Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Memories of Mama...and Things She Passed Down to Me

One of my daughters is a blogger and she recently started a “Wednesday Walk Down Memory Lane” addition on her blogsite, and she challenged other bloggers to write down some of their memories on Wednesdays and add them to their blogs, or link them to hers. She also encourages them to print them out every week so that they can become a book of memories to give to their children someday. This same daughter has always kept a journal and has also written a book that was recently published. She finds it easy to express herself through writing. This may be something that runs in our family.

I also enjoy writing down memories, or things that are in my heart or on my mind. I find that it is a creative outlet for me and maybe even a way to minister to others. I don’t worry about correct grammar, spelling or sentence structure,…I just let it flow and then I have my husband proof read it and he is more than happy to correct any major mistakes!

I think some people would like to write but they think they don’t have the time, or the ability, or they think that nobody would be interested in what they have to say. I would like to challenge those people to just start somewhere and write something to see if it unleashes something inside and see if it doesn’t come along easier than they think. Perhaps like me, you might find out that it is in your blood and has been passed down to you. (:>)

When I was a child my mother only had one arm, as she had been in a car accident and lost her right arm before three of her four children were born. She had been right handed, so she had to learn to do everything with her left hand. I imagine that this was a very hard thing to do, but she had no choice, so she relearned everything from handwriting to tying her shoes, to diapering a baby with only one hand. She often used a typewriter when writing letters and I always admired the way she didn’t let her handicap alter her life if she could find another way to accomplish a task.

I would sit with her and watch her type letters to her family and friends who lived in Texas where she grew up. She loved to keep in touch with them since she had moved from Texas to California. Writing to her loved ones was something she enjoyed. I would get a pad of paper and a pencil and write to them too, and I think this is when I discovered that I liked to write. Mama would help me and it was a special time for the two of us. Over the years we enjoyed writing Christmas letters and addressing cards together, and this is something I love to do to this day. It evokes memories of mama for me. We would string the cards we received around a doorway, or across the front room window. I loved all of the pretty pictures on the cards, and especially liked the ones of baby Jesus in the manger. I liked to read the friendly replies we received in response to our letters.

When was the last time you sat and wrote a letter to a friend? Maybe you should do that today. I am sure that it would be appreciated and maybe even be a blessing to someone who could use some encouragement. Mama was good at encouraging others even though she had a hard life raising a family with no help from a husband most of that time. She was faced with many challenges, but with God’s help she faced them with faith and courage.

Back then the cars gear shifts were on the floor and since my mom lost her right arm she had to relearn how to drive a stick shift, letting go of the steering wheel, reaching over with her left arm to shift the gears. Now I think the hardest thing for me to do after a car accident had claimed my arm,… and almost taken my life, would be to even get inside another car, let alone learning to drive again with only one arm, but my mother had fortitude and she gave everything a try. It did become easier when they made automatic transmissions and she didn’t have to shift the gears, and when someone also attached a little knob on the steering wheel that made it easier for her to turn the car around and easier to crank the steering wheel as she backed into a curbside parking place etc.

When I was a child I didn’t always appreciate my mama, and I took for granted much of what she did for me. But as I became a mom and was caring for my own children, I often stopped and wondered how my mama would have done the task I was doing when she only had the one arm? I still do that, and I fondly remember all of her efforts that made my childhood a happy one.
Kneeling by the bed or sofa, mama and I would pray for our needs, and for the needs of others, and when we were done she would often times have tears in her eyes that she wiped away, but there was always a peaceful smile on her face even though the tears were there. I know that same peace that comes from carrying burdens to the Lord and leaving them there,…and I thank God for a mama who taught me to do that.

It has been over twenty years since my mama went to be with Jesus but what she taught me lives on. I love to think back and remember her, and there is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t have some special memory of her. I am glad my daughter challenged me to write these memories down today. It does my heart good to share them too. Just writing down my feelings revives something inside of me. I think God brings these things to my mind and wants me to count them as blessings in my life.

How about you? Do you have a blessing to share with others? Some memory, some feeling that needs to be unleashed? Why not give it a try? Walk down memory lane and write it down. Share it with others and be a blessing,…and give glory to God. And, if you have some burden in your life or a handicap that you face everyday, step out in faith as my mama did and trust God to get you through it, one day at a time. Who knows, maybe you have a child who is watching you and learning from your example!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Grandma's Hands

Recently I read a little story titled "Grandma's Hands" and it touched me. It had a picture along with the story, of several generations of female hands in a circle, telling a story all it's own.

I look at my hands and think how old they are looking. I have thought back to the days when they were pretty, with long painted fingernails at the end of each finger. I used to be proud of my hands,...and was complimented on them lots of times, and was told that I had "pretty nails". (Especially when I was working at a jewelry store for several years and I spent time caring for my hands more because I had to show jewelry and try on rings for people.)

I think back further, to my hands as a child when I used to have excema rash on my hands and I remember how they would itch so badly, and I would scratch them and wring them together so much that they would crack and bleed and make my life so miserable until they would heal. They were not a pretty sight and I was ashamed for people to see them, so I would often stick them in my pockets and try to hide them.

