It has been over a year since I’ve written a post. I’m sorry. 2019 was a difficult year in many ways. The first half of the year was hard, but the second half of the year was 100 times worse. I wasn’t sure if we would make it through without devastating losses in our family.
But God! He was my comforter, my sustainer, my guide and my hope.
I was excited to begin a new year. 2020 seemed to start with bright prospects full of focus. We began by cleaning out closets, drawers and our entire kitchen. Having lived in our home for 27 years it was time to tackle this as if we were moving. We loaded up a car full of items to donate which felt so good. We were on a roll…
But God! He had different plans.
He knew all along that this year would be interrupted with a world-wide pandemic. We have been sheltering-in-place for 6 weeks now. One would think we would have our home completely organized and clean by now. But one would be wrong to make such an assumption. It seems 2019 was a partial eclipse that lasted longer than a normal one. Then 2020 arrived with a total eclipse–an eclipse of my heart.
Last year our family was unable to gather together due to many health restraints. This year we are unable to gather together due to a worldwide lockdown. I am tempted to be sad for the times together we are missing.
But God! In our sadness He wants to draw our hearts closer to Him.
And He has. An eclipse makes you realize how much light is available even at night. If you take the moon’s reflection of the sun away, the night is so much darker. I am grateful for the moon, the stars and the glorious sunshine. Life has slowed, but my heart is no longer eclipsed. God’s kindness has dawned brighter and brighter to us, to our children and to our grandchildren. The two words that mean so much to me now are…
But God! He has slowed our schedules to enlarge our hearts towards Him.
He is the our bright and morning star bringing with each day new mercies from which to draw. And His mercies never fail.
How is God helping you each day? Let’s share and in so doing bring Him the glory He deserves.
Yesterday I was given an unbelievable honor. I was asked to speak at the funeral of the pastor who led me to the Lord. It was a privilege I didn’t take lightly. I prayed that God would help me capture with words what this man meant to me, and that He would give me the strength to read it. He answered my prayer and following is what I shared.
Anyone who knew Dick Milham was impacted by his love for the Lord, for people and for life itself. He was a faithful friend and made himself available to our family on countless occasions.
Our family started going to Powers Drive Baptist Church in the early 60‘s when I was only 4 years old. I don’t remember when Pastor Milham started leading our church, but I’m grateful God sent him to us.
The year was 1969. I was ten years old and sitting in the pew between my mom and dad as I did each and every Sunday. But this time when the familiar hymn began to play–
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
My heart nudged me to go forward. I was afraid, so I asked my Dad to walk with me. When we got to the front, Pastor Milham met me and said he wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing and that there was no hurry. He asked if I could come to his office and discuss what this decision would mean for me? I said ok.
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one, dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Over the next three weeks I went to his office while this dear man with a huge heart for young people explained the Gospel. He made it clear that this decision would change my life forever. And it did!
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, All I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Once he knew I understood the decision I was making and what Christ had done for me, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized on December 21, 1969.
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
I’ve know many friends over the years who, as adults, were re-baptized because they said they didn’t understand what they were doing when they were young. Because of Pastor Milham’s kindness and patience with me I have never had that experience. I knew exactly what I was doing and it has been the foundation of my life to this day.
My sister, Bettie, shared this memory she had with me and said how it has helped her countless times throughout her life when facing trouble.
During a Sunday message Pastor Milham must have been going through some tough times and shared this analogy with the church: He got in a boat and rowed out into this big lake to have time alone with the Lord and maybe he could get some answers. As he was out there a big storm blew up all the sudden. As he saw the far shore line he started to get worried about getting back to shore, but noticed a piece of paper in the lake a few yards from him. He heard the Lord tell him to row for that paper, then there was another and then another and before he knew it he was back on shore. He realized then the lesson the Lord was teaching him, there may be something really big and almost unreachable in front of you but if you take it step by step or paper by paper and keep your eyes on the task you will get there.
Just as I am, though, tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Pastor Milham was the real deal. He shared his life with all of us, and was there for all the moments when we needed him most. He came right away when my Dad was dying from brain cancer and sang by his bedside because my dad loved to hear him sing. There were no accolades, no audience’s applause, just my dad needing to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.
Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
Pastor Milham, you are now before the throne of God and your faith has been made sight. What a celebration must be taking place as all of those who were influenced by your life, faith and love, have welcomed you home.
I am forever grateful for the foundation of Truth you laid for me that I am still standing on today. I pray my life will influence others for God’s glory the way your’s has impacted mine.
