Monday, November 30, 2009

I Can Do It Myself !!

It has been awhile since I've had a chance to blog. Being back to work full time has been a bit of an adjustment. The Lord gives just the right amount of energy needed but not much left to spare. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving day. I worked until 4:00 and then joined my family for dinner. Driving home from work, I reflected over the many thanksgivings in my life. I remembered being asked the question once, "What's the one thing you are most thankful for this year?" And, I thought about how much has happened in my life since Thanksgiving last year. I know I was thankful last year, but I am much more thankful this year. Am I thankful for cancer? No. Am I thankful for what God has accomplished through my cancer? YES!!! And that is the one thing I am most thankful for this year.

This Thanksgiving weekend, my little grandson Wyatt was here visiting. He is 2 1/2 and at the age called "I can do it all by myself!" Whether it be putting his shoes on, or taking them off (which is more often the case), combing his hair, or brushing his teeth he is convinced that he needs no help from anyone.

He found some stackable blocks in the toy box and began to piece them together. The first few he didn't have much of a problem with.

As he continued with the next ones, I could see him start to get frustrated. I asked him if he needed any help and he adamantly replied, "Nope, I can do it all by myself."

So I backed away and watched his little hands continue to struggle to try and fit the pieces together. It was so hard for me to sit there and watch him get more and more upset.

Finally, when he was to the point of tears, he came over and asked for help. I gladly took him into my arms, for nothing would have stopped me from helping him. And with just a little bit of help on my part, he was able to fit the pieces together. Immediately his little face turned from tears to smiles.

As I watched him run off to play, I thought how oftentimes we are just like little Wyatt. We worry over our children, we struggle over loss of jobs and financial struggles, we battle loneliness and despair to the point of tears, we worry over the "what ifs" of cancer, we work to the point of exhaustion, all because we think we can do it by ourselves. But, our loving Father, never intended for us to be worried, fearful or despairing. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10).

It must be hard for God to sit by and watch us, like little Wyatt, wait until we are to the point of tears and ready to give up, before we ask Him to help. But when we do ask, He hears our cry and nothing will keep Him from helping us. "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. He
parted the heavens and came down." (Psalms 18:6,9).

God has reminded me through my little grandson, that he doesn't want me to struggle on my own. He doesn't want me to "do it all by myself." He longs to replace my tears with smiles. My frustration with joy and my discontent with peace. If I would only ask Him for help. How thankful I am, for the way He chooses to remind me of His love!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Dash

On Friday, I attended the funeral of a man I loved. I called him Mr. Harry. He was 12 days shy of being 93 years old. I have known Mr. Harry for 31 years and to me he has always looked the same. He was one of the most caring people I have ever known. He had been married for 63 years. He was an incredibly hard working man who was always willing to help anyone with anything.

At his service, the pastor invited people to share stories about him. One story for me that stood out was when he helped us move into our home 10 years ago. At that time he was 83 years old. He was just going to let us borrow his truck, but he wasn't the kind of man who could just sit by and watch others work, so he started to move furniture. At 83!! I remember him picking up one end of a very heavy sofa and on the other end were my 2 teenage boys. After a minute or two, Mr. Harry said, "Boys, your end is dragging. How about picking it up so it is even with my end!"

At 93, Mr. Harry's life held many stories. On the program for his service, was written a poem and I wanted to share it here.

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the headstone from beginning to end.
He noted that first came the date of his birth and spoke of the second with tears.
But he said what mattered most was the dash between the years.

The dash represents the time spent on earth,
and now only those who loved him know what that line is worth.
It matters not how much we own, the house, the cars, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love while we are living out our dash.

If we could slow down enough to consider what is true and what is real,
and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more,
and love the people in our lives, like we have never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,
remember that this special dash may only last a while.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life's actions to rehash,
will you be pleased with what there is to say about the way you lived
your dash?

Only God knows the size of the dash in our lives. For some of the tiny sick babies I care for, their dash is very short, yet they still impact the lives of all those around them. Others like Mr. Harry have a very long dash of their years. But no matter the size of the dash, we will make an impact on those around us. What kind of an impact will we make? And on that day when we stand before the Lord at the end of our life, will He be pleased with how we lived out our dash?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Career Day

Today, I had the nicest opportunity to go and speak to a class of 5th graders for "Career Day" I guess it's pretty evident throughout my blogs that I am very passionate about my career. In fact, I don't view it as a "career" at all, but a "calling". Though I had no idea what to expect from 5th graders, I really wanted to share with them my passion for nursing. I wanted them to be able to relate to it, to help them see that they could make a difference in people's lives if they felt led to a nursing career. That their life was filled with possibilities.

