Lessons from Winnie the Pooh

I must confess, I love Winnie the Pooh. I mean how can you not? He’s a “chubby, little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” He’s so simple and yet so profound. I think that what I love most about him. Not to mention, my oldest and youngest both adored him when they were young.

I’ve known plenty of people in my life, including me, sometimes who’ve sat around in my own little corner waiting for someone to call. Waiting on that invitation to hangout and much to my dismay, the call did not come. The invitation hasn’t been issued and I am disappointed.

But what if I decide to initiate and move from my little corner and into theirs? What if they’re awaiting my invitation? What if they need me more than I need them? Or better yet, what if I find by moving out of my comfy, cozy chair, I am actually moving beyond myself and growing in the process of going?

You see if I stay where I’m always comfortable and expect people to come to me, I am making it about me. In the end, I am going to be disappointed and disillusioned because I was putting hope and expectation for others to meet my needs. However, if I get over myself and go to their corner of the Forest, then I am taking the focus off me and making it about someone else.

In doing this, I have learned that often the reciprocal is true. Once I step out of my comfort zone and into theirs, more often than not, they’ll eventually step into mine. But sometimes they won’t and I just have to be okay with that. You see in a relationship it’s not about what I can get out of it but what I can put into it that matters. If I am putting in time and effort because I am attempting to draw something from it, my attempts are a wasted effort and are of no value to me or them. You see, there’s a beauty when we can give of ourselves and expect absolutely nothing in return.

So, what if they fail to reciprocate? Sure, you may feel a twinge of disappointment but all is not lost because, in the process of getting out of your little corner in the Forest, you’ve learned that it’s not about you.

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 Brighter Hope for Tomorrow

A long time ago someone told me that it was okay to yell at God. Stunned and horrified I said, “There’s no way I could do that.”

My friend reasoned, “God can take your anger better than people. He already knows what’s in your heart and mind. You may as well just tell Him.”

At first I thought it was the zaniest thing I’d ever heard. A truly foreign concept until I came to a point in my life where the rubber met the road, things weren’t going as planned and my dreams were shattered and hope a fading memory.

I truly didn’t understand why God was allowing this to take place. I struggled. I cried. I tried to find the answers. They never came. One dead end led to another.

After several failed attempts and sitting facing another mountain of paperwork for a battle already in its second year, I lost it. I took the daunting papers lying in front of me and hurled them across the room. Screaming, all the while, at the top of my lungs. Shaking my fist in anger telling God what I really thought about the situation and telling Him how I thought He should answer my cries for help. It wasn’t a pretty sight and I’m thankful no one but God saw it. I don’t know how long it lasted but long enough for me to go through the tirade of emotions. Once I regained composure and picked up the mountain of paperwork, I felt as if the albatross has been removed. The weight had been lifted. The burden eased. It’s almost as if I threw away all the things that were binding me to the situation and giving it God.

Many times in our lives we find ourselves in places we never thought we’d be. Our world is turned upside down and nothing resembles what we had hoped or imagined. At these pivotal moments we are going to one of two things, we are either going to cry out to God or we will walk away from God.

Many times throughout the course of this three year trial, I desperately wanted to walk away. Many times, I wanted to give up because I wasn’t getting the answers I wanted. I wanted God to step in and take it all away. As a matter of fact, He didn’t answer my prayer in the way I thought He should. He answered in the way that was best for me.

He made our marriage stronger. Relationships with family and friends much sweeter. He made me more aware of His presence in my life. He ushered in hope when things seemed hopeless. He took something that turned to a pile of rubble and made it brand new. In essence, He restored all that had seemingly been lost. Only God can take a mess and turn it into something beautiful.

In reality looking back over this time, I realize that God was preparing me in advance for another time that would lead down roads of winding paths, dark shadows, rocky terrains and uphill climbs. Had I not cried out to God then and seen the goodness of my Shepherd, there’s no way I could’ve trusted in Him when wave after wave slammed against me so hard I barely had time to come up for air.

You see the one thing I’ve learned is that in time, God ”will restore and give back the joys I once had.” Lamentations 5:21. My problem is being patient with the process. I tend to live in the mindset of Veruca Salt, ”I want it now!”

