Category Archives: blessings

I Have a Secret – Part 2

I Have a Secret – Part 2

IAfter my last post, entitled “I Have a Secret” I received messages, calls and texts from people offering prayer and support. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love that I felt and I was covered in a peace that can only be defined as super-natural. It was just the beginning… (Miracle 1)

A week after that post, I received that dreaded, middle-of-the-night phone call. My son had over-dosed and had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

After I got off the phone, I could only lay there in the dark and pray. I prayed till I thought enough time had passed for me to get an accurate update from the hospital, and then I called. He was stable. Praise the Lord. (Miracle 2)

I slept for a few hours, and when the sun rose, so did I. My husband quickly got me booked on the next available flight. We are not rich folk, but we do have some frequent flyer miles – the last minute ticket was going to cost $1,100.00 but with our miles it was only $11.25… (Miracle 3)

By the time I arrived that night, my son had already been taken from the medical hospital to the psychiatric hospital for observation and detox. This hospital required an intake interview and they had to have a bed available…which they did, and he was admitted. (Miracle 4)

When I arrived, I was told I was not allowed to see him without a doctor’s order. I was staying with my mother, so at least I would be able to spend time with her, and we could be support for each other, as she was just as traumatized as I was. We stayed busy researching, and investigating things that just needed to be handled, with surprising success. (Miracle 5)

After two and a half days, I was finally able to see him. He had lost a lot of weight, and was pretty scruffy. He’s normally a body builder, meticulous about personal hygiene, so this was a bit of a shock. Even in the physical changes I was seeing, the one thing that has been the same since he opened them in my arms 32 years ago today, was his eyes. His beautiful windows into his soul. I saw him there and I was overwhelmed with hope.   He was so broken. He was sweet and gentle. He said he was sorry, like he really meant it. This might sound strange to someone who is not used to dealing with an addict, but it’s really huge. (Miracle 6)

He agreed, whole-heartedly, to go into a long-term program. We had found one in another town, that he had even looked into last year. He had always balked at long-term anything, so this was also huge. He called them and did a phone interview. He was accepted, and they had a bed available… (Miracle 7)

I had to fly home the next day, and it was still unknown as to when he would be released. Of course, it was the very next day…

My mother and her husband picked him up and drove him straight to the program, four hours away. We were a little apprehensive that he would change his mind, so I posted on social media to just pray for my son… BLOWN AWAY by the response! Over 200 comments, texts, messages and calls total! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!  They arrived safely, checked in and was ready. (Miracle 8 & 9)

His wife has agreed to hold off on filing for divorce, and she is in regular contact with me too. I don’t know what the future holds for them together, but my prayer is for complete restoration – for them personally and for their marriage.

Through this entire experience, I did not break down. I didn’t loose my temper or my mind. Yes, some tears came, but not heart-wrenching, sobbing or mass confusion. (which is not beneath me) I can only explain it as a super-natural peace, which has enveloped me – and still does. I am OK. (Miracle 10)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

True Story…

I counted 10 BIG miracles, but I am sure there are many more in and through all of this that I have missed… God’s plans are always way bigger than we can see.

Today is his birthday and it’s day 14 in the program and 20 days clean. I know those numbers aren’t that big yet, but I have hope and peace… really.

That birthday miracle has been granted.

Thank you for your prayers. They were heard and felt.

I would love to hear your story – and I would be honored to pray for you too…

 

Hugs

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

my gangAfter parenting 4 amazing kids, for almost 30 years, I thought I would share some of the toughest things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) through the process…