I thought that perhaps the boys would think that nursing was only a career for girls, so I started out asking them how many thought it was just for women. Most of them raised their hands. But I explained to them that not all patients were babies. Some were big adults who were too sick to be able to get around or maybe asleep from surgery. That men, too, were needed as nurses and they could be just as caring and compassionate.

I asked the children to name as many different types of nurses that they could think of. They came up with surgical nurses, pediatric nurses, school nurses, doctor's office nurses and military nurses. I wanted them to see the many possibilities open to them if that was the career path they chose.

As I continued to talk to them, I began to see the spark in their eyes. They sat forward in their desks to listen. They started raising their hands and asking questions. They shared stories of family members who had premature babies. One boy shared a story of how he was hit by a car and spent 9 days in a coma. They talked about medical shows they had seen on Discovery channel. As I looked at each of them, I saw so much potential. I hoped that they were starting to see the possibilities in their own lives.

As we left the school, a young boy named Khenley, walked us out. He talked the whole way out about a medical show he had seen on Discovery channel. As we said good-bye, I looked down at him and said "Khenley, if you want to, you can be a doctor or a nurse. You can be anything you want to be. You are definitely capable." He looked up at me and smiled and my heart was filled with joy.

Driving home, I began to pray for each of those students. That God, would guide them as he carries out the plan He has already started in their lives. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11) "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

Sitting outside this afternoon, I was still thinking about the desire to share my passion with those children. Isn't that how God feels about us? We are His children and He is passionate about what we do with our lives. He believes in us. He speaks to us through His word. In it, He shares stories of real people that we can relate to. He shows us that no matter how young or old, how good or bad, how rich or poor, how weak or how strong, we can have a life with him. Page after page, it is filled with possibilities for our life. He looks down at us and says, "If you want to, you can life abundantly, in me."

And when we look up at Him and smile, His heart is filled with joy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Last week, we had a study on faith. The scripture from Hebrews has been on my mind constantly. I have been doing a lot of thinking about faith. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 answers the question in this way. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Ever since I was a teenager I have heard people say "If you have enough faith you can......(be healed, get out of debt, overcome an addiction, etc. etc). And many times as a new believer, I saw praying people, who had faith, not get their prayers answered in the way that they had asked. I always wondered if perhaps they just didn't have enough faith. If I was in an overwhelming situation, would I have enough faith to get my prayers answered? Just how much faith does it take to bend God's will?

In the desert called cancer, I finally learned the answer to my questions.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for." What do I hope for? Well, to be honest, I hope this chemo worked. I hope the cancer doesn't come back. I hope I get to see my sweet Jayda walk down the aisle in her wedding dress and little Logan graduate from high school. But I can't be sure of that. For I don't know God's will for my life. I can't bend His will. Nor do I want to. In the desert, I learned that "God's ways are higher than my ways, His thoughts higher than my thoughts." When I gave my control over to Him and surrendered to His will for my life, my hope then became placed in Him alone. I hope that no matter what turn the journey road takes, He will walk with me each step of the way. My faith allows me to be sure of it.

The other half of the scripture says "Faith is being certain of what we do not see." During the children's time Sunday morning, I used a few illustrations to help them understand this concept.
Take the telephone, for example, I can pick it up and talk to someone half way across the country. I don't understand how it works, but I know it does. I don't understand how I can talk to God who is in Heaven and He can talk back to me but I know He does.
A bottle of medicine. How does it know exactly where to go and what to do when it gets there? I have no idea. I just know it does. I don't understand how God can heal the deepest hurt and pain in my life, but I know He does.
I have no idea how Carl can sit in a chair with a remote control and control the TV from across the room . Neither do I understand how God can sit on His throne in Heaven and control everything here on earth. I don't understand it, but I know that He is in control.

Even though these are simple examples, they so clearly illustrate faith. I can't see God. I can't understand His plan. I can't bend His will. And sometimes that's really tough. Perhaps His healing is not a physical healing, but a healing of the heart. Perhaps overcoming an addiction, first requires, cleansing the soul before cleansing the body. Perhaps getting out of debt, first requires losing all we have in order to to realize that He is all we need.

