Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Faith, Hope and Promises - Thankful on the Bipolar Express

Hope keeps us going; Promises keep hope alive; “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 NLT

 But what do we do when hope seems gone? What do we do when the promises that keep hope alive are elusive? What then?

Could it be that a thankful heart is a key to keeping hope alive?

Author Ellen Thomas shares with us her unique perspective on living a thankful life, as a mom to a child with Asperger’s syndrome:


Thankful on the Bipolar Express

The power to live doesn’t come from the rule of law or our unalienable rights. The real power comes from the promises we hold on to every day. It begins when we wake; we count on the promise that the sun will rise. When we go to work, we are motivated because of the promise of payday. As our children grow we expect to see them fill out the form and function of their inherent potential.

Our power to live comes from counting on these promises; we find strength in knowing that these things will be. Not so being a parent of a child with bipolar disorder and Asperger’s syndrome.

There are no promises that my daughter Grace will get out of bed to face a day sure to be filled with sensory overloads. And there have been times I wasn’t sure if I would find her at the hospital, police station or even the morgue. The promise of the sunrise brings me no power, or peace.

My power comes from my thankful heart. Thankful for what, you ask? I am grateful for being entrusted with the care and nurturing of a child who is fearfully and wonderfully made;  Thankful for the family and friends who truly understand what I am going through; And thankful I don’t have too much time for the ones who don’t.

I am eternally thankful to my daughter’s birth parents for giving her life and for choosing my husband Jim and me to raise her; I’m grateful that my experiences with Grace have taught me to take each day as it comes -- I take time to marvel at ducks on a lake, or squirrels running from tree to tree.

My heartfelt appreciation expands each time my daughter exceeds her potential; I am amazed, and my surprise surprises me.

I am powerful because an evaluation of my child, a label, a bully’s unkind words, or a school’s indifference does not limit the heart that beats inside me. Rather my heart races with the excitement of believing that the best is yet to come…Promise.
~ Ellen Thomas
Ellen received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education 12 years before adopting Grace, who is the catalyst for her book; THE BIPOLAR EXPRESS: One Christian Woman’s Life Journey In The Company Of A Child With Bipolar Disorder And Asperger’s Syndrome.

To learn more about Ellen and her book, visit www.ellenthomasauthor.com


“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion.
Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception.
Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude.
Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” 
~ John Henry Jowett

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul; and sings the tune without the words, and never stops—at all. And sweetest in the Gale is heard, and sore must be the storm; that could abash the little Bird that kept so many warm.”
~ Emily Dickinson

“You are my hope oh God, you are my confidence”
~ Psalm 71:5

Talk To You Soon,
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Today I am so thankful God is bigger
He is bigger than the dreams He put in my heart.
He is bigger than any reasons my dreams have not been realized
He is bigger than my failure and bigger than my fear of failure
He is bigger than my age, my circumstances, my finances, my past, my present
He is big enough to revive dead dreams

He is the giver and the fulfiller of dreams, if we will but let him.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”

As the idea for today’s blog came to my mind, I remembered a song I wrote
several years back…
It is better with sound of course, but the words stand powerful on their own.
Whatever your dream, whatever your present path, grab ahold of the words of this song –

©2008 Connie Ruth Christiansen
“If I knew then what I know now, I would find a way somehow to always follow truth never a lie.
I would revel in each moment, of every single day.
Not worry ‘bout the future, not worry what others say;

And when my heart would hear from the Vision-Giver,
I would follow without question, until the work was done in me.
I would live my dream. I would take that chance.
And when the music played, I would sing and dance;

People come, and people go, and they speak their minds to you.
But when all is said and done, You’re the only one,
To answer the question: “what will my legacy be?”
And you’re the only one who can see the vision He gave (to you); 

Listen to the wisdom of the years, never base decisions on your fears.
Keep your eyes on the goal, keep a close watch on your soul.
If you are young heed this advice: Never let the dream die.
And if the years have passed you by, and you think the time for dreaming is gone;

Hold on to this: Nothing is impossible. There may still be time for flying.
Keep on climbing to the top, to the edge, take a leap…
Find your wings!

