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.

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!

Remember and Celebrate

It seems perfectly fitting that today, Palm Sunday, while Christians around the world are commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I am finding cause to celebrate your triumphal entry to Heaven.

Forty-four years ago today, Jesus finished your place and called you home. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3. Jesus unbound you and set you free.

Your bindings were not literal chains but those of a physical nature. For almost four years leading up to your death, your body suffered greatly. Cancer raged. While the chemotherapy gave you time, it also depleted you of your strength. Then forty-nine days or more before you took your final breath, your chains became your hospital bed. The tumor resting on your spine was inoperable and caused paralysis from the waist down.

While the cancer and chemotherapy were taking its toll on your physical body and binding it up, nothing could contain the Spirit of God that welled up in your soul. You understood what Paul said in Philippians 1:21. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” You knew the end of your story was going to turn out well but you also knew for what time God gave you was a great responsibility to live your life worthy of your calling. And you did! You understood what most of us fail to even understand now, what really matters: Loving God with all of your heart and loving others. You loved others enough to share with them the Good News of Christ because you wanted them to experience the same peace and joy that you had been given.

Daddy, can I tell you something? Your life is still making a difference. The prayers you prayed are still being worked out. Your legacy continues. How do I know? Because your life continues to make a difference in my life and it leads me to desire greater wisdom and knowledge of Jesus and a greater love for people. I found this in your Bible and I am convinced it’s a prayer that you prayed for all of your children. God, answered your prayer, He allowed your actions to shine and He did remember you

And so today, as we enter into Holy Week by remembering Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. I will remember and celebrate your triumphant entry into the arms of Jesus!

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.

Unsightly Nose Hairs

Sunday on our way to church I pulled the visor down to open the mirror. I do this regularly on Sundays because I put my lips on. Truthfully it’s about the only day of the week I wear lipstick. I mean occasionally if we’re going out I will but that’s why I wonder if I’m truly southern. Cause don’t all good Southern girls put their lips on?

As I was meticulously applying the lipstick because I don’t do do-overs, I noticed the most unsightly nasal hairs. It really freaked me out. I’ve never noticed how prominent they were and I doubt anyone else does either because they are very light in color. It was more the way the light was filtering into the car. However, because I found it almost grotesque, I immediately picked up my phone to do a google search for nasal hair removal.

Do you know what I found out? I can cut those little boogers back but to remove the hair follicle could be dangerous and detrimental to my health. I mean who knew that this tiny little unsightly and seemingly useless haphazardly placed hair could actually be helpful and healthful.

Here are a few important facts about nasal hair (in case you didn’t already know):

  • Nasal hair is one of our body’s defense mechanisms against disease
  • When you breathe in and out your nasal hair catches harmful debris and keeps it from getting into the body.
  • Nasal hair also helps maintain moisture in the air we breathe

From my research, I learned that plucking or removing nasal hair is not a good idea and can lead to serious health issues. However, if they’re so unsightly you can’t stand them, you can trim them with scissors. Although you need to exercise caution in that as well.

Here’s the thing that stood out to me the most. How intricately we are fashioned. Think about it. Even the smallest of detail, like an unsightly nasal hair, has a purpose. Only a very creative God could do such a thing. Let’s just take a look back at how he created us.

  • First, we were made by the hands of God. Yes, His very hands. Take a look at Genesis 2:7, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground”. Remember for all of the other creation, He spoke it into existence. But for humankind he formed, indicating he used his hands. He made something from nothing.
  • Second, He breathed life into us. Yes, the very same God who formed us, breathed life into us. Take a look at the rest of Genesis 2:7, “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature.”

I find it both fascinating and mind-boggling that the very same God who created the world, hand-crafted me and then breathed breath into my lungs. But what I find more fascinating is the intricate details with which the human body is created and that each one has its purpose and each one serves their purpose.

So, the next time I see those unsightly nasal hairs, I won’t be so quick to think of ways to get rid of them. Instead, I will see them for what they are, protective measures with purpose.

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 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.

Touched by His Hands

This buffet rests on the longest wall in my house, near the front door. If I told you when we first walked into our house before we purchased it, I told Terry, ”Its a perfect spot for the buffet!” would you believe me? It’s true I did.

I acquired this piece in a roundabout way. It actually belonged to my grandparents, who had acquired it from my grandmother’s eccentric Aunt (and a great story for another time). Mom laid claim to it years ago but when we moved Popaw from his house, Ned said, ”Ann, you have nowhere to put that thing and if we downsize you certainly won’t have room for it. Besides, I don’t really like it.” Mom asked if I wanted it. At first, I hemmed and hawed because I really didn’t have room for it. I finally concluded that we would just leave it for the folks buying Popaw’s house- until one day as we were wrapping up clearing out the house and the light switch turned on in my head and I knew it had to come home with me.

Terry didn’t complain but we did have to store it in our basement until we moved because there was no room upstairs.

For months I contemplated taking it to a local guy in Hendersonville who meticulously and beautifully restores fine antique furniture. Ultimately I refrained from doing anything to it and just left it alone.

At first glance, you see the beauty of the piece but upon closer inspection, you will find places where Popaw attempted to fix a few places. They are mainly at the bottom. The color hues are slightly off and can really be seen when light hits the spots. But to be honest, I would have to point them out to you because they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

If I had taken this piece to be restored I would have taken away it’s character and what truly makes this special to me. The beauty to me resides in the fact my grandfather’s hands touched this piece. He left his mark on it, making it like no other. He added a depth of meaning that restoration would have eliminated. His hands made it special.

Do you know that in the same way, God’s hands make us special? Let me explain.

As we see the creation story unfold in Genesis 1 we see the words, ”And God said” repeated five times. He spoke everything into existence until he came to the final day of creation. On this day He did something different.

Then God said, ”Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them
. Genesis 1:26-27

On this day, God didn’t speak things into existence, he created man. He made the man with His hands and in His image. In Genesis 2;7 says, ”He formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being”

Don’t you realize that God could have spoken man into existence? But He didn’t. He chose to use His hands to create and make us in His image. He gave each one of us our individuality and uniqueness. His very hands made us and that makes all of us special, flaws and all. This alone makes Him very personal to me and I hope it makes you feel the same way.

Maybe you’re like me and most often I see my flaws and failures. I see what a mess I really am but that’s because I’m looking at the piece all wrong. I’m looking at the flaws and I am not seeing the beauty of the whole thing. And what a great reminder to have such a magnificent work of art in my house to serve as a great reminder to me. Just as I see the flaws of where Popaw’s hands attempted to fix a few spots, the beauty is in the piece as a whole and that I have something that his hands touched. Just as God made him in His image and likeness and His hands formed me and made me, flaws and all and yet He sees me as a beautiful work of His hands. Ephesians 2:10 (my life verse) tells me this, ”I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for me to do.”

Friends, whether you’re a believer or not, the truth is you were touched by the Hands of Almighty God!

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.