I have done it for years, and it has always been a happy habit that I enjoy. It has been easy for me to remember dates on the calendar and special things that happened on that day 1, 5, or even 10 years ago because I have journaled consistently for nearly 3 decades. My husband and I still celebrate our first date, the day he proposed and our wedding anniversary.
Thirteen years ago the dates on the calendar began taking a sad turn for me–my dad died on January 3, 2004; My daughter moved out-of-state with her husband and three children in May of 2011; My Mom passed away on December 15, 2012; My son moved to TN with his wife and three children on March 24, 2014; the list goes on and on.
This year we’ve faced more challenging dates on the calendar–my Mother-In-Law fell and broke her hip, our daughter needed surgery and it was scheduled right between Christmas and New Years Day. Not to mention the friends who have moved, friends who have endured incredible suffering and life-threatening illnesses.
What used to be a fun habit can now at times bring torment and despair. It’s all on how I choose to remember. A friend recently gave me a plaque with this quote on it by Dr. Seuss. It says,
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
I tend to look back and remember precious times that are no more and feel sad. God is helping me to change this habit, but old habits don’t die easy. I don’t know if I’ll ever celebrate Christmas without remembering my parents and what my siblings and I walked through with them on the road to eternity. It was the most precious hardship I’ve ever endured.
Isn’t that how it is with life? We long for the happy moments, but it is the intensely sad ones that often become the most precious to us. Most of life’s important lessons we learn come to us through tears.
What dates on your calendar bring you joy? Tears? Do you think it’s good to remember or better to forget? I’ve decided it’s good for me to remember, but to limit those things on which I allow myself to dwell. Remembering the hard parts may not be the best for me. I must choose instead to remember what I learned through it all and focus on that!
This year I pray I’ll be more aware of how quickly my heart attaches to dates and their meaning on the timeline of my life, and resist the downward spiral of emotions that comes so easily to me. I want to instead remember the good with smiles of gratefulness for what once was and let go of the weight of regret for how things have changed. Life is too short to look back unless it is to give thanks to God for it all.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading with my own eyes. There I was sitting at my computer reading a message addressed to me on Ancestry.com from a man with the same first name as my Dad’s, saying we were a 1st or 2nd generation match through our DNA. What?!
Although I was shocked, it wasn’t a complete surprise to me. My Mom had told us just weeks before she died in 2012 that my brother, sister and I had a half-brother somewhere out there. News which at the time I didn’t understand or appreciate, but now I’m grateful to God that she didn’t let this secret die with her. She said all she knew was he was a boy and he was named after my Dad.
Mom had purchased a DNA test kit through Ancestry.com to have a documented sample of our family’s DNA on the site where she had invested so much time recording our genealogy through the years. Unfortunately, due to her advanced illness, she was unable to do the test. I told her before she died that I would do the test and send it in so her investment didn’t go to waste. Low and behold, it was my DNA that matched this man’s DNA who was contacting me cautiously through the Ancestry website.
My first reaction was uncontrollable tears. Then I called my brother and sister to see what they wanted me to do with this information. We all agreed to contact him and see where it would take us.
I discovered the man contacting us wasn’t our brother, but his son. Of course, I wanted to be sure his dad knew he had contacted us and that he wanted to meet. After double-checking we were happy to hear he was as excited to meet us as we were to meet him. We connected on Facebook–an amazing tool God used in such a marvelous way. We shared stories, photos and joy–much joy.
Finally, this past Saturday night we planned for us all to meet for dinner. The anticipation was palpable on both sides. Thanks to social media I have this photo of my newly discovered brother waiting for us to arrive at the restaurant.
The first hug was surreal since Stan looks so much like my Dad. The conversation was non-stop as we told our stories of how we had come to this place at this moment in time. We all had an overwhelming sense of God’s kindness to bring us together. The server at the restaurant did a great job keeping the food and drinks coming, and when we told her our amazing story, she joined in our joy.
My Mom always said, and I’ve quoted this in my book, “When someone dies a library of information dies with them, unless someone takes the time to write it down.” How grateful I am that Mom didn’t let this secret die with her. Although it wasn’t understood at the time she told us, she was caring for us by letting us know that she knew of my Dad’s past and was okay with it. This allowed us to fully embrace our brother with gratitude as a gift from God.
