19 years and counting

Today just seems like the appropriate day to get this blog started.  On this day, 19 years ago God blessed us with a 7lb 9oz baby girl, Amy Grace.  That very same day, God spared my life and gave me a new lease on life.  Let me explain.

Two days prior to Amy’s birth, I looked like a beached whale.  I was waddling like a duck and hadn’t slept in two weeks.  She wasn’t due for another two weeks.  I took Terry with me to by OB appointment for both moral support and to keep me from flooding the doctors office with tears.  Fortunately, Dr. Oldham saw my misery and said, “Ok.  You can either come in on Thursday the 12th or Friday the 13th and we will induce.”  Without hesitation Terry spoke up and said, “We’ll take the 12th because I don’t like the idea of having a baby on Friday the 13th.”

Upon leaving the office, I was elated.  “Only two more days of misery, ” I thought to myself, “I can deal with two days.”

We were up early on the 12th. We made our way to the hospital and at 7:00 the Pitocin drip began.  Didn’t take long for contractions to begin and by 1:45, I was 5cm dilated and contractions were steady, actually it seemed as if they were increasing not only in strength but frequency by the minute.  Around 2:15 when they checked me again, I was 8cm dilated. They called down for an epidural, but by the time it reached the room, there was no time.  By 2:35 pm, I was fully dilated and delivering.  We were elated our baby girl had arrived. We knew ahead of time the baby was a girl.  We just hadn’t told anyone, except one dear friend, mainly because I didn’t believe the ultrasound.

Our room quickly filled with family and friends to greet this new little life.  Within about 30 minutes of her delivery, I began to feel odd and had a weird painful sensation in my abdominal area.  The nurse insisted it was my uterus contracting but I said, “I don’t think so.  This is my fourth child and I’ve never had this sensation before.”  She did nothing.

Fortunately, my friends Ashley and Bryon showed up.  She came in the room and said, “You don’t look good.  What’s wrong?”  I told her about my abdominal pain and she immediately went to the nurses station and told them to get some help because my color wasn’t good.

As soon as the doctor came in and examined me, blood gushed out.  It actually felt like a chain link fence was coming out of me.  Horrified, she began packing me to stop the bleeding.  For the next few minutes, I felt almost normal and then it happened again.  This time, she packed me again, but due to the significant loss of blood, a call to have blood delivered for a transfusion was necessary.  As soon as the blood arrived, I’m guessing I looked so bad and had lost so much blood, Dr. Arcara was literally screaming at the nurse, “Squeeze the damn bag or I will.”

After a third time of packing and no control over the bleeding, it was determined I would have to have emergency surgery.  They had no idea what they would find.  I remember vaguely her asking me if I could sign the release for them if a hysterectomy was necessary.

Due to the seriousness of the bleeding, Dr. Oldham was also called in to assist Dr. Arcara. The next thing I remember is waking up to the sound of Dr. Zahn’s (the anesthesiologist) saying, “You look like Stay Puft the marshmallow man.  We had to pump you full of fluids.  You’re lucky to be alive.”

The next day, Friday the 13th, Dr. Oldham came by for rounds and said, “You had Victoria and I scared to death.  We’ve never experienced anything like that in our careers.  What happened was your cervix ripped over an artery and blood was just pumping out into your body. If not for her quick decision to do surgery, we wouldn’t have found it.  Also, they told me that during delivery, Amy had a true knot in her umbilical cord and it’s probable that if you had gone another two weeks, as she grew the knot would’ve gotten tighter and quite possibly taken her life.”

I don’t know about you but knowing that God provided, not one, but two miracles of life in a day for our family makes me feel truly blessed and humbled.  I stand in awe and wonder of his miracles and I realize that I would not be here without His grace and mercy.  My story could’ve ended on February 12, 1998 but God had bigger plans for me.  He choose to keep me here to tell my story and it is all for His glory.

