Category Archives: It’s Just Me

Here’s To Good Health! Chapter Two, Part One

(Originally Posted 12-13-2017)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).  Autoimmune disease.  After hours and hours of research over the years, I think I’m only a little closer to understanding autoimmune diseases.  An autoimmune disease occurs when something goes wrong in a person’s body and the immune system get its wires crossed and attacks the person’s good cells, thinking they are bad cells.  For those who may not know, there is no known cure for an autoimmune disease, and no one knows how it comes to exist. At best, it’s a rollercoaster ride of shifts and uncertainties that can leave a person wondering “What’s next?”  There are many autoimmune diseases known today.  In my case, “it” (the RA) attacks my joints, mainly in my hands and some in my knees.  How do I cope?  I’ll start at the beginning.

“It” first came to visit in April of 2004. I woke up one day and found the index finger on my right hand swollen almost double, like a link of sausage. Curious to say the least. I was working at a medical clinic at the time and after a simple blood test, off to a rheumatologist I go. I refused to accept it. I was in a state of denial and I never called it by its name. After a very painful injection and very strong medications, I was set up on quarterly monitoring. And that was it. I was given no hope of a cure.  Only treatment in an effort to keep it from advancing and according to my medical records, my identity took on a “new look.”

I kept telling myself, “This can’t be right. Why would God give me the gift of music through my hands and then just take them away?” I searched the Lord deeply for answers and understanding. Eventually, I learned that there is a real spiritual connection to sickness and disease and I didn’t have to accept this disease in my body. But…what was it that caused this “thing” to happen to me?  What did I do? What did I not do? Stress is a major contributing factor to the breakdown of good health. Okay.  I get it.  I went through a lot during the marriage and even afterwards. Get rid of the stress.  Yeah. Finding that peace that passed all understanding is not always as easy as saying you walk in peace. It turns out, it has to become a mindset in order to achieve it. At any moment, “things” can happen to get a person stirred up.  Peace comes from knowing we do not have to overcome it on our own.

At any rate, I began the process of learning how to rest in the Lord. The Lord said to me, “I have healed you.” I must admit, I grabbed hold of that word for dear life and fully expected to wake up the next morning and it would be gone! After all, I had heard testimony after testimony of how God miraculously healed others, and God does not show favoritism. Right??  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for me.  Not that way.

I sought answers through health forums on the Internet.  Information overload does not adequately describe the information floating through the digital world. I finally found a small group who didn’t discuss far-fetched notions but talked in simple to understand terms. “God made our body to heal itself” was the common theme. When what’s in the world attacks, God has made provision for healing and overcoming it.  Knowledge is power and I was feeling very strong about now. Quite honestly, my diet was terrible.  Oh, and by the way, did I tell you I used to smoke? Yep.  That was me. Like a freight train. I was finally able to walk away from them over eight years ago at the time of this writing.  That was hard. Nicorette worked like a champ. Looking back, I don’t know how I was able to breathe before! It is true what they say, once you quit, you can’t stand the smell of it. Choking. So grateful to God and for those who prayed me through that journey to becoming smoke-free.

Whole foods.  Eating the way Jesus ate when he walked on this earth.  In fact, a woman I talked with on the on-line health forum lived by the rule of “If I can’t eat it, it doesn’t go on or in my body.” It sounded magnificent and overwhelming to me. I understood a good, healthy diet. I understood processed foods have had the life processed right out of them. But then came the flood of information about mycotoxins, starchy foods, carbs, good sugar, bad sugar and then the toxicity of gluten. The learning curve was definitely increasing.  It seemed simple enough to understand. Bad stuff goes in, bad stuff begins to happen.

The years went by and “it” (the RA) seemed to have disappeared. I had started walking and at one point was walking three miles a day. After about a year, in addition to eating well and no longer smoking, I managed to lose over 100 pounds. I was literally transformed into a new person. I felt better than I had felt in 20 years.  I was thrilled!  The doctors were wrong, I reasoned within myself. It was a false-positive. The Lord had indeed healed me! Now, on to living life to the fullest!

