Thankful

Thankful

It’s November and the stores are ready for Christmas! But wait, we haven’t had Thanksgiving yet!  I love Christmas and like most people it’s probably my favorite time of year but sometimes it seems that Thanksgiving is overshadowed by Christmas. We should all be thankful as we all have been blessed so much.  Thanksgiving is to thankfulness, as Christmas is to giving and receiving. But are we thankful? What are we thankful for and who are we thankful to?

I think it’s human nature to take things for granted, especially when we’re young. Although I don’t think it has as much to do with our chronological maturity as it does with our spiritual maturity.

For me, my earliest recollection of being truly thankful was on Thanksgiving Day in 1981. The setting: St Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, Indiana.  The occasion: two days after the birth of our first daughter. There I was, resting in my hospital bed, and the hospital aid rolled in a large meal cart and gave me my turkey dinner on a hospital serving tray. Michelle, 2 days old, lay asleep in the hospital bassinet right next to my bed. It was just the two of us in that quiet hospital room.  I was overwhelmed with thankfulness to God for allowing me to be a mom to this precious child.  I was so thankful that He had blessed me with a baby and was entrusting me to be her mom.  I was in love with my newborn baby and just in awe of God.  I remember praying with tears in my eyes and thanking Him with every tear. Here was my first Thanksgiving spent alone (Harold was at my mom’s having Thanksgiving dinner with my family) and  it was really the first Thanksgiving that I recall being aware of God’s blessings and being so thankful to Him. Since that day, I’ve had many more occasions of thankfulness to God, such as the birth our other two daughters, and so many blessings throughout my life, both spiritual and material.   I’ve since found a correlation in my increased thankfulness with my increased relationship with God and I believe thankfulness, or lack thereof, is a probably a good indicator of spiritual health.

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

While I was pregnant with Michelle my relationship with God grew.  I had watched Billy Graham on TV one night and a few nights later woke up in the middle of the night thinking about all the sin in my life. I asked for His forgiveness, started reading my bible again and going back to church. I had first come to faith in Christ when I was 12 years old but had drifted away during my teens and early 20’s. Interestingly enough, I don’t recall ever being thankful during those years. I may have been, but I just don’t recall it. I believe that having a relationship with a God and being thankful to Him go hand-in-hand.

So on the heals of Thanksgiving Day, comes the Christmas season. People rushing around shopping, buying, giving and receiving gifts. Gifts are both fun to receive and fun to give, with an emphasis more on the later, especially as we mature. But here’s a truth and a gentle warning: there’s a danger that surrounds the gifts we receive throughout our lives. The danger lies within our own hearts, that we may desire the gift instead of or more than the Giver. We should never loose sight that the Giver is much much greater than the gifts He gives us. God is sovereign. God is good.

Be ever thankful.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Psalm 107:1



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Mom, Megan, and Me 

Mom, Megan, and Me 

It was 1986, an early and cold January morning in Indianapolis. I was excited and ready to go to the hospital to have our second child. In anticipation of the birth we’d taken our first born over to my mom’s house the night before. So off to the hospital we went with my suitcase, purse, 35mm camera, 2 rolls of film, and a heart full of excitement. On the way to the hospital I nervously loaded my camera with a roll of film. Three days later I discovered I’d loaded it wrong and didn’t get the first 36 pictures I thought we’d taken, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Mom met us at the hospital with our 4 year old to sit with us in the labor/delivery room. Having family in the labor/delivery room was new to us so when the doctor suggested it, I thought that’d be pretty cool. It actually was really nice to have the people I loved the most right there next to me.

We didn’t know for sure if we were having a boy or a girl. I’d had two sonograms while I was pregnant but the quality of sonograms wasn’t like the quality we have today. They told us in the first sonogram that we were having a girl and in the second sonogram that we were having a boy. We figured the second one was the right one since it was the latest, so we were looking forward to having a new baby boy!

