Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It Would Have Been 25 Years

January 30, 1988 ... just 12 days after my Nannie died ... the Lord gave us one of the greatest blessing of our lives.

It's was a cold, bright, sunny Saturday morning.  I rode to a near-by town with my parents and watched them "tie-the-knot" in the livingroom of a preacher friend of my dad's.  Afterwards we went through the drive thru at Hardees to get a chicken sandwich, and then they took me home so they could go away for a couple days.

My parents met a dance a couple years before that day.  To hear my dad tell the story is one of the sweetest things ever.  I really didn't know he could be romantic, but when he tells the story it's like a scene out of a movie.

He had wanted to dance with her, but she was getting ready to leave.  She was wearing a yellow shirt and they started playing, "The Yellow Rose of Texas".  He asked her dance and the rest is history.  The story is much more charming and full of details when he tells it, and the smile on his face tells me what his heart truly feels.

He loves her deeply.  He treated my mom like queen.  Just about anything she wanted, she got.  I say "just about" because occasionally he would draw the line.  Like when she wanted a new car when she had a car that was bought brand new, and only had 16,000 miles on it.  That caused a "spirited discussion" between them.  Nathan, the girls and myself were witness to that discussion, and we still laugh hard when we talk about it.  It was like a scene off of a sitcom.  My girls were in tears they were laughing so hard.

He misses her so much, and I'm sure today is going to be hard for him.  He put a sweet bundle of flowers with a "Happy Anniversary" ribbon on her grave this weekend.  I love that he does that.

My girls tell him all the time they want to marry someone just like him.  He usually responds by saying, "I'd hope you would find someone better than me."  

He is precious, and we love him.  I am grateful that 25 years ago the Lord blessed me with the greatest Dad.  In his Father's Day card this year I thanked him for choosing to be my dad.  We are so blessed to have him.

I'm so grateful my mom was able to experience what it's like to be loved the way he loves her.  For 24 years she was loved deeply and cared for in a way that he wanted the best for her.  She was safe and felt secure with him.  She lived through hell on earth with my biological father, and Don is the complete polar opposite of him.  I will forever be grateful for the way he loves her, and the respect he gave her.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Lord Directs My Path

When someone asked me yesterday at church how I was, I said I was glad the week was over, and we were beginning a new week.

By 8:30 a.m. this morning I was already wanting to hit rewind and start over.  This was not how I envisioned my week starting.

The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9

Actually, I never envisioned this being my life.

I have mostly come to terms with the fact I have CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demylinating Polyneuropathy), and I will most likely have it the rest of my life.  I hate it, but I've accepted.  It's a horrible, painful and sometimes down right scary disease.  There are so many unknowns, and I have literally learned what it means to trust the Lord in every step I take.

Today I can walk.  My gait is unsteady, and I find myself sitting on the ground more often than I'd like.  But I can walk.  Some days I do okay.  Especially the days my pain level isn't at a screaming 8 and the swelling in my legs isn't so bad.  I don't have a lot of those days, but I cherish them when they come.  My friend Lucy (Lucy is my sturdy, handy rolling walker with a seat) helps me along at times.  I don't like pushing a walker with hand breaks.  It wasn't in my life plan at 40 to have a rolling walker and blue hang tag.  Honestly, at times it's embarrassing.  But even through the embarrassment, I am grateful to have them.  I'm grateful I don't have to have Lucy with me every day, everywhere I go.  I'm grateful I have her when I need her.

Life has changed a lot in the past 5 years.  I can't think of hardly anything that has stayed the same.

Well, except Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

We've had to make a lot of adjustments and begin new normals for us.  I don't always like it, but I've accepted it.  I've learned there are some things I just simply cannot do anymore.  I've learned I have limits ... even though the "limit lessons" seem to be some of the lessons I tend to need to learn over and over.

But there are days I'm not so accepting.  There are days I just loose it.

Today was one of those days.

I woke up in a ton of pain.  It took me forever to get to sleep last night.  I love Sundays, but they are so hard for me.  I've come to just expect Monday is going to be really painful, and I'm going to be exhausted.  However, today seems to be worse.

When Nathan woke me up this morning he told me Hannah was complaining with her eye hurting.  I noticed late yesterday afternoon her eye was really red, but I thought her contact was just aggravating it.  It was so painful this morning she couldn't even open it.  After consulting with Darryl, we decided she needed to go see our eye doctor.  So, I made the appointment and spent the next 40 mins making 17 phone calls trying to find someone to take us.

