Happy Valentine’s Day

IMG_9457 As I sat in a memorial today to celebrate the homecoming of a life well lived, I thought about love, life, faith and death. I thought about the wife of the deceased who had been married for 53 years. I thought of the precious lady who sat beside me who, just a few short months ago, had said goodbye to her husband after so many years of loving each other. I thought of the young man I would see just a few minutes later, who just lost his wife to an organ transplant failure. Surrounded by so much grief, I wondered how it could possibly be Valentine’s Day today.

So many getting ready for their ‘hot dates’ tonight. Others bragging about all the candy, cards and roses they had received. My husband and myself exchanging our love just a few hours before, yet, waiting to truly celebrate until tomorrow because of all that we were a part of today. I thought of those who grieve today. I thought of those who are heartbroken, abused, deserted, lost and alone. It’s not such a heart-filled, sunshiny day for those. What do we say to them?

What do we say when our hearts are so filled with joy, excitement and laughter? What do we do when their grief seems to cast a shadow on our smile? Do we tell them just to “Get over it…tomorrow will be brighter…you’ll simply feel better later on…?” Are we really that shallow to forget how it feels to have a shattered dream and an empty heart? Are we really that naive not to know? What are we to do?

As I sat beside my widowed friend, and as I said goodbye to my other friend’s man, my heart broke for their brokenness. My eyes shed tears as they shed. My day was just a little more gray as I encountered my third friend’s grief in saying goodbye to her daughter-in-law and comforting her weeping son. Yet, as I walked away to go have a Valentine’s lunch with my little family, I breathed the air in deeply and thanked my Father above for these moments, not just the joys of my men but, as well, the pains of my friends. These times when I truly see reality. These moments when authenticity, vulnerability and honesty are raw and unedited, exposing the tender hearts within.

For, it is in moments like these when we grow a little wiser. In these hours, we learn to love a little deeper and let our trust become more secure. If it weren’t for the hard places in life, we would never learn where our faith truly lies. We’d never realize the value of a friend, the depth of love in our family, the importance in a given moment. It is said, “There is more wisdom in the house of mourning than in the house of laughter” (Paraphrased, Ecclesiastes 7:2). As my heart broke again and again for my friends, it caused me to appreciate, even more, the later moments with my men. It caused me to be keenly aware of my husband’s handsome smile, my JMan’s innocent laughter, and the love behind JGrizz’s witty remark, “Of course, I love you. It’s Valentine’s Day, isn’t it?” 😉 These precious occasions made me live life a little fuller.

So, as this Valentine’s Day is coming to an end, maybe you’ve spent a wonderful day with your love(s), maybe your dealing with a broken heart from a love that’s been lost, or maybe you’ve recently had to say a heart wrenched goodbye as your love entered eternity. Maybe this day just doesn’t seem as cheer-filled as it once had been, but no matter the circumstance in which you find yourself tonight, I pray you will hold tight the love you have, the joy you once had and the memories you’ve made along the way. I pray you’ll look toward the future and know He is still in control. Look forward and see that there’s still hope. I pray you hold all theses things close to your heart and realize there’s a heavenly Father above who’s looking down and sending you His eternal, unconditional love. YOU are the object of His affection tonight. He truly loves you! His love for is beyond your very hopes and dreams. His love for you died that you might live. ❤

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

Best Companion for Life

Receive wisdom. It can be found when you look for it. It can be discovered when you seek it like a fine treasure. When wisdom is your ultimate goal, you will begin to find it even when you’re not really thinking about it and when you least expect it! 

 Wisdom can be gained from the old and young alike. It can even be obtained from those by whom you find offensive. It is amazing when you open your eyes, ears and heart to receive wisdom. You will find that it is all around you. You will see it, feel it, even hear it calling to you from the streets.

Wisdom will protect you. It will shield you. It will encourage you. It will improve you. It will give you courage, and it will keep you humble. I just can’t overemphasize the value of it. Wisdom is one of the best companion you can have in life. 

Have you ever seen someone who just simply refuses wisdom? Throughout their whole life, they constantly live from crisis to crisis. They are in and out of trouble, whether financially, emotionally, physically or relationally. They are unstable, unreliable and unpredictable. They are always broke, financially, emotionally or relationally, and they are always needing to be rescued from the pit in which they’ve fallen. If they remain this way, always believing things will be different, even though they return time and time again to their same previous chosen paths, they find themselves, at the end of life, wounded, lost, without jobs, surrounded by broken or, at the least, very conflicted relationships and, often, a trail of wearisome reputations follows close behind. 