What I’ve come to realize is that through the process of not getting what I wanted, God was in the process of giving me what I needed and restoring what the locusts threatened to eat and destroy.

Have you been in a seemingly hopeless situation? Are your prayers not being answered in the way or timeframe you desire? Are you tired and weary because the journey is much too long and seems way too hard? Rest assured, my friend there is hope and it’s found in no other name but Jesus. If you will choose today to let the waves come as they may and trust in His power and might, the waves may not end but at the end of the day, you will have hope for a new tomorrow.

Sometimes You Gotta Speak Up

A few weeks ago I found myself in a tizzy over a bad haircut. The only thing it wasn’t my bad haircut it was Sammy’s hair, my dog. No matter how hard throughout the day I tried to ease up on my frustration and disappointment, it kept lingering, like an obnoxious headache that won’t go away.

First of all, let me explain the story. I always schedule Sammy’s haircuts on the same day as mine. (I’m probably the only dog mom who does this) It’s easier to remember. Like me, he has to go every 5 weeks. He has hair that grows like mine, only his more expensive than mine to upkeep. Also, considering my hairdresser and his groomer are on the same side of town, it just makes more sense. Besides, I can run errands if I have to wait on him for any length of time, which is also rare.

Anyway, this particular Friday, Terry was waiting for me to get back home to go eat breakfast. After I’d waited thirty minutes beyond normal, I called and was told he was on the table and would be done in twenty minutes or less. Within about ten minutes, I received a call telling me he was finished.

I immediately went to pick him up. As I was paying and making another appointment, a new gal, abruptly put him in my arms and walked off. Once I got in the car, I phoned Terry to let him know I was on my way home. Less than a minute into our conversation, I began to notice all kinds of things that were wrong with his hair. Immediately, I began naming each one and the list kept growing and I became more irate. Finally, he said, “Well, what are you gonna do about it?”

Without hesitation, I exclaimed, “I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”

Before I lost my nerve, I hurried to dial back the groomer. The first words out of my mouth were, “I know my regular groomer did not groom Sammy today because he looks horrible. I just want you to know how terribly disappointed I am with his haircut and from now on, I need you to make sure that no one else cuts his hair.” I wasn’t absurdly rude or demanding, I was more matter of fact and direct.

I fumed all day long over his hair. I even had to take scissors and even out his crown.

By evening, I was still fuming when I took dinner to Terry. As we talked, I had to ask the question, “Why am I so bothered and upset over a dogs haircut?” And then it dawned on me, “I was upset for two reasons. The first reason, I had not to be told beforehand that my regular groomer wasn’t doing his hair. I wouldn’t have left him. But the biggest reason for my angst was due to the fact my dog cannot fend for himself. He has no voice to speak up and I must be his voice because I can and he can’t.

This reminded me of how I had to speak up for Popaw and Mom when they couldn’t speak up for themselves.

It was Thursday, April 18, the day after Popaw’s stroke. Mom and I had talked on the phone around 9:00 pm and she told me that she was going to ask Teresa, the night shift nurse, to call and ask the Elizabeth House to come to get Popaw on Friday, I was in total agreement, for two reasons, Popaw wasn’t getting any better and Mom wasn’t getting any rest. The sitter service was understaffed and we could not get any helpers to come sit with Popaw. Mom’s only reprieve on Thursday had been from 9 am- 2 pm and I could already see how detrimental it was becoming for her.

On Friday, the most horrible weather day of the year, she called around 9:30 am to inform me that the Chaplain, not a nurse, from Hospice, had come by to tell her that because Paopaw’s symptoms were being managed at The Bridge, there was no reason to move him to the Elizabeth House. “It’s for patients whose pain is uncontrollable or symptoms are indicating the end of life is near.”

Her response to him, “Okay. I understand.”

However, her voice to me was full of exhaustion, anxiousness and a desperate plea for help.

I couldn’t get there immediately because of weather but Terry and I had already decided that we would go spend the day with him and give her a break. We just had to wait out the weather.

I was in the process of blow drying my hair and it hit me hard. What could I do? Who do I know? Something has to be done!

