Sunday, December 28, 2014

A {Resolution} for 2015: Just One Chapter

remember the signs..." 
~ Aslan, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair
by C.S. Lewis

I don't know of anyone who likes staying in the hospital. Between the poke of the needle for an I.V., the uncomfortable bed, or the tests, the tests, the tests! I get no sleep. No rest.

For my last baby, Little Bit, I decided to opt for a birthing center for just that reason. 

But, as much as I don't want to make a visit to the emergency room, I've had to. 

Twice this year.

The first time, was for chest pain. Still don't know what caused it, but I'm still paying for the bill! Then, the week before Christmas, I wound up there again. 

But, thankfully, I was prepared.

Earlier this year, I was challenged to memorize all of Romans 8 for Lent. I was motivated to hide more of God's Word in my heart because I knew I needed it. I need truth. When so much of the seen world is clamoring for my attention and causing me to fear and doubt, I desperately need to know that this is not all there is.

Then, when homeschool started in the fall, I was challenged to memorize James 1 with the children. Now, I had little accountability partners. And, I discovered new ways to cement all that we were learningto make it visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

And, the Word became living and active (Hebrews 4:12) when I was tested the week before Christmas.

I was tired and feeling not quite myself, so I decided to exercise a little. Just a few stretches to help me wake up. With each stretch, my head started to hurt, so I stopped. But, not soon enough. 

I was hit with a wave of intense head pain and nausea and became short of breath. I called out to my eldest daughter to dial my husband and with much hesitation, 911 when I started gasping for air and vomiting.

"I think I'll be okay," I said to the paramedics as they checked my pulse. My stomach had settled some, and I was able to breathe again. Blood pressure was fine. Blood sugar, normal levels. I had no history of asthma or migraines. 

One paramedic said I should go to the hospital. That this episode seemed like more than a head ache. But, I decided to wait until Billy got home and save myself a trip in the ambulance.

I thought maybe it was the flu or possibly food poisoning. But, when the doctor examined me and noted all of my symptoms he said something I had not even conceived of.

"I think you may have had an aneurysm." Dr. S crossed his arms. "I am not letting you leave this hospital until you get a CT scan. But, that will probably show nothing." He paused. "I will have to give you a spinal tap to check for blood. Then we'll know for sure."

"Can't I get an MRI?" I asked. I didn't like the thought of exposing myself to all the radiation from a CT scan if I could help it.

"No." The doctor shook his head. "CT scan, then spinal tap and then MRI. And, if we find an aneurysm. Surgery."

"On my brain?" 

The doctor nodded.

I glanced at Billy. He looked at me reassuringly.

I sighed real deep. "Fine. Just do it."

I had trouble praying. Between the headache, the nausea, and overall stress, I just couldn't seem to calm my mind. 

Then I remembered.

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ...," flashed in mind.

I focused on each and every word of James 1

Through the CT scan, which showed nothing.

Then, during the spinal tap, my body reacted in weird ways. I couldn't stop shaking and my hip hurt like crazy. So, I couldn't go through with it. But, James 1 was on my mind the whole time.

The doctor wasn't happy that I told him to pull out the lumbar puncture, because it hurt, even with the local anesthesia!

"I'll have to admit you to the hospital," he said.

"Fine." I didn't care at that point. Billy said my veins were popping out on my forehead and the sweat was poring down my brow. He'd seen me birth all our babies, but he said he'd never seen me in so much pain.

Billy piled the blankets over me to stop the shaking. I put on my jacket and  pulled the hood over my head and slid a face mask on my face. Then the orderlies transported me to a shared room.

I few hours later, I was not shaking anymore, but still freezing. A nurse wrapped me up like a woman from the ancient middle east and prepared me for a trip to the MRI.

"So, have you ever had an MRI before?" asked the MRI tech. He had a thick accent and looked like he was from Southeast Asia, possibly India.

"Yes. But, not for me. For my baby. He had no kidneys." Then I shared the story of my son, Luke.

The tech was quiet after that. He helped me onto the bed in front of the MRI tube and gave me earplugs.

The last time I got a MRI, I thought of Genesis. This time, with Christmas just around the corner, I imagined Christ in all His splendor as a baby, born to a lowly maiden, a virgin in a dusty old stable. He came to rescue us from sin and death to bring many sons into glory (Romans 8:28-30). 

 "How did it go?" asked the tech.

"Oh, great," I grinned. "I thought of a story I know from the Bible. That always helps me stay calm."

He blinked at me and looked on in wonder. I remembered that I was dressed in an all-white wrap of blankets up to my neck. No telling what he thought!

The test showed nothing.

And, I went home. Still waiting for the bill!

But, I am thankful to the Lord that I'm okay. I don't know whether or not I had an aneurysm, but no matter what happens, God is good and He works all things out for good in His time (Romans 8:28-30).

