Unoffended

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ, 
the Liberating King.

Do you know Him?

A few months ago I attended a special event coordinated by the singles ministry at our church. This singles event has prompted a journey in my life I could not have dreamed possible: the journey to discover what it means to live unoffended.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, a man known in charismatic circles as one of powerful healing came and share his story of how God redeemed him from a destructive pit and delivered him into a life of love. Todd White doesn’t believe that God won’t heal someone he prays for… Does that mean everyone gets healed? 

I don’t know. But, I’ve seen and experienced the powerful way this man administers the gifts God has entrusted him to express and offer. He ministers the Gospel of Jesus and walks in signs and wonders. Believe it or not – he reads his Bible and refuses to believe that what he reads about God is not relevant and valid today. He goes to malls and walks the streets of cities around the world offering God’s healing power to anyone who will receive it. He does not give up until he sees God move.

And if that were all, would that be enough? Todd was so radically healed and set free when he met Jesus that he walks the earth, advancing the Kingdom and giving away what he so freely received at salvation.

Todd’s testimony is amazing from FUGITIVE to GOSPEL FREEDOM FIGHTER. A prodigal, if there ever was one, now walking in victory as a son of the Most High God. I will refrain from indulging my desire to tell his entire story because it really is not the point of this article.

You know, I have come to realize in my life that you can argue points of theology, doctrine and the interpretations of learned scholars (men), but the one thing you cannot argue with is the good fruit that comes from one person’s testimony about God’s love, goodness and grace. Based on what I’ve seen of Todd White I cannot argue with the testimony of his faith.

That night as one of my favorite worship leaders stood on the stage and poured out her heart like oil before the Lord, my heart opened to receive. As Todd took the platform I realized how much God must delight in this man who donned a Hawaiian shirt, Fivefinger shoes, and lots…

Did I say LOTS?

Yes, Lots. and Lots. Of dread locks. He’s a simple man who walks in the simplicity of his utter faith in God and walks also in great authority and power. Not puffed up with pride, but doused and immersed in love and humility.

Where was I? Oh yeah... He took the stage, and this man who looks like he has lived some rough, rough life steps up and starts to speak.

“Whoa! That was worship. Do you feel that? I mean…” He begins to weep. “You shouldn’t sing that stuff if you don’t mean it. Don’t sing it if you don’t believe what those words say… You shouldn’t sing it, man. It’s sick if you do.”

I found myself nodding in agreement and crying along with him. So true.

If I tell you Todd White got all up in my business with his next point, I would not be lying at all. HE. GOT. ALL. UP. IN. MY. BUSINESS. Y’ALL. 

He said, “I am unoffendable. I cannot be offended. I walk in love. I live by love and I choose not to be offended. Forget about boundaries, forget about protecting people – if you walk in love – you cannot be offended and you won’t hurt people.”

Uh-huh. If you are shaking your head, you are beginning to get how I and a number of my friends in that audience felt that night. It’s one of those moments when your heart says, “YES!” And your head says, “NO WAY!”

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ,  the Liberating King. Do you know Him?

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ,
the Liberating King.
Do you know Him?

I remember thinking: I didn’t know that was even possible! 

Yet, as Todd shared his story I could not get past that one thing. I began to ask God, “What does it look like to live unoffended? ”

As the few weeks that followed led to Christmas I wrestled with God much like Jacob did at Peniel. I came under conviction for all the judgments and offenses I continued to carry. All the times I have uttered the words, “Well, I don’t know about that, but you know she…”

Yeah, that’s me, guilty. I’ve done it over and over. Yes, I eventually move to forgiveness. Forgiveness, and not just in the sense I say what they did doesn’t matter or that it is okay, but forgiveness as in I sit before God and acknowledge what the specific person did that offended me. I acknowledge how that made me feel, and I confess any judgments I’ve made against them as a result. I also acknowledge that in and of myself I have absolutely no power to forgive. At the end of all of that, I choose by an act of my will to give every bit of it to Jesus, who earned the right to take that offense and all of its effects along with my judgments off of me and put them on the cross. Then I ask Jesus to give me something in exchange.