There are so many more dots I could connect of God’s faithfulness to bring us to this point, but suffice it to say–
“The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” – Psalm 126:3 ESV
I’ve been thinking about how God has allowed me to see the biggest dream of my life come true–I wrote, edited, completed and published the book I had in my heart to do for 25 years. And I couldn’t have done it without my Mom, my husband and my writing group. The support of others in making a dream come true is crucial.
The quote used in my title is from the Disney movie, Cinderella. Her life was certainly one of abuse and unfulfilled dreams, yet she never stopped hoping. Her dream was to be free from her wicked step-mother’s abuse, but when it finally came true it was so much more than she ever hoped or imagined.
I’m reminded of this Scripture…(emphasis mine)
“14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every familyc in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV
What dreams do you have? Have you shared your dream with those closest to you? Have you prayed about it and given your desires to God to do with as He will? I encourage you to take some time and submit all your dreams to the One who is able.
I must confess I have a new obsession.
It’s the TV show on HGTV, Fixer Upper. I’m sure you’ve probably enjoyed it longer that I have. You see, I didn’t really give them a chance–I formed a first impression opinion of Chip and Joanna that wasn’t true. It wasn’t until a good friend shared with me how amazing they are in incorporating their faith with their dreams that I discovered otherwise. I felt horrible for allowing a first impression to rob me of getting to know such an amazing couple.
I found her testimony on You Tube that is filled with encouragement to continue hoping for your dreams to come true. Listen in to what she has to say…
I love the fact that Chip played a huge part in seeing her dreams weren’t tossed aside. He not only used his words to encourage her, but he acted by giving her the space she needed to hear God speak.
If you have dreams you’ve forgotten or tossed aside. I encourage you to…
Take a second look in 2016.
Submit them to God.
Tell a couple of close friends and your spouse, if you’re married.
Seek out those you respect who have similar dreams.
Expect God to speak.
If your dream is from Him, it’s only a matter of time for it to happen. If your dream isn’t, then know that He something even better in store. The key is to not give up looking with expectancy at what God will do. He is faithful and has promised He will return–now that’s a hope we can cling to.
(Note: In case you haven’t perused my blog much, check out the Oklahoma Recipes tab at the top. I’ve added some recipes that go with my book, and I’ve included the page where the food is mentioned. I hope you’ll give them a try. Food makes ordinary moments a celebration.)
As most of you know, all 7 of my grandchildren now live far away from me. It has been a difficult and emotional transition for me–one where I’ve shed many tears, and prayed often for God to help me see this new season from His perspective. And He has!
What I miss most as the Faraway Nana is being able to do fun things with them in my home–like baking, reading, picking flowers, going for walks around the block, watching their favorite movies while munching on hot, buttered popcorn, coloring pictures and playing Polly Pockets–to name just a few.
I was having one of those days when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself when God dropped an idea into my head.My four oldest grandchildren tell me often that they miss Nana’s House, which has always been like a jab to heart. But this time God gave me an idea, and a new tradition was born.
Nana’s House Newsletter
I told Bristol, Norah, Willow and Bradley that if they couldn’t come to Nana’s House, then Nana’s House would come to them. 🙂 I began publishing a monthly newsletter called Nana’s House. In it I put personal notes, little contests, crafts and something they can all enjoy from the 7 year olds down to the babies. When finished I stuff all the supplies needed for the crafts as well as candy treats into the Priority Mail Flat Rate small box and send it on its way. I take a picture of the receipt with the tracking number and text it to my daughters, so the kids can know when their little package will arrive.
This has helped me more that I could have ever imagined. I still get to go to the craft store and pick out something special for them to do. I still get to highlight funny things they’ve said or done. I still get to hear their voices squeal with excitement when they see another newsletter is on its way. The only thing I haven’t figured out how to do is hug their little necks and do nosies with them. Which brings me to the next thing I’ve done to help with the distance…
What fun we have had Skyping, and now using Google Hangouts (which works better when you are connecting three phones). We have colored Easter Eggs together, baked cookies and read books. I’m currently reading a series of books to the girls titled, The Doll People. They color while I read to them, and it has been wonderful. I love how they have absorbed the story and beg me, “Nana, just one more chapter–pleeeaaassssee?” We’re currently on book two, The Meanest Doll In The World. After this there are two more, so I think we’ll be able to enjoy this adventure together for quite a while.
My younger grandchildren love to talk with Nana on FaceTime because they can carry me with them to their room to see their new toys. I have had the best conversations with Stella (aged 2) all the while looking at the ceiling.
She takes the phone to her room, sets me on her kitchen set and fixes me the best cups of coffee. I’m always asking her to prop me up so I can see her face. 🙂 We are still working on that one, but I wouldn’t trade staring at her bedroom ceiling for anything. She’s precious.