When you hear the music play (again)
Begin to sing your song (again)
Dance your dance (again)
Live your dream, take that chance (again);

Revel in each moment, of every single day.
Don’t worry ‘bout the future, don’t worry what others say.
And when your heart hears, from the Vision-Giver,
Follow without question, until the work was done,
Let the music play,
Live your dream,
Dance your dance
Take that chance”
~ © 2008 Connie Ruth Christiansen

Until next time,
May we all be brave enough to live our lives the way God intended – abundantly!
Take just one step of faith and watch what He can do:
~ Connie

Learn more about Connie @ www.budbooks.org

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beauty For Ashes -- Rising Up Thankful from the Devastation of Abuse

I saw today a picture of little bright flowers that had somehow pushed their way up from the solid rock debris of a destructive volcano. 
Lovely delicate strong beauty.
I am thankful for those flowers. They speak to me of God's faithfulness.

Life hurts us. People hurt us. Circumstances hurt us. Most pain we move on from fairly easily.
Some pain we carry with us a very long time, burying it deep, covering it over with hard-rock fear and shame.

Faithful Love overpowers the fear, reaches through the shame, pushes aside the debris, softens the hard, breathes life into dark places…and beauty grows.

“The most beautiful people that we know are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

One of the most beautiful people I know is my daughter. Severely burned as a child in a gasoline fire, and having undergone multiple reconstructive surgeries, her face reminds me of the hearts of so many reading this today. Altered by horrifying circumstances from the original state God intended, her face is a patchwork of scars and scar tissue that tell a story of unspeakable pain and sadness; and that tell a story of God’s amazing grace.

The majority of her face was charred, the lower half melted and adhered to her neck, her ears were burned off; but miraculously her hairline was barely singed and her gorgeous green eyes with ultra-long eyelashes were left unharmed.

After the burn she was ostracized, beaten, spit on, teased, suicidal, even those who loved her didn't know how to help her. Her mother died, her father could not care for her, her grandmother who was her primary life-line, developed cancer. She left the country of her birth, her siblings, and came to a strange land to live with strangers and to undergo many years of surgery.

And God took all of it, and turned it around for good and for beautiful, and He continues to do so.

She is grown up now, talented, funny, smart, determined; she moves with grace and gentleness; her laughter is contagious. Her smile, which we did not see for a very long time, is now not just on her lips, but also in her extraordinary green-eyes. 

God’s Love changed her life; and changed us, changed me because of her; and is continuing to bring “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
~ Isaiah 61:3 NIV

No matter how devasting the abusive situation, circumstances, physical, sexual, abandonment, hateful words; God is bigger! His Love is powerful; faithful to create something lovely out of the most ugly. 

“The wrongs done to us do not define us!
Victimized but not fatalities, we are stronger for having survived.
We are more than survivors; we are more than conquerors!
Altered from an innocent state, we cultivate compassion and understanding that may have not grown otherwise.
We are not a result of what life took from us;
We are who Love claims us to be!
Battered and bruised we are more beautiful for our scars.”
~Connie Ruth Christiansen

“We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us”
~ Romans 8:37

Talk to you again soon
You are beautiful, scars and all!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

A Thankful Heart Can Heal a Broken Heart

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Some of you loved it; you were showered with gifts and attention; you were reminded of love.

For some however, Valentine’s Day is a reminder not of love, but of loneliness. It brings to remembrance of and feelings of disappointment, disillusionment, abandonment.

There is perhaps nothing more painful in this life than the loneliness of a broken heart.

There is perhaps nothing more precious than someone coming along to offer comfort for loneliness; healing for the pain of the break.

I am so thankful that God understands a broken heart. That He Himself has experienced a broken heart. And that He offers comfort and healing.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
~Psalm 34:18

Even when our pain is so great that we doubt His Love, God is still faithful to reach out to us, and to somehow lead us to that place where finally the pain begins to subside, and where step by step the healing process can begin.

And when our hearts are broken, He encourages us to experience bits and pieces of healing by trying the following methods:

Talk to Him
 Pour it out… Cry… Yell… Get Angry… Be honest… He longs for you to:
“Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
~Matthew 11:28

Let Him carry the heavy end of your load.

Find a reason to laugh
“A cheerful heart does good like a medicine”
~Proverbs 17:22

Reach out to help someone else
Amazing how this can make you feel So much better
"Give and it will be given to you:
~Luke 6:38

Ask for prayer
“Pray for one another so that you may be healed”
~James 5:16

Give thanks
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.”
~ Philippians 4:6-7 NIV                        

A broken heart is an unfortunate reality of life.
God has provided methods of healing.
A thankful heart is one of His soothing balms.