I pranced in the kitchen and told Terry my frustrations. Explained my concern for Mom and her well being as much as getting Popaw in a peaceful, restful state. He was still agitated and they were not administering drugs on a regular basis, only PRN or “as needed”

Suddenly during my raging fury, I told Terry I was going to call our friend. He serves on the Hospice board and at least he could direct me in the right way.

I called him immediately and explained the situation. He told me to be patient and he would make a few phone calls and see who I needed to speak with. After a little while, as promised, he called me back. He had talked with a few people. They could see where Popaw had been under Hospice Care and graduated out but couldn’t see he had been taken back under their care.

After a few more phone calls it was confirmed that Popaw was under Hospice care.

The next thing I needed to do was talk to the Director of Nursing at The Bridge to have her make the call. Fortunately, we had just braved the crazy weather and arrived at The Bridge. So, I didn’t have to make a phone call, I could just speak with her, face to face.

As I sat and listened to her, I was appalled to learn that they had already called twice and asked Elizabeth House to take him. Their reasoning had been the same as with my with the exception that the Hospice nurse, who had assessed Popaw, on the day of his stroke, continued to state that his condition was being managed at The Bridge. Not only were they concerned about Popaw but they also expressed concern about my mother and her state of mind, as well as her need for help. However, with the new information provided by my friend, she made the call once again.

By the time I got to Popaw’s room the medication was wearing off and he kept trying to get out of bed. Fortunately, he was much weaker on Friday than Wednesday so it was easier to keep him contained.

Around 2:00 pm, Mom received a call from the Hospice nurse handling Popaw’s case. I could tell Mom didn’t know exactly what to say and finally, she said, ” You need to talk to my daughter.”

The words spilled out of her mouth and hit me like a ton of bricks. The progress I thought that had been made halted abruptly when I heard the exact same words as Mom heard earlier from the Chaplain. I had to take a deep breath and pause before I retaliated.

For the next thirty minutes or more, she got an earful. I was as cordial and as respectful as I could be but I realized I had to fight for what I thought was right, both for Popaw as well as Mom. My final words to her went something like this, ”I am not a trained medical professional but I have seen, witnessed and experienced death and I am telling you that Popaw is in his final stages of death. Furthermore, I would like to remind you that Hospice and Elizabeth House exists for patients as well as family members. If for no other consideration, my Mom needs the benefit of him being moved there for her peace of mind and rest.”

At the end of my rant, she assured me, ”I will take this into compliance and see what I can do.”

I went back to the room and was completely satisfied that something would happen, I just didn’t know what or how soon. I knew I had not allowed my emotions to get in the way of reason and to be honest, I was quite pleased with how I had handled the situation. I think I knew how proud Ned would’ve been and that what made me the happiest.

I sent Mom out with Terr to get a bite to eat. While they were gone, I was completely satisfied to sit alone in quietness with Popaw. He’d been given some more medicine and finally settled down again.

Mom’s phone rang and I knew it was the Hospice nurse. She called to inform me that Popaw would be transported to Elizabeth House at 6:00 pm and he would be in his room by 6:15.

My heart was full and my conscience was satisfied. I knew this was the right move for both Popaw and Mom. I knew he would never return to The Bridge.

Popaw only spoke a few words that day, but as they were in the process of transporting him, I leaned over the stretcher and said, ”Don’t worry, Popaw. We are taking you to Elizabeth House. They will take great care of you there and they will keep you at peace and rest.”

”Oh, well.” he said and it was well with his soul and mine, too!

There are times in life where we need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We don’t have to be irrelevant or irrational, but sometimes we must be tenacious and persistent.

And by the way, my regular groomer did call back and offer to fix Sammy’s hair but unfortunately, any fix would’ve required more cutting and he had already been cut way too short in some places. I declined and thanked them for their offer and stated I would simply wait until it grows out and bring him for his next appointment. Unfortunately, I still look at him and wince but I know he’ll look better next time.

A Humbling Tumble -Part 4 The final lesson

Ok. So, we had been hit with remnants of Hurricane Ivan and remained powerless for about a week, once the power is restored life returns to normal, right? No, because there’s nothing normal for a mom of four to be in a wheelchair and/or using crutches.

