The Pictures

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I don’t like moving. At all. Packing. Unpacking. Trying to figure out where to put stuff. It’s a mess! And, unfortunately, I’ve moved three times in the last three years. Six weeks ago, we moved into a much better, much bigger, much nicer, apartment. The day after I moved in, two of my boys were looking for an X-box remote. Picture two young men, taller than their mom, standing on chairs and leaning over boxes, looking for one item.

 

              “Um, mom. Why do you have a bag of dirt?”

 

              “It’s sand and shells from our trip to California.”

 

              “Why do you have all these rolls of undeveloped film?”

 

              “Because I’ll develop them one day.”

 

Needless to say, we were all laughing and having a great time. But, it made me consider all the stuff I carried with me from home to home. Memories packed away in newspapers and cardboard, waiting to be discovered again. In fact, I had hundreds of pictures, stuck away in a plastic container, under my bed. It stayed in that container, collecting dust. But, after that Sunday, I decided those pictures were going to come out from hiding. I bought photo boxes, and I’m moving them into the living room, where anyone can open a box and see the stories.

 

Two young people, who fell in love.

 

Three boys being born.

 

Trips being taken.

 

Family members that have closed their eyes forever on earth.

 

A family falling apart.

 

A family being reborn.

 

I think I kept those old pictures tucked away because I didn’t like the woman in those pictures. The one hiding behind the fake smiles. It’s probably the reason I haven’t developed a dozen disposable cameras. I was worried about what I would see.

 

But now, I’m seeing those pictures through new eyes, and I’m seeing the story unfold. A great and amazing story. Psalm 138:16 says, “You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book. (TPT).”

Father God already knew everything about me. And about you. He knew every battle we would face, and He knew we would be single moms someday. He knows your story. A story of hope. A story of His amazing love over you and your children.

Sometimes, we must put those old memories away for a while. We need to allow ourselves to heal. And as that healing happens, we can decide what to do with those tokens from another life. Some of us may throw things away. Some of us may hold onto them for our kids. Or for ourselves. But, never hide your story. At some point, someone will need to see the snapshots of your life. They’ll need to know that they can have victory, too. Embrace the story that belongs to you and God. Hold onto hope.

Gwendolyn Irene

https://www.gwendolynirene.com/

Four Crazy Friends

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When I ask, “who are your crazy friends?” Who comes to mind? What names flash right through your head?  

After my divorce, I met a lady at church, who pretty much made it her mission to make me laugh again. And, boy did she ever! We would get together, watch movies, go shopping, talk about men, and scout out the single guys in church. Just picture two ladies, cruising around town, laughing, and listening to Taylor Swift very loudly!

               “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.

                Everything will be alright, if you keep me next to you.

                You don’t know about me, but I bet you want to.

                Everything will be alright, if we keep dancing like we’re 22…”

We were Thelma and Louise, just without the sad ending!

There was once a man, who was very sick. He needed help and he needed it desperately. He had four friends who wanted to help him. They heard of a healer, but their friend couldn’t walk. Well, these guys had an idea. “Let’s take him.” They carried this man to Jesus, but the house he was out was so crowded, they couldn’t get in. But, these guys were just crazy enough to find a way. And the only way into that house was through the ceiling. So, up they go, take off the roof, and lower him to Jesus. The Bible says in Mark 2:5, “Seeing their faith.” Jesus saw the faith of these guys and He forgave and healed their friend.

So, I’m going to ask a question. Who do you have in your corner who is crazy enough to do something wild and outside the box, just for you? Who can you count on to go all the way with you? Who is your tribe? Who are the ladies you can count on for anything and everything?

I’m pretty much an open book. I tell people about things in my life and things going on. But, it’s not the deep stuff. Not the things that are under the surface. My deepest feelings are only shared with a few. Just those ladies that are crazy enough to cheer me on or kick me in the butt, no matter what’s going on. They are also the one’s I like to hang around with; the ones I pray with, talk to, and text.

If you don’t have friends like this, go look for them. Ask God for some divine connections. You may meet them at church, at work, or at the grocery store. These are the friends who will hold you when you lose your job, who will laugh at your corny jokes, who will schedule a day trip when you need a break.

And although everyone needs four crazy friends, I believe single moms need them even more. At times, when the weight of all we do is weighing on us, we need the friends who are willing to go cray-cray when needed. Just think about that one man with four crazy friends! I’ve got to wonder what these guys did after their encounter with Jesus. The laughs they must’ve had. “Remember that time you couldn’t even walk? Dude, we carried you for miles! You owe us big time!” And, I’ve no doubt that man returned the favor, in whatever way he could.

Find your tribe, ladies.

Find the one’s who will be there when you need to cry.

Need to laugh.

Need to go crazy.

And, after you’ve found them, allow yourself some crazy, memory-making times! Take the pictures of you laughing and having fun. Show your kids how life can be absolutely amazing, even if the circumstances surrounding you may not be. Show them how God-ordained relationships really work!

Gwendolyn Irene

www.gwendolynirene.com

Learning to Let Go

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Letting go is such a simple idea. Words we throw out to others like we somehow have it mastered. Advice we have received ourselves countless times, but once again find a stumbling block. A memory, familiar face, remorse or loneliness. Any will do. They all lead to the same end, “Why can’t I let this go?” We all have our struggles but how we learn to embrace them and move forward tells a greater story than how they began. When God becomes the author of our lives He writes a new ending. A victorious one made from new beginnings. 

I have been a Christian most of my life, but have been on a continuous journey learning how to let go and fully surrender all areas of my heart. He loves me enough to know when to pull me close and when to let me struggle.  The struggles are my breaking points. The moments I call out to him in complete desperation “Lord, please take this burden from me once again!” He tenderly shows his love and reminds me “I have already taken this for you”. How stubborn of me to keep fighting a battle that has already been won. It is a humbling reminder that I am weak, but He is strong. What I am learning to understand is that although the battle has been won, there are other powers at be that want me fighting a shadow. Present in my situation yet distracted from my purpose. Keeping me from fully walking into the fullness in store for me. Keeping my heart in conflict. A conflict that creates condemnation, and misleads my heart. 

God’s design for us is that we are continually changing and becoming more like Christ. Present is all areas of our lives, fully acknowledging the covering of His grace. The moment we accept Him into your heart, He lets it all go for us. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Unfortunately, how many of us have never understood how to fully accept His complete gift grace and atonement of our sins. We shame ourselves and hide in the shadows instead of embracing the imperfections that He sees as perfection. He sees us with the righteousness of Christ even in all our inadequacies. The God of the universe says we are completely forgiven of past, present and future sins, yet we can’t forgive ourselves of our own shortcomings! It is time to let go. Let His grace lead us, free us of condemnation to a better ending. One that exemplifies His goodness and ability to turn our hurts into beautiful creations. We might see our struggles as weaknesses, but He see them as new beginnings. Opportunities for reflections of Him to be interwoven into our stories. 

The hurts I hold onto are not because God isn’t capable of healing them. They have already been healed. He has already taken them. But my time on this earth it’s finished and until it is, I still have a battle to fight with the shadows. I might have to ask him countless more times for his help in letting go, but I know the ending. He is victorious and sees me far better than I will ever see myself. Let us all learn to let go and forgive ourselves of what has already been forgiven. I know He is teaching me one new beginning at a time.  

Daisy