I would have "flair ups" throughout the years with the rash on my hands, and especially during the years when my three girls were babies and I would rinse their dirty diapers out in the toilet and then constantly be washing my hands after each diaper change. Turning little night gowns and socks, and baby clothes right-side out while folding laundry would be agony to my cracked, sore fingers. I would slather vaseline liberally over my hands again and again to keep them lubricated so that I could bend my fingers and move my hands enough to complete my "daily duties" around the house. (I think every door knob was covered with a coating of vaseline back then, as well as the steering wheel of my car!) Ha!

These flair ups and outbreaks on my hands continued for years and years as I am sure even my girls can remember. And even as I type this, I have a couple of places on my fingers that are red and itchy, from washing and cutting up vegetables just last night.

Maybe these problems with my hands have been a little "thorn in my flesh to keep me humble?" I don't know. But I am thankful that I have two hands,...and I have always been thankful since I grew up with a mom that only had one arm and one hand! She was in a car accident before three of her four children were born and she lost her right arm. She had been right handed so she had to learn to do everything with her left arm. Mom always had such fortitude,...and she worked so hard with that one arm.

That leads me to another story. My friend Kathy who lived in Derby, went to see my mom when she was in California visiting her mom one time. When Kathy got back to town she said an interesting thing. She said,..."your hands look like your mom's hand". I looked down at my hands when she said that, and I agreed,...they did look like mom's. Mom only had her left hand, but it is my right hand that especially looks like my mom's. The same callouses from holding pencils too tight, and the fingers are shaped the same. Since my friend Kathy said that to me I have often looked down at my hand and thought of my mother.

Over the years when my girls were little I would put my right hand behind my back and try to do normal things with only one hand. Things that my mom would have had to do, like changing a diaper, or washing dishes in the sink, or pulling up a zipper, or tying a shoe. I suddenly would have new compassion and admiration for my mom,...and just how hard her life must have been, raising 4 kids alone with only one arm, and one hand. A couple of years back when I broke my right elbow I did it again,....I thought , "how did mom ever do all that she had to do, with only one arm?"

Yet, as I look back and think about it, everything did get done. All of the important things! She could still touch my face and dry my tears. She would wrap her arm around me and draw me to herself and provide me with comfort and safety. And she would point that finger towards me in warning when I needed correction, and still deliver a swat or two when I needed it. That left hand typed letters to her family in Texas, and to her many friends over the years, and addressed many Christmas cards. And it also steered our car to the little white steepled church year after year. We attended Siver Acres Community Church, in Santa Ana, California. I love those memories of being in that church Sunday after Sunday, and Wednesdays too, with my mama.

I liked the nap time stories my Mom would tell me, about growing up on a farm and how she would have to help make butter, and pick cotton, and work hard with her hands, just like her brothers did, and like her sister Ethel did, even though Ethel was 16 years older than she was. She'd tell me about washing their clothes on a wash board and having to wring them out and hang them up to dry. And how she learned to kill chickens and pluck them and cut them up for dinner. I remember falling off to sleep as she went on and on with her childhood tales of growing up on a farm in Merkel, Texas.

Long ago and far away are those times, but my mom is as close to my heart as ever.
I don't dwell on the memories of her in the nursing homes, but on the happy years with her when I was growing up.

When I looked at the photo of the hands, and read the story that was with it, I was just moved in my spirit. I don't have any memories of my grandma, and I know my girls' memories with their Grandma Tate are few, but I still hold dear MY memories of her with my girls.

She did love them so much, and she kissed on their little chubby cheeks, as they wrapped their chubby little arms around her neck. She had a comfy lap to crawl up into, and an ample bossom to nestle against as she would draw them close to her heart with her one arm. She always wore lipstick, (just like I do), and when she'd give my girls kisses, she would always leave her mark! (:>)

Mom always had a big purse with loose change inside, and she'd give my kids nickels, dimes and quarters,...and sticks of gum. All of her grandbabies would ask for gum when they would see her, and so we nicknamed her "Grandma Gum!", cuz that's what the kids would say when they would see her.

She would take a hold of their sweet little hands and kiss them and tell the girls that she loved them. And she would sing "Jesus loves me" to them, and "Jesus loves the little children" too. All too soon she got feeble and weak and she spent way too many years in nursing homes, and that is so sad. But through all of our long distance phone conversations throughout the years, she kept up with us, and I am sure she smiled when I would tell her all about my girls.

The very best thing is that we will all be reunited together in heaven with Jesus someday, and we will get to spend all of eternity with her. The Lord will let my girls see the true heart of their dear Grandma Margie. And since she will be perfect in heaven and have both of her hands in her spiritual, glorified body, all of us girls can join hands and form a cirle of love.
We can even let our boys in the circle as we praise the Lord together forever more!!!!!!

We should take a picture of our hands someday when we are together, I'll put my right hand in, in memory of mom, since that is the one that looks like hers, and then my left one for myself, and then my girls and their girls. This can be our own "Grandma's Hands" story.