Learning about the Good Shepherd

I had a plan to write a New Year’s blog which was obviously interrupted. That’s the thing I’ve learned, sometimes God stops me. He puts ideas and thoughs on hold or changes the direction of my writing entirely.

As 2017 came to a close, I was reminded of how it began. Laughter and joyous celebration. The anticipation of a new year. The thankfulness in our hearts because Ned was doing well and looking forward to sharing another year with him.

As we moved into February, I  felt the spirit of God working and moving in our lives. During this time, I received an unexpected text from a dear One asking me to pray about starting a Bible Study with her.  I didn’t need time to think or pray about whether this was God’s will or desire.  I had already been praying for a year and a half for God to open up the doors for a Bible Study.

In March we began our study with Finding I Am by Lysa TerKeurst. In this study, like the title suggests, we were encouraged to find and explore the I Am statements that Jesus makes about himself through the Gospel of John.

The most memorable declaraione for me,personally, is the following:

I am the good shepherd .

John 10: 11-18 New International Version (NIV)

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

It reminds me of my deep need for a shepherd. One who protects me from danger. One who looks for me if I lose my way. One who calls my name and I hear his voice and I know Him and He knows me. Most importantly one who is willing to sacrifice His life for me. I am just a sheep in desperate need of shepherd.

It’s no coincidence that at the time we were studying this particular statement that Ned’s condition would begin to turn iffy. His breathing quickly becoming more labored. CAT scan would reveal swollen lymph nodes. Bronchoscopy and biopsy confirms cancer has returned. His fear. Mom’s fear. Our greatest fear confirmed. Our hopes quickly dashed. Disappointment set in. But wait! There is hope. Hope is always there. Why? Because Jesus always there. He is our Good Shepherd and He will never leave us, even in the most trying and difficult of days.

A few days before Ned’s CAT scan would reveal the swollen lymph nodes, Alex graduated from Blue Ridge Community College with his Associates degree. Mom and Ned were able to be there to celebrate with him. Ned was complaining o shortness of breath but still managed to walk a mile to watch Alex graduate. The blessing and joy of being there for Alex, outweighed any struggles he was having that day, Again, the Good Shepherd providing for his sheep.

At the close of May, our daughter Amy would make conference for WCU Track & Field . Mom and Ned were unable to attend this event. However, Terry and I were able to go for the two-day event and watch as Amy finished 9th in Hammer Throw, 7th in Shot Put, 8th in Discus and Javelin Throw, We had a more cause to celebrate and see how Jesus was graciously caring for us.

The molecular testing on Ned’s biopsy showed that he was. “Great candidate” for the drug Keytruda. His efficiency PDL-1 rating was 90% indicating the overall response of his cancer to the drug would be favorable. The overall side effects were substantially fewer, a lot less than his previous chemotherapy treatments. Overall response of current patients using the drug e was also favorable.. Obviously there were risks and they were clearly and audibly disclosed. I sat in the office with Ned as Kate Kennedy, Dr. Anthony’s P.A., discussed them. The percentage of severe risks were extremely low, The drug, by all appearances, would be a perfect match for him. On June 13th I sat with him while his first treatment was administered. He was excited at the possibility of this new treatment being just right for him.

It wouldn’t take but a few days before Ned developed a rash and intensified cough. Side effects, common ones, from Keytruda. Fortunately, the initial dose of prednisone cleared his rash. It didn’t do much for the cough. After the second round the rash returned and the cough remained. It was irritating and uncontrollable at times. There would be random outbursts. Periods of lull but nothing completely diminishing the cough. This time they gave him more stronger dose of steroids and added some cough suppressants. The cough becoming a total nuisance began causing pain in his right side and back. But it was too early in the ballgame to make a judgement call on the effectiveness of the Keytruda. We all felt highly confident in the advice and assessments given from. Dr. Anthony and Kate. We knew Ned was in good hands. Another wonderful provision from our Good Shepherd.