Read this story of one man’s broken-heart journey.
He and his family experienced the broken heart that comes from losing someone in death.
They experienced an emotional and a physical broken heart.
And they experienced healing by being thankful:

How a Thankful Heart Can Heal a Broken Heart
By Brian Lee

Have you ever had a broken heart? Did you know that you can actually die from it?

There was nothing that could prepare me for the phone call I got November 15, 2005, from my mom. She tried to be calm as she broke the news to me of Dad’s heart attack, and it didn’t look like he was going to make it. Praying did not stop me from pacing in circles and repeatedly crying out in a panic, not Dad, not my dad!

He was only 62 years old. It wasn’t fair! It wasn’t right! My young children were never going to know their grandpa!

When we gathered as a family around my dad’s bedside, I was able to somehow lead us in singing praises to God -- I knew we could never make it through the days ahead without leaning on God and His comfort. As we gave thanks, I immediately felt peace; and I knew God would carry us through the most difficult days of our lives. Little did I know how much more difficult it was going to get for us.

Mom started to turn pale and was experiencing chest pain, along with shortness of breath. She figured it was just stress, but the hospital chaplain recommended a trip to the ER for a check-up. While in the ER she started vomiting, and lost consciousness. Her blood pressure dropped to as low as 50/30. The staff summoned me, and I soon felt a panic; I felt like a fish-out-of-water, as I found the nurses and doctors in-a-frenzy.

They told me that Mom was having a heart attack too. There was no time to even think about what was occurring. Within minutes the frenzy in the room moved to frantic. I was informed that she was having a second attack and that she needed to be transferred to a different hospital. My heart sank as I moved from feeling like a fish-out-of-water to someone who had drawn the short stick and was about to have a neutron bomb dropped on me.

Thankfully I was spared the neutron bomb. Mom’s life was spared and we’ve been blessed with spending more time with her. (Her heart attack was diagnosed as the result of a medical condition called stress cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome.)**

I was sent home to get some rest and to begin my grieving process. I sat on the couch in my basement staring at the holes that had been worn into the carpet from my pacing the night before. The holes were soon filled with oceans of tears as I cried out to God, asking him for comfort. He brought to my mind a passage from the Bible:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9 (NKJV)

As I pondered these verses; as I chose to be thankful and think on the good things, God’s Holy Spirit moved me from grief to joy, and reminded me that my dad had just entered Heaven.

In all of my life I never heard my Dad say goodbye to anyone – instead he would always say, “see you later.”  And no matter what happened in life, his faith in Jesus Christ gave him the confidence to know that we would spend eternity together in Heaven. I took comfort in knowing that he was with Jesus, and that I would one day see him again.

Have you ever had a broken heart? I welcome you to share with your comments on this article.
~ Brian

Brian Lee is Chief Encouragement Officer of Champions in Christ
To contact Brian, or to learn more about Champions in Christ, visit:
E-Mail: brhopelee@yahoo.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/champsinchrist
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/brhopelee
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Champions-In-Christ/127379880667870

**If you would like to know more about broken heart syndrome, The Wall Street Journal and Katie Couric both did a story on it.

May the peace of God which passes understanding keep your heart and your mind, as you give thanks, as you let Him carry the heavy end
~ Connie

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blah Day Blessing

Woke up feeling blah today. Not motivated, not enthused; not depressed, just blah. 
Why? Don’t know. Just am. blah.

Just like any other attitude or feeling, blah has a choice to make…
My choice today is to believe that blah days are a blessing.

When blah comes, and it will come, think of reasons that blah is a blessing…
My Thank You for Blah list:

#I. I am more likely to stop and take a rest or nap on blah days… something I don’t do often enough

#2. I generally feel absolutely no guilt about eating my favorite foods on blah days… I indulge willingly, enjoy thoroughly

#3. I take stalk of my life, on blah days; think about the whys and wherefores of things. And I think about them perhaps with more clarity and balance than I might if I were very happy, or very sad

#4. If the blah lasts too long, it gets me out of myself, triggers something in me to action; to make something happen… some of my best ideas have resulted from blah

#5. Blah or not, just to be alive today is a blessing. To take breath, to see, to hear, to be surrounded by anything-but-blah wonders and beauty….I may not feel these incredible elements of life as deeply on a blah day, but they are my blessing nonetheless.

