I AM ~ How do you see yourself?

picture of family joyShe sits in the classroom and looks around, feeling empty inside.  Another day, another walk down the hall.  She hangs her head as in shame, and cannot wait to get home and escape.   They look at her and laugh, they make puking noises as she walks by.    She sees herself through their eyes, the voices in her head say:

I AM ugly.

I AM unworthy.

I AM a loser.

As He looks down on her – He sheds a tear.   He loves her beyond her understanding, and wishes that she would focus on the good, the beautiful from the inside out.   He knows that all events happen for His good.   He can see how this will help to build her to be all that she was meant to be.

Being a parent now myself, I can relate to how God felt when I told myself I was unworthy.   So much is out of our control as parents.    However, we can feed our children the good.   We can tell them how we will love them unconditionally, how we can see all of their gifts and how their imperfections are part of their perfect tapestry.

Looking back on my life, I see how the good has come out of the bad.    I would not change anything that has happened in this life.  If you have walked in someone’s shoes you can relate and help them through the difficulty.    You can identify with the very nature of the soul.    This is a gift.  When you use the gift – magic happens.

I often ask myself why can people be so insecure and why this occurs in our schools, in the workplace, at home?  It all comes down to one simple but complex thing – the love of self.    The love of self is missing, absent, deep within.

Perhaps if we do not experience or see the bad, would we really know the good or great?

The sentence that starts with I AM is so powerful.  It can create joy, or inner turmoil.  What if we all could change the meaning of I AM for ourselves and the people we engage with every day?  What if these were the thoughts that everyone had?

I AM BEAUTIFULLY MADE.

I AM MADE OF GOD’S PERFECT HANDS.

I AM MADE IN HIS LIKENESS.

I AM WHO I AM.

I may be idealistic, but I believe it can happen.   An action can create a reaction.  I know I am going to try my best to show my children how they are seen through their Father’s eyes.    I am also going to use the words of His grace when I am weak. And every moment I get, I am going to interact with love with all of his children.   It is through our love and actions with one another that life becomes really full.

God wants us so much to realize the potential within.   We are all beautifully made, in his likeness.    Lets all work together to change the “I AM” in our society.

I AM is not

Where we work

What we look like

What title we hold

How much money we have

What we accumulate.

 

I AM is love from the inside out.   To fully love ourselves for who we are, and to extend it outward, as God has always wanted us to.

Dear Lord God,

Help us to know You from within.  Help us to see ourselves through your eyes, and to have that same effect on the ones around us that we love and care for.    I am so thankful for Your Grace, I AM WHO I AM.  Thank-you for helping me to accept that, and love me for me.

I pray for all of this in Jesus Name Amen.

 

Be blessed, Ness

 

The Day that Life Changed ~ 5 years ago

image1January 10, 2011, was a magical day, she watch the whales and glanced at her family.   Her eyes filled up with tears, and glanced across the row of her beautiful family.  She looked at her mom and dad and how happy they were, her brother and his beautiful family, and then her own.

Gratitude set in.   She then thanked Him for all that He had given her, and was so thankful for the state of peace, euphoria that set in.   The day at sea world was over, she was on cloud 9.    She wanted to pinch herself is this for real?  

They had just been through three years of heart ache, pain, loss, and recovery.   She discovered through that difficult time –  family is everything.  Family is what defines us, and at any given moment you can lose someone that you thought would be there forever.   Her heart still swelled at the thought of it all.   But they came through it stronger.

That evening they went grocery shopping for the family.  It was exciting, but exhaustion set in.    Although she was exhausted, her heart was full of joy and anticipation.   They got home, everyone was fed, and then the kids went off to bed.    

That night the six of them sat at the table, laughing, and feeling so happy.   The adults all were celebrating with bubbly.    A couple of glasses and spirits soared.   She watch the flicker of the light on the pool, started to dance and then it all changed.   She dove head first into a 2-4 foot deep end of the pool.    She thought it was 8 ft deep.  Everyone screamed, but they were merely echoes as she entered the water.  Early that day she would not go outside and even think of entering the pool – without a heater who would want to be in the freezing cold water.   But that evening she felt so alive, and just wanted to be free.

Minutes felt like hours, time stood still as her head nicked the bottom of the pool.  A voice came to her, and light surrounded her, You are going to be ok but this is going to be a long road.    She came up from the water, and felt like a child, she called for mommy.    She could hear her husband yelling at her, she felt so stupid.  How could she have been so careless?   How could she only think of herself?  Guilt set in.   Ruined, it’s all ruined.

