Sometimes I Struggle

Help! I feel like I’m drowning in my own overactive mind and imagination. I have these feelings of grandeur and yet I’m so trapped in my thoughts I cannot escape. They haunt me. They sit around and wait until I get motivated and then POW like a streak of lightning they’re back. They are both inhibiting and debilitating. I know them well and it’s called procrastination coupled with fear and anxiety.

Once I allow You to free me from my overactive thoughts and imagination, I can do anything I set my mind to and the crazy thing is that I accomplish both small and large tasks with zing. It’s just sometimes my mind wants to keep me from accomplishing anything.

So today I am calling it what it is. It is called anxious and afraid. I am anxious because I don’t often know what I should be writing and I am afraid because I don’t think people care. And so, today, I am going to pray and ask the Lord to help me through this anxiousness and fear.

First of all, he didn’t put the spirit of fear in me. The devil is crafty and I am allowing him to inhibit me with fear. Therefore the first course of action is going to be for me to proclaim that God has not given me a spirit of fear. God has given me a spirit of peace because I dwell in Him and His presence dwells in me.

So why am I allowing the devil to cause fear and anxiety? I am allowing him to tell me that I am not good enough. There are so many better writers out there than me. Nobody wants to hear your voice. Nobody cares what you have to say. Everybody is saying the same thing and you’re no different.

But essentially what I am telling God is “I don’t trust you.” You know why? Because God has called me to this journey of writing. That’s why. He called me and sought me out. I know that He has used my words to make a difference in people. People have told me so and I have no reason to doubt . Besides, isn’t my story, my story? Sure, I may have learned some of the same life lessons but maybe in a different way and maybe in a way that others can understand. My voice is unique and it’s a part of who I am.

Lord, You make my voice unique. You give me words that spill from my thoughts onto the keyboard and onto the page. What do you want to say in and through me? I don’t want to be a resounding gong, nor do I want repeat what others have said. I want my own voice, the voice that You have given me. The one that is unique to me.

I don’t take this assignment lightly. I know that it is a gift from you. A calling.

As I was reading and learned this morning, part of taking care of my spirit is being obedient to you. Also through Leviticus and Ezekiel, there are harsh warnings about disobedient. I mean, Aarons son’s flagrantly disobeyed and they were consumed by fire. You repeatedly gave the Israelites stern warnings about their disobedience and even when Ezekiel’s wife died, You asked him to keep proclaiming your word and not to mourn. Oh, how You wanted their hearts to return to you. But they were stubborn and obstinate. I don’t want to be stubborn and obstinate. I don’t want to be like Moses and list all the reasons why I am unqualified because the truth is: If you have called me to this, You will equip me for this. Therefore I don’t have to allow all these voices in my mind to counteract what you are clearly calling me to do.

And so I will write. Every thought, every word, every sentences that You bring into my thoughts and I will write them down. Then I will allow time to think and pray and process and together with Your help, I will weave and craft them into the masterpiece that You desire. A masterpiece that will bring honor and glory to You.

Love is the Better Choice

For months I have been silent, well silent for me. It is golden, right? Maybe, maybe not. I am going to try to steer clear of getting on a soapbox because I could certainly do that as well. Actually, I could quite possibly in the course of one writing hit on many but my rants are pointless because what I would rant about I would actually need to be pointing fingers back at myself for doing. Let’s face the real fact, I am a flawed individual. Pure and simple. I make mistakes. I make poor choices. I do dumb sometimes. But because of the grace of God I am forgiven (past, present and future) for my sin and shortcomings.

What I want you to know and what I need for you to hear is that I love you. I love you because like me, you are created in the very image of God. And whether you believe it or not, God said of man, “It is very good.” (Gensis 1:31). That means all of humanity is very good. However, going on a little further in scripture we see that we are the ones who muck it up. Look at Ecclesiates 7:29 (MSG), “Yet I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.” This is called freewill. Because we are created in the image of God, He also gave us the right to choose. His desire is that we choose to live in fellowship with Him but He will never force us. He will only pursue us.

Personally, I am saddened by all the negativity fluctuating these days. But you know what breaks my heart more, the fact that I see brother rising against brother. I see so much hatred and so little love. This is so upside down from the way it’s suppose to be. How have we gotten so far away from knowing that love is far greater than hate? We, and I am speaking to those who are Christians, have taken our eyes off of our first and greatest love, God. Because we are told that the greatest commandment is to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40. Folks, we can do better. We have to do better. We are made in the image of God and because we bear His image we should do better. We should strive to love our fellowman.