Like I mentioned before, we had an incredible group of friends from our Bible Fellowship Group. They brought in meals for us, every few days, and did this for almost a month. One couple, came on Saturday after our power had been restored. They knew we had a mess and she called and said, ”We are not just bringing dinner, we are coming to eat with you. But we are bringing our family and found to help clean up debris. ” And so they did. For a few hours prior to dinner, they all worked around our property and the neighbors cleaning up.

About a week after all the hubbub, on. Thursday evening, Ryan had a football game. Terry left me home with Alex and Amy. About an hour after he left, I get a phone call from him, ”Ryan fell on his arm in the end zone and I am taking him to the ER” Now, we have another wounded warrior at our house. Ryan had broken his humerus. Considering the location of the break, they wrapped his arm and put it in a sling. He could only sleep in the recliner and upright position for several weeks. Terry made sure he got his medication on time to help keep his pain at a minimum.

I hope you’re beginning to see why it’s imperative that Terry has been given a great sense of humor.

Then about a month after my surgery, we were back at the Surgery Center with Matthew. He had some major issues with his ears for years and needed to have tubes. It was really no big deal but just another example of life’s hurdles.

Finally, November came and I was allowed to begin bearing weight on my foot and I could start driving again. Hallelujah.

Terry returned to work and our daily routines went back to some form of normalcy. But how normal can you really be with four kids?

In February I was allowed to begin rehab in my foot, which would take about 6 months to complete. Three days a week for 75 minutes. It was a difficult process. I basically had to learn to walk again. The process was painful but with each passing month, I could see and feel progress. And it’s funny how life works that way. We don’t always get to walk the easy terrain, sometimes it’s rough and rocky but in order for you to reach your destination, you must be willing to submit to the process.

In that year, God taught me some valuable lessons. When I struggle with pride, I am reminded that I have absolutely nothing to be puffed up about. Although, I sometimes try hard to find something, especially when it involves my children. When I grow frustrated with Terry and trust me, I do (he does with me too) I am reminded that I have been given a treasure, Just as Terry saw the great need to show us unconditional and unselfish love by taking on the responsibility of being Mr. Mom plus, I too have that same responsibility to him. To love and care for this precious gift God has given to me.‭‭

Friends, we are not promised a life of ease without hurdles and complications. In fact, James tells us:

These things happen in order for us to grow. We persevere through endurance and it stretches our faith. In the same way, my muscles had to he stretched and pain had to be endured for me to to learn to walk again. If I had given up when it for hard, chances are I would’ve walked with a limp.

Can I encourage you today? If you’re going through a trial or hard time, hold onto this truth that God has for you. In the end, it will be for your good and for His glory.

A Humbling Tumble Part 3: Journal entries July 29 and August 2, 2004

This is the actual journal entry I wrote the day of my fall and the next day.

July 29-

The things I want aren’t necessarily the things I need. Therefore, I must ask God to transform my way of thinking and I must allow Him to work within me to act according to His plan and purpose for my life.

I am so blessed; yet, I have neglected to take great care of the gifts I have been given. I am so quick to want more and more, not considering the things I wang may not be things God wants me to have.

The things I desire above all are peace and happiness.

The only way to achieve those things is for me to give God first place in my life. He must have complete reign on my heart and I must be willing to give Him that privilege. He is the source of everything I need. If He chooses not to supply it, then it wasn’t meant for me.

Psalms 37: 16-18 says, ”It is better to have little than to be evil and possess much. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly. Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent and they will receive a reward that will last forever.”

And Psalms 37:23 tells me that ”The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives.” Wow! God delights in every detail of my life. Day by day He is my source.

Lord, help me to love and respect what you have brought into my life. Help, me to value the quality of relationships in my life and not be concerned with the material things.

Around 5:30 that evening I fell down the flight of stairs.

August 01 –

I’m not certain what God is trying to teach me but I hope I am teachable. Oh, I know to be more careful when attempting to start a grill from a concrete landing pad. But there’s so much more than that He wants me to learn,

Here’s what I know. He wants me to be faithful in every aspect of my life but I think there’s so much more He wants to teach me…..maybe……maybe not.

Psalms 39: 4-5 ”Lord remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered and that my life is fleeting away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath. ”

Lord, what I do I need to do today that will impact lives for you?