She walked out of the pool holding her chin in her hand, sat down on the couch and her mom called 9-1-1.    No No don’t do it…. She felt ok, sort of except the pain at the back of her head.    Blood then trickled down her face.    The ambulance came, and they set her down to stabilize her spine on the spine board.   Now everything hurt, her body started to shake.    Inside worry started to overwhelm her, what would happen when her 3 and 6 year old boys woke up?   How could she have done all of this…..

In the ambulance, time stood still again.   So many things went through her mind, guilt, anger, and fear.   She started to pray.   Help me Lord, I am so sorry for doing this.  Please let everything be ok.

At the hospital in the emergency room, they cut open her clothes, and her brother, dad and husband looked with worry as everything was happening so fast.    She had an x-ray and CT scan, it revealed she had a C1 fracture – burst fracture shattered on the right side.   She didn’t understand what that meant, and as the doctor started to explain the seriousness she wondered, am I going to live.    Oh my God what have I done?   Her hands, feet and head started to feel numb.  More fear as she called for a priest.   She then asked him to find the scripture where the disciples did the healing of the hands, and had the ability to heal.    The priest couldn’t find the scripture. She asked her dad, brother, and husband to join hands as they all prayed for her.  It was Matthew 10:10 she was thinking about “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”  

Her thoughts raced.   And she prayed inside God I know I told you I would never want to live in a capacity that made me disabled.   But I am just praying that you allow me to stay here and be there for my babies.   Please Lord , I am scared of being paralyzed or dying.   Help me please.  I am so sorry for my foolishness.

Her hands, feet and head stopped tingling moments later. He was there, reassuring her she was going to be ok.       

These were a few moments in my story.   My injury only a small percentage of people survive and of those that do survive often are quadriplegics.   I was and still am His miracle.    

The days that followed were very difficult.  One of the most difficult moments was the first time my boys saw their mama for the first time.  The look in their eyes are etched on my heart.     Eyes completely in fear and looking at their mama in an 8lb halo with bolts drilled into her head.  I remember my little Marcus, he looked at me and his eyes were so wide in fear, I then said to him a lie but prayed for strength in the right words “Marcus mommy is ok, she isn’t in pain and is going to be ok.  You know what is cool you can show me for show and tell and say your mommy is a transformer.”  He then smiled but still was scared.  IT was hard leaving my family in the most magical place in the world, but I really didn’t want their time to end with so much uncertainty and unhappiness.   I then flew back from Florida with my mom, and began the journey of trying to be normal again.  

Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t know if your life will be normal again?   I was in this situation, and felt like I caused it all.    I had to forgive myself, but every step I took it was because of God.    For those of you that are unbelievers, I wish you could hold my hand and see everything I saw.

  • Laying in the hospital in the dark, the nurse took the emergency button from me.  Alone, unable to breath or talk properly because of the compression on my vocal cord.   I could barely utter a sound as loud as a whisper.  In pain that was beyond all comprehension, whispering for help.   I prayed, and asked God to allow someone to hear me.
  • When the bolts were drilled into my head, and the halo was fastened, they want you to try to walk after it is put on.  8lbs of weight pushing down, I got up and my heart almost stopped.   I sat down and thought, how am I going to do this? Again I prayed.   He helped me and I was walking again.  First only a few feet, then down the hall.
  • Being at Disneyworld only for a day when I wanted to be there with them forever, walking around with my halo, I prayed.   Please God help me let this go. 
  • Leaving my children in a wheel chair on a plane, and my husband that I depended on for everything.   I prayed, and He helped me again.
  • Coming home and trying to be normal again, doing laundry, cleaning the house, being a mother of strength, and a wife, sister and daughter.  I prayed to keep it all together.  He was there
  • After 80 days of being in the halo, and the CT results revealing the break was worse off than before, my heart was shattered, I didn’t know what this meant for me and my life.   I headed home and prayed.   He asked me, Do you trust in me child, that I am the God beyond all comprehension. Up til that moment, I felt like after being in the halo – I would be normal again –  it was my plan – not His.   In that moment, I cried and said I am sorry – and said YES GOD I TRUST YOU PLEASE FORGIVE ME.

 

God is loving.  His doing is beyond all comprehension.   Today, my C1 did not heal based on conventional medicine.  When you look at me you would never know that I still have a broken neck stabilized by scar tissue and cartilage. 

