Living Life

Jesus, Me, and the Kitchen Table

Four Years Ago…

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Words cannot express how I feel towards all of you who have sent notes, messages, flowers, etc this week. This could have been a difficult week if not for so many sweet, thoughtful friends who remember us at this time each year.  I always go back to work on Monday after the start of the new year. There hasn’t been a year go by since that day four years ago that I don’t remember how I dreaded going back to work, when most of the years past I was ready. When I get off work now, I recall how I had to rush home and get Chloe to Mt. Vernon for dance…and the rest of that evening…  I remember how our family was separated between Dallas and Tyler, some with me and some with Emmarie. And how sweet Chloe was already in heaven! How so many friends and people who didn’t even really know  us prayed – and prayed hard!

In some ways it’s really not hard to believe it’s been 4 years ago today. Four years since we held our precious Emmarie and Chloe, since we tucked them in at night, or I washed their hair, hugged them, said bedtime prayers, sat and rocked them while Richard sang to them, read the Bible with them, explored science concepts and learned about famous people in history, read and write together in our homeschool, rushed home from work to bounce them out of the door to dance class or church, and so many other things. Not to mention the last time I walked, dressed myself, or accessed certain parts of our house, and worked on my doctorate degree. I know many of you will react with the “sad” face. But that’s not the point of this post. I am not sad. Yes we miss them so much, and yes – I wish I could walk – right now – wish that I didn’t have to go through all the stuff I have to do daily just for health and well-being as a person with SCI, wish that we could have a “normal” life again.

But guess what? It’s just like I said from day one. God is good and faithful!  He has not let us down even though we’ve had other struggles in addition to these! Through our story, I am told that many lives have been changed – and I sincerely hope that is true. I hope that each of you cherish your kids and your family. That you don’t take for granted the basic things in this life like being able to sit yourself up just because you have an intact spinal cord.  You can reach the cups in your cabinet, get into your pantry, take a quick shower or a bubble bath.

More than anything else in this world — Emmarie and Chloe, Richard and I want you to know Jesus Christ. We want you to have a relationship with the living God! We want you to live for Him, to make Him the Lord over your life, and to know the love, mercy, joy, and peace that ONLY comes through Him. No matter the storms that come, you can have joy in the midst of adversity.

My goal in life is to make Him known to others. Whether it is through my job as I work with teachers, parents, students, and others, or through blogs and videos, Facebook posts, and through direct ministry opportunities, I want people to know Jesus. I want my life to count for Him, to impact eternity!

So back to my original point… yes I tend to go on tangents. Thank all of you SO much for the encouragement and love you shower us with not only at this time of the year, but throughout the year.

Today means we are one day closer to being with Jesus and with our girls. Today is one day closer to walking again – and I still believe in miracles and healing, so I am “standing” on faith to see this happen on earth.  After all, part of the Lord’s prayer is, “Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”!  Amen!

 

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Deeper…

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“I have kicked up the dust and the dirt on the narrow road
I have had to let go of some hurt to hold on to hope
I’ve watched the sunset before the promise came
I have waded through waters wide and walked through the flame
And I can say

Every valley made me lift my eyes up
Every burden only made me stronger
Every sorrow only made Your joy go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

I will run like I’m out to win, and finish the race
For every battle that’s sure to come I will be brave
I’ve got my heart set on every word You say
And no matter what lies ahead You’ll make a way
And I will say

Every valley made me lift my eyes up
Every burden only made me stronger
Every sorrow only made Your joy go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

Every mountain is making me a climber
Every giant is calling out a fighter
Every heartache only makes Your love go
Deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper

Thrown down but not defeated
I’m worn out but not giving up
I’ve hit ground but even at rock bottom
I’m just getting started, yea, I’m just getting started”

When I first heard this song it resonated within me. I think it may very well become my life song. As you read the lyrics, I pray that you will be blessed, strengthened and encouraged to know that through Jesus Christ, we can not only sing these words, but live them. No matter what you’ve been through, no matter how long the road may seem – there is HOPE and VICTORY!

The song is “Deeper” by Meredith Andrews

You can listen/watch here on YouTube.
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The Last Day of a Decade and Start of Another!

Today and tomorrow are important days for me.  Saying goodbye to thirties and hello to forties. It wasn’t so hard when it was twenties to thirties. But this one is huge. It’s huge not because of the big 4 0 — no!

It’s all that happened this decade – the many memories. Good ones and not-so-good ones. I lived and nearly died. I gave birth and became a mommy to our beautiful Emmarie and Chloe. They were here for such a short time. But now in Heaven forevermore.  There were a lot of starts. I wanted to say – and stops, too – but part’s not true. In some ways, I’ve started over again.

My career – it was going great! Publications, presentations, and much to do!

Husband and kids – we were a very busy homeschooling family!

Health was great all around – just needed a ‘lil more energy to make all those rounds!