Now, it would be nice to sit here and confess right after that moment when I receive from Jesus life-giving power to overcome offense that the issue never arises again. But, that would not be true. I remember one particularly difficult year when I was nursing a broken heart and a particularly grievous offense that threatened a vital relationship in my life. I chose by an act of my will to engage God’s heart of forgiveness early in the journey through that valley of betrayal. But, before I even got to that forgiveness prayer, I sat in my car the night I learned of the offense and prayed, “God I cannot forgive ____________ right now, but You can. I don’t even know what is going on yet. But, You do. So, God I ask You to forgive _____________ and then work that out in me. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

I believe had I not set my heart on forgiving this loved one that very night this story would have come to a very different conclusion.

But, after that day a few weeks later when I engaged my will to embrace God’s grace and mercy, the wound remained like a surgical incision working through the process of healing. Stitched as it was, if you got to close and bumped up against it – it bled, it ached, it throbbed and it even tortured my heart. I would run into the one place I could be alone – the “toilet closet” and sit there on the closed lid of our commode rocking and praying, confessing Scripture until the moment passed. I would say, “Remember… God. Remember, I forgave ___________. We did this. Help me, God. Help me to heal.”

That season changed my life. But, not like this new season is changing my life. 

Right after Christmas an offense rose up between someone else close to me. And God used that as an opportunity to bring Todd’s words from a month earlier home to me. What does it mean to live unoffended? 

After several days, I remembered something that had helped me through the earlier episode where forgiveness became so relevant and healing to me. A pastor I respect and admire sat in a board room and shared about grace.

He said, “God’s grace is what it is. You can’t out-sin it. You can’t undo it. You can’t earn it. You can’t take advantage of it. It is what it is. Once you receive it you cannot lose it.” 

Powerful. Right? I sat there as revelation poured over me like a soothing wash of anointing oil. I knew he wasn’t saying that grace is a license to sin – but, that it covers sin and forgives it. As he spoke I began to feel this awareness come over me so I raised my hand.

He smiled and nodded for me to speak.

“So, what I hear you saying is that if I try to forgive someone out of my grace, they can take advantage of that, they can hurt me with that – because my grace is not unconditional, it is not free. But, if I forgive someone out of God’s grace at work in me, then they can’t take advantage of me or hurt me with it because it was never mine to give in the first place. It is up to God to take care of that – and He is a God of grace.”

The pastor smiled. He picked up his pen and said, “Would you say that again?”

I did.

He then responded. “So, what I hear you saying is that you are not going to be codependent on someone else’s response any longer. You’re not going to live codependent anymore.”

I just nodded and smiled. “That’s right.”

I needed to immediately let go of the thing that hurt me in what my loved one had done. So, I chose not to let it offend me.

Wait. What was that? You read that right. I chose not to let it offend me. 

You are probably asking what I asked that night when Todd White first illuminated this topic for me. “Can you choose not to be offended?”

And, my testimony, is yes. Yes, you can.

In the days that followed God showed me that His heart is that we remain unoffended so we need not forgive. You see, I cannot control what other people say and do to me or around me, but I can control how I respond to it.

Bitterness, prolonged unforgiveness, is like a weed in a lush green lawn. If you let it go unchecked, soon it will take over the entire yard and destroy the beauty that is planted there and instead replace it with dry and drab unsightly scrags that creep along the ground choking the life out of everything around it. Oh… I know I may be stepping on some toes, but it is just where I am in all of this.

If I allow offenses to take root in my heart, at some point I have to go and dig them out. If I don’t they become a root of bitterness that covers up all the beauty God intended for me to receive in this life and contaminates the lives of all those around me. Can I just say weeding the garden is a LOT of work?

So what if we tended the garden by choice, and refused to allow those weedy seeds of offense to enter in the first place?

What I have learned is this… I can walk unoffended, unaffected, by the choices and offenses of others. I must guard my heart and take responsibility for what I allow to take root in it. I am only responsible for what I allow the actions and words of others to do to my heart. I cannot change them, but I can change me – and if I remain unoffended I can pray for them and what it is that is hurting them to be revealed and healed. AMEN?

Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. ~Proverbs 4:23 (The VOICE)

In Full Bloom,

Michelle sig

 

 

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Just before Easter I ran across the following video that moved me beyond what words can adequately expressed. It is powerful! Life like that.

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A Journey of Faith: Beginning with Hope

Beginning with Hope

“He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

Psalm 113:9 ESV

I read this scripture over and over while I struggled with infertility.  I wondered what my home would consist of and who my children would be.  Would they be my own children from my own womb?  Would they be children that God engrafted into our line?  At that point I didn’t know.  I only knew that I longed for children.  You can read more of that story here.

Then almost seven years into our marriage, I gave birth to our first! Within eight years more, we would have four children.  And I would desperately seek to know HOW to be a good mother and to train them in wisdom. From scriptures to books to wise women and men God placed in my path along the way, I would gain such gems that I never could have come up with on my own.  I also daily refer to the first chapter of James and remind God that I lack wisdom and that I’m asking.  I ask on each of their behalves. I ask because I do not know.

But one thing I DO know.  I would find out just a couple of years ago that it should have been impossible for me to have children or to feed them…but with God?  Well, HE makes the impossible, possible. So if God saw that I should have children, He would give me and my Chris everything we need to raise them.

You see, God’s provision is not always about finances or food.  Sometimes, His loaves and fishes look a lot like my children. As my friend Michelle reminded me, God’s provision, His enough, His name even–Jehovah Jireh–all point back to Him!  That God Himself will be seen.  When Jesus divided the young boy’s lunch and fed thousands, God was SEEN. So I have stopped praying for His provision.  I have prayed only that He may be seen.  As I unfold this story before you, friends, I pray that God will be not only SEEN, but known by His act of bending low to feed each of us.

Our Four "Impossibles"I began with hope for children.  I sowed that hope deep in prayer.  I watered that hope with my own tears.  He brought forth FOUR of our own. We do not take God’s SEEN-NESS lightly. Daily, we seek to teach them more and more of the character of our GREAT GOD.

…the God who LOVES.

…the God who LIVES.

…the GOD who DOES the impossible.

…the GOD who seeks to engraft us ALL into His Story.

I will write more of this story on Friday…I daresay it will take a few posts to get it all in. Stay tuned, ’cause you do not want to miss the WONDER of our BIG GOD!

This story is a continuation of Michelle’s story that she shares here and here…a story about how our painting came to be and why.

With eyes wide-open in amazement,

Holly winter2012

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Meditation on Psalm 28

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Psalm 28

1To you, O LORD, I call;

I utter Your holy name with expectation and fear.

my rock, be not deaf to me,

You are the only One on whom I can stand.  PLEASE hear me.

lest, if you be silent to me,

I become like those who go down to the pit.

Our conversations -made possible through Your Son – are what set me apart from this world.

 

2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,

I cry for mercy…I beg for undeserved grace in my time of need.

when I cry to you for help,

When You are all I have…

when I lift up my hands

toward your most holy sanctuary.

When You are all I want…I surrender.

 

3Do not drag me off with the wicked,

with the workers of evil,

Those who get what they deserve,

who speak peace with their neighbors

while evil is in their hearts.

Those who speak counterfeit words to contradict the fullness of their hearts.

 

4 Give to them according to their work

and according to the evil of their deeds;

Let Your justice reign.

give to them according to the work of their hands;

render them their due reward.

Grant what they desire and deserve.

 

5Because they do not regard the works of the LORD

or the work of his hands,

They don’t acknowledge all You’ve done and all You do.  They give You no glory for creation.

They give You no thought as they go about their fleeting days.

he will tear them down and build them up no more.

Destruction is coming.

 

6Blessed be the LORD!

You are content in Your own holiness and pleased to offer grace.  Worthy of Praise!

For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

You promised You would never leave me!  You promised to answer when I call!

 

7The LORD is my strength and my shield;

When I am weak, Your power sustains and protects me.

in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

Some trust in fame and fortune and safety and self.