But wisdom can be found! Wisdom can come in so many shapes and sizes. You can gain it by the very people surrounding you right now. It can come from family, friends, enemies and even complete strangers, from those who are older, wiser, more experienced, and even from those, maybe, not so old in years. It can come from books and teachings. If we’ll listen, we will find that it can even come from the mouths of babes. Have you ever had your child say something so profound, you knew it must be God? If you haven’t, just wait, your day will come! Wisdom can also come in the form of sorrow and experience. Just as a small child learns the stove is hot, and it hurts the hand when you touch it, our own failures and mishaps will teach us a better way. 

One of the best, most beneficial places it will come is The Word of God. I know, that may sound ‘old fashioned’ to some; this is definitely not a popular message these days, but it’s true. There is more wisdom within those bookends than any other book ever written. If you want to succeed in life, you must gain wisdom. If you want to grow, mature and encounter the joys of life, you must obtain wisdom. Wisdom never guarantees perfection, prosperity and riches. It never promises only sunny days that never see rain and only ‘smooth sailings’ with no knots in the line; however, it is an assurance which covers you like a warm blanket and guides you through those cold and dreary nights. Wisdom guides you through each circumstance despite the crisis, storm, or disasters that arise. It is an anchor that holds and a strong tower which can not fail.

Get wisdom. Gain understanding. Seek knowledge. You will be amazed at where life will take you when these are your life’s companions.

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom. Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.” Proverbs 4:6-9

Wednesday’s Ode #1

For those of you who may have missed my post on Monday, this will be the first of my upcoming weekly features…”Wednesday’s Ode.” You can more about it here. I hope you enjoy these! 😉

As I was in the shower one morning, contemplating Wednesday’s Ode, I had a realization…I LOVE hot water!!
Refreshing, relaxing, invigorating, cleansing, soothing, smoothing. It
cleans bodies, dishes and clothes, sometimes, the dirtiest, smelliest, hardest things from which to remove muck and mire. It doesn’t seem to mind what the object of its affection might be on a given day.

It heats bottles for newborns, boils oatmeal for children and tea for fine old ladies; it even adds to the stew for burly men. It provides steam in locker rooms and adds to medicated steam in nursery rooms. It is poured in and heated through hot water bottles and hot water heaters all over the world. It seems to be no respecter of persons.

Have you ever been without it? It’s amazing what you miss when the source is no where to be found. It was the Bahamas. In the heat of summer. We were on a youth missions trip, and it definitely was not the resort side of the island! It was hot, and it was miserable, but in the early mornings of getting up, we still longed for a nice, hot shower…Nope! It was like the ice water challenge!! I will say this, the girls definitely didn’t take as long to get ready that week! Haha.

There was another moment in time when reality settled in about how wonderful hot water can be. I was on the coast of the Fl panhandle, after Hurricane Ivan of ’04 hit. There was water all around us in the bay and the ocean beyond, but not one drop of clean water to drink and definitely no hot water. You have to have hot water to sterilize anything that’s been swirled around with salt water, sewage tanks and brackish water…and all the mud and grime. No cleaning. No drinking, and definitely no eating anything that had to be boiled. That week, I sure did learn that military rationed dry food pkts (MRE) are actual edible. There are so many wonderful things about hot water! I just love it!
So, yeah, hot water is a wonderful thing!
Sometimes, it just makes me want to sing!
It even makes me feel full of power!
Especially when I’m in the shower!
🙂 haha!!

Weekly Event Post: Announcement!

Okay, so, after much thought, deliberation (in my own head), and contemplation, I have decided. My new Weekly Feature is going to be…(drum roll, please)… “Wednesday’s Ode.” A celebration, a deep hearted love, a moment of bliss, a light and fluttery enjoyment or, even, a silly, whimsical, almost childlike wonder of a love and all that it should be. These are what my Wednesday odes will be made of…and, furthermore, it seemed to have a little “catchy ring” in the title, and, so, I thought I’d try it out… 😀
I hope you like it. Please, send me some feedback on what you think! 🙂
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This Ode may be about anything, really, or maybe, nothing in particular.

This Ode, I hope it to be, exciting, interesting and maybe even a little spectacular!

This Ode, hopefully, won’t be monotonous, as Wednesdays, sometimes, can be.