I'm not exaggerating.  Literally 17 phone calls.

Either the person I called didn't answer or they couldn't do it ... all for legit reasons.  I finally broke down and called my friend Deborah.  She has 3 small kids ... 3 year old twins and a 9 month old.  I didn't want to ask her to drag her kids out, especially so early in the morning, but I had hit desperation.

And while on the phone with her trying to work out a way for her to drive us to the eye doctor, I broke down.

Bless her, she's a good incredible friend.

All that kept going through my head was how I was such a failure as a mom.  I can't even drive my own daughter to the doctor when she needs to go.  You see, because of heavy feet and not having reflexes I can't drive anymore.  My arms are even too heavy to hold on to the steering wheel long enough to drive down the road.  It's a chore to even operate a blow dryer, much less operate a vehicle.

I've been having these feelings for a few weeks now anyway.  Sara is in prom dress shopping mode, and instead of me being the one to go with her the first time she looked at them, she took friends.  Even went as far as almost buying one ... and I wasn't there to experience any of it with her.  And her friends' mom is offering to help her in ways I should be.  Don't get me wrong, I am super grateful Sara has friends whose mom is willing to do those things.  She treats her like another daughter.  I see that as a blessing.

But as I have learned over the past few years, not all blessings feel so good.  I want it to be me.  I am her mom.  And I somehow see it as failure on my part.

Just like as Hannah's mom I should be able to get in my van and drive my daughter to the doctor when she needs to go.

Yet, for some reason ... I happen to think for more than just one reason ... that just isn't God's plan.

And I don't like it.  It's heartbreaking.

It's highly unusual for me not to be able to find someone to help us out in a crunch.  We've been blessed way beyond more than we deserve to have friends  and some family who always come through for us.

In the end, Deborah was willing to go way above and beyond for us this morning ... and our friend Alicia was willing to watch Deborah's baby so she could help us, but the Lord ended up working it out so that Nathan could leave school for a bit and take her.

Actually, He didn't "end up" doing it.  He already had it worked out before Nathan ever woke me this morning.  I just failed to trust Him.  My faith was pretty weak this morning.

    And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

I just keep thinking ... I should have been able to have taken her to the eye doctor and not have to depend on someone else.

Somehow, I think the Lord is trying to teach me something.  Like how my dependence should be on Him.

Or maybe how I need to trust that even though I think His plan sort of stinks right now, it's really what's best for me and family.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” ~ Psalm 91:2

And by the way, Hannah is fine.  Apparently, she has developed an allergic reaction to her contact solution.  A simple, easy fix.

Thank you, Jesus!

And my precious husband, who kept trying to calm me down on the phone earlier this morning, came back home with this lovely thing.

He knows my love language. : )

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



Mine is often skewed.  Or maybe I should say it is always skewed.

I'm a worrier who is often paranoid about what people think of me.  I worry I've hurt someone or haven't done something that meets their approval.  Maybe what I've done just wasn't quite good enough, and maybe they see me as a complete and utter failure.

I've had this fear a lot lately.  Let me tell you, it can be paralyzing.  It can make you want to throw your hands up in the air and say, I give up.

That's actually what I should be doing.  Giving it all up ... to God.

I stood in front of Darryl in tears on Sunday at church, and I told him I needed him to pray.  Somehow my heart and head need to line up and realize my concern needs to be more about am I pleasing God, rather than am I pleasing man.  It sounds easy, right?

It's not.

Several months ago I was approached about joining the WIC (Women In the Church) Council in my church.  Shortly after I was approached, the discussion began about me becoming the president.  I told them I would pray about it and get back to them.

My prayer was mostly, Lord, I don't know if I can do this.  Are you sure You don't want to find someone else?

You see, during this time Nathan was also going through lengthy training to become a deacon in our church.  When he was first nominated I had a "friend" tell me she didn't think I would make a good deacon's wife.  I struggled with her comment for weeks.  Still, almost two years later, it stings.

After a lot of prayer and long talks with Nathan, and a few close friends, I agreed to take the position.

And then a few weeks later, I was asked to lead a ladies bible study.

Again, I prayed a lot.  This time I begged the Lord to find someone else, but He didn't.

If anyone had told me 10 years ago I would be where I am now, I would have laughed and said they were crazy.  I was so angry with God, I wanted nothing to do with Him.  But here I am.

