Tag Archives: encourage

God Really Wants to Know You

Although I wasn’t raised in a religious home, I can recall my Mom telling me more than once that she thought I’d be a nun when I grew up. I don’t know why she thought that, or what I did that made her feel that way, I just know that for whatever reason, she saw that in me. In fact, with the exception of the occasional appearance at an Easter or Christmas midnight mass when I was super little, we didn’t even go to church. I don’t recall anyone talking about God or the Bible, with the exception of my Great Aunt, that is. She died when I was really young, so my memories of her are very faint. The biggest memory I have of her is swatting at my 3 brothers & I in the backseat of the car when she was driving and we were misbehaving, and the Bible and rosary that sat prominently on her bedside table at all times.

Regardless of the lack of “religiousness” in my life, I’ve always had a very strong understanding that there was a God and that He loved us unconditionally. Although I’ve always known there was a God, I knew nothing more about what He expected from me or what I should expect from Him. I imagined for a great part of my life that He just floated out in space watching us from a distance at all times. I never imagined that you could have an active, give-and-take relationship with Him. I never realized how intimately He knows and loves each and every one of us.

I had no idea that there was so much more to Him, and that He wanted so much more from us. I didn’t know that you could have a real relationship with Him – a close, vulnerable and intimate relationship where you get to know him on a deeper level – a relationship where you can actually feel His love and guidance. A relationship where He comforts you, adorns you with love and peace and guides you through life’s challenges.

But I want you to know right now, THAT is exactly what God wants with each one of us – a close, intimate relationship. One where we not only take the time to talk with Him and listen for His direction, but one where we are open to believing Him enough by faith to walk out whatever He wants for us regardless of our own fears and insecurities.

faith-daring-the-soul

I am here to tell you that when you do start listening and taking steps, even baby steps, He will blow your mind with exciting confirmations and blessings. I hope by sharing my story, with all of the ups and downs, the good and bad, and everything in between, that you’ll be encouraged to grow closer to Him as well!

Modern Day Noah approaches faith from a “real” person’s perspective. My goal is to share my “earthly” situations and experiences with you, using down-to-earth, every day words, rather than spouting churchy, religious jargon at you, so that you can relate and understand how real and active God is in our everyday lives. In doing so, I hope you will be encouraged and will begin to understand that He wants to use you in a mighty way as well…..even with all of your flaws and insecurities! As a matter of fact, He uses those very same flaws and insecurities to show His strength in our lives once we believe.

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Tears of Joy!

Last week I traveled 4 hours away to help a client of mine that had moved out of the area a few years ago. Although she tried to find a professional organizer in her area to help her, the one she found was new and was just as overwhelmed with the situation as she was. So much so that she has since gone out of business. Unfortunately, there are no other professional organizers in her area, so she reached out to me for help. Her initial email to me said “I know it would be a lot to ask you to come and help me, but I’m fairly desperate and have lost all pride”. How do you say no to helping someone when they say something like that, no matter how far away they are?

Since she had only unpacked the essentials, and left everything else out in the garage when she moved in 3 years earlier, I knew we had to start in the garage. As with any organizing job, finding the place that “clogs” up the rest of the home and unclogging it is crucial. The garage took the longest amount of time to complete, but it was also one of the most rewarding spaces because of that. Now all of the stuff that was in her house that really should be in the garage was able to be filtered out into the garage zones once we had them established.

Garage-Before-After

Garage – Before & After

Next we moved on to the kitchen space, then the closets, the living room, the master bedroom/bath, the laundry room, the guest room and the home office. We worked for 6 straight days, all day long and got through the larger part of her home. Letting go of things you love or thought you might use someday is always difficult and that was no different for this client. But with each passing day, she gave up more and more. She even went back and let go of things she had decided to keep only the day before. I was so proud of her and all of the hard work she invested in this process.

Kitchen-Before-After

Kitchen – Before & After

Home-Office-Before-After

Home Office – Before & After

Home-Office-Before-After

Home Office – Before & After

She had shared with me before I came that her master bedroom and bathroom were the areas that were bothering her the most. She couldn’t find peace anywhere in her home. She felt overwhelmed, stressed out and beat down – something I commonly hear from our clients. I knew the sense of relief she would feel when her master bedroom and bathroom were clutter-free and organized and so I didn’t let her see things changing as I was working. I wanted her to see it ONLY when those spaces were completed.

Once I had the areas organized, I let her look. Her mouth immediately fell open as she blurted out the words “I think I could cry”. With that, she threw the entire upper part of her body down onto her outstretched arms on the bathroom counter and began crying uncontrollably. I began crying. I knew how much relief I had brought to her life. I knew how long she had wanted that space back in control and peaceful. But her reaction was priceless and beautiful!

Bedroom-Before-After

Bedroom – Before & After

Once my client stopped crying, she stepped back and stared at me in disbelief and exclaimed “this is definitely your ministry, a life-changing ministry at that!”. I know it seems funny to most (and even to myself sometimes) to leave all of your financial security behind to follow what you believe God created you to do. But knowing you have the ability to use what you love doing to change people’s lives in such a dramatically positive way and choosing not to go for it makes absolutely less sense! 

Are You Consumed by Your Problems?

Do you spend your days focused on and consumed by your problems? Do you wonder why bad things only happen to you? If you do, I can teach you a little trick that will help you start to forget your problems. It will help you begin to notice how lucky and blessed you really are instead. Ready to hear what the secret is?

Take your eyes off yourself and focus instead on helping someone else.

