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?

Making Connections On The Timeline Of History

Sorry for my absence. My husband took a bad fall last Monday, and I didn’t have time to post. He is recovering slowly, but we’re grateful to God that he didn’t break any bones. He’s just very sore.

Photo Credit: brighthorizonsacademy.com

Photo Credit: brighthorizonsacademy.com

We homeschooled our three children through most of their primary education years. It was a privilege to do so, but it wasn’t easy. I tend to be a quitter when things get too hard for me. But by the grace of God I haven’t quit my marriage, nor did I quit my goal in being primarily responsible for the education of my children. Doing this allowed me the privilege of teaching my kids history, which is a subject I’m passionate about. Mostly, I loved doing biographies and seeing how God’s hand provided for them in their trouble.

When we began I set up a timeline in our laundry room that covered both B.C. and A.D. centuries. When reading the Bible we were able to place those people on their place in the timeline of history. It was a great visual. When we began studying the Industrial Revolution it was astounding to me. I had never put all the facts I had learned in school together on a timeline to see the progression of this time period. I discovered famous people who were friends and how God used those friendships to facilitate new discoveries.

Photo from Flicker

Photo from Flicker

One of my favorite stories is of a young boy who was born in a little village outside of Paris, France, in 1809. His father was a tanner and made leather goods of all kinds. The boy was a smart three year old and was already starting to read. He had always been curious and even though his father had forbidden him to touch his tools, he couldn’t resist. One day while attempting to punch a hole in a leather strap like he had seen his father do many times, the awl slipped and pierced his eye. Within days his eye became so infected and spread to his other eye, which in turn caused him to go blind.

The boy had loved learning to read. He was saddened when he realized there weren’t many books for the blind. This was due to the fact that they were made up of raised letters in the alphabet. Each page contained only a couple of sentences, making them cumbersome to handle and difficult to read. Each book was so large and expensive to make that there were only a few in existence.

This is the story of Louis Braille. His curiosity and love for reading compelled him to discover a way for the blind to read as easily as those who had sight. What you may not realize is that it was his discovery which enabled Helen Keller, who was born deaf and blind, to lead a normal and productive life. She was invited to honor him a hundred years after his death when his coffin was relocated to Paris during a solemn ceremony to honor his accomplishments for the blind community. This video is live footage of the ceremony.

Another interesting connection is the friendship which developed between Helen Keller and Thomas Edison, who was partially deaf. Seeing how God used both of their disabilities to motivate new inventions that helped those with similar disabilities function independently in life is inspiring. I love making these connections and seeing how trouble and/or weaknesses can end up being used for good.

“Professor Johnston often said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything. You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.”
― Michael CrichtonTimeline

This helps me look for the bigger picture when I’m facing trouble, and I’m hoping it will help you as well. Knowing history helps us make sense of our own story as it’s being written. After all, it’s all His Story and for His glory!

What stories on your timeline have inspired you? Have you made important connections by stepping back and looking at the bigger picture? 

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.

Resolved

Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Today I am 54. 54! How did that happen? I know, I know, the answer is simple–one year at a time. But wow.

This is my first birthday without my Mom and Dad, who were used by God to give me life in July of 1959. My Dad led me down the aisle of our little baptist church in 1969. It is strange to no longer have parents here, but they’re not gone. They’ve just relocated to a better place. And because of God’s gift of salvation to me on December 19, 1969, I will see them again. Until that day I am resolved to live out the rest of my years in glorifying the One True God who gives life to all who call on His name and choose to follow Him.

Jonathan Edwards was considered to be one of the greatest American philosopher/theologians of his time and was a key figure in what has become known as The Great Awakening of the 18th century. He has been quoted as saying:

“Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

The Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman trial has received unbelievable media coverage this past month. We live only a few minutes from Sanford, FL. so it was with great interest that we stayed up with the trial. When that February night occurred in 2012, neither Trayvon nor George knew that their lives were going to be permanently changed as a result of the choices they made. My point isn’t to discuss which side was right/wrong, for both lost in my opinion. But their case stands as a stark reminder of Mr. Edwards quote. I ask myself,

  • Am I living today as if it were my last?
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • If my epitaph was to be written tomorrow, what would it say?
  • Better yet, what would I want it to say?

I heard someone suggest that we take time to write the epitaph we would want written about us today. Then, make our choices based on that goal. Of course, even those who have the best intentions can’t always guarantee their life will play out as planned. This is why my epitaph should reflect God’s work in my life and not my own plans.

A couple of great epitaphs include:

George Washington

LOOKING INTO THE PORTALS OF ETERNITY TEACHES THAT THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN IS INSPIRED BY GOD’S WORD; THEN ALL PREJUDICE OF RACE VANISHES AWAY.

Benjamin Franklin

The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer (like the cover of an old book, its
contents worn out, and stript of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for
worms. Yet the work itself shall not lost, for it will, as he
believed, appear once more In a new and more beautiful
edition, corrected and amended by its Author

Finally, I found this site that lists over a hundred great epitaphs from which to choose. Take some time and consider which one would best mark your final resting place. Then, live each day to make the statement true.