I trust in You alone.  You alone are my solution and Savior.

my heart exults,

Everything in me leaps for triumphant joy!

and with my song I give thanks to him.

I will sing a new song…a humble heart and grateful lips are my offering.

 

8The LORD is the strength of his people;

Without Almighty God, we can accomplish nothing.

he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

We can run to You because You are our place of safety.

 

9Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!

Continue to rescue Your children and assign to us Your priceless inheritance!

Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Lead us, guide us, protect us, carry us always for eternity.

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How a Hobby Can Make Dreams Come True

How a Hobby Can Make Your Dreams Come True

If you have a hobby, what if that hobby could turn into something really big and change the course of your family?   As moms, we make excuses and listen to those lies all too often.  And, sometimes we hide behind our family because it’s easier than facing our fears.  Fear of making that hobby something bigger can sometimes get in your way.  You never know what taking that leap of faith can do for your future.

I’d do it for free.  Truly.  Ask my husband and he’d tell you the same thing.  I love what I do and even if I didn’t get paid, I’d still do it.  It’s a hobby that turned into a career.  Let me explain…

My best friend’s husband bought P90X and had a great transformation.  The P90X company asked them to be Founding Coaches (representatives of the company who could earn off their sales of P90X).  My best friend asked me if I wanted to join them and I said “no”.  I’d been approached by tons of companies to “sell things” and I didn’t want to.  A few months later, she told me about how the company gave free customers so I listened again.  I knew I needed some accountability for my health, as I didn’t want to continue the legacy of diabetes in my family.  If I could earn a little money, too…that’d be great.

And so my hobby began.  Working out to Beachbody products, helping others join my health journey, meeting amazing people, and earning some pretty good money.  My cup was overflowing.  Then, it happened…we began to dream for the first time in our marriage.  Possibilities became realities.  The income I was receiving opened up new doors we had never expected.

I remember sitting in the car asking my husband, “If you could do anything, what would you do?”  (Again, a conversation that never would have happened before I started my hobby.)  “I’d work for Compassion International,” he said.  Two weeks later, Compassion called and the interview process began.  Really.  True story.

Weeks went by and an offer was on the table.  Take it, right?  Well…God didn’t give Jeffrey a peace at that time so he declined.  He told me, “If it’s meant to be, God will bring it back around.”  Yeah, right…like it’ll come back around.

The following May, Compassion called again and the interview process began again.  That September, Jeffrey left his CIO Position with owning 5% of the company in 4 years, to working in IT for Compassion.  2/3 pay?  Sure!  Because my hobby was matching his new salary.

Obviously, I did treat my hobby like a business but if you peel it back…it still is a hobby to me.  I’m still a stay at home mom and get to be with my kids.  Not only has my hobby grown 2.5 times since we’ve been in Colorado, it has allowed us to travel, buy a house, pay for a remodel of that house, and have a substantial savings for the first time in our married life.  My hobby has relieved stress from my husband to be the sole bread winner of our house…which is a huge gift.

But, what my hobby has done more importantly is allowed us to dream!  Dream for our future.  Dream things that only God could put in our minds.

It may be time for you to turn that hobby into more.  It might be hard.  You might be scared.  You might fall and have to get back up.  I believe God wants us to grow and dream. Are you ready?

 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4

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He Knows

He knows

It isn’t just the big answers I hear…sometimes, I hear God’s answers to me in the littlest of things–things that only HE knows I think about.

Like the blue bird–I saw one flit across the road in front of my car the other day.  He knows I look for them.  He knows I find hope for spring in seeing them.  He knows how I love the deep, rich blue color.  He knows I sigh, when I see them.

Or the first, new leaf-buds on our trees–my Heavenly Father knows how I search for them and long for winter’s end.  He knows I am like a kid in a candy store, seeing the new growth, springing fresh and new.  He knows that it never gets old for me.

When a tumbleweed blows across my path, God knows that I grin from ear to ear.  There’s something about a tumbleweed that I dearly love.