A little over three hours later the doctor said, “It’s a girl!”  So much for that second sonogram! Ha! But having another girl meant we didn’t have to buy baby boy clothes. Besides, baby girl clothes are so much cuter than baby boy clothes (at least back then) and we already had plenty of baby girl clothes! After only a few moments of holding her they took her to the warming table. They wrapped her tight in a receiving blanket and I got to hold her again before they took her off the the nursery. She was a beautiful baby; I loved her immediately.

After a short time in recovery I was taken to my room and  I was just about to doze off to sleep when the doctor came in. He had a team of doctors with him so I was a little surprised at that. He then proceeded to tell me that our daughter was born with Spina Bifida, actually a lipomyelomeningocele, which is a golf ball size fatty tumor that’s attached to her spinal cord. He further explained that she’d probably have difficulty walking, problems with her bladder and that she’ll need surgery soon, and maybe several surgeries down the road. I didn’t really grasp all that he was telling me; it was a lot to absorb.

Then, later that very day, I got a phone call on the hospital room phone from the doctors office where I’d taken my mom earlier in the month. She told me that all the test results were in and that based on the tests the doctor was diagnosing her with Alzheimer’s Disease, and that it was incurable.

In a matter of a few hours, my world had been turned upside down. From the excitement of giving birth to the fear of what the future held for my newborn daughter and my mom. I laid awake all night, crying and praying. By the second night in the hospital, I still couldn’t sleep and I began to hallucinate; it was too much to handle, between the hormones, my newborn, my mom, and at this point I hadn’t slept for going on nearly 36 hours. I cried out for God to give me peace and for the nurse to give me something to help me fall asleep.

I recognized that I needed help; I needed God’s help; I needed the prayers of God’s people.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law  Christ.” Galatians 6:2

I reached out to God in prayer and then I began asking different groups to pray for my daughter and my mom. Up until this time, I don’t recall sharing my burdens and prayers with others. At first it was hard for me to share my prayer requests. My daughter and mom were so precious to me; somehow in my mind, I feared that people would think less of them or think that they were less than perfect, and I loved them so much.
I knew that the power of prayer doesn’t come from the number of people praying, it comes from the Holy Spirit, but I knew I needed help so I was willing to risk being vulnerable with the anticipated hope of help and support from God and His people.

 

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16


The next few years were filled with many hospital and doctor visits, surgeries and clinics for our little girl and at the same time, my mother faded away ever-so-slowly into the ravages of Alzheimer’s Disease. I was glad my mom got to come stay with and near us for extended periods of time when she was in the early to mid stages of the disease. Her sweet and gentle spirit was still with her during these stages.

Through these years I learned that it was in the days of burden and prayer for my daughter and my mom that I drew closer to God. He drew me from my independence to be more dependent on Him. I was a very independent person and God knew I needed to change.

He uses difficulty to strengthen and correct believers and eventually as a tool in achieving His plan.” Charles Stanley


My mom passed away in 1998 after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for several years. It was hard to see her fade away to the point that she didn’t know who I was and had lost the ability to walk and talk. Her personality gone, long before her passing, made me miss my mom even while she was still alive. When it came time for her passing, it was hard to let her go, even though I knew she was going to be much better off and be with Jesus. I loved her so much. But I thank God for helping me get through those difficult days and I thank all those who prayed for us during that time.

In our daughter’s early years, it seemed like everything was going to work out ok for her. We had a lot of support, a lot of good doctors and clinics, and many of her teachers would tell me what a great attitude she had.  But the overall reality is that she has had a difficult life with Spina Bifida; it takes it’s toll both physically and emotionally. Little did I realize how difficult her life would be as they wheeled her off to her first neurosurgery when she was barely a month old. I’ll never forget how, after that first surgery, her face was pale and shiny like a China doll as she laid on the hospital bed motionless. I thought for an instant that she didn’t make it; my heart stood still, but then the doctor assured us she was ok. She had a second and third neurosurgery at age 4, a fourth neurosurgery at age 5, and a fifth neurosurgery at age 16. And this was in addition to numerous clinic visits, tests, bladder procedures, physical therapy, feet surgeries and castings over the span of much of her childhood and teen years.