Faith is not measured in amounts. It is not about believing hard enough to get what we want. It is simply placing our hope in His perfect plan for our lives, and being certain that, even though we can't see it now, His plan is far better than our plan.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Glimpse of God

Everyone once in awhile, sometimes when you are least expecting it, you get a glimpse of God. That happened to me today.

I went back to work on Monday after being out for chemo and radiation. I work in the NICU as an RN. The NICU, like many ICU's is a very high tech place. Lots of machines, tubes, wires, monitors, pumps and alarms. And, almost hidden in the midst of it all, lies a very sick little baby.

Today, one of my babies, who had surgery yesterday, started to furrow his little brow and cry. I quickly got him some pain medication and started infusing it. While I was waiting the few minutes for it to take effect, I put my hand on his little forehead to comfort him. (He was too sick to pick up and hold). I leaned in close to his face and spoke softly to him. I prayed for God to quickly take away his pain, comfort him and heal him so he could go home to his mommy and daddy where he belonged. As I spoke to him, he opened his big dark eyes, stopped crying and looked right into my heart.

And in that very moment, I caught a glimpse of God. In the midst of all the wires and tubes and noise, was a new life, sent straight from heaven. God had created this new life. "For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:11) He knows the plans he has for his life. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) God holds this baby close to His heart. "And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them." ( Mark 10:16)

Tears of thankfulness began to flow. I was so thankful to be God's hands today to comfort this child. To be His voice to pray for him. And thankful for being able to witness the almighty, powerful God through the eyes of this fragile little baby.

God is not a God who sits upon a big gold throne in the sky, far removed from His people. He is right here in our midst. He longs for us to notice Him. Maybe it's a butterfly landing on a leaf, a colorful rainbow in the sky, the opening of a new rosebud, the laughter of a child. Or perhaps it is through the eyes of a sick little baby.

Have you witnessed a glimpse of God lately? If not, watch closely. Look for Him. He is here, just waiting for us to notice Him.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where Are You?

The last couple of days have brought sadness and questions for many, many people. On Thursday, a gunman opened fire on innocent young men and women at Fort Hood army base, getting ready to deploy to Iraq. 13 people died and 43 were injured. These young people had chosen to serve their country. They were unarmed. They had done nothing wrong. They were simply the victims of someone else's anger.

Less than 24 hours later, an armed gunman, in our own city, walked into a business and opened fire on unsuspecting victims as they worked at their desks. They had done nothing wrong. The gunman had been fired from his job and took his hurt and anger out on innocent people.

Where are you, God? Are you here? We can't see you.

We are alot like little Wyatt with these glasses on. We can't understand the ways of God anymore than Wyatt can understand algebra. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12).

But one day, Wyatt will understand algebra. And one day, we will see and understand God's plan. Without faith, it would be so easy to believe that God is not in control. But He is here. He feels the pain, He understands the sadness. He alone knows the reasons why. He IS HERE in the midst of it all.

There are so many people that cross our path in a day's time. Are they hurting? Do they feel so unloved that they feel the need to hurt others? Can I make a difference?

Oh Lord, Sometimes we can't see you. We don't always understand. Help us to trust your word that you are always here with us. That you are in control of everything that happens and one day we will see you clearly. Lead us, Father, to love more deeply, forgive more quickly, and take the time to notice those around us who are hurting. Show us, Lord, how we can make a difference. Amen

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Carl has started walking on the treadmill everyday. It has been good for his sugar levels and I'm sure for his overall health. He walks anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on his schedule. Each day I see him walk, I think, "I'm going to walk today, too." I used to be an avid walker, walking 2-3 miles every morning before work. Now when I get on the treadmill, it's a chore to walk 15 minutes. I am "spent" when I finish and don't have the energy for the rest of the day.

Yesterday, was one of those mornings. I tried to walk and after about 10 minutes I was out of breath and too tired to continue. Feeling a bit frustrated with my slow "return to normal", I went in, got showered, checked for any new lumps or bumps (as is my daily routine anymore) and prepared to go to Wednesday morning bible study.