This Ode, will be coming weekly. I do hope you’ll find it as interesting and surprising as the sea. 😉

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Looking Back…Moving Forward: Growing Pains and Pleasures

Correction: it’s only about 1000 words; so, lengthier than some I write, but not too bad, I suppose. 😉

the grizzle grist mill

**Spoiler Alert: this post is a little lengthier than others, but still about 1000 words….I’m so sorry if you’re looking for a shorter read today. I’m catching up on a week’s worth of “assignments,” or challenges, given by The Daily Post for Blogging 201… Please, feel free to peruse through some of the Poetry or Lessons Learned categories (widgets to the right) to find a little shorter post.**

Well, here I am again trying my hand at Blogging 201… I did this back in October, but I thought, “Hey, what can it hurt to attempt it again and see how much I’ve “grown” in blogging over the past four months?” If you’re curious to read those first notes on blogging, back in October, you can catch up here. This is the weekend, and yes, I’m playing a little catch up, as I didn’t start on Monday, and the week simply got away before…

View original post 907 more words

Looking Back…Moving Forward: Growing Pains and Pleasures

**Spoiler Alert: this post is a little lengthier than others, but still about 1000 words….I’m so sorry if you’re looking for a shorter read today. I’m catching up on a week’s worth of “assignments,” or challenges, given by The Daily Post for Blogging 201… Please, feel free to peruse through some of the Poetry or Lessons Learned categories (widgets to the right) to find a little shorter post.**

Well, here I am again trying my hand at Blogging 201… I did this back in October, but I thought, “Hey, what can it hurt to attempt it again and see how much I’ve “grown” in blogging over the past four months?” If you’re curious to read those first notes on blogging, back in October, you can catch up here. This is the weekend, and yes, I’m playing a little catch up, as I didn’t start on Monday, and the week simply got away before I realized Blogging 201 had started again; however, that’s sometimes, just what the weekends are for, right? …to catch up. So, here we go. Hope you have fun reading!

Day 1 of Blogging 201 – Goal Setting

To do a short recap..my goals back in October were:  “3 Goals to Accomplish by January 31, 2015”:  (1) Consistently post on my blog at least twice weekly. (2)Gain 100 followers by January 31, 2015. (3) Spend one hour each week visiting my followers’ blogs, reading their posts, and commenting on their work, from now until January 31, 2015.  Thankfully, I was able to be consistent to blog twice and, sometimes, more than twice a week; however, I did run into a snag here and there when I would go several days without blogging at all; so, I will probably keep this goal on my next list. Thanks to YOU, my nice followers and those who drop by from time to time, I reached the 100 followers long before January 31. That was a sweet moment in time! 🙂 I was pretty consistent with spending an hour each week visiting other bloggers; however, once Christmas time rolled around, and I had the boys home fulltime for a few weeks, I got quite distracted with other priorities. That will return to the goals list, as well, for this quarter.

2015 Goal Setting – This time, I think I’ll set 5 goals to Accomplish by May 31, 2015:

1. Consistently post on my blog three times a week.

2. Gain 20-25% more followers by May 31.

3. Spend at least one hour weekly reading other blogs and sending “encouraging notes” to as many as possible.

4. Create a new weekly feature, for reader’s pleasure and just for fun, by March 1, and post each week through June 1. (feature title to soon be announced!)

5. Create a separate blog for my husband’s posts, thoughts and musings by April 1. …We’ve been thinking about this but have yet to put it into action.

Whew! Okay, that is completed… I don’t know why goal setting, sometimes, can be so difficult for me. I can make a checklist and plan out things to accomplish today, tomorrow and all next week; however, to set long-term goals, I always have in the back of my mind, “What if I fail?” “What if I let someone down?” So, often, I will struggle to push the hesitation and fear aside and keep the determination and focus at the center. When I actually do set the long-term goals, and I set my mind to accomplish them, I always end up with incredible results: I either succeed with “flying colors,” or I realize the areas in which I need to improve, and I’m able to see that a little learning and hard work will help me to succeed again.

Day 2 of Blogging 201 – Audit Your Brand

Looking over the checklist, I think, maybe, I’ve got this one covered…theme matches blog’s intent…font and color choices are congruent with the “grist mill” theme. My title and tagline compliment one another. My post titles, about page,  username/nickname, and widgets all seem to correlate with the blog’s intent, or rather, my brand: this is a grist mill. Every word I type is a tiny grain needing to be “ground,” in order to bring forth a pure thought and a wholesome content upon which others can be encouraged and uplifted, and then, ultimately, that these simple “grains” might bring glory to my God. As far as the visual identity being consistent with the elements of this blog, they seem to support my brand…So, what do you think?? (*Please, do respond! I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! 😉 )