The day after Ned’s third round of Keytruda, Alex went over the visit. He was leaving for college on Friday. He came home and said, “Mom, Papaw is pitiful. I’ve never seen him so weak. Something is right”. I told him it was probably just due to the treatment from the previous day and I would check on him the next day.

Wednesday was a better day. I didn’t get too worked up. He said he just felt tired and if he could get rid of that “stinking aggravating cough, he would feel better”.

I decided to start researching every medication and supplement he was currently taking. Looking at all the common and non-common side effects. Dang! Getting that involved in drugs and their side effects will cause you to question the value of medication.

On Friday, Alex and Amy both went to visit before Alex’s departure. They came home saying , “Mom, Papaw isn’t well. He’s so weak he struggles to get out of his chair.” Now, one thing to understand about my kids is they’re not the melodramatic type. If anything they are fairly low key and don’t get worked up quickly. So, I knew it wasn’t good,

We decided to go by on Saturday before we took Amy to school, just to check on him. He said he felt a little better but I wasn’t convinced. He looked terrible. His side and back were in excruciating pain. He wasn’t able to sleep in his bed. He found more comfort on his chair or the couch. When we got ready to leave with Amy, she bent down to give him a kiss. That wasn’t good enough for him. He said, “Hang on, I’m getting up so I can hug you before you leave.” At that moment, when I watched how challenging it was for him to stand, I knew things were on a downward slope. This just wasn’t our Ned or Papaw.

Due to taking kids back to back days to college, Terry and I already decided to forgo driving to Greenville to church. We went out for a celebratory breakfast and predetermined to go check on Ned. Before we got to our breakfast destination I got a picture test from Mom. Ned was sitting slouched over at the table. Arms crossed and head down. Caption read: He tried to come sit and take his meds.

As soon as we get there, their dear friends are already there checking in. They had seen a substantial decline since Thursday. They were concerned. We were all concerned. Ned was being stubborn and refusing to let Mom call the doctor.

Did I tell you that Ned met his match for stubbornness when he crossed paths with me? If not, he did! I didn’t just insist he call the doctor. I called for him. With him in the background saying, ” I don’t know why you’re bothering to call. There’s nothing they can do.”

Dr Anthony was quite perplexed when I shared with him the radical decline. He tried to get Ned to go to the ER. Ned convinced him that he didn’t need to go and would be ok until he saw him the next day. Reluctantly, Dr Anthony agreed.

Thus began the poking and prodding to find the cause. After researching Ned’s symptoms and side effects Keytruda as well lab results. It was discovered that Ned’s body was not tolerating the Keytruda and it was creating an adrenal insufficiency.

Obviously, Keytruda would be stopped and full intent to go back on chemo drug Alimta. However, the symptoms needed to be managed first. The only problem with symptom management was the need for other drugs. The need for other drugs constituted various other side effects. Yet, hope remained.

A bone scan revealed 3 distinctive spots not present during a previous bone scan. The cancer was now metastatic and would need to be addressed sooner rather than later. However, Ned’s body was not strong enough for treatment due to the side effects from Keytruda. Keep in mind the side effects Ned had were not common. Only a very small percentage of patients develop these issues. Like the rarity and uniqueness Ned’s cancer, his body reacted to drugs the same way.

On September 13, Kristi, my sister would call and FaceTime me to show me how pitiful he was. He had barely talked, wasn’t eating, couldn’t get comfortable. He and mom sitting on the couch. He was slumped over and she was sitting with her arm around his slumped shoulders. I told Kristi that I was calling the doctor.

This call would result in EMS coming to get him. He would not return home. Well, not his earthly home.

At some point, God will probably open my mouth to share about the last 6 weeks of his life but many parts of that story are still raw and painful. Suffice to say, he was blessed with good care everywhere he was taken. Jesus, the Good Shepherd continuing to provide.