Before too many more years pass by, my girls might be grandmas too, and they will have their stories to tell. Isn't it great to think how the love we hold in our hearts just keeps getting passed down through the generations? Take a few moments to picture your "Grandma's Hands", and think of all of the ways she has touched your lives,....and pass the stories on, so Grandma can live forever in your hearts and in the hearts of her descendants.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Lord Will Light My Candle

The other night my husband and I attended a “Candle Light” service at our daughter’s church. It was Christmas Eve and everyone was in a good mood. I watched as people greeted each other with handshakes and hugs, and a hearty “Merry Christmas”. I myself felt a warm fuzzy feeling of contentment as I sat beside my husband in the decorated church, waiting for the service to begin. The pastor of the church, dressed in a cheerful red sweater and slacks was walking amongst the crowded sanctuary patting shoulders and shaking hands, and having friendly conversations with people, and he also gave us a special greeting as he said,…“well hello there,… Lisa’s parents!” Then he proceeded with a smile to say that he knew who we were but he just couldn’t remember our names. I didn’t care if he knew our names or not, because he had singled us out and tried to make us feel welcomed.

I thought of how Jesus would walk amongst the crowds of people who followed him. Each person had a special need, and most of them were hoping that Jesus would meet that need by touching their infirmity with his healing hands. Some people were just curious about this man who had grown up amongst them as a carpenter’s son, but now was rumored to be endowed with special power. I pictured in my mind what it would have been like to be there with Jesus.

What had brought me to this service and what was I hoping to bring away from it? Well since our daughter’s husband is the youth pastor there, we have often gone to special services there,… like when our granddaughter was in a program, or when our daughter was singing in the choir, or when the Vacation Bible School program was presented at the end of a week of Bible School that several of our grandkids had attended. We have been there when our son-in-law was installed as a deacon, and then later when he was ordained as a pastor. But this night my husband and I were seeking the baby Jesus as the shepherds had done.

Earlier in the day my husband asked me if I would like to go to the Christmas Eve Candle Light service at Lisa’s church, since our church had prayer meeting the night before but they were not having a Christmas Eve service. As empty nesters we were quietly sitting together with our coffee in hand, doing our morning devotion time, and I thought that it sounded nice, so I said sure let’s go!

So here we were, candles in our hands. I was ready for the Lord to,…“light my candle!” My 16 year old granddaughter was happy to see us and she gave us her warm hugs and she and her friend sat next to grandpa. I was thankful for the gift of this teenage granddaughter, who came to us through adoption 16 Christmases ago.

We started off by singing Christmas Carols and that was fun. There were a couple of special songs from the choir and I looked at our beautiful daughter up there singing her heart out for the Lord,…and my heart was filled with love for the gift of this daughter, and for the way that she loves Jesus.

Then there was a my handsome son-in-law who came up front and welcomed everyone and then he shared his special memories of growing up in church and attending many of these candle light services. He said that they were always special to him and among his favorite Christmas time memories as a child. I found myself thanking God for this gift of a Christian son-in-law who loves the Lord, and loves my daughter and granddaughter.

There was also an elderly lady who told her story of the best Christmas she ever had. Her mother was a nurse and was working for 25 cents an hour trying to support the family since her father had passed away. To make more money the mother had to move away so that she could work in a hospital, and it was hard to leave her children behind in the care of someone else, but she had to do it. The elderly lady telling the story said she had a little sister and also one that had passed away, she had felt much sorrow in her young life. What did she want for Christmas? Well she had always wanted a piano and a bike, but didn‘t have much hope of ever having them. But that Christmas she got both. Before her father died he had made arrangements with someone to purchase a piano for her and she received it,…as well as a bicycle! Does Jesus know how to give us the desires of our hearts,… or what!??….(:>) I thanked the Lord for the gift of this dear lady’s story.

As things continued and we were thinking about the pregnant Mary about to give birth to the Lord Jesus, a pregnant lady stepped out of the choir for a solo. We had prayed for this very lady as just days before she had surgery to remove her gallbladder even though she was big with child,…and here she was singing to the Lord! Thank you for the gift of this lady, and the answer to our prayers, as she and the baby came through the ordeal safely.

“Mary Did You Know?” was one of the solos we heard that night and I think this is one of my favorite Christmas songs. What must it have been like to bring the son of God into this world? It is no wonder that the Bible says she pondered all of these things in her heart!

The pastor read the Christmas message as a man played a guitar softly in the background. It stirred my heart once again, as if I was hearing it for the first time. My husband took my hand and squeezed it as we listened to this amazing story of the greatest gift ever given.

An offering was received to help needy families on Christmas and as it was collected a little girl played her violin, and it was fantastic! My heart had been greatly moved by this entire service,…like the Lord had lit my candle!

But as is customary, the pastor and his wife lit their candles and moved among the congregation lighting the person’s candle on the end of each row and in turn we shared the light with one another and a warm glow filled the church. I pray that the Lord will light your candle too, at this most blessed time of the year!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Underside of The Tapestry

Have you ever looked at the underside of a tapestry? It is not very pretty. There are random threads going here and there with seemingly no design or pattern. There may be knots or a loose thread or two, and it can be very unappealing to the average eye. But if you turn the tapestry over, a beautiful pattern appears and the finished item brings delight to the viewer's eyes and to their hearts.