Or when the geese fly over, He knows I will turn off all sounds in the car (A/C or heater and radio) and roll down my windows.  He knows I strain to hear them honk.  He knows I watch for them all year-long.

He knows how I listen for the sounds of the first snow-melt in Rocky Mountain National Park, how the sound of an elk bugling makes my heart leap, how the breath of my children sleeping amazes me…He knows.

And sometimes, if we look and listen, we notice that He knows. For a tiny moment, we feel the nearness and fellowship of God, who walks with us daily and woos us to Him. I believe that is why being still and knowing that He is God is life-giving, life-renewing and subtle conversation with the Living LORD.  Nothing like knowing that He knows…us.

“THE HEAVENS declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork. Day after day pours forth speech, and night after night shows forth knowledge.”

Psalm 19:1-2 AMP

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Whooo?

Whooo?

Who?

Who?

I heard the question tonight as it echoed through the trees, thrown out by the night bird, seeing all, turning every which way.  It was answered by the night songs of nature–the crickets and bullfrogs, the rushing waters, the silent sparkle of the night sky.

Who?

Who?

It asked over and over again.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. (Ps 19:1-2)

Who?

Who?

Is it one of those questions that he already knows the answer to?

Who?

Who?

Who put the stars there?  Who covered the moon so that only a tiny slip would be hanging there tonight?  Who told the waters they could go so far, but no further?

Who?

Even when His people hold their tongues….all nature proclaims…..

It is God!

His song is for you.  Hear it, receive it, acknowledge it, savor it, tell it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Knitting Something New

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Lately, I have been knitting a good bit.  I have been learning to knit for four years now.  It takes me a long time to knit each dishcloth, blanket or scarf. So if I was going for cheap and quick, I guess it be better to just go to the store and buy one!  But I’m going for substance unseen–into each gift, I weave life and prayer.

Perhaps the one receiving it may think, “Is this all?” Well, then they are missing the point.

So far, I have learned several new knitting stitches and have been actively knitting scarves.  I knew they wouldn’t be ready this past Christmas–again, I am slow–but they should be ready at the end of this new year for gifts. As I stitch, I pray for the one I am knitting and I pay attention to the directions, lest I miss something and have to start all over (believe me, I have re-done and re-done). It is an act, if you will, of worship.

Yesterday, the Lord planted a new idea in my heart.  It hasn’t yet come to fruition, as it is just a seed of thought.  But it is something about knitting and something that affects me and you.

I was praying about God’s vision and intent for me–and for you.  As I prayed I began to thank the Lord for the prayers of my soul that are unspoken–that I know and the prayers of my heart that He alone knows.  It’s as if He is forming and knitting intention in me.

What that intention may be, I am not yet sure.  But I know this.  Just as He forms a baby in the womb and knits and cares for that little one, He is knitting some wonderful life in us. Some of that life is yet to be revealed. But He knows it and delights over it–and someday, He will breathe afresh into us and He will show us.

He says that He knows the plans He has for us…He knows! And they are plans to prosper us–do you really believe that? They are plans that will not harm us–even bankruptcy, Lord? They are plans to give us a hope and a future! (Jeremiah 29:11)

As I read in Job this morning, I filtered the little seed God began to show me yesterday through this reading.  And I have to tell you, God has not changed from that moment to what He spoke to Jeremiah. He is the same and has the same way of doing things, the same heart for us, the same plans to prosper and not harm.  So what about Job?  What about the loss he went through?  What about the pain he experienced? What about the doubters that surrounded him–even his own wife? And I know that God filtered through loving hands the life of Job and the loss off Job and the beautiful restoration of Job at the end.

I cannot really speak for Job, but this I know.  The life we have experienced over the past few years has been difficult. The culmination ending in bankruptcy 3 years ago was hard.  But I need to tell you–and I need you to believe this–we were not harmed by it. It was difficult and hard and no fun, but it was with the sight in God’s eye of giving us a hope and a future. My friends, we are prospering from the things we learned during that season.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

The whole counsel of God’s Word is always necessary before we can understand the picture of His ways. He is the God, who makes a new way in a desert, of all places. He knits your life and mine together in beautiful new-ness.

