Gifts on the Journey

Developing Our Butterfly Wings to Express Our True Selves

Page 14 of 15

The Gift of a Rose

Although roses in general are beautiful expressions of love and I thank God for them, today I am reminded of a particular rose that was a special Gift on my journey. This was a chocolate rose that I gave my mother many years ago when I was lost in depression and alcoholism. She ended up using it to bless and heal me.

One day I saw the chocolate rose in my mother’s freezer. I asked why she wasn’t eating it. She said that she liked to keep it there as a reminder of me and she would only remove it when her prayers for me had been answered. 

More years went by and I was in recovery. I was sober and feeling well. I was visiting my sister and she suggested that we write down the things we felt guilty about on little pieces of paper and nail them to a tree. It would signify the death of Jesus on the cross for us and that He had already paid the price for our sins. We walked out to a tree in the woods and nailed them there. We left them with Jesus as He reassured us that our sins were forgiven and we were freed from guilt and shame.

My mother visited us at my sister’s house as well. She brought the chocolate rose with her. She said that she wanted to bury it to signify that God had answered her prayers for me. She buried the rose at the foot of the tree that represented the cross.

I thank God for blessing me with such a special family and I am so thankful for this beautiful Gift of a Rose on the Journey!

 

 

 

 

The Gift of a Prayer Altar

Today I thank God for the Gift of a Prayer Altar. Several years ago my sister suggested that she, my mom, and I go for a walk near her cabin in the country and pick up three large rocks each to represent our prayer requests. We then gathered underneath three trees that were very close together. We wrote our names and prayer requests on the rocks.

Each of us in turn, placed one of our rocks at the base of the three trees, sharing our prayer request with the others. Our rocks were all different shapes and sizes. Some requests we kept private and just placed the corresponding rocks. After we were finished sharing, we held hands and prayed out loud for all three of us and our requests. It was a special, sacred experience. 

As we stood there, a sprinkle of rain began to fall, but mysteriously, it was only falling on us! There was not a drop of rain anywhere else. I believed that it was God’s way of blessing us and our prayer altar, signifying that time as a holy moment. It lasted for a few minutes and then stopped.

We rejoiced as we walked back home, knowing how fortunate we were to have shared this time together. Periodically, my sister would return to our altar and pray over our requests and for our family.

One time when she returned there last year, she took a picture of the altar and sent it to us so we could see our stones still under the trees and imagine her being there. It is pictured above. We realized through the picture that there was a vine wrapped around the trees uniting them…uniting us. My mother made copies for each of us to look at and remember. Many of our prayers from back then have been answered and the altar serves as a testimony to God’s faithfulness.

Several months ago, I was ill and struggling in life. I was sitting in the passenger side of a car with the door open for air. I fumbled with my cell phone and it fell to the floor of the car. Suddenly, there on my phone was the picture of our altar. I had downloaded it to my phone before, but was not currently trying to find the picture. I stared in disbelief, realizing the chances of this happening were nil. I cried with relief as feelings of comfort washed over me. I knew that God could see me, that He was aware of what I was going through, and had somehow caused this picture to appear on my phone! Yet, the miracle was not quite over. I felt a sprinkle of rain on the half of my body that was outside of the car. I looked around and it was not raining anywhere else. It continued for a few minutes and then stopped.

Have you ever made a prayer altar either inside or outside your home? If you haven’t, I suggest trying it as a way to remember your time with God in prayer and to give thanks for His faithfulness in your life. I am eternally grateful for this Gift of a Prayer Altar on the Journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Night-time

My mother will sigh when she reads this post, saying I have my “days and nights mixed up.” However, I am so thankful for the Gift of Night-time on the journey.

I admit to being a night owl, which doesn’t always make for a normal life. I adore the night…the darkness, the quiet, the peace. For the rest of those in my little corner of the world, it is time to cease from activity and enter sweet slumber. Because of this, I can be alone with myself, my thoughts, and God. Dim lights are calming to me and restful to my eyes. I center myself and focus my thoughts and write. I am peacefully awake and alert.