On October 29, God called him home and he gladly went. His body was tired. His fight was long and hard. We Had hooked beyond all hope that God will heal him here on earth. God said, “No! His work is done here and I want him with me”.

All during and through Neds illness and death our family witnessed a huge outpouring of deep love and support from family, friends and former co-workers. Again, The Good Shepherd giving us all we need. Protection. Food. Love. Comfort. Sacrifice.

The key thing about Jesus, The Good Shepherd, is that he was willing to lay his life down for yours. When dark shadows refuse to reveal light. When the tests are screaming bad news. When your bank account is dry. When your hope runs on empty. When you feel like you can’t go on. Remember. Jesus paid it all. He felt everything you are feeling. He’s the only one who fully knows and understands. Because of the high price he paid for us, He is our hope. He is our joy. He is our Good Shepherd, if we’ve put our hope and trust in Him by inviting Him into our hearts.

Look how David so eloquently describes the Lord as his Shepherd.

In closing, 2017 will go down in the yearbook as one of the most difficult years on record for me and for my family.  However, even through the most challenging times, the many tears we cried, watching our loved one lose his life, Jesus was and continues to be our constant source of strength and hope.

A big thank you to all who continue to read my blog.  I’m not sure where 2018 will take us, but I know that God already has it mapped out.  As He leads, I will continue to write.

Alex’s friend Derek: A life that made a difference!

Proverbs 27:17 NIV

As iron sharpens iron,

    so one person sharpens another.

Last year on December 22, I was coming home after taking dinner to Terry. Instead of my usual route to come home, I took a detour. I needed to run by Walgreens and pick up a few items.

While in Walgreens, I heard screaming sirens. Multiples! I could tell from the direction of the sound they were headed in the direction I would be traveling.

Immediately, as always, I began to pray that my children were safe and for protection for whoever was involved.

As I was leaving Walgreens, Alex called!

“Mom, where are you? There’s been a terrible wreck on Kanuga Road. You can’t get through, you’ll have to go around the other way. ”

“Ok. Glad to know you’re safe” I replied.

He said, “I think the accident just happened and if I had not stopped by the house to change clothes, I might have been part of it.”

He was headed out to dinner with friends and had been at work. Not wanting to wear his work clothes, had stopped by the house for a quick change.

I called Amy to make sure she wasn’t involved. Fortunately, she was no where near Kanuga Road. I breathed a sigh of relief and headed home.

I called Terry to tell him a bad accident had happened and traffic was diverted. As soon as I got out of the car, at our house, I heard MAMA whirling above. At that moment, I said to Terry, “Dude, this is not good. I hear MAMA! We need to pray for the people involved!

Everyone arrived home safely and the next morning, I woke up with the accident on my mind. There was a feeling of uneasiness about it and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I drank my coffee and finished my Bible Study. Then I began to research about the accident. Here’s what I found Wreck on Kanuga. As I read and listened to the accident report. I began to well-up with tears. The teenager, Derek, wasn’t doing anything wrong. He had left work and was heading to get gas before going home.

I didn’t know this family or the young man, or so I thought. I just knew my heart was in shambles for this family.

I remember telling Terry when he got up how heavy my heat was for the Miller family. I told him I couldn’t imagine what his parents were going through.

I went to get ready and suddenly, while blow drying my hair, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. Derek is Alex’s friend from work. Derek is the one Alex eats out with all the time. Derek is the young man I met one night while I was out having dinner with a friend and Alex and his friends were eating there too.

By the time I was finished getting ready, Alex was up and knew that his friend had been killed the night before.

Talk about a somber moment. He said, “Mom, I was most likely the last person to talk to Derek! He finished his shift, a little before me and asked if I wanted to go out and eat. I told him I already had plans for that evening but we could go out after all the next day because we were both scheduled to work.”

Alex was heartbroken. Devastated. He knew that God had spared him because of his couple of delays. He was shocked and dismayed. Shaken badly.