With the year ending and a new one approaching, it's got me thinking. What do I want to do next year? What would I like to change?

The number one thing, more important than anything else I could think of is to remember God's Word. To memorize passages of Scripture and by the grace of God, put it into practice.

I'll be waiting and praying for the next chapter to learn, but until then, I'd like to challenge each and every person who reads this post.

Just One Chapter 

Will you learn one chapter of Scripture this year. It took me a good three months to learn James 1. But, I took it real slow. And, used a method that works for me and my children.

I call it the RVA approach: 



and, by the grace of God,


Repetition:  say one verse ten times the first day. Five times the next day to review. And, the next verse ten times. Five-old, ten-new each day until you've learned the whole chapter.

Visualization: for each verse, draw a picture. On a white board, on index cards, or a chalk board. But, keep it high and say the verse while looking at the image. You can also try hand movements that corresponds to the verse to help with memory. 

Application: Pray God's Word. Ask for His help and power to do what pleases Him. 

May 2015 be a year where the blessings of God abound in your heart!

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Through the Ages: 2000-2014

It helps to look back. To count your blessings. 

For 2014, I wanted to count Christmas blessings. 
And, from what I remember, it had a lot to do with family. And, love.

 2000- First Christmas as husband and wife.

 2001- First child was born, our "Bright Girl."

 2002- Snuggled up in our cozy sweaters
 with the baby in a hoodie.

2003- Our first son, Luke, was born on December 5, 
but passed away shortly afterward.

2003- Bright Girl loved music and 
clapped along with her new Alphabet Pal.

2004- Bright Girl loved singing Christmas carols.

2005- "Little Man" was born and 
Bright Girl had another brother to love.

2006-Bright Girl stills loves to bake.

2006-Little Man still loves his cars.

2007-Our newest addition to the family, "Sunshine Girl."

 2007-The awe and wonder of Christmas.

 2008- Family trip to Stone Mountain.
Should have been called Cold Mountain!

2009- Family trip to The Great Smokey Mountains.
At this point we didn't know Little Man had developed autism.
He liked to look away or close his eyes for the camera.

2009- First Nativity play. Can you guess each person?

2010- Family trip to Maggie Valley, NC, where
we were snowed in.

2010- Sunshine Girl didn't mind. She loved the snow.

2011- Stayed home for the holidays.
I didn't want to travel with a newborn.

 2011- Introducing,"Little Bit." 
She thought it was a relaxing Christmas.

2012- First Christmas after Billy's job loss. 
We sold our house and moved into an apartment.
The kids didn't seem to mind as long as we were together.

2013- A new year with a new job 
and more presents under the tree.
But, the kids didn't seem to notice the difference.
They were happy either way.

Because it was Christmas.

No matter where we were or what was happening in our lives, Christmas--the fact that Christ came to rescue us--has brought us hope, joy, and peace. 

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas in 2014!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
Romans 15:13

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Steps to Peace in Grief

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow. 

~Elvina M. Hall, 1865


I don’t know if I've always traveled the best way through grief, but the Lord taught me many things along the journey. I learned more about God, myself, and others, and we have choices to make in how we will react to all of life’s difficulties. The following steps are some choices I made on my own journey. And those choices lead to peace.
Steps to Peace in Grief:
1. Focus on the character of Christ in the gospels.  Seeking to know Him more fully will form us more into His likeness.

2. Look back and grieve—everything that has broken your heart, and ask Christ to reveal Himself to you in those times.

3. Turn to Christ and trust Him with your past, present, and eternity, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”

4. Believe that when you are at a disadvantage, you are blessed, because it's a chance to see God come through for you.

5. Be thankful that Christ Jesus has redeemed you—every part of you, past,  present, and future, it all matters to Him.  He is faithful to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteous thoughts, feelings, or deeds (1 John 1:9).

6. Rest on Christ, the Rock, whose promise of salvation is a free gift. You don't have to be "good enough" to be loved and accepted by God. The Lord Jesus gave His life to rescue us from darkness and bring us into His family.

7. Immerse yourself in worship and sing songs of both lament and praise, which can stir your heart to hope again.

8. Rejoice that because of Christ, our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

9. Live for your Father's smile.

10. Persevere when you feel like giving up. God has a special place, purpose, and work for you to do in His Kingdom.

11. Remember you are precious in the sight of God.

12. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is like a little child.

13. Love others even in your pain.

14. Be confident that the things that overwhelm you are the very things you can trust in the Lord to give you His strength to overcome (2 Corinthians 12:9).

15. Trust in the Lord to protect you from evil. Suffering is a time when you are most vulnerable. (1 Peter 5:8,9)

16. Don't be afraid to ask for help. The Lord works through His people. You don't have to go through grief alone.

17. Longing, seeking, finding, longing…it’s like a cycle that will end when we see Jesus face-to-face. Until then, stay the course.