I’ve been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. If you’ve never picked up this book, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is power packed with so much truth. He is so pragmatic and practical but mostly he’s a deep thinker and he processes through what Christianity really means. Look at what he says about good and evil : “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”

The small seemingly insignifcant choices we make today will make huge impacts down the road. He also says earlier in the chapter, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find on the greatest secrets when you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” We are not all going to think alike. We certainly do not look alike. We do not behave alike but what we all have in common is that we are ALL created by God. We are the only thing in creation that He did not speak into existence. We are formed by the very hands of God and He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life and that is why we should strive to love one another deeply because “love covers over a multitude of sins.” ( I Peter 4:8)

He Is There…He is with You

To be honest, I wrote this five years ago and it never ceases to amaze me how timely God is. I needed this reminder today and maybe you do as well.

So many people I know have been going through some very significant storms in their lives. For some it’s financial, others relational, illness, others loss of loved ones, and others emotional.

As I have been praying for these dear ones, God continues to remind me that He is with us in our storm. We may not see him but He is there and He will come to our rescue but only when the time is right and always just at the right time.

This picture keeps coming to mind for several reasons. Let me share the story behind it.

Mount Arbel is the place where Jesus retreated to go pray, while he sent his disciples on ahead of him, on the Sea of Galilee, to Bethsaida. While the disciples were on a the sea, a squall or significant storm came. They were terrified. Jesus watched from the mountain top. He knew they were in the storm. He knew they were afraid. He knew they needed Him but He also knew they needed to go through the storm. (Mark 6:45-52)

Rick Warren says, “He’s letting you go through this storm for the same reasons he sent the disciples into the storm — to say, ‘I’m all you need. I can handle anything. I will come to you in the ninth hour. And I’ll come walking on the very thing that scares you the most. I’m not asking you to come to me. I’m going to come to you. You need to stop being afraid, and you need to totally trust me in faith.”

Look at this picture of Amy taken from Mount Arbel. The most fascinating fact about this is that from Mount Arbel you can see the entire Sea of Galilee. Just a great reminder that Jesus sees the whole picture. He sees all that life is throwing at us and He will come to us in our storm. We must believe in Him.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Weeds

Weeds. Annoying. Unsightly. Stubborn. The things that drive me insane but at the same time have become my therapy. During the quarantine when I needed an outlet, I could always excuse myself to go pick weeds. Sometimes for thirty minutes and other times for an hour or more. The beauty of having healthy Bermuda grass is that the weeds are very easy to spot. However, some are so dang stubborn I use a screwdriver to dig them up (It’s a great way tool to use).

Considering we’ve had torrential downfalls this past week, not only did the grass grow the weeds did as well. On Wednesday afternoon I noticed how prominently the weeds were on full display in our yard. It was as if they were screaming, “A few days of rain and no picking bring us out.” If it hadn’t been still raining I probably would’ve gone out to pick the weeds right then. But like a lot of things these days, I had to wait, a great exercise in patience, which has never been a very strong virtue.

Thursday afternoon when I arrived home, the rain had finally subsided and the sun was peering through the clouds. Considering a few hours had passed without rain, I decided it was a good time to go mow the grass and pick those pesky weeds. It took twice as long for me to mow because I was picking weeds with almost every swipe. Fortunately, most of the weeds came up easily due to ground saturation. There were some that wanted to hold on for dear life and others that refused to move at all without the aid of my trusty screwdriver.

After the mowing was complete, I stood back to observe my work. The grass not only looked better, but weeds also were not screaming at me. Did I get every single weed? No. I did get the vast majority.

I am learning that my life is much like those pesky unsightly weeds. There are weeds that pop up all the time. It may be in the form of anger, bitterness, sadness, hurt, disappointment, loneliness…..you get the idea. As those things surface, I can do a few things:

I can leave the weeds alone and allow them to continue to grow. If I do, their roots will grow deeper and they will be much more difficult to remove. Plus they get more unsightly.

I can pluck the tops and leave the root. If I leave the root, the weed will resurface.

I can pull the weed, root and all; even if I have to use my digging tool. Chances are if I pull it from the root, the weed will not resurface. It has been dealt with.