(To Be Continued)

Here’s To Good Health! Chapter One

(Originally Posted 12-12-2017)

We tend to take so much for granted.  Don’t we?  When we’re young, we give little thought to what our health will become after time goes by.  Youth usually grants us the privilege of freedom of movement, adequate lung capacity, and a strong, regular heartbeat. Seldom do we stop to think we might wake up one day and find everything has changed.  What we once thought would last forever—at least until we are well on in our golden years, suddenly proves to be a force to be reckoned with. What went wrong?  How did this happen?  Why?  These are questions we ask, with usually no real answers to satisfy the long rocky road one now faces. My journey to earnestly seeking good health started about 20 years ago.

My daughter and I were adjusting to our new lives unmarried. I was growing in my walk with the Lord and loving our new home with almost 7 acres of undeveloped land. I felt as if it were heaven on earth. At least for the moment.

I loved working on the land. The land was covered with large, tall pine trees and some hardwood. I tried to sell the 20 tall pine trees to make a little extra money of the land. I called a man who came highly recommended who used a horse-drawn wagon so as not to tear up the land while cutting down and removing the trees.  My contentment was short-lived after being given $5.68 for one tree. I was told the price for trees just wasn’t very high. (I was previously told a tree of that size would sell for about $100.00 a tree for the lumber, after the cost of removal).  Oh. No. Uh Uh. Not me. Not on my watch.

Hmmm…well…I guess you could say I got a little twisted and decided I wasn’t going to stand for profiteering on my land. I decided I’d cut down the trees and burn them myself before I let someone take advantage of me like this. I hired a teenage boy to cut down the unwanted trees and I used a chainsaw to cut the tree into manageable pieces. Then with a tractor and chain, I pulled them to a burn pile. I cut them up into smaller pieces and put them on the fire. This went on for a few weeks.  My daughter and I had a great time roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Yum. Yum.  Hmph.

I loved working on the land. It was great therapy for me. I don’t think I’ve ever before appreciated my dad as much as I did during that time of my life for teaching me how to take care of the land I had been blessed with. Over the course of our first year there, I not only cleared the trees, cleared underbrush, I managed to underpin my doublewide and even built a small deck on the back side of the house (with a little help getting it squared up). Yep. I had a lot of anger issues to work on after the divorce, and the sledge hammer, drill and saw became my battering rams to the future with a hope I was striving to obtain.  My next project was to clear out a section in the back woods close to the back yard and make a prayer garden full of blooming flowers and a soft water fall.  In the meantime, I put in a large above ground swimming pool for our first summer on the property, with some pleasant side effects for my daughter.  My daughter soon found she was pretty popular in the neighborhood, as she was the only kid with a swimming pool and what kid doesn’t like to go swimming in the summertime? Life was looking better all the time.

Winter came and after working so hard, I had achieved fairly good physical condition. I even managed to lose a few unwanted pounds.  Since I didn’t want to lose momentum, I sought to start an inside work-out. My daughter was in gymnastics at the time and I bought her a thick, folding gymnastics mat. Our living room was long, so we moved the furniture to one side and began tumbling, cartwheels, jumping jacks and whatever else we could think to do within our new “gym.” We had a lot of fun. It was hardly noticeable we were actually “working out.” Then overnight, life as I knew it would never be the same.

I’ve always led a fairly active lifestyle, although I’ve never trained, or aspired to train as a serious athlete. Nevertheless, I stayed pretty mobile. I enjoyed stretching. It felt great and my body always let me know what needed to move to stay conditioned. Although I’ve never been one to study or explore the art of Yoga, I did love how some of the movements made my body feel—strong and agile. One day, I tried to do a stretch I had regularly done some years before. You lie on your back and lift your legs over your body, as if you are going to touch your head with your toes, only you curl your back and rest your feet on the floor above your head. It stretches almost every muscle in your body and opens up your spine, stretching and relaxing the muscles. Sadly, on this particular day, my body let me know it had been a little too long since I had regularly stretched in this manner and it put too much pressure on my neck. I felt a pop in my neck. There was no instant pain, only a little feeling of stiffness.

