Happy Mother’s Day

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.

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My LIFE–It’s Not A GAME–It Just Feels Like One

Photo Source: hoffbauer blog

Photo Source: hoffbauer blog

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.

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“The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” – Psalms 126:3 ESV

 

 

Celebrating Her 125th Birthday

Graphic Credit: www.sfu.ca

Graphic Credit: http://www.sfu.ca

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.

Vito 2

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.

Vito

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

Write Your Story

Touchstones are everywhere in movies, in songs and in books. It’s something that touches your heart because you can relate to what’s being shared.
Whenever I come across a touchstone I know because it usually makes me cry.

I just heard a song that affected me in such a powerful way. It’s a new release by Francesca Battistelli, titled Write Your Story.

No matter what we’re going through what a comfort it is to realize God is faithful to write His Story on our hearts. I’ve posted the lyrics below with a link to the song in the title.

May God encourage you today with touchstones of the heart.

Write Your Story

They say
You’re the King of everything
The One who taught the wind to sing
The Source of the rhythm my heart keeps beating

They say
You can give the blind their sight
And You can bring the dead to life
You can be the hope my soul’s been seekin’

I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I do, that You can make me new, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

My life
I know it’s never really been mine
So do with it whatever You like
I don’t know what Your plan is
But I know it’s good, yeah

I wanna tell You now that I believe in
I wanna tell You now that I believe in
In You, so do what You do, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

I want my history
To be Your legacy
Go ahead and show this world
What You’ve done in me
And when the music fades
I want my life to say

I let You write Your story, write Your story
Write Your story, write Your story

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart
[x2]

When I Leave The Room

Natalie Grant - Relentless Cover photo

Natalie Grant – Relentless Cover photo

I recently was shown the following video by Natalie Grant. It is specifically for mothers and how they love and care for their children. I have three children of my own, and this song depicts the heart of a mother as no other song I’ve ever heard. Listen, cry and share with all who need to be encouraged in their role as a mother or even for those who are daughters.

I miss my Mom, but I’m so grateful she placed my hands in Jesus’ hands when she was ready to go. What a hope I’ve been given and treasure.

Where Were You 10 Years Ago?

Lake Dora

It’s a question many of us never consider–looking back ten years to see how much has changed. For some it can be an encouraging endeavor, for others a sad one filled with regret.

Ten years ago my Dad died. But that isn’t the end of his story. It’s just the last part for me in this life. I miss him still, and I guess that’s the highest compliment I can give him. How sad it would be for no one to notice when you’re gone. My grandmother has been gone for nearly 35 years, and I miss her too. But it’s my Mom’s passing that has been the hardest. Maybe it’s because we were so close, and she depended on me for so much during her final years. Maybe it’s because it’s only been a year since we said goodbye. Maybe it’s because she was my Mom–no one cared for me for as long as she did, and I’m so grateful for her love, wisdom and friendship.

In just one year my Mom has missed the births of three more great-grandchildren bringing the total from 10 to 13. Her oldest greats miss her still and talk of her often. In fact, Bristol, my 6 1/2 year old granddaughter was in her first Christmas production this year. Right before it began I went backstage to hug her and tell her how proud I was of her when she said,

“Nana, guess what I’m wearing?”

I had no idea, so I said, “What?”

“The necklace that G.G. gave me.”

My eyes filled with tears as I quickly hugged her and walked away. I didn’t want her to think she had made me sad. It was quite the opposite. What a joy to see the effect my Mom’s life had made on her short life.

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We must never underestimate the influence we have on the coming generations. They are watching and listening and loving us despite our limitations.

Who are the little people growing up behind you? Do you take time to enter into their world? I encourage you to not waste such an opportunity. You never know when you’ll breathe your last and depart this life. Make what they remember about you something they’ll miss and recall fondly as the years pass.

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes…

a_dream_is_a_wish-32635…when you’re fast asleep… is how the song goes from a popular fairy tale. But today I feel as if I’m living that dream.

Tomorrow I leave for my first Ladies Retreat at Barefoot Cabin. This is the place Tom and I bought in May for the purpose of hosting marriage and ladies retreats. It is a dream come true.

