. Now, I sort of have an assembly line job. It might not be what I dreamed of as the “perfect” job. However, it does seem to be a good fit. On the days that it does not seem to be fitting as well, I am grateful for the desire to change me so that I fit better, rather than trying to change a large corporation to fit me. That simple change in perspective is what prevents the majority of my co-workers from enjoying their day at work.

I am grateful that people bring their children shopping at Target. While working there last Sunday, I had the opportunity to watch parents stressing over some fairly idiotic last minute Christmas shopping, and also watching kids who were completely oblivious to that stress. I chose to focus on those kids, and loved getting smiles from them.

In an hour, we will be leaving to go spend the day with my Dad. I am grateful to have that luxury, and opportunity.

While spending the day with Dad, we will be surrounded by reminders of Mom, and I am grateful for each and every one of them.

In case you can’t tell, I miss Mom. I look forward to one day teasing her again, about having two pairs of mismatched slippers.”

I am grateful that I have memories of shopping for Christmas clothes for Anissa, Andrae and Annistan last year, sending their Mommy pictures in the store so I would get the right outfits. It was hard to walk past the children’s department this year, and I don’t think it will ever get easier. But I am grateful for the memories.

And I am grateful for sugar cookies.

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