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

  1. LISTEN and ASK questionsChill questions. Casual. Don’t act like Sherlock. The point is to ask questions that usually require something more than a grunt, and hopefully you’ve been listening and can come up with one that they will want to answer. A great place to attempt this, is at the dinner table or while they are trapped in the car with you. (This is tricky, and requires much effort and patience on your part.  Don’t get discouraged, it will get easier)
  2. Set guardrails a/k/a boundaries and rules with set consequences.  Rules or, as I like to call them, non-negotiables; such as lying, cheating, disrespecting you, getting a zero on a report card… I don’t know what yours would be, but I’m talking about the issues you will fight to the death for.  Those are in stone and set your family’s standards.  Everything else is a guardrail, which you discuss, explain and can possibly  alter under circumstances.  If these are in place, then you are parenting  proactively instead of reactively. (much easier for day to day drama) Really.
  3. Hang out with them.  Have a date night. A shopping trip or, a breakfast out.  Something my gangthat you regularly do with your kid – that’s different than the daily grind.  Be intentional.
  4.  Know your Social Media.  No excuses.  If your young person has any kind of an internet identity, then you better know what it is and how it works.  Period.  Take a class if you have to, but it’s the INTERNET. The ENTIRE world in the palm of their hands.
  5.  Know your kids internet passwords.  They don’t have a right to internet privacy. Seriously.  If the government and all the interfaces they are using, know their passwords, and activity, so should you – you, the parent and the person that is supplying all of that electricity, wifi and phone service.  If you both understand the internet, this point is valid.  Check their social media. Now that you know it, and have the passwords, every now and then, do a check.  Kids need parents and accountability.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be kids.  Man up and just do it.  It’s not invading their privacy.  Now reading their diary/journal is a completely different story. Leave that alone.
  6.  Make your home a place they want to be… and their friends.  Find a used ping-pong table or a basketball hoop.  Always have snacks in the pantry and something to drink in the fridge other than milk and water.  (Please don’t think I mean you should have all the latest video games, and let them do whatever they want)
  7.  Say, “I’m Sorry.”  Be an example of learning from your mistakes.  Especially when you lose your temper with them! Even if they have pushed you over the edge, freaking out is never a good idea. So, when you do freak out, (assuming you’re like me) be sure to tell them you’re sorry.
  8.  Encourage them.  They need it. A lot.  Encourage without sounding like you are babying them. Avoid pinching the cheeks and telling them how cute they are… especially in front of their friends.
  9.  When (not if) they mess up, and come to you, or even if they don’t come to you, never motmobsay, “I told you so.” Don’t even say, “I was afraid that would happen.” Consequences will be hard enough when they hit the wall.  Having you there to listen and love will be much better, and will set the foundations for the impending friendship that you just might have with them someday.  I’m not saying save them from consequences – Don’t do that.  That’s how they learn and grow. I’m saying to love them through it.  They already know they messed up. They don’t need us pointing that out again and again, or telling them what they should’ve done.  This would be a great time to implement #1 …
  10.  Pray with them. Pray for them. Share the Word of God with them in a real way.  It’s not the Churches job to train your kids up in the Lord.  It’s yours.  You can’t be too busy.  You can’t put busyness before that.  If you do, don’t be surprised when they grow up and are too busy for the things of God.  What you make priorities in your life, will probably be theirs.  I know… Ouch.

Parenting teens is hard.  They are emotionally driven, hormonal, men/women children under our stewardship! Thank God we have all of those sweet memories of their first steps and loose teeth to remind us how much we love them!  They are not always going to like us, and will most likely even tell us that they hate us.  (which usually means you’re doing something right) They are full of passion, ideas, hope and energy.  God help us.

This list is far from complete.  I could have made this a “Top 100”.  These are just the ones that were the hardest for me to learn.   I didn’t even address dating! That’s a blog post all unto itself. Really.

What would you add to this list?

 

His Hands. A Father’s Day Poem

His Hands. A Father’s Day Poem

me & my best friend

His Hands

When I think about my husband and how blessed I truly am,

My thoughts always seem to go to his loving, caring hands.

I think about how strong they are as they carried all our babes,

And even carried me, when the strength had left my legs.

His hands work hard to earn a living, as he toils at his work,

He provides abundantly for our family, and never does he shirk.

I love the way his hands can be the Master of the grill,

He cooks, and cleans and fixes things all with focused skill.

His hands don’t ever mind the dirt or grime or dust,

They are always open for anything, always full of trust.

I think about the way his hands love to play guitar,

Listening to him play and sing, He will always be my star.

I love the way those hard working hands, can gently touch my skin,

And hold me close to his chest, so I can soak him in.

My favorite thing about his hands are when they praise our Lord,

To see them reaching for God’s love can make my spirit soar.

My husband is a blessing, a father without compare,

I bless him and thank God for him, this has always been my prayer.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the awesome Dad’s out there. May God Bless you…

Africa Update or Mama Smiles… Whichever you prefer

Africa Update or Mama Smiles… Whichever you prefer

If you’re familiar with my blog, then you know that my one and only daughter, Katie, is spending 2 months is Swaziland, South Africa this summer.  I posted about it HERE, when I was still nervous, and she was still fund raising.  Then I posted HERE when the fund raising was over… She has just passed the half way mark, so I thought it might be fitting to post about it…

I thought we would not be able to communicate with her, at least not often, but to my pleasant surprise, we have been able to “chat” on facebook about once a week.  Her team is keeping a BLOG, although they don’t get to post much, and one of the girls in her group has the international phone plan, that works occasionally, so I also get a random text once in a while.  This morning, I was blessed to get some “face time” with her because she was able to use an ipad and was in a South African mall with wifi… So, needless to say, my worrying has been at a minimum.