There was nothing that I could do or say to take away the deep pain my child’s heart was feeling. Now, not only was my heart breaking for the family, my heart hurt deeply for my son.

Over the next few days, I observed as Alex processed his grief. He didn’t sit around and wallow in his grief. He went to the Millers. He spent hours with Derrick’s Proverbs 27:17 NIV

As iron sharpens iron,

    so one person sharpens another.

Last year on December 22, I was coming home after taking dinner to Terry. Instead of my usual route to come home, I took a detour. I needed to run by Walgreens and pick up a few items.

While in Walgreens, I heard screaming sirens. Multiples! I could tell from the direction of the sound they were headed in the direction I would be traveling.

Immediately, as always, I began to pray that my children were safe and for protection for whoever was involved.

As I was leaving Walgreens, Alex called!

“Mom, where are you? There’s been a terrible wreck on Kanuga Road. You can’t get through, you’ll have to go around the other way. “family. He grieved with them.

As the time approached for the memorial service, Alex told me that he felt compelled to speak on Derricks behalf. So, he had taken the liberty of calling Derricks brother, Colby, and mentioning it to him. The family was elated because they had been praying that one of Derek’s friends would speak.

We watched as Alex prepared his testimony about Derek We listened as he read us what he was going to say. Although we didn’t know the family, personally, we went to the service to support our boy.

As he concluded his Eulogy, I will never forget what he said about his friend. “The thing that I am going to miss most about Derek is seeing Jesus live in him!”

It doesn’t matter what age or stage of life you’re in, remember the impact you can have on another’s life. This young man was 17 years old and he had an impact on his friends and others. They noted and saw the difference that Jesus made in him.

It’s not about a degree or pedigree. It’s about the difference that Jesus makes when He’s invited to come into our lives. It’s not about impacting the world. It’s about impacting those that God puts in your path. He can use you, just like he used Derek in Alex’s life.

18….5….8

I’m not giving measurements here I’m proving a point. The point being. I wasn’t meant to be there!

Be where, you ask?

Be at the bedside of Ned, my dad, the night he died.

At the midnight hour on October 29, my sister and I left the Elizabeth House. Ned was snoring when we left. Our brother, David, was staying in the room with him, while Mom and her friend Norma slept outside the room.

Exhaustion overwhelmed me on the 10 minute drive home. Stepping into my house, I knew I had to get in the bed.

In typical fashion, I plugged my phone up! It stays in my kitchen. I always keep it on vibrate. I detest the ringtone and have trained my ears to hear the moan.

Terry’s phone sleeps beside mine and his irritating ringer is generally always on.

Amy was also home with us that evening and she sleeps with her phone, like most teenagers do!

In other words, a call should be heard. Right?

Wrong!!!

At 2:30 AM, drowsy Amy comes into our bedroom, crosses in front of the bed, and over to her dad’s side and starts chanting, “Mom, Mom you need to wake up. You have a phone call”. She hands me her phone and the first thing I do is hit the end call button! (That’s how out of it I was.). I hand her the phone back and say call back.

After a couple of rings, my brother answers and says, “Sissy, he’s gone.” He can’t talk and hands the phone to my sister who says, “We’ve been trying to call you. Daddy died at 2:00! We’ve called the funeral home and they’ll be here to get his body in about 30 minutes. Do you want to come see him before they take him?”

I blurted out a quick and emphatic, “No! I said goodbye earlier and he was breathing. I don’t care to come.”

Upon hanging up, I tried laying back down but the exhaustion had subsided into mountains of tears. I knew Terry needed sleep and if I kept crying, he wouldn’t get any. So, I got up!

Tears streamed down my face. It was the ugly cry. I fought back the urge to thrust myself to the ground and scream. (Fully aware that the entire household would get no sleep if I did)

Between sobs, God reminded me of two very important things.

