I wake everyday…

I wake everyday…

Life is but a mere breath—like the grass that fades or the flowers that wither away. James tells us to consider it “an opportunity of pure joy” when we experience troubles of any kind.

A friend of mine passed away unexpectedly Sunday. Although I had only met her a handful of times, her life—her spirit—profoundly impacted me.

She suffered from two terminal diseases and was hospitalized countless times. She endured surgery after surgery and every time she praised God and thanked Him for another day. Her strength and resiliency inspired me.

Two days before God took her home, she wrote on Facebook, “I don’t understand why God has decided to keep me in so much pain when I’m battling two terminally ill diseases that give me pain and problems every week. HOWEVER, I don’t question it. I wake every day and live my life while I praise God.”  Amazing!!!

A few weeks ago, I was led by the Holy Spirit to read the Book of Habakkuk. I never even knew this tiny book existed in the Bible. It’s only three chapters but within those short pages held lessons to fill a lifetime.

Habakkuk, [huhbakuh k], was a prophet during the time when Judah was at war, and the Babylonians were threatening to take control. He questioned God about why He would let turmoil and evil fall on His people. Habakkuk wanted to know where God was in all of this pain and suffering. He believed God was nowhere to be found and had removed Himself from the earth.

Habakkuk demanded to know why and expected God to answer. God gave him an answer, but it wasn’t the one he wanted.

God told Habakkuk that He would use the Babylonians to wipe out Judah and that Habakkuk was to trust God because He knew what He was doing—allowing evil to spread so good would prevail.

We may not know why God does what He does or why He allows evil things to happen but we, like Habakkuk and my friend, are called to trust in God’s sovereignty and to praise Him regardless of the situations we face.

Remember—God is greater than all our giants.

Recently, the city I in live experienced extreme racism and hate. Protests and violence filled the streets. People were afraid, and I asked, “Where are you, God? Why do you allow such evil to happen?”

He answered me with His words from Habakkuk— “Trust Me no matter what. Praise Me and do not be controlled by or even be anxious over your circumstances. Move from doubt to faith and from fear to hope. But above all else, love. Love your neighbor as I have loved you. Fill the earth with love. When you love, you have wisdom, and through wisdom you have everything.”

I may never know why my friend had to suffer like she did in this lifetime. Or why there are so many who are homeless, hungry, lost, and alone. But what I do know is I am called to have faith and to wait with a patient expectation for God’s answer.

God knows what will happen and how these circumstances will further His purpose to spread the love of Christ throughout the world. He even knows who on which end of the crazy spectrum will become President in a few weeks and I have to believe He’s got it under control. No matter my trouble, “I wake every day and live my life while I praise God.”

 Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the life of Lori and for all those who suffer. Your mercy is endless and your grace abundant. Even though we know Lori is dancing with you in heaven and her suffering has ended, her absence—the void and the emptiness left behind for those of us who knew her and loved her is devastating. Please fill us with Your Comfort, Love and Peace.

Lord, we commit our lives to You as we choose to believe that You are greater than all the giants in this world. May we have faith that Your goodness will conquer all evil and help us to love one another the way You love us. In Jesus name, Amen.

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When a Penny Costs a Thousand Dollars!

When a Penny Costs a Thousand Dollars!

Whoever said that dogs don’t have personalities couldn’t be more wrong. I have two German Shepherds, and they are the sweetest, kindest, most loving creatures God ever made…until they get into something, they’re not supposed to!

Maggie, our oldest fur baby, is my most adventurous. Sadie, the all-white German Shepherd, is very trusting of her older sister which is why she’s the one who ends up in trouble most of the time.

My husband and I often joke if Maggie used her powers for good instead of evil, she would be an amazing dog.

I’ve watched Maggie trick Sadie into giving up her toy by running to the door and barking. As soon as Sadie jumps up to bark with her, Maggie immediately steals the toy and then hides it.

We have teeth marks on the back door knob because Maggie has learned that’s how to open the door, and she wants inside. If she ever grows thumbs, we’re all in trouble.