There is a song called,..."I Can Only Imagine"...and it goes on to question what heaven will be like, and what the singer will do when he sees Jesus. Well until we turn over that tapestry and gaze at the completed product we can't even imagine the beauty we shall see in heaven. Here on earth we experience only the "underside" of the tapestry,...the weavings of our Master, as he adds new threads and different colors into our lives. Sometimes there is a glimpse of the beauty we will behold...such as when we view a morning sunrise, or an evening sunset, or as we gaze at the ocean as it rolls back and forth with great unseen power...or as we point our heads upwards to see the peak of a mountain top covered in snow, or a tall tree with a bounty of colorful leaves as it sways in the wind. Or as we see the first crocus poke through the snow covered ground, or a hyacinth, or a jonquil to remind us that spring has come. Times when we stare at a shining lake that sparkles in the sun, and reflects like a mirror, and our breath is taken away at it's beauty.

But there are other threads that the Weaver allows into the tapestry of our lives at times that are not so pleasant. Things like tornadoes, or floods, or fires in a beautiful forest. There are riptides in that beautiful ocean, and tsunamis. There are avalanches in those mountains, and all of these things can bring distress, sorrows and pain. They are like big ugly knots in the tapestry and we don't understand why they are there. To make it more personal, there are times when people we love get sick or die. There are financial hardships when people lose their jobs or are unable to work. There are times of trials and we often do not understand what is going on, or why the Weaver has allowed these things to happen. The winds blow hard and the leaves fall off those lovely trees. The branches are sometimes broken. BUT the tree actually gets stronger from the storms that blow so hard as it stands against their forces. After the fires, the green still appears on the forest floors. The Master allows the wheat fields to be burned to make for more crops to spring forth again after the new seeds are planted. Hopefully we learn and grow and change as we lean on Him through these times when things get all knotted up in our lives. And the tapestry continues to get bigger and more full of confusing lines and patterns that to us make absolutely no sense!

Well, I don't think they will ever make sense to us until we do see the other side of the tapestry when we are in heaven. In fact I think the finished tapestry is our life in heaven with our Master Weaver! There is some beauty here on earth but it is a beauty that has been marred with the sinful deeds of man. Heaven will not be marred. There will not be the knots and loose threads. Everything will come together and make sense. The completed tapestry will tell a story of His goodness. Questions will be answered,...but we probably won't even care, or even want to remember the trials we have experienced here on earth as the Lord has been weaving our lives for our good and to suit His purpose and to bring Glory to Himself. I think we will rejoice forever more and praise our Weaver as we see the finished product. Let's have faith in this life that He isn't finished with us yet. That each thread He weaves into our lives is a needed thread to bring more beauty. Let's be thankful that He thinks we are worth the time and efforts to work on our tapestries at all. And may we offer the beautiful finished product at his feet and humbly bow upon them in His presence! Amen? Selah! (Meditate on this!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Life-Less Trees Oustide My Window

As I look out my window today I see some trees without their leaves and they look so life-less, and indeed they do appear to be dead. However they are not dead, they are just going through a normal process. The leaves have gone from green to gold or red and then they turned to brown and fell from the tree and have blown around in the changing wind until someone rakes them up and puts them into large bags and sets them out for the trash man to pick up.

These bare trees look cold and empty and not very pretty at present, but I know this is just for a short time and when autumn and winter have passed, spring will bring them tender shoots once again on each of their branches and the barren looking sticks will flourish with lots of healthy green leaves to sway in the wind. Some of the trees will also flower and lovely white, purple or pink blossoms will be abundant, and this will bring delight to all of those who pass this way.

But during the barren times I can't help but feel a sadness and a longing for the fruitfulness of the tree to return. I think that I am going through a similar time right now because I have not been well and therefore I am not flourishing. I have not been active, or able to enjoy the routine things that daily life involves. I have felt like my strength has drained and my leaves have fallen. But I do know that this is just a passing season of my life, and before too long my life will return to normal.

When the snow comes the barren trees will appear to be dressed again with glistening white coats. Or sparkling ice, like jewelry, will dangle from the formerly bare branches. This will bring needed moisture and it will be good for the trees. And I will be able to look out my windows and enjoy the wintry white wonderland and my spirit will be lifted.

God has a reason for each season of our lives,....and He knows what we need to go through and how to prune us so that we can bring forth abundant fruit at His appointed times. I am so thankful that things are not always what they appear to be,...the trees are not dead,...and either am I! There has just been a quiet time where God wants me to be still and dwell in His presence. My trial has been so small compared to what some people experience. I am not complaining, just reflecting on what God wants me to learn at this time of my life.Yet I will admit that I long for the warmth He will bring and look forward to the new life that will soon appear, and the growth, both on the trees and in my life.

If your life is looking a little bleak, and your branches are feeling empty, don't despair the Lord is always near and He will hear your whispered pray. Don't lose hope, hang on to your faith in Him. Open your eyes to the beauty that can be found even in the autumns of our lives or the cold dark days of winter.Sometimes we need the quiet, still, moments. And before too long we will be seeing new growth sprouting out from the dormant areas in our lives if we yield ourselves to Him, and let His strength flow through us like sap.... bringing new life and new energy to us once again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sweet Cecily! Anna's Sister And Best Friend!