18. Jesus longs for me even more than I long for Him. He has known me before the creation of the world. He gave His life for me. He’s preparing a place for me, and He’s waiting for me with a love that is higher than the highest mountain, wider than the widest sky, deeper than the deepest ocean, and longer than the longest road.

19. In this world, we have a lot to grieve, mourn, and wail about, but we must long for the day when we can be in the safest place of all—safe in Jesus’ arms. 

20. When you look your greatest hurts straight in the face, turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
~Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Journey of Loss {Part 7}: Tree of Life

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."

Proverbs 13:12

Jesus is our hope.

He is the tree of life;
The true vine
From which all life flows.

And, looking upon the tree

Where He died for you and me,
We are given eternity. 

To live in hope, 

We must live in Him.


Seeing Luke again is one of my greatest desires, but this longing is overtaken by the glory that sets me face down in worship of my Lord and King, who does all things well. He is the One who made it possible for eternal life. 

Christ Jesus, the holy and perfect Son of God, gave of Himself to the utmost, coming down out of heaven and sacrificing Himself for us. On the cross, when He said, “It is finished,” he breathed his final breath, and my sin debt was paid in full.

But, the story doesn’t end there. 

It was nearly dawn and three days after Jesus died. His body had been laid in a tomb with an enormous stone rolled out in front. Mary Magdalene, devoted follower of Jesus, had witnessed His execution on the cross firsthand. She had come to anoint his body with spices, but when she got there, the stone had been rolled away; the tomb was empty. 

Mary did not know what to think or do. She could not believe that his body could go missing like this. She began to allow herself to grieve and huge sobs poured out of her heart. As she covered her face in anguish, she sensed someone near her. Everything was a blur as she tried to adjust her eyes to the first gleam of dawn. She thought it must be the tombs’ groundskeeper.

“Sir, if you have taken the body of my Lord, please tell me where you have put him,” she implored.


His voice was like no other. It was Jesus!

“Teacher!” she cried out, arms stretched wide to embrace him.

“Don’t hold onto me Mary, for I am still going to leave to be with my Father, but go and tell my disciples that I have risen from the dead.”

Mary’s despair had turned to joy. She ran off to tell all the other disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. 

Over the course of forty days, Jesus appeared to all his disciples and over 500 followers.  As he stood on the Mount of Olives, he lifted up his hands to bless all who stood by. Then, he was taken up high into the sky, until the clouds hid him from view. He returned to heaven to be with God the Father until the appointed time of His return (Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11).     

I don't think we can ever get used to "the new normal." Maybe because we weren't meant to. The heart still doesn’t get death. We were made for eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Our hearts cry out in anguish that we are still feeling the consequences of the first sin. That is where the tears, the crying, the wailing comes from. But, Jesus tells us that He is the Resurrection and the Life. In Him, death has lost its sting and is swallowed up in victory. In this world, all will die, but, one day, Jesus will call, and those who belong to Him will wake up to new life eternal (John 5:24-30).

Walking briskly,
In the sand,
Toward the sound.
Two shadows,
Stretching before.
Dim street lamps,
Fading out.
I know it’s there.
But, where?

Cannot see.
No stars,
No moon,
No guide,
But Him.
And, I can hear it.
The sound,
Getting closer.

Too long,
Too dark,
Too uncertain.
My trembling hand,
Holding on,
To His dependability.
Are you pleased?
Are you smiling?
Or looking down,
 With furrowed brow,
Are you angry with me?
I guess,
 I’ll see.

Feet sinking down,
In the mire,
We trudge on.
Then, we stop,
And wait.
At the edge,
Of the shore.
How long?
Will it ever come?

And then,
It begins.

Brilliant light,
Casting colors,
Double image,
In the heavens,
And sea.
Filling my heart,
With joy beyond belief.
That familiar,
Orange sliver,
Peeking out,
At me.

Rising up,
Telling tales,
Morning glory.

~ C.M.G.

“Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

(Lamentations 3: 22, 23)

When I see a perfect Florida sunrise, I stand in awe, and my thoughts turn toward heaven.  Heaven is so mysterious, so other-worldly. I can hardly fathom what it will be like. More than that, when I think about Jesus coming back down out of heaven and setting His feet upon the new earth, what joy floods my soul. All things will be restoredthe dead will be raised back to life, and all things will be made new. 

The present sufferings of this world will pale in comparison to the eternal life awaiting us. It will be world without end, and I can only imagine how amazing it will be. I will see all my loved ones who have gone before me. And, best of all, I will see Jesus, who carried me through my darkest hours into the light of day. 

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain,
for the former things have passed away.
Then he who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.”

(Revelation 21:4,5, NKJV)

This is Part 7 and the final installment of my story, Journey of Loss. Here is the link for Part 1.