Her updates have been wonderful, and I can hear her excitement even in the words she types.  They are staying in a homestead in Swaziland.  There is no running water or any modern conveniences.  She has mentioned a time or two her grievance over not having real toilets, or showers.  They use baby wipes, and buckets of well water to clean with.  I’ve been instructed to have the tub cleaned and ready for her when she gets home.

She loves the people and her team.  The scenery is breathtaking and the children are her joy.  They work at “care-points” each day, feeding and caring for the children in the surrounding communities.  They have found several places to just help where needed, and they are always thinking of how to make a lasting impact.

She has been trapped in the shower shack (see the picture) by a heard of cows.  They have had some things stolen, by the cow herder.  He got caught, and fired, so everything was returned, but they woke to a dead cow in the front yard the next day.  So, since there is no refrigerators, they had the pleasure of watching the cow get cut up, and passed around.  Her exact words were ‘EW Gross!”

They went into a mental hospital, which was more of a hospital for the demon possessed.  It was the most terrifying thing she has ever experienced.  They managed to pray, and then get out, but it has stuck with them.  Katie told me today that she has planned a “Joshua” attack… since they can’t go back in the hospital, they will walk around it and pray till the ‘strong hold” comes down.  Prayers from here would be welcomed too…

They have been on safari, and have visited the mall.  They have fallen in love with the sweet bread that is sold through the jail-like bars on the windows of the stores throughout the area.  For the 4th of July they went to a party in South Africa… she said she hadn’t seen that many white people in one place since she got over there, and it actually felt weird. The food hasn’t been as bad as she feared and she misses chocolate more than anything…

One of the things she has learned is how simple sharing Christ really is.  She was preparing to say and do all the right things… And when it came down to it, she didn’t have to really say much, if anything at all.   She has been ministered to as much, if not more, then the people she is serving.

I must say, before she went, she had been living in a big city, doing the city life college thing.  I was concerned that maybe her heart wasn’t ready for such a big adventure.  Wow. I love being wrong sometimes.  Really.

Please keep her and the team in your prayers! Thank you!

 

 

Answered Prayer…Yes, it happens.

Answered Prayer…Yes, it happens.

My last post was about fellowship, and how important I think it is… That got me thinking about an even deeper fellowship, which is the glue that holds me together… Which got me thinking about a time when I was desperate for fellowship with a friend, or family member, and God made it clear that it was only time for Him.  I then thought I should share that story with you…

My oldest son has had many challenges in his life.  Much more than the average person for sure, and that has made life just a little bit more difficult for him and for those that love him.  This week we celebrated his 28th birthday, so we have come a long way!  We have some scars, but we also have some faith and we have clearly seen God’s hand in many of the trials we have endured.  I am very proud of the man he has become…

When he was 17 he had gotten into some trouble with the law, and had gone to jail for a short period of time.  This development had come after a long line of struggles and I was really exhausted.  On the morning of his court date, I had to drop two of my kids off at school, and one off at a friend’s house.  I had been sick, and I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for that morning as well.  I dropped off all of the kids, and was heading to the courthouse when it all just overcame me.  I needed to talk to my husband.  I called him and he didn’t answer.  So, I tried my mom.  She didn’t answer.  I called 3 of my friends.  None of them answered.  At this point I was crying and asking God where the heck everyone was!!  I got on a roll and just started screaming at Him.  I threw my phone across the van and really let God have it.  Why? I kept asking Him.  What am I supposed to do?  I told Him that I needed peace and direction!

I got to the courthouse and my son and his lawyer were outside the courtroom.  I was informed that within the hour we could all go home.  I had my doctor’s appointment, and I was still pretty upset, so I told the lawyer to drop my son off at the house, and I left.  He obviously had it under control.

