Saturday, November 24, 2012

the day

Life lately has been a series of moments,so I have no idea why having "a moment" today would surprise me.  It's black Friday weekend.  I won't dignify that with capital letter status.  I won't vent my feelings about shopping madness, bargain hunting or tacky behavior.  I will say, being a retail lifer, that I was scheduled to work this weekend.  And Friday I did.  I went to bed at 8ish on Thanksgiving night so that I would be fresh as a daisy for my 5 a.m. work time the next day.  Saturday morning dawned much the same.  I arrived at work, began sorting paperwork and mother called.  My dad was having issues and needed to go to the hospital.  I needed to take him.  He wouldn't go without me making him.

Off we went.  The initial check-in was uneventful.  We were placed in a room with two patient beds, a thin curtain separating us from our neighbor.  Which was fine.  Until our neighbor decided he had to pee.  In the room.  In a bottle.  Loudly.  Awkward doesn't begin to express sitting there having a conversation with your father while obvious pee sounds (and smells) come from five or six feet away.

Time passes.  Our neighbor goes home.  A new neighbor arrives and leaves.  Dad has tests, sees the doctor, and sees the doctor again.  We wait.  And a new patient arrives.  Brought in by EMTs.  Along with his daughter and son.  While the man is able to speak in the beginning, it becomes obvious within a few minutes that he is less and less responsive.  The daughter shares with the nurse that her father has stage four brain cancer.  Was given sixteen weeks to live close to two years ago.  After a few more moments, he begins to convulse.

It is the worst sound I have ever heard.

And it seemed to go on forever.  People rushing around, calling for bite blocks, medications, daughter and son standing by helplessly, all while this unearthly groaning and gasping comes forth from this poor man's body.  Finally the medications silence his moans but I can still see his body seizing through the opening in the curtain.  He continues to do so the remainder of the time that we are in the room with him.  While his daughter discusses his DNR order.  While the cancer doctor talks about living in a comatose state isn't really living. While the nurse apologizes to the son for what he's witnessed and the son replies that "unfortunately, you get used to it."

We left for our room (dad had been admitted to the hospital), and we left this family behind.  They will, however, continue to be in my prayers.

We headed to his room.  Got him settled.  One of his doctor's came by and was very encouraging and optimistic.  If he does well tonight, he will go home tomorrow.  After eating peanut butter and crackers, he declared that he wanted to take a walk.  (One of the blessings for him is that he isn't attached to any machines and can wear his own clothes.)  I decided to take a moment to call Josh and then head home on the hospital phone as he and my mom walked down the hallway.  After leaving a message for Josh, I walked out of the room and looked down the hall.  And saw a scene that captured my heart.

See, my mom and dad bicker.  Nitpick.  Fuss.  Argue.  A lot.  It's aggravating sometimes. But today, as I saw them, I was reminded that they love each other dearly.  They were leaning against the glass wall, bodies curved toward each other, Mom smiling as dad gestured and talked, all with the afternoon sun shining over the tops of their heads.  It was such a sweet picture, one that I will carry in my heart and mind for a long, long time.

Which makes it a good day after all.

Monday, November 12, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 12ish

I had a doctor's appointment today.  Actually, it was a follow up appointment that was made six weeks earlier to confirm that my medication adjustments are doing what they are supposed to be doing.  However, the problem with my hands is getting progressively worse, with obvious weakness, extreme pain and difficulty doing simple tasks.  While I was there, the doctor ordered additional x-rays done and scheduled an MRI.  We then scheduled another follow up appointment, this one in less than 4 weeks, and made another medication adjustment.  

What is the point of my sharing this exciting portion of my life story?  I knew six weeks ago that I was going to the doctor today.  I knew exactly when I was going, who my doctor was going to be and what was going to happen when I got there.  I know (approximately) the cost and I know that my insurance company will pay a portion of the bill.   I have complete faith that whatever tests need to be done will be done.  I know that my prescriptions will be filled and I know that if my physical condition worsens, the doctor is only a phone call away.  There are also several hospitals available to me if I need that kind of care.  