Cecily was Anna's best friend and playmate. They did everything together. She will have her own story to tell someday as she matures and grows in the Lord. All of our hearts went out to Cecily Kate when she lost her little sister. She perhaps lost more and felt more than her young age would allow her to put into words. Yet she ministered to her mom and dad daily by trying to encourage them, and always hugging them, and asking them how they were doing?,.. and by reminding them that she was still there to love them. She would say with a smile,..."You still have me!" I think she felt like she needed to do something to help,...and that was her way.

She hung close to mama after Anna went to be with Jesus. She would stay home with her instead of going on errands with her daddy and the rest of the family. She didn 't even want to come and spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa for a long time. I think she felt like her mama needed her.

And indeed she did! She has become such a good helper with her three younger brothers,...but especially with Harrison, the one year old. She can be trusted and relied upon to watch after him while mama is busy. She loves to hold him and carry him and play with him. He is an outlet for her affection.

I would never leave Cecily out on purpose,...she is such an important member of the family. She is a lovebug. She is always smiling. She is warm and friendly and has an innocence that blesses us all.

I know she will never forget Anna. Everyday she continues to be in her heart and in her memory and in her conversations. She will have her best friend back someday when she greets her in heaven.

We all look forward to the day when we see Anna again,...but I think Cecily longs for this as much or more than we do.

Sweey Cecily, are a blessing to us all!

Four Years Ago Today My 6 Year Old Granddaughter Went To Heaven

(A Note To My Daughter)
My very brave,and beautiful daughter, Thank you for this wonderful pictorial reminder of the joy- filled times with Anna Gabriel. This must have been hard for you to post, but bittersweet might be a better word. You wouldn't have the pain if you hadn't had these wonderful times, ...and the memories remain and that is a gift!. I am so glad we had Anna for 6 precious years. It was such a privilege to be her grandma. I know that you feel totally blessed to be her mommy.

On this anniversary of her home-going we should all thank God for her affect on our lives. We know it was all in God's plan from the beginning of her life, and He sent this lovely little person to touch the hearts of many. On this official release day for your book, I can't help but wonder just how many more people He will touch,...and even change, through the story. His timing is amazing.

Your book involves more than Anna's time with you, and I can see how God was preparing you from the very beginning of your life with Kyle, to reach this point. I can't help but feel that this is God's book. A book he will use over and over again through the years to bring glory to Himself , and grace and hope to others. Aren't you excited to see the fruits of His labor, and of yours? You and your Savior are a very good team Lynnette. And then there is the fact that right in your own family these trials have formed and fashioned Jared and Abigail's lives and now they are His instruments of grace too. And who knows how it will domino down to touch Cecily, Silas, Jonas and Harrison,...and any little unborn Kraft children also. Your story lives on, and on, and on. Praise God!

Not to mention that you had a very strong companion on this journey, in your wonderful husband Kyle Eugene. He is a HUGE part of your story. And in fact, there would be no story without him. As a husband and father he has willingly walked in the paths that God has led him down. He has been a stronghold for you, your children and the rest of us. And even for those who stood on the sidelines and watched you pass by on this journey. This mother-in-law will never forget his strength,...strength that came from being totally yielded to the leading of The Holy Spirit. He was an instument of His love to all those around him, and a bold witness of God's amazing power. Yes, it was God working His will through him. God continues to use you both, and I think it is great how you help each other. I have seen your love for each other grow, as your love of God has grown throughout these 20 years together. Ok, I have to add this part. If God can use an 18 year old girl and a wanna be rock star who met by chance while driving down the street,... and grow them up to be what they are today to accomplish His purpose,...He can use anybody, anywhere, I right? (:>) To God be all the glory, power, and honor, and praise!!! Amen? Amen!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Am The Bride Of Christ

Looking at some wedding pictures on facebook today I was reminded of the joy a wedding can bring. A wedding day is filled with happiness and hope. The couple unite and the bride leaves her family name behind and takes on her husband's name, as he slides a ring upon her finger and vows to never leave her or forsake her. She puts her faith in her groom and her life in his hands. The newlyweds look forward to their new life together and have visions of what lies ahead.

Each day is an adventure as they learn more about each other and grow through trial and error when they try to settle into a daily routine of living together and serving each other.Sometimes self will get in the way, and pride can't always say the words,...'I'm sorry", yet those words are needed to build a bridge over the troubled waters, and to help them find the way back to the hope they had at the beginning.

Each anniversary they will look back to the years they have shared and sometimes they will be bittersweet, but hopefully they will still have their visions of what lies ahead for them.

When we become Christians we become the Bride of Christ, and we experience the new joys that come from knowing Him. We place our hope in Him, and our trust, just like any new bride does. At times we fail and have to ask for forgiveness, but He tells us sweetly that He forgives us and that He will never leave us or forsake us. We know that we can rest and leave our burdens at His feet. He is strong, He will carry them for us.