I woke up the next morning and I could hardly move. I couldn’t sit up.  I had to literally roll out of bed. Upon moving, I felt pain like I had never felt before. I couldn’t lift my left arm and the ring and pinky fingers on my right hand were numb with a lot of tingling going down my arm. What on earth happened?  I went to my chiropractor who did everything he could but nothing seemed to help. I had two slipped discs in my neck. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t find relief with anything I tried.  I couldn’t sit—the pain got worse. Standing was difficult, although it was more bearable than sitting.  I couldn’t eat much—it was difficult to feed myself, which was actually okay to some extent, as I had lost my appetite.  When I went to bed, I had to lie flat of my back and I used a heating pad.  In this way, I was at least able to get a few hours of sleep.  The pain and discomfort went on for months. At one point, the muscle spasms got so bad I felt as if my chest wall was caving in. And Oh! How I hated taking medicine! I couldn’t stay doped up on pain meds because I had to drive and go to work, and at home, I had to be alert for my young daughter.  I tried every natural approach I could find and solicited every prayer warrior in the area.  We are told by the stripes of Jesus we are healed.  And yes, we are.  I did give in and graciously accepted the relief from the severe pain through mild pain medicines and muscle relaxers at night. Looking back, I wish I would have sought a neurosurgeon immediately.  God definitely sustained me on my sick bed.

After four months and continued treatment, my neck finally began to heal enough the pain was not so sharp and eventually I did regain feeling in my hands.  Good chiropractors are a God-send.  However, my life would never again be the same. I became unable to work on the land I so dearly loved.  I was careful with every step I took and prayed more earnestly than ever before that nothing would slip out of place again and praising God for my healing—without the need of surgery.

It seemed this was the beginning of another great era of life crumbling around me.  It was soon after this I became engaged to a man by whom I got pregnant.  And, you know the rest of that story.

Time went on and I learned to adjust to life not being quite so active.  I finally finished school and was looking forward to the bright future ahead of me.  A new job at a multi-specialty clinic with good salary and benefits, all the while doing what I trained to do in medical transcription, as well as doing what I love the most—serving as the church pianist and working with the worship pastor in the music department.

With no explanation and no warning, I woke up on a Sunday morning seven years after the accident that caused two slipped discs in my neck and once again, I could hardly move.  My left arm felt like I was swinging dead weight at my side.  My right arm was tingling with numbness in my fingers again. Flashbacks of seven years earlier flooded my memories.  I went to church and barely made it through the song service with the piano.

The next day, I was at my doctor’s office.  With one x-ray, she immediately set me up with an appointment with a top neurosurgeon and highly recommended by her.  Next stop—an MRI.  When the MRI was completed, the technician asked me, “What happened to your neck?”  I explained to her my story and she simply shook her head. I asked her to tell me what she saw, but of course, she was not allowed to do so.  So, I awaited my neurosurgeon’s appointment.

My doctor took me into the viewing room and showed me my neck on the MRI.  It looked as if there were two rubberbands wound tightly around my spinal cord in two places. In both places, I could see gross narrowing of my spinal cord.  He said, “It’s not good.” Ankylosing spondylosis is what it was called.  Basically, arthritis set up in two of the vertebrae and my spinal cord was severely impinged.  I know God is my healer.  I considered it a miracle I was walking.  I was scheduled for surgery, but it would be two months before there was an opening in his schedule.  Since he was rated one of the best, I trusted God and waited—with caution and an assortment of muscle relaxers and mild pain meds, I waited.

The year was 2004.  That year proved to be a challenging year to say the least.  Soon after neck surgery was scheduled, I developed another abnormal symptom.  The index finger on my right hand became swollen like a sausage. I could hardly bend my finger and it was difficult to type.  Yet, I was determined nothing else was going to go wrong with me.  Again, I saw my doctor, who immediately referred me to a rheumatologist.  Indeed, I was learning a great deal about disease processes and the human body, but perhaps I was in denial. Why did I need to see a rheumatologist??  One look at my finger and a couple of blood tests, and the doctor said, “You have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).”  I was only 40 years old.  I was in shock.  The only thing I knew about this disease is that a person with it would become crippled.  You can’t walk. You can’t use your hands.  You end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life and I wasn’t going to have any part of it!  I immediately began declaring healing scriptures and let the devil know in short order that God gave me my hands to bring him glory playing the piano and I was going to continue to do just that. I would not give in to this! It wasn’t mine and I demanded it leave me.

I had what would be my first injection to my finger (very painful), after which I vowed I would get to the bottom of why this decided to invade my body.  I searched genetic reasons.  There is no family history of this disease in my family—as far back as four generations that I know of.  We might get some osteoarthritis when we get older but we do not have rheumatoid! In the meantime, I was placed on very strong medications that would diminish the effects of RA but would not provide a cure.  Plus, it could adversely affect your eyesight.  Ugh.  And on top of that, I would be having neck surgery in a matter of only a few weeks.  I was determined I was not giving in to any of this.