My love for this kind of retreat came about when I attended my first one in 1989. It was there that God shared with me His desire to use my writing for His purposes. All I knew then was He wanted me to start keeping a personal journal. I didn’t realize how doing this one daily exercise would strengthen my writing skills and help me remember significant events in my life and family. But it has! Whenever I take the time to write out what God has done, it cements it in my memory and enables me to recall it later.

Take for instance my research for Through The Eyes Of Grace. I can’t tell you how many times my Mom told me all the facts surrounding my grandmother’s story, but they never made it permanently into my memory bank until I wrote it down. Now I feel as if my grandmother is my friend, and someone with whom I can relate.

There was one time in particular that I want to share where I was so overwhelmed with God’s love for me through my journals. I was facing an extremely difficult season; my only hope was in God doing what seemed impossible to me. I was writing out my fears and worries in my journal when God interrupted me. I heard Him say that five years from now I will look back on this journal entry and thank Him for what He had done. Of course, I wanted this to be true, but my mind quickly filled with doubt, “That’s just you speaking, Debi. That’s what you want to hear!” I wrote out what I thought He had said, but quickly forgot about it.

Fast forward five years. Things were going well in our household, and I was filled with gratefulness to God for some specific things He had done. I took the time to write out those specifics in my journal as a prayer to God for His kindness and mercy in my life. As I was doing so, God once again interrupted me and said, “I want you to look at your journal from five years ago.” Puzzled, and having completely forgotten about the previous paragraph, I did so. Imagine my overwhelming response when it was where He had told me I would thank Him for what He had accomplished in the circumstances with which I was anxious and afraid!!

What a God we serve. He isn’t far off as some suppose, but He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. His kindness and mercy knows no bounds, and when He stoops to encourage me in little ways like these, I am undone.

So as I embark on this new journey, I know God has gone before me. He has surprises along the way that I can’t wait to discover. But most of all I can’t wait to spend time alone with Him. He is the author of our dreams and the finisher of our faith. He will complete the work He’s begun in you and in me.

In what ways are you tempted to fear tomorrow? How has God helped you remember His faithfulness?

Reviewing Grace

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I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I really don’t want to post just to post. I want to have something worth your while reading too. And today I think I do.

You know how they say a watched pot never boils? Well, Amazon reviews are the same way. I hadn’t received any new reviews on my book since April, so I quit checking. I was  surprised to discover three new reviews in just the last month! The only way I found out was someone tagged me in one of the reviews.

Here’s what they had to say:

5.0 out of 5 stars So affected by this book!, September 7, 2013
This review is from: Through the Eyes of Grace (Paperback)

I just finished Through the Eyes of Grace and wanted to review it right away – what an absolutely beautiful story of a young girl I could easily relate to, as Grace was my own daughter’s age when her life took such a dramatic turn. Knowing that Grace, her family, and the life that she lived were all real at one time, made this a particularly fascinating read for me. I ached as Grace did, at the rawness of her shame & her struggles, but the thread of hope weaved throughout her life was so profound and just so … beautiful. I’m anxious to hear the rest of the story (the author alludes to another volume in the epilogue), but for now I’m excited to share this exquisite tale of redemption with my own teenage daughter, and anyone else who will read it!

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written story, September 3, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book tells a story of very difficult circumstances thrust upon the main character, 15 year-old Grace. It deals with sensitive issues in a delicate and tasteful way, and brings a healthy resolve in the end. It doesn’t unnecessarily stir up romantic passion, but gives an accurate, sweet account of a love, rebellion, redemption and grace. Well done.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, August 11, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book is incredibly well written. It is easy to lose yourself in the author’s flowing language and vivid descriptions of the western territories and life as a settler. You will feel Grace ‘s pain and joy as if you were her. Debi Gray Walter has a true hit here! This book is also seen inspiration to the reader to dig into one’s own family history and stories before they are lost. Well written and well enjoyed! When’s the next one?