I’m thankful for all the prayers for her over the years, and actually would appreciate your prayers for her still today. As an adult with Spina Bifida she wears legs braces to walk but gets around nowadays mostly by wheelchair. She also has chronic back pain, chronic bladder and kidney infections, and various other related medical issues. Everyday simple things that most people take for granted, like walking, bathing, house cleaning, grocery shopping, etc., all are daily challenges for her. On top of all of this, and by the grace of God, she is also the mother of two awesome children.
While we all may wonder why God allows things like birth defects, disease and suffering here on earth, I know there are some things that we may not know the answer to until we get to heaven. We all suffer at times, and some some more than others. The who and the why are epic questions for a lot of us, but I do know this: He has a plan and a purpose for everything in our life and I have learned that He wants us to pray and trust Him no matter what.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


While paying for gas in Florida earlier this year I noticed a sign by the register,
“Have you played today?”
It was the state of Florida’s friendly reminder to buy lottery tickets. The lady ahead of me in line apparently didn’t need the reminder. I think she was there just to buy lottery tickets, so much so that it took what seemed like forever before she finished; 10 of this one, 15 of this one, etc. All the while she and the girl at the register laughed and talked about all the things they’d do with the winnings. Then this thought crossed my mind: what if the letter “l” was changed to an “r”,
“Have you prayed today?”

I thought, what a difference that would make in people’s lives. What a difference it has made in my life.

 

Men ought always to pray. Luke 18:1

 

My Weight Loss Journey; the Rest of the Story

My Weight Loss Journey; the Rest of the Story

Weight gain and loss is such a personal issue; many of us struggle with loosing weight; many of us give up. Loosing weight and exercising regularly is not easy; it takes determination, the right foods, portion control, and a practical plan that you can stick with.  I chose Nutrisystem because we travel a lot and I needed something convenient;  their grab-and-go prepared foods and just adding my own vegetables was the perfect plan for me.  I first penned this blog February 2017 but I decided it need to be revised and renamed; it needed to be more personal. So, as Paul Harvey used to say, here’s “the rest of the story.”

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Here I am in 2013 holding my youngest grandson, who I love dearly.  I have no idea how much I weighed then; I didn’t dare step on the scale nor would I normally post a photo like this. It was taken during a fairly stressful time in my life.  Not that this was the only stressful period in my life, as anyone with grown children can attest, but it was definitely one of them. A few months months earlier our youngest daughter became pregnant at age 15 and gave birth out-of-wedlock at age 16.  Like a lot of people, I tend to overeat during stressful times,  In fact, I can look back at other times in my life that I also gained weight due to specific stressful periods in my life.  Even though I’m a Christian and know that God is in control, I’m still human.  I also tend to keep to myself, especially when it comes to personal issues. It took me a long time before I could even talk about our daughters pregnancy, let alone stop crying about it.  I was so upset during this time, but, just as I’ve discovered with so many of life’s trials, somehow God takes that which we think are the very worst things in our lives and turns them into the very best things in our lives, when we look to Him for answers.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Roman’s 8:28

Now I can’t even imagine life without our youngest grandchild.  He, along with our other grandchildren are the icing on the cake of our lives. I know that no human being is ever conceived outside God’s will or ever conceived apart from His image. Unplanned pregnancies may surprise us, but God is never surprised.  Ironically, our youngest daughter was actually our surprise baby; she was born when I was 42.  I told her, “The God who allowed you to be born when I was 42, is the same God who’s allowed you to give birth at age 16.”  He is the author of life. God is good. He is for us, not against us.