Day 3 of Blogging 201 – Get Read All Over

Mobile-friendly and responsive design? It seems to be…

Day 4 of Blogging 201 – Give ‘Em What They Want

I’m still getting the hang of stats and editorial calendars…Looking over the stats, aside from the home/archive page, and the About Me and Why I am Here pages, the top 3 most viewed posts for 2014 were Beautiful Praise, Life In The Little Things, and Eyes of Mercy.  The most likes seem to be on categories “Lessons Learned” and “Poetry,” while the most searches seem to be on tags of “grace” and “eternity.” So, even though, I don’t think I’m ready to tackle the editorial calendar quite yet tonight, this does give me a good idea to know where to start focusing my different blog posts, thoughts and ideas. Over this next week, as I have more time, I will look over these stats more and see what days of the week and which weeks of the year seem to have higher traffic, and this will help me with posting times and consistency.

Day 5 of Blogging 201 – Make the Most of Your Archives

Bring your archives “back to life” … I think I might have done this pretty well by linking to several in this blog, as well as, creating widgets on the right side of my blog which can direct the reader to my archives, as well as, give a running list of “Fresh Grounds” (most recent posts), and “Your Favorite Grains” (reader’s most liked posts)…So, yea, I do believe that one might be covered, too! 😉

Okay, so “Operation: Catch Up” seems to be complete…Now, maybe I can rest tomorrow and get ready for the rest of next week! If you stuck it out for the duration, I hope you enjoyed your reading!

Comfortable Skin Livin’

“Don’t embarrass me!” …So many people have an almost paranoia of being embarrassed in front of others. Some are indifferent to the feeling, and some are so brazen that they seem to not care, while still others have grown comfortable enough with their own flaws that they generally don’t care what others say or think of them. If you’re human, I’d say you probably fall into one of these categories.

We all have SOMETHING about ourselves that we really don’t like, something that’s different, odd, maybe even embarrassing. Depending on our own personalities, openness and confidence level, we may or may not feel comfortable with others seeing these flaws. Maybe it’s a toe or a finger that is slightly bent or longer than it ‘should’ be. Maybe it’s a set of teeth you wished would’ve had braces set so long ago. Maybe you speak too fast, too slow, too much, or just not enough. Maybe it’s a limp, a lazy eye, or even just a smile that you don’t feel ‘measures up’ to the world around you.

If you lean toward the category of people who get embarrassed easily, or those who don’t like to get embarrassed, no matter how sensitive or tough-skinned you like to portray to others that you are, then this post is written for you. If you are totally comfortable in your own skin, you don’t care one whit about what others think of you, and you just can’t believe that I would ever be concerned about embarrassments, because, after all, you’ve never been embarrassed a day in your life…well, then you might just want to skip this blog today, because this message might not be what you’re looking for. However, for those who might fall into one of those other categories, ones of not really having a love for public humiliation, please feel free to read on… 🙂

Personally, I really don’t like embarrassments. I like to try and maintain a stoic attitude, one that is strong and capable of taking whatever life swings my way, but deep down, I’m a pretty sensitive creature. Now, don’t confuse that with “high maintenance.” I work hard to not throw my expectations, personal standards and sensitivities onto others, but I will blush at some of the silliest things, and I will tear up or ‘shrink back’ from the boldest of embarrassments. I’m just hardwired that way. I have quirks and particulars about my personality that I really try to get over; yet, I find myself “stumbling” over them from time to time. I have things about my body, my thinking and my abilities that I really wish could be different, better, or maybe at least, ‘the same’ as someone else I know. I really try to be comfortable in my own skin, and many times, I succeed. However, I am an incredibly introverted person, one who was raised around the “good old Southern Belle” mentalities, believing a lady should be first and foremost feminine and gentile, and on top of all this, I am an incredibly private person, not caring for the general public to “know all my business.” So, when my ‘business’ becomes public, I would just rather run and hide than to pick up my embarrassing trait, shake off my stubborn pride, smile and walk on by valiantly. I’d rather crawl under a log and disappear than to stand tall with humility and grace and endure the heat rising to my cheekbones and soaking my eyes with its truth.

It’s tough, sometimes, to keep your wits about you when you feel the spotlight of life glaring so brightly that you need shades just to see the road ahead, but if I’m to leave a legacy of truth and grace behind me, there are moments I must square my shoulders and smile the biggest smile of my life and walk right back up those stairs I just tumbled down. I must, daily, grow more comfortable in this skin God has given me and realize life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect, and neither is anyone else I know, save One…and He is my ultimate goal! I must learn over and over again that it’s okay not to be like everyone else, and it’s okay to stand out from the crowd if the foundation upon which I stand is solid truth and the cause for which I fight is one of integrity and faith. This concept can be especially difficult to learn and to teach, when you have a teen or a young child in the house,  but we must remember the paths we set in place today are the footsteps they we follow tomorrow. How we react, when we get embarrassed, will determine the mood of the home, and it will set the stage for how they will respond when others see their flaws, how they will react to teasing and how they feel about themselves. What we live out before them speaks volumes of truth and character into their lives, or it screams at them to lie, to bully, to deceive and to shrink away from responsibilities and anything else that becomes difficult. Our words, our character and our actions are a living example from which they learn, grow and develop into a man or a woman.

