Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hold Out For The Rainbow

Hi everyone,

The time has just flown by since Easter.  What is so wonderful is that when our lives move past our winter season and into spring the blessings and the beauty seem to just come so incredibly fast.  I left winter in the cemetery where it belonged and instead have found life.  

As the honey suckle blooms and fills the air with its sweet aroma, as the fireflies dance under the stars, as the flowers bloom even though they have endured numerous storms so do I find my own life coming into a season that I have never known.  

Yes, it is much more fun to dance in the rain while we wait for the storms in life to pass and when the rain stops, the rainbow does appear and when it does appear, it makes everything else so worthwhile.   

Always hold out for the rainbow – you will be so glad you did!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Resurrection means HOPE

Hi everyone!

Though the rain is rolling in, nothing can put a damper on this day.  For this is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad.  The stone has been rolled away and with that hope was given to this world.  This is the time of year to reflect and leave some things at the graveside so that we can move into all that the Lord has planned for us. 
Sometimes this isn’t so easy.  Sure, there are some people that walk into our lives and in just 6 months we can barely remember anything about them and then there are those who come into our lives, touch our lives and stay with us for a life time.  The important part to both experiences is that both good and bad are in the past and if we don’t know when to leave the past behind and roll the stone away we can find ourselves trapped in a grave of the past. 
Easter is about resurrection and hope; it’s about new beginnings and leaving the past at the graveside so that we can come into all that the Lord has planned.  As I have watched dreams that I thought were buried for good rise up to meet my future; as I watch new doors opening all around me, I embrace the hope and new life that this new season is bringing into my life. 
Change can be tough and fulfilling our dreams can mean lots of work and perseverance, but with each step that HE illuminates it makes all the effort worthwhile.  HE is pushing me farther in the hope of bringing me farther than I have ever gone in my life.  Knowing that this time is leading me to fulfilling the most important race of my life makes me so thankful that HE has risen so that HE could guide me in a time such as this.

Happy Resurrection Day and my prayer is that you too allow HIM to be a lighthouse in your life and raise you from the dead.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Detours and Destiny

Hi Everyone,

Spring begins tomorrow and it is so symbolic of the new season that is beginning in my life.  Three years ago today my life took a detour.  Really all of us have detours in our lives – some take us down exciting new paths we have never seen, while others can take us to unpleasant and often scary places.  What is exciting about both the good and unfortunate detours that we find ourselves faced with in life is the comfort we have knowing that eventually construction is complete and the detours end. 

My dear friend Jen Smith took this photo of the OK Allen Bridge in 2011 at the point when the “season”  of winter first begin in my life.  Sometimes we find the “seasons” in our lives do not correspond with the dates on the calendar – winter can last for years instead of months.  

However, what God so beautifully revealed to me once again in my life in the past two weeks is that He does listen to the deep desires in our hearts and even when we think the doors of time have been nailed shut in our lives, after the detour ends, He will also allow for the “season” in our life to change from winter to spring. 

My heart is giddy with excitement – yes, I just said “giddy” – with respect to the doors that are being opened and the new paths that have resulted from my life’s detour.  Metaphorically speaking, the sunroof is open and the music is loud because this “season” that the Lord is taking me into I never thought would come again.  Wish me well!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Helping a Heart to Heal

Hi everyone,

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches several things have come to mind.  While some fellow broken heart-ed souls dread this day, I cannot help but want to search for something more.  A Hallmark Channel addict, I am just not one to let my broken heart become a bitter heart.  So as usual I set out on my quest to research and find out more about The Day!  

Our Lady of the Rosary Library shares with us the Story of St. Valentine.

"The story of Valentine's Day begins in the third century with an oppressive Roman emperor and a humble Christian Martyr.   The emperor was Claudius II.   The Christian was Valentinus.

Claudius had ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and had made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians.   But Valentinus was dedicated to the ideals of Christ; not even the threat of death could keep him from practicing his beliefs.   He was arrested and imprisoned.

During the last weeks of Valentinus's life a remarkable thing happened.   Seeing that he was a man of learning, the jailer asked whether his daughter, Julia, might be brought to Valentinus for lessons.   She had been blind since birth.   Julia was a pretty young girl with a quick mind.   Valentinus read stories of Rome's history to her.   He described the world of nature to her.   He taught her arithmetic and told her about God.  She saw the world through his eyes, trusted his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.

"Valentinus, does God really hear our prayers?" Julia asked one day.

"Yes, my child, He hears each one."

"Do you know what I pray for every morning and every night?  I pray that I might see.   I want so much to see everything you've told me about!"

"God does what is best for us if we will only believe in Him," Valentinus said.

"Oh, Valentinus, I do believe! I do!"  She knelt and grasped his hand.

They sat quietly together, each praying.   Suddenly there was a brilliant light in the prison cell.   Radiant, Julia screamed, "Valentinus, I can see!  I can see!"

"Praise be to God!"  Valentinus exclaimed, and he knelt in prayer.

On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God.   He signed it, "From your Valentine."  His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory.   He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome.   It is said that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave.   Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.   On each February 14, Saint Valentine's Day, messages of affection, love, and devotion are exchanged around the world."