Finally, the day had come.  June 28, 2004.  Time for neck surgery.  They would replace the two vertebrae in my neck with cadaver bones and fuse them in place.  Thank God I would not become prey for a metal magnet!  Healing was slow and painful. At least I was able to go to my mother’s home to recover.  There, we had plenty of room for the kids to play and we were close to family for the help we needed.  The quietness of the country was what I needed to relax so my body could heal.

God is good and does not withhold good from us.  Even so, the choices we make leave a footprint on our lives and the lives of those around us.  I have since learned that in our best efforts, we can, by no real fault of our own, really miss the right way to go.  I was so fortunate.  I was so blessed and protected by God to not have suffered anything worse than I did.  I still exercise and stretch regularly. I still have to be cautious with my choice activities and use wisdom.  I refuse to give in to defeat, but I will always know God kept me, sustained me and healed me.  Now, I go forward using more guided wisdom.  God is truly, my best friend.

One down.  One to go.  Now…about the RA?  That’s a story that begins another chapter of my journey of grace, healing and recovery.

 

God Never Forgets!

(Originally Posted 10-28-2017)

I love this:   God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Hebrews 6:10

I woke up early this morning. I didn’t sleep much last night. The Lord continues to bring people to me that need prayer and encouragement.

I was going through my pictures recently. So many, many memories. From when I was growing up, to when I was raising my children. I came across certificates of achievements for work, college, school of ministry, even when I was in high school and achieved placement in the state band and choir competition, after which I was offered a band and vocal scholarship to two different universities.  It seemed every where I turned, doors were flying open for me with opportunities to go further than I could have imagined.

Sometimes, the choices can be overwhelming and we simply do the best we can when choosing what seems to be the best choice for us.  There is a future with a hope for us.  I realize there are times God seems to be the only one in agreement with this.  However, because he says it is so, and he cannot lie, it’s important we continue to persevere, push through the setbacks and disappointments, press on and not give up.

I remember when my daughter was in middle school and she wanted to be in band. She wanted to play the flute, and nothing else was acceptable to her.  The band director, on the other hand, encouraged her to play the clarinet. They needed more clarinet players, not flute players. My daughter seemed to struggle with mouth placement and the band director once again encouraged her to consider clarinet. I told her to never give up but stay focused and keep trying. She persevered and indeed, she developed the proper flute embouchure and was allowed to play the flute.  Hence forth, any time she struggled to achieve something difficult, I reminded her how she overcame before because she pushed through and persevered.

When my son was going into 8th grade, they started the school sponsored football teams.  My son had dreamed of playing football since he was seven years old.  However, in order to be considered for the team, he would have to successfully complete all his classes. Although he is a good student, he was in a class he would have rather not had to encounter—-and needless to say, he was beginning to see that his dream of playing football might not be realized. I encouraged him to focus on “the prize” of getting on the team, to which my son buckled down, and after a lot of hard work raised his grades.  The deciding moment came when his grades came in the mail.  He sat with anticipation.  As I read the report, I couldn’t contain myself and with excitement I said, “You passed.”  You could see the relief come over him.  During football practice, my son would do whatever the coach asked him to do, and he would do so with so much enthusiasm, the coach made my son one of the team captains–not because he was so gifted playing the sport, but because he had such a heart for the team and working hard to accomplish the goals. Even after all his hard work, we found my son simply could not coordinate his mind with his body to keep up with the movement of the plays.  Even with extra help from the coaches, it became obvious my son’s dream of playing football would not be realized.  My son was heartbroken. But in time, my son could see how, even so, God was faithful in helping my son get on the football team.

In looking back on my life, I realize God has been so good to me.  Even during the most tragic life events, God was still faithful. Through the good times when, without seemingly any effort from me, good things and good opportunities were coming to me in overtly blessed abundance, God was there with grace and mercy navigating me. During the most tragic events and difficult seasons, when choices were so overwhelming I could barely see the steps before me that I should walk in, God was there with his abounding loving kindness to carry me and say, “It’s okay. I got this.”

There were so many times I wondered if I would make it through. There were times that were so dark I couldn’t see any light of hope and wondered if I would ever be able to breath again. I’ve gone from having much to having almost nothing.  But God…  Through every season God always showed himself faithful.