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,

Psalm 139:13-16

Here’s another photo that was also taken in 2013, on my 59th birthday.  I did my best to hide my weight behind that present. For the most part, I deleted a lot of photos during this time.  I didn’t like being overweight.
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Fast forward to February 2016, at age 61, I got the courage up to get back on the scales.  I weighed 173 pounds, was taking a high blood pressure medicine and an acid reflux medicine daily.  I knew I had to do something to change my weight and to improve my health. This is me on February 21, 2016, the day I started Nutrisystem.

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I was tired of deleting photos and tired of being overweight. Up until that time I’d been telling myself that I looked OK for my age, and that gaining weight and taking medicine was all part of getting older.  But I decided that I didn’t want to just look “OK for my age.” I decided I wanted to be the best I can be, both inside and out. So, in addition to my new diet I started drinking water instead of soda, walking 2 or 3 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes each time and listening to my favorite biblical teachers on my earphones. For my shorter walks I’d listen to Alistair Begg, Jack Graham, Charles Stanley, Greg Laurie or Ravi Zacharias. For my longer walks I’d listen to John MacArthur or a combination of the above. It felt great getting fresh air, exercising and listening to biblical messages all at the same time; multi-tasking at its best! It became my favorite time of the day.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2  

By end of the first week I’d lost 7 pounds and just 2 months later in April I’d lost 21 lbs.  I entered Nutrisystem’s Success Story contest for a chance to win $10K and a chance to be in one of their commercials. In August 2016 I was asked to be a call-in guest for two QVC/Nutrisystem TV shows that month and to come to Tampa, FL the following month for a photo shoot.

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By September of 2016 I turned 62 and had lost 40 lbs!  I celebrated my birthday with my family and a Nutrisystem Carrot Cake.

A few days after my birthday I flew to Tampa for a 5-day photo shoot for Nutrisystem along with 14 others who had also lost weight. My oldest daughter got off work and came down the next day to keep me company.  I met a lot of fantastic people and loved being a part of something so fun and interesting.  When I was young I wanted to be a model, and even though I did do some modeling in my teens and twenties, I wasn’t tall enough so I never really pursued it.  But in Tampa, I was pampered and treated just like a real model, with wardrobe, make-up and hair stylists.  I was photographed against a white screen and did some short promotional video monologues on a green screen. I didn’t win the contest nor have they used me in any of their commercials but it was still a great experience.

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Me and my oldest daughter in Tampa after the photo shoot:

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After I returned home from the photo shoot,  I found the same dress that the wardrobe person had picked out for me to wear, except in a smaller size.  The dress that I wore in their photo shoot was a little big on me and had to be pinned in the back, but this one fits perfect:

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Since losing 40 pounds my doctor gave me the OK to stop taking both my blood pressure medicine and acid reflux medicine.  My blood pressure has continued to be normal everyday since, without meds. I’m thankful for my good health and don’t take it for granted. I work on maintaining my weight by drinking lots of water, exercising and eating a healthy, portion controlled diet, including some of my Nutrisystem favorites.  I enjoy working out with a dance DVD and/or walking at least 30 minutes everyday and yes, I still listen to my favorite biblical teachers.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Life (on earth) is short; I believe we should strive to be as healthy as we can be, both physically and spiritually.  My heart goes out to any who are born with physical disabilities (including our second daughter who was born with Spina Bifida) or people who have physical injuries, and people who have medical conditions that prevent them from exercising or medical problems such as thyroid disease. But for the most part, the great majority of us are born with perfectly healthy bodies, and as we grow older, we’re guilty of not taking care of them.  We overeat and/or eat the wrong foods, drink too much soda and/or liquor and don’t get enough exercise.  God tells in His Word that we (Christians) are to honor Him with our bodies, which includes taking care of them.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 is more than just good advise to take care of our bodies, more importantly it also begs the question, have you received the Holy Spirit from God? Are you a Christian? Being physically fit is a good thing but it’s not near as important as knowing Christ as your Lord and Savior.  You can be physically fit and not be a Christian. You can be a Christian and not be physically fit.  They are not mutually exclusive of each other, but I do believe they can be mutually beneficial to each other.  The more dedicated we are to physical fitness the more physically able, we as Christians, may be to be used of God and to be there for our families.

