Be Thankful…NOW!

Be Thankful…NOW!

As I mentioned in my last post, I shared three books that I have read lately.  I CANNOT recommend Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss enough.  I think I was a pretty thankful, “Half-full” person before I read this book, but it has challenged and encouraged me even more so with the importance of gratitude.  Here are a few quotes from the book that I highlighted (there are many more…but here are a few to whet your appetite):

“Truly, ingratitude is our first step away from God.”  (pg 52)

She quotes Matthew Henry from his journal after he came home to find his house burglarized, ”  Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before;  second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”  (pg 62)

“Gratitude changes things.”  (pg 156)

She shares so many stories and encouraging Bible verses, but near the end of the book she reminds us to thank people in our life, whether in writing or in person.  She lists all sorts of people to consider thanking including your auto mechanic and that older lady at church who always makes you feel special.  She ends that section by saying, “Sure enough, their funeral will roll around one day – and if you are able to go – you’ll sign the book and stand with the floral arrangements, swapping stories with the survivors and recalling what this person meant to you throughout your life.  But how much sweeter would it be to feel their hand in yours, pat them gently on the back and watch their eyes light up as you tell them face-to-face what their life has meant to you?”  (pg 150)

After I reading that reminder, I began to think of people who had impacted my life.  The first person to come to mind was my swim coach.  When I began high school, her children had graduated and were away from home, but she still volunteered to coach the swim team so that we could have a swim team.  (She may have gotten some monetary compensation, but I can ensure you that it was not enough!)

Here’s proof…I really was on the swim team!  These sweats may have been handed down for twenty years …but they were ten types of comfortable!!!

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So, I sat down one day last week to write Coach a handwritten letter to thank her for all the hours she put into coaching us in swimming and in life.  I remembered her smile and the way she would throw her head back when she laughed and how she would even smile when she was ready to strangle the entire swim team!

When I was a senior, I swam for a few days, but then decided that my plate might be too full.  I was trying to walk closely with the Lord and I just felt like I needed to quit the swim team because I had lots of church work to do (you know, church work is God’s only work, hardly!).  After missing a few practices, I finally went to the pool office to give her my final farewells.  My coach listened to me spill my heart and then simply replied (something to the effect of), “The Lord needs people in the swimming pool too.  Your team needs to know Jesus, too.”

I went home and thought about her words.  I had LOVED swimming.  It was such a tremendous outlet for me and great exercise (I didn’t think of it as great exercise at the time…especially when she would give us 8×500 for a practice or when I got to jump in the pool at 5:30 AM when the pool heater was broken or when she made me swim the butterfly…that was torture…not exercise!).

The day after my conversation with the coach, I was back at practice, attempting to do the too many sit-ups and triangle push ups with the rest of the team.  This was my team.  And for some reason, the Lord let me co-captain it that year.  Swimming definitely was a HUGE part of who I was.

So fast-forward to a week or so ago, and I sat down to write Coach a letter to thank her for her sacrifice of time and for her gifts of encouragement to us all.  And when I googled her name to make sure I had the right address, I found her obituary.  She had passed away just a few weeks before.

I sat at the computer stunned and just let the tears flow.  I was upset because I had missed the opportunity to thank this woman, instrumental in my growing up and because once again, I was reminded of how short life is.

A few days later, I wrote to her daughter who actually taught me to swim in their backyard pool (or else I would have never made it onto the swim team).  I had to thank her family for I knew that even though Coach (and often her son) were there daily, it was a family commitment of time.  Coach’s daughter wrote back thanking me for my words…saying that this loss has been tremendously difficult.

I can imagine it is.

I share this story with you because I want to encourage you to “seize the day!”  If there is someone you need to thank, THANK THEM!  And if you have not ordered this book yet, ORDER IT!  I get no compensation for your purchase, but I promise you that it will be a valuable resource for you!  (You might even find yourself reading it as a reminder periodically!)

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Psalm 34:1

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Last week we were blessed to spend a week with my side of the family at the beach.  Even though we didn’t get any pictures together, I did ask a complete stranger to take a picture of me and the little ladies one evening on our nightly beach stroll:

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I am thankful for these little (and big ladies) and for a little time away from the “normal” routine.  I realized how grateful I am for two things while we were gone:  reading and writing.  I got to finish several books that I had been wanting to read and I started a few more that I hope to finish soon (because I am going to make a concentrated effort to read more now that I am back into the “normal” routine).

And not to bore you, but these books were seriously fabulous reads for the Christian who wants to draw closer to the Lord in their daily walk.  So if that’s you (Christian who wants to draw closer to the Lord), then read on.  And if not, know that I have been doing a lot of reading and thanking the Lord this last week!  (And now I am back to some writing!)

The first book I finished was Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  I had started this book at home, but had one little chapter to finish the entire thing.  All I can say is:  This book is on the MANDATORY READING list at my house.

Nancy makes a bold statement in her book:  “ingratitude is our first step away from God.”

Actually she makes several bold statements.  (And you should read them all!)

Through her stories and illustrations, I was so encouraged to ALWAYS find a reason to be thankful.  And it is always possible to find such a reason.