I love writing. I love penmanship. I’ve heard that public schools are no longer teaching handwriting, and it makes me sad to realize this is going away. I always loved learning to write my letters. I practiced over and over again, until I like how it looked. This gave me an idea to start writing letters to my grandchildren once they learn to read. I print until they learn cursive writing. Once they do, I will write to them in cursive. The younger ones who can’t yet read, don’t like that the older ones get this special treat. But, I pray it will motivate them to learn to read for themselves. Cards are also a fun treat for the younger ones when it’s not their birthdays. Such an inexpensive way to show them how special they are to me.
Being far away from those you love is not easy, especially since they grow up so fast. For a long time I resisted finding joy in the distance, but I’m beginning to see that there is much good that happens when miles separate you from those you love. In this day and age we can still connect in ways my grandmother would have never imagined possible. When she moved away from her family to Jenks, Oklahoma, she didn’t know if she would ever see their faces or hear their voices again. Their only means of communication was through snail mail–although back then, it was delivered by horse. We are blessed that no matter how faraway you are, you can connect in so many ways as often as you like. What a small world.
Are you separated from your little people? I hope my ideas will inspire you to embrace the distance and make it something special.
Most everyone who is 50+ is familiar with the song by the same name as this blog post. In fact, you’re most likely singing it now that I’ve mentioned it–you’re welcome! 🙂 But did you know that whatever circumstances signal our tears also cause those tears to look differently under a microscope? I recently read a fascinating article that not only described these differences in full detail, but also provided photographs of the different types of tears to highlight how different they look.
Take the photograph at the top of this post; they are basal tears–those shed as a reflex to pain or atmospheric irritants. They actually look like rain falling and forming a river, don’t they?
Here’s another one:
Any idea what caused these types of tears? It is the tears of change–something I’ve been shedding quite a bit these days. Something Tom tries to understand, but often struggles to do so. The same changes have affected him, but he doesn’t cry nearly as much as I do. Which brings me to my next point…
Another fascinating aspect of this research is how different men and women are in regards to shedding tears. Of course, everyone knows the differences, but what you may not realize is why.
One substance being studied in connection with crying is the hormone prolactin, levels of which increase in women during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, as well as when we’re under stress. We average up to 60 percent more prolactin in our bodies than men. William Frey, Ph.D., biochemist and author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears, theorizes that prolactin lowers women’s emotional bar by stimulating the endocrine system, which makes us more prone to tears.
And we do cry more — on average, 64 times a year, compared with 17 times for men. We cry when we’re sad or frustrated or angry, whereas men cry at major losses, like death; when they get frustrated, they just get mad. Ask a man the last time he cried in front of someone else and chances are he’ll have a hard time remembering. A woman won’t.
But a funny thing happens as we reach midlife. Women cry less and get angry more — just as our levels of female hormones drop off, leaving a higher concentration of the male hormone testosterone. In men, a decline in testosterone makes for increased impact from their female hormones. And guess what? As guys get older, they get angry less — and cry more. (source: How Crying Works, by Alia Hoyt)
Isn’t that amazing? Of course this research bypasses the spiritual aspect of our tears, which we know is the most important part of who we are. God created us human, and every detail of our being glorifies Him–even our tears.
“You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” – Psalm 56:8 ESV
And the best of news is that He keeps track of every tear we’ve ever shed. Whatever you’re facing today, know that God has made your tears to help you through it. And they are not wasted tears. He counts them and marvels at them, writing them in His book. How often do we pour our hearts out to God in prayer for help in a desperate situation? Maybe you’re doing this quite regularly and are being tempted to think it’s of no account. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Our tears are accomplishing in us exactly what God wants them to accomplish. Give Him your concerns, your tears. Trust that He hears us when we pray.
I think of Mary Magdelene who took a vial of very expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her tears. What she was doing was an act of thanksgiving and surrender to the One who had loved her most. Do you see your tears as an act of surrender, a sacrifice of praise to Him who has ordained every step? I have recently, and it has made all the difference in the changes I’m facing. What were tears of grief… (Doesn’t this look like something broken?)
…have turned to tears of joy. (Doesn’t this look like a fireworks display?)
“The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” Psalm 126:3 ESV
My Mom is no longer here for me to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. So to honor her, I decided to make a special Pinterest Board sharing photos, blog posts and songs of all the things she taught me. I miss her so much, but I’m grateful for the legacy she left behind. Click the photo below to see it. Make the most of Mother’s Day this year by honoring all the Moms who have touched your life.