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Next to my relationship with God, my family is the most important thing in the world to me.  Here’s a few recent pics of our family:

Mother’s Day 2017:

Memorial Day 2017:

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Father’s Day 2017:

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“Don’t shine so others can see you.

Shine so that that through you, others can see Him.”

C.S. Lewis

Stress and problems are facts of life, but with God, nothing is impossible.  I believe God has a plan and a purpose for everything that happens in life; be it our plans or our surprises, or our successes or our failures. The point is to keep your focus on Him through it all.  He is for us, not against us.

Pretty is as Pretty Does.

Pretty is as Pretty Does.

It’s hard to write about my mom. I feel like words can’t even begin to describe how much of a good mother she was or how much I loved her. But, here, I will try.

When I was little, I remember my mom used to tell me, “Pretty is as pretty does.” I was so young when she first said this to me, I didn’t quite understand what it meant.

She was born in Illinois in 1921 and was given the name of “Sarah Katherine” but at some point she changed the spelling to “Sara Kathryn.” Back then it was common to be born at home and so my grandmother gave birth to all four of her children at home. My mother, her second child, along with her sister and two brothers, grew up during the depression. She told me that they were so poor that for Christmas all they would get would be an orange and maybe a homemade toy or doll.

Mom with her baby sister and older brother:

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Mom with her younger sister and younger brother and their billy goat:

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They moved to Indiana sometime during her childhood and she graduated from high school in 1938.

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It was there at Cloverdale High School that she met my dad. They fell in love and got married in 1941, three years after they graduated from high school.

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They had six kids, of which I was the 5th!

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Mom and me, Easter 1956 🙂

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Growing up I remember she watched lots and lots of kids; some for weeks at a time. People would come pick their kids up and not even pay her because they didn’t have enough money. I remember one summer she watched 3 or 4 kids from one family for the whole summer and when the dad came to pick them up he only gave my mom $20.

My mom would kneel at her bed at night to pray and get up early in the morning to read her bible.  I remember we lived on Hickory Lane in Indianapolis; she would sit alone in our tiny kitchen nook just off the kitchen. I remember her sitting there in that little room, with the yellow ruffled curtains, and the smell of black coffee. If any of us kids would get up too early she would tell us to go back to bed! I remember one morning in particular I stood there watching her and wanting her attention so I said something mean to try to get it. It worked but not in the way I had wanted. It would be years later until I would understand why she needed that alone time and quiet time with the Lord.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

My mom worked so hard just taking care of us and the all the kids she babysit. I remember piles of laundry in the basement and wondering how there was so much of it. She’d be exhausted just from looking after us, let alone trying to keep the house clean or keep up with the laundry. If she ever sat down to watch TV she usually fell asleep from exhaustion. She teased and said that her eyelids were attached to her knees and if she sat down and bent her knees her eyelids would close so she’d fall asleep!

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She took pride in making her dollar stretch at the grocery. To save money she’d buy a gallon of whole milk and then mix it with powered milk to make it into two gallons.  She’d also go to several grocery stores each week just to get the best prices. My dad worked at White Castle as an office supervisor, and he’d bring home boxes of slightly outdated frozen White Castle hamburger patties. My mom would make all sorts of different meals out of them; basically anything that called for ground beef. She actually could make something out of almost anything and it always tasted good. All except liver and onions. I’d skip that and settle for something like peanut butter and jelly. Actually one of my favorite snacks is a banana with peanut butter, which was one of my moms favorite snacks too.

My mom was a lot like her mom, my grandma. Some of my favorite memories were of us going to my grandma’s house to spend time with her and for family dinners. My grandma made the best rubarb pie in the world!  My grandma used to tell me that she prayed for me, and I’m so thankful for her and her prayers.  I loved her so much.