The second book I finished at the beach was Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney.  It is also on my MANDATORY READING list for the girls.  In this 95 page book, I was encouraged to change the way that I pray…for the better.

The last book I read at the beach was Good Grief by Granger E. Westberg.  I had read this book before but lost my copy.  Let’s just say that this book was 10 types of wonderful and is also on my (say it with me) “MANDATORY READING list.”

This last book may seem super odd to enjoy reading, but let me just give this brief synopsis:

Good Grief speaks of the ten stages of grief and how we deal with grief daily.  How we deal with our daily griefs prepares us for bigger and deeper griefs.  Sometimes we get hung up on a stage of grief and it can be a very difficult (and sometimes dangerous) place to be.  Grief does not just come from death.  This 63 page book was an excellent and quick read and will be a reference book for me in dealing with others in the future.

And just so that you will not think I am completely no fun in my reading selections, I will say that I took several magazines that had been piling up and started the Screwtape Letters again.

I still don’t sound like a lot of fun, huh?

I got a few drafts of new devotions written while we were at the beach and I hope to share them soon!

 

 

Devotion: Alligators in My Bed

Devotion: Alligators in My Bed

I had all the normal childhood fears.  I was afraid of the dark.  I was afraid of the monsters in my closet and under my bed.  And, of course, I was afraid of the alligators sleeping in my bed.  

You read that correctly.  I feared the presence of alligators between my fitted and flat sheets.  This was an easy fear to overcome.  I simply had my mom pull the top sheet and covers to the very end of my bed each night so that I could confirm no alligators.  

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My alligator fear was so real that when I wanted to get into my parent’s bed in the middle of the night, I asked them to get out of bed, turn on the lights, and pull their covers all the way back so that I could confirm they had no alligators in their bed as well.

Here is where I will confess to you a few things about my childhood that I have realized since becoming a mother myself:


1.  I was a high maintenance child.  (There.  I said it so you would not have to.)

2.    We never lived within five hours of an alligator habitat.  There was zero chance of alligators in our yard much less my upstairs bedroom!  

3.  I was a very high maintenance child.  

I had always thought I was the easy child, but I have learned that I was definitely more difficult than my sister.  This was because once I became convinced of something, I could not drop it.  Just like the idea of an alligator in my bed…no one could reason with me otherwise.

The alligators became a fearful presence in my life , because I was convinced they were a real possibility.  

A few months after Daniel died, I read a scripture about being convinced.  I had read this passage before.  It has always reassured me of God’s presence no matter what.  

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  
Romans 8:35, 38-39

It was true, and  I had known this before Daniel died. But after his death, this verse seemed to ring truer than before.  

Neither Daniel’s death nor my life here on earth could separate me from the love of God.  Nothing – not my grief, not my fears for the future, not anything that had happened or could happen, could separate me from the love of God.  

I want to encourage you not to let anything separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Seek Him and you will find Him.  Know that His loving arms are just waiting to hold you, hug you, and carry you forever.  

“Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?  
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I made my bed in Sheol, you are there!  
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand shall hold me.”
Psalm 139:7-10

“The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.  
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!  
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”  
Psalm 28:8-9

Blog Readers:  Remember, I would love your honest feedback about these devotions.  You can leave a public comment or send me a message privately.  Thanks in advance!  

Hello August!

Hello August!

I hope this post finds everyone praising the Lord this first evening of August.  I am just overcome with thankfulness and excitement to the Lord…I will share more soon, but I wanted to share a quick update on the ‘ole blog.

My original intentions were to blog three times a week and use my little blogging schedule to keep me on track.  But obviously I am not a track runner.

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True story:  I tried to run track in the eighth grade because the coach was a teacher I wanted to like me.  (I am still not sure if she ever liked anyone.)  So I went to the first day of track practice and ran all the drills and then I walked home (we lived across the street from my middle school).  When I got home, I laid down on the couch and I did not move until the next day – I couldn’t.  I think I had to take some ibuprofen the next morning to be able to walk back to school.

Running Track=NOT MY THING.

All joking aside, you know what happened?  LIFE.  Life happened.  I realized that I have three little ladies and my first priority (after loving God) is to love their daddy and them.  My heart is so full serving in these roles and I don’t want to get sidetracked (is that a pun after the above story?) from these roles the Lord has blessed me with.  I know that God also gave me Daniel the subsequent children’s book and desire to have a devotion book to accompany the book, but those are not my primary roles in life.

Child of God, Wife, Mother…primary roles.  Author/blogger…secondary.

All of that to say, I am still going to blog about God’s goodness and share my devotions as I write them, but I am not sure how soon my devotion book will be complete.  I have about twenty devotions drafted (some are closer to being finished than others), but I don’t have to have them done this week or next, but I do have to be the best wife and mother I can be and show my girls the love of God each and every moment of every day.

I am excited to see what God will do with this devotion book and I would appreciate your honest feedback as to whether or not the devotions seem applicable to a mother who has lost an infant or had a miscarriage.  So thank you for reading and thank you even more for your honest feedback!

I pray that God will use my words for His glory!

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Psalm 34:1

What’s Up Wednesday?