By taking the time to research the story behind this day I now come away with something so much sweeter than chocolate and so much more beautiful roses.  For what I have learned is that Saint Valentine was not trying to make a name for himself or become a saint.  This was a humble Christian man who listened to The Lord’s calling on His life and was willing to go where the Holy Spirit led him, even if it meant death.  How many of us are willing to truly listen to the gentle whisper of the Lord and follow it, even if the end result could possibly mean death.  Kayla Mueller was also willing to listen to The Lord and wanted nothing more than to help others, even though it meant that her young life would be cut short. 

How many of us are willing to help others at any cost?  How many of us love our fellow man, even to the point of death?  How many of us are patient enough to listen to The Lord's answers to our prayers?  And how many of us have the faith of Julia?  The kind of faith that Matthew 17:20 tells us about:

"if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."  

So as Valentine’s Day comes near I encourage you not to focus on the flowers and candy, but rather on what do you have to offer those around you that are hurting and need to know you care.  A note to let someone know that you are praying for them may be the only Valentine they receive, but you never know, it just may be what The Lord knows they need in their life - it may be their "mustard seed."

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Legacy We Leave

Hi everyone,

I do not know about you, but I love running into people who may be in town visiting family or those I have not seen in a while during the holidays.  This happened to me during the week of Thanksgiving as Sam and I went grocery shopping for my step-father.  I ran into Mrs. Ruth O’Quinn, my high school Honors English teacher.  It has been over 30 years since I took her class, but she still looks exactly the same.  As people in small Southern towns often do she gave me a hug and also asked about my brother, whom she also taught.  She then proudly announced to me, “Well you do know that I am 90 now.” 

I could not wait to introduce Sam to this lady who has touched so many young people’s lives in our town.  But when I went to introduce Sam to her, something else took place.  Sam had been in another part of the store when I first encountered her, so when I went to find her again she was talking to a very sweet lady in a scooter.  She asked me if I remembered Mrs. Miller, who taught at the local junior high school, and while the name sounded familiar, I had not had her as a teacher.  Not missing a beat Mrs. O’Quinn turned to Mrs. Miller and said “Oh, but you would know her grandmother.”  “Oh, and who was your grandmother,” Mrs. Miller asked me.  To which I replied, “Catharine Mattis.”  “Oh heaven sakes, EVERYONE knows Catharine.” 

Now keep in mind, it has been almost 12 years since my grandmother passed and yet, her legacy shines just as brightly today as it did many years ago.  I come from a long line of educators and have been blessed to have incredibly strong women mold me into the woman I am today.  But this simple conversation in a local grocery store during Thanksgiving has been on my mind for weeks now.  It made me ask myself the question “What kind of legacy am I leaving to my children?  And I think it is the PERFECT question we can all ask ourselves as we start off this New Year.

What kind of LEGACY are we leaving behind?  Webster defines legacy as either 1) a gift by will especially of money or other personal property or 2) something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.  What I am talking about here has NOTHING to do with money, because let’s face it; everyone knows that educators are some of the lowest paid professionals in our country.  Not to mention that some of the strongest women who have the biggest impact on my life lived very simple lifestyles on very modest incomes.  I have watched money destroy so many and yet I have watched those that have so little in terms of financial means have the greatest impact both during and after their time here on this earth. 
So what kind of legacy does a woman leave that still has people talking about her almost 12 years after she has left this earth?  This is what I wanted to know and this is what I wanted to examine in my own life.  It is not just a simple cut and dry answer either, because this question then caused me to look at some of the other amazing women that have guided me along the way.   

A common thread among all of the women who have left an impact on my life was their faith.  They all seemed to belong to different denominations, but their faith was strong.  Several of the women that had such a strong influence on my life where single moms before there really were single moms, so these women dealt with much more in terms of peer pressure and the glaring eyes of society than we could ever imagine having to do today.  Some had college degrees and some did not, but what they all held in common was a strong work ethic.    Some of the things that I embrace in my own life were very foreign to them, call that a change in the times or maybe it was just a result of the personalities of these often very different women coming together in a melting-pot kind of way with me.  I think it may also be hereditary to some extent.  For example, I share so many similar personality traits and creative talents with a great, great aunt and yet I did not see her much when I was a child. 

These women taught me to laugh, honor The Lord, dance, create, hug, love others, embrace education, read my bible, pray, and know that things always happen for a reason.  The legacy that these women left me did not involve anything monetary, but what it did to mold me into the woman I am today is priceless.
So what do I want to leave to my three children?  Well, while all of my children know The Lord, I want them to have more than that.  I want my children to see the relationship that I have with The Lord and this to be something that their hearts long for.  They know I have faith that can move mountains and they know that I love to tell people what He has done in my life.   My faith is dynamic and real which is something that I want them to see and experience, because there is just nothing in this world that can compare.  I am an educator, that is what The Lord has called me to do and I LOVE what I do, but that also means that when my time here on this Earth is over my children will not be made rich on my account.  If I can show them all the INCREDIBLE things that I am blessed with on a daily basis, instilling in them the desire to have a dynamic relationship with The Lord, well then there will be no greater legacy that I can leave them.  