Spiritually – it was definitely on the up and up – but not where it needed to be. Aren’t we always growing?

And then suddenly… everything changed in an instant.

I became a paraplegic. Learning to do so many things differently. Trying to have faith to walk again.

No more busy homeschooling family. Career was on hold. At least I’m working again.

Will I ever regain my health?  I must press on! I must believe!

Spiritually – the Lord has become my True Friend and taken me so far and I’ve truly learned to walk with Him.  And I keep learning more and growing closer to Him each passing day.

So what about the 40’s? What will those years hold? So many questions! Yet one day at a time will tell. Will this be the decade I walk again? Will this be the one when I see our girls again? Will the Lord Jesus Christ return before I turn 50?

Who knows? But excitedly, courageously, I go! I’ll keep pushing into His presence to find all that the future holds!

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My Testimony

For some time now I have felt like I needed to share my testimony with you, my readers.

Without going into all the details, I was raised by my adoptive father, who was single. I’ll call him dad from here on out. His first wife had committed suicide and he divorced his second wife. He was a bar owner and worked there all day everyday and late into the nights. He was 55 years of age. One of his regular customers was my biological mom. She was pregnant with me and already had two children, I think, in the welfare system. And she did not know what she was going to do with me either.

One day after I was born she came into the Jolly Joker lounge, the one dad owned, at 11 in the morning. I was out in the car. Keep in mind this was in Houston, TX in the summer. So dad wanted to go out and see me. When they saw me, I was in the car seat with my hands tucked under my head on one side. Now turn the clock twelve hours to 11 PM that same day. Once again she came into the lounge without me. Once again dad and she went out to the car to check on me. Dad said I was lying in the exact same position as I had been when he saw me that morning. It was late and dad was not prepared, but he asked her if he could take me home that night. So she handed me over. She did send a bottle but there were no diapers, wipes, no diaper bag. Not exactly how you would send your child off to stay with the grandparents or something!

Once at home that night, dad did not have any milk, formula, or diapers. So he did the only thing he knew to do…and that was to fill the bottle with sugar water.  For a diaper he used a handkerchief and pinned it together. It was a great cloth diaper….the best he had at the moment anyway. Howeever, when he went to change my diaper, he noticed that I had horrible diaper rash…. we are talking sores upon sores…. the diaper had not been changed all day. It was then he decided to take me to the doctor the next morning.

The docttor visit didn’t go very well and dad left thinking that I may not live. This same doctor was surprised when I returned for my 2 week follow-up appointment. That was the first miracle. At this point, dad had spoken with an attorney. Mom had decided to sign over her parental rights to him. So at that point I belonged to him, and he became my dad.

Next, dad discovered that I could not see well.  He said I did not react the aame way other babies did to lights.  I diid not notice them or reach out for them. So he took me to an eye doctor who told him that I was completely blind and there was no use in hoping for any improvement. But he did not accept this as a possible outcome for me.  He had read where a mother carried her baby upside down and eventaully the baby started seeing.  Sounds cooky, right? Well, maybe so. But he did begin carrying me in a head-down position for short periods throughout the day, especially as he walked around the pool table in the lounge. One dday, I began reaching for the lights. And lo, and behold, I could see. This was miralcle number two! Wheen I was about three years old, I could point at pictures on an eye chart at the doctor’s office – something they thought I’d never be able to do! My vision is not perfect to this day, and I do have low vision. But I see well enough to drive with telescopic lenses.

Growing up, we nnever really went to church. In the sixth grade, we moved to a small town called Normangee, TX. I began attending church at a small interdenominational chapel. The Sunday school class for my age group was taught by Lillian McReeynolds.   Since the chapel only had morning services, she also attended First Baptist Church in Normangee.  I began going home with her after church in the mornings, stayng with her Sunday afternoons and then riding with her to church on Sunday nights to First Baptist.

I distinctly remember one Sunday nnight service. I was in the 7th grade and like a lot of the youth ws not really paying attention to the sermon. When we stood up to sing the hymn for the altar call, I started feeling really nervous. The feeling is very hard to describe. There was resistance, but at the same time Divine nudging. I knew I had to go to the front. I knew I needed to accept Jesus as my Savior, even though I really didn’t know how to say that… At the altar the Pastor greeted me. I told him what I was feeling and he asked me if I felt like I needed to be saved, to accept Jesus. I said yes, because inside I knew that was it! He explained to me what this decision meant and i was so excited! Words cannot express the pure joy that I felt when Jesus came into my heart and I was “born again.” It’s just like the Scriptures say, the old had been washed away, and behold, the new creature was born. I had been bought with a price, just like you have. The precious blood of Jesus washes all of our sins away. And that is the cleanest feeling you will ever have in your life. It’s the cleanest feeling I’ve ever had in mine. People said I was literally “glowing” that night. I felt like I was glowing! I just wanted to tell everyone what had happened! An evangelist I know, who has gone to be with Lord, used to say, “Every drop of His blood paid for every one of your sins.” – Steve Hill.