What’s Up Wednesday?

I have been a negligent blogger lately and for that I apologize, but I don’t mean it!  We have had a full plate these last few weeks and it has been wonderful and so full of family and fun!

I saw on Kelly’s blog today that there was a thing called “What’s Up Wednesday?” and it seemed like a good way to reconnect with my blog readers…so here goes.

These are the questions I am supposed to answer:

WUWquestions-edit-969x1024.jpgWhat we are eating this week?  We are eating a lot of picnics and I have learned to have fresh veggies on a tray around the clock for us to munch on.  It saves us on time and calories!  We have also been enjoying Beanito chips this summer…if you have not tried them, you must!  The Garden Salsa flavor is my favorite!

What I am reminiscing about:  The last eleven to thirteen years…where has the time gone?  I have been a mother for eleven years and a wife for almost thirteen…wow!  Time does fly when you are having fun!

What I am loving: Time together.  This last month we have had too many days where I went this way and Dustin went that way and the girls were with one or the other or grandparents…so we are enjoying our time together.  We like each other pretty good.

What I am dreading:  Cleaning the floors…I always dread cleaning the floors.

What I am working on:  School lesson plans and our Christmas play…I love the Christmas play…

What I am excited about:  Getting back into a normal routine with school starting soon!

What I am watching/reading:  We started watching Studio C on the Youtube this week.  I am reading “Choosing Gratitude” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and “Simplify Your Day” by T. Childers.

What I am listening to:  Instrumental Hymns (Does that make me a senior citizen?)

What I am wearing:  I am wearing a lot of leggings and dresses this summer…and of course, my Chacos…they are a standard around our house.

What I am doing this weekend:  NOTHING.  There is nothing on our calendar…this is the first time since April that we have had a clear weekend.  Praise the Lord!

What I am looking forward to next month:  Getting into a routine.  I love the ministry of a good routine.

What else is new?  I had two book signings this month and the Lord has been so good to give me opportunities to share my story.  I am praying that He will open doors to get the word out about I Have a Brother.

The Lord is so faithful…that’s nothing new, but I have been reminded of His faithfulness throughout this whole book process and I trust Him with it!   Great is His Faithfulness!  (That may have been playing on my Pandora earlier today🙂

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

God Gave Me You

God Gave Me You

I wrote this poem a few weeks before LeeAnne was born and today we are celebrating her 8th birthday.  I realized the other day that I had never printed this poem out and put it in her baby book…it’s nothing spectacular, but it brings back all the emotions I felt as I went through her pregnancy…

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God Gave Me You

God gave me you

On a cold autumn day

My heart was half-beating

When God gave me you

Not sure that our family

Would grow over three

What did God want from me

Then God gave me you

Your sister’s a blessing

Your brother’s in heaven

With one other sibling

And God gave me you

Skeptical at best

Would this pregnancy last

But at eight weeks we checked

And God gave us you

The days felt like months

The weeks felt like years

July would never come

And still, God gave me you

Finally you would move

And I’d know you’re o.k.

You’d punch my rib cage

Oh, God gave me you

I’m counting the days

‘Till I meet your cute gaze

Always remember

That God gave me you

Love,

Mommy

6/25/08

Lists and other great things

Lists and other great things

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Today I feel like I have finally gotten most areas of my life back in order.  The last few weeks have been a little busier than normal and after two weddings and a week at Bible school, I pretty much felt like this picture.  Isn’t that one cute tired little girl???  I like her a little 😍

So today I am just going to share with you some fabulousness that has been going on around here lately.  And I am going to use a list format because lists are so much easier than paragraphs (see the above picture)

  1.  VBS – We have never done VBS before but this year we went all out for “Cave Quest!”  The host church did a fabulous job and it didn’t hurt that Dustin’s parents and sister were leaders there also.                 image
  2. Chick-Fil-A free fruit cup.  It comes on the calendar card this month and it has twice saved me from my “needed” sweet tea.  Praise the Lord!  (Yes, I have more than one card)
  3. Fiddle Camp – every year the Cockman family hosts a free fiddle camp in Blowing Rock park.  This is our first year doing it and it has been fabulous!  The girls love to play their violins and their fiddles!  (Okay…it is one in the same…just depends on how you play it!)
  4. Our community – with these weddings and VBS, I have been so overwhelmed by the support in our community.  People coming together to help others out because that is what we do as brothers/sisters in Christ.  It is all for His glory!
  5. The little gals that God has entrusted to our care…they have worked hard these last two weeks (and rested well!), but I cannot thank the Lord enough for them.  We make a great team!!!
  6. My sister-in-love, Molls…she has been my right hand for these last two weddings -wait, she has done all the weddings with me this year!  I thank the Lord for her help and for her friendship!  She always brings a smile…image
  7. July…it is birthday month up in here and I have some excited little ladies!  And in a few more days I will be down to one booster seat…praise the Lord!!!!

What do you praise the Lord for today?  At Bible school, we called these things “God-sightings,”  things that remind us that God loves us.  I would love to read your “God-sightings” in the comments below.  Go ahead – give Him praise!

“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.”             Psalm 104:33