Owls and night-time are also associated with wisdom and intuition. Owls have been appearing as symbols in my life recently. They can encourage us to listen to our inner selves, while quietly paying attention to what is going on around us. As we pray, God can speak to us and guide us through our intuition when we are not sure which path to take. Owls are at home in the darkness as I am.

Our bodies need sleep though, so I have to find some middle ground. Time for balance. Perhaps a few hours of enjoying the night and then relaxation and rest. I love the moonlight, but also need the sun.

I will strive for balance as I give thanks for this beautiful Gift of Night-time on the Journey!

 

 

The Gift of Differences

Today I am reminded of the Gift of Differences on the journey. We are all so perfectly unique that there are bound to be differences in our thoughts, beliefs, and values. An experience today made me acutely aware of this.

I have been part of a Facebook group over the last couple of weeks that split due to divisions. Even in a love-based, spiritual group, we each have past experiences, backgrounds, and environments that have contributed to how we think today. One person noted that our differences in beliefs is why there are so many denominations within Christianity. People are very passionate about their spiritual beliefs or lack of them. Feelings can get hurt and anger stirred. This can happen even with very well-meaning people.

There is a strong need in the world today for all of us to love, listen to, and accept others whether they believe the same as us or not. The type of love that Jesus taught is big enough to encompass everyone. We can choose to agree to disagree. We can let the differences remain without trying to persuade others that we are right and they are wrong.

We can learn from those who think differently and we should. Perhaps we don’t have all the answers either. Admitting to ourselves and others that we don’t know everything is a sign of maturity.

Let’s be willing today to consider the perspective of another. Let’s honor each other as we give thanks for the Gift of Differences on the Journey!

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Helping Others

The next gift on the journey is the Gift of Helping Others. In college I realized that I had a heart for people who were hurting or lonely. I loved visiting seniors in nursing homes. I visited a retired dentist who was unable to speak due to a stroke, but enjoyed showing me pictures. I took snacks and juice around to residents at another facility. These activities brought me great joy.

I was given the roles of Chaplain and Resident Assistant my sophomore and junior years. However, my lack of self-esteem got in the way of really being there for the other girls. I reasoned that they “had it together” more than I did and that there was nothing I could offer them. Besides, most of them had boyfriends and I did not. What could I possibly know of their issues and struggles?

Toward the end of my junior year, I sank into a very deep depression that eventually led to alcoholism. I went through such darkness during those years that ironically later assisted in my ability to help others. I could empathize with  people who had clinical depression and those who were alcoholics and addicts. I got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous and learned that what I had experienced would enable me to assist those who had less sobriety than I did. 

Although I did help others from time to time, I was very emotionally needy. However, during nine years of intense psychotherapy, my inner wounds began to heal and I grew more capable of reaching out my hand to another soul. The joy of helping others returned and I sought employment that enabled me to make a difference in people’s lives. In fact, that is one of the main reasons I am writing this blog.

No matter what difficulties you have endured on your journey, there is redeeming value in the thought that they have prepared you to help others who have suffered as well. Helping others feels good and is truly a special Gift on the Journey!

The Gift of God’s Provision

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul…

Psalm 23:1-3a (NIV)

Today I am so thankful for the gift of God’s provision on the journey. I have a Shepherd to help meet my needs. I can rely on Him to provide for me when I don’t know how I’m going to make it on my own. Despite having worked in therapy for many years to become the somewhat independent adult woman that I am, it still comforts me to know that God has my back.

I have struggled financially all my life, but I have never gone hungry or without clean water. I can’t explain why there are starving children in the world. I can only testify that my Shepherd has provided for me through family, friends, and even strangers. Today I am fortunate to have a loving fiancé to help out as well.  I am looking forward to returning to the workforce after having been laid off in December of 2016 due to illness.  I am also trying to think more positively about finances and focus on abundance rather than lack.