The greatest thing about being able to deal with these weeds in my life is that I am learning to have a healthy relationship with God through His Word. It is much easier to see these weeds surface. Sometimes, I would rather not deal with these weeds. Far to often, they’ve been a part of my life for a very long time and that means that their roots are embedded deeply and they are much harder to remove. While their removal is harder and sometimes a lot more painful, God’s Word brings health and healing.

Again I am reminded that I have NOT arrived as a Christian. My life is a work in progress. God is patient with me and I have to be patient with myself. I will not rid myself of all the weeds but with God’s help and through His Word, I can deal with things as they come to the surface.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV

Why I Can Celebrate A Risen Savior

Before you read this post, I want you to know that I have spent a great deal of time praying over this post. Not only have I prayed over sharing this, but I have also prayed for you, my readers. I can tell you that this particular writing came through a recent Bible Study God placed on my heart about nine months ago. I realize that it’s significantly more lengthy than I normally write. Please bear with me. For me, personally, this has been a life-altering study and today, of all days, it is why I can celebrate Easter because Jesus took my place and He conquered sin and death. He is my Victory.

The truth is you don’t get to know someone intimately without spending time with them. I spent a lot of time with my Popaw. I knew him well. I knew him so well that when he asked for water it was not a common request. At that moment I believe that God was clearly showing me and Mom that Popaw would soon meet Jesus.

For years doctors, as well as family, tried vehemently to get Popaw to drink water. However, Popaw refused. He preferred his coffee and tea always reasoning, “I’m getting my water from coffee and tea. Besides, I don’t know how you can enjoy drinking something that has no flavor.” Mom even bought flavored water drinks to try to encourage his intake of water. It proved to be a useless, futile attempt. Popaw was adamant, he would not drink water.

So, after we finally got him somewhat calmed down the day of his stroke, I asked him, “Popaw, do you want something to drink?”

He responded, “I want water.”

I asked a second time, “Did I hear you correctly you want water?”

Nodding his head and opening his dry mouth he said, “I want water.”

Mom and I both stood there in utter disbelief and shock. Mom looked at me, began to shake her head and uttered, “He never asks for water. Never. He doesn’t like water. I cannot believe what I am hearing.”

I gave him water that day. I knew his time was short. I knew that God was helping both of us process that Popaw would not be with us much longer. However, if I had not spent a great deal of time with him, if I had not gotten to really know him, I would not have known his request to be so odd or unusual. I knew him. I gave him water on Wednesday and he died the following Tuesday.

I believe with all of my heart that the reason John wrote the Book of John is that John wants us to get to know Jesus like He knew Jesus. He is telling us, in essence, the very reason Jesus came was for us to know Him because when we know Him, we will believe in Him. Consequently giving us the right to become heirs with Him. (“But to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 ESV)

Look with me at the following verse. I have taken the liberty to give it to you in several different translations. I encourage you to read it in others. Each translation has it’s own uniqueness which helps aid in our understanding.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, the glory of as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 ESV

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside out, true from start to finish.” MSG

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“And the Word (Christ) became flesh and lived among us; and we (actually saw His glory, glory as belongs to the (One and ) only begotten Son of the Father (the Son who is truly unique the only One of His kind, who is) full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception.” John 1:14 AMP

When you read the words, “And the Word became flesh.”? What does that mean to you?

To me it means, Jesus put skin on. It didn’t make him any less God but he took on human flesh. And what that means for me, personally, is that He became human so that He could experience life the way I experience life. He can identify with me.

Think about it like this. The best counselors are those who have walked in your shoes. The ones who have lived through the hard times and made it through. In order to understand us, Jesus was willing to put skin on. The truth here is that he has endured all that we will ever endure. Mock, ridicule, injustice, betrayal, separation from the Father, and death. Knowing this means that He understands and that is what makes Him the “Wonderful counselor” Isaiah talks about. (Isaiah 9:6)

The writer of Hebrews expressed it like this: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV)

Then John goes on to say, not only did he become flesh but “He makes his dwelling among us.”

In order to really understand what that means we have to go back to the original Greek text and see that the word “dwelt or lived” is literally translated as “tabernacled” which means to pitch a tent.

If you’ll remember the tabernacle during the days of Moses was God’s dwelling place. Now, this tabernacle was constructed with human hands and under the direction of God. And if you’ll remember on the priests could enter the Holy of Holies and there was a veil that separated them from seeing God. Now, because Jesus came in human form, not made by human hands, we have God in flesh living among us. He is our Emmanuel, “God with us.” He is near. What a revelation!