When I reread these journal entries a whole host of emotions pour out. I remember the struggle I felt because I was being pulled in many different directions. At that time, I was trying to be a career Mom. I was actively selling real estate and doing quite well. However, the more I was away from home, the more I saw my family suffering. My children were struggling because I wasn’t there. Until that point, I had been there. My relationships with close friends suffered because I wasn’t making time for them. You see, I found myself in a place of want which was greater than my need. I knew it and so did God. Sometimes God will allow things in our lives that are hard for a season but are ultimately for our own good as well as those around us.

Maybe you’re just now reading: The fall I am referring to can be found in the previous two posts. A Humbling Tumble Parts 1 & 2.

The Best Thirty-Six Hours

Our day began by taking Amy to Southern Manners for breakfast. Terry can’t handle the pressure and decides to order a large, fresh cinnamon roll.

After breakfast, we came home and packed our bags. Helped Amy get her car.loaded and took off in different directions. Amy heading back to school for her final hooray. Terry and I headed to Charlotte.

About four months or so ago Terry announced, ”America is playing in Charlotte and we are going. I’ve already bought tickets. Spared no expense and got us great seats.”

After checking in to the Hilton Garden Inn, we ventured out for a little snack. About two blocks up from the hotel we.saw.this French bakery and cafe, Amelias.

It certainly did not disappoint in ambiance and flavor. Food was excellent and reasonably priced for the quality.

After a little rest, we trekked back to Epicenter to check out Blackfinn. Our waitress, Jessie, took our drink order. While waiting, the manager, who we saw upon arrival came by our table. Terry started talking to him about his hat. And he asked,

”So, do I have to grow a beard like yours to wear a hat like that.”

He laughed and said, ”Yes but you want to try it on?”

Next thing I knew Terry had the hat on his head and Zach is introducing himself to us.

We decided on a couple of appetizers, fried deviled eggs and shrimp and crab dip. Both get a thumbs up. Tasty and delicious.

Jessie suggested we ride the Lynx to NoDa and go to Haberdish. Then take a Lyft from there to the concert.

I am a huge fan of public transportation in big cities. It’s the best and most efficient way to travel, in my humble opinion.

When we arrived at Haberdish, we looked over the menu but weren’t able to commit to any food, except another appetizer. This time we chose, Biscuits and Bacon Jelly.

Again, we were not disappointed in the least. Well, maybe a little disappointed that we couldn’t find room for their food. The atmosphere proved to be stellar as well and rest assured, we will make a return visit there.

Our Lyft delivered us safely to the Ovens Auditorium. We had about thirty minutes before the opening act. Terry went off to the bathroom and I sat down beside this couple.

As you know, I’m not usually lacking for words so I struck up a conversation with them. By the time Terry returned and we all were conversing we learned that he was Dale Earnhardts personal barber, Steve Ellsworth (look him up)!

Finally, it was showtime!

The opening act, Michael Tracy, out of Charlotte! To be honest, he is definitely worth a listen. I was uncertain at first but after his thirty-minute opening act, I was sold.

Then after a.thirty minute intermission,

America brought the house down. Their opening song, ”Tin Man.” Can I just interject, from start to finish, they entertained and rocked the crowd? By all appearances, it was a sold-out performance. To he honest, we had such good seats,

I couldn’t see the whole balcony.

When Terry said the seats were primo; he was being truthful. We were literally five rows from the stage and our seats were in the center!

After playing for a solid hour and a half the concert ended with ”A Horse With No Name” Absolutely the best song to end on.

Our Lyft driver came promptly and transported us back to our hotel.

This morning we decided to venture out to the Epicenter for breakfast. We chose the Red Eye Diner. A classic breakfast. Good and reasonably priced,

We left the hotel and ventured.to the Billy Graham Library

A place I’ve itched to go for years!

Again, it did not disappoint. Truthfully, it was the cream of the crop.

From the time we entered until the time of our departure, there was a quiet calming peace, indescribable.

If I gleaned nothing else, the simplicity of. the message Billy Graham always preached spoke to the heart of millions. He never took away from or added to the Gospel.message. Jesus, born of a Virgin, came.to save! We are all sinners. Today is the day of your salvation. You are not promised tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. What a magnificent proclamation of the Gospel!