First, at the very beginning of Ned’s 19 month journey, I had asked God for a few very specific things. One that He would show me when to go and when not to go! Two that I would go with the right attitude and heart and never, ever go based on guilt. Three that He would always get me there right on time, every time!

Second He reminded me of the anger and frustration I felt towards my Mom after my biological Daddy died. I saw him the night before his death. I was not allowed to go to his funeral. I remained embittered with rage, directed at Mom, for years because she didn’t allow me to go. She would always say, “I didn’t want you to remember him that way. I wanted your last memory of him to be a live memory.

Just then it dawned on me, God had orchestrated this whole thing, 41 years ago. He knew I didn’t need to see either Dad dead but alive. He knew my last memory of both should bring me joy! Joy that the struggle had ended and “He (Jesus) will swallow up death in victory” Isaiah 25:8

The numbers above represent the number of calls made between 1:00AM and 2:30AM on Sunday October 29, 2017.

My phone was called 18 times. Terry’s phone was called 5! Like afore mentioned, Terry’s annoying ringer is usually on. However, because he had been with me at the Elizabeth House, it was turned off. Amy’s phone, which sleeps on her pillow was called 8 times before it woke her up!

Was I suppose to be there?!! Absolutely, positively NOT!

I trusted God to take me and without fail or falter, He did. Every time and right on time. It was never his intention or plan to have me there when Ned took his last breath. Just as it was never his intention or plan for me to see my daddy lying dead in a casket.

The lesson I learned is that when I ask God and believe that He is good to keep his word, He will not disappoint or fail me. Never!!!!

Through Sickness and in Health

For those of you who don’t follow me anywhere but here, my dad, Ned Whitmire was called home at 2:00 AM on Sunday.

I have many stories to tell about his last few weeks. However, this is a powerful display of what I’ve witnessed from my Mom for the past 19 months.

She has selflessly given herself to making sure Ned was well loved and taken care of. She has a true Servants Heart.

Ned’s former coworker Amber Cox watched and observed these events unfold!

I spoke the other day about serving your spouse. This is what prompted it. This is a testimony right here folks. I was visiting with Ned Whitmire and Kelly was speaking with the doctor. Ann reached over and felt Ned’s feet. In her sweet voice, Let’s get you some socks, Honey. I handed her the socks and was getting ready to offer to do it. I blinked and here she was in the floor doing it. Fearful and tired here is this woman in the floor doing this simple thing. It meant so much to me to see how Ned has been cared for his entire life with Ann. She could’ve gotten Kelly or me to do it. The nurses at Elizabeth House would have gladly done it. But she did it.

This is in sickness and health and for better or worse, ya’ll. I came home and told Jason I was so thankful to be married to someone just like this.

What an example Ann Whitmire is to all of us. World crumbling around her and she still isn’t thinking of herself.

“A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of- GOD. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:10-31‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Deep Roots

Have you ever just listened to nature? Have you ever just fixed your eyes on the things in nature? Is there one thing that sticks out in your mind? Have you ever just stopped, breathed and pondered?

For me it’s always this particular tree. It stands on the bank adjacent to a magnificent park. Falls Park on Reedy in Greenville, SC. I simply cannot go through this park without seeing this tree. Obviously, others are mesmerized by it as well. Folks are consisting “oohing and ahhing”, taking photos with friends and family or like me, standing back and grabbing a picture of its root system.

What is that draws me to this tree? It reminds me of the importance of having a good root system to hold you in place. When I look at the roots over roots, it also reminds me of how we need to cover ourselves. The roots over roots ground the tree.

Primarily why this tree fascinates me is because I see so much of my life depicted in this root system. I see struggles. I see struggles on the inside and outside. I see a strong desire to stay grounded but as the roots overlap it reminds me of how frequently I mess up and I need a covering of God’s grace. I see an unrelenting ground that gives this tree it’s ability to stand. The roots go deep. They have to.