I’ve come home to half-eaten highlighters, pencils, and paper. One time I left but came right back because I’d forgot something and there in the foyer stood Maggie with a package of Cheese Nips dangling from her mouth and Sadie, of course, right behind her. Maggie dropped the contraband in front of Sadie and high-tailed it for safer ground. Sadie wagged her tail excited to see me and completely oblivious to her sister’s deceit.

One time I rushed Maggie to the emergency vet because she had eaten poison. I spent the next three days shooting charcoal down her throat every hour with a large syringe. I think I got more charcoal on me and the kitchen walls than I got into her.

Another time Maggie was dehydrated from constant diarrhea and vomiting so we made the dreaded trip to the vet. After countless tests, the doctor determined she must have eaten something that made her stomach upset (go figure!). He gave her a water patch under her skin to help with the dehydration and told me to watch her for the next few days to see if anything comes out the back end.

And sure enough, a few days and a $1,000 later, she pooped a penny!

Her latest antics involved starfish. Who would’ve thought starfish was like crack for dogs?

I had starfish and seashell decorations delivered to my house for a birthday party. I left the opened box was in my office and the next morning caught Maggie with one of the starfish packages in her mouth. Not thinking much about it, I took it from her, put it back into the large box and folded up the sides naively assuming that would keep her out. (What was I thinking?)

In hindsight, I should’ve duct taped the box and put heavy bricks on top of it because while I was out walking, Maggie and Sadie broke into my office!

When I returned Maggie had an empty package of starfish in her mouth and Sadie had her nose crammed into the box searching for another bag. They had eaten 12 starfish! I can’t exactly say how many Sadie ate because I’m sure Maggie didn’t share many with her.

I called the vet, and thankfully starfish are not toxic for dogs. However, the foul odor that emanated from the two of them the next day smelled toxic and almost drove me out of the house!

I love my four-legged children and wouldn’t trade them for the world. But as we affectionately say in the south, “bless ‘em little hearts!”

They keep life interesting that’s for sure.

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Resolve to Save a Life

Resolve to Save a Life

Beth Crosby, writer and dialysis patient, wrote the article linked below about me as a living kidney donor.

Beth’s blog http://www.dialysisgal.com chronicles her journey through weekly dialysis. It’s dedicated to those who are facing dialysis now or in the future and the ones who love and care for someone in kidney failure. Information there is based on her experience and the questions she has asked, conversations she has overheard and articles she’s read. Her blog is devoted to education and sharing things she’s learned the hard way or wish she had known earlier.

I hope you enjoy the article. Thank you, Beth!

Resolve to Save a Life

“What I Have I Give to You!”

“What I Have I Give to You!”

Have you ever felt an overwhelming conviction from God’s word that it brought you to your knees? Or have you ever heard your personal story narrated by Matthew, Mark, Luke or even John?

Reading Acts 3, Luke spoke directly to me as if we were the only two people in the room– humbling me to my knees.

The story unfolds shortly after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Peter, a disciple of Jesus, heals a crippled beggar at the temple gate called Beautiful. The man had never walked a day in his life.

Peter said to him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

And the man got up and walked. People watching were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to this man.

Then Peter asked, “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”

Like those people, I’ve been filled with the wonder and amazement at miracles I’ve witnessed and like them, I’ve overlooked God at the center.

Early in my walk with God, He asked me to do the impossible – establish transitional housing for battered women and children in my community. He gave me a vision, but I had no idea know where to begin. Unemployed with a young child, God provided me with everything I needed; including the passion and fire to believe Him.

God strategically placed people in my life. I established a small working board, and together we were awarded a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit status. Then we submitted grant proposals for funding– and, surprisingly, people gave us money!

As a high school drop out with only a GED, I had never written anything but failing book reports, so writing grant proposals proved rather intimidating. God, however, uses our weaknesses as His strength.

Next, we found a location and opened the doors to woman and children who needed a safe place to live and time to get back on their feet.

We were breaking the ties of domestic violence and giving families the opportunity to live a life free from violence!

Somewhere along the way, however, I forgot it was through faith in God that I received the power to do what He called me to do and as His instrument, He worked through me – not the other way around. Pride crept in and took up permanent residence in my heart.