Perhaps you are struggling with providing for yourself or your family. Maybe you have enough food and clothing, but have other needs that are not being met. After you have done what you can, remember that you have a Shepherd who is watching out for you and wanting to guide you to green pastures and still waters. I pray that He will meet every need that you have.

I give thanks today for God’s Gift of Provision on the journey!

 

 

The Gift of Blue Butterflies

At some point along the journey, you may find a particular symbol that is especially encouraging and inspiring to you. Maybe it is a type of animal or insect. Maybe it is a cross or praying hands or angels. It could even be a song, a favorite Bible verse, or a certain number. You can have one or several symbols and it may even change at different points on your journey.

I have had multiple symbols…from swans to angels to blue butterflies. It is like a secret code between you and God…a special language of the soul. 

Once you choose one, pay special attention to when, where, and how often you see or hear it. When you do, know that God’s spirit is encouraging you in your life. You may be amazed at how many times your symbol shows up. 

Join me in gratitude to God for speaking to us each in a special way. I give thanks for the Gift of Blue Butterflies on the journey!

 

 

The Gift of Jesus

Today I am especially grateful for God’s gift of Jesus to help us on the journey. He has traveled the road before and knows how to help and guide us. He understands our struggles and loves each of us individually.

Just knowing ABOUT Jesus is much different than feeling his overwhelming unconditional love. He is just waiting for people to invite him into their lives so that he can be their companion on the journey.

I have recently heard of people having visions of him that were extremely meaningful and life-changing. I prayed before bed last night that I would have a dream of him. My real desire was that he would come to me in a significant way. I had no dreams of him, but he did answer the intent behind my prayer.

I visited a church today that had a banner on the wall with a picture of Jesus as he appeared to someone in a vision several months ago.  Later I received some Jesus Scripture cards that I had ordered through the mail much sooner than expected. One of them has the same picture of him that I have hanging on the wall in my bedroom! It is called Lost No More by artist Greg Olsen (pictured above). Both of these pictures are incredibly special to me. I believe that Jesus answered the prayer of my heart and showed me he is with me through these pictures.

My prayer for each of you is that you are able to feel the great love Jesus has for you and gain solace and strength from this beautiful Gift of Jesus on the journey.

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Growth

I am so thankful for everything that I have experienced in life, because it has given me the next gift on the journey…the Gift of Growth. It’s difficult to think this way when we are going through the “bad” times, but later on it is possible to acknowledge the value in each situation.

For instance, if I had not been depressed, I would not have had the multitude of counseling sessions in which I developed a greater understanding of my own thoughts and  feelings, as well as those of others. Even my alcoholism led to positive learning through Alcoholics Anonymous, increasing the strength of my spirit in sobriety after surrendering to God. It introduced me to people I would not otherwise have met, broadening my understanding of their struggles and encouraging empathy and compassion within me.

I have heard the idea of earth as a school. That seems to fit how I feel. I think God is each person’s individual Tutor. Sometimes we have to go through certain lessons more than once in order to learn what we need to learn. He stays with us through all the ups and downs, never giving up on our potential to learn, change, and grow.

Thinking this way makes life exciting! What will I learn today? How will I mature? Think back on your life and see how much you’ve grown. Then perhaps you can join me in giving thanks for this Gift of Growth on the journey!

 

The Gift of Healing Words

I have been blessed today by seeing words of support for others, God’s love, peace, encouragement, and acceptance on Face Book. They were words that heal the hearts and souls of those who read them.

I also had a significant conversation with a loved one in which we spoke with gentleness and respect for each other’s thoughts and needs. I feel that healing took place through spoken words in this instance.

Both situations remind me of the power of words and the potential for healing through them. Certain Bible verses, song lyrics, and quotations can be soothing and inspiring.

In addition, we have the opportunity to let God heal others through our loving words. That idea inspires hope, but also suggests great responsibility. Let’s think carefully about the words we speak and write. We never know the impact they may have on the lives of others.

I hope that you are healed by the words you see and hear. We are so fortunate to have the gift of healing words to help us on the journey.

 

 

 

 

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