I arrived at the doctor’s office almost 30 minutes late.  The nurse told me that I would now have to wait to be “fit in”.  So, being emotionally exhausted, I agreed with the terms and found a seat.  About 30 minutes later, I was moved to room on the far left of the building.  I sat in there for about another 20 minutes.  Then they came and moved me to the far right of the building.  I sat in there for about 15 minutes.  Then the doctor walked in the room…

I didn’t know her, but it was a big practice, and I was a “fit in” so I wasn’t alarmed that I wasn’t getting my regular doctor.  She seemed sweet enough at the introductions, and I immediately felt at ease.  She kindly took my hand and asked me what was bothering me.  Well.  I burst into tears and started telling her my parenting woes!  She encouraged me, by asking questions and really looking like she cared!  I ended up spilling the whole story in about 5 minutes.  She then took my hand again, looked me right in the eye and told me that she had gone through the same thing with her son a few years ago.  She then shared her story, and offered lots of advice, books for me to read for comfort and peace, and she even told me about a place that my son could go if he really needed to.

The nurse kept popping in and smiling and looking like she wanted to say something too.  The doctor asked the nurse to bring lunch to her, because she didn’t want to end our conversation just yet.  When the nurse came back, she asked if she could share something too.  She then told both of us that she used to be just like my son.  She told us how she felt and why she did some of the things she did.  She even told us what she thought when her parents tried to help her.  She then told us her beautiful story of redemption and transformation.

Well, after all of that sharing and crying, it turned out I had a sinus infection too.  I got some antibiotics, a list of resources that would help me with my son; some hugs, and headed home.

I left there in complete awe of my God.  He answered every single question I screamed at Him, just a few hours before.  He used those stories to give me hope and peace, and even an action list – which is important to type A’s like me.

A few weeks later, I called the doctors office to thank her.  I was told that she was not there.  She was just a friend of one of the doctors, who just happened to be in town that week, and was filling in that day because they were short staffed.  She was gone.  Really.

She was there, in that office, for just that day.  God knew what I needed, and even the questions I had, before I had even thrown my phone…  If that’s not an answered prayer, I don’t know what is.  I also realized that I had waited an awful long time to see the doctor.  Kinda like waiting on the Lord.  What if I had gotten impatient and left?  God’s timing is not the same as ours, but sometimes it’s pretty close if we just wait…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

One of the resources she recommended is the book “The Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie Omartian.  It has brought me much peace over the years.

The place she recommended was the Paul Anderson Youth Home for Boys

.  We did end up having our son stay there for a while – and I can also recommend it!  It is a wonderful place, truly anointed by God.

Do you have a God story to share?  Are you still waiting on the Lord?

 

 

Faith?

Faith?

Today was starting out as any other day… I tried to sleep passed 8AM and laid in bed silently going from cursing the sunrise to praying and going over my to-do’s for the day… all at the same time. Really.  This is the reality of the OCD-ADD mind.

As I gave in to the light, and headed in to wake the man-child, my Africa bound daughter screamed, “MOM!!”  Thinking there was a bug bigger than her, or she was stuck in the closet or… sorry, I guess you would have to know her…  and I digress.  I just quickly headed for her room.  She met me at the door, holding her laptop and asking me who Helen was.  This mystery woman had donated $500 to my daughter’s mission fund and we didn’t even know her!

Well. How about that?  This might not seem like such a big deal, nice maybe, and definitely an “awww” would be appropriate, but this really is a big deal and I’m going to tell you why…

All of the funds for this big mission trip had to be in by last Friday.  The Wednesday before we were still $641 short.  My daughter was calm, and without drama, told me that God would provide.  She had no doubt.  I, on the other hand, being the “adult” in the real world, knew that more action was required.  So, I posted on face book, talked to all my friends, prayed and even peddled an autographed football that my son and sister-in-law would have killed for.  My hard worked paid off, and at 9PM the Thursday before, a sweet friend purchased the football for the amount, which was now down to $316, since I had sent a check in myself… Whew!  Yay me! Yay God! Yay for sweet friends and footballs!  All is well and I was exhausted!

The week before I had sent an email out to my son’s baseball league as well.  Just trying to sell the football, for a good cause.  One of the parents emailed me and offered prayer and wanted to donate.  I thanked her and sent her the information. I really didn’t give it too much thought after that.  I didn’t know her, and seriously, why would I think she would donate more than $25, maybe $50?  Well, today the mission account updated and Ms. Helen from baseball donated $500.  I didn’t have to donate more myself.  I didn’t have to peddle a football.  I didn’t have to lay awake and wonder, and ask God why He was waiting till the last minute, if that was what he was even doing…

I didn’t have faith.  While I was wearing myself out, He was relaxing…with my daughter.

To read my post about her trip – click here

Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Duh)

Have you learned any hard lessons from your kid lately?