You see, Jesus is the only way to a relationship with God!

Pastor Emile Wolfaardt puts it this way: “A little more than 2,000 years ago, God stepped onto our earth, pitched His tent and set up camp right in the middle of us all. That is what the word ‘dwelled’ can mean — to set a tent. In other words, the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us. And when He did that,well men it was the most profound revelation of God man would ever know on this earth.”

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:11-12

And now because Jesus put on skin and dwells among us, “we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

First of all, I think it’s important to remember who is writing this book, John, the disciple. Remember he communed with Jesus on a regular basis. He had a relationship with him. and to remember that he along with Peter and James was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Look with me at Matthew 17

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8

So yes, John has seen his glory but we too have seen his glory. We see His glory when we believe that He is our Savior and He is the only way to the Father. Then we see His glory displayed in and through the lives of others who believe.

What does His glory look like?

“Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Exodus 33: 18-20

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, “ Exodus 34:6

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:1-4

“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” 2 Corinthians 4:6

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Revelation 21:23

His glory is as brilliant as the sun. And His glory is clearly revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. Before Christ, no one could see the face of God and live but this scripture tells us that not only is Jesus, the only Son of God, but Jesus himself is God. When Jesus took on flesh, He became the ultimate manifestation of God’s glory. When Jesus went to the cross, died and rose again, He returned to glory.

But John doesn’t stop there, he tells us that He is full of “grace and truth.”

Theologian J.C. Ryle eloquently writes of the grace and truth that came together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ: “This constant undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ’s Person is exactly that which gives infinite value to His mediation and qualifies Him to be the very Mediator that sinners need. Our Mediator is One who can sympathize with us, because He is very MAN. And yet, at the same time, He is One who can deal with the Father for us on equal terms, because He is very GOD.”

What do you think of when you hear the word grace?

Do you think of the time while Jesus was hanging on the cross and he cries out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?” Luke 23:34

Here is the epitome of grace and truth.

The truth is that it’s our sin that cost him his life. That is the reason Jesus took on flesh because there was no other way. The sacrifice had to be spotless and perfect. But do you realize what the implications of our sin really cost Him?

Think back to the Garden of Gethsemane. Three, not once, twice but three times, Jesus prayed fervently for God to take the cup from Him. He came with flesh on for this purpose. He knew all along what His purpose was but His spirit was in such agony that He asked God to “take it away but only if there was any other way.” Why would Jesus beg God to take it away? Because He knew for the very first time since before the beginning of all time that He would be separated from God, the Father. Just ponder that for a moment…..I think most of us know what it feels like to be separated from someone we know. Think about how your heart groans and longs to be reunited. But this, this is far worse than any separation we can imagine. And when we begin to realize the vast implications of what our sin really cost Him, it becomes more difficult not to see His grace in light of His truth and not stand amazed with awe and wonder.

He gave us what we didn’t deserve and took our punishment upon him. Isaiah penned it like this “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 ESV

And if He bore our sins and took our punishment and we have come to faith in Him, then it is profitable for us to remember ”So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 NIV

The truth is He willingly put on flesh in order to take on our sin because there was no other way. He bought our freedom with His blood. And Hallelujah, on the third day he arose and burst the gates of Hell wide open. This is why I can celebrate Easter. Jesus is me Victory!

A Fast Spreading Infection

An infection, especially a bacterial infection, left untreated can wreak havoc quickly. Oh, I’ve heard about incidents where folks left infections untreated and serious problems resulted from not taking care of the problem. In some cases, amputations of appendages and even death. I just didn’t realize how quickly an infection can spread until I had one.

One day in late May, I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure. It’s not something I normally do. It’s one of the luxuries I don’t care to spend money on, except occasionally and for special occasions. This particular day, I just needed a “pick me up”.

The next day, as the day progressed, I noticed that my left thumb was tight and it was trobbing a little. But when I glanced down at it, it had the appearance of a bug bite. It was the end of May and the mosquitos were out. I brushed it off and didn’t think anything else about it until later in the day.

During dinner with Terry I jokingly said, “Look at my poor thumb. It’s swollen and it has a fever.”