And it's scary.

You know the saying, "every sinner has a past"?  Well, I do.  A past that haunts me at times.  There are things in my past I am so ashamed of, and those things have a way of creeping back into my thoughts and reminding me of who I was then.

To some people I'll always be the crazy daughter who has done some horrible things.

And I forget who I am now.  I forget my identity is in Christ, not in my past.  I forget I am a sinner, forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.

He pulled me out of my past, and He is the One who has me here now.

Oh, how easily I tend forget I am His, and He is mine!

And nothing can change that!!


In my forgetfulness, I let the past creep in and tell me what a horrible person I am, and how I'm not good enough to be working in His church.  Things people have said to me over the years keep ringing in my ears.  Instead of hearing His voice, it's their voices I hear.

Instead of seeing myself through the eyes of Jesus, I see myself through my past.

I'll never be good enough to be a deacon's wife, be WIC President or lead a bible study.

That's why I need Jesus.

I desperately need Him!!

Sometimes I struggle with receiving the mercy God has shown me.  I keep thinking I need to pay penance for past sins.  I need to remember that He already paid the price for my sins.

I'm not the same person I was 25, 20 or 10 years ago.  I'm not even the same person I was last week.  And I don't want to be the same person tomorrow.

I want to become more and more like Christ, and less and less like me.

I pray my perception is more like His, too.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


** Landon posted an update just after I wrote this.  You can read it here.

I seem to constantly be checking email, Facebook and CaringBridge looking for the next update on precious Mary Elizabeth.  I can't get her off of my mind.  Yesterday was a step backwards.  The last I read, and when I talked to Landon yesterday, the doctors were thinking she was going to have to be put on the ECMO.  It's a machine that works for the heart and lungs.  I haven't heard yet if she definitely was put on the machine, but last I heard yesterday it was more likely than not she would be put on it.

You can read the latest update here.

So many of us want to do something to help.  I find myself trying to think of things we can do.  As humans we always want to "do" something.  I know praying is the greatest thing I can be doing for Mary, but my human heart just can't seem to accept that's enough.

When you love someone, you want to fix their hurt.  This is one of those times I can't be the fixer.

But I know the One who is.

So, I pray.  Constantly.  Sometimes it's only a few uttered words in my heart.  Other times it's a long conversation with Jesus.

There are so many things we can be praying for ...

Pray Mary heals quickly.  That she is protected from infections.  That the doctors would easily be able to find the balance of the amount of fluids she needs and to protect her heart from fluid building around it.  Pray her heart strengthens.

Pray for wisdom for her team of doctors and nurses.

Pray for Landon and Kandice.  Pray the Lord would wrap Himself around them so tightly that they feel His presence every moment.  Pray they would also have wisdom about decisions that need to be made.  Pray for rest.  Rest for them physically and emotionally, and that spiritually they rest in Jesus.  Pray Kandice continues to heal without any complications.  Pray for strength, mercy and grace.  Pray for their torn hearts ... they want their whole family together. They miss their other children.

Pray Landon and Kandice are protected from the many illnesses that are floating around.  And Mary too!

Pray for their 4 other children.  They are with grandparents and doing well.  Pray the Lord would prepare their hearts for whatever His plan may be.

Pray for those taking care of the children.  Pray for strength and grace.

Pray for those of us who love them and want to help.  Pray for wisdom so we will know how best to help them.

Just pray.

Someone (I think it was Scotty Smith) posted on Twitter last week, "Sometimes the greatest prayer we can pray is simply, "Help"."

There is nothing greater we can do for someone than to carrying them to Jesus.  I'm asking you to do continue to do that for the precious baby and her family.

Tomorrow we will be collecting snacks and bottled water to put together a basket for Landon and Kandice.  I also would love to fill the basket with handwritten notes and cards for them.  Notes of love and encouragement, and even prayers and scripture written out that are being prayed for them.  If you would like to contribute, let me know.

And please, continue to pray.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Where Two or Thousands Gather In His Name

For the past few days my thoughts have been consumed with wondering how precious Mary is doing.  I find myself constantly bouncing back and forth between email and Facebook checking for updates.  So grateful for my iPhone that I am able to keep handy.  I can give you hundreds of reasons why I'm not so fond of Facebook, but yesterday I saw it as a gift.  A gift that allowed us to have instant updates on Mary.  I also witnessed it bring hundreds of folks together.  All for one cause.  To pray for this sweet baby.  It allowed those of us who know and love the Vick's to reach out to those who have no idea who they are and ask them to pray.  Landon even mentioned hearing from people they didn't know who had heard about Mary.