Driving to the church, I kept thinking about the days when I would go out and walk a couple of miles, work 12 hours and come home with energy to spare. The more I dwelt on those days, the more discouraged I became. So, I wasn't really in a great frame of mind for bible study, and actually thought about going back home and sitting out on the swing and having my own bible study. But I'm glad I didn't.

The scripture verse for the study came from Hebrews. Though it encompassed many verses, one in particular jumped off of the page at me . "Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise." (Hebrews 10:23) Immediately I thought of my morning discouragement.

I pictured myself climbing a high rope, one of those that you climb at the fair, or on an obstacle course. If you make it to the top and can ring the bell, you win the prize. As I start the climb, I have a good strong grip and the first section of the rope seems easy. The higher I climb, the harder it is to hang on. My hands are getting tired. And soon, I take my eyes off of the prize at the top and look down and begin to waver. That's where I start to get into trouble. When I look back. I realize, that while I was busy looking back at "where I was", I had loosened my grip.

"God can be trusted to keep His promise." From the beginning of time, throughout every word of the bible, God has never broken a promise. I, on the other hand, have broken more promises in my life than I even care to think about. Why then, would I waver, take my eyes off of Him and put them on myself? God's promise is not about "what I used to do" or "where I have been", but where He wants me to be today. In right relationship with Him.

Isn't it like that for so many of the difficult ropes we must climb during our life? At first, we are strong. Our grip is tight. Our faith is solid and we believe God's promise that He will help us make the climb.We look up and keep our focus on Him.

But as the climb gets higher, our bodies get tired and our grip gets weaker. We, too often, take our eyes off of God. We start to wonder if His promise to get us through is really true. We look down at where we have been instead of looking up to where He promises to take us.

But God's faithfulness is great. When we slide back and loosen our grip, all we have to do is look up again. Not only, will He give us a new strength for the climb, But He will climb with us, hand over hand, until one day we reach the top and claim the prize of a faithful follower!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Behind The Mask

I love Halloween. I think because it's such a fun time for the children. I love the excitement in the eyes of the children when they talk about who they're going "to be" for Halloween.

I loved spending trick or treating time with my grandchildren.

This year, I was keenly aware of how blessed I was to be able to enjoy this holiday with them. I was literally drawn into the magic with them.

Watching my children get their children ready for trick or treating.

Laughing as baby Cooper kept tearing his hat off while Eric and Katy quickly tried to get a picture.

Watching them go out in their costumes and collect their candy. And then look in their little halloween bags and take a quick inventory each time they received a new piece. I found myself taking in every moment and treasuring it, wishing it could last all night.

When the night was over and the children were asleep, their little bellys full of candy, I thought about the magic of Halloween. What is it that makes it so fun?Why do children (and adults for that matter) love to dress up and become someone different than themselves. The older kids especially love the costumes with masks, because they can hide behind them and not be recognized for who they really are.

I told the children of our church a story about a little boy who discovered, while trick or treating, that his neighbors didn't recognize him behind his mask. So he thought he would cause some trouble. He kicked to pieces their pumpkins and knocked over their lawn chairs. He continued to do lots of bad things that night because behind his halloween mask, he was safe. Then he remembered the words of his parents about how God made us, loves us and will always recognize us. Even though his neighbors didn't recognize him, God knew who he was.

Sometimes that's how it is with us. No, we don't kick over decorations and openly commit acts of disobedience but we often put on one face for others when, "behind the mask" we are not the same person at all. We do and say things that are just as displeasing to God as the acts of this little boy. A co-worker gets a promotion and we act happy for them, when "behind the mask" (in our hearts) we are jealous. We go to church on Sunday, pleased with ourselves, and on Monday we are yelling at the driver in front of us who cuts us off in traffic. We put money in the offering plate for others to see and then ignore the homeless person on the corner. We open the bible on Sunday morning and then read novels and watch movies during the week that we wouldn't watch in the presence of God. We are patient with our friends and quick to find fault in our spouses.

But God sees behind the mask we wear. "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1Samuel 16:7) He sees who we really are. He also sees who we can be. If we allow Him to search us "behind the mask" and are open to His molding and changing us, He will make it so no longer have to hide. "Search me, O God, know my heart and test me. "(Psalms 139:23).

