Feel the Rain

Feel the Rain

I am so thankful that the Lord has not given up on me over the years.  He keeps refining me and taking me through situations I would never have asked for or wanted to experience…oh, but the Lord has plans for good!

One day in the middle of a lengthy wet spell, we were all getting a little stir crazy, some more than others in our home.  So when the rain let up a bit and someone asked to go outside, I said, “Yes!”

I figured a little wetness would not hurt…it could be a prelude to a real shower upon re-entrance to our dry abode!

When I looked outside, this is what I saw:

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I watched.   Stunned.  What was this child of mine doing?  Dressed in a pink and blue beret, a cute skirt, the smelliest sparkly Toms any child has ever worn and a beautiful wool coat with faux fur collar, just three sizes too small.

I just watched…wondering if I should make her come inside, but she was enjoying her time outdoors so much.  And honestly, I could tell she needed this freedom from our own four walls.

I snuck outside to get a picture of her in the rain, walking around with her hands held out, just happy as a clam.  So I joined her in the great (wet) outdoors, took her picture (unbeknownst to her) and asked her, “Lee, what are you doing?”

“I am feeling the rain.”

And such is life with her – she feels the rain in every situation.  When life is sad, her eyes fill with tears. When life is funny, she rolls with laughter.  When she sees an injustice, she burns with anger.  When she sees a need, she does her best to meet it.  When someone is sad, she gives them warm hugs.  She is not afraid to feel every emotion and to love every person she meets.

Before the Lord gave me Lee, I would steer clear of all these emotions and feelings…

God gave me Lee because He knew I needed her.  I needed to learn to feel the rain.  To live my life to the fullest and to enjoy every minute of it…whether rain or shine.

And I have learned to thank the Lord for both.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts, See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24

I Done Went There

I Done Went There

I have thought and thought how to tell you this…and this title kept coming to mind.

I know it is grammatically incorrect.

I know the title is painful to read…but it just makes me laugh and smile and see the brighter side of things…now that I am on this side of things.  Let me explain where I went recently.

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(Ha!  It wasn’t anywhere like this.)

Almost two weeks ago my middle daughter began complaining of neck pain.  I felt of her neck after more complaints than normal and felt that her lymph nodes were swollen behind one ear.  Dustin wasn’t available that night, so I googled swollen lymph nodes and was relieved to understand that this was a good sign…a sign of the body fighting off some sickness.

So I put on my game face and started giving more fluids than normal and other natural remedies for sicknesses.

Her neck pain got worse so I took her to see my ex-roommate, now Physician’s Assistant, friend. (God bless her especially after all the text message exchanges we had last week!)   She administered a strep test (which was negative) and said the lymph nodes were doing their job and we just needed to give it time.

Oh, time…I love you so much.

By Thursday night, these nodes were still super swollen (and painful) and a low grade fever began.  I am typically not “that parent” who runs to the pediatricians office, but this was day four of my daughter being in constant pain and now she had a fever, I honestly thought maybe we had a negative on the strep test and we could get an antibiotic and all would be well in the world.

Hallelujah and Amen.

And Dustin even offered to take her to the Pediatrician’s office…so bless his heart, he went and sat among all the sick people and all their germs and their germs’ germs.

And he held our little gal’s hand while she had another strep test and a blood test for mono.  He gives the girls strength in situations that involve needles.  I just tend to be extremely quiet and sweaty which does not yield any assistance from Mommy when needles are around.  I just can’t.

I am sweating now just thinking of the needles.

Anyway, all tests were negative and again we were told there are SO MANY viruses that look like mono and act like it…give it a few more days.

So long story short…we ended up having 72+ hours of me administering ibuprofen or tylenol every three hours around the clock to keep her temperature between 101 and 102 (with medicine).  She could not eat ANYTHING for almost that entire time because of her swollen throat (you almost could not see her hangy down thing in the back of her throat…the uvula?).

And one steroid shot on Wednesday afternoon, made the world a better place.  By Thursday morning, we had no fever and our appetite began to come back.
And today when she requested Bojangles for lunch, I did not think twice about its fat or grease content.  If she wanted to eat it, I would oblige.

But here’s where I went.  Until we had this steroid shot, I would look at her suffering, unable to turn her neck, crying from the pain in her throat, trying to sleep but burning with fever and think, “Oh God, please don’t take another child from me!  I cannot lose another child.  I just can’t.”

That’s where I went.

I remembered those feelings of handing my deceased child to the doctors.  Of never seeing a chest rise and fall again.   Of coming home empty-handed and staring out the window in stunned thoughtlessness.

And I let fear take me over.

And I was scared.  Scared for her life and scared for mine without her.

I realize that I was tired and I had never experienced such sickness for myself or any of our children before this.  And I know that some people pull out the “OVERREACTING” card on me.

But to me, it is real.  Loss is a real thing.  And I can relive it very easily even ten years later.

It happens when I hear of someone else losing a baby or a child.  I am so overwhelmed with sadness and brokenhearted that I can hardly function.