This was the beginning of what God was going to show me.    These past 5 years, many things have happened to me and the ones I love and cherish.   But HIS GRACE REIGNS.  In each of every story we have come out stronger, with love that is so deep.    I have learnt

  • My material goods, job, or wealth does not define who I am.
  • Love is created through actions, and it is through each one of us that we can create a difference in the life of one or many.   The more good we put out there the more that comes back.
  • Yes there will be hard times in this life, but it is through the love, support, and faith that we will come through stronger.  Good always comes out of the bad.
  • God loves us unconditionally and does not want any harm to come to a hair on our heads.  However, he will allow things to happen for the good of all.
  • One can help many, by opening up our experiences to one another we create healing.
  • I do not need external validation to realize I am a good person.
  • What you put out there in life comes back full circle.
  • Miracles really do happen.
  • I cannot control what happens to me, but I can control how I choose to respond.
  • Love really love the people in your life.  Extend the hand when you can to others.
  • Family and the ones we love may not always be there so enjoy every single moment together.
  • Forgive, let go, let God handle it.     If you cannot do this, it will eat you up inside.
  • Live today, do not be anxious or worry about things that are beyond your control.
  • Take care of yourself inside out – learn to love You the way you are.

 

There are many more learnings, but I am so very thankful for every single one of them.   Tomorrow is my 5 year anniversary since I broke my neck.  I am reminded of the gift of life.   I choose to celebrate this by making someone else’s life a bit better.   We welcomed Esther from Uganda, our third sponsor child into our lives today.    Finally a girl!!   

Life is about the moments that take your breath away, the good the bad and the ugly.    So much of this life is not in our control.  We have the power of choice in every moment.   I choose God to guide me.   Thank-you God for saving me and allowing me to be on this wonderful earth with my children and to be able to laugh, live and love.  I choose to trust you always have my best interests at heart.

These moments take me back 5 years ago:

https://www.youtube.com/user/nessachesters

 

SO thankful for this life….All of it.

~Ness

 

The Spirit of Christmas

manger

I remember a time when my husband and I struggled, we barely had enough money to pay the bills. Managing finances was a huge component of our day to day living. As time went on, we both progressed in life and career through hard work and determination. Looking back in time, I appreciate the learning that came out of struggling, but now am in a position to give beyond myself.

I have a huge heart and love for people. My hope is for all people to thrive. We are very fortunate in our lives, and I believe that God has given us our blessings so that we can extend a hand on another. Our treasures are not meant for us alone.

Have you ever asked yourself – “How did I get so lucky?” If you have, then you certainly have considered the flip side of what it would look like to go without.

During the Christmas season I have embraced a couple of new traditions. These two traditions are centred on the thought that it is better to give than receive.

The first tradition is to give to our sponsor children. We have two sponsor children, one with world vision Japhet who lives in Rwanda, and another Jenno with Compassion Canada who lives in the Philippines. I have grown to have a special place in my heart for these two boys. Every Christmas season, I decide on providing a gift to their families. The reason being is that although as a sponsor I am helping each of them; it is really through helping their families that will make all the difference. This action also occurs throughout the year at various times. I ask myself over Christmas, if I have been give abundance and security, then how can I extend the hand to them?

The second tradition that we began as a family last year was taking little Christmas packages to Elderly Care Homes in our city. I often find that the elderly get forgotten and Christmas is one of those times that hits home. Last year as a family we made little packages of ornaments, Christmas crackers and candy for the elderly. It was such an amazing feeling but also overwhelmed my heart. The looks in their eyes, the appreciation, and then came tears that flowed at various times. One day, I will be in their situation whether it be for myself or with my own parents, and if I teach my children now about the importance of not forgetting about our loved ones – maybe they will carry the tradition on.

These two items have filled my heart so much over the past year. They have made me realize that one small action creates a reaction. I believe in our culture we surround ourselves so much with our wants and needs, which lead us to sometimes forgetting about what we can do beyond ourselves. My hope is through these small actions, my children are inspired in their lives to continue to do small acts beyond themselves.

So this Christmas, although it is busy at times and can be tiresome at times, what actions can you do that will make a small difference in someone’s day?

May you be blessed my friends.