Halloween is over for another year. The make-up faces are washed clean. The candy is rationed out so there will be no upset tummys. The little trick or treaters are fast asleep. But this Halloween has been unlike all others for me. For God has planted a yearning in my heart, to allow Him to search me and test me so that when He looks at my life, I don't have to hide "behind the mask."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Waiting For You To Come To Me

Yesterday, we had a follow-up appointment with my oncologist. I had been apprehensive for several weeks about this visit. Although I love my doctor, I never like going for that appointment because I always end up coming out feeling discouraged and out of "control". (Uh-Oh. There's that word again)

At this appointment, I was to discuss whether or not I wanted to be scanned to see how chemotherapy worked for me. I have written in my blog before, that my doctor was not in favor of having scans because there was no other chemotherapy to offer than what I had already been given. He advised to wait for any symptoms that would indicate that it had spread and scan at that time. The medical person in me had a hard time with that. I am so used to using all the tests available in medical situations and knowing exactly where the condition stands at any given time. But, my doctor, respecting my position, said that he would do whatever I felt comfortable with. He would offer his recommendations, but would leave the decision up to me. Hence, the constant prayer before I went in. I had asked the Lord to give me discernment and peace about the appointment and specifically about the scans .

As I was in prayer Sunday evening, God reminded me of the words I had shared in my testimony that morning. I spoke of how God had taught me in the desert to give my "control" to Him. And when I finally did that, I experienced an incredible freedom! As I prayed about the doctor's appointment, that word "control" just kept coming to mind.

Tuesday morning, I told Carl, I had come to a decision and truly did have a peace about it. I had decided that God had chosen Dr. Baidas specifically for me. In fact, he had chosen each and every medical person on this journey. He had placed me at the excellent MD Anderson cancer center. His hand had been in control of my care from the very beginning. I would continue to trust Him now, to know when I would need to have those scans.

At the appointment, Dr. Baidas did a thorough exam and found nothing that immediately concerned him. He said he would see me in three months and that I should not hesitate to call him if I noticed anything out of the ordinary before that. I did not ask for any scans.

As we walked outside and I looked up at the beautiful blue sky, I once again experienced that incredible freedom that comes from having given the "control" to Him. It was as though God was saying, "I was just waiting for you to come to me." As Carl took my hand, I felt like I could float away. No scans, no tests, no labs, a much needed break for both of us!

Later that evening, I picked up our granddaughter Jayda from cheer practice. We went home and ate dinner and waited for Carl to finish teaching. After he finished, the three of us went to Eric's softball game. About half way through the game, little Jayda was standing up against the fence, and Carl, who was sitting in the bleachers, said, "Jayda, I have been with you for a long time tonight and I haven't even gotten my hug yet." Little Jayda looked up at him and quickly replied, "Well, I was just waiting for you to come to me." And with that, Carl jumped down, lifted her into his arms and she smothered him with love.

How like our Lord, was this sweet little child. He never pushes. He never rushes. He just quietly and patiently waits for us to come to Him. And when we do He lifts us into His arms and cover us with His love!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)

"Because of your great compassion, you did not abandon them in the desert." (Nehemiah 9:19)

"Till the spirit is poured upon us from on high and the desert becomes a fertile field." (Isaiah 32:15)

Last Thursday night and then again on Sunday, I was given the chance to share my testimony to what God has done in my life since starting on this journey. I have tried to do that on the blog all along, but there are many who don't have access to a computer and hadn't heard my story.

But, I didn't know where to start. How could I express in 20 minutes the incredible work God has done since last December? So many examples of His hand in my life, His grace and His strength in the desert. How could I find the words? And the Holy Spirit softly whispered, "I will give you the words." What a tremendous blessing for me to stand and share aloud God's great faithfulness.

In preparation for sharing, I spent much time "looking back". Reliving the time spent in the desert over the last year. I went back and read many of the blog posts along the way. I thought about the first ultrasound findings and how terrified I was. About the very powerful devotion God gave to me entitled "The Purpose of the Desert" that outlined what He would be doing in my life for the next year and beyond.

I looked back at all the people that God had placed in my path both through the blog and in everyday circumstances. The fears, the tears, the "what if's", the ups and downs all along the way. The many people who have touched my life and lifted me up in prayer.

But most of all, looking back, I saw how God has totally changed my life through this desert. I saw my relationship with Him when I entered the desert (which I thought was pretty good) and the depth of my relationship with Him now. How He taught me, through it all, to be dependent on Him for everything in my life.

