Sharing a Poem

My daughter loves to write poetry. I thought I would share one (below) that I found today.

We celebrated at dinner because it was 10 years ago today that she was discharged from the hospital after a 3 month stay. Thank you, Lord, for sparing her life and teaching her heart about You!

bringing baby home

meeting brother finally!
History repeated itself for Granddaddy whose own daughter was a micropreemie, too.
The Ways
Through the woods,
the rust train track,
Through the brush
in the looming black!
What do you see,
your companion and you?
All is total darkness
The nighttime on through.
The howls of the animals,
No moon or stars tonight.
No visible guidence over all the paths,
No visible sign of any light.
Is there a ditch just up ahead?
A boulder headed down?
No! We must keep going.
Sh! don’t make a sound.
Why are the woods so deadly dangerous?
Why is the sky so painfully black?
Where are we now, where are we?
(And I’m aching for a snack! 🙂 )
How would we know if we feel
A shiver or quake of eyes
Belonging to some woodsy-animal
Who may catch us by surprise?
Keep on going, though the obstacles.
Go the fierce deep miles on!
Don’t lay down to take a rest.
Don’t even begin to yawn.
You’re going to find it some time,
Because you believe that it’s true!
You were brave enough to start the journey,
Even over how the people mocked you!
If you just keep pressing forward,
And bravely don’t turn back,
You’ll be safe the whole way through,
Even though it’s a scary black.
You are in Virtuous hands, you know!
And they will hold you straight!
You will be able to go forward
If you believe…before it’s too late.
But you must believe before the morning,
Because when the time is near and the breeze
Is rough, you would have lost your only chance
To find the place with ease.
If you reached the place and did not trust,
You would be scarred and smashed.
And if you did not trust, you see,
The destination would now be trashed.
But if you did believe, you would
Reach the place all well and good, too.
And the place in which you’d find
Would be prepared for you.
Which way are you to choose?
Hurry! There’s not much time more!
And if you choose the worse way,
Your body will be sore.
If you choose the right way and trust Jesus,
You will see there is a light
That leads you down to Heaven’s gates
Where God is shining bright.
God may bring you through hard things
To lead you more to Himself and prayer.
But even through all these hard times,
He’ll bless you if you trust Him — layer after layer.
PSALM 105:1
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Summer Lessons

I’m finally remembering to do my summer wrap up post on how the Lord revealed Himself so mercifully to me during challenging times.

From the moment my husband planned our Europe trip, I dreaded it. I didn’t want to leave the children, I was anxious to travel overseas, and I am quite simply a homebody. I am a creature of habit and routine, and travel has always caused upheaval for me to leave my comfort zone. There are only a few exceptions, such as Florida, the Smokies, going to the lake, family camp, or other trips with my family. Nonetheless, I felt like it was the right decision to go, and I was encouraged to do so by many friends and family members.

Several times a week in the weeks prior to the trip, I would wake up in the night with an anxious heart, confess it to the Lord, acknowledge that this fear was not from Him, pray, quote Scripture, and return to sleep. Oftentimes, I would even wake up and scream out from crazy confusion in my sleep!

As the trip grew closer, my feelings of nervousness grew, the stress even manifesting itself in physical ways, but my decision to go was also certain. I would not back out. I was waiting to be surprised by how magnificent a trip it would be and to surely discover that my fears were unwarranted; somehow I expected to find out that maybe I would be a world traveler and be excited to plan future trips! I was also sort of waiting to be blessed for my “obedience” to go, if I’m honest!

No matter how much I had prayed about it during those weeks, there didn’t seem to be any kind of confirming word from the Lord speaking directly to my concerns. I just held on to what I knew was truth as found in the Bible, and I kept on in prayer, waiting for Him to help me. He did. There were nights I was comforted, nights I was blessed by reciting Scripture, and His presence was real. But I really wanted specific insight into how to handle this trip, and I didn’t have that.

Until the day before I left. June 13th. I love that about God. There is purpose in the waiting of learning to trust and obey Him, to believe Him even when we can’t see or know the outcome. And at the right time, He just provides exactly what is needed.

I was down in Memphis dropping off my children, planning to fly back to Chicago that afternoon to then fly the following day to Europe. It was a Sunday, and we did not make it to church. My mom’s friend called and said she wanted to bring by the CD of the sermon that she had just heard. It was by Reggie Sessions, pastor at Independent Presbyterian in Memphis. I’d never heard him before, but this was an excellent message from I Samuel 18, I believe. He talked about the slavery of living in our kingdom, the freedom of getting out of the way, and what we find at the end of the line.