As a kid I loved playing board games. One of my all-time favorites was the Game of LIFE. I even planned my husband’s 50th birthday party using this as a theme. Each table was decorated from a decade of his life complete with pictures and relics of hobbies he enjoyed during that time in his life. It was a fun and quite memorable evening.
But as an adult I am finding the correlation of my life to the Game of LIFE a bit ironic and not so much fun.
My oldest daughter is expecting her 4th baby any day now in GA. I’ve been staying with her for the past two weeks hoping “today” would be the day. After 14 days like this, we’re a bit discouraged and tired. At the same time, our son and his family, who lives only a mile from us, is packing up 32 years of his life in Florida and moving to Tennessee. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s been hired as a copy editor for Dave Ramsey, such a privilege and honor to work for a man you admire and respect so much. But he.is.moving–next week!
I am excitedly sad; Excited for how God is obviously blessing my children, and sad that all 7 of my grandchildren will live far away. There won’t be as many family get togethers at Papa and Nana’s house. I’m grateful–so very grateful–that we have Barefoot Cabin in NC, where we can gather together and make memories. But it certainly isn’t what I expected. I never wanted to be a.faraway.Nana. But I will be, and I have to be okay with it.
I told my daughter that I feel as if my kids keep adding kids to their car on the LIFE board and moving forward lots of spaces, while I keep losing my turn. I know that’s a very depressing thought. My emotions have a life of their own at times, and I’m trusting God to help me speak Truth to my heartache.
It helps me put things in perspective when I realize what my grandmother, Grace, went through. She was forced to leave her family and the life she had ever known to move to a new town unfamiliar to her. She didn’t have e-mail, a cell phone or text messaging at her fingertips. I do. She didn’t have the internet allowing her to Skype with her parents and siblings whom she missed so much. All she could do was wait for snail mail that didn’t come nearly as often as she hoped. She packed up her memories and that was about all she had to hold onto. It must have been a really sad and lonely time for her.
The Internet has made our world much smaller today, and for this I’m grateful.
We have become quite creative in celebrating special moments in each other’s lives via Skype:
Coloring Easter eggs together from our own kitchens.
Coloring in the same coloring books together purchased at the dollar store.
Reading a favorite book out loud
Playing hide and go seek–okay, my granddaughters thought of this one, and it didn’t work so well. But it sure made me smile.
Our game board is expanding. It’s larger than we ever expected spanning three states, but we’re still in it together. And in the end we will all win because of the love we share.
I think today I started moving forward again. And the good news? It’s my Pay Day.
“The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” – Psalms 126:3 ESV
It’s hard to believe that my grandmother, Grace Stella Kirwin Oswalt, would have been 125 if she were still alive today. That’s what happens when your mom is the youngest, and you’re the youngest. My grandmother was old enough to be my great-grandmother. But as God ordained it, I was her youngest grandchild.
I missed out on so much.
When I think of my own grandchildren, that I’m 54 years old and enjoying my soon-to-be seven grandchildren. It’s hard to believe how old my grandmother was when I was born. Actually she was 70. She live until 90, but I was not even 20 yet before she was buried and gone.
How I wish I had had more time to get to know her as an adult. But I didn’t.
This causes me to embrace the role of “Nana” even more seriously. Today my newest grandson, Vito Price Walter, was dedicated at our church. Tom and I were privileged to stand with him and our son and daughter-in-love. as our pastors prayed for him and for them, to be faithful and godly in their instruction, to commit to be the best they can be for God’s glory and Vito’s benefit.
It was a day God chose to bless not only my grandson, but also to honor my grandmother’s prayers. Vito is her great-great-grandson. One whom she never met, but one for whom she prayed. He is her descendant, and he will continue her legacy. How amazing it was on her birthday that we dedicated him back to the God who created him.
I love connecting the dots of God’s faithfulness.
He never fails to answer prayers, even when we aren’t alive to see the answers come. The Bible is full of such examples. Today God answered Grace’s prayers–he gave her another descendent to carry on her legacy. This is why I wore her ring–the one my grandfather gave her on their 50th wedding anniversary. As I laid my hands on him in dedication, I could help but think how pleased Big Mama would have been with this token of my love for her.
Sorry it’s blurry, but I was a bit emotional while taking this photo. 🙂
Who are you praying for today? Do you pray for those who are yet to be born?
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord. – Psalm 102:18