Be encouraged. Even when life takes a sudden unexpected turn and it seems everything is unraveling around you, it does not take God by surprise.  Continue to love him, and in that love help his people. God’s got your back.  He’s working things out for you, even when you can’t see what he’s doing at the moment.

Blessings…

He’s Just A Boy

(Originally Posted 10-23-2017)

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. James 1:12.

I’ve always encouraged my kids to always try as hard as they could to achieve their dreams and goals. I never put limitations on them or allowed excuses for anything to keep them from working towards what they wanted. My son was no exception.

My son, although unique in so many, many ways, was always a predominantly obedient little boy. When he was six years old, I had to leave for a few hours so I could visit a sick family member who was in ICU. So, I left him in the care of my daughter, who truthfully would have much rather been hanging out with her friends. In an attempt to keep peace between the two, I gave my son strict instructions to stay in his room and play with his toys or watch his videos until I got back, unless he needed a drink or use the bathroom and do not harass his sister.

Much to my surprise, when I got home, my son was still in his room. I opened up to the door to his smiling face and “Hi mom!” Confirmed by my daughter, he did exactly what I asked him to do. Amazing. This is pretty much the way he was most of the time, with rare exception. What I asked him to do, he would do. We were truly buddies.

When my son was eight years old, we moved in with my mother to help care for her and her yard after she experienced health issues related to having heart trouble. He was so excited. He now had two acres of uncharted territory to explore and conquer.

Living in the country in Arkansas, most people were involved in hunting to some degree, whether it gun, bow or muzzle loading season hunting squirrel, rabbit, and deer, among others. When my son turned 10 years old, his uncle (my brother-in-law) thought it was time for my son to move into the ranks of being a “hunter.” So, unbeknownst to me, my son was presented with his first BB gun. Yep. A Red Rider, just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. My son’s eyes almost bugged out of his head and he couldn’t stop jumping with excitement. His first gun! Of course, my first thought was “He’s not old enough.” My opinion was quickly outnumbered, even by my mother who cited my brother got his first BB gun when he was 8. Oh my.

Of course, he wasn’t allowed to be outside with it by himself. He had to be taught how to shoot it safely. I would take him behind the old shed and we would line up coke cans as targets. Actually, he was a pretty good shot. I was impressed. When we were finished, he had to put it up properly, neatly in the closet, until the next time he was allowed to take it out again. Strict rules were given that he was never to come outside with this gun without supervision, to which he agreed.

The next Sunday after we got home from church, my mother and I left my son in the living room to watch TV while we went to take our regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon nap. After an hour, I got up to find my son watching TV. A few hours later, my mother walked through the room and said she was going to town to pick up something for supper. A few minutes later I heard my mother shouting and went out into the carport to see what was going on.

I was shocked. Speechless. The back glass of her PT Cruiser was gone. Shattered. She shouted at my son to “Get out here!” You gotta understand something about my mother. She is generally a pretty calm person. It really takes a lot to get her upset to the point she’s yelling. So, when she begins to shout obscenities, you know she’s just plain MAD! I must admit that I had lived with my mom long enough to see the patter of whenever something went wrong, she naturally assumed my son had something to do with it. And so…

My son slowly opened the door and stood on the steps. I asked him if he broke the window. To my grief, he admitted to it but insisted it was an accident. I asked him what he did. He said he was trying to kill the bird sitting on the edge of the carport roof. I must admit. He had to miss pretty big to kill the back glass of my mother’s car. I was boiling. My mother at this point was spit sputtering. I asked him what he threw trying to kill the bird. He said he didn’t throw anything. By now, I was losing patience. “Then what were you doing??” Sheepishly, my son answered, “I was trying to shoot him.” “Shoot him??” I asked. Then it all came together. “Never mind,” I said. I went to the closet to look at the gun and saw he had not put away properly. Guilty as charged.

My mother didn’t say another word. She walked past us and went to her room. Where she stayed for three days. Not saying a word. Not coming out when we were at home. Nothing. I must admit this was a lot. It was much worse than the time my son ran a knife across the felt on her pool table “just to see what would happen.” No. She handled that much better. She didn’t even get this mad when my daughter (17 at the time) thought she would sit my son in her lap and teach him to steer a car down my mother’s long driveway but then couldn’t navigate the foot pedals to stop before she ran into the back of my mother’s car, breaking the taillight lens. Uh-uh. No.

