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User Archives: Leann Rice

  • What Makes a Family?

    Posted on November 21, 2012 by Leann Rice

    Leann Rice

    "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus." 2 Corinthians 7:6 (NIV)

    Fifteen years ago I watched an empty hospital bed roll into my living room. What an unlikely place for a bed. What an even more unlikely place for my husband, Ron, to be dying-in our living room.

    How could this be? Ron was young, athletic, my best friend, the love of my life and the absolute joy of our three-year-old son, Nick.

    Soon, fragile days filled with Ron's raspy breathing became what I called my "in between." During that in-between time — the space separating life and death — I wanted to savor the richness of last conversations, last kisses, and last memories.

    But Ron's condition deteriorated quickly. He slipped away much too soon. In an instant, I became both a widow and a single parent. I felt completely alone.

    Most people have a close support network, a soft place to land. Not me. Physical distance separated me from my mother and in-laws, and differences in viewpoints created emotional distances with other family members.

    As a result, my "soft" landing place often felt like shards of glass slashing at my heart. Everything cut deeply. Everything hurt.

    It was my love for our son, Nick, which helped me survive the painful emptiness and move on.

    But I grieved when thinking about spending our future holidays alone. No boisterous birthday celebrations for Nick. No traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We needed a bigger family to do life with.

    When you experience a tragic loss due to death or betrayal, it's hard to trust anyone again. At least it was for me.

    Yet, a little brown-haired boy needed godly male influences, and a loving family with whom to celebrate. I also needed to stop being filled with conflicting emotions about being afraid to trust.

    In 2 Corinthians 7:6, Paul didn't have any extended family present during a time of conflicting emotions and fear either. Yet, God saw Paul's need for a family-like companionship so He sent Titus to encourage and take care of the apostle. Titus was a problem-solver who had a heart for God and a heart for God's people in Corinth.

    God also saw our need for a new, bigger family. With ample love, He sent Nick and me some "Titus" people who have a heart for God and a heart for His people. They helped to transform our downcast souls with His all-encompassing comfort.

    Slowly, I cracked open my heart's door just an inch or two allowing these amazing people into our lives. Over time, God knit all of us together creating a "Titus family" related by our hearts, not our heritage.

    My "Titus family" consists of people who love each other unconditionally, support and encourage each other, sit beside one another's hospital beds, hold each other accountable and share in every achievement, failure and pain.

    Do we look alike? Not so much. But do we share the same heart and many happy holiday celebrations? Definitely!

    The most valuable lesson I've learned since my husband died is that marriage certificates and blood relationships are not the only way to make a family.

    God makes a family.

    Dear Lord, You promised to be a father to the fatherless and to even bring joy to widows during festivals. The holidays are often a hard time for people in a season of suffering. Please open my eyes to see anyone who needs a soft place to land or a safe place to share. And then, give me the resolve I need to respond with the same incredible love You've shown me — no matter how busy I am. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by Cecil Murphy and Liz Allison

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do you most often close your heart to shield yourself from being hurt again? Withdrawing? Being angry? Holding on to bitterness?

    Who might you turn to to help you move past your pain, trusting that God can redirect it into a new purpose in your life?

    Take time today to contact someone who needs companionship.

    Power Verses:
    Lamentations 3:32, "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." (NIV)

    1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, "Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God's family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more." (NIV)

    © 2012 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians, Family, Leann Rice

  • Turning Bad Days into Good Days

    Posted on November 12, 2012 by Leann Rice

    Leann Rice

    "It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night..." Psalm 92:1-2 (NIV)

    As a widow with a child, I have experienced many "bad days" in the last fifteen years.

    Some days, I thought I wouldn't make it another 24 hours without some help. Other times, all I could find to be grateful for was that I actually got myself out of bed.

    The sadness loomed over me and cast a dark shadow over my attitude and mood. I knew I didn't want to, or couldn't, live like that forever. Something had to change.

    Scripture has the best remedy for us to help overcome the dark days. Psalm 92:1-2 tells us that "It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night..." (NIV)

    Over the years I took this verse to heart and made an effort to praise the Lord for the blessings each day held. Moment by moment I forced myself to count the big and small gifts I had and eventually, I started to see them all around me.

    Do you need to see some "good" right now because you're going through a challenging time? Or do you also struggle to notice the simple blessings in the midst of your hectic days?

    Here are some tangible ways to purposefully see God's blessings, His goodness and His steadfast love - even on those "bad" days.

    Keep a Blessings Journal
    If it's a rough day, I read my Blessings Journal. Each night before I go to bed, I record several ways I noticed God's love and faithfulness to me that day. Rereading the journal refocuses my thoughts toward God, instead of my hard situation.

    Make a Good Night Blessings Journal
    When it's time to tuck your kids in at night, ask them to tell you one good thing about their day and write it in their journals. This ends their day on a positive note and gets them in the habit of praising the Lord too.

    Create a Blessings Chain
    Cut up strips of construction paper, write down your blessings and praises on the strips and staple them together to form a chain. Place your Blessings Chain somewhere in your home you'll see it often. It's a great conversation piece, and provides the opportunity to share God's goodness with company.

    Design a Blessings Box
    I keep a Blessing Box in the middle of my kitchen table. Inside are strips of colored paper and a pen. Throughout the year, my son and I write down things we're grateful for and place them inside the box. Together, we read the strips in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

    Give a Treasury of God's Promises
    If you know someone who's going through a difficult time, create a gift box filled with God's promises personalized for them. Imagine them opening the box and reading this note, "My plan for your future, Gabriel, is filled with hope" or "Give thanks to the LORD, Jackie, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"

    Raising a child as a single parent hasn't always been easy. There have been weeks and even months that have been "bad." But as I've chosen to praise God for the good, the bad days turn around. Today, let's begin to look for the blessings He's given us and praise Him for them.

    Dear Lord, please turn our "bad" days into praise. And help us notice Your blessings all around us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Notice three blessings today that yesterday you would've missed.

    Do you know someone who is going through a rough time and needs some encouragement? Right now, decide to do one practical thing to support them.

    Power Verses:
    1 Corinthians 2:12, "But God has given us his Spirit. That's why we don't think the same way that the people of this world think. That's also why we can recognize the blessings that God has given us." (CEV)

    Proverbs 10:22, "The LORD's blessing enriches, and struggle adds nothing to it." (HCSB)

    © 2012 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Leann Rice

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