He said, “Well, when you get home put some ice on it. It looks like a bug bite.” (See, I told you, in my previous blog, his answer for everything is “ice”. )

By the time I arrived home my thumb was throbbing. It felt as if my heart was beating in my thumb. Not to mention, the swelling was getting worse. My thumb was so tight I could barely move it. So, I did what Terry suggested. I put ice on the darn thing and began my Google search to determine what bit me. After several searches and looking at pictures of bug bitten fingers, mine didn’t exactly fit the bill. So I Googled, “Why is my thumb swollen around the nail?” One of the first articles talked about bacterial infections related to manicures. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had the manicure the day before and that’s exactly what happened. I had gotten an infection. Then I recalled an odd comment the nail tech made to me, “I don’t like that color. Why you choose that color?” (And yes, he said it this way because he’s Asian) I also remembered during the process of cutting my cuticle he gouged me a little in the lower left corner of my left thumb. As I looked at my fat thumb, I could see tiny remnants of dried blood from the small gouge mark. No wonder he didn’t like the color, I thought as I recalled events from the previous day. But honestly, if the infection hadn’t set it, I doubt I would’ve even noticed it.

I slept very little that evening. My thumb was having a throb fest. By the next morning, it was more red, swollen and feverish. In fact, I couldn’t bend it. Terry, Alex and Amy suggested calling the doctor. I tried arguing but they kept saying, “You don’t complain about pain unless it hurts.” That is true, I do have a high tolerance for pain and sometimes it’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse. Also, I knew from what I read the night before that I did need to seek medical attention.

My dermatologist wasn’t available until Friday and my PCP was out of town but I did get in to see the PA. As soon as she looked at my finger, she said, “Wow! Bet you won’t go back to that nail salon again!” She explained that this type of infection can go south very quickly and she was very concerned. She prescribed a 10-day antibiotic and told me that I had to soak my finger five times a day in Epsom salt and water. Then I had to use warm compression on it after the soaking. She suggested I do this for the next three days and then cut back as the infection got better.

As I was leaving I was trying to find some humor in all and said, “Well, I knew my thumb was sick because it was running a fever.”

“To be honest, you are running a fever and that indicates the infection is already spreading. Your body temperature is 100.4,” she responded.

“Wow! I never run a fever and my normal body temperature is 97.6, not 98.6. I sure am glad I came today and didn’t wait, ” I answered back

“If it gets worse or your fever gets higher, go to the ER immediately. Do not wait.” She earned as I was leaving.

Driving home, I kept thanking God that the pain was so intense that I had to go to the doctor. Otherwise, I would’ve waited and the outcome may have been much worse.

Just to help you understand how seriously my doctor’s office took this infection, the PA called me for the next three days to make sure I was improving.

As I sit here and recount this story, it reminds me of how sin infects our lives when it’s left unchecked. You see, sin is like a bacterial infection. The longer we wait around to take care of it the longer it will take to get it out of our lives. Ravi Zacharias says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Jesus stands ready to forgive and make you well. But you have to call on Him and trust Him through the process. Just like I did with my doctor. Do you remember when the Pharisees and Scribes came complaining to the disciples about why Jesus kept dining with the sinners and tax collectors? ”And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is my normal thumb size
This is two days after the manicure and you can see how swollen it is. If you look closely, you can see the tiny gouge mark in the bottom left corner of my thumbnail.
This was two days after I started on antibiotics. It’s still swollen but now you can see exactly where the infection is because of the red streak.
A side view of my fat thumb.

Did I go back to the nail salon and call them out? No, I didn’t. I do not think it was intentional; however, I have not had a manicure since that time. Will I go again? If don’t know. Every time I think about going, I am reminded of how costly this manicure could have been. And you know what, that’s exactly the same way I need to think when I am tempted to fall back into my same old pattern of sin. I need to be reminded of how much my sin cost Jesus. His life.

Overwhelming Peace

Has there ever been a time when you know that God is asking you to do something really hard? It may not even make sense but you know you’ve got to do it. Yet, you’ll argue, hem and haw just to prolong the inevitable! Or maybe you’re just one of those really obedient folks who instantly jumps for joy and says, “Okay God, sign me up!” (If you are, good for you. I wish I could be that way)

I think we’ve already established, that’s not me! I’m going to ask and beg and plead before I submit. If I’m really being honest, it’s because I’m motivated by selfish desires and trust issues and that’s why I find it hard to yield. (And my Mom always thought my sister was the strong-willed one, Ha!)