What wonderful reviews! Thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to review Through The Eyes Of Grace. If you haven’t had the chance, would you consider writing one? I want you to be honest in order to help others know whether or not they would like to read it.
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” 🙂
― Will Rogers

A Cabin, An Alpaca Farm and A Book Review

Barefoot Cabin Banner Elk, NC Elevation 4200'

Barefoot Cabin
Banner Elk, NC
Elevation 4200′

I’ve had some exciting opportunities come my way for marketing Through The Eyes Of Grace.  As you may or may not know, my husband and I have purchased a cabin in Banner Elk, NC. It is exactly where we have always wanted to own property, and the cabin is even better than we had dreamed. While we were there in June we took our grandchildren to Apple Hill Farm which is only 5 miles from our front door. The photo at the top of my blog is all 5 of them staring at the alpacas. It is a great place–they raise Alpacas, Llamas, Donkeys, Goats, Sheep, Horses, Pigs, Chickens, and much more. You can even buy skeins of Alpaca wool to knit or crochet the softest scarves and blankets ever! Anyway, the owner found out about my book, purchased a copy, started reading it and asked if she could sell it in their store. 🙂 Oh my, this takes a bit getting used to. She even asked me to sign the three copies she purchased. What an amazing privilege.

Next, my publisher called to see if I would be available for a television interview to talk about my book. I had to think about it for one second! Of course, I said yes, even though the thought of being on TV is way out of my comfort zone. I will adjust, I’m sure.

What I would really like to figure out is how to set up a blog tour of my book. If any of you have any information that would help me find this information, I would be grateful. 

Finally, I want to review a book I recently read. It was given to me because it reminded my friend of Through The Eyes Of Grace.

Soft As Steel

Book Title:      Soft Like Steel

Author:           Barbara Malek

Review:           Soft As Steel is the true story of the author’s grandmother. She discovered her story by reading her grandmother’s journals. In them she finds out how remarkable a woman she was. She endured great hardship as a young, Mennonite wife, not only because of the Great Depression sweeping the nation in the 1930’s, but because of the selfishness and sin of her husband. Time after time he disappoints and hurts her, but she devotes herself to believing the best, until one day she has a breakthrough…You’ll have to read the book yourself to see what happens. You may also like to know that this marriage produced 9 children in spite of all the trouble. And they all grew up to have a close relationship with each other and with their own spouse and children. I couldn’t put this book down, and I finished it in a couple of sittings.  Barbara is an excellent story-teller as you’ll soon find out if you decide to read it yourself.

My Rating:    ****

A Surprise That Made Me Cry

Photo Credit: Cool Insights blog

Photo Credit: Cool Insights blog

Today I planned to get started on the outline for the sequel to Through The Eyes Of Grace. It’s been hard to think about starting because my Mom is no longer here for me to ask questions. My husband gave me good advice to go into the day prepared to keep a guard on my emotions. He knows this isn’t easy for me, but preparing myself through prayer ahead of time usually provides the will-power to fight being overcome with emotions. I listened to his advice and was doing well until I came up to something I needed to know. Whenever this happened before, I would call Mom, ask the question, get the answer and get right back to my research.

Ugh!

I managed to avoid the tears by talking to myself and keeping my focus on what I needed to do, not on how I was feeling. I had an idea to find the answer to my question;  I would sign onto my Ancestry.com account where I had set up our family tree years ago with my Mom when we were planning a huge family reunion. I was proud of myself for coming up with such a practical solution to what could have been an emotional meltdown.

I spoke too soon. Ugh, again!

Because Mom passed away in December, I hadn’t signed onto Ancestry.com since before then. I wasn’t prepared to see what was waiting for me; Mom was last on the site October 20, 2012, only 7 weeks before she died. She had been working diligently to get me the information she knew I would need for my next book. She had sent me all kinds of updates for me to approve in order to add them to my site. I was overcome with the emotions I had been avoiding. They rushed over me like a flood, but this time they weren’t tears of overwhelming sadness, but tears of gratefulness for a Mom who cared for me and anticipated my need for her help, tears of thankfulness for a God who orchestrated the timing for me to discover this right when I needed it most, and unbelievable humility in realizing how much my God and my Mom love and care for me, even in the smallest of details.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much else done on my book today, but I no longer feel alone in my research. God is my ever-present help in my time of need, and He’s proven that He even cares about the research I’m doing. I am confident He will walk with me down this lonely road and help me do what I wouldn’t be able to do in my own strength. What a God I serve.

When was the last time you sensed God provide for you in ways you never expected or saw coming? How did it affect you? I would love to hear.