Salvation is a gift but it is not free. It cost Jesus His life. And to those who accept Jesus, we need to give Him our all. he is worthy of it ALL!

And even though the road has NOT been easy and I have faced what I feel might be more than my fair share of struggles in this life, I can honestly say, that I could not have gotten through them without Jesus to walk with and even carry me through. Dad passed away my senior year in college from a massive heart attack. He had his wish of dying either while playing the guitar or working in the field. He was at a birthday party singing and playing his guitar. He could quote Scriptures, but he was not assured of his salvation. I’d ask him if he knew where he was going to spend eternity and he would say that there is no way one can know.

I had gone a mission trip to Mexico with the Baptist Student Union and we had shared the Jesus film with the people. Upon returning from the trip, I shared it with Dad and he changed. Through this movie and our talks, I know he accepted Jesus as his Savior. I could tell a huge difference in his life. And I know one day, I will see him in Heaven, with the girls (his granddaughters he never met) and our Lord.

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Modern Day Prodigal

Andrew and Todd were brothers. Andrew was twenty years old and Todd was 18 and had just finished high school. Andrew had decided not to go to college but to stay home and help his dad with the family business. The business was growing rapidly and Andrew enjoyed learning all about it. Todd was just as ambitious as his brother. He had plans to go to college and study law. He had been accepted into a prestigious university in a neighboring town. He would live at home and commute to class.

As a college student Todd applied himself well to his studies but he was getting tired of the long hours studying plus he had a part-time job so he could pay his gas and have some spending money. One day, his professor asked him to stay after class. He told Todd about an opportunity to go live overseas, study abroad and take his career to a new level, once he finished his studies. Wow! That night Todd’s mind was racing and he couldn’t sleep. The only problem was that the program required a huge sum of money to be paid up front. This would cover his air fare and first year’s tuition, plus some “miscellaneous fees.” Where would he get that kind of money? Even though he was nervous, he decided to ask his dad for the money.

His dad said that even though business was good and things were growing, he just didn’t have the money to give him. Besides, wasn’t this kind of risky? But Todd persisted and knew his dad had money put back for Andrew’s and his inheritance. So he asked for his half of the inheritance money! This would be enough for Todd to pay for the program and have spending money for quite a while. A few days passed, and just in the nick of time, his dad agreed to give him the cash.

Once he arrived in the new country, things were very different! But he found his way to the University, got settled into his on-campus apartment, and was eager to begin classes. Everything went well for the first few weeks. The only problem was that he was lonely being half-way around the world from his friends and family. Once day he met some other students and started hanging out with them. They were all in the same program. Some of them were from there and others were foreigners like Todd. The group studied together and partied together, too. But things were still pretty good. Todd’s grades were good and he wasn’t lonely anymore, especially once he and one of the girls from the group began dating.

Almost a year had passed. Things were not going so well for Todd. He and his friends got into partying and social life more than studying and attending classes. One day the dean called Todd to his office to tell him he was being cut from the program. Without being enrolled in the University Todd could no longer live on campus and would have to find housing elsewhere or go home. But he could not go home. How would he ever face his father? So he decided to go to work for one of the citizens in exchange for a place to live. This new arrangement was not the kind of lifestyle Todd was used to. He had little to nothing to eat and his friends were gone. Now he really felt like a foreigner. Now he couldn’t sleep at night because he couldn’t stop thinking about home. At home he had everything he needed. At this point, Todd has just enough money left to buy a plane ticket back home.

Todd’s dad looked down the road from his home one day and saw Todd walking toward the house! His eyes filled with tears and his heart swelled with joy to see Todd, his long lost son. They hadn’t even talked in a very long time.
Todd’s dad ran to meet him and hugged him as they made their way to the house. Todd was so ashamed to tell his dad what all had happened. He even told him that he would get a job and pay to live in the house with his family, if they would allow it. But dad was so glad to have Todd home that he told his wife to cook a big meal, complete with dessert. You would have thought it was Thanksgiving or Christmas by the looks of all the food! When Andrew came home from running errands for his dad, there was music playing and all the family was gathered around for the feast to welcome Todd home!

Andrew was more than just a little upset. Here he had stayed home, loyal to his father, heaping with family business while Todd had gone and squandered his inheritance and had brought shame to the family name by getting kicked out of school. The dad took Andrew aside and told him, you will always have me and all I have will be yours. But your brother was as good as lost to us but now he is found!

Of course this is a totally made-up story. There is another story about a prodigal that is very similar. You can read it in Luke 15:11-32. But what is the point of these stories?

The point is that each of us has played the prodigal. But there is hope, just as there was hope for Todd. Are you still a prodigal? Visit http://www.prodigalsonly.com and find hope today!

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