But it's not this way for everyone.    My beautiful Natacha, who is 8, lives in Burkina Faso.  According to UNICEF:    Around one fifth of all children die before they reach the age of five. 
The major causes of this high child mortality in Burkina Faso are malaria; vaccine-preventable diseases like measles; under-nutrition; diarrhea; and acute respiratory infections due to dust pollution.  A 2003 study showed that 39% of all Burkina children under five were underweight, evidence of widespread chronic under-nutrition. Nineteen per cent of under-fives suffered from acute under-nutrition, or wasting.

So, I am thankful.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What day is this anyway?

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Call it naivete, but it's hard for me to imagine that there are churches and believers being persecuted in this day and age.  After all, it's 2012.  We are an enlightened people, right?  And yet, Open Doors has 50 Countries on their World Watch list. (the watch list is a list of the top countries where persecution of Christians is most severe.)

Today's featured country is Belarus.  According to Open Doors, Often considered the last surviving dictatorship in Europe, the government of Belarus allows almost no political opposition. The Orthodox Church is the only officially recognized denomination. Unregistered religious activity can result in imprisonment or heavy fines. Unregistered churches are monitored by the secret police and violent raids occur frequently. Because the numbers of evangelical and Pentecostal Christians is growing, persecution is intensifying. Two leaders of the Belarusian Christian Democratic party were sentenced to labor camp in 2011, but were later freed. Another was imprisoned and subjected to psychological torture. 

Interesting enough, the main thing I remember about Belarus is their participation in the Olympics.  They seemed like happy, proud, normal people. No different than me (other than the incredible amount of athletic ability.) I would never guess that they are 42nd in severe persecution of Christians.

In 2011, Open Doors delivered more than 3.1 million Bibles, study Bibles, children’s Bibles, training materials and other Christian materials to persecuted believers in 50 countries. Open Doors trained 263,542 people from theological courses to shorter seminars. Also in 2011, Open Doors served 172,137 through community development projects.

This is not a post promoting Open Doors.  You'll find most of the same information at Voice of the Martyrs.  The point is awareness.  No matter how "difficult" it is to be a Christian in the United States, it in no way compares to what other believers experience at the hands of friends, families and their government.  So, today not only am I thankful that I live in a country where I can worship and follow the Way, I am thankful that there are organizations who are willing to serve and assist those who are willing to give their lives for my beautiful God.  

James 1:12

Saturday, November 10, 2012


You may have noticed that yesterday's post is missing.  Yesterday was a difficult day.  Mostly consumed with pain.  Not sure how today will develop.  But...


Thursday, November 8, 2012


I know that my Redeemer Lives-Job 19:25


Psalm 105:4
I want this to be what I live by....

Today..I choose joy

but some days it's so hard.

Day Eight

I have spent the better part of the day doing housework.  I am ordinarily not a fan of housework (and my house probably shows it) but today I felt a little differently about it.  

As I began cleaning, I thought about the fact that I have a house.  In the city where I live, approximately one in nine children attending our public school system at some time during the year, were homeless.  For the record, that is 8,582 children.  That's enough to fill 119 school buses or to fill 14 of the district's largest elementary schools.  But I have a house to clean.

Not only that, I have several rooms to clean.  I cleaned the bathroom, tv room (Jessi's former room), kitchen, and living room today.  I still have the master bedroom and bath, and two other bedrooms left to deal with.  However, Amisha, Leonel, Junior, Natacha, Clementine, Adriel, and Jessika (my sponsor kids through Compassion) live in one room buildings, some made of cement, some with dirt floors, some with walls of mud or wood.  Several of my children have multiple siblings.  Can you imagine the chaos of trying to take care of 7 or 8 children in a one room home?

So today, on day eight, I am grateful for housework. Because in my case, housework means I have a home. A multi-roomed blessing that many others do not have.