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My mom had a natural love for her family but more than that, she had the love of Jesus in her heart. I wasn’t exactly the perfect child but she loved me unconditionally. There wasn’t anything I could do or say to make her not love me. She made a difference in my life and in the lives of so many people she came in contact with. She was always thinking of others first. She’d make sure everyone else’s needs were met before her own. She had compassion and love for hurting people. She’d fix meals for people at church and she’d help strangers in need. I remember her making sandwiches and giving them to poor people.  She treated them with love and respect. She had such a gentle, sweet and giving spirit.

Later in life my mom continued with that same gentle and sweet spirit and continued to help all of her grown children and grandchildren as much as she could. She’d cook big meals and was always looking forward to the next family get-together. She would do anything and everything she could for any one of us.

Mom in her basement on McFarland Rd with five of her grandkids Christmas 1986:

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She lived the last 20 years of her life as a widow and spent most of the last 10 of those years suffering from the effects of early onset Alzheimer’s. I was glad she was able to come and live with and near me for part of those latter years. Even though the disease affected her personality and her memory, I was happy just to just be near her and to spend time with her.

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Here’s some pics from our last couple of family Christmas get-togethers:

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Our last family get-together was in January of 1998 in Vincennes, Indiana. We took photos all together, one right after the next, in hopes of catching her old familiar smile.   But the raveges of Alzheimer’s had taken it’s course and she could no longer smile; nor walk or talk.  She was ready to go home.  See passed from this life on earth to her heavenly home on September 15, 1998 at age 77.  I was able to be there along with my sister and brother to read some bible verses to her, pray and hold her hand as her soul passed into  heaven to be with the Lord.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.                 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

I choose not to post the photos from January of 1998.  Instead I prefer to remember my mom the way she was for the greater part of her life here on earth. My mother was a pretty lady by any standards and even in today’s world where so much emphasis is put on outward appearance, it was her beauty that radiated from within that will be her legacy. My mom lived her life, simply put, with love for God and her family. And even though I didn’t understand it as a child,  I came to learn the meaning of “Pretty is as pretty does.” because of my mom and the way she lived her life.

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People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

The Land That I Will Show You

The Land That I Will Show You

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

As far back as I can remember, I was a headstrong and independent child. I wanted to do things my own way and make my own decisions. While some may consider these somewhat positive traits in an adult, they’re not so much in a child, nor are they positive traits in a Christian. Old habits die hard. But God, in His sovereign providence, uses both our positive and negative personality traits in His plan for our lives. He uses bits and pieces of our past, including and especially our problems, in our walk of faith toward Him and with Him. Here is one such time in my life:

In February of 1988, We were almost 8 years into our marriage, with 2 young children, living in my hometown, on the south side of Indianapolis. Life was far from perfect but it was pretty good; I was happy, enjoying living near family (my mom was only a couple of miles from me), I had a great job working for a small airline and I enjoyed attending my childhood church.

Then out of the blue, my husband decided we should move to Florida. His parents had moved there a few years before and we had enjoyed visiting there, but like the saying goes, “It’s a nice place to visit but I don’t want to live there.” I repeat, I didn’t want to live there! Indianapolis was my hometown and I didn’t want to move away. I didn’t want to leave my mom. I didn’t want to leave the life I had grown familiar with. I didn’t want to leave my church. But, long story short, he left the first week in February, 1988, without me and the kids. He moved in with his parents and found a new job right away. I wasn’t upset but I wasn’t too happy about it either. I basically was just hoping he’d change his mind and come back home soon.

Over next few months we both continued hold on to our individual opinions about where we should live. The thought of divorce crept in my mind but I still loved my husband and he still loved me. We were just having a disagreement on where we should live. I didn’t like him not agreeing with me and I wanted him to just come back home. We really were at an impasse.