And evidently it happens when I am faced with extreme sickness in my own family.  Sigh.

Just for the record, I have learned that when I recognize myself “going there”with my thoughts, I try to take them captive.  Using Philippians 4:8, I can ask myself, “What is true?”  (In this case, my daughter was sick, doctors were not concerned and she would more than likely make a full recovery – even google told me so!)  “What is right?”  And so forth and so on.  ( This is wonderful advice I got from Elizabeth George’s book, Loving God with All Your Mind.)  

Then I try to find verses to cling to in the current situation.

I hope by sharing this, you too, will realize when your mind starts taking you “there.”  Be careful of “What if” thinking and to focus on what is true…and trust the One who is carrying you each step of the way.  And praise Him even in life’s storms.

” Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9

 

Allergic to Cold

Allergic to Cold

Our first Christmas together, Dustin wrote me a poem.  He has a real gift for writing.  (Yes, that was a hint that he could write me more poems…)  I was touched by his expression of love in the poetic form.  

I have looked and looked and much to my dismay I cannot find the original poem he sent to me.  (See how much the poem meant to me!?  Truly, I am sick that I cannot find it!)  However, I remember (kinda) how the last stanza went:

“I look forward to with her growing old

This brown eyed girl allergic to cold”

Romantic…I know.   

I had never before thought of my aversion to cold as an allergy, but alas, it was true.  Just as I was allergic to the pollen, I was allergic to the cold.  

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In my efforts to keep from chilling, I had a game plan.  I wore long underwear and wool socks.  I slept with extra blankets and heated rice bags.  I always kept an extra layer or two in the car in case I ever was caught off guard by a chill in the air.  

And yes, I will confess here before God and everyone, that it was me who would occasionally turn the thermostat up one to ten degrees depending on the severity of the cold in our home.

Because the bottom line is this:  I DO NOT WANT TO BE COLD.

You know what I else I don’t want to be?  Sad.  I don’t want to be sad because sad means something has gone wrong, someone is hurting, a heart has been broken.  

But Is it possible to keep myself from being sad?  From having disappointments?  

The answer is simple:  I can’t.  And I am sorry to break this to you, but, you can’t either.  

You could try to keep yourself from experiencing events that make you sad, but, , your order may arrive damaged,  and your expectations may not go exactly how you planned.

I had to decide two things in my life.  

  1. It was okay to get cold.  As much as I disliked it, I could not prevent it.  
  2. It is okay to be sad.  

My job is to live my life to the fullest realizing that there will be hurt and pain and sadness and disappointments along the way.  It is my responsibility in these good times and bad to keep my eyes focused on the Lord.  I should never fear what I cannot control, but trust the God who loves me and will work all things for His glory…whether in cold weather or in warmth.  

And just a side note:  Now that I am older and have birthed several children, I am not as cold natured as I used to be…but I still dislike the cold.  But now I also dislike the extreme warmth…basically,I would like to have a personal thermostat to program so that I do not get over or under heated.

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

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

“Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.  Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”  Psalm 32: 10-11

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”Psalm 119:165

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!  

Thank You, Lord!

Thank You, Lord!

I apologize for the length of this post…but I had to share this story…Matthew 77Today for Wonderful Wednesday, I want to just thank the Lord!  Along each step of this self-publishing journey He has opened (and closed) doors and provided just what I needed when I needed it.  I want to share with you one example of this amazing provision from the Lord and hope it encourages you as much as it has encouraged me!

As I have taken each next step for this self-publishing journey, I have asked the Lord to direct my footsteps and to show me what to do.  One part of this journey was having the money to be able to print the books.  After much counsel and prayer, it was decided that we would need $3,600 to print the books.

Last fall when I was looking at needing that amount of money, Dustin and I decided that we would borrow the money,but rather that I would use money I earned from directing weddings to pay for the book expenses.  And the Lord provided four weddings to do in 2016 – two in March and two in the summer.  I assumed that I would begin the printing process after the summer weddings.

But in early March, I was encouraged by several people to get these books here – to get them on their way.  As I looked at the accounts, I realized that we lacked $1,200 from being able to print these books.  I also felt an urgency to get this process started.

One morning as I was reading through the book of Matthew, I came upon these familiar verses:  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8

I was convicted big time that I had planned for the book’s printing, but I had not asked the Lord – I had not sought Him like I should have for this provision.  I just assumed His provision was the upcoming wedding work.

So on that Friday morning, I prayed, “Lord, I feel like you want me to get this book process started ASAP…but I also know that we still need $1,200 to start this process.  So I am giving this financial need to you and if you want us to go ahead and print them, then I am asking you to provide $1,200.  And if not, that is fine too…I just want to be in Your will.”

And I left it at that.  I knew I had given it to the Lord and He could do what He wanted to…I honestly expected that to be the end of that.

But two days later on Sunday morning, a young man in our congregation came up to Dustin and said, “I have been praying about your book process and the Lord laid it on my heart to give you some money to support this project.”  And he handed Dustin a white envelope with cash in it.  $505 American dollars to be exact. Read more