Photos from Flickr. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day Seven

I believe God's will is sovereign.  And honestly, I'm grateful for that.  After all, if He has anticipated and planned for everything, then what do I have to worry about?

Jonathan's Ehler's Danlos and Dysautonomia?  Covered.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

Psalm 139:13-16

Jessi's upcoming surgery? Not a surprise.

That’s right. Because I, your God,
    have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic.
    I’m right here to help you.’

Isaiah 41:13

My Fibromyalgia and other difficulties? Already known.

 You are my help. 
       Because of your protection, I sing.
 I stay close to you; 
       you support me with your right hand. 

Psalm 63:7 & 8

Now here's the deal.  I'm writing this post on election day.  And honestly, I'm okay with whatever the outcome is.  Because I know that my God is in control.  He's not going to wake up tomorrow surprised by the outcome, regardless of who wins.  He's made His plans and provisions.  He continues to be faithful.  It's all good.

“His eyes are on the ways of mortals;
    he sees their every step.

Job 34:21

Isaiah 55:8-9

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day Six

On the sixth day of my everlasting quest of recognizing the blessings in my life, I am thankful for heroes.  

Any time we deal with difficult circumstances, such as Hurricane Sandy or 9/11, ordinary people emerge from the everyday-ness of life and perform heroic actions.  Then, at the end of the day, they go back to being ordinary people doing ordinary things again. Oftentimes, these heroes are never recognized for their actions. Well, today I'd like to tell you about a hero in my life. 

I have known Amanda for about half of her life.  For the last five or so years, she has felt God's call to serve the Japanese people in Japan.  (I make the distinction because Sarah Young served as a missionary to the Japanese in Australia. Which I find unusual since I didn't realize there was a large Japanese population in Australia.  But that is neither here nor there.)  Anyway, after Amanda graduated from college, she came to work for me at LifeWay.  During this time, she continued to pray for God to move, and open an opportunity for her to serve.

And life went on.  

Time passed.  

Friends got jobs, married, had babies. I know there were times when she wondered if she had been forgotten.  Satan filled her with questions and confusion.

Still she waited.  




Knowing all the while that He had a plan for her, a plan that involved her moving halfway around the world, leaving loved ones behind, to serve the Lord in a country believes that they don't need God.  

Days passed into months, months passed into years. happened.  God opened a door.  Within a matter of weeks she had a job (at a church!), a home, a plane ticket and a whole new life.  

And there you go.  God fulfills His promises.  Watching Him move in her life, in His timing, has been a beautiful thing.  The thing that is just as beautiful though is her obedience.  Her willingness to follow Him and serve Him, no matter how long it took to get her there.  In my book, she's a hero. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day Five

Well, it's Monday.  

And what better thing to be grateful for on a Monday than my place of work.  

While I am grateful to have a job, I am even more blessed to have a job that I love and that is suited to me.  As a matter of fact, I have to say that working at LifeWay Christian store has changed my life.  I've grown in my Christian walk, found a family that I love (and appear to love me back), and have had the privilege to serve so many people over the years.  

I began working for LifeWay when Jessi was six weeks old.  I've now been there more than 24 years.  Jonathan was practically born there.  (He's known Mary Jane since before he was born.  She used to talk to my tummy all the time.)  

I've done most of the jobs there in one capacity or another and have enjoyed bits and pieces of all of them.  

I've grown from a clueless "christian" girl to a not-as-clueless follower of Christ. (Trust me, there's a difference.)  

And I've seen God move countless times in countless ways.  He has shown Himself faithful time and time again.  

Because of my workplace, I've had opportunity to provide godly resources for my children and, even better, know that they are covered in prayer by my co-workers, because they love them almost as much as I do.  

Where else can you say that?  

LifewayColossians 3:23

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day Four

My old Church, Southeast Christian.

It's Sunday so it seems appropriate that I am thankful for my church.  I am also thankful for pastors that preach hard truths rather than inspirational fluff.  I hope that you have a church where you can gather, worship and grow.  If not, you are more than welcome to visit mine.