I don’t know about you, where this finds you today.  But can you trust that the God unseen is doing something unseen and knitting new life and intent into your life?  Can you hold onto just that? Well, it’s a beginning. I pray that He will reveal to you the wondrous act of His knitting over your life this day.

The reveal is well worth waiting for!

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Listen, My Son….

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At some point in time during the journey of being a parent, we all have that moment where we throw our hands up and wonder if we are going to be able to survive parenting young children.  I was no exception.

I was blessed with two beautiful children, Sally and Adam.  While I was pregnant with Adam, my husband decided to move us from my hometown in Tennessee to his hometown in Florida.  We waited until Adam was at least 3 months old before making the move, then we packed up everything and took off for the coast and white beaches.

I was afraid of leaving home.  My family was just a few miles from me at the time and I relied on them as my support system.  In Florida and later Alabama, I would have no one.  During those “terrible two” years that Adam seemed to stretch into about 6 years, I was constantly calling my mother and seeking her advice on how to handle this wild child.  He was one of those that “pitched a fit” with hair pulling, throwing things, and all out assault on anyone or anything in his path.  These “fits” lasted well into the year that Adam was in the first grade.  I remember that year as having lots of tears, for all of us.

The phone calls to my mother were pretty regular, with the same question…”how do we survive this?” I knew she was the expert because she had raised two fine young men.  I offered to make a deal with her, she could raise Adam and I would take him back once he was through that season of his childhood.  (I was only half joking when I suggested that.  We had just left Wal-Mart, where Adam had attempted to jump out of the buggy, was pulling everything off the shelves, hitting at me, screaming bloody murder…simply because he wanted to look at the toys before we got groceries.  We left without anything that day and somewhere there is a surveillance video that could possibly win us $10,000 on some TV show.)

The other fear I had in raising a son was how to raise him as a godly man.  Not to belittle my husband in any way, but to speak a truth that many women find themselves in….my husband left the spiritual training of our children to me.  Over the years, he has taught Adam many things, how to shoot a gun, work on a vehicle, how to build things…you know, guy stuff.  However he’s never spoken to him about spiritual matters.  So as we traveled into the season of time when Adam was most formidable and acceptable of spiritual matters, I worried and prayed.  My greatest fear was how to show honor to my husband, and yet teach my son to do things he didn’t see his dad doing.

Adam was just starting middle school when God answered my prayer and placed in my husband a desire to move us again….back to my hometown, back to my family.  When I asked him why he wanted to move, his words were always the same.  He wanted for our children what I had growing up, life on the farm, with family all around.

My mother reminded me about my comment years before regarding having her raise Adam.  She never took me up on the offer, but she knew that now I could get the help I needed….but not from her….from my dad.  I don’t know if it is a proven fact or not, but it has been my experience that mothers raise daughters and dads raise the sons.  My son needed a godly dad to raise him and my dad stepped up to the plate.

Adam will graduate from high school in May.  I was at a recent community event and several mothers came to me to speak praise over the man they saw my son becoming.  They talked about something they saw different in him than in most kids his age.  His dad had taught him lessons that will take him through life, I will not discredit those lessons.  But as I have watched over the past few years, it is Adam’s grandfather that I see having the most godly influence on him.  Those lessons added to what his dad has taught him are making him not only a good boy, but a godly man.

I know that there are other women in the same situation as I was in, either with a spiritually absent husband or raising their children on their own completely.  If you have boys, I fully believe that they need a godly male influence in their lives.  I’ve watched something happen in my son, a maturity that comes, not just from years of physical  and mental growth.  I’ve seen him talking over life with a man that has learned that no matter how much money you make or what your professional title is, success in life depends on spending time with the Lord, seeking His guidance in decisions, following His will for your life.

Adam doesn’t tell me what he and his Papa talk about when they are working on the tractors together or in the hay field together, or working the cows.  But my dad tells me he never misses an opportunity to speak godly wisdom over him.