So I got my bible and I searched for answers. I read in Malachi that God hates divorce. I read in Ephesians that wives should submit to their husbands as to the Lord. And I read in Genesis that God called Abraham, in an act of obedience, to leave his homeland and to move to an unknown and faraway land. Now I read these things but at the same time I was having a conflict with my old nature of being headstrong and independent. I considered life as a single mom, a life of independence, where I called all the shots, but then, I prayed earnestly for clear directions from God about what to do.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

Then it finally became clear to me – my husband wasn’t asking me to jump off a cliff, or asking me to break a law, or asking me to do something against God, he was just asking me to move to Florida to be with him.  God gave me a sense of peace about moving and I began to see the situation as an act of obedience towards both my husband and God. This was a big step for me because I think I’d been holding on to my independence ever since childhood, and even into my marriage.  I believe God increased my faith right then and there as I realized I needed to be more obedient to Him and to my husband.

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”  Ephesians 5:21

Abraham had great faith in God and was obedient to Him. God told Abraham he was going on a journey that would require him to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household. Obedience meant he had to say goodbye to relationships and the things near and dear to him. Separation from the familiar played a part in his development of his strong faith in God. Sometimes God asks us to let go of something we hold dear before He let’s us take a hold of something new. It’s all a part of living by faith; trusting In Him even when we don’t see how all the pieces fit together, and believing that He’ll work everything out.

So with a leap of faith, a step of obedience, and a hopeful heart, I moved to Florida with our two young daughters the 1st day of June in 1988 to be with my husband. In the coming months God blessed me in ways I never imagined and my faith in Him grew in a most unexpected way – which I hope to be the subject of one of my future blogs. 😊

Heaven

Heaven

Shopping at second-hand and antique stores is one of my favorite pastimes. I really don’t have to buy anything; I mostly just enjoy seeing old things that I haven’t seen for awhile and the memories that pop up when I see them.

One day I came across a used book, “Heaven is for Real” and I recalled the movie that came out just a few years ago by the same name, which I never saw. I remembered it was a major motion picture which a lot of Christians talked about seeing it or at least wanting to go see it.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about a young boy, the 4 year-old son of a pastor, who had a near-death experience during an operation and claimed he went to heaven and back during his operation. He describes his visit to heaven with the vivid imagination of a young child.

The reason why I didn’t go see the movie (or buy the book second hand) was simply this – it’s not biblical. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that someone has traveled back and forth between heaven and earth, except Jesus:

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. John 3:13

So as sincere and well meaning as this young boy and his father may have been, I simply don’t believe their story. In fact, I feel like they and many others who make similar claims, do more harm than good for the cause of Christ. Why would we choose to believe a fantastic or even delusional story about heaven when we have the Bible to refer to? What God has revealed to us in His Word, is the only legitimate place to learn about heaven.
The Bible tells us that heaven is for those who love Him and that it will be beyond our wildest expectations:

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,”What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:7-9

What I do think about this young boy, and all the others who have made similar claims, is broke down into one of the following two conclusions: Either, one, they simply made up the story, for whatever reason,  or two, they had their experience while in an unconscious or dream state.  I believe the first conclusion because given the right (or wrong!) set of circumstances, I know people are capable of lying about anything, if it suits them. I believe the second conclusion because I had a pretty strange experience myself, when I was around 11 or 12 years old.  Although it wasn’t a “gone to heaven and back” experience; it was rather a strange “out-of-body” experience:

I was sick and alone on the living room couch and I had a fever. I think my mom was at work and everyone else was gone. I remember crying and drifting off to sleep. The next thing I remember I was outside of my body and was floating near the top of the ceiling. I floated from room to room, all the while hovering near the top of the ceiling for what seemed to be several minutes. I don’t really remember much else about this except then I remember I was back on the couch and my mom giving me water, a cold rag for my forehead and some aspirin to bring my fever down. I didn’t go to the doctor and I never mentioned the floating experience to anyone because it was too weird. In retrospect, I know it was simply a dream or hallucinations from a high fever.

Now I do remember it all seemed very real to me so I can see where this little boy may have thought his experience was real also. But again,  I don’t believe he died and went to heaven and back, because it’s just not biblical!