Verse the day!!! Bible Verse: Matthew 18:20

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day Three

I don't ever remember a time when I could not read.  Legend has it that I began reading on my own when I was three.  (Which coincidentally, was the time I got glasses. Imagine if we had discovered my vision issues earlier.  I might have been reading at one or two!)  

I devour books.  

Consume them.  

Am convinced that I can't live without them.  

Reading certainly contributed to my vivid and active imagination.  After all, books can take you anywhere, in any time period. Growing up, we lived in an area where there weren't a lot of children and I was the only girl with three boys as playmates.  More often than not, they wanted to do boy things and didn't want to be bothered with a silly girl.  (Even if I did have zip up pants like my brother.  I still remember my first pair-they were his hand-me-downs-and me telling everyone that I had zippers too, complete with zipper demonstrations.  I was a weird little kid.)   Through books, I joined the adventures of the Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Babar the Elephant, Brighty of the Grand Canyon and many, many others.  

Growing older (and expanding my interactions with others) did not dissuade me from reading.  If anything, I read more.  Library books, dad's books, you name it, I read anything I could get my hands on.  I'm pretty sure that my love of reading instilled a love of books in my kids as well.  

Over the years, books have provided comfort, joy, peace, instruction, humor, sorrow, and growth.  Some of my books are like my best friends and there are several that I read at least once a year.

However, I live in a state where the ability to read cannot be taken for granted.  In the year 2000:

• 40% of Kentucky’s working age population (1 million) is at the two lowest literacy levels I and II – not being able to read at all or at very limited to moderate levels.

• Two-thirds of Kentucky’s counties have 40% or more of their working age population at levels I and II literacy; in 10 counties 50% or more of the working age population is at levels
I and II literacy.

• Low literacy levels of parents relate directly to the education of children and youth. Children of parents with low literacy levels are five times more likely to drop out of school.

I can't imagine not being able to read, or to read well.  Books open the doorway to so many things.  For that I am grateful.  

Reading takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. 
 - Hazel Rochman
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. 
 - Mason Cooley
Child, reading...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day Two

Ooooo...two days in a row!  It's almost like that new year's resolution you make and are really good at keeping the first few days. Except I'm normally not great at keeping new year's resolutions.  But I feel good for the few days that I'm successful.  

Today I am grateful for my Bible study girls.  The Lord has blessed with with a wonderful group of women from all walks of life.  It's the neatest thing to watch how the Lord moves in their lives and it's such a blessing knowing that they have my back covered in prayer.  Not to mention the fact that they humor me and allow me to think that I am the "teacher" when the reality is that they teach me more than they know.  

the girls

Oh, by the way, if you're looking for a great group of women to dig a little deeper in the Word with, we'd love to have you join us!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thirty Days

It seems like forever since I've visited my little blog.  (Actually, it's been a little more than a year.  Time flies whether you are having fun or not.)

My daughter, Jessi, mentioned yesterday that she was preparing to participate in 30 days of thankfulness on her blog.  She did this last year on Facebook and enjoyed it but felt like she had more to say than the little blurbs on FB like to accommodate. Listening to her reminded me of my poor little neglected blog and renewed a desire within me to write a little.  After all, there certainly is plenty to be thankful for and I definitely could use the daily reminders.


I'm just not sure I can blog for 30 days straight.  Life is a lot more complex than it was a year or two ago (hence the prolonged absence).  I'm not the same person and I'm not even sure yesterday's me would recognize the me of today.  I'd like to give it a try though.  And maybe it'll give us a chance to catch up a bit.  So, here it goes. I am thankful for second chances, third and fourth chances and so on.  For the opportunity to begin again, wipe the slate clean, start over, pick up the pieces and move on....however you choose to phrase it.  Too many times I've started things with the best of intentions, only to have life intrude, distract or dismay.  If not for the grace of God, family, and friends, I don't know where I'd be.  
Romans 8:28