Terry and I moved in February 2018 and I didn’t quite leave kicking and screaming but I may as well have. I agreed to move and clearly saw how God paved the way for us to move. There was no doubt that we were following God’s leading. However, my heart was not prepared to leave. In fact, I’d pretty much decided that things were going to fall apart and we would be unpacking and staying.

Guess what? That didn’t happen. We moved.

For the first few weeks, I felt as if I were in a drunken stupor. Half dazed. Probably pinched myself a time or fifty thinking I was sleepwalking! I wasn’t resting well and I was spending more than twelve hours a day in Hendersonville and not all by choice. My grandfather became very ill and was hospitalized. Rest finally found me and I began to feel more humanized but still not clearly processing the turmoil binding up inside.

Next came the anger. I had to literally talk myself into being nice. Man, it was hard. Thankfully I didn’t have to pretend in front of Terry but I probably should have spared him from some of my angry outbursts and crying spells. Emotionally and physically, I was spent and defeated.

I’m going to interject here and tell you why there was so much turmoil going on inside me. I’m not telling this for you to feel sorry for me, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I just think it puts a little more perspective on why I was so emotionally and physically spent.

In October of 2015, one of my dearest friends died and so did my Aunt. In December 2015 the business I worked for closed. In March 2016 Ned, my dad, received his cancer diagnosis. June 2016 Amy, our youngest and only daughter, graduates college and leaves the nest in August of 2016. In May 2017, Ned’s cancer returned and in October he died. Then we made the big move on February 2, 2018. So, there was one thing right after another, not to mention my two oldest boy were deployed during that time. To be honest, I think the move was like the tidal wave that broke me. By then, I was much to tired to stop it.

Honestly, I knew it would be hard to leave a place I loved, a place I called home for 26 years, I just wasn’t prepared at all for the emotional impact. Fortunately, I didn’t get so overwhelmed with grief and despair that I became caught up in the doldrums of depression. (It would’ve been easy to go there because it’s easy to get caught up in thinking ”I’m the only one.”)

And so, I began to take my problems to God. I prayed. I screamed. I cried. I just told him everything I was feeling. As I began to pour out my heart to Him; slowly, the dark cloud began to lift and a slight ray of light emerged. At that point, I was able to talk more freely, without anger and rage, to Terry and explain how I felt. I also felt more comfortable sharing my feelings and asking people to pray for me. But I had to understand why I was having such a hard time before I could ask for prayer.

As more light filtered in and the clouds began to dissipate, I embraced my new surroundings and peace began to fill my heart. Actually, it was an overwhelming peace. And you know what’s crazy? I actually wrote out a prayer more than a year beforehand: God either moves us back to Hendersonville or overwhelm me here with your peace. I kept praying that prayer over and over. And to be honest, I really thought God would move us back but instead, He overwhelmed me with peace.

There’s a powerful verse tucked in Isaiah 26:3 ”You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You”

The reality was that I had to get to a place where I absolutely trusted in the Sovereignty of God and then He poured within me His perfect and overwhelming peace.

So maybe God is asking you to trust in Him and do something that seems hard or difficult but you know deep down in your being that you’ve got to do it. Maybe it will cause some confusion and chaos for a while but can I tell you something? Trust Him. He knows what’s best.

Risk and Reward- Our Story Continued

There’s a picture that hangs now on the wall in our guest bathroom. It has traveled for many years and houses with us. It hardly works with any of our decors but it’s such a part of our story, I will not part with it.

This picture is of the 13th hole at Augusta National called Azalea. It’s the first picture we bought together as a couple and we actually purchased it on our honeymoon almost 25 years ago.

This isn’t the exact picture we have but close to it. It’s interesting to me that it’s the first picture we purchased as a couple and here’s why!

  • I wasn’t keen on golf. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to spend hours chasing a little white ball around.
  • It represented the first major conflict we had as a couple before we were married
  • I was no good at it.

So, why in the world would I go along with Terry and choose that picture. To be honest, I liked it. Something about the colors of the azaleas in full bloom contrasting with the white sand bunkers and lush, meticulously manicured bent grass drew me in and I wanted it as much as Terry. I don’t remember exactly what we paid for it but I do remember it was on sale!