So, let me ask you. Is your root system grounded? Does it struggle to remain attached? The ground hasn’t moved. God, himself, is immovable. Maybe you have moved or strayed away. Just like some of the roots. Maybe you need a good covering of God’s grace. Maybe you feel like your past failures and mistakes make you unworthy. They don’t. God’s desire is to pour a heaping helping of grace and mercy on you.

Don’t allow your past to define you. Allow the presence of God and his great mercy and grace to supply everything you need for today.

Dig deep into him. It’s there you will find comfort, peace and rest.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper”. Psalm 1:3

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

The War Within

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above. —Robinson

The war within is so strong it's like the ocean current that just pulls you out away from the shore. Gently at first but the tugging keeps on until you realize you're about to the point of no return!

It's a wrestling of the will and flesh , the heart and the soul ! The will wrestles with the flesh to do the right thing, while the flesh argues and presses the heart to be wicked and deceitful, and the soul , deep deep down where the spirit resides, keeps saying. "No no no! It's not right it's not good and nothing good will come from it. Let it go! Let it be! "

Then the gentle, yet passionately stern voice speaks, through His word, " I made you for better things that this. I made you so that you can experience Me and my joy and pleasure because it far exceeds anything that you can fathom. Why do you move away from me? Why do wander? Come close to me and I will draw close to you. I can help you. My footing is sound and solid."

And so you move back towards the safety of the shore. It's still a struggle. The strife is real. The current of evil still tugs at your heart, your soul and you mind. Little by little your pull against the current, until you can feel the ocean floor. The current still pulls against you but the closer you get to the shore, the less violent the pull is.

Finally, you're back on steady ground. You can walk to safety and it feels good. Only there'll be a next time., if you're like me, I am always prone to wander. Always prone to leave the God I love. Always struggling with the war within. It's only by grace and mercy that I win any of these battles. That is His goodness towards me and this goodness has a name Jesus! He my hope and stay!

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”
Romans 7:25 NLT

Miracles happen

The picture above is the reason I know that prayer works.  It is effective.  It is powerful.  Miracles happen when people pray.

Look closely at the two men in the above picture.  One is Ned, my dad, who has lung cancer.  The other is my Uncle Howard who has colon cancer.  Both of these men are still, by God’s grace and through the effective prayers of His people, alive today.

If you will remember my earlier post, “The best $6.00 money could buy” was about my Uncle Howard.  Even when I wrote that post, it was uncertain what his future held.  I knew he had a desire to see his youngest grandson graduate from high school because during my visit with him, he told me so.  He just didn’t think he would live to see it happen.  Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone did.

Guess what?  He did get to see his grandson graduate.  Today.  He was there.  God gave him the desire of his heart and I’m so very thankful.  This is nothing short of a miracle.

And then there’s Ned.  His original diagnosis with lung cancer was 9-15 months with chemo treatments.  Guess what?  It’s been 15 months since chemo began.  Wait.  There’s more than that to the story.  Chemo began in March 2016.  We asked people to pray specifically that the chemo would deplete the fluid in his right lung.  It did.  In fact, after only 6 months of treatment, his lung was completely clear.  He was given a break from chemo and for the past 7 months. Every 8 weeks has been having CT scans to monitor his lungs and the possible return of cancer.

Sadly, the most recent CT scan showed cancer in the lymph node in the mediastinum.  This week he will begin a second line treatment that will consist of Keytruda, immunotherapy instead of chemotherapy.  The hope and prayer are the immunotherapy will thwart the growth and/or spread of the cancer as effectively as the chemotherapy with fewer side effects.

It is not by accident that these two men are still alive today.  It is because folks have been praying.  It is because God is a God of miracles and He is a God of love.  Also, He is a God who ordains our time and regardless of what statistics may say, God has the final say.

Every day is a miracle.  It is a gift.  Live in the miracle God gives you today and don’t get so caught up with tomorrow.  It may never come.