If I could sum up those thirty-six hours of our lives, I would say ”Amazing and some of the best of our married lives.”

A perfect city view from our hotel window

Oh, Well

I’m not precisely certain when Popaw began using the phrase, ”Oh, well” but it was definitely within the last few years of his life. Fortunately, Popaw retained his mental faculties, with the exception of being able to recall what he had eaten. When asked he would often respond, ”I can’t recall but I know it was good because I cleaned my plate.”

But this phrase, ”Oh, well” had multiple meanings for him. He used it when he couldn’t conjure up a response. He often used it when he would hear something he didn’t necessarily like hearing. But most often used to mean, ” It’s okay. I am satisfied.” In other words, Popaw simply took the cards he was dealt and played them out. He knew where he was going and was content until the end.

Of all the times I heard him use the phrase, these two times will stand out above the rest.

That was a hard day for me and my Mom. The call came around 9:30 am and by the time I got to The Bridge, they had him sitting in his lift chair. At first game, he looked calm. He recognized me but his speech was muffled and difficult to understand. After a few short minutes, he began fidgeting in the chair and aggressively attempting to get up. But there was a problem, he couldn’t walk. The stroke had affected his ability to walk and he couldn’t comprehend.

It took hours of sitting by his chair with my arm held up to gently nudge him back down. Over and over again, Mom and I would tell him, ”You’ve had a stroke. You can’t get up. Your legs don’t work anymore.”

Finally, the meds arrived, and once they got into his system, he was able to calm down. Once calm, his speech was clearing and his mind was less foggy. His irrational behavior had subsided. Although there were times he would want to get up and go to the bathroom. Again I would firmly explain that he had a stroke and couldn’t walk. Finally, we reached a conjuncture with him and he understood precisely what I was saying. He looked at me with a smile so soft and tender, I could’ve cried, and said, ”Oh, well.”

The following morning I stopped in briefly to check on him. Mom had gone home after a night of restless sleeping there with him. A sitter was with him until 2:00. As soon as I walked in the door, a smile spread across his face from ear to ear and he lit up at the sight of me. He beamed. ”Hey Sweetheart, it’s so good to see you.”

I leaned over, kissed him on the cheek and said, ” It’s so good to lay eyes on you this morning.”

We chatted for a few minutes then I kissed him goodbye, assuring him I would see him later in the day. Little did I know that would be our final conversation.

The sitter, as I was leaving, said, ”You must be someone really special because I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes light up the way his just did for you.”

”Not really, I’m just his granddaughter. He’s that way with all of his family. ”

Upon my return, things had gotten progressively worse and they were having to medicate him more often. I knew deep in my heart where things were heading.

The next morning there was a horrible rain and wind storm. Terry and I had to wait until 11:00 am before we could leave for Hendersonville. Popaw wasn’t any better and I knew something had to be done. (It’s a story for another time)

Finally, by 5:15, I received a call from Hospice informing me they would be coming to pick Popaw up by 6:00 and transport him to the Elizabeth House. I was alone with him when the news came to me and he was restless.

I put my hand over his heart and said, ”Popaw, the ambulance is coming to get you soon and they will be taking you to the Elizabeth House. We are taking you there so you can be made comfortable.”

He turned his eyes toward mine and said, ”Oh, well.”

I wanted to laugh and cry all at once. I knew what that ”Oh, well” meant. It is well with my soul.

”Popaw, I love you.”

”I love you back.”

Those would be the last words he would say to me!

Popaw, thank you for teaching me that life isn’t about the things, it’s about being content in all circumstances knowing that God is in complete control.

In Spite of Who I Am…..He Loves Me

Now that you’re aware of my rebellious nature. I want to share a little story with you. One I don’t think I’ve ever shared.

One day in the early part of my high school years, I came home one afternoon from school. Completely drained and out of focus to complete any homework assignment, I sat down on my piano bench and started to play.

The piano was my therapy.

I’m not sure why but no one was home this particular day. As I began to play and unwind, I noticed behind my book was a white sheet of paper with words written on it in Ned’s horrific handwriting. Curious, I began to read.