What was my son thinking?? I gave my son the same instructions I had always given him when I got ready to take my Sunday afternoon nap. I expected the same obedient response he had consistently given me. But not this day. The temptation was just too great for him to resist. I taped the back of my mother’s car until we could get it fixed. I called my brother-in-law and insisted he come pick up the BB gun. My son was in tears. He said he was so sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again. I decided it wasn’t worth taking another chance. My brother-in-law said, “He’s just a boy.” True. But not much consolation at this point.

Temptation will always give us an opportunity to walk to the right or left of the center line of obedience. God’s desire is that we obey his commands, for our own good—even when we think the rules are too strict, ridiculous or otherwise not necessary. I’m so glad the back glass on my mother’s car was the only thing that was damaged that day. My son certainly was not trying to hurt anything or do harm (glad the bird got away.) Even so, as my son learned, the rules were put into place for his own good and for the good of others. There is no temptation too great God does not give us the ability to overcome it. We do, however, have to be willing to stand against the temptation when it comes.

 

It’s A Sticky Situation

(Originally Posted 10-16-2017)

“This you know, my beloved, but let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19, 20

One Saturday morning, when my daughter was 7 years old, I was doing my normal schedule of house cleaning chores. I promised my daughter I would take her to the store to get her a video she wanted, so I was trying to get everything done as quickly as possible. I was finishing up when my daughter asked if she could help me clean the kitchen floor. I said yes, of course (who doesn’t want help from their children, especially when they offer?) As I was getting everything ready for us to get started, I heard a knock on the door and went to see who was there. When I came back, my daughter was standing at the edge of the kitchen floor looking at her masterpiece. Her face was beaming showing that her heart was about to explode with the anticipation of how I was certainly going to praise her good job and willingness to help clean the floor, knowing we would soon be on our way to get her the “prize” that awaited her.

My heart sank. I looked at the floor in utter disbelief. An entire bottle of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid was squirted out all over the kitchen floor. She looked up at me and smiled. I was beside myself. I couldn’t speak. Finally, I was able to eek out as joyfully as possible, “Oh my. I see.” My first thought was how am I going to get this blue, sticky, gummy mass of mess off of my kitchen floor. My second thought was are we going to get this mess cleaned up store closed?? Ugh!! I didn’t want to say or do anything that would crush her spirit and did not want this to keep her from wanting to help again. So, I took a deep breath, looked at her, smiled and said, “Okay. Let’s get started.” It took over an hour to get the soap off of the floor. It was then we were finally able to actually clean the floor. Smooth sailing again!

What started out looking like a disaster, ended up being a great time spent together laughing and working together, even as we went “slip sliding away” on the floor. During this experience, I learned how cold water is good for cutting soapy suds. Then it occurred to me, although the cold water was what I needed to clean up the soap on the floor, the whole experience would have been a disaster if I had let the cold water of my emotions be quick to respond and over react to my daughter’s effort to help.

As children of God, we are to pursue God’s righteousness in all things. In this scripture, God tells us to listen, be slow to speak and slow to anger. In our lives, if we do not become hasty in our reactions or allow how we feel about a situation decide how we respond, then even through the times of dismay, we can still overcome and walk in the righteousness of God.

 

Life…..And Then There’s Two–Part One

(Originally Posted 10-2-2017)

Promises, promises.  I held on to them for dear life.  They were my hope.  They were my anchor.  I hung on to them for dear life and I wasn’t going to let anyone take them from me.  I held them close to my heart.  In fact, for many of them, only me and God knew.  That’s how I liked it.  That’s how I wanted it.  I never uttered a peep. That’s how I knew they were safe.  Just between me and God.

As my daughter and I continued to live and grow, the Lord continued to show himself faithful.  We had our valleys no doubt, but all in all, I could finally see God’s hand of favor on our lives and he constantly reaffirmed his promise to me for good and not harm, a future and a hope, and that is what kept me going through each valley.  I felt a shift in our circumstances in that I saw my daughter smile when we were together.  In fact, we finally started connecting in the simplicity of living day to day.  Yet, there was still that “thing” inside me that wished I had made better choices.  I wished I had never taken the wrong turn.  I wished I had trusted God more to finish what he started in me so long ago.  I wished so much…I wished with so much regret I wondered if I would ever realize the fullness of what I knew God called me to do.