I’ve done a little research to learn that this particular hole on Augusta National is one that is considered one of the greatest risk-reward holes in golf. It’s also considered one of the easiest holes on Augusta National because now most pros can reach the green in two shots giving them an opportunity to possibly eagle the hole or at least make birdie. However, the key is a good tee shot and a good second shot. If the tee shot isn’t good, golfers have a chance to make up for it with their second shot, but placement on the green will require strategy and careful consideration. Even the pros can putt the ball right off the green into Rae’s Creek, the tributary that protects the green. Just ask Tiger Woods. A poor second shot can land you in Rae’s Creek. However, for many golfers who play this hole under par, there is no reward without taking a risk.

I find it very interesting that we would have chosen such a beautiful depiction of what God would do in and through us over the past almost 25 years.

For both of us to love and trust again was risky. In some ways, I think Terry took a much bigger risk than I did because he chose to take on the responsibility of not one but three of us. He risked a lot to marry me. He also willingly gave up a lot to marry me.

Because of the deep wounds from my past, my risk was giving my heart fully to him. It was a choice that I had to make. I had to learn to trust him and this was not easy for me! It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t instant and complete trust when we did get married. It developed over time.

It’s also interesting to me like mistakes on the hole can leave you in a place you don’t want to be. Mistakes in marriage can also land you on unfamiliar territory and you have to carefully consider how to make your next shot better. But if that next shot lands you in the water, you simply take a stroke penalty and continue play. You don’t give up until the ball goes in the hole. But there are times when you get it right and it’s truly a remarkable feat.

Folks, I can tell you that our marriage is no picture book fairytale. Oh, but being determined to pick up each other’s faults and failures and love each other no matter what has been the best risk with an ever so great reward!

There’s rarely a time when there’s not a risk involved in a reward. There will be times of failures, setbacks, disappointments but its just deciding if the risk is really worth the reward.

Dear Ned….year two

I just posted this on my Facebook and Instagram but thought I would share it with my readers because not all of you follow me on social media.

Dear Ned,

How can it be that two years have passed since I’ve seen your face? I remember leaving you peacefully snoring. I kissed your head and told you that it was okay for you to go if God called you home. For once in your life, you listened to me! Maybe it was then you decided I was using my “noggin for more than a hat rack”.

When David and Kristi finally, after about 28 failed attempts, with the news of your passing, I didn’t come back to see you one more time. I left and you were breathing. I know your death was peaceful but I wanted to remember you as I have always known you, alive. And you know what, I am so glad I chose to remember you this way.

Now, every time I look back at old photos I don’t see you lifeless and breathless, I see you very alive. It makes me think of the song y’all used to sing, by Bill and Gloria Gaither

“Fully alive in Your Spirit

Lord make me fully alive

Fully aware of Your presence Lord

Totally fully alive

Fully alive in Your Spirit

Lord make me fully alive

Fully aware of Your presence Lord

Totally fully alive”

You know what, you are more alive now than you were here on earth and you’re enjoying every minute. I know you’ll be glad when we get there because you loved us well here but in the meantime keep cheering us on until we see you again!

I guarantee this smile has not been wiped off your face since your arrival in Heaven. How great it is to know that you are fully alive in his presence today. But let me tell you one thing, we still miss you like crazy.

A Humbling Tumble Part 2

Like I said in last weeks post Read here, many stories came out of my fall.

First of all, I alluded to the fact that I was in a prideful state at the time of my accident and I needed that good dose of humility.

Let me explain, about 10 months before my fall, I had taken a leave of absence from all of the ministries I which I had been involved in, all of which had been both successful and rewarding. Fortunately, I never saw anything as being my own success but knew the success was a result of my obedience to God.

However, I was very self-reliant. That is not necessarily a bad thing but self-reliance can lead to pride because it becomes all about me and what I can do by myself. My motto was, “Why ask for help when I can do it myself. I trust myself more than I trust others.” You know what I was doing? That kind of foolish thinking kept others from reviving the blessing God may have intended for them.

In addition, I also became very legalistic and I wanted to impose my own convictions on others. Just because I am under conviction doesn’t mean that others are under the same conviction. Folks, this is a very dangerous place to be because this is a place where you start judging others.

God began showing me a little of this as I began to step away from my commitments. However, it wouldn’t fully be realized until the fall.

You see, another thing that God did during this time of stepping down from all of my commitments, was preparation for God to call us out of our comfort zone and familiarity at First Baptist Hendersonville and lead us to unfamiliar territory and Biltmore Baptist Church.