Expedition

Expedition

Last week was spent on an annual field trip called The Expedition on Jekyll and Saint Simons Islands. We went with our youngest son’s home-school, school.  It was my second time, but my husband’s 5th, since 2 of my older kids attended the same school several years ago.

I am still in awe at the mere production of this trip.  There were 85 explorer students, then about 30 servant leaders (high school students), 20 chaperones, then a host of staff, and “Hanger On’ers”, which are family guests.  I think the total head count was around 180.  This group was active from 7:30AM until 10-10:30PM – give or take an hour or 2…

The activities included 3 square meals each day, devotionals in small groups, and seining.  There were several experiment stations, dissections, sand sculpting, and hiking, as well as,  visits to the Turtle Center, Fort King George and the bird sanctuary.  There was also time spent shopping, watching educational and funny skits, apologetics teaching, praise & worship, and lots of prayers… It was a packed week. Really.

The most powerful part of this trip, as well as this school, is their Servant Leader program.  It’s not a mandatory program, as the commitment is huge, and the students even have to apply to be a part of it.  Freshman are Training Servant Leaders, then each year they progress to full Servant Leader status.  These students serve in the classrooms, assist the teachers, and lead devotions. Some of these students are also on the  worship team, which is called Living Sound.  It’s an entire student band.  Each group of middle schoolers is lead by the Servant Leaders during small groups and  these young leaders even help write the skits, as well as implement the entire production.  These kids have their own trips and put in hours of training and studying to learn how to lead, by serving.

There’s something about witnessing youth serve and worship that blesses me to tears.  Having witnessed all of that last week, as well as 3 baptisms, has left me hungry for more.  It’s funny how the closer we get to God, the closer we want to be.

I must admit, the best part of this trip for me was after it was all over.  Our son told us that he had decided to apply to the Servant Leader Program.  He also decided to get more serious with his music lessons, so he could try out for the worship band.  After that, we had to download all the songs we had heard all week, so we could sing them all the way home…

To find out more about Living Science Home Studies, you can visit their site HERE.

Dancing, ER’s & Gallbladders, Oh My…

Dancing, ER’s & Gallbladders, Oh My…

This week has been one of the strangest yet.  Saturday night my husband and I went to a formal event, complete with filet mignon, open bar, and a big dance floor.  I was in a gown, and he wore his tux as we danced and laughed and had a fabulous evening.

Sunday morning I had a stomach ache, but I was up and around.  Sunday night I woke around midnight with intense pain in my back and chest.  I was short of breath and nothing was making it better.  I woke my husband around 1, and he took me to the emergency room.

After the EKG and blood work, they did an x-ray and an ultra sound.  Then the doctor pushed on my gallbladder and I went though the roof.  It hurt so bad, I saw stars.  Apparently my gallbladder was so full of stones, that it was enlarged and stones were even backed up in my liver duct. I needed antibiotics and I had to have surgery that day. Really?

The doctor informed me that I would have the gallbladder removed, and then the next day, I would have a procedure to clean out my liver.  I ended up not having to have the liver procedure, because the doctor from the first surgery was able to clean it up himself. Praise the Lord.

Now I’m home, resting and recovering.

I’m still in shock.  I never had any issues with my gallbladder before. I honestly thought I had heartburn, or gas.  My husband thought I was having a heart attack. I certainly didn’t plan on having surgery this week.  It really reminded me just how fragile life is, and how things can change in an instant.

I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and concern.  I know I have friends, but I have never had so many people offer prayers, food, company, or rides.  I’ve gotten cards, flowers and wonderful meals.  I know that I received a miracle, having to skip the liver procedure, and getting the medical care that I did.  On top of that, I literally felt the prayers of my friends, and that filled me with the peace that passes understanding. (Phil 4:6-7)

As much as an emergency surgery was not in my plans this week, it was in God’s, and he took excellent care of me, through the doctors, my family and my friends.

An unexpected added bonus has been watching my husband trying to take care of my responsibilities, as well as his… Today he even told me he thought that I’m really super woman… That alone, was worth all of it.

Now I am trying to figure out how to eat without having issues.  I’ve read all kinds of things!  I know I need to avoid fatty foods – anything with more than 3 grams of fat, should not go in my mouth.  Fried and spicy foods are also on the no no list.  With so many people who have had their gallbladders removed, you would think there would be an easy go-to place for diet.  Everything I found seemed to be all over the board, and even contradicting.

If you have had a similar experience, let me know!  I would really appreciate hearing how your eating habits have changed, and how long it took to get back to normal…