Oklahoma Our Prayers Are With You

The past couple of days have been devastating for Oklahomans. I live in Florida and we face Hurricane season from June until November each year. But nothing can compare to those who live in Tornado Alley. Sure many towns are missed for years, but when one finally sets its course for your spot on the map…there is no place to hide. That is unless you have an underground storm shelter.

Today, Monday, May 20th, a huge storm crossed over parts of Oklahoma City. It hit two elementary schools, and one didn’t have an underground shelter. I am sad. Even though I’ve never lived in the OK state, I feel such a connection with the people, the land, the history, that this hurts so bad. It feels as if one of my own has died.

Would you join me in praying for the those whose lives have been tragically changed forever? It’s easy to grow used to seeing these types of storms on the television, but if WE were the ones devastated by this storm, we would never forget it, would we? God please be with those who have suffered loss. Comfort those who mourn. Heal those who are injured, and bring help where help is needed. In Jesus’ precious name, I pray!

Watch this amazing video of the tornado as it cuts a path across the fruited plain.

A Slice Of [Mom’s] Life

Photo Credit: www.bbc.co.uk

Photo Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk

Today I want to share with you an article I wrote for our neighborhood newsletter in August of 2004 about a very special day. 

My Mom and I love going out to lunch together. We have done this almost every week since I got married over 25 years ago. One particular week she picked where we were to go, but first she wanted us to stop by an old friend’s house. Her name was Mary. She explained that Mary was a writer and knowing my desire to one day write a book about the life of my grandmother, she wanted us to meet. I was happy to go, but not sure about meeting her friend. Sometimes arranged meetings such as this don’t go over the way intended. I had no idea what was about to happen.

My Mom grew up in Clermont, a bedroom community to the west of Orlando, where everyone knows everyone else. Even though this town is changing rapidly, somehow Mary’s house had avoided any change. As we pulled into her dirt driveway, I felt as though I was leaving the year 2004 behind. Suddenly, I found myself entering a strange new, but old world–my mother’s childhood. Mary met us at her squeaky screen door, which led us from her clapboard porch to a dimly lit paneled living room. There her husband stood, cane in hand, with a smile large enough to make any stranger feel like family. His handshake indicated confidence. I liked them both immediately.

Mary quickly led us up the wooden stairs to her office. As we sat among her treasures, books from every subject, age and size, I felt as if I was sitting inside her personal journal. In this room was Mary’s life, and she had gladly opened up her volumes to share with me her love for writing. I was deeply affected.

As I listened to two old friends reminisce, I realized that I was privileged to see my mom from a completely different perspective. Here sat, not my mom, but a little girl and her best friend talking of how they used to play in this very room. Mom mentioned how she would always run to this room first, because she loved the packed toy chest that used to sit below the window where Mary’s computer was now located. Her face revealed the joy this moment was bringing to her. Hearing them talk, I could actually see them in their childhood finding pleasure in the simple things of life. I was reminded of how quickly time passes. As they spoke of their lives 75 years ago, it was as if only days had passed, not decades.

I’m so glad I had this moment to glimpse into the past, for this is the stuff of which books are made. Mary helped me in my quest for capturing my grandmother’s story more than she’ll ever know; she introduced me to her youngest daughter, my mom.

Moments like these are rarely planned. They usually happen upon us when we least expect them, and we fail to remember all we heard because we weren’t giving the moment our full attention. I can remember this day with my mom as if it were yesterday. I never saw Mary and her husband again, so I am all the more grateful to God for giving me this time for Mom to show me a very special slice of her life.

This leads to our next question to ask an older member of your family:

Question #8 – Who was your closest childhood friend and what did you enjoy doing together?

Note: My mom’s friend is a famous writer of children’s books. Her name is Mary Rose Pearson, and you can check out her books HERE.

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This is post #8 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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Children Are A Gift From God

Photo Credit: Denise Janz Photography

Do you believe this truth from the Bible?

I certainly do. And I know my family has had a rich heritage of welcoming babies into this world. Some babies left this world way too soon dying from infant illnesses back in the early 1900’s. But many more lived long and fruitful lives.

This brings us to today’s Question #7:

How many brothers and sisters did your grandparents and/or parents have?

I have wonderful news! Our family is growing…we found out on Friday that our son and his wife, who are expecting in September, are having a son! Our son is having a son, and the Walter name will live on! We are doing the happy dance around here, and thank God for this unexpected gift. You see they have two beautiful daughters, and we expected a third for some reason. But after a sonogram where the little guy was showing off his stuff, there is no doubt that Bristol and Willow will soon have a baby brother to love and hold. 🙂

When was the last time you received an unexpected blessing?

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This is post #7 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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30 Questions You May Not Know To Ask

Photo Credit: Sorayanulliah blog

Photo Credit: Sorayanulliah blog

Everyone who has ever lived has one.