So, about five or six months before my fall, we had left a familiar body of believers and were joined with a new body. It only took one Sunday to know with great clarity that God had led us there.

However, I wasn’t as eager and excited to involve myself in various ministries. The only thing I felt called to do was to be a greeter. Trust me when I say that sometimes your reputation precedes you. Somehow the ministerial staff knew about the work I had done in the past and were eager to involve me any way they could. However, I knew I needed to step back and wait before I committed to anything else. This was probably one of the first steps I took towards some form of humility. But God in His infinite wisdom knew that would not be enough.

The best part of not being overly involved is that I really had an opportunity to get to know people. Terry and I both had time for relationships with others. Our Bible Fellowship Group was large and very active. We intentionally had many group outings which also involved our children.

But there was still a level of humbling I needed. I was still very self-reliant and I was also very guarded with my emotions. I was not one to readily ask for help with anything, and now I needed help with just about everything. Sometimes, I catch myself back in this way of behaving and thinking.

And so, when I couldn’t do for myself, I had to depend on others. First, it was my parents, who’ve always been generous and selfless. Knowing that all of our bedrooms were upstairs and that I was going to be a bit wobbly at first, they offered to let me come stay with them until I could navigate stairs safely. Not only did I stay with them but Ned gave up the comforts of his own bed and slept in one their upstairs bedrooms and Mom slept with me and helped me get up and down throughout the night and also administered my meds on a regular basis.

The first week after surgery, I was ready to go home but I was still wobbly and unstable, more from the drugs than anything. Fortunately, by the end of the second week, I was completely off the narcotics and much more confident with crutches and a wheelchair.

I also had to call on friends and other family members to help with the kids. I couldn’t drive and although Terry was taking FMLA time off, he still needed help navigating four kiddos around.

I was taken from a place of self- reliance on total dependence. If you don’t think that’s humbling, try it sometime.

Then, I went home. After two weeks, the only way for me to climb stairs safely was to sit on my backside and scoot up and I would come down the same way. My doctor had given a clear warning that anything that would cause me to bear weight on my foot could potentially unravel the surgery and cause me to have another one.

The day I went home we had weather warnings from Hurricane Ivan. After two weeks of being scattered, we were finally home together, all six of us. By nightfall, the winds had picked up speed and rainfall began. As I scooted up the stairs I remember praying for God’s protection of us. I also remember thinking if we needed to get back downstairs quickly Terry would probably have to carry me.

We went to sleep and were suddenly awakened by a loud thud! Our power was out and all we could hear was the popping and cracking of tree branches all around us. Considering it was dark, Terry couldn’t see where the limbs and branches were falling. We just knew they weren’t falling on the house. Another great thud and this time we knew a tree had fallen close by, but again, nothing on our house. Rest assured there’s nothing like being utterly helpless in the midst of a storm. I couldn’t help myself, much less help Terry with getting the kids to safety, if needed. To say the night drug on is an understatement. I have never been so thankful for daylight.

As the light of day dawned, it became clear to us how God had protected and provided safety for us. One of our great oak trees fell away from our house, and onto our neighbors’ car. The other large oak, belonging to our neighbor across the street, had fallen across the road and about 15 feet away from our house and into an open space. But our entire road was blocked. Nobody could come in and nobody could go out. Power was out and no hope of quick restoration.

What a welcome home!Ivan

Terry was the only one in the neighborhood with a chainsaw. He and Ryan and Matthew went to work. He would cut and they would haul away. Alex and Amy also helped what little they could. I busted myself on the gas stove making everything I could to keep the crew fed. I found that I could roll my wheelchair close to the range and then perch on one leg to cook. It wasn’t easy but I was learning that I wasn’t in a totally helpless state. It made me feel useful because I obviously couldn’t help with any outside work.

We had been powerless for about two days when a friends power was restored and he brought up a generator for us. It was such a huge help. It was still tough getting in and out of our location because of all the debris but Terry made a path.

The biggest lesson I learned during this time was that God’s protection over me and my family was great. He kept us safe through the night. He provided Terry with the ability to make a safe path for us and our neighbors to be able to get out. He provided me with the ability to be able to cook and with food. And He used a friend to supply us with generated power. I guess you could say, I learned to ask for His help and protection, He answered me. Not only did He answer me, But He also showed me that I am safer in His arms than anywhere else.