Vanessa

www.nesschesters.wordpress.com

Dear Vanessa ~ Where am I headed?

a beautiful life ministry

11709576_10153434399721323_5545635757164125657_nAre there times in your life where you feel like you are walking around in a fog?  You feel a push and pull, and you do not know what direction you are headed?  I often feel this way, and want so bad to make the right decision, and head in the right direction.

Over the past few years God has been refining me.   He has been refining my perspective through the good, the bad and the ugly.    At times I have felt the process a bit overwhelming.

I have been fortunate to be given a second chance at life, and when you have a near death experience the focus changes.   For others, it can be a life changing event such as losing a job or someone close to you that brings the focus so much clearer.     

My days are numbered, how I choose to spend the days makes all the difference.   …

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Love Wins

love winsWe live in a hurting and broken world.   But amidst this hurting and broken world are moments of love, joy and peace.   Life is good, life is grand if you allow yourself to experience it in its entirety; and observe and be still.  

What drives your sense of being?  When do you feel full? What moments in your life were defining for you?  Could it be moments that you experience deep love and joy? 

I use to think that love could only be experienced when the moments were just perfect.   Happiness is present, joy is present, and everything seems like perfection. 

Over the past years, our family has had their share of pain, suffering and hurting.   There were moments where I stood back and pinched myself, and asked, “Is this for real??”   But I will tell you this much, in those moments I felt the deepest unconditional love that one could ever experience.  

  • A fractured C1, in an 8lb halo, observing my children laughing in the household, my husband holding it together, my parents unsure of what is next for their daughter, my brother calling and checking in, my in-laws travelling to see us and show that they care, feeling so thankful and much gratitude for my beautiful messy life.  I had a second chance and was fully alive.
  • My father in law and my mom both going through health issues that were unbelievable, moments where you wondered if they would live a normal life.   Two moments I recall in my mind, the day I shaved my mom’s hair for the first time, trying to be strong and at the same time feeling like a child.  My mother, so beautiful, so strong, always there for me. Smiling as I glanced at my mom, and told her how beautiful she was.  I was in complete and utter adoration.  Another moment, heading to see my mother in law  in another city.  She was trying to keep everything together, trying to be strong, and at the same time shed a smile for me as we heated up a nice Ukrainian meal for her and one to take to my father in law in the hospital.   I made her laugh in the pain.  She was so appreciative, and felt so loved, and so was my father in law.  He was overjoyed with us coming to see him, not so much the meal but coming and really being there.  I remember thinking, I love these people so much and was so thankful to be able to help in some small way. Unconditional love.

These were moments that made time stand still.   My discovery –  there is purpose in pain, and love shines through.    There can be moments where we feel complete loss, but at the same time, love shines through.   People come together to help, to contribute, and to show how much they care. Unconditional love, expecting nothing in return.

With the recent events in Paris we all are in tune to what is happening.  A beautiful friend of mine is currently in France.   The first person I thought of when all of the events happened was her.  She was recently married, and I wondered where they were.     After connecting, I was reassured she is healthy and good.   She gave me a picture of her experience in the pain.   She has exposed me to a wonderful perspective of purpose in pain:

My favorite part of the news coverage is the words of survivors, because it’s actual quite balanced, revealing all aspects of the situation, not hateful.   Many survivors are saying such wonderful things.  Yes it was a horror.  But they talk about the love, watching people protect their loved ones, the kindness of strangers in helping them escape or hide, and the kindness of strangers in consoling them.   But the most comforting statements of all are about watching people cradle their loved ones as they lay injured/dying, and noting these last conversations were all about love, and the people they loved most.   I love the thought that people’s last thoughts as they suffered were not in fact of the terrorists, were not hateful – but instead positive in that people were thinking of their loved ones.  No, it may not be happiness they were feeling, but it was love.  Such a beautiful thought that in some way, its proof that in those last moments, love won out over hate.  

Love Wins my friends, love shows through the pain, and the adoration we feel for one another is amplified.      No matter what happens, we can choose our response.      Love Wins. 

 

Dear Lord God,

Thank-you for this perspective today, I am rest assured that the happiness and pain bring love.   Love always shines through, and love wins God.   Today I am still, and observe Your great works in the pain.   No one can overcome this.   I pray for those family going through difficulty, illness, or loss right now, help bring them purpose in the pain.   I pray for your love to erode their lives in actions and the reactions of others.   Through this, we will reign.  I pray for this in Jesus Name Amen.

 

May you be blessed today my friend, Be Still and Know that He is God and that His Love will always overcome.  