Then it happened.  That meeting.  That encounter with God that changed me forever.  It was a Tuesday night in October.  The Fall air was beginning to set in but it was still plenty warm outside. Me and a friend was invited back to my “hometown church” where I served after my father was killed in the accident. It was one of those old fashioned tent revivals.  A place where you could lift you hands to praise and shout “Halleluiah!  Amen!”  I got to see so many friends in a church where I once worshiped.  It was a great night.  I felt like I was walking on air.

I came home and the next night, I resumed service at my current church, which was also in revival.  It was a Wednesday night.  The service was powerful.  The Holy Spirit was strong and the message was well-received.  I found myself in tears and could not even speak to anyone at the end of service.  I went home and could not make sense of the sudden shift in my emotions.  I woke up the next morning (Thursday morning), still in a fog—still such a heaviness in my spirit.  I knew I had to go to work.  I prayed and prayed but could not find relief. Why were my emotions on such a roller coaster?  Why had I gone from such a “high” to such a “low” in a matter of hours?  It made no sense.

Finally, I pounded my fist on the kitchen table and said to God, “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on!”  Like a movie playing in my mind, the Lord took me through memories of when I was at my hometown church after my dad died. I was one of the church pianists.  God showed me how I had served as fill-in to a community church when they had no pianist and how God had used me to bring the music to my then pastor’s revival circuit.  He reminded me of the connections he made for me through local quartets and the encouragement they gave me regarding the music ministry God had given me.  Then the Lord showed me where I was at the present time.  He showed me how even through the bad marriage we were in, the Lord gave me strength to step out and attend the current church I was currently attending as a “safe place,” and so they could start praying for us.  He showed me how if it had not been for the prayers of the people at my current church, the Satan would have caused my ex-husband to be consumed with paranoia and we would have been killed. The Lord showed me how even though I took a wrong turn, he never left me and he caused me to be delivered and placed me at a church where once again, I was serving through the gift of music he gave me.  The Lord then asked me, “Can’t you see? I’ve restored you.”  I was stunned.  Yes, once again, with a tear-soaked face, all I could do was worship my savior.

The Lord then spoke to me and said, “Many of my people are hurting. Tell my people that I love them and I want them to come to me so I can heal them. Time is running out and I need my people working. I will use your life to bring me glory.”

I was speechless. How could God love me so much that He would still choose to use someone like me after all I had done?  I was so in love with my savior I could scarcely find the words to utter my praise to him.  The Lord began to tell me some of the things he was preparing for me—really great things that I held deep in my heart and well within God’s keeping power.  The date was October 19, 1996.  God had already anointed me to write and earlier that year, I asked God to give me a song that I could give back to him, to bring him glory. The song, “You Love Even Me” would become prophetic for even me, as this year ended and the next year began to unfold.

I stayed on that “mountain top” for a long time. Our lives were becoming more settled and my direction clearer.  Then it happened.  In my normal course of daily living, I had another encounter—of the unholy kind.  I had for most of my life walked with compassion in my heart for others—since I was a little girl.  That’s how God made me.  After God’s deliverance and healing in my life from certain destruction, I held deep reverence for God and for the commissioned call he had on my life.  What I did not clearly understand was the enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.  What I didn’t clearly understand was when God opens our ears to hear, we must learn to discern. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived while we walk in compassion for others. What I had not been fully prepared for was as much as I loved my savior, there was still work that needed to be done in me. I needed understanding that goes with knowledge. I needed wisdom that goes along with that new level of faith and upward movement from glory to glory. I needed to take God at his word and never waver from his truth. I needed to crucify my flesh and above all, I needed to guard my heart.

With my own life, I already knew how God’s grace was able to save a soul and change a life. My life was far from perfect, so for God to reach down and lift me out of a pit and set me on a firm foundation only confirmed to me that he could do it for anyone.

It’s Just Me…..Where Do I Begin

(Originally posted September 17, 2017)

It’s just me, Lord, I’ve confessed more times than I can remember.  I love that about my relationship with God. I know he sees me as his daughter, beautifully arrayed in his robes of grace, but in the realness of my relationship with him, I know I can come to him just the way I am, whatever way that may be.  His love is real, pure and makes me complete.  I want the world to know this kind of relationship with God too.  I want each person to know his love and allow his love to make them complete.