And as a groom that carries his bride over the threshold, our Savior carries us and leaves only His footprints in the sand. How safe we feel in His presence, and how secure as He holds our hands.

He promises to be with us for all eternity! He works everyday to meet our every need What more could we ask for?

Don't you love weddings? I do! Especially when I am the bride,....The Bride Of Christ !

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm A PollyAnna,...You Can Be One Too! (:>)

Have you ever played "the glad game"? In the Pollyanna movie there was a little orphan girl who's missionary parents had died, so she had to go to live with her rich Aunt Polly who had lots of money but no joy in her life. So, little Pollyanna soon tries to brighten up her solemn aunt and the household staff,...and even the entire town, by telling them to play the glad game,...which is nothing more than finding something to be glad about in every situation. (:>)I love this movie. I love the glad game. And I think more of us should play it.!!!!!!! I guess that makes me a Pollyanna! But I don't care,....I think it's a good thing.In the Bible we are told to think on things that are,... true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of a good report,...things of virtue, and praiseworthy things. Philip. 4:8 This process brings peace to our lives.I challenge you to play "the glad game" today! Be a Pollyanna!!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm The Wife Of A Prince

Today is my husband John's birthday. I have been asking him what he wants for his birthday and each time he just says he wants me to feel better. I have been down with a virus and it has been a month since I have felt good. He got sick first and then he gave it to me,...but I got it much worse than he did and it really zapped all of my strength. I guess that just proves that I am truly the "weaker vessel".

During this down time for me, my prince did daily house chores, shopping and errands, and he made sure I had food, and lots of juices and water, and he took such good care of me. He also led daily devotions with me to try to keep his weakling wife spiritually fed too, since I was missing church and really feeling the need for God's word. I so much appreciate him and the efforts he makes to be the spiritual leader in our home. This is something that I longed for and prayed for, and wanted foryears and years.

After I had given my heart to the Lord, I wanted my husband to be a believer too, and I prayed for him to become a Christian for 15 years. So you can see why I thank the Lord for the miracles he did in John's life,...and in mine. (If some of you wives are praying for your husbands to be saved,...don't give up, just keep loving them and keep praying for them, because miracles do happen!)John often talks of his "Spiritual Birthday", which happened in Dec. nearly 14 years ago now. He shares his story and his love for the Lord all the time. And each time I witness that, I rejoice in my heart and count my many blessings!

All of us are just sinners saved by grace, and I know that each conversion to Christ is a gift from God, and truly a miracle. I have so many faults,...and my prince even has some too. We fall short often, and don't always please our Savior. But that is the blessing,...He loves us anyway! I thank God that I am feeling better, and I want to spend the day catering to my husband. I think it is his turn to be cared for and looked after. And besides,'s the Prince's birthday!!!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Grandma's Growth Through Grief

When our children are small we hold their hands and walk beside them so that they won’t stumble, fall or hurt themselves. We teach them to look both ways when they are crossing the street. We kiss their boo- boo’s and bandage their scraped knees, dry their tears and try to calm their fears. And if you were like me, you loved being needed by your child.
When they get a little older we try to answer their many questions, and they usually think we know almost everything. They look up to us with admiration in their eyes and love in their hearts. And they hug our necks and give us kisses and say things like,…“when I grow up mommy, I want to be a mommy just like you!”… Those were the times I cherished.
When I was forty I became a grandma and the cycle started over again. But it had an added joy because I got to watch my girls become mommies and got to observe the love they showed to their children.

I will be 58 next month. In September I will have an 18 year old grandson, and my youngest grandchild will soon turn one. In between these two boys I have a dozen other grandchildren,…but 3 of them are living in heaven.

Yes, I am a grandma that has experienced the grief of losing two infant grandsons and a six year old granddaughter. I say “lose” , but I know exactly where they are,…in heaven living with Jesus! And that fact brings me comfort and now it even brings me joy! Joy, because I know I will see them again and get to spend eternity with them. But at the time of their passing my heart was heavy and it held much sadness.

Part of my sorrow was having to see my daughter Lynnette going through the great trials of watching three of her children die. But I also learned so much from watching she and her husband Kyle as they clung to each other and to God during their afflictions. They were growing spiritually and so was I. God was teaching them about His great love and His great comfort, and He was showing them that His grace was sufficient. And as they learned they would share things with me and I would learn too.

Before their children died I don’t think we understood just how great God’s grace was. But during those sad times we felt His presence in our lives in such a real and personal way it was like we were enveloped in His love. It was like He had His loving arms around us, and was like we had climbed up onto his lap and He was soothing our fears and whispering, “I love you and I’m here for you,…and I’ll never leave you!”. The trial was still there and the storms were still raging, but God’s peace was so real and so warm. I guess that is why it is said to be “the peace that passes all understanding!”.

God gave us strength, because He knew we were not strong enough to function on our own. He gave us faith because He knew ours was small. He gave us peace because He knew we were frantic. He helped us each step of the way because He knew what it was like to see a child suffer and die. He gave His son as a sacrifice for us because He loved us so much, and He saw Him suffer and die. John 3:16

Lynnette and Kyle gave their three children back to the Lord. They knew that they belonged to Him.