Help Others

Did you know that whatever we focus our attention on consumes us and gets bigger? If you’re always thinking about your problems, they take full reign of your attention – front and center all day long. The bigger your focus on them, the more they make you feel slighted, mistreated and eventually you are consumed with self-pity.

When you begin to focus instead on what you have in relation to others less fortunate than you, it puts everything in perspective. I remember back in the really, really lean times when as a single mother, even though I worked full time, I was struggling to put food on my own table. I worked in downtown St Louis, which is somewhere I would never choose to hang out by choice. Every week when I got paid I would literally have just a few dollars left over after paying the bills that had to be paid that week. Without fail, I would walk out the doors on payday and come across someone on the street begging for money. Invariably, I would give them 2 of the 3 dollars I had to my name.

Homeless

Why on earth would I do that? If you are spending your days walking up and down the street begging for money, you are clearly less fortunate than me. If you are sleeping on downtown sidewalks, you are clearly less fortunate than me. When you look like you haven’t seen a hot shower in weeks, I can only assume it’s been equally as long since you’ve had the pleasure of sleeping in a warm bed. Clearly you are less fortunate than me. Many years later my coworkers would tease me for doing that because they claimed those people that I gave 2 of my 3 dollars to would take that money and buy alcohol with it. I can’t deny I was saddened to think they would waste my money on alcohol. But I have no regrets because I still believe they were less fortunate than me.

Not only have I been the giver, I have found myself on the receiving end of a good deed and it feels amazing! During those same lean years that I was “foolishly” giving 2 of my 3 dollars to homeless people, I was reaching out to churches and other places trying to get help paying my own bills so my power wouldn’t be shut off, or so that I could feed my kids. I’ll never forget that a young couple with a small child “adopted” my kids and I for Christmas. They brought presents for my girls and a bottle of perfume called HOPE for me. They told me the perfume was not intended for me to wear so much as it was to serve as a reminder that there is always hope. They also brought each of my daughters Happy Meals from McDonald’s which was a big treat because we seldom had the opportunity to eat out during those days.

The fact that these people chose to think of others rather than themselves during the holidays was such a complete blessing to me and left a profound impact on my life. But the thing that stands out to me the most in their act of generosity was that they were trying to teach their 6 or 7 year-old daughter to always think of others. What makes this even more amazing was that their daughter did not have a hand. She only had a prosthetic hook for her hand. Talk about someone not focusing on their own problems!

R.I.P. Mom

Sadly, my Mom died exactly 1 week after my last post “Her Smile Said It All”. As tragic as it is to lose your Mom, I feel like we couldn’t have asked for it to go any smoother than it did. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 and was given 6 months to 2 years to live. That was 11 years ago!

She decided early on not to fight the disease with chemotherapy and I can’t help but wonder if that was a blessing in disguise. Either way, the cancer itself didn’t seem to impact her life at all. Then about 3 months ago, she lost control of her right side, almost as if you would if you had a stroke. Within 2 weeks of noticing that initial decline, the doctor told her she could no longer live alone and he sent her home to die. Apparently the cancer had metastasized and spread to her brain and bones.

My brothers and I stayed with her around the clock for the next 5 weeks until she died. It’s amazing to me how much of a decline there was every day. I was the “weekend girl” and was responsible for caring for her each weekend. It was unbelievable how much of a change I saw week to week. I could have never foreseen the night that I got her all dressed up to attend her grandson’s wedding reception, and we posed for the selfies in my last blog post, that when I returned the following weekend, my Mom would no longer be able to communicate or interact with me. I don’t think anything prepares you for that. By the following weekend, she died….peacefully, surrounded by all of her children.

Saying Goodbye

My brothers and I at her funeral.

The blessings in all of this are more than I can count, but here are just a few: 1) She didn’t suffer in pain for very long. It could have went on and on for years, but it didn’t. 2) She got to die at home like she wanted, surrounded by the people she loved. 3.) She could have ended up having to go to hospice which would have cost a fortune! 4) She got to spend the last 5 weeks of her life surrounded constantly by her loved-ones. 5) Exactly 2 weeks before she died, she was all smiles and so excited to go to her grandson’s wedding reception. To me, the fact that she was laughing and having fun with the people she loved 2 weeks before she died, was a gigantic blessing in itself!

Her Smile Said it All

I find myself today at an all too familiar place as of late, the bedside of my mother who has been sent home to die. We have had a very unusual relationship almost my entire life. Somehow, somewhere, early on in my life, I took over the parenting role. Not only parenting her, but also trying to parent my siblings as best I could.

Mom

Her health has been declining rapidly each day. Today as I watch her lying there confused, in pain and scared, my heart breaks for her. My biggest concern since she was diagnosed with cancer  has been that I wanted to be sure that she knew God in the close, personal way that I know Him before she died. Unfortunately, from everything I can tell, and every discussion we’ve had, I’ve gotten the impression that she still doesn’t. She can no longer carry on conversations. So I quietly pray at her bedside for her.

The one sign of hope that I do have is that she was raised Catholic and I know that it has been very, very important to her that a priest visit with her so she can give her last confession. Because she has not been super active in church, we’ve had a hard time getting a priest to make that visit.

Moments after I began writing this post, there was a knock on the door. A priest that my brother had contacted was here to pray over her, take her final confession and do something Catholics call anointing the sick. Though my Mom was heavily medicated, it was clear that she understood what was going on. I felt such peace and comfort hearing the words the priest prayed over her – promising that God would comfort her, give her peace and that all of her sins have been forgiven.

As the priest left, my Mom thanked him wholeheartedly with a smile, nothing more. That smile was the biggest smile I had seen in days from her. And for that, I thank God. He reminds me there is always hope.

Mom