If we can grow comfortable in our own skin, realizing God has created us to be us, as an individual, if we can handle mishaps with grace and generosity, we will teach our children how to stand strong in the midst of embarrassment, adversity and failure. If we can hold our tongue when we’d prefer to lash out in anger, or when we’d rather speak boldly with pride, proclaiming our rights, regardless of our failures, we will teach our children how to be humble in their confidence, solid in their self-esteem and gracious to those they encounter who may not admire or even like the way they act or speak.

We must set the stage for those coming behind us. We must blaze this path called life with integrity, honesty and character. We must be able to be comfortable enough in our own skin that we can be okay with who God has created us to be. We must be honest and humble enough with our own flaws that we recognize we may not be the best, but we’re a “work in progress,” and with God’s help, we can do anything in this life. We must carry enough integrity within and have enough character without to be able to graciously say to our opposers, “You and I may be different, and we may never agree on that subject, but we can agree to disagree and continue standing our ground. We can be different and go our separate ways.” We must become comfortable enough in our skin to say, “That sure was an embarrassment to me today, but it’s not the end of the world. I will survive, and you will to!” When we become comfortable in our own skin, honest about our own frailties and weaknesses and confident enough in who God created us to be, we will shine brightly for all those who follow behind in this world turned gray.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

Gold All Around

He was born a dreamer. He has always dreamed big dreams. At the age of four, he was Batman, Spider-Man, policeman and cowboy, all combined within that sweet tiny frame; the image altering daily, depending upon the mood that day. When he turned nine, the superheroes had faded, and music had taken over. He was a “gangsta-rapper” one day and TobyMac or B-SHOC the next. Always dreaming of greatness, always hoping for the big stage, the bright lights, and the gold coins.

Today, his heart is set to the beat of a different drum. He doesn’t conform too much to those around him. He has his own style, his own fashion and his own swagger. He is his own man, and he loves it. He loves Jesus, and he doesn’t care who knows it. He wants others to see what he sees, feel what he feels.

Often, I see the little boy alive in his eyes, and my heart skips a beat for what once was. I see him shooting for the stars, and I pray he never stops or even hesitates. I see him making plans and setting aspirations into action, and I pray The Lord keeps him within His grasp, always leading and guiding him down the right path.

In those moments, I realize, this is what it’s all about: Dreams. Hopes. Aspirations. Reaching for something great. This is what brings about change. This is what brings about true freedom from conformity. This is what brings about new “life.” As a little child dreams, hope is birthed in the soul.

For if we fail to dream, if we fail to reach for the stars, something dies within. We must let the child live. We must cultivate those dreams of yesterday. Yeah, some things change, and life always moves on. Time never stops, but yet, if we don’t lose track of it in a dream, it surely does drag along. If we forget to get lost in the yester-years every once in a while, how will we ever remember how much has changed, and how will we ever see how far we’ve come?

So, dream on, my sweet child. Dream big. Plan long, and aspire for greatness! You can shoot for all the stars in the sky, and even if you don’t make it to the one in your sights, you’ll still get further than if you never reached for it to start. I see gold all around you, and I believe it’s because the stars are within your grasp. Let Him guide you to the right ones, and He will help you get there. When you do, just reach up and take hold. It’s yours for the dreaming, and when you’re amongst the stars, that’s when you’ll see the gold that I see all around you.

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Your Glory Intense

Oh Lord, Your glory shines bright;

So many who once believed now have taken flight.

The light is blinding from Your throne;

Those who weren’t stable, away have been blown.

Oh Lord, Your fire burns intense;

The judgments of Your purity now commence.

The heat is smoldering from Your breath;

The ones who only spoke of You now have found death.

Oh Father, Your presence weighs extreme;

So few remain to witness Your true means.

The depth is almost suffocating in reality;

Those who yearn for You disregard formality.

Oh Father, Your face pierces immense;

The conviction of Your righteousness all can sense.

The pain is diminishing in light of Your hand;

The ones who have refused can never see Your land.

Penned – MG – 8/8/03