And here’s how they eventually learned that:
When they married they spent their first year together and then decided they wanted to start a family, so they stopped taking the birth control pill. But before they had even stopped the pill she was already pregnant but didn’t know it until she got sick with an upper respiratory illness and we went to the doctor and he needed to do an x-ray and so the doctor took a test just to be safe, and that‘s when we found out she was pregnant. That baby was conceived when they thought “they were in control”, and yet it was God not them that was in control! He is the giver of life!!!

Then they decided that their first baby Jared should have a playmate, and still thinking they were in control they proceeded to plan another child. Well that was a son named Samuel who was born without a brain and only lived a couple of weeks. Actually it is amazing that he lived that long, as many die in the womb or shortly after birth when they have that condition. But God had a plan for his life. Even though it was short, it was long enough to affect many people’s lives, including my own.

We found out that Lynnette was carrying an anencephaly baby in her six month of pregnancy and all of our hopes and dreams came crashing down when we got that news after a sonogram. The doctors told us she could abort right then or continue to carry the baby, but it had no chance of survival. As Christians, abortion was simply not a choice in our minds, so they went back home together and I drove baby Jared. Kyle was crying so hard on the way home he had to pull over. I was crying too, but trying not to let Jared see me. It seemed like a bad dream. This was such a shock and so hard to cope with.

The next couple of months were so hard for Lynnette and Kyle and yet they seemed to be ok at times and people were taking notice of their faith and trust in God. People everywhere were praying for them as they found out. People from our church sent them encouraging notes and cards and came to visit them. Lynnette and Kyle continued going to church and even sang special music together. They wanted to feel God’s presence and His comfort. They had no idea how they would feel about their baby when he was born. They are human and they had fears,…but God helped them face their fears, and when he was born they looked at him and fell in love with their special child, and so did I.

They were surprised to have a boy, because the sonogram tech had told them that they were having a girl. Shortly before he arrived I had told Lynnette she maybe had better pick a boy’s name just in case and I told her that in the Bible Hannah gave Samuel back to the Lord so maybe that would be a good name since this child would have to be given back to God too. So, I guess I kind of got to name him. His other grandma said she liked the name Micah and that was his middle name. But of course it was Lynnette and Kyle that made the decision. They always pick special names with special meanings and Lynnette says God has already named them He just lets them know what the names are through His special guidance. (I had never thought of that before, and as I thought about it I agreed. Because the Bible says He knew us before we were born, so I think he surely knew our names.) My child was teaching me new and wonderful things!

It took God’s strength to watch Samuel die and to bury him and go on with their lives. But we all had to do just that. And once again, God’s grace was sufficient. We just took one day at a time and after his death when little trials came and went we would say, “It’s not a life or death situation”, and everything seemed small in comparison to what we had just been through.
Lynnette and Kyle now began to see that God gave life and He was also the one that took it away. So they gave childbirth over to Him. And before too long they had a beautiful healthy baby girl named Abigail. (This is what they were going to name Samuel when they thought he would be a girl, and I think it is neat that God gave them their Abigail, who by the way is 15 yrs. old now.) She was a chubby little doll baby! We all felt ourselves breathing a little easier and less afraid to accept all the babies He would give them.

But the next time it was a big healthy looking baby boy named Josiah , and soon after birth he was taken to NICU because he wasn’t breathing and they had to do surgery to bring down his intestines that had grown into the chest cavity and crowded his lungs and prevented them from growing properly. He lived five days. So, once again we grieved and clung to God as before. Sorrowing but also having hope in God to get us through. I was amazed in the NICU as we watched Josiah die and Kyle was so strong in the power of God and he was witnessing of God’s goodness to all of the nurses and doctors and technicians. And he was a blessing to me as I watched him take such good and loving care of my daughter. And he asked a friend that was there in the hospital with us to take care of me because he needed to take care of Lynnette. God was using Kyle as His instrument of love. When Josiah drew his last breath as they disconnected the machines we took turns passing him around so we could hold him. This was my first and my last time to hold my little grandson, and it was bittersweet. We knew we had to let go because he was already in the arms of Jesus. We were starting to learn that we shouldn’t sorrow like those that have no hope. Our hope was in the Lord! And even though we were sad we knew for a fact that God was right there with us in that room. And it took steps of faith to leave that room and get on the elevator and walk away from that hospital. But the Holy Spirit was with us and we felt His presence, and His comfort.

One of the biggest workings of God through these trials was the way God used these two babies to soften my husband John’s heart and bring him to Himself in salvation. John had seen the Lord at work in our lives through these trials and he knew without a doubt that God was real and that he wanted this same Jesus that was so much in control, to be his Lord and Savior. This wouldn’t have been the way I would have planned, but God knew what it would take to touch his heart. His ways are perfect and they are much higher than mine and He makes no mistakes. I had prayed for 15 long years for God to save John. I have learned that He has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. And His timing is best.