Last December, if God had told me what my desert would be and given me a choice in the matter, I know I would have said “No Way”. You have the wrong person here. I can’t do that!"

There is a story about a man who died and spent a day in heaven. The next day the angel came and said “there was a mistake and you shouldn’t have died yet.” If you would like, you can go back to earth and live out the rest of your days. But the man had experienced being in the presence of the Holy God and he knew that he could never be happy going back.

And today, looking back, I can only say, "Thank You Lord for not giving me a choice!!"

Saturday, October 24, 2009


My blog has been quiet for a few days. I have been recovering from vacation and resting. I am getting my strength and energy back each day. Now I don't take a shower and desire to go back to bed. Each day is better and better. And I have eyelashes back!! WooHoo. (It's the little things sometimes:)

I have also been given the opportunity to share my testimony about what God has been doing along this journey. I have spent alot of time in prayer and preparation because it is soo important to me that the words that are shared are His words and not mine. That the presentation would be about Him and not about me because it's "just not about me."

God has given me so many new internet friends along this journey who share the common bond of breast cancer. Even though I have never met them in person, the relationships become very strong through time spent in constant communication. When they hurt I hurt, when they jump a hurdle or pass a milestone, I rejoice with them. It is awesome to me how you don't have to see a person face to face to love them. (Isn't that how it is with our relationship with Christ?) We don't see Him face to face but He is a friend who is always there, hurting with us in hard times, rejoicing with us in our good times, loving us always.

This morning, I wanted to ask for prayer for one such friend and sister fighter, that I have met on the internet. Debi has courageously wrestled with the breast cancer alligator, but, lost her battle last night. She leaves a wonderful and supportive husband, Scott (Gasketman), and two beautiful daughters. I wanted to share Scott's post this morning.

One.....Two.....Three..... (by Gasketman)

The Alligator's down for the count Debi's Won!!!!!! Debi snatched defeat right from under the Alligator's greedy snout on October 22, 2009 at 7:43 pm. She leaves the wrestling ring dignified, undefeated and has decided to retire from Alligator Wrestling. Now she is making her home in Heaven, where she has chosen her perfect body, hair style and is enjoying some quality time with her father.

Debi steps onto the shaded wood deck of her newly remodeled mansion and pours her first glass of red wine in over 23 months. The mansion she chose is on the lake, encircled by grandiose cliffs that provide a back drop for her serene little meadow surrounded by trees in her own little slice of heaven, where she can see the glorious sunsets. Debi grabs her favorite Fennwick rod and Sumano fishing reel and sits on the porch as she casts her line into the glassy blue water of her own personal dream lake and enjoys a glass of her favorite Yellow Tail Shiraz wine from Australia and rests from her Championship Wrestling Match.

Debi retires with the memories of two wonderful girls ages 10 and 16 years old, and the support of one tireless side-kick( Gasketman ). She enjoyed 18,254 sunrises and now she is enjoying an eternity of sweet smelling breezes, silver lined clouds, magenta skied, golden gilded sunsets in her own heavenly mansion.

As you read this, could you lift up this beautiful family in prayer? That they may receive God's strength and peace that will continue in their lives until they all meet again.

Enjoy your heavenly sunset, Debi and know that you are loved!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Springs of Living Water

When Carl and I were on vacation in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee last week, we decided to go on a short hike to a waterfall. My sister Chris, brother-in-law Paul and my niece Jenna went with us. It was a beautiful day and as soon as we started on the trail, it was impossible not to feel God's presence.

We started out at the bottom of the path with enthusiasm and plenty of energy for the journey. We knew that when we reached the top we would be rewarded with the sight of a beautiful waterfall. Even from the beginning of the hike, we were able to hear the sound of water. At times we could see it trickling down from the side of the mountain. Other times we could see the stream rushing along the rocks.

And other times we couldn't see the water at all, but were able just to hear it. But we always knew it was near.

When we got tired we stopped to rest. As we walked along we met other hikers, traveling the same path, headed to the same destination. We stopped several times to admire God's beauty in the many colors of the leaves and His magnificent power in the natural chiseling of the mountain rock that has occurred over thousands of years.

We came across a huge log that crossed our path and several rocks along the way that made our journey more difficult,

but always, we were able to hear the water.