So…..where shall I begin?  There was a day when I wondered if I would ever fulfill my dreams in life.  I started out with a good, solid plan, being raised by hard-working, sound-minded parents who believed in setting goals and working towards them. AND, quitting was not an option.  Nevertheless, life has a way of interfering and if one is not steadfast in the pursuit of their dreams, one can get side-tracked and dreams can get derailed.

This is what happened to me.  Much in life comes at a price–sometimes the price is much more than you would ever imagined it would cost.  I’ve never regretted the family God blessed me to raise, but I’ve always had deep within my soul the desire and longing to fulfill what I always believed I was put on this earth to achieve.  Then that day came…

It was 7-1/2 years ago that God woke me up early one morning and as if scenes of a movie were playing in my mind, he reminded me of the events that had transpired over my life and how he had established every moment in time to bring me to this place at this precise time.

He showed me how he had ordained the season I moved with my children to care for my mother during a season she struggled with her health, but that I would only be there for a “few years” and he would move us again- -this time to Oklahoma.  Wow! God gave me two promises in that word.  Not only would he fulfill his plan for my life, he would give me my hopes and dreams, he would also heal my mother, which he did.

Once again, God showed me he’s got it all worked out.  We just have to be willing to see it like he does.  Ha!  Most of the time, much easier said than done.  I’ve lived through many challenging things in my life, such as the death of my dad when I was 19–it turned my world upside down; overcoming an abusive marriage; learning to forgive myself after having two abortions; and raising two children as a single parent, including my son being born with Asperger’s disorder.  So, I learned how to pull up the boot straps and ride out the storm, and I was learning how to obey without delay, but this move was going to be different than any other move I’d made before.

God, in all his sovereignty and (I might add) without asking me what I thought, asked me to move me and my son not only to a different state, but to a town over five times bigger than what we were used to.  I’ve never gotten so turned around in traffic before in my life! What was supposed to be east and west, to me was north and south. Not to mention three lane highways are the norm here, compared to where we came from with two-lane roads being just big enough for two cars to pass each other without driving into a ditch! I could feel my hair turning gray just getting into the car knowing what I would soon face on the streets–and that’s just in town!  That’s not the connected interstates.  Whew!  Honestly, the way the cars move in and out of their lanes, if this were Mayberry, Barney Fife’s eyes would pop out from blowing his whistle non-stop!

But we adapted–finally.  What came as even more of a surprise, rather should I say, more humbling than I had ever found myself be before God was realizing he not only called me to become a credentialed minister, he called me to be a voice for his words and message through dreams and visions.  I knew since I was 9 years old God gave me a voice to sing and would use the gift of music in my life.  In fact, my life-long dream had been to sing—and not just in the shower.   But, my life choices would cause some delay in the manifestation of that dream.  Not that I stopped singing.  I  never stopped completely. But the motivation and direction changed, and I found myself in a holding pattern for a long time.

I learned, as God explained to me, he had not changed his mind and I would sing, but he had actually called me to do much more than just sing.  God told me he chose me to speak the words he would give me to say at his choosing. Some would think the work of a prophet to be long gone—applying only to the days of the Old Testament.  I must say, it’s pretty surreal, but still very much alive and relevant even today.  And, I might add, its by God’s choice and his doing, not ours.  That revelation was almost more than I would take in.  At the same time, as God started rolling the footage of the movie of my life again and putting the pieces together, I once again realized, it really wasn’t about me at all.  It never had been.  My life had been about him positioning me, preparing me, restoring and establishing me for such a time as this to be a voice to the nations, and this he planned long before we moved to Oklahoma.  “Souls will be saved and lives will be changed because of your life” is what God told me.  That’s what it’s all about.

I asked God once, “Why me?”  His answer, “Why not you?”  God chooses.  We don’t….not really.  I don’t ask that question anymore.  Instead I say, “May your perfect will be done. Thank you, God for choosing me.”

So where was I?? I’ve heard myself say many times, “I was waiting on God.”  In truth, he was waiting on me.   Like so many of us, I was taking care of my family and working to do my best to bring light into this world of darkness in my area of influence.  The picture gets clearer through the process of learning, understanding and growing.

This is why I named this blog Every New Beginning.  Because, with each new day, we have a new beginning. Some dramatic, some not so much. But with each one, we face the challenge of choosing to rise up in newness of life or be pulled down into complacency and defeat.  So, on this blog, there will be more about me, what I think and more importantly, what God wants us to know in this season.

This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long!

Hope you enjoy.