I encourage you to take some time and think about this in terms of your own life.  This is not something that we often do in our fast paced world, but what better way to start the New Year and examine where we might all want to make changes.  After all, what kind of legacy do you want to leave?

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Hi everyone,

Sunday has long been my favorite day of the week.  For me it is about having a RELATIONSHIP with the Lord and not about what RELIGION that one claims.  As long as I can remember I have been able to hear when the Lord speaks and obey when He gives me direction.  Some would say I have "child like" faith, which has always been fine in my book.  My enthusiasm for wanting to obey and follow where the Lord leads has at times also taught me that He does have a sense of humor.

However, as my journey continues into this new chapter in my life I have had to come to the sad realization that while I may pray and seek the Lord, there are those who can take our "child like" faith and exploit us. While we pray, they prey on us.  Always being one to see the best in people, this has been hard for me to grasp.  

As I have sought to try and understand what has really been incomprehensible, the Lord helped to shine a light on the situation.  This morning part of the sermon was on John 8:43-45.

43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying?  It is because you cannot hear my word.  44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 :but because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me...

This goes back to what I wrote about several weeks ago - the Lord can send people into our lives so that we can truly be their helpmate, but if their lives are shrouded in the darkness of their past - which they strive to eloquently hide, their is nothing we can do to help them.  Sometimes the schemes become so entangled that what is the truth and what is an entangled web of lies all blends together.

The Lord will truly help those who help themselves, but if they think life owes them a silver spoon, then their is nothing we can do to help them.  If they will not listen to the Lord and see the blessings He has tried to impart on their lives, but instead chooses to make up lies in their quest  to prey on someone new, then we have no control over that.  It again goes back to free will.

Has this shaken my faith?  No, in fact it has actually made my faith that much stronger.  I am the Lord's child and I praise Him and look to Him both in good times and bad.  I can rest at night knowing that I truly lived as the wife the Lord called me to be.  But in the end, when we are unequally yoked, only the Lord can appreciate what we tried to do.  When one spouse prays while the other is only looking for prey, reaching all the potential and blessings the Lord tried to impart is impossible.

Am I angry and bitter?  No, because again the Lord has this and He will give me back all that I have lost. He is my Father and Protector.  He promised me in Isaiah 54:17 that "no weapon formed against me shall prosper."  I have seen Him work in countless ways in my life over the years and I can have peace in knowing that He is a man of His word.  In the mean time I continue to pray "Lord, forgive him because he knows not what he does...Please have mercy on his soul."

PRAY and PREY - they sound the same but the Lord knows the difference.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014

When "Why" becomes "What"

Hi everyone,

It is funny how this week off from work has really brought me back in time…or maybe when we have to walk through storms in our lives, it is through clinging to the rays of sunshine that we once knew that help us endure until the storm passes.

Having spent time around a campfire this weekend, it took me back 30+ years to Thanksgiving spent in the woods with family and friends.  It was an age of innocence.  This Thanksgiving I was also reminded of my first Thanksgiving away from home in Germany.  It is not a holiday celebrated there and doing so on a snowy day far away from my family was a memory I will always cherish.  I guess reminiscing about this time of innocence and my love for Germany just left me with feeling that I wanted and needed to put up a real Christmas tree this year.  Not just any real tree, but my first Christmas tree in Germany was a live tree in a pot.  This year to me it symbolizes bringing life back into my home.  Family and friends have been absent from my home for the past 2 ½ years and being given this gift back – well it means more than any gift that Santa could bring me on Christmas morning.

When it comes to gifts, there is no greater gift than to do things for someone else, though I have now learned the hard way that there are those in this world that thrive on exploiting kindness.  Though I will never be able to answer “why” a person would be this way that I will leave up to the professionals what I do know now is this, during those early adult years God spoke into my heart and told me that I was supposed to be doing something important.  For years though I have not been able to put a finger on what that exactly was that He wanted me to do.  So as November comes to a close, what I am most thankful for is that I now have moved past the “why” that I mentioned in a previous post and am embracing the “what” with the enthusiasm that I had in my young adult life. 

They say that the only way you can help someone go through abuse and recover is if you have been there yourself.  Unfortunately, like so many women in our state I have.  However, I can take my experiences and now use my gift of writing to tell my story.  Abuse knows no age, color or economic status, it does not care about a person’s educational background and it can come in different forms.  However, the common denominator though is 9 times out of 10 always the same – there are red flags which we as women do not see through our rose colored glasses of love.  

If I can use my story to help save the life of just ONE woman, then I have used my talents in a manner that God has intended for me.  I silently prayed and told the Lord that if He would lead me out of the storm, so that I no longer had to just “endure” life, but would finally be able to live it, then I would shout from the mountain tops what He had done for me.  I would use my life to give a voice to the silent and hope to those who feel hopeless.

Though I have been working on 3 books for several years, I think it is of the utmost important to now put all of my energy into this project.  The words are just coming to fast to ignore.  I have been asked does taking on a project like this scare me and my answer is NO because God has this!!  All He ever asks is for us to listen and follow Him when He asks.  So I shall…      


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