    For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” ~ Matthew 18:20

This verse keeps coming to my mind when I think about all of the hundreds ... I would venture to say even thousands at this point ... of people praying for this 5 lb 14 oz baby girl name Mary Elizabeth.  He is most certainly in the midst of us working.  I see Him so clearly.

The most recent news I have heard this morning is she made it through the night without any life support.  Just typing that sentence has me sobbing tears of gratitude.  As my pastor reminded us last night, most babies with her condition never even make to surgery.

His mercies are new every morning.

Please continue to pray.  Prayer is the most important thing we can do for one another.  To carry someone to the Throne of Grace and lay them at the feet of Jesus is the greatest gift you could ever give to anyone.  I know they covet your prayers.

This precious baby girl has no idea how the Lord is using her life to bring so many people closer to Him.  Just 3 days old and He's already using her to change the world around her.  He has been since the day He revealed her condition to the doctors.  We have prayed for this sweet baby for months.

This is the link to Mary's CaringBridge site.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Praying for Baby Mary

As I begin this post, surgery is to begin on our friends' newborn daughter, Mary Elizabeth.  I'm asking you to take a moment to pray, and every time she comes to your mind, pray again.

Around 20 weeks of pregnancy a routine ultrasound revealed she had issues with her heart that would require surgery if she survived the pregnancy.  Later on in the pregnancy, they discovered there are also issues with her airway.

First of all, her surviving birth is a miracle.  Looking at statistics., chances were slim.  They were told she may not even survive the pregnancy, and if she did, she might not make it out of the delivery room.

God is so much bigger than statistics.  He's not a god of chances.  He is sovereign.  He has a perfect plan for Mary's life.  She has a life of much purpose.

As I look at pictures of this beautiful baby girl, all I can see is Jesus.  Jesus, the healer.  Jesus, the miracle worker.  Jesus, the giver of life.

No one knows what His plan is from here.  We are praying she survives surgery, and that the doctors are able to correct the issues with her heart and airway.  We are praying she is protected from infections or complications from surgery.  We are praying she is healed.

We've already seen God answer so many prayers.  Step by step, moment by moment.  I have become increasingly aware of His grace and mercy.

And pray for her parents, Kandice and Landon.  I really can't imagine going through anything harder in life than what they are walking through right now.  They've been so honest about their fears, and still they are trusting the Lord.  They are trusting Him and praising Him.

Not only have they been such a blessing to me, I've heard so many people say the same.

This will be a very long day for them.  Please pray Kandice is able to quickly recover.  Pray that they continuously feel the Lord's presence with them through every moment of this day.

Mary is only 2 days old, and already the Lord has used her in such a mighty way.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Counting The Gifts I've Been Given

I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp this past year.

Twice actually.  And I gave it to 4 people.

I loved it that much.  I don't read an entire book that doesn't revolve around a bible study often, and I had no idea when I first read this book a bible study was being done.  I was so excited when I found out.

Until I was asked to lead it.

Just reading the sentence, " ... and I think you should be the one to lead it." just about made me throw up.


Reluctantly, I said I'd pray about it.  What I've not told anyone to this day is my prayer was, "Lord, please, please find someone else to lead this study.  I don't want to do it."

He didn't.

Upon further investigation I discovered it's a DVD series study and comes with a handy study guide.  That I can do without the need of a Zofran IV.

A few weeks ago I bought the DVDs and watched all them in one night.  I got them on a Saturday and had to pass them to my pastor the next day.  All studies done through my church have to be approved by the session, and time was fast approaching for them to meet next.

By this time I was in love with the study.  So my prayer went from begging the Lord to find someone else to lead the study, to begging Him for them to approve it.

Approved it was, and now I cannot wait to get started.  January 14 the Monday night study will begin, and January 22 the Tuesday morning study begins.  Yes, I'm holding two studies at once.  Sounds a little nuts, I know, but I have become so passionate about this study.  I want to make it possible for every lady to participate.  It's just easier for there to be a daytime and a nighttime group.  Each group will only meet every other week, and they will alternate weeks.  Plus, I'm not having teach it.  I'm only facilitating.

I'm excited to get started, and can hardly wait!  In the meantime, I think I'm going to try something else.  Hopefully, I can keep this up.