We as imperfect parents know how to lovingly care for our children and grandchildren, but God has perfect knowledge and wisdom and He knows what is best for us. Sometimes he uses trials to teach us and mature us, or in John‘s case to lead us to salvation. John and I were baptized the day before Josiah’s funeral, so we were full of joy and sorrow at the same time! My prayers for John had been answered and yet my prayers for God to spare Josiah seemed to go unanswered . But God was saying no, that He had a better plan. I needed to learn to trust Him no matter what.

Along came another granddaughter and her name was Cecily. She was a beautiful little bundle from God. She is now 12 years old. Her mommy and daddy loved how she filled their empty arms after losing Josiah and grandma almost had to beg to get to hold her! But I was happy that they got to keep this baby girl.

I seemed to always be at their house, and Grandpa John and I loved being a part of these children’s lives. Grandpa and Jared got saved around the same time. Jared was 4 and John was 49. God’s call goes out to both young and old and He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Next they had Anna. While pregnant with her, a sonogram showed that she had heart problems. We faced a new trial and it was sad to look at Jared and Abigail and little Cecily and realize that their baby sister would face surgeries and health issues, and all of this would affect their lives too. I was sad for all of them, and sad for me too. I have the gift of mercy and it is hard for me to see people suffering. I loved them all so much and I didn’t want any of them to hurt. My heart hurt for my daughter. Lynnette had faced so much and I couldn’t do anything to change her circumstances, but I was willing to help her in any way that she needed me.

Shortly after Anna’s birth her daddy flew with her to Children’s Mercy in Ks. City and I drove Lynnette and the kids there. Grandpa followed in another vehicle. We were all in this together and each of us were calling on God to take our hands and walk us through this frightening experience. We all stayed together in the Ronald McDonald house for 10 days as Anna had her first surgery and recovered enough to go home. I had been ill and found it a little hard to keep up with Cecily as she was a two year old and wanted to run around and explore the Ronald McDonald house. But John was there to help and Jared and Abigail were helpers too, and by God’s grace we all made it through and made it safely back home.

Anna had her ups and downs, but didn’t have to have any more surgeries until she was nine months old. We were all madly in love with Anna and hated to see her go in for surgery. John and I stayed with the other kids on their farm and took care of the chickens and the goats and the cats, and we prayed and prayed and jumped when the phone rang, as we were all anxiously awaiting news from mommy and daddy about Anna. It was touch and go. They were there three weeks, but eventually Anna came home from the hospital and although they had to protect her from germs because she had no spleen and didn’t have much of an immune system that helped her to stay well, she grew and turned into an adorable and special child. She loved life and we all loved watching her and being a part of her life. She was a great blessing to us all.
Lynnette also had a baby boy named Silas and he is now 7 years old, and then had another boy named Jonas and he is almost 5. Anna loved babies and she wanted to hold her brothers all of the time when they were little. She would want to hold them when I was holding them and I would always give in because she loved them so much. Life was good, and for six years we thanked the Lord for her and prayed that she would live a long life. But nine days after a Make A Wish trip we all took with her to Disney World in Florida our little Anna passed away suddenly, early in the morning of November 19th 2004.

It was the worst phone call we ever received when Lynnette called to tell us that she was following the ambulance that had our Anna in it and that she thought that she was already gone. I cried out with a cry that seemed to come from deep inside my soul. I always knew that there was a possibility that Anna could die from her heart problem, but I never quite believed it would happen.

We drove up to their house as quickly as we could to be with Jared as he was home with the other children. We hated to see the hurt on the face of our teenaged grandson as he sat there solemnly trying to take it all in and make sense of what had happened so suddenly while all of the kids were sleeping. I had found it hard to watch my daughter suffer loss, but now I was finding it especially hard to see my dear grandson hurting so badly. And I dreaded the time when the rest of the children would wake up and come down those stairs and find out that their sister Anna was no longer with us.

Once again I was in a fog and it felt as though I was asleep and experiencing a bad dream. I was thankful that John was a Christian now and that I didn’t have to face this without him. We had each other and we each had the Lord! What would we have done without the Lord? It would have been so awful to go through that and not have Jesus . I was so glad that we could pray together as a family because we all knew Him and trusted Him. I reminded Jared that the Lord was with us and just like before He would walk beside us and help us get us through.

When Lynnette and Kyle returned home they were so weak and looked so worn out and tired. My heart hurt for them. It had been such a shock and such a hard thing to leave their beautiful little six year old there at the hospital, and to have to come home to tell their other children that Anna went to heaven to be with Jesus. But Kyle bravely said the words to them as gently as he could as they came downstairs . Once again I saw God sustaining power at work in his life. And in Lynnette’s, as she gathered her children close to her.

The days, weeks and now even years that have passed have been filled with special care from the Lord as He lovingly took each one of us by the hand and helped us cross that big and scary street to move on with our lives. He has dried our tears and calmed our fears and bandaged our wounds. Sometimes it feels like we are still hurting and need a new bandage, but He puts His healing salve on us and gently works it in with his kind hands . And as we look to His Word and also go before His throne of grace and climb up into His lap He draws us near and lets us know we are special and we are loved with an everlasting love. And I find myself saying , “I want to grow up to be just like my daddy,…my Abba Father !” I have a long ways to go, but this grandma is learning to grow through grief. Praise God!