The 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month ~ Remember

IMAGE1We are so fortunate to live in a country where we live free, and have the ability to choose. We should never take for granted this gift.

We Remember….

The 11th hour, the 11th day, the 11th month
We remember what you gave,
What you gave up.
We remember……
We remember when,
We saw how,
How you gave everything for us – we remember.
We will not forget all that you have done,
So that we may be here, now….
Free….
We will remember, always and forever.
Bless you all, and thank-you for the gift you have given us.
We honor you.

Take a few moments to click on the following link and “pause in remembrance, and choose to give thanks”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M720ICH_Ne0

Being Hands-Free


I receive a text message, immediately looking at my phone,I choose to respond.   Emails trail in, approximately 100 a day when looking at both work and home.   The phone rings, appointments, schedules and my time is all used up.     I feel frazzled fall is here again.  The calendar shows sports, events, schedules, the balancing act begins with work and life.    My inner self is suffocated – I need some time for me.    We can all relate to this circumstance at various times in our lives, how can we balance it all?   How can we open up some space in our day?

Have you thought about being hands-free to provide some space and time?image1 (2)

Hands-free (Wikipedia) an adjective describing equipment that can be used without the use of hands (for example via voice commands) or, in a wider sense, equipment which needs only limited use of hands, or for which the controls are positioned so that the hands are able to occupy themselves with another task (such as driving) without needing to hunt far afield for the controls.

Can we broaden this definition of being hands-free? An adjective describing letting go and allowing God to be in the driver’s seat.

A lot of items that fill my day really are beyond my control, it is how I choose to respond that makes all the difference.  As I look ahead in the day or week, I see so much to deal with, but perhaps I need to focus on the right now.

Do you know that we are called daily to be hand’s free and let God lead?     Have you ever noticed when you try to control your schedule, the kid’s reactions, and every facet of your life that things feel out of control?

Freedom comes from knowing that God has your back, and that He is in the driver’s seat.   He also has your best interests at heart.  He tells us to come to Him if we need rest or be anxious in nothing at all.  If you are running on empty, He knows how to fill your tank.   So how do we take conscious steps while letting Him lead?    I believe this is the real question.  What are some actions we can take to support letting God lead?

  1. Take time to reflect, pause and renew – take time for prayer, time for God, and time to rest.  Renew your spirit.  It is times where we feel zapped because we have overextended ourselves that cause us the most discontent.   Make this a number one priority in your day, take the time.  This one action will make all of the difference.  Present your requests to God, acknowledge that He is in the driver’s seat and you trust Him.
  2. Decide you can be physically hands-free.   Take a break from texting, looking at your phone and responding.  Don’t respond out of obligation –take some time and then respond when you want to.
  3. Be Present. This is a big one.    Really live in the NOW, take it all in and breathe.   
  4. Do not plan ahead. This is a tough one for many, and something I am learning.  I am finding when I don’t look to far ahead, things flow a lot easier.
  5. Realize you don’t need to be everything to everyone and everything. I think many of us have such high expectations of ourselves.

I am learning to be humble in my thoughts, and to simplify my life.   Recently I have felt like I am changing within.  The change is frightening and exciting all at once.   I am seeing pieces of me leave and other pieces being refined.    I believe this is a process we all experience in our lives.  For some the process is quick, for others the process is a long one.  God makes all things good.

I see His good work in showing me how life can be so much better, if I trust Him, Lean on Him, Love others as I would love myself, and Let go of fear, and anger.    I also am realizing I am beautifully made, which is a bit of a hard pill to swallow for a woman that constantly sees where she can change.     Thank-you Father for being so patient with me again and again.  Thank-you for showing me what needs to adjust in my life.

Dear Lord God, there are so many moments of complete bliss, that I feel full of your glory.  I know that this is what you want for me.   The sunshine in my children’s eyes, the sound of laughter, and the glow of smiles, the love of friendship and family.    These are the moments that I cherish and hold close and never want to let go.     Many times I feel like I am falling short.   I feel the pressures of this life, to be the best, to climb the corporate ladder, to participate in the race and get caught up in it all.    I want to feel complete peace, even in the face of trials or adversity. I need you to lead me, without you I feel so lost.      Lord, define my path for me, guide me, help me to make the choices that are best for me and those I love.      I want to be full of your peace within.    Help me to be hands-free.  You are in control.  I pray for this in Jesus Name Amen.

Be blessed my friend, how can you become a little more hands-free?

Hugs

Ness