Finally we reached the end of our journey and witnessed God's majesty and beauty in the waterfall. We went behind the water and stood in an area carved out in the mountain rock. Standing atop the mountain, next to the waterfall and listening to the mighty sound of the rushing water was an incredible experience.

I thought about how similar this hike was to the difficult journeys we face in our lives. When we trust in Him to make the journey through the desert, He always provides us water. His living water. He gives us a place to rest when we tire.

He provides friends and family to lift us up and strengthen us along the way.

He leads us to people who are also walking through the desert. Sometimes we can lift them up and other times they will lift us up. We come across obstacles that block our path and many times force us to take a different direction. But His water, like His love, is always there for us. Sometimes we see it right next to us and other times we can only hear the sound. But it is always there. And He has promised that one day, when our journey is complete and we land on the other side, there will be no more tears or sorrow and we will forever enjoy the "springs of living water."

"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

His Glory and Majesty !

Carl and I took the opportunity to go on a fall vacation to the Smoky mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina this week. We left on Saturday and drove to a place called Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia. We enjoyed a marvelous country dinner and stayed overnight in their quaint little inn.

We awoke Sunday morning to the call of a rooster.

The air was cool and crisp as we walked around the plantation. God's majesty was evident all around us. We enjoyed a huge country breakfast and headed on to Gatlinburg Tennesse.

On the way we passed a small country church where people were inside in worship. In addition to the cars in the parking lot, some had come by way of horses. Church the mountain way. Not a sight we would see in the city.

I have never been to the mountains in the fall and the colors are absolutely spectacular. The higher in elevation we got, the more orange, red, yellow and golds we saw in the leaves.

We stopped by the roadside to collect some leaves and send them to Jayda, our little granddaughter, who is learning about the change of seasons.

We stopped by to visit our friends Laurie and Evelyn in their mountain cabin and then headed on to Gatlinburg.

The little town of Gatlinburg is decorated for fall and we walked around taking in the sites.

We have been to the mountains several times before. But this year, every site seems magnified. The sky is bluer. The colors are more vivid. It's as if God has said, "I have set all of this before you for your pleasure. My gift to you. Enjoy."

Has He said that to me in years past and I have taken it for granted? God has shown me over the last year that tomorrow is not guaranteed. What I have is today. And this day, He has provided His love, His Glory and His Majesty for me to enjoy!

"Thank You Almighty God!"

Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (Psalm 8:1)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Angel Bear

In September of 2006, I went into the hospital for abdominal surgery. I had been sick for about nine months before that with ulcers and all of the medications they tried did not heal them. So I had part of my stomach and small intestine removed to get rid of the ulcers.

About two days after the surgery, I was walking, very slowly, in the hallways pulling my IV pole. I passed by a pretty young lady about 16 years old who was also walking. As I passed by I jokingly said, "I'd have a race with you, but you would leave me in the dust." I noticed that she had a little stuffed "angel bear" hanging from her IV pole. I commented on how cute it was and she told me one of her friends from school had given it to her. She told me she was in the 11th grade in high school and was on the soccer team and in the band. She was also battling a type of colon cancer for which she had just had surgery to remove a tumor. She was a happy, positive, outgoing young person and she was a joy to talk with. After visiting in the hallway for a few minutes, she said she had to get back to her room because several of her friends from school were coming in to visit. As I watched her walk down the hall, I whispered a prayer for her healing.

Two days later, Carl and I went for a walk downstairs to the hospital cafeteria. When I came back to my room, there on my bedside table sat the little "angel bear". Next to it was a note written on a paper towel. It said "I wanted to give you my "angel bear". I won't be needing it now. I am going home and hope to be back in school next week. Good luck to you." As I looked at the bear closely, it didn't look like a new store bought bear. I wondered if possibly someone had passed it on to her and it came with its own story.

I hung the angel bear on my IV pole and it stayed there until I went home where he then sat on my nightstand. I felt like God wanted me to pass it on, and I was just waiting for Him to show me the right time and right person.

A few weeks later, I went to visit a young woman that I have known since she was a baby. Her name was Jennifer. She was 30 years old. She was full of spunk from the time she was born. She was an awesome mother who loved her children with a passion. After the birth of her third baby, Keaton, she just didn't bounce back to health. Her blood counts weren't normal. She was very tired. After much testing she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer.