I became tired and weary from doing everything on my own. Eventually, the program closed and I walked away from everything – including God.

Years later, I heard God’s voice calling me back home. I started meeting Him again in the mornings to read His word and openly talked with Him. God honored my faithfulness and time by filling my heart with His passion and fire once more.

Not long afterward God asked me to do the impossible again– donate one of my kidneys to a complete stranger.  God had a sense of humor because this time He made sure I couldn’t take credit for any of it. All the miracles that transpired could only have come from Him.

Even the desire to do it, God gave to me. As Peter said, “What I have I give to you.” I didn’t have anything to give until God first gave it to me.

On July 6, 2011, I donated my kidney to David Ensley, a friend of my husband from high school. God created the perfect kidney in me to save his life. We were such a close physical match we should’ve been siblings; although, we had never even met until then. David takes minimal anti-rejection medication as a result of this miracle-match.

Last month, David walked his daughter down the aisle and danced with her at her wedding. Four years ago it wouldn’t have even been a possibility. God is good!

Also in 2008, the YWCA opened Families in Transition, providing families with children long-term housing and intensive support services. God continues to provide for the needs of His children.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and Your blessings. Your love continues to amazes me!

Amen.

My First Prince Charming

My First Prince Charming

Where does the time go? One minute my baby is softly cooing in the crook of my arm and the next I’m meeting his girlfriend’s parents. Life happens fast – unfortunately, it can feel lightening fast.

On his first day of kindergarten I wanted to drive Alex to school but no, not my independent, free-spirited son. He wanted to ride the bus with his friends. So with his Superman lunch box in one hand and an empty backpack flapping behind him, we headed off to the bus stop.

As the bus pulled away, I ran to my car and waited. Then crouching behind the steering wheel, so not to be seen, I followed the bus all the way to the school. He never saw me, as I watched him through tear-drenched eyes, bounce happily through the doors of the school and out of sight.

It’s been that way ever since – I watch, holding my breath, as he leaps from one life adventure to the next.

His first day of college was no different. My husband and I moved him into the dorm and as we left, he waved and said, “Bye mom,” – no fear in his voice, only pure excitement.

This past weekend my mother and I went to visit him, and his girlfriend Catherine, or “Cat,” as she’s affectionately called, in Charleston, South Carolina. They’re both seniors at the College of Charleston and have been dating for almost a year.

We went primarily to support Cat as she participated in the college’s first home equestrian competition of the year. She’s been showing horses in competition events since she was a young girl and has grown into an excellent rider.

Bundled up in warm clothing and rain boots, we trekked out to the “barn” to meet Cat and her parents – not exactly knowing what to expect.

Jim and Therese, of course, were wonderful, and I enjoyed meeting them and becoming friends. But I’m not sure if I was ready for what I witnessed next.

When Alex was a small child, I thought about how he would one day be some lucky girl’s Prince Charming, and I prayed God would bless her. I asked God to help me raise Alex to know how to treat a lady with love and affection, so he would be a man worthy of her love and respect.

Watching Cat and her father, it was apparent that she was daddy’s girl. I saw the love in his eyes as she cantered the horse around the ring. And his face beamed as she accepted sixth place. It didn’t matter if she won or not; she was having fun, and her dad burst with pride at the sight of her.

It was, also, evident by her dad’s actions and comments that he silently questioned whether he trusted Alex with his daughter’s heart. To be honest it bothered me at first, but then I realized, as her dad he should judge her daughter’s boyfriend. One day he would give his daughters hand in marriage to a young man and no matter who it was, he better be worthy of it – including my son.

Being a single mother for many years, Alex was the light of my life. In many ways, he saved me the day he was born. I’ve often thought God knew what He was doing when He blessed me with my son.

Alex will graduate college in the spring, and he will have the world as his playground. It feels like yesterday when I held his hand as we went up and down the stairs a hundred-million times because it was his newest adventure. Although, he may not need to hold my hand anymore, I’m honored as his mother to watch him grow into an amazing man capable of loving, laughing and living life to the fullest – and for me, he will always be my first Prince Charming!

“A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best but his mother the longest.” – Irish Proverb