Thank You for blah days

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may for it may not always be so.
~ Norma Jean Iron

“This is the day the Lord made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!”
~Psalm 118:24

 Blah Day Blessings!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

A Man in Black, a Lawyer in White, and a Glimpse of Truth

Some dreams mean nothing at all. Others are a result of too much spicy pizza.
Some seem to come straight from the heart of God.

Most dreams I just keep to myself, but this one from my sleep last night, seems meant to be told:


A Man in Black, a Lawyer in White, and a Glimpse of Truth

I had a dream last night that I was accused of something wrong, and put into a jail cell.

The cell was cold, and dark and musky, no light was shining through; I grew tired and weary, my body racked with pain. I kept thinking: to get out of here, I would do almost anything!

A man came to visit me, dressed with style, and in black; I was glad for his company, I had been alone for quite a while. He was charming to a fault, handsome, with a beguiling smile.

He stood outside the bars and looked me up and down; he told me he liked what he saw, and that he had been waiting for me. He asked me to marry him, and promised to make go away all the troubles of my past, and to set me free.

He said that he would care for me, and for my family, and that somehow he had the power to make all my dreams come true. I didn’t quite believe him, but I wanted to.

There was something not quite right about him, and his proposal left me cold, but I considered his offer anyway; I wanted so to be let go from the troubles I had been carrying around for so very long.

I thought, It won’t be so bad, to marry him, to be out of here; after all how much worse could it be than this? I was just about to answer “yes,” when my Lawyer walked in.

He was dressed in white, and His face was light; He carried with Him a set of keys. His voice was quiet and gentle but at the same time loud and strong; powerful enough to send the man in black, cowering to his knees.

“I’ve paid the price for your bail, and I will open up these doors; you won’t ever have to worry about prison anymore” He said.

“Your troubles will not go away, but I will stay with you, and all the treasures that My Father owns I will give to you.” 

The man in black started to argue, but my Lawyer stopped him cold, with just a look; like a bolt of lightning.

When He turned to look at me, his eyes were kind again, He opened up the prison door and reached out to take my hand.

It was at this point I began to wake up from the dream…

As the dream began to fade, and the morning sun threatened to take me back to the reality of earth,  I  held tightly to His hand…I didn’t want to let go, I didn’t want to wake up…

I lay in bed, my eyes closed tight, not wanting to forget the feeling of incredible peace that was mine as He held my hand

I did wake up, earth did return, and the dream was gone, but the peace remains, and I, will NEVER let go!
~ Connie Ruth Christiansen

I’m Thankful for dreams!; the fun ones, the nothing ones, the open-my-eyes-to-the-truth-ones.
I especially love the flying ones!

I’m thankful that the battle within me is not a fight against people or circumstances; it is a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6); and that God in me is greater than any enemy! (1 John 4:4)

I’m thankful that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13), and that I am more than a conqueror! (Romans 8:37)

May the dreams of your days be fulfilled, and may the dreams of your night be sweet

Until next time,

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

In The Presence of Love... A Tribute to Whitney Houston

Thinking today of how precious this life is --Thankful for the bitter and the sweet
Thankful that when this life is over, there is more

Thankful for those who are gone now from this present reality, but who blessed my life while they were here

Thankful for the legacies of love and laughter that have been left to me, to us from the many who have finished their earthly journey

Thankful that although she left this life too early, Whitney Houston left behind an incredible legacy of music that will go on

Thankful that she is now in the Presence of Love

A song she sang often "I love the Lord... I will hasten to His throne" seems especially significant today…She is now standing before His throne

Thankful that because of Jesus, we can leave this earth to stand before our Creator with no fear

Whitney Houston Sings I Love The Lord:

Heaven Thoughts:
“A little girl taking an evening walk with her father looked up at the stars and exclaimed, “Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful what must the right side be!””
~ Author Unknown 

“We only see a little of the ocean, a few miles distance from the rocky shore. But oh! Out there beyond, beyond the eyes’ horizon, there’s more, there’s more.
We can only see a little of God’s loving, a few rich treasures from His mighty store. But oh! Out there far beyond our eyes’ horizon, there’s more, there’s more.”
~ Author Unknown

“I am going to prepare a place for you”
~ The Words of Jesus; John 14:2b NLT

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away”
~ Rev 21:4 KJV

I pray that the love of Jesus be very real to you today, in this life and for the next
We never need be alone, in life or in death

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