But, she was a fighter and she pushed through, doing all she could to see that her daughter Darcyne and son Daynin got settled into a new house and a good school. All along caring for baby Keaton as she grew weaker and weaker. I so admired Jenny and her determination and fighting spirit.

Chemotherapy weakened Jenny and she was admitted to the hospital. When I went to see her I saw how very sick she was and again witnessed her incredible inner strength. After visiting her, I knew that God wanted me to pass on the "angel bear" to Jenny. The next day I gave her the bear. And we cried and we prayed and we read from the bible. Oh how I came to love Jenny.

On Christmas Eve, Carl and I went with Pastor Steve to serve communion to Jenny in her bed. The "angel bear" was there. It was a Christmas Eve that will forever be etched in my memory. A short time later Jenny flew into the arms of Jesus. She left the "angel bear" here for she is in the company of ten thousand angels now.

This past Sunday, Jenny's grandmother brought a small bag to church and handed it to me. She said "I thought you might like to have this." When I opened the bag, there was "the angel bear"! Tears spilled onto the soft fur and the pink silk wings as I thought about how God was using this little "angel bear".

But isn't that how God's love is? Ongoing. From the beginning of time through eternity. One day I will be in the company of ten thousand angels visiting with Jenny and all those who I have loved that have gone before me. But until then, I will share His love with as many people as I can.

And so it is with little "angel bear." I don't know how many lives it has touched or how many it will touch, but God does. He knows where it started and He knows where it will go next. For now, it will sit on my nightstand, waiting for God to show me who He wants me to pass it on to. And the Father's love goes on and on and on.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Boys Need Parents

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love children. All children.

But truth be known, I am partial to little boys. I have 2 sons and a daughter and I
have learned over the years it is much easier to raise boys than girls. Girls come with much drama. They are best friends with someone one day and enemies the next. Girls can go from laughing hysterically to crying uncontrollably in a matter of minutes. Their perfectly good morning can be ruined when the curling iron fails to turn on. They are rather "high maintenance".

But, little boys are what they are. "What you see is what you get". Pure and simple. If they get mad about something they let everyone know, but usually get over it quickly. They get dirty and smell sweaty. They get scraped and bruised. They collect bugs and climb trees. They take risks. They enjoy life wholeheartedly! But they DO need their parents.

A friend sent me this e-mail and I liked it so much I wanted to share it. For those of you who have little boys now (Sara you will like this) and those of us who have raised our little boys, these pictures certainly tell the story of


Hope these little guys brought a smile to your face. Enjoy your day wholeheartedly !!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Master Craftsman

The piano is an integral part of our home. Carl is a piano teacher and the sound of our piano starts at about 7:30 in the morning and continues until about 8:00 at night, with a quiet time in the mid-day while the children are in school. (Thank goodness)

Our piano is a baby grand so the top is open and the students are able to see the soundboard and the long strings inside. Often times I overhear Carl teaching the children about the inner workings of the piano and how they are made.

Although our piano is not a Steinway, you may have heard the name before. The Steinway is known as one of the finest pianos in the world. I read a story about how the Steinway pianos are made and thought I'd share it.

It takes over a year to make one Steinway; each piano has always been made from scratch. The soundboard is stretched to its maximum tolerance and allowed to sit for an extended period until it remains in the curved design. This is done in an off-to-the-corner part of the plant. If the wood were alive, it would be crying out for mercy. After an extended time of stretching, the wood will never spring back to its original state. It is permanently changed. The piano is becoming a fine-tuned instrument.

After this process takes place, the next step requires another point of stress. It takes 11 tons of pressure on a piano to tune it. Each step in the process moves the piano closer to a finished product that will ultimately be played by the world's finest musicians. These musicians desire a particular sound that only a piano like this can make.

We are much like the Steinway piano. God sees in us a finely tuned instrument. But we must be stretched. In order to be stretched we must make journeys into the desert. We must endure tremendous pressure. It is often times very painful to be stretched. We sometimes feel as if we will break. But the Lord knows that it is necessary in order for us to become the beautiful instrument that He wants us to be.

Are you going through a desert right now? Do you feel as though you have tons of pressure on you and you may break? Are you going through the painful process of being stretched? If so, I pray that you might know that God is the master craftsman and He is at work in your life. He is preparing you to make beautiful music. Hang on to Him. And when He is finished you will be pleased with the instrument He has fashioned and will sing out a sweet song and forever be changed.