In looking at the life of Saul, he described that it is when we live to protect our kingdom that we are bitter, jealous, resentful, angry — “it takes away our humanity,” he said, and we become a shell of a human being. We’re trying to be God and the center of our universes, and we’re bad at it. We want to be free, but we’re addicted to our kingdom.

He then talked about how we need to get out of the way. He looked at the life of Jonathan, Saul’s son, who surrendered to David’s kingship. He got off the throne and didn’t demand his rights. He laid his life into David’s hand, and gave David his sword, belt and bow.

Reggie described how we are at war with God, but we must surrender. We are fighting against Jesus the King and don’t want to surrender control of our lives. To stand down and be broken is the only way to liberation and peace of mind.

At the end of the line, there is nothing left to hide and no more attempts to control the world. This is where there is peace and joy. He described THE Person (Jesus) who got off His throne for us, who came to give us abundant life. When we surrender and go to the end of the line, “we get our true humanity back.” At the end of the line, it’s not loss, but gain.

What I found so convicting in the message was the description of one trying to control her life. Reggie said, “Some of you are too afraid to leave Memphis and all the things you love to go on a vacation.” It was funny how there were perfect quotes throughout the sermon that were completely accurate to my situation.

Later in the day, I was sitting in the Memphis airport delayed on my flight to Chicago. I began to pray and got out my journal to write my thoughts. They centered on the faithfulness of God: “Lord, You have been faithful!” I wrote a couple of paragraphs on His faithfulness and accompanying verses, then wrote, “You are asking me to do something so outside of my comfort zone, but I thank you for speaking to me, and I pray You will show me Yourself and reveal Yourself to me all along the way, just like You did with the sermon this morning.”

As I sat there, praying and listening, I wrote down what was on my heart: “Just take the next step. One step at a time. Wait on Me. Trust Me.

When I finally boarded the plane to Chicago a short time later, I opened up a book my mom had given me. It was The Saving Life of Christ by Ian Thomas. I’d never opened it before; it was a completely new book to me.

I opened the first page, and it said, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” (I Thess. 5:24) He then writes, “If you will but trust Christ, not only for the death He died in order to redeem you, but also for the life that He lives and waits to live through you, the very next step you take will be a step taken in the very energy and power of God Himself…. You will be restored to your true humanity.

Not only did the book begin by talking about the very contents of my prayer moments before — God’s faithfulness and my call to trust Him and take the next step — but it also re-affirmed the words in the sermon from Reggie — in so doing, you will be restored to your true humanity!

As I read this book, it absolutely amazed me that it spoke so directly to my current situation. As Ian Thomas developed life in the wilderness versus walking in abundance with Christ each day, he even wrote: “Do you still consider that you have the right to choose where you will spend your vacation? You do not have that right! Except in the wilderness!”

Over and over, the book spoke to my specific situation, and while I had waited for the Lord to speak to me, He so mercifully met me in such a powerful way.

The following day, June 14th, in traveling to Europe, I just did what He had shown me: take the next step. All I need to think about is the next step… not be worried about what is beyond it. So I would stand in the line to check my bags. All I need to do is check the bags. Then I would figure out boarding, and take that step. And the trip became just a series of steps wherein I could trust Him with each one.

When I was threatened to be overcome with fear, I could just remember He was with me, He is faithful, He would take me through this step, I could trust Him.

I hope I will hang on to these lessons as I go forward in my life. There were so many other things over the remainder of the summer, but these things really stick out to me. He is all we need, and He is more than enough. It is right to let Him be on the throne, to let Him guide us in each successive step, to believe Him for those moments and trust His sovereignty. He is faithful; He is good. I praise You, Lord!

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23 (ESV)

Faithfulness and Friends


I love seeing God’s faithfulness in the smaller details of our lives. When I flew down to Memphis for the funeral this summer, I realized I had nothing appropriate to wear to a funeral. I had a picture in my mind of what I would want — just a plain, basic black dress, sleeveless, knee length, fitted. As I considered where I might find it, Talbots was the only store I could think of that might have it. I dreaded spending the money for a dress.

I mentioned to a couple of family members that I would have to go out and get a dress. The next day, the day of the burial, my cousin walked up and said to me, “We’re bringing your dress over after this.” “What did she mean?” I wondered. “We have a dress we think will work,” she explained.