It separates us from all others and can often make us stand out in a crowd. But sadly many don’t know their’s, or if it even matters. I’m talking about your family’s story. I was privileged to have a mom who loved researching our family’s story. I could ask her any question and if she didn’t know the answer, she would go to work trying to find it. I loved that about her.

But I didn’t always. There was a time when I found our family history quite boring. Didn’t we all? You may still think this subject boring, but please don’t click away from this post just yet. 

Here’s the plan. Starting on Monday, April 1st, I’m going to take part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post one question each day for the entire month.

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It will be a probing question about your story. You may already know the answer to it, and if you do, I invite you to share it with me using the comment button. If you don’t know the answer to the day’s question, then ask someone in your family who may know it. Taking one question per day will make the process easy to do, even for the busiest among us.

I hope you’ll sign up for my blog, so every day you’ll get the daily question in your inbox. This will make the challenge easy for you to remember, and it will make me happy to have more followers–call me sentimental! 🙂

Finally, I want to share with you the following music video by Brandon Heath, titled Paul Brown Petty. Brandon is an excellent story teller whom I had the privilege of meeting and seeing live in concert last year in Gainesville, FL. This song is off of his latest album, Blue Mountain. Once you listen, I think you’ll understand why I chose to share it with you. Enjoy…

Joy In Heaven

Mom's 90th birthday party last year. L. to R.: Me, Mom, Bill (my brother), Bettie at top (my sister)

Mom’s 90th birthday party last year. L. to R.: Me, Mom, Bill (my brother), Bettie at top (my sister)

My last post talked about Grace’s birthday which was March 2, 1889.

I want to share another birthday with you–my Mom’s, who would have been 91 today. She passed away 3 months ago, but it feels like only yesterday. I guess you’re never prepared to say good-bye to your mom. After all she is the one person who has known you literally from birth. If it wasn’t for her willingness to go through the pain of pregnancy and delivery, I wouldn’t be here.

So much has happened in the past three months:

  • We cleaned out her home, put it on the market and got a contract the first week. We’ll close before the end of March.
  • My niece found out she is expecting her 3rd baby in July, which is Mom’s 11th great-grandchild.
  • My son and daughter-in-love found out they are expecting their 3rd baby in September, which will be our 6th grandchild and Mom’s 12th great-grandchild.
  • My book is doing well, receiving 5 star reviews along with great encouragement for me to write the sequel.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Life continues when someone dies. Only those who are mourning actually slow down to ponder the loss. We do well to ponder in such times.

My heart is heavy today for another family in our church that we love dearly.

Tomorrow we will attend the memorial service of a newborn baby who never took a breath in this life. Her parents and three big brothers have slowed down to mourn the fact that she will never come home to see the nursery prepared for her. She will never try on any of the cute baby clothes received at her baby shower. She will miss so much that was planned for her.

But what she has far outweighs what she’s missed.

Consider this: She took her first breath in Heaven. She was embraced from the womb by her Savior. Her life will impact hundreds who hear the testimony of how God has helped her parents face the tragedy many parents fear. God’s faithfulness will be on display at the memorial service tomorrow in a way many will find perplexing.

flier

 

Her name is Esther Grace. Her parents believe she was born for such a time as this, like the story of Esther in the Bible. If you don’t know the story, I encourage you to read it. She faced the plan marked out for her, not knowing if God would give her life or death. This is true faith on display and it brings great glory to our Heavenly Father who deserves such praise.

The service is at 2p. tomorrow. Won’t you pray for this dear family that they would sense God’s nearness in their dark night of the soul.

The good news is the fact that there is great joy in Heaven today. Let this fact fuel our resolve to press on towards the mark, for we know that we do not run in vain.

What things are you facing today that requires such faith? How can I pray for you?

Something To Ponder

Photo Credit: jordipostales on Flickr

Photo Credit: jordipostales on Flickr

Today would have been Grace’s 124th birthday. And more people know her story and care about what happens to her next than she ever could have imagined. I hear it all the time…when are you going to write the next book? My plans are to begin soon. Since my mother passed away I have found much inspiration from her boxes of genealogy research papers. Here are few things I’ve found:

  • a picture of one of William and Grace’s sons when he was 2. She had it mounted under a clear paper weight. It is fading now, but I would love to try and get it restored.
  • Uncle Bud’s family bible complete with his handwriting marking the births, marriages and deaths of family members.
  • Grace’s journal of a trip she and William took out west.
  • A turquoise and silver indian belt.
  • Mary Elizabeth Ishmael’s crystal candy dish.
  • A tiny porcelain cup that Sarah Kirwin gave to Grace when she was 12.

It has been exciting to discover these items, but it comes with such sadness. I can no longer call my mom for answers to questions I have. I’m on my own when it comes to writing book two. It won’t be the same. I will miss Mom with each page I write, but knowing she read and enjoyed Through The Eyes Of Grace before she passed away thrills my heart! And to think…she’s in Heaven with my grandmother telling her all about it.

Now that is something to ponder, isn’t it?