So yes, heaven is a real place and as much as we all may really want to know more about heaven, we shouldn’t trust any other source but the one that was inspired by God Himself, the Bible.

Even more important than knowing about heaven, is knowing Jesus.  All of the knowledge in the world about heaven will not get you there. You need Jesus.

So if you haven’t already done so, put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today. Confess your sins to Him and trust in His finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. Believe in your heart that He died, was buried three days and that God raised Him up on the third day.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Jesus tells us there is plenty of room in heaven for all who love Him:

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

And He tells us that heaven is our home:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20-21

Trust Jesus and His Word:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

The Wishing Well

The Wishing Well

Back in the 1980’s, we lived in a small double on the south side of Indianapolis. It was a rental (actually owned by my mom!) and it was our first real home together after living in an apartment for a short while after we got married.  It was pretty plain on the outside with red brick and white siding; the inside was even more plain. But I was so excited to fix it up and to give it my own personality!  I painted, wall papered and spruced it up as best as I could!

Home decorating has always been one of my favorite things to do. It started back when I was in my teens. I loved changing my bedroom room around and redecorating it. I would pick a color and run with it! My first favorite color was orange! Everything was either orange because it came that way or I painted or dyed it! I even painted my TV orange! No kidding!  Then I moved on to blue & green and of course I painted my TV, picture frames, etc. Basically if it could be painted, I did it!  Next, I moved on to green and white. In the early 2000’s my favorites were hunter green, tan and white. Fast forward to today, my favorite decorating colors are deep red, black, gray and white! 😊

So anyway, back to our first home. I got it looking pretty much to my liking, considering what little budget we had and with what I had to work with. But, eventually I found myself spending a lot of time going through catalogs looking for more decorating ideas and wishing I could afford this or that. I would circle and ear-mark my favorite things and then stack up my “wish list” catalogs in a nice pile. The closest thing to it today would probably be surfing online and “Pinterest.” 😊

Around this same time, I found myself daydreaming and wishing things were different in my marriage. The honeymoon was over, so-to-speak, and things weren’t quite the way I had imagined. I found myself both wanting and wishing for nicer stuff and for things to be different in my marriage. I thought of it kind of like a “wishing well” in my heart.

According to Wikipedia, a wishing well is a old term from European folklore to describe wells where it was thought that wishes could be granted by the guardian or god of the well. After uttering a wish, you would drop a coin in the well and that wish would then be based upon how the coin would land at the bottom of the well. If the coin landed heads-up, the guardian of the well would grant the wish, but the wish of a tails-up coin would be ignored. It was thus potentially lucky to throw coins in the well, but it depended on how they landed.

What a silly folklore; all based on chance or luck, and some unknown guardian or god.

One day after a particularly unfulfilling period of time spent looking at catalogs, and daydreaming about how I wished things were, this verse came to mind:

“You have not because you ask not.”
James 4:2

I realized that my wishes and wants, as genuine and real as they were to me, were not going anywhere (but to the bottom of a well) because they were just that – wishes. I had not been praying and asking God about these things. I realized I’d been wishing for things when instead, I could have and should have be praying about them.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

So I began to pray and it was in my praying, I learned to shift my focus off of my material wants and off my daydreaming, and instead, changed my focus toward God. It was in my prayers and my growing relationship with Him that I found true happiness. I learned that happiness and contentment are not found in what you have, they’re found in Who you know. I learned that God wanted me to pray about everything, especially my wishes, because it was in my prayers that I began to know the heart of God.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:7-11

From all of this I learned that God is a good God and He uses anything and everything to draw us toward Him; material goods or lack thereof, our wishes, our problems, our daydreams, our past, our present, our talents and our treasures, etc.

So today, if you find yourself doing a lot of wishing and wanting, try praying instead. Wishing will get you no farther than the bottom of a well. Praying will eventually get you more than you could have ever imagined. 💭🙏🏻😊