Ann started The Joy Dare last year, and is doing it again this year.  Each day she gives you a category and you're supposed to list three gifts.  It's a count down to 1,000 gifts throughout the year.  The idea is you count 3 gifts per day, and by the end of the year you have counted at least 1,000 gifts ... 1095 to be exact.  You can read more about it here where she explains a little more in detail, and you can get a copy of January's Joy Dare  here at the end of this post by Ann.  Even though I'm a couple of days behind already, I think I'm going to attempt to do it.

I think it will be good for me to have some structure in being intentional about realizing the gifts the Lord has given me.  Realizing them, and being grateful for them.  Focusing on the bad comes so naturally to us, and I know for me, it's so easy to let it overwhelm me.

That's happening now.  Has been happening for months now.  I'm still fighting against a horrible depression and still on medication for the stomach ulcer that sent me to the ER doubled over in pain.  I'd love to remedy that.

I have a choice.  I can either wallow in all of the ugliness of life, or I can focus on the beauty of all I have been given.

... From everyone who has been given muchmuch will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. ~ Luke 12:48

Much I have been given, folks.  I'm off to count today's gifts, and hopefully, will write them out later today.

And if you'd like to join one of groups, even if you don't attend my church, let me know.  We'd love to have you join us.  I really think everyone is going to love this study.  I think it's the perfect one to do as we enter into this new year.  Being grateful for what we already have, rather than worrying over what we don't have.

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. ~ Psalm 9:1

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 2012 Take-Away

I am not a fan of New Year's resolutions.  I never keep them, so why would I profess to do something knowing chances are by January 2 I will have already broken it?  Seems like any easy way to create something to just remind myself over and over throughout the year what a failure I am.

Um, no thank you.

I am grateful 2012 is gone.  It was the hardest year of my life.  A year full of heartache.  Loosing my mama in March has left a gaping wound in my heart.  A wound I'm not sure will ever heal.  Not this side of Heaven anyway.

Oh, how I miss her!

And there were lots of other hard things.  Too much tragedy.  Way too many tears.

I've been asking myself what my take-away from 2012 is going to be.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

He's the same Jesus on January 1, 2013 as He was January 1, 2012.  He was faithful then, He's faithful now.

He loves me.

Oh, how He loves me.

One of my most favorite songs is by David Crowder,  "How He Loves".

When I stop and really think about how much He loves me, I become so overwhelmed.  For someone who has spent most all of her life trying to convince Him to love her ... trying to be good enough or make up for past mistakes ... only to realize His love is unconditional, unwavering and undeserved ... well, it's more than I can process.

I am so grateful for His love.  I am grateful that His mercies are new every morning, and His grace is constantly being poured over me.

I couldn't have survived 2012 without Him.  He carried me through.

I had someone ask me a couple of weeks ago how I could still trust a God who had allowed everything that had happened in my life this past year.  She even brought my illness into the equation.  This question came from a friend who has seen all of the year's events.

I wasn't exactly sure how to answer her.  She's professes to be a Christian, so I wondered if maybe it was a trick question.

But she was serious.

So, I thought for a few moments, trying to come up with some sort of deep, theological reasoning.  Reasoning she wouldn't be able to argue with me about and would perhaps make me sound like a "super-Christian".

After a few moments I finally said, "Because I do".

Bad things are going to happened to us.  We are going to loose people we love.  We are going to hurt.  Some of us will experience chronic illness for which there is no cure.  We will watch those we love suffer, and not be able to do one thing to make it better.  The bible doesn't say, "if" it happens.  It says "whenever" it happens.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4

I don't claim to know all the reasons we suffer in this life, but I do know God is sovereign.  And just like Paul tells us, I believe everything happens for my good and His glory.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  ~ Romans 8:28-30

I trust Him because He is trustworthy.  With His unending love, abundant grace and ever-flowing mercies He carries me through those seemingly unbearable moments.

And there have been a lot of those moments.

No doubt there will be more.

But I can face them knowing He's going to carry me through.

My take away from 2012 is understanding the love Jesus has for me just a little bit more than I did.  When I examine all of the events of this past year, there He was.

With love like a hurricane, He loves me.

And I am certain that on January 1, 2014 I will be able to look back at this year and see my Jesus was there supplying me with exactly what I need to get through each and every moment of the day.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. ~ Psalm 51:10

Happy 2013, y'all!!