As I read tears welled up in my eyes, as the words spilled off the page and into my heart I began thinking, ”Wow! God loves me in spite of who I am or what I’ve done.” I would love to tell you that revelation changed my behavior, at that point in time, it didn’t. That would come years later. You see, I had a lot of head knowledge about God but I had built up far too many walls to allow him to penetrate my heart. It would take years to breakthrough.

However, as time marched on and my heart became more pliable and moldable and I let go of the things that were holding me in captivity, I’ve always remembered the words of this song and I remember that day so vividly. And you know what, He has never let go of my hand. Many times, I’ve let go of His but His love for me knows no bounds and I am so thankful.

Listen here I’ll never let go of your hand

The Choice We Have When Life Happens

Last week proved to be full of unexpected and unplanned deaths. Beginning with my neighbor, who was only 64. She suffered from a massive stroke on July 5 and was unable to recover. The unexpected drowning of Molly Greene, a lady I do not know, personally, but mutually connected to. Finally the unexpected death of Geoffrey Tennan, a man I knew and loved. Not one of these deaths were expected or anticipated. Life is full of unexpected, isn’t it?

Things happen in life that take us by surprise, lead us into shock and devastation and will do one of two things, draw us closer to God or fall away. I’ve been in both places. I can assure you that the first is far greater than the latter but if I’m being honest, the latter is an easier route.

It’s much easier to become angry with God when things don’t go the way we planned and the reason I fairly simple. We didn’t get what we wanted. Things didn’t go as expected and as Lysa TerKeurst says in her book, It’s Not Suppose To Be This Way, ”Humans are very attached to outcomes. We say we trust God but behind the scenes, we work our fingers to the bone and our emotions into a tangled fray trying to control our outcomes.”

Y’all it’s so easy to trust in God and His goodness when things are plotting along well but when tragedy, an unexpected illness, job loss, financial crises, or betrayal weaves its way into our lives, praising God is generally the furthest thing from our thoughts and minds.

However, because I have been in both places and I know the power anger had over me for so many years. I paid a significant price for my anger and I still marvel that God sought me out and lifted my feet on very solid ground. Psalm 40:2. I have been determined not to allow it to take up residence again. Oh, it wants to and it’s sometimes a daily fight but my God is stronger and He will battle for me.

In any case, over the past eight years, if I listed all of the things that have happened, which were not part of the outcome I perceived, you would be amazed, like I am that, I am not a walking basket case. Albeit, at times I reckon I am and that I am just being completely held together by a God who loves to laugh and say, ”Yep, that one’s a little cray, cray but I love her anyway.”

Here’s what I know and have learned. You cannot trust someone you do not know. If you don’t spend time alone with God, you will never get to know Him. If you don’t pray and ask Him to reveal himself to you, you can’t possibly understand that ”All things (good and bad) work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose ” Romans 8:28 For me personally, I have to drown out the noises and get alone and still and quiet. (Yes, I did say quiet which will come as a shock to those who really know me)

What I have learned by spending time in His presence is that I can praise Him in the hard times of life. I can trust His heart and know that He has my back. Not only that, but He knows what is best for me.

When Ned was diagnosed with cancer, it rocked our world. The diagnosis was bleak. I remember falling to my knees in prayer before the first visit with Dr. Anthony, his oncologist, and begging God, ”Please God don’t let me become angry. Please keep my heart at peace. Help me to see the good and keep my hope in you. I know you will do what’s best.”

Can I be frank and honest, I tried to muster anger at times. It would’ve been easier emotionally because it was downright hard to remain hopeful and at peace with where things were. But every time I felt anger start to boil, something would happen. A prayer would be answered. A precious memory made. A good report. Something. I could stand back and say, ”Wow, God, look at what you did!” The praise kept the anger at bay and filled my heart with gratitude which in turn changed my attitude.

And so it is with you, are you struggling for peace? Do you want to understand? Has your world.been turned on its end? Are you angry with God because you think He’s the cause of your pain and heartbreak? You will not find answers in any self-help book. You will not find answers by constantly talking to people or going to church or attending a Bible Study or even through a counselor. You must seek to know Him. You must learn to trust Him and you must get alone with Him because you can bare your soul to Him. He already knows and cares for you!