They walked in the house later and handed me a plain black dress, sleeveless, knee length, fitted, with a Talbot’s tag and my exact size on the label, exactly as I had pictured! What a blessing from the Lord! The very dress I imagined, I now had without spending a dime!

The morning of the funeral, my sister and I ran out to grab a couple of things we needed, one being shoes to wear with the dress. We ran in Dillard’s, and they had the perfect pair of black heels for $90! No, couldn’t do it, but I also didn’t want to drive around the city or shop.

My sister wanted to run in Target and suggested I glance at their shoes. We found shoes there identical to the ones at Dillard’s — leather black heels — exactly the same, except these were $25! I was so excited for this provision. I scanned all the boxes only to find they did not have my size. We asked for help; she looked in the back, found nothing, and printed a list of other stores. I was so disappointed. I knew I did not want to be out shopping and circling the city for every Target to find these shoes.

I left the aisle and went to another one and started to pray. I felt like the Lord had led us to these shoes and was making a provision for me. He knew our needs and that we did not want to be out shopping. I knew He was able to supply me with those shoes and meet that need. I asked Him to do so and wanted the faith to believe He would. I knew those shoes weren’t there, but I knew He could make it so they were.

I finished praying and went back to the shoe aisle to find my shoes. I began lifting shoes out of each and every box, no matter what size it said, and comparing sizes with the sizes listed on the box. And there I found my shoes in a 6 1/2 box! I was so thankful to the Lord for giving me exactly what I needed.

It also made me wonder about something: what do I not have because I have not asked? It’s not that God is just sitting there waiting to give me whatever I ask for; I understand that. But I so easily could have exited the Target store without asking or believing Him to do a thing. I could have traveled to more Targets until I found something, and maybe never known that He could have done this for me. What do I not have because I have not asked? I want to pray for faith to believe Him more.

One other sweet provision during this time were my friends. I have 3 friends whom I have known almost since birth; we all went to school together, graduated together. They all 3 live out of the state or country, 2 very far away. In God’s perfect timing, 2 were in town (or close enough to drive) at the time of the funeral, and my 3rd friend changed her day and drove over from Arkansas.

I really thought it wasn’t a big deal if they couldn’t make it — would never have even thought about it — but it was so dear to my heart that they all came! When I was standing in the receiving line at the church and looked up and saw the 3 of them together, I just burst into tears. How could we all have been apart for so long and all be standing together at one time? And how special it was to me that they would come to be with us on this occasion, that this mattered to them.

One of them commented to me later, “We think this is what heaven’s going to be like when we are reunited with so many.” I think she’s right. So thankful for lifelong friends. I don’t know how common it is to have these kinds of friendships, but I cherish them all greatly. I praise the Lord for His perfect provisions in my life, from the most significant one of rescuing me from my sins and giving me salvation through Christ, to all the little details of life. Thank you, Lord.

Special Day

10 years ago at this time, I was blessed with a miracle.


I had entered the operating room with a team of doctors who were prepared for the worst, and I left having had the best surgery imaginable given the circumstances. The chaplain who had come to visit me almost daily since my entry into the hospital 23 days earlier stood in that operating room and prayed. She came out and delivered the word to my extended family that everything had gone well. This is the girl for whom we prayed, so many prayed. In the days before blogs, twitter, Facebook, and Caring Bridge, somehow word spread and we had cards from all over the country and so many people praying. What a blessing for which we are forever grateful!


I think again today of those miracles we saw along the way. It is a reminder how times of suffering can draw you into greater knowledge of and intimacy with Almighty God. Without those experiences, we would not know Him as we do or believe He is the miracle working God that we know Him to be. I praise Him again today as I remember Him and how He revealed His power to us over and over again.

Psalm 145:6 “Men shall speak of the power of Thine awesome acts, and I will tell of Thy greatness.”

This particular birthday holds sadness for us, too. Poppy, my step-father — and may I just stop and say I’ve never liked the word “step.” It always connotes to me an image of some lack of closeness or lack of love for someone because they aren’t the original one, they aren’t the real one. That part is true, he wasn’t my real dad. But my real dad, through no choice of his own, died in a car wreck when he was 27 years old. I was 2 months old. I never knew him. This is the only earthly father I have known, and he has been in my life all along. I don’t think of him as “step” even though I know he was not my biological father and he had children and grandchildren of his own whom he dearly adored. He is known as “Poppy” to my children, one of their 4 grandparents.