That’s what a boy needs in his life, a man willing to talk God with him.

I snapped these two pictures of my son and my dad.  The first one was when Adam was 3.  We were on a short nature walk in Colorado and Adam had just “thrown a fit” and refused to go another step.  My dad encouraged Adam to walk with him.  Daddy never let go of Adam’s hand and helped him over fallen trees, small creeks, and through the woods.  The other photo was taken this spring on another nature walk in Gatlinburg.  I see this scene played out over and over, and I am so thankful for how God answered some prayers of a worried mother and He sent a godly influence into my son’s life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen, my sons, to a father’s discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding…..Listen my son. Accept my words, and you will live many years. I am teaching you the way of wisdom; I am guiding you on straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, when you run, you will not stumble.

Proverbs 4:1, 10-12 HCSB

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Ebenezer Stone

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(Pictures: Family on Thanksgiving 2003 (Our fourth child, a baby girl, came along as our beautiful and joyous gift in 2006) and finally our Ebenezer stone (actually petrified wood, which is wood changed to stone, so it’s quartz-like) in our front yard moved all the way from East Texas to Colorado–a very heavy rock!



It was late November 2003 right before Thanksgiving. Tabor was only 4 1/2 months old, Noah, 5 and Kylie, 4. Chris began to have pains in his stomach. He went to the doctor twice before Thanksgiving to no avail.

Thanksgiving day, we are at Chris’ parents house and Chris is not eating. We should have taken him to the emergency room right then and there. No good southern boy misses his Mom’s best dish–Sweet Potato Casserole done-the-right-way. He didn’t eat at all that weekend. His stomach hurt. He took hot baths. Nothing would help. On Sunday, he began to run a fever at my parents’ house. I was very worried. I remember crying, “I think you’re going to die. You need to go to the doctor. What if it’s cancer or something?”

So on Monday morning, Chris took his truck to work. We lived 40 minutes away from his work and 45 from the hospital/ doctor’s office. He was going to get into the doctor’s office as soon as he could. On I-20, his truck broke down (pump module driver went out). His parents came and gave Chris their ’88 Suburban. Chris went to work. When he finally got in the doctor late that morning, they gave him something to drink and were running an MRI on him at 4 pm. So Chris slept in the bed of the Suburban. I got a call at 5:30 from Chris. They were keeping him through the night, but couldn’t tell him what was wrong, yet. Finally about 7 pm, I heard that Chris was having a laparoscopic appendectomy. No one was there with him.

At 10:30 pm, the doctor called. He began, “He’s not out of the woods, yet.”

I asked “Should I come up there?”

He said “Someone should be here!”

Oh my, I didn’t realize how very serious it was. Then came the doctor-talk. Basically, Chris’ appendix had been ruptured for 3-4 days and it had solidified (so the poison did not spread to his bloodstream).

They had opened Chris up immediately and took a part of his intestine, as well. His brother went up and stayed the night, since I had the kids asleep.

I drove to the hospital every day for 7 days, spent the day with Chris and then went home. The oldest two kids had preschool, and friends and family helped. Baby Tabor went with me to the hospital.

Chris looked at us and didn’t really care about anything. He really was not with us. I took him home and took care of him for the next month or so. Christmas was a blur, but I went and got a tree, bought new lights for it and decorated it. I took the kids to school and lived life in a blur.

January 12th rolled around. Chris went back to work! He was very slow with his “shark bite” incision healing, but numb. The following Sunday we did our blessing box with the kids. We had so much to be thankful for! Then we all went out and signed & dated our Ebenezer stone. We thanked God and said, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

The next Christmas rolled around. I began to remember the year before and then Chris said, “Where did those Christmas lights come from?” I began to cry. “You weren’t really with us last year, were you?” “I guess not,” he said.

God has been unbelievably gracious to us. I remember the prayer I prayed during that time, “Lord, I’m weak. YOU be strong.” I said it over and over again. I am thankful also for so many who prayed. Indeed, many stood in the gap for my Chris! God was strong. He IS and He will be.  Our HELP is He.

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