Each year, Poppy and my daughter celebrate their birthdays a day apart, always with great joy. I remember when she was born and he first saw her in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, he told my mom he didn’t know whether to pray that she would live or die. He didn’t know if it would be better for her to go straight to Jesus than suffer what the days ahead would hold. As a mother, of course, I knew what I wanted everyone to pray — that she would live — but I understood that his thoughts were out of love for this little one. They formed a special bond as he had the chance to watch yet another “grandchild” grow up. And they loved this time of year, 2 birthdays in a row to celebrate.

So today we carry some sadness because Poppy went to be with his Savior and Lord 3 weeks ago. We grieve, but with hope because we know that we will be with him again. We know the certain facts of our salvation and the hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us. II Corinthians 5:21 says that “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus took our sins and gave us His righteousness, and it is available to all who believe. Poppy believed. We praise the Lord for this.

So today we celebrate, we remember, and we grieve, all with joy, thankfulness, praise, and hope. Thank you, Jesus.

Thankful

There are some things in life that always stay with you. They leave you so changed, and even when you’re not consciously thinking about it, it’s almost an ever present awareness. Then there are times that it all floods back.

I’ve been remembering a lot lately about my daughter’s birth. If you are squeamish, you might not want to look at the pictures. She was born at 27 weeks and spent her first 3 months of life in the hospital. Because I was under general anesthesia for the delivery, the first time I saw her was about 3:00 a.m. (after an afternoon delivery) when I was enough awake again and able to see clearly. She was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; I was in my own hospital room. I woke up excited to see the picture and asked my husband to turn on the lights and bring it over: “I can see now! Let me see her!” This is what I saw the first time I saw my daughter.


She was just over 2 pounds, and though this picture makes her look big, she was so small. She looked so much like my son did at birth, only obviously sick. They try to prepare you for a premature birth, and in some ways, I was, but not for that moment. I immediately cried and told my husband, “We have to pray right now.” We finished praying, and in walked the neonatologist. He had seen our light on and wanted to talk to us. He told us, “She’s touch and go.” She had had a reaction to the surfactant that they use to help the baby’s lungs, and they had sucked it back out, but she was extremely sick. He just wanted us to know.

Thus began the roller coaster ride that is the NICU, up and down moments for the next few months, life or death moments. When we saw her the following day, she was still lying on the little flat bed with what looked like saran wrap over it. That’s where they keep the preemies until they are stable enough for the incubator seen below. (By the way, I took pictures of pictures for this, so the flash makes some bright lights on these pictures.)


It’s so amazing to think a baby can be born this early and live! When she got home from the hospital, she looked more like this below — you can see her head had been often shaved for IVs and her muscles were very tight (the clinched fists). She was on an apnea monitor for a while, so you see the cord. And she was still pretty tiny, maybe 5 pounds here.


By Christmas time, she was 5 months old and about 7 1/2 pounds, and starting to look more like a normal baby. (That’s a flash glare on her head!)

It was a long couple of years. Here she is today, many miracles later, still small, but healthy.

There are times when it comes flooding back, and these last couple of weeks have been those times. I took her to her well check at the doctor’s last week. We talked about how well she has been these last 2 winters despite early asthma problems, and I realized how many health issues she has overcome. Though she never made her catch up growth, she is on the growth charts, even if just barely! These things make me very thankful to the Lord.

When I see that she has a mind that can think and she is doing well in school; when I see her heart for the Lord and love for Him; when I read the things she writes; when I see her work hard to run and keep up in P.E. (even if she comes in closer to the end), I am thankful. Thankful that this baby was healed to see and think and grow and live. Thankful to the Lord.

We had Fine Arts Day at school yesterday where the children could share their poetry and Scripture memory and hymns. In my daughter’s class, they recited Psalm 103 together, blessing the Lord that He forgives sin, heals diseases, redeems our lives from the pit, crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies, and satisfies us. Then each student recited one of the verses. The verses my daughter said (Psalm 103:17-18) were ones that were key verses for me in 2009 as I studied the fear of the Lord in depth that year.

She said, “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”

These were just promises I had reflected on and verses I had even shared in a video that I did for our school. Then to hear them coming out of her mouth — that those were the verses she was given to say alone — it was just a sweet blessing.

My heart is so full of the things He has done, the miracles He has worked, the things He has shown me. Great and marvelous are His works, mighty and powerful is He, and I praise Him and thank Him!

Psalm 145:6 “Men shall speak of the power of Thine awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness.”